J.H. Gray, a young and idealistic Anglican missionary, has been running a Theological College in Madras for five years. In September 1842 he sets off on a three-month trip round south India by palanquin with a team of bearers.
They travel often by night to avoid the heat, stopping to rest at Travellers' Bungalows; among the hazards are scorpions, swollen rivers and tiger-infested jungle. His anti-clockwise route takes him via the temple-city of Conjeveram to Bangalore, then south to Mysore and the great fortress of Seringapatam. He suffers from fever and his bearers go on strike, but his spirits soar at the hill-station of Ooty. Further south in Malabar and Travancore he travels on the backwaters and visits fellow-missionaries working to reform the ancient Syrian Church.
His journal, written up each day, records his impressions of the people, landscape, flora and fauna, and his reflections on missionary work. He reveals himself as a man of strong moral purpose, honest, self-critical and humorous, but with many of the prejudices of his age.
Discovered by chance 180 years later, the journal has now been transcribed and annotated by his great-great-grandson and illustrated with contemporary prints and watercolours.
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