Bhotan and the Story of the Doar War

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Item Code: IDI895
Author: David Field Rennie
Publisher: Pilgrims Book House, Kathmandu
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 8177693492
Pages: 408
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.4" X 5.3"
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Book Description
Back of the Book

Squashed by the humid plains, the impenetrable jungles of Bengal and the jagged icy peaks of Bhutan is a narrow strip of land adjacent to the steeply rising foothills. This region, a malariainfested jungle and swampy zone, is known as the Duars or Duoars. Today the production of tea has become the main economic mainstay of this region.

But how did this now productive land become part of India?

Bhutan is still an isolated domain, its ruler mindful of the impact that sudden change can bring. This fear of that beyond its borders is today a reflection of its history.

David Field Rennie was a medical officer who had direct experience of the brief hostilities between colonial India and Bhutan in the late eighteen hundreds. His lively accounts bring the history of this period to life.


If you drive along the foothills of Bhutan east from Siliguri towards Assam it will be apparent that there is an obvious tranqullity. You pass mile after mile of tea gardens, cross tracts of thick jungles and pass quiet country villages.

Looking northwards you will see an abrupt wall of hills reaching upwards to the skies in terrifyingly steep reises. Beyond lies a hidden kingdom of mysterious monasteries, forts, devoted monks and amazing mountain scenery with quaint chalet-style houses. This place, apparently a 'Shangri La' of peace, was not always so quiet. For a few turbulent years a silent war progressed. Imperialist expansion, cloaked as security and trade issues, was pitched against brigandry and an isolationist tendency that bordered on mania.

The Duoar wars were brief and eventually resolved, but at the time the intrigues, fears and dogmatic attitudes combined to be a great threat to peace in the region. Raids by rough elements and some warlords in the east of Bhutan initiated a series of military expeditions into Bhutan by the British. Intractable negotiations, pursued under less than ideal conditions, created mistrust and forced the mission of Ashley Eden to be humiliated and leave in fear of their lives.

Much of the problem lay in the fact that Bhutan, at the time, appeared to have no structured government. The Togsa Penlop, the local power baron, was vying for power with the Thimpu Raja, the nominal head of the country. Close to the British military garrisons, the Paro Penlop was a moderate interloper. Surrounding these issue were the other matters concerning Sokkim and Tibet, whose own desires inevitably created complications for the British colonialists.

David Field Rennie, a medical officer with the advancing military units, is well placed to offer dialogue about the war. The history and nature of the political bodies in Bhutan and the machinations between the two warring parties, are all focal to the story.

How will the situation be resolved?

This is the story of a contest of wills and strength, a story that revolves as much around nationalistic traits as it does about firepower. A war is rarely won. Dialogue inevitably becomes the only way to achieve a real lasting solution. The human race has not learnt much in three thousand years.


