Abbottabad from the Southern Hill

Abbottabad from the Southern Hill

c. 1908

Some places during the Raj were photographer much less than others - one things of Assam (besides missionary cards), the whole of East Bengal (now Bangladesh), cities like Shikarpur and Abbottabad, of which this is a rare card. Abbottabad was a cantonment in Frontier province named in 1853 after a British Deputy Commissioner of the larger Hazara District the town is found in, Major James Abbott. He wrote a poem about it before he returned to Britain; some have called it one of the worst poems ever written:

Abbottabad, by James Abbott

I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air

The trees and ground covered with snow
Gave us indeed a brilliant show

To me the place seemed like a dream
And far ran a lonesome stream

The wind hissed as if welcoming us
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss

And the tiny cuckoo sang it away
A song very melodious and gay

I adored the place from the first sight
And was happy that my coming here was right

And eight good years here passed very soon
And we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon

Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now
To your natural beauty do I bow

Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear
My gift for you is a few sad tears

I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will your memories thwart