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Diary of a Pedestrian in Cashmere and Thibet

Diary of a Pedestrian
 in Cashmere and Thibet.
Captain Knight
To those for whose perusal the following pages were originally written
they are affectionately dedicated.
With the fullest sense of the responsibility incurred by the addition
of another volume to the countless numbers already existing, and daily
appearing in the world, the following Diary has been committed to the
press, trusting that, as it was not written WITH INTENT to publication,
the unpremeditated nature of the offence may be its extenuation, and
that as a faithful picture of travel in regions where excursion trains
are still unknown, and Travellers' Guides unpublished, the book may
not be found altogether devoid of interest or amusement. Its object
is simply to bring before the reader's imagination those scenes and
incidents of travel which have already been a source of enjoyment to
the writer, and to impart, perhaps, by their description, some portion
of the gratification which has been derived from their reality. With
this view, the original Diary has undergone as little alteration of
form or matter as possible, and is laid before the reader as it was
sketched and written during the leisure moments of a wandering life,
hoping that faithfulness of detail may atone in it for faults and
failings in a literary and artistic point of view.
Although the journey it describes was written without the advantages
of a previous acquaintance with the writings of those who had already
gone over the same ground, subsequent research has added much to the
interest of the narrative, and information thus obtained has been
added either in the form of Notes or Appendix. Under the latter head,
acknowledgment is principally due to an able and interesting essay
on the architecture of Cashmere, by Capt. Cunningham, and also to a
paper by M. Klaproth, both of whom appear to have treated more fully
than any other writers the subjects to which they refer.
As differences will be found to occur in the names of places,
&c. between the parts thus added and the remainder of the book,
it may be well to explain that in the former only are they spelt
according to the usually received method of rendering words of Eastern
origin in the Roman character. By this system the letters A, E, I,
O, and U, are given the sounds of the corresponding Italian vowels;
I and U are pronounced as in "hit" and "put;" and the letter A is
made to represent the short U in the word "cut." In this way it is
that Cashmere, correctly pronounced Cushmere, comes to be written
Kashmir, and Mutun, pronounced as the English word "mutton,"[1] is
written Matan, both of which, to the initiated, represent the true
sound of the words. Those who have adopted the system, however, have
not always employed it throughout, nor given with it the key by which
it alone becomes intelligible; and the result has been that in many
ways, but principally from the un-English use made of the letter A,
it has tended quite as much to mislead and confuse, as to direct.
In the narrative, therefore, wherever custom has not already
established a particular form of spelling, the explanation of the
sound has been attempted in the manner which seemed least liable to
misconception, and, except as regards the letters A and U no particular
system has been followed. These have been invariably given the sounds
they possess in the words "path" and "cut" respectively, a circumflex
being placed over the latter to denote the short U in the word "put."
Such names, therefore, as Cushmere, Tibbut, Muhummud, Hijra, &c. have
been left as custom has ruled them, and will appear in their more
well-known costume of Cashmere, Thibet, Mahomet, and Hegira.
The concluding sketch was originally intended to accompany a series
of brightly-coloured Cashmerian designs illustrative of the life of
"Krishna;" and the reproduction of these, in their integrity, not
having been found feasible, the sketch itself may appear DE TROP.
It has, however, been retained on the possibility of the translations
which occur in it being of interest to those who may not be acquainted
with the style of Eastern religious literature; while the outline it
presents of some of the religions of the East, bare and simple as
it is, may be acceptable to such as are not inclined to search out
and study for themselves the necessarily voluminous and complicated
More than a year and a half had been spent in the hottest parts of the
plains of India, and another dreaded hot season was rapidly making its
approach, when, together with a brother officer, I applied for and
obtained six months' leave of absence for the purpose of travelling
in Cashmere and the Himalayas, otherwise called by Anglo-Indians
"The Hills."
We had been long enough in the country to have discovered that the
gorgeous East of our imagination, as shadowed forth in the delectable
pages of the "Arabian Nights," had little or no connexion with the
East of our experience -- the dry and dusty East called India, as it
appeared, wasted and dilapidated, in its first convalescence from the
fever into which it had been thrown by the Mutiny of 1857 -- 58. We
were not long, therefore, in making our arrangements for escaping from
Allahabad, with the prospect before us of exchanging the discomforts
of another hot season in the plains, for the pleasures of a sojourn in
the far-famed valley of Cashmere, and a tramp through the mountains of
the Himalayas -- the mountains, whose very name breathes of comfort and
consolation to the parched up dweller in the plains. The mountains of
"the abode of snow!"
Our expeditionary force consisted at starting of but one besides the
brother officer above alluded to -- the F. of the following pages
-- and myself. This was my Hindoo bearer, Mr. Rajoo, whose duty
it was to make all the necessary arrangements for our transport
and general welfare, and upon whose shoulders devolved the entire
management of our affairs. He acted to the expedition in the capacity
of quartermaster-general, adjutant-general, commissary-general,
and paymaster to the forces; and, as he will figure largely in the
following pages, under the title of the "Q.M.G.," and comes, moreover,
under the head of "a naturally dark subject," a few words devoted to
his especial description and illumination may not be out of place.
With the highest admiration for England, and a respect for the
Englishman, which extended to the very lining of their pockets,
Mr. Rajoo possessed, together with many of the faults of his race,
a certain humour, and an amount of energy most unusual among the
family of the mild Hindoo. He had, moreover, travelled much with
various masters, in what are, in his own country, deemed "far lands;"
and having been wounded before Delhi, he had become among the rest of
his people an authority, and to the Englishman in India an invaluable
medium for their coercion and general management.
To us he proved a most efficient incumbent of the several offices
we selected him to fill. His administration no doubt did display an
occasional weakness; and his conduct as paymaster to the forces was
decidedly open to animadversion; for, in this capacity, he seemed to
be under the impression that payments, like charity, began at home,
and he also laboured under a constitutional and hereditary infirmity,
which prevented him in small matters from discerning any difference
between MEUM and TUUM.
Having been employed collectively, however, it would be unfair to judge
of his performances in detail; and from his satisfactory management
of the expedition, occasionally under such trying circumstances as a
break-down in the land transport, or an utter failure in his tobacco
supply, we had every reason to be satisfied with our choice. The
latter misfortune was the only one which really interfered at any time
with his efficiency, or upset his equanimity, and it unfortunately
occurred always at the most inopportune seasons, and at a time when
he was undergoing his greatest hardships.
As long as the supply lasted, the mysterious gurglings of his "Hubble
Bubble," or cocoa-nut water-pipe, might be heard at almost any hour of
the day or night. "Hubble bubble, toil and trouble," was the natural
order of his existence; and when in some peculiarly uncivilised region
of our wanderings, the compound of dirt, sugar, and tobacco, in which
his soul delighted, was not forthcoming, he and his pipe seemed at
once to lose their vitality, and to become useless together. The
temporary separation which ensued, being in its way a MENSA ET THORO,
was a source of trouble and inconvenience to all concerned, and we had,
more than once, cause to regret not having given the tobacco question
that forethought and consideration to which it would be well entitled
by any one undertaking a similar expedition.
Overlooking these weaknesses, Mr. Rajoo's character was beyond
reproach, and for the particular work he had to perform, his
combination of efficiency, portability, and rascality, rendered him
in every respect "the right man in the right place."
Such was our "head of affairs," and such the small force he had at
first to provide for. As we passed out of India, and got further from
regions of comparative civilisation, his cares increased: cellar,
kitchen, larder, farm-yard, tents, &c. had then to accompany our
wandering steps, and the expedition gradually increased in size,
until it attained its maximum of nearly forty. From this it again as
gradually decreased, and as one by one our retainers disappeared, it
dwindled in dimensions until it finally reached its original limited
proportions, and then "we three met again," once more upon the plains
of India.
All our necessary preparations having been completed, and a sacrifice
of three precious weeks having been duly offered to the inexorable
genius who presides over public correspondence, we reduced our
impedimenta to the smallest possible compass, and with about a
hundred pounds to commence life with, all in two shilling pieces,
that being the only available coin of the realm in this our second
century of British administration, we took our departure by railway for
Cawnpore. Here we found ourselves located and hospitably entertained in
the house in which our unfortunate fellow-countrywomen were confined
on their recapture from the river by the Nana Sahib, one of the few
mementos of the mutiny still left standing at Cawnpore.
Next day we laid our dak for Simla, and about six o'clock in
the evening, with the Q.M.G. on the roof, and ourselves and our
possessions stowed away in the innumerable holes and corners of
the rude wooden construction called a "Dak garee," or post coach,
we took our departure. After a few mishaps with our steed, involving
the necessity of getting out to shove behind, we entered upon the
Grand Trunk Road, and with a refreshing sense of freedom and relief,
soon left Cawnpore in all its native dust and dreariness behind us.
The Pleasures of the Plains.
MAY 21, 1860. -- Being fairly under weigh, our first attention was
directed towards the machine which was to be, in a great measure, our
home for many days to come. Not overburdened with springs, and not much
to look at, though decidedly an extraordinary one to go, our conveyance
was by no means uncomfortable; and, stretched upon a mattress extending
its entire length, F. and I chatted over our plans and projects, and
star-gazed, and soon fell asleep, in spite of the ruts on the road
and the wild discordant bugling of our ragged coachman, who seemed
to consider that, however inferior in other respects, in a matter
of music we were not to be outdone, not even by Her Majesty's own
royal mail. At first sight, the necessity of trying to clear such
lonely roads as we were travelling was not altogether apparent;
but a slight acquaintance with the general principles and laws of
progression of the national Indian institution called a bullock-cart,
or "beil-garee," soon clears up the difficulty. Built entirely of wood,
and held together by scraps of ropes and cord, a more hopeless-looking
machine cannot exist; and drivers and bullocks alike share in the
general woodenness and impassibility of the structure. The animals,
too, having probably lost all the better feelings of their nature
in such a service, are appealed to entirely through the medium of
their tails, and the operation occasionally results in the whole
creaking mass being safely deposited in some capacious rut, there to
remain until "the Fates" -- assuming, perhaps, the appearance of three
additional bullocks -- arrive to draw it out again. Occasionally, too,
the institution comes to a halt for the night, comfortably drawn up
in the centre of the line of traffic, with a delightful disregard
for aught but the present, and an air of supreme contempt for the
most eloquent music of all the ragged coachmen on the Grand Trunk Road.
Every five miles we stopped to change our horse, and miserable
indeed was the raw-boned little animal that made his appearance on
every occasion. Still the pace was kept up in spite of appearances,
and at seven A.M. we reached "Ghoorsahagunge" -- more generally known
as GOOSEYGUNGE -- sixty miles from Cawnpore, and 197 from Delhi.
