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An Account of Darjeeling people from 1924 Publication

An Account of Darjeeling people from 1924 Publication
In November 1924, Brigadier General William Mitchell, who is regarded by many historians as the father of the U.S. Air Force, published this account of a three-day tiger hunt in eastern India with the maharaja of Surguja, a legendary tiger hunter.

Reproduced from National Geographic article []


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 forms, 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 denuded of clouds for our inspection.

The tremendous mountain masses radiating 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.

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, peeping at us 124 miles away, through the rose light of the perfect, still, and icy-cold dawn.

The Mountain Pass Into Tibet

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 18,000 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 Washington, 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 appearance 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 highest 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.

[Pic and artice extracted from National Geographic,]
Collected by TDC

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