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Ghulam Rassul Galwan
(? -1925)



Ghulam Rassul Galwan was born in the mid-nineteenth century in the small mountain village of Leh. The Ladakhi family was a poor one, and as a child Ghulam helped his mother winnow wheat, watched the goats while they grazed, or collected animal dung for fuel. Yet Ghulam was an ambitious and clever child whose determination to read and write was met with derision by his mother, who sent him to work for a tailor instead.  That was not a success, so the enterprising young man eventually found work with the British sahibs.
His career as one of the most famous porters of the era saw him working with a number of key expeditions in Central Asia, including accompanying Younghusband through Chinese Turkestan, journeying with Lord Dunmore through the Pamir mountains and travelling with the Littledales across Tibet. In a literature dominated by the European perspective, Ghulam’s autobiographical account provides a rare insight into a forgotten world of intrepid voyagers whose native names are now largely lost to history.

Servant of Sahibs

Rassul Galwan

ISBN 1590480902



There has never been another book remotely similar to “Servant of Sahibs”!

It is the remarkable, but true, story of Rassul Galwan, a native of Ladakh who early on in life became a trusted assistant to various nineteenth century European explorers. Setting off at a young age, Galwan was soon to be found in the company of adventure travelers like Sir Francis Younghusband, who explored the Tibetan plateau, the Pamir mountains and the deserts of Central Asia.

Quietly bringing up the rear of these now-famous caravans was Rassul Galwan. Having taught himself how to run the expedition, the intelligent mountaineer was soon turning his talents to acquiring languages, picking up a working knowledge of Chinese and English, among others.

It was with this rudimentary English vocabulary that Rassul Galwan authored “Servants of Sahibs”, the only account of its kind.  “Everywhere he like, there he go. From top hills to hills tops,” Galwan wrote about his life of journeying. The resulting delightful book is a first-hand account of the most famous Central Asian expedi­tions, as seen by Galwan, and the natives involved. The story remains as entertaining as the day it was written, its pages filled with excitement, adventure and laughter.  


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