Here we slept in peace until eleven o'clock, and awoke from dreams
of Cashmere to the unpleasant realities of a violent dust-storm. The
usual "Khus-khus tatties," or screens of fragrant grass, which are
kept in a continual state of moisture at door and window, and convert
the dust-charged scorching blast into a comparative coolness, were
not forthcoming, and our halt was not a pleasant one by any means:
still our faces were towards the mountains, and the pleasures of hope
enabled us to take our misfortunes with entire philosophy. We started
again about five P.M., when the power of the sun was somewhat abated,
and encountered the usual difficulties with refractory horses at every
change. A start was in no case effected without much management and
exertion. A half-naked black generally attaches himself to each wheel;
the driver, from a post of vantage, belabours the miserable horse with
all his might and main; the Q.M.G. takes a firm hold of the rails on
the roof; and all shouting, grunting, and using bad language together,
away we go at full gallop, if we are in unusual luck, for about 300
yards. Then comes a dead stop: the same operation commences again,
and so on, until the animal is sufficiently far from his last stable
to be able to look forward with some confidence to the one ahead,
and resigns himself to circumstances accordingly. One peculiarity in
this peculiar country we found to be, that in putting our steed-to,
the English custom is reversed. The cart is "put-to," not the horse;
and the latter being left standing anywhere on the road, the lumbering
"garee" is dragged up to his tail, and fastened up with a combination
of straps and ropes, marvellous to behold.
MAY 23. -- To-day we arrived at "Etawah," where we found a very
comfortable little staging bungalow, but no supplies of either beer
or butter procurable. On the road in the early morning there were
herds of deer and antelope in sight, but time being precious we left
them unmolested.
As yet very little change makes its appearance in the character of
the country. Level plains, with patches of trees, mango and palm,
as far as the eye can reach, and everywhere dust, dust, dust! The
palm-trees, however, with toddy parties scattered about among them,
serve to make the scene look cheerful, and, for an eastern one,
comparatively lively. In the evening we again took the road, with a hot
wind blowing strongly and steadily, and before long we were overtaken
by a dust-storm, which completely enveloped us in its murky folds,
and interfered with our happiness a good deal. Got through the night
much as usual, with the addition of a midnight vocal entertainment,
which some hundreds of wolves and jackals treated us to, while the
"authorities" were looking to our welfare, by taking off and greasing
our wheels. Of travellers we meet but few, generally bullock-train
parties, with soldiers, &c., return daks, and an occasional old
Mussulman, or other native, taking advantage of the early morning
for his journey, and wrapped and swaddled up as if afraid of being
congealed by the coolness of the morning air.
Every day's journey leaves one more and more at a loss to discover the
sources of the wealth of this enormous country. The soil, for miles
and miles a dead flat, is now barren as a desert, and we meet hardly
a sign of active traffic. During the night we certainly did encounter
a long train of heavily-laden bullock-waggons; but the merchandize
was gunpowder, and its destination was up, instead of down the road.
MAY 24. -- Arrived at "Kurga," where we found neither bread nor butter
forthcoming -- nothing but -- "plenty fowl, Sahib!" In the evening
we again encountered a heavy dust-storm, the worst of the season;
the whole night it continued to blow in our teeth; and between
the fierce dryness of the wind and the searching particles of dust,
which visited us without ceremony, we spent anything but an agreeable
night. At three A.M. we reached the "Hingus Nuddee," or river; and
changing our solitary horse for two fat bullocks, we crossed its
sandy bed, and over a bridge of boats -- not so genteelly, perhaps,
but much more securely, than we could have otherwise done. There were
the remains here of a handsome suspension bridge; but the chains had
been cut by the rebel Sepoys, and nothing but the pillars now remained.
MAY 25. -- At four A.M. we crossed the bridge of boats over the Jumna,
and found ourselves under the gloomy battlements of the Fort of Delhi.
Entering by the Calcutta Gate, we drove through large suburbs, lighted
up with rows of oil lamps, reminding one, in the dim light, a good
deal of Cairo. Arriving at the dak bungalow, we found it such a dirty
looking deserted building, and the interior so much of a piece with
the exterior, that we mounted again, and set off to try the Hotel, or
"Pahunch Ghur," -- a name originally intended to convey the meaning
"An arriving house," but neatly and appropriately corrupted into the
term "Punch Gur," which speaks for itself, and troubles no one much
about its derivation. We were rather disappointed with the general
appearance of the city: dirt and grandeur were closely combined,
and the combination gave the usual impression of shabby genteelness
in general, not at first sight prepossessing. After driving through
what might have been an Eastern Sebastopol, from the amount of ruin
about, we reached a cut-throat-looking archway; and the coachman, here
pointing to a dirty board, above his head, triumphantly announced the
"Punch Gur!" Hot and thirsty, we got out, with visions of rest and
cooling sherbets, too soon to be dispelled. Passing through long dirty
halls, and up unsavoury steps, we at last reached a sort of court,
with beds of sickly flowers, never known to bloom, and from thence
issued to a suite of musty hot Moorish-looking rooms, with gold-inlaid
dust-covered tables, and a heavily-draped four-post bedstead, the
very sight of which, in such a climate, was almost enough to deprive
one of sleep for ever. Our speech forsook us, and without waiting to
remark whether the lady of the house was an ogress, or possessed of a
"rose-coloured body" and face like the full moon, we fairly turned
tail, and drove in all haste to our despised dak bungalow, where,
meekly and with softened feelings towards that edifice, we were
glad to deposit ourselves on a couple of charpoys, or "four-legs,"
as the bedstead of India is called, and endeavour to sleep the best
way we could. "Delhi," we found, quite kept up its reputation of being
the hottest place in India. All idea of sight-seeing was out of the
question, and the whole of our energies we were obliged to expend in
endeavouring to keep moderately cool.
After enjoying the two first of blessings in a hot climate -- viz. a
plentiful supply of cold water and a change of raiment, we felt
ourselves able to undergo the exertion of meeting the traditional
grilled fowl at breakfast, and of inspecting the curiosities from the
bazaars. At the first wish on the latter subject, we were invaded by
a crowd of bundle-carrying, yellow-turbaned, rascally merchants, who,
in half a minute, had the whole of their goods on the floor -- rings,
brooches, ivory ornaments, and inutilities of all sorts and kinds,
all of them exorbitantly dear, and none of any real value.
We left Delhi again at about six P.M., after loitering about the
city for a short time, among the teeming bazaars, some parts of
which were picturesque and "Eastern" enough. Outside the city walls,
the country was ruined and dilapidated in the extreme; demolished
houses and wasted gardens telling their tale of the loss of Delhi,
and our struggle for its recapture.
MAY 26. -- During the night, we got over seventy-three miles, and
reached "Kurnaul" at seven A.M. The bungalow we found unusually
comfortable, being a remnant of the old regime, and one of the few
which escaped from the hands of the rebels during the mutiny.
The country here begins to improve in appearance -- more trees and
cultivation on all sides; and the natives appear finer specimens
than their more southern relations. The irrigation, too, seems to be
carried on with more systematic appliances than further south -- the
water being raised by the Persian wheel, and bullock-power introduced
in aid of manual labour.
MAY 27. -- Arrived at Umballa at three A.M., and found the staging
bungalow full. The only available accommodation being a spare
charpoy in the verandah, F. took a lease of it, while I revelled in
the unaccustomed roominess of the entire carriage, and slept till
six, when we got into our lodgings. Although so near the foot of
the Himalayas, the weather was so oppressive here that exploring
was out of the question; and at six P.M., changing our carriage for
palankeens, or dolies, we commenced a tedious and dusty journey to
the village of "Kalka," the veritable "foot of the hills," where we
were met by a string of deputies from the different "DRY-LODGINGS" in
the neighbourhood, soliciting custom. The first house we came to was
guarded by an unmistakeable English hotel-keeper, of some eighteen
stone; and so terrible was the appearance she presented, with her
arms akimbo, rejoicing in her mountain air, that in our down-country
and dilapidated condition, we felt quite unequal to the exertion of
stepping into HER little parlour; and passing her establishment --
something in the small bathingplace-style of architecture -- we went
on to the next, very much of the same order, and called the "Brahminee
Bull." Here, to my dismay however, standing in the selfsame position,
weighing the same number of stone, and equally confident in the
purity of her air as her neighbour, stood another female "Briton,"
with the come-into-my-parlour expression of countenance, regarding us
as prey. Under the circumstances, exhausted nature gave in; though
saved from Scylla, our destiny was Charybdis, and we accordingly
surrendered ourselves to a wash, breakfast, and the Brahminee
Bull. During the day, we had a visit from a friend and ex-brother
officer, whom we had promised to stay with, at "Kussowlie," on our
road up. Kalka was not HOT, but GRILLING, so that a speedy ascent to
the station was soon agreed upon. Not caring to risk a sun-stroke,
I resigned myself to the traditional conveyance of the country, a
"jhampan," while the other two rode up; but here, for the second
time, it was "out of the fryingpan into the fire." Such an infernal
machine as my new conveyance turned out never could have existed in
the palmiest days of the Inquisition. It was a sort of child's cradle,
long enough for a creature of some five or six summers, made like a
tray, and hung after the fashion of a miniature four-post bedstead,
with goat's-hair curtains. The structure is suspended, something in the
fashion of a sedan-chair which has been stunted in its growth, between
two poles; between the projections of these again, before and behind,
connected by a stout strap, are two shorter bars, each supported, when
in travelling order, on the shoulders of two bearers. When the machine
is in motion, therefore, there are four men in line between the shafts.
The pace is always rather fast, and down a declivity the torturers
go at a run; the result is, that prominent parts of one's body are
continually in collision with the seat or sides of the machine,
coming down from various altitudes, according to the nature of the
ground and the humour of the inquisitors. After getting over about
six miles in this graceful and pleasing manner, we reached the first
of the fir-trees, and as we rose still higher a delicious breeze came
over the hills, as precious to the parched and travel-stained pilgrim
from the plains as a drop of water to the thirstiest wanderer in the
desert. Kussowlie appeared a picturesque little station, perched at
the summit of one of the first of the hilly ranges, and here I found
my two companions, burnt and red in the face as if they, too, had had
their sufferings on the road, occupied in looking over the goods of a
strolling Cashmere merchant; luckily for themselves, however, it was
under the protecting superintendence of our hostess. Our friends were
living on a miniature estate commanding a magnificent view of the
mountain ranges on one side, and, on the, other, the plains of the
Punjab, the scorching country from which we had just made our escape
lying stretched out before us like an enormous map in relief. Towards
the mountains were the military stations of "Dugshai" and "Subathoo,"
and the boys' asylum of "Senore," the latter rather marring the face
of nature by the workhouse order of its architecture. "Simla" we could
just distinguish, nestled among the blue mountains in the far distance.
Here we spent a couple of days very pleasantly with our hospitable
entertainers, and satisfactorily pulled up all arrears of sleep --
a luxury none can really appreciate who have not travelled for six
days and nights in the different local conveniences I have mentioned.
