The Great Hedge of India is a book of history and travel. It tells of my chance discovery, in 1995, of a reference to a gigantic 1500-mile long hedge that the British had grown across nineteenth-century India. It describes my efforts to find its remains. There are no previous books about this hedge.
More than a search for a piece of forgotten history though, the book describes a personal quest. Chapters on the history of the customs hedge, and tales of the men who built it, are interspersed with chapters on my hunt for its remnants. The book tells of my searches - at the beginning, merely on a whim; later as an obsession. It tells of how I looked for the elusive hedge, first in libraries and archives, and then on the ground in India. I took lessons in Hindi, and taught myself land navigation. As my researches progressed, I found that the hedge I had thought merely a piece of eccentricity was actually an instrument of oppression. It was used to collect a tax on salt set so high that many Indians suffered from salt starvation.
There were three trips to India. These involved journeys to remote villages and bandit-infested places, and meetings with many unusual people. There were humorous incidents, but many disappointments. It seemed that all traces and memories of the customs hedge had disappeared until, on the final expedition in 1998, my perseverance was rewarded.
Marathi - Moraya Prakishan, Mumbai, 2007
Hindi - National book Trust, New Delhi, 2012
Tamil - Ezhuthu 2015, ezhuthu.net