The Long Strider in Jehangir’s Hindustan



‘[A] magical book.’—Ranjit Hoskote

‘Following in the footsteps of one of the great British eccentrics, Dom Moraes and Sarayu Srivatsa forge a narrative that brings people and places to vibrant life. Coryate lives again!’—Jerry Pinto

This dual travelogue tells the extraordinary story of a maverick’s 5000-mile journey on foot from England to India, across the forbidding Arabian desert and the treacherous Hindukush mountains, and then his wanderings in Mughal India.

In the early 1600s, Thomas Coryate, writer and wanderer, decided to walk from his village in Somerset to the Indies—to the court of the ‘Great Mogul’, Jehangir—and onwards to China. His search was for fame, not fortune—he wanted to be the first Englishman to write about those distant lands. Above all, he wanted to prove himself to his many sceptics in Prince Henry’s court, and to the beautiful Anne Harcourt, whom he loved deeply, only to be hurt.

To reach the court of Jehnagir, Coryate survived penury, loneliness, ridicule and extreme hostility; but disillusionment awaited him at the end of his journey: despite her many wonders and charms, he was also shocked and repelled by India, and the emperor made a mockery of his dream. Coryate died in the port city of Surat and was buried there in an obscure grave.

Interwoven with the narrative about Coryate’s quest is the account of the authors’ own travels through the cities and towns the Englishman visited four hundred years before. In his footsteps, they go to Delhi, Agra (which Coryate saw before the Taj was built), Allahabad, Varanasi, Haridwar, Kangra, Mandu, Ajmer, Pushkar and Surat—and discover that while India has changed beyond recognition since Coryate first experienced it, in some ways it hasn’t changed at all.

Part biography, part travelogue, part history, The Long Strider, written with elegance, wit and insight, is a compelling read.

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