The Flowers of Time is set in Kashmir and Ladakh in the 1780s. They are now part of the Indian Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
Edie and Jones travel together from Srinagar in Kashmir to Leh in Ladakh, which they call Little Tibet, following roughly this route.
The road is now India’s National Highway 1. It is usually closed November and mid-June because of the high snowfall and in the late eighteenth century it would have been difficult to travel even using ponies-travel was largely on foot until the Treaty Road was made in the nineteenth century. Edie and Jones are a little before their time. If you click through to the google map, you can use Street View and see some of the scenery they would have passed through.
This was a completely new era for me and cost me a lot of research-time. The project was inspired by this article about plant hunters on the BBC Website in 2018 that swam round in my head for quite a while.
When I got going, I relied heavily on ‘Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India‘ by Shashi Tharoor for background, plus ‘She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen: British women in India 1600 – 1900‘ by Katie Hickman about women in India and ‘The Honourable Company: a History of the English East India Company‘ by John Keay. I recommend these three as giving a reasonable overview of the pre-British Empire period.
I also did a lot of reading about the Victorian flower-painter Marianne North ‘A Vision Of Eden: The Life And Work Of Marianne North‘ and found ‘Among the Tibetans‘ by Isabella Bird illuminating. I based a lot of their adventures on Isabella’s journey.