The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts from 'Account of the valley of Munnipore and of the Hill Tribes' by Major W. McCulloch

caption: villages on the tops of hills; lack of roads; Colonel Guthrie's road
medium: articles
person: Guthrie/ Col.
ethnicgroup: Koupooee
location: Barak R. Eeerung R. Laimakak R.
person: McCulloch/ Major W.
date: 1858
refnum: from: Selections from the Records of the Government of India, No. 27 (Calcutta) 1859
text: To all the villages the ascents are laborious, and to some of them from the great steepness excessively so, but throughout the hills occupied by the Songboos, I am not aware of there being any roads made by them to facilitate general travelling, or for the convenience of communication between villages. Their roads are mere paths overgrown (44) with jungle, except in the neighbourhood of their villages, where it is cut down, and these paths being selected not for the ease of travelling by them, but for their directness are generally over the steepest parts. A hill man does not appreciate an easy ascent if it be circuitous. This is clearly shown in the Munnipore road, constructed by Colonel Guthrie, then a Captain of Engineers, many parts of which are quite untravelled by the hill people, who prefer the steep ascent of the rough face of the hill to the gradual but circuitous one of the road, and this even with loads on their backs. Even the inhabitant of the plains is tempted to leave the circuitous parts of the road and to take the short cuts, yet I have heard persons condemn the line selected by Captain Guthrie saying, he should have avoided its ascents and descents by carrying his road along the banks of the Barak, Eeerung and Laimatak Rivers which consecutively join one another. Had this been done the ascents and descents of the present line would, they said, have been avoided, and a road better fitted for traffic have been made. I question, however, whether these advocates of the line by the banks of the Rivers, would themselves travel along it twice in preference to the present line, and I am certain that no other traveller, except by compulsion, would follow such a route. The direct distance across the mountains from the Jeeree River to the Valley of Munnipore is about forty miles, by the road it is eighty, and by the line proposed it would be certainly five or six times eighty.
text: On the Burmese Frontier in this direction Captain Guthrie was called the "path finder" and his lining this road was the cause of admiration, not only to the Burmese but to the whole of the inhabitants of these mountains. His name is remembered with affection by the hill men amongst whom, to forward the work on which he was employed, he expended of his private funds more than rupees seven thousand.