Chapter I.Geographical Position and Extent of Bhutan-Nature of the country-Meaning of the term Dooar - Origin of the word Bhutan-Source from which its Inhabitants have sprung-The term Bhoteah synonymous with that of Thibetian-Obscurity connected with the early History of Bhutan-Traditions with reference there to -Political Relations with Tibet and china-Nature of the Government -Constitution of the Council-The Dharma and Deb Rajas-The Penlows, Jungpens, and their Subordinates-Revenue and Judicial systems-Religion-Language-Military Resources1
Chapter II.Commencement of British Intercourse with the Bhotanese-Invasion of cooch Behar by the latter-Hostile Measures taken by the East India Company-The Regent of Thibet intercedes for the Bhotanese-A Treaty concluded-The Governor General of India sends a Mission to Thibet via Bhutan under Mr. Bogle-Its progress, Reception, and Result-A second Mission under captain Turner sent to Thibet-An Envoy from Bhutan visits Calcutta-Invasion of Thibet by the Nepaulese-Retributive Measures adopted by the Emperor of China-Intercourse with Thibet closed-Dispute with Bhutan about the Bijnee Raja-Visit of Kishenkant Bose to Bhutan 27
Chapter III.The Annexation of Assam reopens political Relations with Bhutan-Description of the Dooars-Conditions on which the Bhotanese retained those of Assam-Disputes respecting the Payment of Tribute for them-Aggressions within the British Frontier of Assam-Pemberton's Mission-The Assam Dooars taken possession of by the Indian Government-Troubles connected with the Bengal Dooars-Ambaree Fallacottah taken under British Management-Raids continue-punitive measure adopted-predatory Incursions into Sikim-Darjeeling threatened-Troops ordered to the Frontier-The Bhotanese retire-A second Mission to Bhotan decided on-The Hon. Ashley Eden appointed Envoy-Nature of his Instrutctions43
Chapter IV.Mr. Eden prepares to start from Darjeeling-Delay there and its Causes-Departure of the Mission-Arrival in Bhotan-Reception by the Native-A Monasstery-Fort of Dhumsong-Arrival at Dhalimkote-Visit from the Jungpen-Scene connected with flogging Coolies-Difficulties encountered-Part of Escort left behind-Reach Sipchoo-Story of Niba Kazee-The tulelah Pass-The Jungpen of Tsangbe-Coolies frost bitten-A Miller operated on under chloroform-Officials arrive and try to make Mr.Eden return-Village Omen-Ascent of the Taigonlah Mountain-Arrival at Hah Tampien-Friendly Reception by the Jungpen-coolies die in the Snow-Dangers of the Chulah pass -A second attempt made to stop the Mission-Arrival at Paro 60
Chapter V.The Paro Authorities send for Cheeboo Lama -The Mission treated with Insolence-Mr. Eden's Interview with the Penlow and Ex Penlow of Paro -Fort, Town and Market place of Paro-dispute with a police official -valley of Paro -Proximity to Thibet-Monasteries-Paro Annual Festival and Races-The Master of the Horse-Departure for poonakha-Government Messengers meet the Mission and endeavour to stop it-the Ex Deb Raja-The Dokiew Lah Pass and its traditionary Mark-approach to Poonakha94
Chapter VI.Arrival of Mr. Eden at Poonakha-Two Natives taken from under his protection-The Council send for Mr. Eden-Indignities from the Mob-Draft Theaty submitted-Interview with the Dhurma and Dev Rajas-The Togso Penlow demands the Assam dooars-Mr. Eden prepares to depart-Terms on which he consents to reopen Negotiations-Their Progress-The togso Penlow's Hindostance Adviser-Mr. Eden attends Council with the Treaty and is insulted-He endeavours to leave, but is not allowed until he signs a Document assigning over to Bhotan the Assam Dooars-He is then treated with Civility-Difficulties offered to his leaving-Poonakha Fort-The Mission succeeds in getting away and returning to Paro, and from thence to Darjeeling110
