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2022-06-13 15:25:41

How was vacation going in India in the XIX-XX centuries

How was vacation going in India in the XIX-XX centuries

Tourist trips to India were a kind of walk through the places of military glory of the British colonial empire for representatives of the high society. Only the era of cars, radio and trams made the country accessible to the middle class.

Interest in indigenous customs

Although our compatriot from Tver Afanasy Nikitin undertook his journey in the XV century, until the end of the XIX trip here was fraught with serious dangers. Accessible, simple and relatively safe these places made the expansion of Britain. Its power, by the way, also extended to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Andaman and Nicobar, not to mention Nepal and Bhutan, former protectorates of the crown.

The inhabitants of Europe were imbued with love for tours to India in the second half of the XIX century. At the same time, they did not plan to infringe on themselves in any way and enjoyed all the joys of civilization on the trip. Then there was a fashion for everything Eastern, and the exoticism of the indigenous world, coupled with the opportunity to hunt a lion or see local rites, took its toll.

However, we should not forget that traveling until the thirties of the XX century was entertainment for the rich. They were attracted by advertising, promising bright colors and luxury, a retinue of numerous servants and unforgettable impressions.

It was the era of the rise of guidebooks as a phenomenon. Together with a phrasebook, he became a companion of any Englishman who went to the eastern lands subordinate to Britain . Most often, these were Bradshaw publications, which contained all the useful information about places of interest, restaurants, hotels and train schedules, as well as lists of British consulates in any city of some significance. The manuals also provided advice on baggage selection. For example, ladies were advised to take with them cuts of light fabric, and men - high boots and a pair of travel suits. There were countless and richly illustrated advertisements for every taste: tickets, medicines, bookstores, medicines (which stood on the verge of drugs), cosmetics ...

How much did it cost?

The largest item of expenditure was sea transportation: in 1919, only one day of a sea cruise cost three pounds, which is equivalent to 15 thousand rubles for today's money. The hotel room cost 6-8 rupees (from 2 to 2.5 thousand rubles), the crew rent - five rupees. A first-class train ride from Bombay to Kolkata would cost nine pounds (90,000 rubles in today's wooden), and a second-class trip would cost 4-5 rupees. The most popular means of payment were sovereigns - coins with a face value of one pound.

Travels in India were unhurried: first 3 weeks by sea from London to Bombay or Madras with stops in Marseille, Cairo and Aden. Over time, travel became faster, and the opening of the Suez Canal made everything a walk through the internal waters of Great Britain (Egypt was Turkish, but in fact, without knowing it, already belonged to the British).

First-class passengers had rooms with elegant furniture, personal servants and weeks of sitting in salons, restaurants and at a pawn table. In the second class it was also good, only the cabin is separate and a little smaller.

Many kept travel journals and notes, some then published them in the press or club magazines.

Where did we go?

Most often visited Bombay, Madras, Kolkata and Delhi - the capital cities for the Indian subcontinent and the most important transport hubs. Travelers were waiting for excursions and visits to British clubs, balls or matches in tennis, squash, golf. Only Europeans could get into the club, be it the aristocracy, imperial officials, clergymen and teachers. To get a membership card, you had to live in the city; a foreign tourist from Europe or the United States could be an invited guest.

From the cities of the North-East, it was necessary to make a sortie to Shimla - it served as the official capital of British India in the summer. It was possible to get here with the help of a narrow-gauge road.

What was transportation like in colonial India?

Within the city, horse-drawn carts, trams or buggies were used - something like a horse-drawn two-wheeler. In the 20s, it became possible to rent cars, although they were rare. It was possible to deliver your own vehicles to the subcontinent, although this was fabulously expensive and was a very non-trivial operation.

Of course, the main way to travel here was the railways. The quality of life on the road largely depended on the personal status, available means and the color of the traveler's skin.

  • First-class cars were magnificent compartment salons with a huge bed, a European-type toilet, gas or electric lighting, showers and ventilation, and sometimes air conditioning: the fan was directed to a piece of ice fixed under the floor or roof. First class compartments occupied the entire width of the car and had their own access to the platform. Servants were placed in separate rooms with a sleeping place and a locker for things.
  • A step above were VIP cars for Indian princes and the highest imperial bureaucracy; guests used full-size beds, had a bathtub and electric ventilation. If desired, such a car could be unhooked and used as a hotel.
  • In the second grade, it was all the same, except for the shower and separate rooms for servants. It was a kind of business class of the XIX century. It is important to note that the first two classes were available only to white passengers (minus the highest nobility of India).
  • There was also a middle class, intermediate between the second and third. Dozens of passengers traveled there during the day, and at night there were five beds. The toilet was already Asian, in the form of a hole in the floor and a bucket of water. Accordingly, it stinked, they rarely cleaned.
  • The third class rode in wooden carriages without heating, ventilation and with simple wooden benches. There were no toilets either. In terms of fullness, the cars resembled Moscow trams in the early tenths and late noughties.

Where to live in colonial India?

A hundred years ago, a traveler from Europe used to settle in one of the large hotel complexes of large cities. The choice was made based on the advice of the authors of guidebooks and a variety of advertising.

People were more victoriously satisfied with the opportunity to rent shelter from local aborigines, although by the mid-30s "normal" hotels appeared on the Indian Peninsula, equally accessible to representatives of the European bourgeoisie and the local rich.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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