Before leaving we had an opportunity of seeing how England in the
Himalayas makes its morning calls. Walking, which amounts almost to an
impossibility in "the plains," seems to be voted INFRA DIG. in "the
hills," and Mrs. Kussowlie according made her appearance seated in
state in a jhampan, and borne on the shoulders of four of her slaves.
These were active, wiry-looking natives, dressed in long green coats,
bound with broad, red, tight-fitting pantaloons, and with small turbans
of red and green on their heads. Altogether, a more startling-looking
apparition to the uninitiated than this Himalayan morning visitor
could hardly be imagined, even in a tour through the remotest regions
of the earth.
MAY 29. -- About six o'clock in the evening we remounted our
instruments of torture and took the road to Simla. For about seven
miles the path was down hill, and the bearers being fresh, they
huddled us along at a pace calculated to outrage our feelings most
considerably, and, at the same time, with no more consideration
for our welfare than if we were so many sacks of coal. In spite of
the sufferings of the principal performers, the procession was most
amusing; and as we jolted, bumped, and bundled along, it was impossible
to keep from laughing, although crying, perhaps, would, under the
circumstances, have been more appropriate. My machine led the way,
four of the inquisition being in the shafts, and four in waiting,
running along at the side with pipes, bundles, sticks, &c. Then came
F. similarly attended, and finally the Q.M.G., hubble bubble in hand,
and attired in a gold embroidered cap, surrounded by a lilac turban:
seated in a sort of tray, and reclining at his case in full enjoyment
of his high position, he looked the priest of the procession, and
managed to retain his dignity in spite of the rapid and unceremonious
way in which he was being whirled along. As the moon went down we had
the additional effect of torchlight to the scene, three bearers having
the special duty of running along to show the pathway to the rest. This
seemed a service of some danger, and our torch-bearers at times verged
upon places where a stumble would have apparently extinguished both
themselves and their torches for ever. About half way we stopped for
about an hour for the bearers to partake of a light entertainment of
"ghee and chupatties" -- otherwise, rancid butter and cakes of flour
and water. This was their only rest and only meal, from the time they
left Kussowlie at six P.M. until they reached Simla at eight A.M. The
same set of bearers took us the entire distance, about thirty-five
miles; and the four men who were not actually in the shafts used to
rest themselves by running, ahead and up precipitous short cuts, so as
to insure a few minutes' pull at the pipe of consolation before their
turn arrived again. To us, supposed to be the OTIUM CUM DIG. part of
the procession, the road seemed perfectly endless. No sooner were we
up one ascent than we were down again on the other side; and when we
thought Simla must be in sight round the next turn, it seemed suddenly
to become more hid than ever. In one of these ups and downs of life
my machine, during a heavy lurch, fairly gave way to its feelings,
and with a loud crash the pole broke, and down we both came, much to
my temporary satisfaction and relief. A supply of ropes and lashings,
however, formed part of the inquisitors' stores, and we were soon
under weigh again to fulfil the remainder of our destiny.
The entrance to Simla led us through a fine forest of oaks, firs,
cedars, and other large trees; and winding along through these we
could, every now and then, discern, towering over the backs of endless
ranges of blue and hazy mountains, ridge upon ridge of glittering snow,
which cast its icy breath upon us even where we were, helping us to
forget the horrors of the night, and giving us a renewal of our lease
of existence. Simla itself soon opened on our view, a scattered and
picturesque settlement of houses of the most varied patterns perched
about over the mountain top, just as an eligible spot presented
itself for building purposes. It is situated 8,000 feet above the
level of the sea and 7,000 over the average level of "the plains,"
Umballa, which is near the foot of the range, being 1,000 above the
sea-level. From our halting-place we could discern the scene of
our night's journey, with Kussowlie looking like a mere speck in
the distance, and we felt a proud sort of consciousness of having
accomplished a desperate undertaking in very good style. Passive
endurance was, under the circumstances quite as worthy of praise
as the more active virtues displayed by those who were the cause of
our sufferings. After the first good breakfast I had eaten for three
months, we pulled up arrears of sleep till four P.M. and found, on
awaking, that our much expected letters had arrived from the post,
and among them the necessary permission from the Punjab Government
to travel in Cashmere, and instructions for our guidance while in
the territory. From among the routes laid down in the latter we chose
No. 1.[2] The direct line across the mountains from Simla would have
entailed additional delay and permission, and as time was precious
we decided upon descending again to the plains and making our way
through Lahore, not, however, without a severe pang at leaving so
soon the terrestrial paradise of which we had got a glimpse. After
arranging our movements with the "authorities," we sallied out to see
fashionable Simla airing itself, which, as far as dress is concerned,
it appeared to do very much in the fashionable watering-place style at
home. The jhampans, palkies, dandies,[3] &c. which took up the entire
road, however, loudly proclaimed India, Simla being much too dainty
to touch the ground with its pretty feet, and too lazy to use its own
legs for purposes of out-door locomotion. The station seems a curious
combination of many styles and places; the scenery and houses, Swiss;
the people Anglo Indians, Affghans, Cashmeeries, &c.; the conveyances,
Inquisito-Spanish; and the bazaars, in their native dirt, pure Indian.
MAY 31. -- After making our leave secure, we made up our minds for a
plunge into the plains again and a forced march to Lahore, being rather
expedited in the determination by hearing that several travellers had
been recalled from leave in consequence of there being a scarcity of
officers with their regiments.
With a fine moonlight night in our favour we again took the road; and
practice slightly assuaging our sufferings, we got on smoothly enough
till within a few hours from Hureepore Bungalow, when my machine again
broke with a crash, and the nature of the fracture being compound,
I walked on and left the executioners to repair the instrument at
their leisure.
JUNE 1. -- Reached Hureepore at four A.M., and found the place in
possession of a crowd of monkeys of all sorts and sizes, taking an
early breakfast. Here, chicken and eggs being again written in our
destiny, we halted for an hour or two, and at eleven again took the
road with our cast-iron bearers, and hurried along in the noonday sun,
up hill and down dale, through Kussowlie, and on and on till we were
once more fairly deposited at the feet of "Mrs. Charybdis." A slight
dinner here, and at 8.30 P.M. we were again in train, shuffling along
through several feet of dust, which the bearers, and torch-carriers,
and the rest of our numerous train, kicked up about us, in clouds
nearly dense enough to cause suffocation.
JUNE 2. -- At 8.30 A.M. we arrived again at Umballa, and with
nothing to comfort us in our dusty and worried condition but the
reflection that our start from Simla was a magnificent triumph of
stern determination over present enjoyment and unwonted luxury, we
again resumed our forced march. At six P.M. we took our departure,
in a very magnificent coach, but in an "unpropitious moment," for the
horse was unusually averse to an advance of any sort, and when we did
get clear of the station his opinions were borne out by a terrific
storm of dust, with a thunder, lightning, and rain accompaniment,
which effectually put a stop to all further progress. The horse
for once had his wish, and was brought to a regular stand. The
wind howled about us, and the dusty atmosphere assumed a dull red
appearance, such as I had only once before seen at Cawnpore, and the
like of which might possibly have prevailed during the last days of
Pompeii. After getting through the worst of the storm, we pushed along,
and had reached the twentieth mile-stone, when, catching a flavour of
burning wood, I looked out and found the wheel at an angle of some 30
degrees, and rubbing against the side preparatory to taking its leave
altogether. Here was another effect of starting in an unpropitious
moment. The interruption in the great forced march preyed heavily upon
our minds, but, on the principle of doing as "Rome does," we took
a lesson from the religion of "Islam," and concurring in the views
expressed by our attendant blacks, viz. that "whatever is written in
a man's destiny that will be accomplished," we ejaculated "Kismut"
with the rest, and resignedly adapted ourselves to the writings in
our own particular page of fate. Having sent back to Umballa the news
of our distress, a new conveyance in a few hours made its appearance;
and hauling it alongside the wreck, we unshipped the stores, reloaded,
and eventually reached "Thikanmajura" at eight A.M.
JUNE 3. -- Starting at about three o'clock P.M., we found the
unpropitious moment still hanging over us: first a violent dust-storm,
and then a refractory horse, which bolted completely off the road,
and nearly upset us down a steep bank, proved to demonstration that
our star was still obscured.
About midnight we reached the river "Sutlej," and exchanged our horse
for four fat and humpy bullocks, who managed, with very great labour
and difficulty, to drag us through the heavy sands of the river-bed
down to the edge of the water. Here we were shipped on board a
flat-bottomed boat, with a high peaked bow; and, after an immensity
of hauling and grunting, we were fairly launched into the stream, and
poled across to the opposite shore. The water appeared quite shallow,
and the coolies were most of the time in the water; but its width,
including the sands forming its bed, could not have been less than two
miles and a half. It was altogether a wild and dreary-looking scene,
as we paddled along -- the wild ducks and jackals, &c. keeping up a
concert on their own account, and the patient old bullocks ruminating
quietly on their prospects at our feet.
On arriving at what appeared to be the opposite bank, we were taken
out, and again pulled and hauled through the deep sand, only to be
reshipped again on what seemed a respectable river in its own right;
and here, getting out of patience with a stream that had no opposite
bank, I fell asleep, and left the bullocks to their sorrows and
their destiny.
JUNE 4. -- Arrived at Jullundur, where we had to share the bungalow
with another traveller and a rising family, who kept us alive by
howling vigorously all day. The road from this being "Kucha," literally
UNCOOKED, but here meant to express "unmetalled," we had yet another
form of conveyance to make acquaintance with. It was a palkee, rudely
strapped upon the body of a worn-out "Dak garee;" and although a more
unpromising-looking locomotive perhaps never was placed upon wheels,
the actual reality proved even worse than the appearance foreboded.
Anybody who has happened to have been run away with in a dust-cart
through Fenchurch Street, or some other London pavement, the gas pipes
being up at the time, might form some idea of our sensations as we
pounded along, at full gallop, over some thirty miles of uneven,
UNCOOKED road; but to anybody who has not had this advantage,
description would be impossible. About half way, it appeared that
it was written in my miserable destiny that the off fore-wheel of my
shay was to come off, and off it came accordingly; so that once more
I became an involuntary disciple of Islam, and went to sleep among
the ruins, with rather a feeling of gratitude for the respite than
otherwise. On awaking, I found myself again under way; and effecting
a junction with my companion, we had a light supper off half a
water-melon; and, after crossing the River Beas by a bridge of boats,
and being lugged through another waste of sand by bullocks, we once
again reached a "cooked" road, and arrived at "Umritsur" at six A.M.
JUNE 5. -- Found the heat so great here that we were unable to
stir out.