Chapter VII.Remarks on Mr. Eden's Mission-Question of the propriety of sending it-Darjeeling unsuited as a Starting place-Objections to abandoning the Escort-Also to pushing on in the face of continued Discouragement-Management of Negotiations at Poonakha-signing under compulsion justified-Measures against Bhotan proposed by Mr. Eden on his retuen-step adopted by the Government of India-A Bhotanese Dispatch addressed to Cheeboo Lama-Note referring to Remark therein-Proclamation annexing the Dooars and a Portion of the Hill Territory of Bhotan-Detail of the Force assembled to carry it out143
Chapter VIII.Commencement of the Dooar War-Stockades of Mynagoorie and Dhamonee taken possession of-Advance of the Left Column from Julpigorie-Progress through the Dooars-Arrival at Dhalimkote-Communication with the Jungpen-Attack on the Fort-Catastrophe connected therewith-Capture of Dhalimkote-Remarks thereon-Occupation of Dhumsong-Proclamation by the Dhuma Raja-The Left column descends to the plains-Re-enters the Hills and captures Chamoorchee-Letter from the Deb Raja-Operations by the Left centre column-Capture of Buxa and Balla.166
Chapter IX.Operations on the Assam side-Advance of the Right Column from Gowhatty-Capture of Dewangiri-Garrison placed in it under colonel campbell-Generall Mulcaster joins the Right centre column-Advance on Bishensing-Capture of the place-Nature of the position and country in its vicinity-return of the column to the plains-The sidlee Raja-Apparent Termination of Hostilities-Orders issued for the break-up of the Dooar field force.185
Chapter X.Rumours of an attack on Dewangiri-Warnings received by the Garrison-The attack takes place by a Force under the Tongso penlow and is repulsed-Death of Lieutenant Urquart-Thibetian elements in the force-The attack resumed-The Garrison evacuates the position and retreats to the plains-Details connected with the Tongso Penlow's force-The Bishensing post attacked by the Bhotanese-Buxa threatened-Attack on Balla-The British force repulsed and retires-chamoorchee threatened-Reinforcements ordered to the Dooars-Chandge in the commands-Disposition of teh Reinforcements194
Chapter XIThe Author starts with the 80th Regiment for the north-eastern fromtier-Journey from calcutta to colgong-Difficulties encountered on the Ganges-Arrival at Carragola-Grooming an Elephant in the Ganges-Thibetian Traders-The Dawk Bungalow-The snowy Range of the Himalayas-Method of tracking Boats-Arrival of the 19th Punjaubees and Left wing of the 55th Regiment-Nature of the Land Transport provided for the Troops-The village of carragol-Unhygienic mode of preventing Milk souring207
Chapter XII.March from carragola-camp at Luchmeepoor-cholera-Burial at Chitreepeer-Purneah Station-March to balgatchie-Sanitary Paradoxes-Hackery men take their Bullocks away-Dingra Ghaut-transport difficulties increase-Cross the Mahanuddy-Affray at Assooraghur-Early Marching -Objections to it-Remarks on Sunstroke-Raja of Kishengunge-Tigers in the vicinity-Elephants and their Mahouts-Narrow escape from Drowning-Arrival at Chopra-Examinaion of the Soldiers Rifles-Necessity for Water-proof covers219
Chapter XIII.Arrival at Titalyah-The Fair of that Name-Primitive post office -The Wing of the 80th marches for Mynagoorie and the head quarters for Darjeeling-Arrival of the latter at silligoorie-The Teraj-The Foot of the Himalayas-Punkabaree-Snake in the Dawk Bungalow-Effects of chloroform on snakes-Native Antidote for Hydrophobia-Hill Coolies, their mode of carrying Baggage to Darjeeling and marking Weights thereon-Ascent to Kursiong-Sudden Transition of Temperature-Signs of the Mongolian Race-Pacheem-Hope Town-Arrival at Julla Pahar overlooking Darjeeling. 242
Chapter XIV.British Intercourse with Sikim-Circumstances under which Darjeeling became British Territory-Progress of the Settlement-Dr. Hooker's visit to it-Troubles with sikim-Dr. Campbell's Expedition and its Disaster-A Force sent into Sikim-A Treaty concluded-Details connected with the Origin of the sikimese or Lepchas -Contradictory Character of the Information-The Author's Views-Limitation of the term mongolian necessary for the right understanding of the Question-Meaning of the words Lepcha and sikim-confusion caused by the use of the former-Improvement of Terms suggested-Unreliable Nature of Lepcha Traditions256
