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Sikhim and Bhutan - Frontispiece (portrait).jpg
London, Edward Arnold.
Sikhim and Bhutan - Frontispiece (signature).jpg

SIKHIM & BHUTAN

TWENTY-ONE YEARS ON THE
NORTH-EAST FRONTIER
1887–1908


BY
J. CLAUDE WHITE, C.I.E.


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAP


LONDON
EDWARD ARNOLD
Publisher to the India Office
1909
[All Rights Reserved]

TO

A. W. PAUL, Esq., C.I.E.

TO WHOM I OWE MUCH FOR THE
ASSISTANCE HE HAS ALWAYS
GIVEN ME IN MY WORK



PREFACE


My Indian career has extended to nearly thirty-two years of active service, and of that more than twenty years were spent on the North-East Frontier in the administration, as well as the political charge, of the little-known State of Sikhim, and latterly in political charge of the even less-known State of Bhutan and certain portions, including Chumbi and Gyantse, of South-East Tibet; and as I had in addition spent over a year in Khatmandu, the capital of Nepal, I may lay claim to an intimate knowledge of this Frontier, which is my excuse for putting my experiences in print.

When I first visited Darjeeling in 1881 I used to look across the valleys of the Rungeet and the Teesta rivers and long to penetrate into those stupendous mountains and valleys, with their magnificent forests and rivers, to explore the everlasting snows and glaciers, and to come in contact with their interesting people. An added fascination for me was the fact that beyond these mountains lay the mysterious, unknown land of Tibet, about which all manner of things were conjured up in my imagination, and which I fondly hoped I might some day reach.

The Fates were propitious, beyond my most sanguine expectations, for on the outbreak of the Sikhim-Tibet War in 1888 I was sent as Assistant Political Officer with the expeditionary force, and on the conclusion of peace the following year, I was offered the post of Political Officer in administrative charge of the State of Sikhim. Naturally I gladly accepted an appointment which would give me an opportunity of living in a country I was so anxious to see more of, and I have never regretted my decision; although, in consequence of the view taken by the Government of India of my special employment on the Frontier, and the fact that I left the Public Works Department to take up this appointment, I have been a loser from a pecuniary point of view to a very large extent.

In 1903, when it was decided to send a Mission to Lhasa, I was appointed one of the Commissioners, and on the conclusion of the Mission I was placed in charge of our political relations with Bhutan, as well as that portion of Tibet which came under the sphere of influence of the Government of India, in addition to my political and administrative work in Sikhim.

Owing to the friendly relations which had been established by Mr. A. W. Paul, and which I had kept up with Bhutan ever since I came to this part of the country, I found the Tongsa Penlop and the Bhutanese officials who accompanied us to Lhasa most anxious to make friends with me, and I was able to become on very intimate terms with them, a circumstance of great advantage to me later on.

My new appointment afforded many opportunities of visiting Bhutan and of becoming acquainted with the country and its officials and people, and through my friendship with the Tongsa I was given many facilities never before extended to any European.

During those twenty-one years my duties took me to almost every corner of the beautiful mountain countries of Sikhim and Bhutan, with their heterogeneous population of Lepchas, Bhuteas, Tibetans, Bhutanese, and Paharias, about the greater number of whom very little was known.

In climate every variation was to be found, from arctic to subtropical, with scenery unparalleled anywhere in the world for magnificence and grandeur and the brightness and softness of its colouring, the bold, snow-clad and desolate expanses contrasting sharply with the rich and luxuriant vegetation of the deep-cut valleys close at hand.

I was brought into close contact with the people and their rulers, whom the more you know the more you like, in spite of all their faults. During my long sojourn amongst them I had an unique experience not often met with in India in these days, when officials are moved from place to place so constantly that they learn nothing of the districts they govern and still less of the people, who think an attempt to know their officials is not worth while, as they are sure to be changed in a few months, and the task would have to be begun again. It is a grave mistake in the present system of government, and one which is responsible for much of the unrest and anarchy in India.

