BUCHANAN-HAMILTON FRANCIS, 1762-1829

Buchanan ( ಬುಕನನ್-ಹ್ಯಾಮಿಲ್ಟನ್ ಫ್ರಾನ್ಸಿಸ್) was one of the travellers from the United Kingdom who was commissioned to visit certain parts of India and write a report based on his experiences and observations. He was a physician by training even though his contributions from his soujourn in India are more concerned with his expertise as a geographer, botanist and zoologist. He undertook a detailed exploratory study of the regions that came under his perview. He was asked by the East India Company to write a report on the topography, history, antiquities, religion, natural products and cultural achivements of those regions. This work prepared him suitably for his later meanderings in the southern parts of India. After the defeat of Tippu Sultan in the fourth war of Mysore, Buchanan was given an assignment to survey South India. This shows the the awareness of the colonial rulers of the fact that an encyclopaediac knowledge about the areas under their governance will go a long a way in retaining that control.

            However Buchanan undertook the journey in 1800 and travelled itinerantly for one year. His journey began and culminated in Madras. He made extensive notes running to one thousand and five hundred pages and thus created a huge body of information and knowledge which is important even to this day. Among the places that he visited in Karnataka Tekal, Malur, Bangalore, Doddaballapur, Sira, Mangalore, Bidanur, Sonda, Ikkeri and Hiriyur are important. His experiences documented in the form of a diary were sent to England. Dr Wilkins who studied this material realised its importnace and ordered its immediate publication. Consequently the huge volume was published verbatim with the title, ‘A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar’  in 1807.

         The volume which runs to one thousand and five hundred pages contains twenty chapters and contains meticulously collected information about the flora, fauna, food and commercial crops, domistication of animals, claimate, mining, festivals and rituals. The material is presented in the form of tables and graphs also. The book has served as a veritable source for the succeeding historians such C.Hayavadana Rao, B.Krishnayyangar and B.L.Rice. It’s to be noted that Buchanan made copies of many stone and copper inscriptions of Karnataka and they were sent to Calcutta. He could lay his hands on many a script (kaData) giving important tit bits  about the history of Karnataka. Dr Srinivasa Havanur  the well known scholar appreciates the historical sense and an eye for details possessed by Buchanan. The ‘Tiger and The Thistle- Tipu Sultan and the Scots In India’ is another book written by Dr Francis Buchanan.  

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