Chapter XV.Military Arrangements at Darjeeling-Formation of a movable Column-Protective Measures-The Soubah of Dhumsong a State Prisoner-The Cantonment of Senchal-Relation between teh suicidal Mania and foggy Weather-Route to the Rungeet-Cane Suspension Bridge-Sikim-Venomous Insects-The Teesta and the Bhotan Frontier-Heat of the Valley-Our advanced picket-Cross the Teesta -Nature of the Suspension Bridge-Bhotanese Peasants-Their Arrows-Track over Pushok Mountain-Return to Darjeeling272
Chapter XVI.Recommencement of Hostilities by the Left Brigade under Brigadier General Tytler-Recapture of Balla-Translation of a Bhotanese Document found in this Stockade-Dislodgement of the Bhotanese from Buxa and Chamoorchee-Evacuation of Bishensing-Operations on the Right under Brigadier-General Tombs-Examination of the Passes leading to Dewangiri-communicaiton from the Tongso Penlow-Advance on Dewangiri-Attack on the Position-Its capture and Slaughter of the Enemy-Firing of the 55th Regiment-Destruction and Evacuation of the Force of Occupation and Defence285
Chapter XVII.General Tytler visits Darjeeling-Tea Planting and Mode of preparing the Tea in the Sikim Himalayas-View from the 80th 's Mess-House-Change in the Weather and coincident appearance of Ague-Proofs of the Atmospheric Origin of the outbreak of the Disease-Goitre in the Himalayas, and its cure-Lepcha propitiatory sacrifies-A native group-cholera appears in the Dooars-Removal of the royal artillery to Darjeeling.297
Chapter XVIIIThe Chota Bursawt-A Thibetian Trader-Prepare to vistit Dhalimkote-Interview with cheeboo Lama-His character-He undertakes to make arrangements for our Party crossing the Teesta-His views on the Language and Country of the Lepchas-Lama priests-The Kowtow, a Custom in the Himalayas-Cheboo's News from Bhotan-Suicide of an Artilleryman At Julla Pahar308
Chapter XIX.Start for Dhalimkote-Our coolie Transport-First Halt-State of the road at the Rungeet after the rains-saul wood-Arrival at the Teesta-Mode of crossing on a Bamboo Raft-construction of the Houses of the Bhotan Peasantry-country, cultivation and cattle at Kalimpoong-Annoyuance from Leeches on the March-Wild Fruit-Buckwheat-A Monastery and Lama Priests-Butter Tea-Murwa-The Mystic Sentence of Thibet-Nature of the country as we proceed-paiongpoong-scenes in Domestic life in Bhotan-Mode of preparing grain for Murwa-Effects of the latter on the 'Laughing Pup'315
Chapter XX.A Bhotanese witch Doctor-View of Dhumsong-Coolies resting-Meet some Natives-Halt at Labah-First View of Dhalimkote and the Dooars in the Distance-Approach to the Valley of Ambiok-The Chale River-Village of Ambiok-Ascent to Dhalimkote-Description of the Fort-Civil Jurisdiction-Bhotanese Arms-A Boa constrictor-Dhalimkote as a Military position-Question with respect to establishing our Frontier in the Bhotan Hills-Effects of Leech Bites in preventing sensations of Fatigue334
Chapter XXI.Leave Dhalimkote for the Dooars-Descent to the Terai-The Mechis and their physical peculiarities-Remarks on Malaria-Mosquitoes at Bullabaree-Enter the Dooars-Kyrantee-Cattle-The Mechis of the Dooars-Details connected with them-Appearance of the country-The cantonment of Julpesh-position and soil-Affinity of Cholera for water-The Bykantpore family temple-The teesta at Julpigorie-Appearance of the Station-Two sides of the Question relaating to Frontier Agressions-Remarks thereon-Bhotanese Veracity-Discontent contingent on our occupation of the Dooars-Their products-Leave Julpigorie-Ambaree Fallacottah-Re-enter the Himalayas-Artillerymen at Kursiong-Return to Darjeeling.346
Chapter XXII.Further Observations on the Lepchas and their Language-Land Speculations operate unfavourably in developing Contentment with British Rule-Dress of the Lepchas-History, Progress and Prospects of the Darjeeling Mission for the conversion of the Natives-Relations of Darjeeling with Thibet-Question of more extended commerce with that country-Treaty provision for a Road through sikim-communication with Thibet through Bhotan-A conciliatory policy towards the latter country a Question of Diplomatic and Sanitary Expediency-Note Relating to the Position of our Affairs with Bhotan at the end of 1865.367