I have often been urged by my friends to write an account of my experiences, but as long as I remained in Government service I refused, and I now, with some reluctance, have tried in this book to give a short account of these countries both geographical and historical, as well as of my personal experiences during my various tours, and to bring before my readers some pictures of these two most delightful countries; but writing does not come easily to me, and I must crave my readers’ indulgence.

Of Bhutan I have given the more detailed historical account, as nothing of the kind exists, and information on the subject can only be gained by research into many books, Government records, and old Tibetan manuscripts. I have also given very full accounts of my missions and explorations in this beautiful and interesting country, in the hope of removing the stigma under which it has for so long lain—a country about which so little is known, and of which as recently as 1894 Risley wrote in his introduction to the “Sikhim Gazetteer”: “No one wishes to explore that tangle of jungle-clad and fever-stricken hills, infested with leeches and the pipsa fly, and offering no compensating advantage to the most enterprising pioneer. Adventure looks beyond Bhutan. Science passes it by as a region not sufiiciently characteristic to merit special exploration.”

J. C. W. 

September, 1909

CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE.
I.  THE GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION AND GENERAL FEATURES OF THE STATES OF SIKHIM AND BHUTAN 1
II.  THE PEOPLE: THEIR MORALS, RELIGION, AND LANGUAGE 7
III.  A SHORT HISTORY OF SIKHIM 16
IV.  EARLY REMINISCENCES

First visit to Sikhim, 1887. The brothers Khangsa Dewan and Phodong Lama, the Shoe Dewan and Kazis. Return to Gangtak with the Entchi Column, 1888. First meeting with Their Highnesses the Maharaja and Maharani of Sikhim

19
V.  MORE EARLY REMINISCENCES

My appointment to Sikhim. Departure of the Maharaja to Kurseong. Inspection of the country with Phodong Lama and Shoe Dewan. Opening up by means of roads and bridges. Sources of revenue. Mineral wealth. Visit to Yatung, so-called Trade Mart

25
VI.  MORE EARLY REMINISCENCES

Building a house. Lepcha servants. Supplies. A garden party. The Residency garden. Roses and lilies. A wave of colour. Orchids. Visit to Tumlong. Worship of Kangchenjunga. Lama dance. Missionaries. Difficulties of travelling. Crossing the Teesta in flood. Landslips. Leeches

33
VII.  THE DELHI DURBAR AND VISIT OF THE CHIEFS TO CALCUTTA TO MEET THEIR ROYAL HIGHNESSES THE PRINCE AND PRINCESS OF WALES 45
VIII.  EXPEDITIONS AND EXPLORATIONS IN SIKHIM

From Gangtak over the Giucha-la to Ringen. Loss of a coolie. Camp amongst glaciers and moraines. A snow leopard. Alpine flowers. Avalanches and ice caves. Crossing a difficult gorge. Lepchas and wild bees. The Rungnu. Sakhyong

53
IX.  EXPEDITIONS AND EXPLORATIONS IN SIKHIM—continued

From Gangtak to the Zemu glacier, Lonak Valley, Lachen and Lachung. Mr. Hoffmann. Cloud effects. Cane bridges. Hot springs. Talung Monastery and its treasures. Grazing land and Tibetan herdsmen. Yak transport. Locusts. The Sebu Pass. Snow-blindness. Lachung. Goral-shooting

63
X.  EXPEDITIONS AND EXPLORATIONS IN SIKHIM—continued

Demarcation of the northern boundary between Sikhim and Tibet. Difficulties of transport. Mountain sickness. Survey work. Caught in a storm. Durkey Sirdar. Ovis ammon. Photographing the glaciers. A ride at 21,600 feet. Evidence of former size of the glaciers

82
XI.  DEPARTURE FROM SIKHIM 94
XII.  HISTORY OF THE FOUNDING OF BHUTAN 99
XIII.  MY FIRST MISSION TO BHUTAN

From Gangtak to Tashi-cho-jong. Choice of routes. The Natu-la in bad weather. Deputation in the Chumbi Valley. Entering Bhutan. The Hah-la and Meru-la. Punishment for murder. Leather cannon. Paro. The Penlop’s wives. Paro-jong. Turner’s description. Eden’s description. Dug-gye. Weeping cypress at Chalimaphe. The quarrel between Ugyen Wang-chuk and Aloo Dorji. Murder of Poonakha Jongpen. Tashi-cho-jong