As a consolation, we received a visit from four "Sikh Padres," who
rushed in and squatted themselves down without ceremony, previously
placing a small ball of candied sugar on the table as a votive and
suggestive offering. The spokesman, a lively little rascal, with a
black beard tied up under his red turban, immediately opened fire, by
hurling at us all the names of all the officers he had ever met or read
of. The volley was in this style: First, the number of the regiment,
then Brown Sahib, Jones Sahib, Robinson Sahib, Smith Sahib, Tomkins
Sahib, Green Sahib, and so on, regiment after regiment and name after
name, his brother Padres occasionally chiming in in corroboration
of their friend's veracity and in admiration of his vast stock of
military information. After much trouble, we got rid of the pack,
at the price of one rupee, which was cheap for the amount of relief
afforded by their departure.
JUNE 6. -- Reached Lahore at ten P.M. and had a night in bed, for
the third time only since leaving Cawnpore. The Q.M.G. being at once
set to work to make the necessary arrangements for our final start
for Cashmere, we paid a hurried visit to the Tomb of Runjeet Singh
and the Fort and City of Lahore. These were worth seeing, but they
abounded in sights and perfumes, which rendered the operation rather
a trying one, considering the very high temperature of the weather.
JUNE 7. -- Drove out in a dilapidated buggy, and with an incorrigible
horse, to Mean Meer, the cantonments of Lahore. The place looked
burnt up and glaring like its fellows, and a fierce hot wind swept
over it, which made us glad enough to turn our backs on it and hurry
home again as fast as our obstinate animal would take us. The Q.M.G.,
we found, had collected our staff of servants together, and was
otherwise pushing on our preparations as fast as the dignity and
importance of the undertaking would admit.
The staff consisted of khidmutgar, bawurchie, bhistie, dhobie, and
mihtar; or, in plain English, butler, cook, water-carrier, washerman,
and sweeper.
Of these, the washing department only brought with it its insignia and
badge of office. This was an enormous smoothing-iron, highly ornamented
with brass, decorated with Gothic apertures, and made to contain an
amount of charcoal that would have kept an entire family warm in the
coldest depths of winter. Being of great weight, we rather objected
to such an addition to our stores -- the more so as our linen was
not likely to require much GETTING-UP. The DHOBIE, however, declared
himself unable to get on without it, and it accordingly had to be
engaged with its master.
JUNE 8. -- To-day Rajoo is still hard at work laying in stores from
the bazaars and arranging means of transport for them; the weather hot
beyond measure; and as neither our food nor quarters are very good,
we begin to forget our lessons of resignation, more especially as
the mosquitoes begin to form a very aggravating item in our destiny.
JUNE 9. -- About four P.M. the Q.M.G. came in triumphantly with about
sixteen tall baskets covered with leather, which he called "khiltas;"
and having ranged them about the room like the oil-jars of "Ali Baba,"
he proceeded to cram them with potatoes, tea, clothes, brandy, and the
whole stock of our earthly goods, in a marvellous and miscellaneous
manner, very trying to contemplate, and suggestive of their entire
separation from us and our heirs for ever.
Coolies not being procurable in sufficient numbers to carry away
all our stores together, F. and I agreed to start in the morning,
leaving the head of affairs with the rearguard to follow at his
leisure. Got away at last in two "palkees," with four "banghy
wallahs," or baggage-bearers, carrying our immediate possessions,
guns, &c. Spent the night wretchedly enough, the roads being of the
worst, and covered nearly a foot deep everywhere with fine dust,
which our bearers very soon stirred up into an impenetrable cloud,
enveloping us in its folds to the verge of suffocation.
The sensation is strange enough, travelling in this way along a lonely
road at dead of night, closely shut up in an oblong box, and surrounded
by some twenty or more dusky savages, who could quietly tap one on
the head at any time, and appropriate the bag of rupees -- inseparable
from Indian travelling -- without the slightest difficulty. That they
do not do so is probably from the knowledge they possess that with
the bag of rupees there is generally to be found a revolver, and that
an English traveller is of so generous a disposition that he seldom
parts from his money without giving a little lead in with the silver.
JUNE 10. -- After a dusty jolt of forty miles, we reached "Gugerwalla"
at eight A.M., and felt the change from Lahore most refreshing. The
village seemed a quiet little settlement, very little visited by
Englishmen, and the inhabitants, probably on that account, appeared
of a different stamp from those we had hitherto met. The women, in
particular, were more gaily dressed, and not so frightened at a white
face as more south. The rearguard not having come up at six P.M. we
started off without it. Crossed the Chenab during the night. The
fords, by torchlight, were most picturesque, and rather exciting,
in consequence of the water at times taking it into its head to see
what was inside the "palkee." The Chenab makes the fourth out of the
"five waters" from which the "Punjab" takes its name. The Jhelum only
remains -- the ancient Hydaspes of Alexandrian notoriety.
JUNE 11. -- Reached "Goojerat" at five A.M. and enjoyed a few hours
of quiet sleep in a very comfortable bungalow. The "khiltas" not
making their appearance, we halt here for the night. In the evening
we explored the city -- a straggling rabbit-barrow settlement,
inclosed by a mud wall, and boasting the narrowest streets I had
ever seen. In an open space we came upon a marvellously-ornamented
"mundir," or Hindoo temple, painted in the most florid style, with
effigies of dark gentlemen in coloured pants riding on peacocks,
antelopes, and other beasts of burden common in the country. It seemed
the centre of attraction to a numerous concourse of strangers from the
north; among others, a bevy of young ladies with loose trousers and
fair complexions, evidently "Cashmeeries," who seemed to regard the
"heathen temple" as one of the wonders of the world. In the middle
of the night the rearguard came in with the supplies, and we at
once turned it into an advanced-guard, and packed it off to make
preparations for our arrival at "Bimber."
JUNE 12. -- Spent a very hot day at Goojerat, and amused ourselves by
inspecting the gold-inlaid work for which the place is famous. At 5.30
P.M. we started for our last night's journey in British territory;
and thus terminated, for the present, our experiences of all the hot
and dusty "pleasure of the Plains."
JUNE 13. -- About two A.M. we passed out of India into the territory
of His Highness the Maharajah of Cashmere, and halted at Bimber. The
accommodation here turned out to be most indifferent, although
in our route the edifice for travellers was called a "Baraduree,"
which sounded grandly. It means a summer-house with twelve doors;
but beyond the facilities it afforded of rapid egress, we found it
to possess but few advantages.
Putting a couple of charpoys outside, we managed a few hours' sleep
AL FRESCO, in spite of the flies and mosquitoes innumerable, who lost
no time in taking possession of their new property. On being able
to discern the face of the country, we found ourselves at the foot
of a range of hills of no great height, but still veritable hills;
and although the sun was nearly as hot as in the plains, we felt
that we were emancipated from India, and that all our real travelling
troubles were over. In the evening we inspected the Maharajah's troops,
consisting of eight curiously-dressed and mysteriously-accoutred sepoys
under a serjeant. These same troops had rather astonished us in the
morning by filing up in stage style in front of our two charpoys just
as we awoke, and delivering a "Present arms" with great unction as we
sat up in a half-sleepy and dishevelled condition, rubbing our eyes,
and not exactly in the style of costume in which such a salute is
usually received. We now found the "army" in the domestic employment
of cooking their victuals, so that we were unable to have much of a
review. However, we looked at their arms and accoutrements; ammunition
they had none; and saw them perform the "manual and platoon." Their
arms had been matchlocks, but had been converted, these stirring
times, into flintlocks! In addition to these, which were about
as long as a respectable spear, they had each a sword and shield,
together with a belt and powder-horn, all clumsy in the extreme. In
loading, we found an improvement on the English fashion, for, after
putting the imaginary charge in with the hand, they BLEW playfully
down the muzzle to obviate the difficulty of the powder sticking to
the sides. After presenting the troops with "bukhshish," we strolled
through the village and met the "thanadar," or head man, coming out
to meet us, arrayed in glorious apparel and very tight inexpressibles,
and mounted on a caparisoned steed. Dismounting, he advanced towards us
salaaming, and holding out a piece of money in the palm of his hand;
and not exactly knowing the etiquette of the proceeding, we touched
it and left it where we found it, which appeared to be a relief to
his mind, for he immediately put it in his pocket again.
His chief conversation was on the subject of the Maharajah and the
delights of Cashmere, and anxiety as to our having got all supplies,
&c. which we required, as he had been appointed expressly for the
purpose of looking after the comfort of the English visitors. What
with our friend and his train, and the detachment of "THE ARMY" which
had accompanied us, our retinue began to assume the appearance of
a procession; and it was with great difficulty that we induced them
all to leave us, which they did at last after we had expressed our
full satisfaction at the courtesy displayed by the Maharajah's very
intelligent selection of a "thanadar."
JUNE 14. -- Broke up our camp about three A.M. and started our
possessions at four o'clock, after some difficulty in prevailing upon
the coolies to walk off with their loads. On mustering our forces, we
found that they numbered thirty-seven, including ourselves. Of these
twenty-four were coolies, carrying our possessions -- beer, brandy,
potatoes, &c.; our servants were six more; then there were four ponies,
entailing a native each to look after them; and, last of all, one of
the redoubtable "army" as a guard, who paraded in the light marching
order of a sword, shield, bag of melons, and an umbrella. F. and I
travelled on "yaboos," or native ponies -- unlikely to look at, but
wonderful to go. Mine was more like a hatchet than anything else,
and yet the places he went over and the rate he travelled up smooth
faces of rock was marvellous to behold.
About eight o'clock we found ourselves once more among the pine-trees;
and, although the sun was very powerful, we had enough of the freshness
of the mountain air to take away the remembrance of the dusty plains
from our minds. No rain having fallen as yet, the springs and rivers
were all nearly dry; but we saw several rocky beds, which gave good
promise of fly-fishing, should they receive a further supply of water.
About nine A.M. we reached our halting-place, "Serai Saidabad," a
ruined old place, with a mud tenement overlooking, at some elevation,
the banks of a river.
Here we were again received with a salute, by a detachment of
warriors drawn up in full dress -- viz. red and yellow turbans,
and blue trousers with a red stripe.
After undergoing a refreshing bath of a skin of water, taken in our
drawing-room, we got our artist to work at breakfast, and shortly
after found, with considerable satisfaction, that we were in for the
first of the rains. This welcome fact first proclaimed itself by the
reverberation of distant thunder from among the mountains to the north;
then an ominous black cloud gradually spread itself over us, and,
with a storm of dust, down came the rain in torrents, making the air,
in a few minutes, cool and delicious as possible, and entirely altering
the sultry temperature which had previously prevailed. The thirsty
ground soaked up the moisture as if it had never tasted rain, and the
trees came out as if retouched by Nature's brush; while as, for F. and
myself, we turned the unwonted coolness to the best account we could,
by setting ourselves to work to pull up all arrears of sleep forthwith.
