Posted on: 2 June 2015

Digital Rare Book:
A Journey from Madras through the countries of MYSORE, Canara, and Malabar - performed under the orders of the most noble the Marquis Wellesley, Governor General of India, for the express purpose of investigating the state of agriculture, arts, and commerce; the religion, manners, and customs; the history natural and civil, and antiquities, in the dominions of the Rajah of Mysore, and the countries acquired by the Honourable East India Company.
By Francis Buchanan
Published by Higginbotham & Co., Madras - 1870
Volume 1

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An exhaustive survey of all the various aspects of existence in the then areas of Madras, Canara and Malabar ( in sum, very large part of south India). This survey, conducted by Francis Buchanan started on 26th April 1800 and lasted till 6th July 1801. This survey was performed under the orders of Lord Wellesley, the then Governor General of India. Its objectives was investigate the state of Agriculture, Arts and commerce; the religion, manners and customs; the natural and civil history; and the antiquities of all the divisions of the areas that he traveled through. This survey was done after the war with Tipu Sultan and in the countries that the East India company acquired from it. It is illustrated by a map and numerous other engravings.

Book Extract :

My inquiries could not commence, with proper effect, till after my vicinity of arrival at Seringapatam, nor until I had there procured sufficient authority from the Raja's Deivan ; I trust, however, that my observations on the appearance of the country, as I passed along, will not be considered as entirely useless.

In the afternoon of the 23rd April 1800, I set out from Madras,in the very hot dry weather, which usually prevails at this season.After leaving the plain occupied by the houses of Europeans, I entered a country then scorched up by a powerful sun, yet containing little waste land ; for the soil, being fine, produces a very good crop of rice, provided, in the wet season, the usual quantity of rain falls. In some places, the industry of the natives causes a verdure that is highly refreshing, by watering a few fields, that are near tanks, or reservoirs of water. These fields are now covered with rice, approaching to maturity ; and in the rainy season they will yield another crop. The appearance of the country, however, at this time of the year, is dreary. It is almost as level as Bengal : and in general forms a naked, brown, dusty plain, with few villages, or any thing to relieve the eye, except a ridge of abrupt detached hills toward the south. The roads are good ; and many of the huts being built of mud, and neatly covered with tiles, have a better appearance than those in Bengal : but the roofs of such as are thatched look ragged; as the thatch is not composed of smooth straw, but of palmyra leaves, which never can be put on with neatness.

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This book has long been a favourite of mine. It is hard to imagine how Buchanan could acquire, absorb and collate so much information so fast.