105
XIV.  MY FIRST MISSION TO BHUTAN—continued

From Tashi-cho-jong to Tongsa-jong. Simtoka-jong. Entry into Poonakha. The Deb Raja. Presentation of K.C.I.E. Description of Poonakha Fort. Expedition to Norbugang and Talo Monasteries. Visit of the Tango Lama. So-na-ga-sa the Zemri-gatchie of Turner. Farewell visit to the Deb. Angdu-phodang. Death of my dog Nari. The Pele-la. Tongsa-jong. Bad roads. Water-power prayer-wheels. The ceremony of blessing the rice-fields

137
XV.  MY FIRST MISSION TO BHUTAN—continued

From Tongsa-jong to Bya-gha, Lingzi, and Phari. Hospitality of the Tongsa and Tongsa’s sister at Bya-gha. Old monasteries near Bya-gha. Ancient traditions. Carvers and carpenters at the Champa Lhakhang Monastery. Regret at leaving Bya-gha. Lama dances. Farewell to Sir Ugyen. Reception at Tashi-cho-jong. Last interview with the Deb Raja. Ta-tshang lamas. Cheri Monastery. Magnificent scenery. Incorrect maps. Exposure of the dead to lammergeiers. View of Tibet from the Ling-shi Pass. Break-up of the Mission

161
XVI.  AN EXPLORATION OF EASTERN BHUTAN AND A PORTION OF TIBET IN 1906

From Gangtak viâ Dewangiri to Tashigong and Tashi-yangtsi, and on to Tsekang. Horse-flies. Dorunga. Cypripedium Fairianum. Sudden rise of the river. Tigers near the camp. Chungkhar. Borshang iron-mines. Tashigong. Stick lac cultivation. Suspension bridges. Source of the Dongma-chhu. Tashi-yangtsi. Prayer-wheels. Old roads. Chorten Kara. New flowering trees

184
XVII.  AN EXPLORATION OF EASTERN BHUTAN AND A PORTION OF TIBET IN 1906—continued

From Tsekang to Lhakhang-jong. Lhalung Monastery and Pho-mo-chang-thang Lake to Gyantse. Crossing the Bod-la between Bhutan and Tibet. Riding yaks. Welcome in Tibet. Meeting with Sir Ugyen. Wild gooseberries. Old gold-workings. Friendliness of Tibetans. Lhakhang-jong. Tuwa-jong. Dekila, widow of Norbu Sring. Lhalung Monastery. Ovis ammon. Source of the Nyeru-chhu

197
XVIII.  MY SECOND MISSION TO BHUTAN

Severe weather. Shau. A frozen torrent. Dug-gye-jong. A visit to Paro Ta-tshang Monastery. Sang-tog-peri. Paro-jong burnt down. Arrival at Poonakha. The Tongsa’s band

211
XIX.  MY SECOND MISSION TO BHUTAN—continued

Installation of Sir Ugyen as Maharaja of Bhutan. Presentation of gifts. Tea ceremony. Oath of allegiance. Seal of the Dharma Raja. Chinese influence on the frontier. Christmas Day. Feeding the poor. Return of escort. Discussion of State affairs with Maharaja and council. I leave for Jaigaon. A Takin. Inspection of frontier. Wild animals

224
XX.  BRITISH MISSIONS TO BHUTAN

Bogle, 1774. Hamilton, 1775 and 1777. Turner, 1783. Pemberton, 1838. Eden, 1864. White, 1905. White, 1907

237
XXI.  BRITISH RELATIONS WITH BHUTAN FROM 1772

Nepalese invasion of Tibet, 1792. The Athara Duars. Friction with Bhutan. Our occupation of the Bengal Duars. Expedition against Bhutan. Loss of guns. Treaty of Rawa Pani. Whole of Duars taken by us. Tongsa Penlop accompanies expedition to Lhasa. Sir Ugyen’s visit to Calcutta. Sir Ugyen elected Maharaja

