Kim is scheduled for Literature in Term 3 of Ambleside Online Year 5. I started listing vocabulary that I thought may need some explanation and research but then I came across this very helpful chapter by chapter resource at the Kipling Society website. I think it covers just about everything that could possibly be problematic, plus some!
To get some background on India culturally and historically, I got together the following maps, websites, books and images that I thought were (or could be) helpful:
For a general background on India, these books by Bobbie Kalman are well done:
'The major world religions and their beliefs about God. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and New Age...'
Fairly simple explanation of various religious beliefs with a little graphic to describe each one. I read through some of this with Moozle prior to her starting Kim.
The notes on the Kipling Society web pages I linked to above define the various religious beliefs/cultures as they come up in the story, but I liked the graphics at this website which helped explain things more clearly.
Kim was published in 1901 and the setting was India under British rule. In 1947, Colonial India was divided into two separate states: India and Pakistan (the Partition of India). The map below shows India prior to Partition.
There is some history here and maps to show the changes which occurred as a result of Partition.
Zam-Zammah, Kim's gun.
He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib–Gher — the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum.
(Kim: Ch 1)
The Grand Trunk Road - map and photos
‘Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers, barbers and bunnias, pilgrims and potters — all the world going and coming. It is to me as a river from which I am withdrawn like a log after a flood.’
And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle. It runs straight, bearing without crowding India’s traffic for fifteen hundred miles — such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world.
(Kim, Chapter 3)
'The Great Game' - the struggle between the British and Russian Empires for supremacy in Central Asia. In Chapter 3 of Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World, Volume 4, she writes about Russia and Britain's attempts to try to gain control of Afghanistan. This chapter is scheduled in Week 26 of Ambleside Online Year 5.
More on The Great Game here (for children) and here.
Benares, now known as Varanasi (Kashi); Ganges River. Some great photos here
Simla (Shimla) c.1900 the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, and the summer capital of the British-Indian Empire.
The Spiti Valley is a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayan Mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name "Spiti" means "The Middle Land", i.e. the land between Tibet and India.
Sepoys - Indian soldiers under the command of the British