Here is one of my most prized pieces in my collection. A map I bought off Ebay for 10 British Pounds a few years ago. I have finally managed to scan this map and piece it together in Photoshop. It was in bits when I bought it. It’s a large field map of Kumaon and British Gurhwal from 1850. I will upload a larger version of the map when I get a chance.
This has got to be one of the first Survey of India maps of the region. Closer inspection of the map shows some very interesting of evidence of an attempt by the British cartographers to rename peaks. Notice the names of the peaks in the Gangotri region such as the Bhagirathi Group and Shivling bear the names such as St George, St Patrick, St Andrew and St David.
Judging by the level of detail on the rest of the map there is now way the cartographers were ignorant of either the established names of these mountains or the religious significance of the region.
In fact that they have named them after Christian saints and this right in the middle of the one of the holiest of Hindu pilgrimage sites. It is an obvious attempt to ‘Christianise’ the names of these peaks. Luckily they didn’t go the way of Everest which was called Sagarmatha in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet.
Charles Allen notes in his book A Mountain in Tibet that the early British explorers tried to name Shivling after a Governor-General: “The British called it Mt Moria, in honour if the new Governor-General, Lord Moira. But to the Indians it was Mahadeo ka Ling, now known more simply as the Shivling mountain.”
I glad that the traditional names were the ones which endured and the peaks are still called names like Bhagirathi, Shivling, Meru, Kedar Dome, Satopant, Thale Sagar, Sudarshan Parbat, Srikanth, Thale Sagar, Thelu, Sato Panth, Chandera, Vasuri Parvat – instead of St Andrew, St David etc.