264
XXII.  FOREIGN RELATIONS WITH BHUTAN

China. Tibet. Nepal. Sikhim. Cooch Behar

285
XXIII.  ARTS AND INDUSTRIES OF SIKHIM AND BHUTAN

Chinese and Indian influence. Metal-work in Sikhim. Method of casting. Sikhim knives. Aniline dyes. Weaving school in Lachung. Carpet factory in Gangtak. Apple orchards in Lachung and Chumbi. Cheese and butter making. Bhutan metal-work. A wonderful pan-box. Beaten copper and silver work. Bells. Swords and daggers. Weaving. Needlework pictures. Basket-work. Influence of the feudal system. Inferiority of Tibetan work. Wood-carving in Sikhim, Bhutan, and Nepal

294
APPENDICES
I.  THE LAWS OF BHUTAN 301
II.  THE LAWS OF SIKHIM AND MARRIAGE CUSTOMS 311
III.  A LIST OF SOME OF THE PRINCIPAL ANIMALS AND BIRDS TO BE FOUND IN THESE COUNTRIES, AND THEIR HABITAT 322
IV.  DESCRIPTIONS OF THE ART SPECIMENS ILLUSTRATED IN CHAPTER XXIII. 325
INDEX 327

ILLUSTRATIONS

FACING
PAGE
J. Claude White, C.I.E. (photogravure) Frontispiece
The Source of the Teesta River (photogravure) 4
H.H. The Maharani of Sikhim 22
The Residency, Gangtak 28
Residency Garden, Gangtak 34
Wallichianum Lilies in the Residency Garden 38
Lower Teesta Valley 42
Group at Hastings House, Calcutta, 1906 48
Kangchenjunga 58
Bamboo Roadway 60
Sanklan Sampo 64
Old Vestments, Talung Monastery 66
Siniolchu (photogravure) 68
Yaks 70
Upper Lonak Valley (photogravure) 72
Typical Sikhim Scenery 80
Nuns from the Ta-tshang Nunnery 86
Lonak Valley 90
Glacial Lake, Lonak Valley (photogravure) 92
Bridge over the Am-mo-chhu at Pema, in the Chumbi Valley (photogravure) 108
Chorten at Gorina Monastery 122
Paro-jong 126
Paro Ta-tshang Monastery 128
Dug-gye-jong 130
Poonakha-jong 138
Tongsa-jong 158
Bhutanese Houses 186
Lhalung Monastery 198
Tuwa-jong 202
Interior of Lhalung Monastery 206
Interior of Dug-gye-jong 212
Bridge at Shana 214
Paro Ta-tshang Monastery (photogravure) 218
Group at Poonakha, 1908 222
Oath of Allegiance signed at Poonakha at the Installation of Sir
 Ugyen Wang-chuk as Maharaja of Bhutan, 1907 226
H.H. Sir Ugyen Wang-chuk, K.C.I.E., Maharaja of Bhutan 234
Impressions of Seals given to Bhutan by China, Nepal, and Tibet 286
Art Specimens—I 294
Art Specimens—II 296
Art Specimens—III 298
Art Specimens—IV 300
The illustrations facing pages 60, 64, 66, and 68 by the kind permission of Mr. Hoffmann.
Map of Sikhim and Bhutan At end

AUTHORITIES CONSULTED

Tibetan Manuscript

The Lho-cho-jung

History of the Sindhu Raja

Bogle’s Mission, 1774

Turner’s Mission, 1783

Reports of Kishen Kant, 1815

Pemberton’s Mission, 1837

Griffiths’ Journal, 1837

Eden’s Mission, 1864

Rennie’s History of the Bhutan War

Macgregor’s Military Report on Bhutan, 1866

Aitcheson’s Treaties

Government Records

Sikhim Gazetteer

Sikhim and Bhutan - map.jpg

Sikhim and Bhutan - Sikhim map.jpg
 I. B. December 1889.
  Exd. J. A. A.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.