National Geographic : 1924 Nov
TIGER-HUNTING IN INDIA BY BRIGADIER GENERAL WILLIAM MITCHELL Assistant Chief, U. S. Army Air Service WE WENT to India not only to observe the changes that had occurred since my former visit, 23 years ago, at the conclusion of our Philippine War, but also to visit places of interest, see something of the military air and ground forces, visit some old friends and acquaintances, and then have a good tiger and big game hunt. Darjeeling was our first objective. We were blessed with perfect weather, such as is seldom accorded the traveler. The mighty ridge of the Himalayas was de nuded of clouds for our inspection. The tremendous mountain masses radi ating out from Kinchinjunga, 28,000 feet in height, as a center, with more than ten peaks of over 22,000 feet altitude to right and left, furnish the greatest mountain panorama in the world (see page 546). From an elevation called Tiger Hill, close by, we beheld the rising of the sun over towering peaks, with Mount Everest, the highest eminence in the world, peep ing at us 124 miles away, through the rose light of the perfect, still, and icy-cold dawn. TIIE MOUNTAIN PASS INTO TIBET VISIBLE It was one of the clearest days of the year, and we could plainly see the pass into Tibet, whose floor, I was told, is I8,ooo feet above the sea. At this time also the expedition for the ascent of Mount Everest was being assembled at Darjeeling. It made me think how easily I could equip one of our airplanes to fly to Mount Everest, photograph the whole peak, take temperature readings, notes of wind directions and force, and even land supplies wherever they were desired for ground parties climbing the mountain. Lhasa, across the Himalayas, is only about as far from Darjeeling as Wash ington, D. C., is from New York, and I thought of how, with any one of our supercharged planes, we could cross the mountains, land, and call on the Dalai Lama within a couple of hours. Now it requires a month to get there. The ascent of the foothills gave us an excellent opportunity to note changes in the character of the people as we climbed. Leaving the morbid, undernourished, spindly-shanked, begging Bengali at the lower levels, we met the alert, sturdy little Nepalese. These attractive people have their own kingdom at the base of the mountains. In stature and general ap pearance they remind one of the Filipinos, if the latter could be transferred and reared in a more vigorous clime. The Nepalese make excellent soldiers and furnish the recruits for the British Gurkha battalions, which are of the high est quality. At the higher levels the Tibetans were encountered-big, ruddy-faced, rollicking individuals, both men and women. With long, Mongolian eyes, pigtails, firm step, and confident manner, they were a great contrast to the people of the plains. Descending from the mountains, we visited Benares and the sacred Ganges, the places near there where Buddha preached, and the various localities so well known to tourists. Then we went to Agra. A bright new moon lighted our first view of the wonderful Taj Mahal. while cool, bracing weather accompanied us to the palaces and haunts of the Great Moguls (see pages 552 and 553). From Agra, a day's trip took us to Delhi, that eternal city where capital after capital, for the rule of Hindustan, has been established by its conquerors. The ruins of no less than eight of these remain, and a brand-new one is now being built, equipped, and populated completely by the British.* TIGER-HUNTING IS REGARDED AS A ROYAL SPORT Lord Reading, the Viceroy, lives in a rather small establishment, called Vice Regal Lodge, pending the occupancy of the new palace in the capital. * See "Through the Heart of Hindustan," by Maynard Owen Williams, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for November, 1921.