JUNE 15. -- Started at four A.M., with our numerous train, and found
the road all the pleasanter for the rain of the previous evening,
and all things looking green and fresh after the storm. Our path led
us up a rocky valley, with its accompanying dashing stream, in the
bed of which we could see traces of what the brawler had been in his
wilder days, in huge and polished boulders and water-worn rocks, which
had been hurled about in all directions. We afterwards went straight
up a precipitous mountain, wooded with pine, which was no light work
for the coolies, heavily laden as they were. No sooner, however,
were we on the top of this than down we went on the other side; and
how the ponies managed their ups-and-downs of life was best known
to themselves; certainly, nothing but a cat or a Cashmere pony could
have got over the ground. About nine A.M. we reached "Nowshera," under
another salute, where we found an indifferent-looking "Baraduree,"
completely suffocated among the trees of a garden called the "Bauli
Bagh," or "Reservoir Garden," from a deep stone well in the centre of
it. Here we got on indifferently well, the weather being close after
the rain, and the place thickly inhabited by crowds of sparrows,
all with large families, who made an incessant uproar all day long;
besides an army of occupation of small game, which interfered sadly
with our sleeping arrangements at night. In the evening we made the
acquaintance of a loquacious and free-and-easy gardener, entirely
innocent of clothes, who came and seated himself between F. and myself,
as we were perched upon a rock enjoying the prospect. According to his
account, the Maharajah's tenants pay about seven rupees, or fourteen
shillings, per annum for some five acres of land. In the middle of
the night we came in for another storm of thunder and lightning,
which took a good many liberties with our house, but cooled the air;
and only for the mosquitoes, and other holders of the property, whose
excessive attentions were rather embarrassing, we would have got
on very well. As it was, however, I hardly closed an eye all night,
and spent the greater part of it in meandering about the Bauli Bagh,
VESTITO DA NOTTE -- in which operation I rejoice to think that, like
the Russians at the burning of Moscow, I at least put the enemy to
very considerable inconvenience, even at the expense of my own comfort.
JUNE 16. -- About half-past four A.M. we got under weigh again,
heartily delighted to leave the sparrows and their allies in undisputed
possession of their property.
The "kotwal," and other authorities, who had been extremely civil in
providing supplies, coolies, &c., according to the Maharajah's order,
took very good care not to let us depart without a due sense of the
fact, for they bothered us for "bukhshish" just as keenly as the lowest
muleteer; and when I gave the kotwal twelve annas, or one shilling and
sixpence, as all the change I had, he assured me that the khidmutgar
had more, and ran back to prove it by bringing me two rupees. I gave
the scoundrel one, and regretted it for three miles, for he had robbed
the coolies in the morning, either on his own or his master's account,
of one anna, or three-halfpence each, out of their hardly-earned
wages. To-day we find ourselves once more among the rocks and pines,
and as we progressed nothing could exceed the beauty of the views
which opened upon us right and left. A mountain stream attended our
steps the whole way sometimes smoothly and placidly, sometimes dancing
about like a mad thing, and teasing the sturdy old battered rocks and
stones which long ago had settled down in life along its path, and
which, from the amount of polish they displayed, must themselves have
been finely knocked about the world in their day. Rounding a turn of
the river, where it ran deeply under its rocky bank, we came suddenly
upon the ghastly figure of a man carefully suspended in chains from a
prominent tree. His feet had been torn off by the wolves and jackals,
but the upper part of the body remained together, and there he swung
to and fro in the breeze, a ghastly warning to all evildoers, and
a not very pleasing monument of the justice of the country. He was
a sepoy of the Maharajah's army, who had drowned his comrade in the
stream below the place where he thus had expiated his crime. Not far
from this spot we discovered traces of another marauder, in the shape
of a fresh footprint of a tiger or a leopard, just as he had prowled
shortly before along the very path we were pursuing.
From this we gradually got into a region of fruit-trees, interspersed
with pines; and sometimes we came upon a group of scented palms, which
looked strangely enough in such unusual company. Through clustering
pomegranates, figs, plums, peach-trees, wild but bearing fruit, we
journeyed on and on; and, as new beauties arose around us, we could
not help indulging in castles in the air, and forming visions of
earthly paradises, where, with the addition only of such importations
as are inseparable from all ideas of paradise, either in Cashmere or
elsewhere, one might live in uninterrupted enjoyment of existence,
and, at least, bury in oblivion all remembrance of such regions as the
"Plains of India."
About ten A.M., after a continuous series of ups-and-downs of varied
scenery, we arrived at "Chungas," a picturesque old serai, perched
upon a hill over the river. It was marked off in our route as having no
accommodation, but, located among the mouldering remnants of grandeur
of an old temple in the centre of the serai, we managed to make
ourselves very comfortable, and thought our "accommodation" a most
decided improvement upon our late fashionable but rather overcrowded
halting-place. From the serai we can see, for the first time, the
snowy range of the Himalayas, trending northwards, towards the Peer
Punjal Pass, through which our route leads into the Valley of Cashmere.
JUNE 17. -- Another ride through hill and dale to "Rajaori," or
"Rampore," a most picturesque-looking town, built in every possible
style of architecture, and flanked at one extremity by a ruined
castle. Our halting-place was in an ancient serai, with a dilapidated
garden, containing the remains of some rather handsome fountains. It
was situated on a rock, several hundred feet above the river which
separated us from the town; and, from our elevated position, we had
a fine view of the whole place, and got an insight into the manners
and customs of the inhabitants, without their being at all aware of
our proximity.
The women and children appeared to be dressed quite in the Tartar
style: the women with little red square-cornered fez caps, with a
long strip of cloth thrown gracefully over them, and either pyjamas
of blue stuff with a red stripe, or a long loose toga of greyish
cloth, reaching nearly to the feet. The little girls were quite of
the bullet-headed Tartar pattern, of Crimean recollection, but wore
rather less decoration. The Crimean young ladies generally had a three
cornered charm suspended round their necks, while the youthful fashion
of Rajaori, scorning all artificial adornment, selected nature only
as their mantua-maker, and wore their dresses strictly according to
her book of patterns. After enjoying a delightfully cool night in
our elevated bedroom, we started for "Thanna."
Our path led through a gradually ascending valley, cultivated, for
the rice crop, in terraces, and irrigated by a complicated net-work
of channels, cut off from the mountain streams, and branching off
in every direction to the different elevations. The ground was so
saturated in these terraces that ploughing was carried on by means of
a large scraper, like a fender, which was dragged along by bullocks,
the ploughman standing up in the machine as it floundered and wallowed
about, and guiding it through the sea of mud.
JUNE 18. -- Reached Thanna at nine A.M. and came to a halt in a shady
spot outside the village. There was an old serai about half a mile
off, but it was full of merchants and their belongings, and savoured
so strongly of fleas and dirt, that we gave it up as impracticable.
This was the first instance of our finding no shelter; and, as ill
luck would have it, our tents took the opportunity of pitching
themselves on the road, a number of coolies broke down, and one
abandoned our property and took himself off altogether. Under these
interesting circumstances, we were obliged to spend the day completely
AL FRESCO, and to wait patiently for breakfast until the fashionable
hour of half-past two P.M. The inhabitants took our misfortunes very
philosophically, and stopped to stare at us to their heart's content
as they went by for water, wondering, no doubt, at that restless
nature of the crazy Englishman, which drives him out of his own
country for the sole purpose, apparently, of being uncomfortable in
other people's. Our position, although at the foot of the grander
range of mountains, we found very hot, and a good deal of ingenuity
was required in order to find continued shelter from the scorching
rays of the sun. The natives here, seemed to suffer to a great extent
from goitre, and one of our coolies in particular had three enormous
swellings on his neck, horrible to look at. During the night, Rajoo
came in with the missing baggage, except two khiltas, for which no
carriage could be procured, and which he was in consequence obliged
to abandon on the road until assistance could be sent to them.
JUNE 19. -- Started at daybreak from our unsatisfactory quarters, and
enjoyed some of the finest scenery we had yet encountered. The road
ascended pretty sharply into what might be called the REAL mountains,
and finding our spirits rise with the ground, we abandoned our ponies
and resolved to perform the remainder of our wanderings on foot. As we
reached the summit of our first ascent, and our range of view enlarged,
mountain upon mountain rose before us, richly clothed with forest
trees; while, overtopping all, peeped up the glistening summits of
the snowy range, everything around seems cool and pleasant, in spite
of the hot sun's rays, which still poured down upon us. Our road from
this, descending, lay among the nooks and dells of the shady side of
the mountain; and the wild rose and the heliotrope perfumed the air
at every step as we walked along in full enjoyment of the morning
breeze. Our sepoy guide of to-day was not of the educated branch of
the army. He was the stupidest specimen of his race I had ever met;
and as his language was such a jargon as to be nearly unintelligible,
we failed signally in obtaining much information from him.
Among other questions, I made inquiries as to woodcock, the cover
being just suited to them, and after a great deal of difficulty
in explaining the bird to him, he declared that he knew the kind
of creature perfectly, and that there were plenty of them. By way
of convincing us, however, of his sporting knowledge, he added that
they were in the habit of living entirely on fruit; and he was sadly
put out when F. and I both burst into laughter at the idea of an old
woodcock with his bill stuck into a juicy pear, or perhaps enjoying a
pomegranate for breakfast. Shortly after, we came suddenly upon quite
a new feature in the scene -- a strange innovation of liveliness in
the midst of solitude.
At a bend in the road, what should appear almost over our heads but
a troop of about a hundred monkeys, crashing through the firs and
chestnuts, and bounding in eager haste from tree to tree, in their
desire to escape from a party of natives coming from the opposite
direction. They were large brown monkeys, of the kind called lungoors,
standing, some of them, three feet high, and having tails considerably
longer than themselves. Their faces were jet black, fringed with
light grey whiskers, which gave them a most comical appearance.; and
as they jumped along from tree to tree, sometimes thirty and forty
feet, through the air, with their small families following as best
they could, they made the whole forest resound with the crashing of
the branches, and amused us not a little by their aerial line of march.