Which contains a Narrative of the Relations existing between the Government of India and the Bhotanese betweeen the Years 1828 and 1861, a Summary only of which appears in the body of the Work at Pages 50 and 51.
Commencement of Bhotanese Aggressions within the British Frontier, consequent on the Annexation of Assam-The Booree Gomah Dooar outrage and Abduction of Natives from British Protection-Recapture of the Prisoners and Occupation of the Booree Gomah Dooar-Terms on which the Booree Gomah dooar was restored to Bhotan-Raid from the Bijnee Dooar and Refusal of the Bhotanese to pay Tribute for it-Measures adopted in connection with the Bijnee Outrange-The Attachment of the Bijnee and Banska Dooars Threatned-Climate of the Dooars found to be so Deadly as to be unsuited for ordinary. Native Troops, the raising of a Special Corps for Service therein being necessitated-Incursion from the Kalling Dooar-Extensive outrange from the Banska Dooar, and Military operations adopted in consequence-State of Matters in the Bengal Dooars in 1836-The Indian Government determine on sending a special Mission to Bhutan-Captain jperberton appointed Envoy-Route selected by captain pemberton and the Reason why-Departure of the Mission at Dewangiri-owing to jthe distrubed state of the country a more circuitous route has to be taken than was originally intended-Tongso and the castle of the penlow of that name-country in the vicinity of Tongso-Reception of the Mission by the Tongso penlow-Arrival of the Mission at poonakha, and nature of the Accommodation provided for it-Description of poonakha-State of Agricultlure and Trade-Interview with the Deb and Dhurma Rajas-The Draft of a Treaty submitted-Captain pemberton's Departure from poonakha and return to calcutta-outrages continuw on the Frontier-The Attachment of the Assa, Dooars adopted as the only available protectiveMeasure-Troubles connected with the Bengal Dooars-Ambaree Fallacottah becomes a soruce of Trouble and is taken under British Management at the request of the Bhotanese-Raids from ithe Bengal Dooars into British Territory-Mission from Bhotan and robberies committed by it on its way back-Capture of Robbers and their confession-Fresh Robberies under the Auspices of the Dewangiri Raja and the Tngso Penlow-The Bhutan Government affords Redress by Fining the Tongso penlow and pocketing the Amount itself-The Governor-General's Agent in Assam recommends the occupation of the Bengal Dooars-The Decision of the Governor General-The Tongso Penlow to be called on to Apologise-Annexation of the Bengal Dooars Threatened-The Deb Raja to be held responsible for the acts of his subordinates-The required apologies given by the Bhutan Authorities-Abduction of a Zemindar or Native Landowner from undr British protection-Satisfaction for the outrage demanded-The Deb Raja justifies the Abduction-Hopelessness of making any further Reference to the Bhutan Gjovernment pointed our-Continued Raids into British Territory and cooch Behar-Aspect of Affairs in 1857-The lieutenate governor of Bengal(Sir F. Halliday) visti the North Eastern Frontier-State of Feeling of the Inhabitansts of the Dooars-The Indian Government adopts the Recommendations of Sir Frederick Halliday-The Sepoy Mutiny arrests the intended operations-Extensive Raid into Cooch Behar-The Dev Raja orders the case to be Investigated, and Result of the same-Lord canning orders Ambaree Fallacottah to be Attached, but leaves the Redemption of it open to the Bhotanese-The attachment carried out-Mr. Pyne's Elephant carried off and the Deb Raja's Decision with reference there to-Plunder of Elephants from Cooch Behar-The Jungpen of Dhalimkote applies for an Interview with the Superintendent of Darjeeling-The Governor General's Agent in Assam recommends the sending of a Second Mission to Bhutan-The Measure is approved of by the Bengal Government and recommended to the Governor General.

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