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Bronislav Grombchevsky

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Bronislav Grombchevsky

Bronislav Grombchevsky
Bronislav Grombchevsky
Born 15 January 1855
Kaunatava, Russian Empire
Died 31 July 1926
Nationality Russian
Ethnicity Polish
Alma mater Saint Petersburg Mining Institute
Occupation Russian Army officer, explorer

Bronislav Grombchevsky (Russian: Бронислав Людвигович Громбчевский; Polish: Bronisław Grąbczewski, 1855–1926) was an ethnic Polish officer in the Imperial Russian Army and an explorer/spy, famed for his participation in The Great Game.

Grombchevsky traveled extensively in the Far East and Central Asia during the period 1888–92. He is regarded as the Russian counterpart to the British military-explorer Francis Younghusband. The two Great Game rivals famously met in 1889 when they were exploring the Raskam Valley for their respective governments.[1]

His name also appears in English as "Gromtchevsky" and "Gromchevsky".


  • Career 1
    • Early years 1855–85 1.1
    • Expeditions 1885–92 1.2
    • Later years 1893–1926 1.3
  • Death 2
  • Transliteration 3
  • Works 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Sources 7


Early years 1855–85

Grombchevsky was born on January 15, 1855, in the family mansion in what is now the town of Kaunatava (now Lithuania). His father, Louis Grąbczewski, partook in the Polish uprising of 1863 and was sent to Siberia, while his estate and property were confiscated. Therefore, his mother and other relatives moved to Warsaw, where Grombchevsky entered a Russian classical school.

In 1873, Grombchevsky entered the Saint Petersburg Mining Institute but left before completing his studies to join the Life Grenadier Regiment of the Imperial Russian Guard at Kexholm. He took leave to attend infantry school in Warsaw and returned to the regiment with the rank of Praporshchik. Unable to maintain payments of an annual fee to remain in the Guard, he joined the Army Corps in March 1876 and was transferred to the 14th Battalion on the Turkestan line, then headquarters of the Turkestan Military District. There, Grombchevsky served as orderly to General Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev and participated in the general's campaigns. During this time, he learned the Uzbek, Tajik, and Persian languages, which later helped him on his expeditions in Central Asia.

Expeditions 1885–92

In 1885, as a senior officer for special assignments in military governor of Fergana, Grombchevsky led an expedition along the Chinese border in Kashgar and the border areas of the Tian Shan mountains. In 1886, he led another in the Central Tian Shan Basin and Naryn (upper reaches of the river Syr Darya). For these expeditions, he was awarded a silver medal by the Russian Geographical Society.

Grombchevsky then entered the astronomical faculty of St. Petersburg University, where he received theoretical and practical skills in surveying, geodesy, and cartography, after which he returned to Turkestan.

In 1888, he led an expedition from Margilan through passages in the Pamirs along the Gilgit River (a tributary of the Indus). On the way back explore the Muztagh Ata Peak (7,548 m) and left tributaries of the Raskemdarya river, which becomes the Yarkand river lower down and flows into the Tarim Basin.

In 1889, he returned to the Raskemdarya basin. He explored the Raskem (6,482 m) and Tohtakorum (5,419 m) ranges and the Kirchinbulak river (left tributary of the Raskemdarya). He reached the foot of Chogori (K2) and the northern ridge of Agil-Karakorum (7,693 m). By late November, he found the sources of the Tiznaf river (提孜那甫河, right tributary of the Yarkand). In December, he followed the Karakash (part of Hotan) into Tibet to Karangutag (7,160 m) between the Black Jade River and White Jade River in Hotan. In the spring of 1890, he climbed along the Kerry and to Ustyuntag (6,920 m) and along the Liushi Shan (7,160 m).

In 1892, he took part in the military expedition to the Pamir under a Major-General Mikhail Ionov.

In 1893, Grombchevsky was promoted to colonel. For his expeditions (1888-1892), he was awarded a gold medal by the Russian Geographical Society.

Later years 1893–1926

In 1900, Grombchevski became a major general and civil commissioner of Kwantung province in China. He then served as its governor (1903-1905) and managed the Astrakhan Ataman of Astrakhan Cossack army (1905-1907). He represented the Russian "Red Cross" in Morocco during the war between Spain and France with local insurgents (1908-1909).

During the revolution he lost all his property, was imprisoned in Siberia and escaped via Japan to Poland.

Finally, he returned to Poland, where he worked in the State Institute of Meteorology and wrote many books about his travels in Central Asia.


Grombchevsky died in Warsaw on February 27, 1926, at the age of 71 years.


Francis Younghusband wrote his name "Gromtchevsky" and Peter Hopkirk spelled it "Gromchevsky."


  • Report on Kashgar and Yuzhnu Kashgar (1887)
  • The current political situation in the Pamir khanates and the border line in Kashmir (1891)
  • Our interest in the Pamirs: A Military-Political Essay (1891)
  • Kashgar (1924)
  • Through the Pamirs and Hindu Kush to the Sources of the Indus (1925)
  • In the Deserts of Raskem and Tibet (1925)
  • In the Russian Service (1926)
  • Traveling in Central Asia (1958)

See also


  1. ^ "Geographical Expeditions". Nature 43 (1111): 352–354. 12 February 1891.  


  • 1911 Edition, Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Peter Hopkirk. The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia, Kodansha International, 1992, ISBN 4-7700-1703-0, 565p.
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