After crossing a dashing mountain-torrent by a rude bridge of trees
thrown across it, we arrived at the village of Burrumgulla. Here our
guide wanted us to halt in a mud-built native serai, but, with the
recollection of past experience fresh upon us, we declined, preferring
to choose our own ground and pitch our first encampment. The ground
we selected was almost at the foot of a noble waterfall, formed by a
huge cleft in a mass of rugged rock. The water, dashing headlong down,
was hidden in the recess of rock below, but the spray, as it rose up
like vapour and again fell around us, plainly told the history of its
birth and education. Even had we not seen the snowy peaks before us
from the mountain top, there was no mistaking, from its icy breath,
the nursery in which its infant form had been cradled. Just at our
feet was one of the frail and picturesque-looking pine bridges spanning
the torrent; while just below it another mountain river came tumbling
down, and, joining with its dashing friend, they both rolled on in
life together. As soon as our traps arrived, F. and I had a souse in
the quietest pool we could find, and anything so cold I never felt;
it was almost as if one was turned into stone, and stopping in it
more than a second was out of the question. After breakfast and a
SIESTA, we sallied out to try and explore the head of the cataract
above us. After rather a perilous ascent over loose moss and mould,
and clutching at roots of shrubs and trees, we were brought to a
stand by a huge mass of perpendicular rock, which effectually barred
us from the spot through which the water took its final leap. The
upper course of the torrent, however, amply repaid us for our labour,
for it ran through the most lovely dell I ever saw; and as it bounded
down from rock to rock, and roared and splashed along, it seemed to
know what there was before it, and to be rejoicing at the prospect
of its mighty jump. Torrent as it seemed, it was evidently nothing
to what it could swell to when in a rage, for here and there, far
out of its present reach, and scattered all about, were torn and
tattered corpses of forest trees, which had evidently been sucked up
and carried along until some rock more abrupt than its neighbours,
had brought them to a stand and left them, bleached and rotting, in
the summer's sun. At night we found ourselves glad to exchange our
usual covering of a single sheet for a heavy complement of blankets,
and found our encampment not the least too warm. The authorities here
were particularly civil and obliging, and supplied us with the best
of butter, eggs, and milk. The latter was particularly good, and,
not having often tasted cow's milk in the Plains, we did it ample
justice here.
JUNE 20. -- Found it rather hard to turn out this morning, in
consequence of the great change in the temperature, but got under weigh
very well considering. Our path led us up the main torrent towards the
snow, and in the first three miles we crossed about twenty pine-tree
bridges thrown across the stream, some of them consisting of a single
tree, and all in the rudest style of manufacture. Near one of these,
under an immense mass of rock, we passed our first snow. It looked,
however, so strange and unexpected, that we both took it for a block of
stone; and being thatched, as it were, with leaves and small sticks,
&c., and discoloured on all sides, it certainly bore no outward
resemblance to what it really was.
After an almost perpendicular ascent up natural flights of steps, we
reached our next stage, Poshana -- a little mud-built, flat-roofed
settlement on the mountain-side. Here we engaged a couple of
"shikarees," or native sportsmen, and made preparations for a DETOUR
into the snows of the Peer Punjal in search of game.
JUNE 21. -- Having made a division of our property, and sent the
Q.M.G. with an advanced guard two stages on to Heerpore, F. and
I started at daybreak for a five-days' shooting expedition in the
We took with us a khidmutgar and bhistie -- both capital servants,
but unfortunately not accustomed to cold, much less to snow. Besides
these, we had ten coolies to carry our baggage, consisting of two
small tents, bedding, guns, and cooking utensils, &c.; and our two
shikarees with their two assistants. The two former wore named Khandari
Khan and Baz Khan, -- both bare-legged, lightly clothed, sharp-eyed,
hardy-looking mountaineers, and well acquainted with the haunts of
game, and passes through the snow.
For the first time we had now to put on grass shoes or sandals;
and though they felt strange at first, we soon found that they were
absolutely necessary for the work we had before us. Our shoemaker
charged us six annas, or ninepence, for eight pairs, and that was
thirty per cent. over the proper price. However, as one good day's
work runs through a new pair, they are all the better for being rather
cheap. Along the road in all directions one comes across cast-off
remains of shoes, where the wearer has thrown off his worn-out ones
and refitted from his travelling stock; and in this way the needy
proprietor of a very indifferent pair of shoes may, perchance, make
a favourable exchange with the cast-off pair of a more affluent
pedestrian; but, to judge from the specimens we saw, he must be
very needy indeed in order to benefit by the transaction. On leaving
Poshana, we immediately wound up the precipitous side of a mountain
above us, and soon found that, from the rarification of the air, and
the want of practice, we felt the necessity of calling a halt very
frequently, for the purpose, of course, of admiring the scenery and
expatiating upon the beauties of nature. About two miles on the way
we came to a slip in the mountain-side, and just as we scrambled,
with some difficulty, across this, our foremost shikaree suddenly
dropped down like a stone, and motioning us to follow his example,
he stealthily pointed us out four little animals, which he called
"markore," grazing at the bottom of a ravine. Putting our sights to
about 250 yards, we fired both together, with the best intentions, but
indifferent results; for they all scampered off apparently untouched,
and we again resumed our march.
Our encamping ground we found situated among a shady grove of
fir-trees, with a mountain-torrent running beneath, bridged over, as
far as we could see, with dingy-looking fields of snow and ice. Here,
in the middle of June; with snow at our feet, above us, and around
us, we pitched our tent, and had breakfast, and laid our plans for a
search for game to-morrow. Though the wind blew cold and chilly off the
snows, we soon found that the midday sun still asserted his supremacy,
and our faces and hands soon bore witness to the fierceness of the
trial of strength between the two. Our camp, although so high up,
was not more than six miles from Poshana, and from thence we drew all
our supplies, such as milk, eggs, and fowls, &c., the coolies' and
shikarees' subsistence being deducted from their pay. Our own living
was not expensive: fowls, threepence each for large, three-halfpence
small; milk, three-halfpence per quart, and eggs, twelve for the
like amount, or one anna. For the rest, we lived upon chupatties, or
unleavened cakes of flour -- very good hot, but "gutta-percha" cold --
potatoes from Lahore, and, in the liquid line, tea and brandy. At night
we slept upon the ground -- pretty hard it was while one was awake to
feel it -- and not having any lamp, we turned in shortly after dark,
while in the morning we were up and dressed before the nightingales
had cleared their voices. These latter abounded all about us, and
formed a most agreeable addition to our establishment.
JUNE 22. -- Left our camp before sunrise, and crossing a large field
of snow over the main torrent, we clambered up the precipitous side
of our opposite mountain. The snow at first felt piercingly cold as
it penetrated our snow-shoes, but before we reached the top, we had
little to complain of in the way of chilliness. Our sharp-sighted
guides soon detected game on the rocks above us, and off we went on
a stalk, over rocks and chasms of snow -- now running, now crawling
along, more like serpents than respectable Christians, and all
in a style that would have astonished nobody more than ourselves,
could we have regarded the performance in the cool light of reason,
and not influenced by the excitement of chasing horned cattle of such
rare and curious proportions.
The markore, however, were quite as interested in the sport as we were,
and after an arduous and protracted stalk, they finally gave us the
slip, and we called a halt at the summit of a hill for breakfast and a
rest during the heat of the day. The former we enjoyed as we deserved,
but for the latter I can't say much : occasionally a cold blast from
off the snow would run right through us, while the sun bore down upon
our heads with scorching power, making havoc with whatever part of us
it found exposed to its rays, and blistering our hands and legs. The
guides helped us out by building up a most ricketty-looking shanty
with sticks and pieces of their garments and our own, and under this
apology for shelter, with our feet almost in the snow, we passed the
day, until it was cool enough again to look for game. In the evening
we came suddenly upon a kustura, a sort of half goat, half sheep,
with long teeth like a wolf. He was, however, in such thick cover,
that we were unable to get a shot at him.
Our camp, we found, moved, according to order, some three miles higher
up, to facilitate the shooting on that side: it was still, however,
among the firs and nightingales.
JUNE 23. -- Up again before sunrise, and off to the tops of the
mountains in search of game. The pull-up took us about an hour and a
half, and on reaching the summit, we found ourselves above the pass
of the Peer Punjal, the rocky and snow-covered ranges of mountain
around us gradually trending off on all sides, and losing themselves in
pine-covered slopes, till they finally blended with the blue outlines
of the ranges of Pills we had crossed on our route from Bimber. While
taking a sharp look around us for a herd of some twenty animals which
we had seen the day previously, we suddenly found ourselves close
to a party of five markore, but they scampered off so fast over rock
and snowdrift, that they gave us no opportunity of getting a shot.
Following them up, we came, while clinging to an overhanging ledge of
rock, upon one solitary gentleman standing about 150 yards below. We
both fired together, but the pace we had come, and the ground we had
crossed, had unsteadied our aim, and though my second bullet parted
the wool on his back, it was not written that our first markore
was to fall so easily. After this we tracked the first herd for
a long distance over the snow, until they scampered down an almost
perpendicular face of snow and ice, and here we gave them up, halting
on a spur of the mountain for a repast of chicken, eggs, chupatties,
and cold tea. During our morning's work we had come across some
most break-neck places, and had one or two narrow escapes, which,
at the time, one was hardly conscious of. The snow was wedged into
the ravines like sheets of ice, and being most precipitous, and
continuing to the very foot of the mountains, terminating in the
numerous torrents which they fed, a single false step in crossing
would have sent one rolling down, without a chance of stopping, to be
dashed to pieces at the bottom. In this way, a couple of years before,
two coolies and a shikaree had been killed, while shooting with an
officer. F. and I generally crossed these places in the footsteps
of the guides, or in holes cut by them for our feet with a hatchet;
but the men themselves passed them with a dash, which only long
practice and complete confidence could have imitated. During our halt
we suffered a good deal from the sun, although the snow was only six
inches off. In spite of the shade which our guides constructed for
us out of mysterious portions of their dress, both our wrists and
ankles were completely swollen and blistered before evening, while
our faces and noses in particular began to assume the appearance so
generally suggestive of Port wine and good living.
Our descent to the camp was a good march in itself, and we arrived
there about five P.M. hot and tired, 'but quite ready for our mountain
fare. On our road, we luckily discovered a quantity of young rhubarb,
growing in nature's kitchen-garden, and pouncing on it, we devoted it
to the celebration of our Sunday dinner.[4] We also saw a number of
minaur, or jungle-fowl, something of the pheasant tribe; but they were
so wild that nothing but slugs would secure them, and they entirely
declined the honour of an invitation to our Sunday entertainment.
JUNE 24. -- We were not at all sorry to remember this morning,
as the sun rose, that it was a day of rest, for after our last
few days of work we were fully able to enjoy it. Amused ourselves
exploring all about us, and picking wild flowers in memory of our
camp. The commonest were wild pansy and forget-me-not, and the
rhododendron grew in quantities. In the afternoon we made a muster
of our standing provisions, having only brought four days' supply,
and seeing little chance of getting back for ten. The result was.,
that tea was reported low, potatoes on their last legs, and brandy
in a declining state. Under these melancholy circumstances, we
agreed to stop another day for shooting, and then march over the
snows for Aliabad and Heerpore, to join our main body at the latter
place. A road by Cheta Panee was declared impracticable for coolies,
in consequence of the hardness of the snow; so we gave it up.
