Crisis in the Western Himalayas: Reports of J D Cunningham 1841-1842
Between 1834 to 1840 Zorawar Singh, the famous Dogra general of Jammu (a feudatory state of Lahore Durbar), conquered Ladakh and Baltistan. After a year, he followed up this success by occupying a large part of Western Tibet. This aggression caused a major crisis, which pulled in a number of big and small powers viz. China, Tibet, Lahore Durbar, Jammu, Ladakh, Bashahr, Nepal and British India. In these circumstances, the British Indian government deputed J.D. Cunningham to the northern frontier in order to report on a potentially volatile situation, even as the First Opium War was in progress. Encamped in a remote village of Kinnaur, he sent detailed reports on the movement of armies, nature of warfare and diplomatic exchanges. He also made copious observations on the changing patterns of long distance trade which sustained the societies of affected areas. He paid a particular attention to the most important item of this trade, shawl wool, which lay at the root of the imbroglio. The present volume provides the original text of Cunningham’s reports, along with a critical introduction and complementary annotation. An invaluable and authentic source of information for several historical dimensions of the early nineteenth century, this book will be of immense interest to the students of British colonialism, princely states, commercial networks, international relations and defence studies.