The entire length of the province is about 200 miles, and its greatest breadth, exclusive of the Runn, 45 miles. Within its area is to be found a surface as varied as irregular. From the dead level of the Runn and the cultivated plain which borders the gulf to the culmination of the highland in the hill of Nurra in the interior, the aspect and nature of the country is much diversified. Several other hills tower above the surrounding heights with outlines marked and peculiar, and form a distinctive feature in the scenery ; but Nurra is of the greatest altitude, and being somewhat nearer than most of them to the seashore, its aspect is well known to mariners and to those who go down to the sea in ships on that coast. All kinds of hunting countries are to be found in this space ; and the sportsman may, according to his taste or the season of the year, ride a pig either on the open plain of the Runn or the level in the neighbourhood of the sea-coast the latter consisting of open land and fields enclosed by immense hedges of piled-up Bair brush or diversify his sport by a gallop over the stony hills or among the rivers, ravines, and nullahs of the interior. Pig were formerly in most parts exceedingly plentiful; but those halcyon days are, alas ! past. And though at some periods of the year they do collect in large numbers in certain favoured spots, the hunter must be content with a comparatively moderate bag.
Strange to say, the felinae do not affect this varied, but in many parts more than commonly barren, country. Tigers, as residents, are unknown in it; and only a few of the leopard tribe haunt the wilder portions of the hills. The jungles are probably not sufficiently thick or extensive to render them a safe abode for the larger wild animals.
This little known country favoured or unfavoured as it may be deemed, according to the taste and occupations of its visitor is governed by a Rajpoot prince of the Jhareja tribe, and is a tributary of the British Government. The capital of the country is Bhooj, near to which is established a small force of British troops, formerly consisting of a horse battery of European artillery and a regiment of native infantry. After these preliminary observations I proceed with my narrative.
It was the cold season, and the annual review and inspection of the troops by the general officer commanding the division was over, and applications for leave of absence on private affairs were again recognised and entertained as legitimate appeals to the favourable consideration of the authorities.
For the previous two or three months attendance at all parades and drills had been rigidly enforced ; but now a season of partial rest had succeeded to the duties which had occupied the military attention, and the urgent calls of a sporting nature, simultaneously experienced by several members of the garrison, met with a commendable approval and sanction.
But a week of January had yet passed, so that the season was at its coldest; and that in Cutch is pleasantly bracing to the English constitution, the thermometer indeed occasionally approaching freezing point. It was, therefore, with much energy and enjoyment that, one afternoon, a few years ago, a party of ten cantered along the dusty road which led from Bhooj to Lodye, situated near the edge of the Runn, and distant about seventeen or eighteen miles from the station. On the previous day satisfactory khubber had been brought in to Lieutenant Norman, the secretary of the Bhooj Hunt, by the son of old Natta, the shikaree, and Lodye had been fixed upon as the first place of meet.