JUNE 25. -- All over the mountains again this morning before daybreak,
and up to breakfast-time without seeing game. However, one of our
sharp-sighted guides then detected markore, grazing at a long distance
up the mountains; even through the glasses they were mere specks,
and, to our unpractised eyes, very like the tufts and stones around
them; but in all faith that our guides were right, off we started in
pursuit. The first step was to lose all our morning's toil by plunging
for a mile or so down a steep descent. After that being accomplished,
up we went again, up and up an apparently interminable bank of snow, at
an angle of about sixty degrees, and slippery as glass. At the summit,
exhausted and completely out of breath, we did at last arrive, and from
this our friends of the morning were expected to be within shot. Not a
sign of a living creature appeared, however, to enliven the solitude
around us, and we began to think that our guides were a little TOO
clear-sighted this time, when what should suddenly come upon us but
a solitary old markore, slowly and leisurely rounding a rugged point
of rock below. We were all squatted in a bunch upon a space about as
large as a good-sized towel; but, hidden as we thought ourselves,
I could discern that our friend had evidently caught a glimpse of
something which displeased him in his morning cogitations. Still,
on he came, and just as he crossed a small field of snow, F. opened
fire at him across the ravine: the ball struck just below his body,
and, as he plunged forward, I followed with both barrels. On he went,
however, and before another shot could be fired he was coolly looking
down upon us from a terrace of inaccessible rocks, completely out of
range. Nothing remained but to descend again, and this we accomplished
very much more speedily, though perhaps not quite in such a graceful
style as we had ascended. The shikarees merely sat down on the inclined
plane, and with a hatchet or a stick firmly pressed under the arm as
a lever to regulate the pace, or a rudder to steer clear of rocks as
occasion might require, down they went at a tremendous pace, until
the slope was not sufficient to propel them further.
Our own wardrobe being limited in dimensions we declined adopting this
mode of locomotion, and slipping and sliding along, soon accomplished
the descent, in a less business-like but equally satisfactory
manner. While taking the direction of our camp, we espied seven more
animals, perched apparently upon a smooth face of rock; and after a
short council of war off we started on a fresh stalk, down another
descent, over more fields of snow, and up a place where a cat would
have found walking difficult.
While accomplishing this latter movement, our guides detected two
huge red bears, an enormous distance off, enjoying themselves in
the evening air, and feeding and scratching themselves alternately,
as they sauntered about in the breeze. Abandoning our present stalk,
which was not promising, down we went again, and crossing about a
mile and a half of broken ground, snow, rocks, &c., we reached a wood
close to the whereabouts of our new game. F. and I, separating, had
made the place by different routes, and just as I had caught sight of
one enormous monster, F. and the shikaree appeared, just on the point
of walking into his jaws. Having, by great exertion, prevented this
catastrophe, we massed our forces, and taking off our hats, just as if
we were stalking an unpopular landed proprietor in Tipperary, we crept
up to within sixty yards of the unsuspicious monster, and fired both
together. With a howl and a grunt, the huge mass doubled himself up,
and rolled into the cover badly wounded. Being too dangerous a looking
customer to follow directly, we reloaded and made a circuit above him;
and after a short search, discovered him with his paws firmly clasped
round a young tree. By way of finishing him, I gave him the contents of
my rifle behind the ear, and we then rolled him down a ravine on to the
snow beneath, where, a heavy storm of rain, hail, and thunder coming
on, we left him alone in his glory. Putting our best legs foremost,
we made for our camp, amid a pelting shower of hail like bullets and
an incessant play of lightning around us, as we pushed our way along
the frozen torrent. About five P.M., tired and drenched, we reached
the camp, when we discovered that our tents, though extremely handy
for mountain work, were not intended to keep out much rain, and that
all our rugs, and other comforts, were almost in as moist a state as
ourselves. During the entire night it continued to hail, rain, thunder,
and lighten; and with the exception of the exact spots we were each
lying on, there was not a dry place in the tent to take refuge in.
JUNE 26. -- After an exceedingly moist night, we made the most of a
little sunshine by turning out all our property, and hanging it around
us on stones and bushes to dry. After we had distinguished ourselves in
this way, for a couple of hours, down came the rain again; and after
stowing our half-dried goods, we assembled under a tree, and held a
council of war as to our future movements. The rain had swelled the
mountain torrents considerably, and the hail, lying on the old snow,
had made it slippery as glass, so that we were obliged to give up
the mountain pass we had agreed upon, and decided on a retreat to
"Poshana," our present ground being fairly untenable. Sending off
our tents and traps, and half-drowned servants, who were completely
out of their element, we remained behind under the pines till the
rain a little abated, and having secured the bear-skin for curing, we
started off with our rear-guard for Poshana. The road was so slippery,
that even with grass-shoes we could hardly keep from falling; and
the snow we found as hard as ice, and proportionately difficult to
cross. The consequence was, that in passing a steep incline with the
guide, he slipped, and I followed his example, and down we both went
like an engine and tender, the guide fishing about with his legs for
obstacles, and I above him, endeavouring to use my pole as an anchor
to bring us to.
Luckily, we both reached TERRA FIRMA safely, after a perilous run,
though at the same side we started from, and a long distance from our
point of previous departure. On at length reaching the opposite side,
we found a disconsolate coolie bemoaning himself and reckoning his
bones, having also fallen down the snow, while a little further on we
came upon the bhistie lamenting over a similar disaster. The latter
functionary had also lost a valuable pot of virgin honey, which had
only come up from Poshana the day before, and which we had not had
time to see the inside of even, ere it was thus lost to us for ever,
and made over as a poetical reparation to the bears of the country for
the ruthless murder we had committed on one of their number. Found the
hut at Poshana empty, and were glad to get into its shelter again. The
rain seeming quite set in, we determined to discharge our shikarees,
and after paying them three rupees each for their week's work, we
sent them away perfectly happy, with a few copper caps and a good
character apiece.
JUNE 27. -- Left Poshana at five A.M., and made for the Peer
Punjal pass. A sharp struggle brought us to the summit, where we
found a polygon tower erected, apparently as a landmark and also
a resting-place for travellers to recover themselves after their
exertions.[5] At the Cashmere side of the pass I had expected to see
something of the far-famed valley, but nothing met the eye but a wild
waste of land, bounded on all sides by snow, while a few straggling
coolies toiled up towards us with some itinerant Englishman's baggage
like our own.
This turned out to belong to a party returning to Sealkote, and
we were rather elated by seeing among their possessions several
enormous antlers, which promised well for sport at the other side
of the valley. They turned out, however, to have been bought, and,
as their owners informed us, there was no chance of meeting such game
until October or November. About two miles down the pass we reached
the old serai of Aliabad, and found the only habitable part of it
in possession of a clergyman and a young Bengal artilleryman bound
for the shooting-grounds we had just left. With much difficulty we
obtained a few eggs, and a little milk with which we washed down the
chupatties we had brought with us; but the coolies were so long getting
over the path, that no signs of breakfast made their appearance until
about two o'clock. At mid-day it came on to rain heavily, and we took
up our quarters in a miserable den, with a flooring of damp rubbish
and a finely carved stone window not very much in keeping with the
rest of the establishment. Here we spent the day drearily enough,
the prospect being confined to a green pool of water in the middle
of the serai, around which the Pariah dogs contended with the crows
for the dainties of offal scattered about. As soon as it was dark,
we were glad enough to spread our waterproof sheets on the ground,
and sleep as well as the thousands of tenants already in possession
would allow us.
JUNE 28. -- Up at sunrise, and packed off our things down the mountain
for Heerpore, where the main body of our possessions were concentrated.
Shortly after their departure it began to rain an Irish and Scotch
combined mist, and after warming our toes and blinding our eyes over a
wood fire for about three hours, in hopes of its clearing, we donned
grass-shoes and, putting our best legs foremost, accomplished about
thirteen miles of a most slippery path without a halt, except for
the occasional purpose of adjusting our dilapidated shoes.
After the first five or six miles the path entered a beautifully-wooded
valley, and at one spot, where two torrents joined their foaming waters
at the foot of a picturesque old ivy-grown serai, the landscape was
almost perfection. Passing this, we entered a thickly-shaded wood,
studded with roses and jessamine, and peopled with wood-pigeons
and nightingales, who favoured us with a morning concert as we
passed. Crossing a wooden bridge over the torrent, we reached a fine
grass country, and here the presence of a herd of cows told us we were
near our destination. At Heerpore we found Mr. Rajoo located with all
our belongings in a little wooden sort of squatter's cabin, where we
were glad to take shelter out of the dripping rain. It reminded one
strongly of Captain Cuttle's habitation and a ship's cabin together,
and made one feel inclined to go on deck occasionally. It was on
the whole, however, very comfortable, and seemed, after our late
indifferent quarters, to be a perfect palace. After breakfast, we
made inquiries as to our worldly affairs, and found that all were
thriving with the exception of the potatoes, which had been taken
worse on the road, and were already decimated by sickness. We added
a sheep to our stock, for which we paid three shillings, and laid
in a welcome supply of butter. The khidmutgar and bhistie, we found,
had retailed the history of their many sorrows to the other servants,
and, having expatiated most fully on the horrors they had endured
among the snows and thunderstorms of the mountains, were promising
themselves a speedy end to all their woes among the peace and plenty
of the promised land of Cashmere.
JUNE 29. -- After some trouble in procuring coolies, we started at
eleven in a shower of rain, and found ourselves gradually passing
into the valley, and exchanging rocks and firs for groves of walnut;
and moss and fern for the more civilized strawberry and the wild
carnation. The strawberries, though small, had a delicious flavour,
and we whiled away the time by gathering them as we passed. About
two o'clock we reached the village of Shupayon, and here began to
perceive a considerable change in the style of architecture from what
we had been accustomed to; the flat mudden roof giving place to the
sharply-pitched wooden one, thatched with straw, or coarsely TILED
with wood.
Our halting-place we found, for the first time, to possess a staircase
and upper story. A little square habitation it was, with a verandah all
round it, and built entirely of wood. From this, as the clouds lifted
from the mountain-tops around, a most lovely view opened out before us.
Wherever the eye rested toward the mountains, the snow-capped peaks
raised themselves up into the clear blue sky; while at our feet lay
the far-famed valley, reaching towards the north, to the very base
of the mountain range, and rising gradually and by a gentle slope
to our halting-place, and so back to the pass from which we had
just descended.
As the sun appeared to have come out again permanently, we took the
opportunity of getting our tents and other property which had suffered
from the wet out for a general airing.
JUNE 30. -- Marched about nine miles through fertile slopes of
rice-fields, shaded by walnuts and sycamores, and found our
halting-place situated in a serai, shrouded in mulberry and
cherry trees, and with a charming little rivulet running through
it, discoursing sweet music night and day. Our habitation was a
baraduree, or summer-house, of wood, and having an upper room with
trellised windows, where we spent the day very pleasantly. At dinner
we had the first instalment of the land of promise, in the shape of
a roly-poly pudding of fresh cherries, a thing to date from in our
hitherto puddingless circumstances.
