Page 11. " in the year of the Great Exhibition "

The Great Exhibition of 1851
Public DomainThe Great Exhibition of 1851
 The Great Exhibition was a display of science, culture and industry held at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London.  Between May and October 1851 six million people visited the exhibition.

 

Page 13. " dominions of the East India Company "

Flag of the British East India Company
Public DomainFlag of the British East India Company - Credit: Yaddah
The East India Company was formed in 1600 to deal with trade between England and the East Indies, though they ended up trading mainly with India and China instead.  By the 18th century, the Company had gained military and administrative power over large areas of India.  Following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British Crown took control of India (as the newly-formed British Raj) and in 1874 the East India Company was dissolved. 

Page 16. " the towering peak of Nanda Devi "

Nanda Devi
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeNanda Devi - Credit: Anirban c8
Nanda Devi is India's second highest mountain.  It has two peaks, with the west summit being the highest.  The name Nanda Devi means 'bliss-giving goddess'.

 

Page 20. " to pray at the Juma Masjid "

The Red Fort, Delhi
Creative Commons AttributionThe Red Fort, Delhi - Credit: Stevekeiretsu
The Juma (or Jama) Masjid in Delhi is the largest mosque in India.  It was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in 1656 and is situated opposite the historic Red Fort, which is also referred to in The Far Pavilions

 

Page 22. " brought cholera with them "
Cholera
Public DomainCholera - Credit: Folcrum

Cholera is a disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae and can be transmitted to humans through contaminated food or water.  The symptoms of cholera include vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps and dehydration.  If untreated, cholera can be fatal and was a serious illness in the 19th century.  In developed countries it is no longer a major health threat, but is still common in poorer parts of the world.

Cholera factsheet

Page 23. " roosting in the sal trees "
Sal tree
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSal tree - Credit: J.M.Garg

The sal tree, Shorea robusta, is found in Southern Asia, particularly India, Bangladesh and Nepal.  It can grow as high as 30-35m tall, with a trunk of 2-2.5m diameter.  Sal trees are an important source of hardwood timber used in construction. 

The resin can be burnt as incense and is also used in Ayurvedic medicine.