Sir Richard Burton : Great Minds

Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821 – 1890) was a British explorer, scholar and soldier. He was famed for his travels and explorations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke twenty-nine EuropeanAsian, and African languages.

Burton was in Ooty in 1848. His experiences in the hill station was published in 1851 in ‘Goa, and the Blue Mountains; or Six Months of Sick Leave. The book is an account of his journey through portions of southwest India while he was on sick leave from the British Indian army. Traveling through Bombay to the Portuguese colony of Goa, he went through Calicut and other cities on the Malabar coast, ending up in the Nilgiri mountains at Ooty.

A restless Burton, came to Ooty to recuperate from a bout of cholera but could not find anything about the place up to his expectations or satisfaction, the worst being the Ooty monsoon. As he beat a hasty retreat from the hills, he wrote in his diary, ‘What a detestable place this Ootacamund is during the rains. From morning to night and from night to morning gigantic piles of heavy wet clouds rise up slowly from the direction of the much-vexed Kundahs. In the interim a gentle drizzle, now deepening into a shower, now driven into sleet descends with vexatious perseverance. When there is no drizzle there is a Scotch mist. When the mist clears away it is succeeded by a London fog. The sun shorn of its rays spitefully diffuses throughout the atmosphere muggy warmth, the very reversal of the genial’.

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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