Selections from the Travels and Journals Preserved in the Bombay Secretariat


Selections from the Travels and Journals Preserved in the Bombay Secretariat is a compilation of 14 documents, previously unpublished, relating to journeys taken or documented by officials of the East India Company. Most of the trips described were to and from cities in Afghanistan, Persia (present-day Iran), and Central Asia, but a few were by the Indian Navy to places on the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula. The documents, from the archives of the East India Company in Bombay (present-day Mumbai), were compiled by George William Forrest, the former director of records of the Imperial Record Office at Calcutta (present-day Kolkata). Forrest provides a lengthy introduction to the volume, in which he writes that these “tales of the exploits of the soldiers and sailors of the East India Company and these plain narratives of facts show that in searching the most opposite corners of the Eastern World they faced the dangers and distresses which beset them with calm courage and made good use of the opportunities of their calling for the furtherance of knowledge.” Among the documents presented is the record of a journey from Yezd (Persia) to Herat (Afghanistan) and from Herat to Kabul via Kandahar, undertaken in 1826 by a French officer and translated into English in 1839 by a British officer in Kabul for transmission to the East India Company; the account of the journey by Major Elliott D’Arcy Todd from Herat to Simla (present-day India) in 1838; the February 7, 1838, report by Sir Alexander Burnes on the state of Herat and the surrounding region; and the English translation of a report in Persian of a mission undertaken by a Persian adventurer, Mohamed Hoosain, on behalf of the amir of Kabul to the king of Persia in 1837‒38. The purpose of this journey, as explained by Mohamed Hoosain, was to sound out the Persian ruler on an arrangement to protect Afghanistan against the Sikh kingdom that was then threatening from the east. The report was translated in early 1839 by order of Burnes (then British resident in Kabul, who was later to be killed in the uprising of 1841) and transmitted to Bombay as part of the historical record.

Last updated: March 23, 2017