JULY 1. -- Started at daybreak for our last march into the
capital. The first appearance of the low part of the valley was rather
disappointing, for there was nothing striking in the view; still, the
country was extremely fertile, and its tameness was redeemed by the
glorious mountain range, which bounded the valley in every direction,
with its pure unsullied fringe of snow. Our path was occasionally
studded with the most superb sycamores and lime-trees; and as we
approached the town we entered a long avenue of poplars, planted as
closely together as possible, and completely hiding all the buildings
until close upon them. Passing through the grand parade-ground, we
found a bustling throng of about four hundred Cashmeeries, with heavy
packs beside them, waiting for an escort to take out supplies to the
Maharajah's army, now on active service at a place called Girgit,
in the mountains. The said army seemed to be fighting with nobody
knew who, about nobody knew what; but report says that his Highness,
having a number of troops wanting arrears of pay, sends them out
periodically to contend with the hill tribes, by way of settlement
in full of all demands.
Having engaged a boat's crew at Ramoon, we were, on arriving at the
River Jhelum, which runs through the city, immediately inducted to the
manners and customs of the place; and being safely deposited in a long
flat-bottomed boat, with a mat roof and a prow about twelve feet out of
the water, we were paddled across by our six new servants, and landed
among a number of bungalows on the right bank, which were erected by
the Maharajah for the reception of his English visitors. These are
entirely of wood, of the rudest construction, and are built along
the very edge of the river, which is here about a hundred yards broad.
We were received on landing by the Baboo and Moonshee, the native
authorities retained by the Maharajah for the convenience of his
visitors; and learning from them that there were no bungalows vacant,
we pitched our little camp under a shady grove of trees close by; and
thus, in the capital of the land of poetry and promise, the far-famed
paradise of the Hindoo, we brought our wanderings to an end for the
present, and gave ourselves and our retainers a rest from all the
toils and troubles of the road.
A Halt in the Valley.
Being fairly settled in our quarters, we were not long in putting our
new staff of dependants into requisition; and, taking to our boat,
sallied forth to get a general view of the city of Sirinugger.[6]
Finding, however, a review of the army going on, we stopped at the
parade-ground to witness the interesting ceremony. The troops we found
drawn up in lines, forming the sides of a large square, and dressed in
what his Highness Rumbeer Singh believes confidently to be the ENGLISH
COSTUME. As far as one could see, however, the sole foundation for
this belief lay in the fact of their all wearing trousers! These were
certainly the only articles of their equipment that could in any way
be called English in style; and they bore, after all, but a slender
resemblance to the corresponding habiliments of the true Briton.
The head-dress, generally speaking, was a turban. One regiment,
however, had actually perpetrated a parody on the English shako --
a feat which I had always hitherto considered absolutely impossible.
The cavalry were mounted upon tattoos, or native ponies, and wore
white trousers, with tight straps, which rendered them for the time
being the most miserable of their race.
A few of them had imitations of Lancer caps, some had boots, some
slippers, some spurs, others none; some had wondrous straps of tape
and cord, others wore their trousers up to their knees; but one and
all were entirely uniform in looking completely ill at ease and out
of their element in their borrowed would-be-English plumage. Just
as we had finished taking a general view of the army, the Maharajah
appeared upon the stage, dressed in a green-and-gold embroidered gown
and turban and tight silk pantaloons, mounted on a grey caparisoned
Arab steed. After riding round the lines with his retinue, he came up,
and we were presented in due form; and after asking us if we had come
from Allahabad, and expressing his opinion that it was a long way off,
in which we entirely concurred with him, he shook hands in English
style; and, taking his seat in a chair which was placed for him, we
collected ourselves around, and, similarly seated, prepared to inspect
the marching past of his highness's redoubtables. Before this began,
however, the Maharajah's little son made his appearance, dressed in all
respects like his papa, with miniature sword and embroidered raiment;
and to him we were also introduced in form. During the marching past,
I congratulated myself upon being several seats distant from his
highness's chair, for the effect was so absurd that it was almost
impossible to preserve that dignity and composure which the occasion
The marching was in slow time, and the step being fully thirty-six
inches the fat little dumpy officers nearly upset themselves in their
efforts to keep time, and at the same time prevent their slippers
from deserting on the line of march; while, in bringing their swords
to the salute, they did it with a swing which was suggestive of
their throwing away their arms altogether. Besides artillery, five
regiments of infantry and two of cavalry marched past -- in all,
little over 2,000 men -- colours flying and bands playing "Home,
sweet home!" After this the irregulars began to appear; and although
the first part of the army might have almost deserved the name, these
put them completely in the shade. One colonel had a pair of enormous
English gold epaulettes and a turban; another a black embroidered suit,
with white tape straps, and slippers; and as for the men, there were
no two of them dressed alike, while in the way of arms, each pleased
his own particular fancy also. A long gun over the shoulder was the
most popular weapon; but each had, in addition, a perfect armoury
fastened in his girdle: pistols with stocks like guns, daggers and
even blunderbusses made their appearance; and the general effect, as
the crowd galloped independently past, dressed in their many-coloured
turbans, and flowing apparel, was most picturesque. As soon as the
last of the flags and banners and prancing horses had gone past, the
Maharajah set us the example of rising, and mounting his grey steed,
cantered off in state, surrounded by the crowd of dusky parasites,
arrayed in gold and jewels, who formed his court.
His Highness appeared to be about thirty-eight years old, and was as
handsome a specimen of a native as I had ever seen. He wore a short,
jet-black beard, and mustachios, turned up from the corners of his
mouth, and reaching, in two long twists, nearly to his eyes. He
appeared absent and thoughtful which, considering the low state of
his exchequer, was perhaps not to be wondered at.[7] His English
visitors spend a good deal of money every summer in his kingdom;
and for this reason alone, he is anxious enough to cultivate their
acquaintance, and gives naches, or native dances, and champagne
dinners periodically to amuse them. He presents, also, an offering to
each traveller that arrives, and we in due course received two sheep,
two fowls, and about fourteen little earthen dishes containing rice,
butter, spices, eggs, flour, fruit, honey, sugar, tea, &c., all of
which were laid at the door of our tent, with great pomp and ceremony,
by a host of attendants.
After the review, we took boat again and paddled down the stream to
look at the town, and a quainter and more picturesque-looking old
place it would be hard to conceive. The, houses are built entirely
of wood, of five and six stories, and overhanging the river, and
are as close as possible to each other, except where here and there
interspersed with trees. Communication is kept up between the banks
by means of wooden rustic bridges, built on enormous piles of timber,
laid in entire trees, crossing each other at equal distances. Not a
single straight line is to be seen in any direction -- the houses being
dilapidated and generally out of the perpendicular; and everywhere the
river view is bounded by the snow-capped ranges of mountain, which,
towards the north, appear to rise almost from the very water's edge.
JULY 2. -- Taking the Q.M.G. as a guide, we sallied out
immediately after breakfast to explore the land part of this Eastern
Venice. Entering at the city gate, on the left bank of the river, near
the Maharajah's palace, we walked past a row of trumpery pop-guns, on
green and red carriages, and so through the most filthy and odoriferous
bazaar I ever met with, till we reached the residence of Saifula Baba,
the great shawl merchant of Sirinugger. Here we found a noted shawl
fancier inspecting the stock, and were inducted to the mysteries of
the different fabrics. Some that we saw were of beautiful workmanship,
but dangerous to an uninitiated purchaser. They ranged from 300 to
1,000 rupees generally, but could be ordered to an almost unlimited
extent of price. After inspecting a quantity of Pushmeena and other
local manufactures, Mr. Saifula Baba handed us tea and sweetmeats,
after the fashion of his country; and we adjourned to the abode of a
worker in papier mache, where we underwent a second edition of tea
and sweetmeats, and inspected a number of curiosities. The chief
and only beauty of the work was in the strangeness of the design;
and some of the shawl patterns, reproduced on boxes, &c., were
pretty in their way, but as manufacturers of papier mache simply,
the Cashmeeries were a long way behind the age.
On reaching home, we found that the Maharajah had sent his salaam,
together with the information that he was going to give a nach and
dinner, to which we were invited.
JULY 3. -- After continuing our explorations of Sirinugger, we
repaired, about seven o'clock, to the Maharajah's palace, where we
were received by a guard of honour of sixty men and four officers.,
the latter in gold embroidered dresses, and hung all over with
ear-rings and finery of divers sorts and kinds.
Ascending the stairs, we were met by the DEEWAN, or prime minister,
who conducted us into an open sort of terrace over the river, where
we found the Maharajah with the few English officers already arrived
seated on either side of him, and the nach-girls, about twenty in
number, squatted in a semicircle opposite them. Standing behind his
Highness were colonels of regiments and native dignitaries of all
sorts, dressed in cloth of gold and jewels, and in every variety
and hue of turban and appointments. A number of these were Sikhs;
and magnificent-looking men they were, with their flowing dress and
fiercely-twisted whiskers and mustachios. The nach-girls, too --
a motley group -- were attired in all the hues of the rainbow, and
with the white-robed musicians behind them, awaited in patience the
signal to commence. In singular contrast to this glittering throng,
which formed the court, were the guests whom the Maharajah, on this
occasion, delighted to honour. The British officer appeared generally
in the national but uncourtly costume of a shooting jacket! and
though some few had donned their uniform, and one rejoiced in the
traditional swallow-tail of unmistakeable civilization, neither the
one nor the other contrasted favourably in point of grace with the
Cashmerian rank and fashion.
After shaking hands with his Highness, who prides himself upon his
English way of accomplishing that ceremony, and does it by slipping
into one's hand what might be taken for a dying flat fish, we took
our seats, and the dancing began shortly afterwards. Though on a
more magnificent scale than anything I had seen of the kind before,
the programme was flat and insipid enough. The ladies came out two and
two, and went through a monotonous die-away movement, acting, dancing,
and singing all at the same time, and showing off their red-stained
palms and the soles of their feet to the best advantage. Some of the
women were very pretty, but very properly they modified their charms
by dressing in the most unbecoming manner possible. Their head-dress
was a little cloth of gold and silver cap hung all round with pendent
ornaments, and these were becoming enough, but the remainder of the
dress was much more trying. A short body of shot silk was separated
by a natural border from a gauze skirt, which hung down perfectly
straight and innocent of fulness, and allowed a pair of white pyjamas
to appear beneath. These were fastened tightly round the ancles,
which were encircled by little bunches of the tinkling bells, which
the ladies make such use of in the dance. Round the shoulders comes
a filmy scarf of various colours, which also plays a prominent part
in all their movements, and answers in its way to the fan of more
accomplished Western belles.
After each couple had gone through the whole of their performances,
they used to squat themselves down suddenly in the most ungraceful
style imaginable, and were then relieved by another pair of artistes
from the group.
One lady, in addition to the dance, favoured us with "the Marseillaise"
with the French words, being occasionally prompted by the head
of the orchestra, who nearly worked himself into a frenzy while
accompanying the dancers with both vocal and instrumental music at
the same time. The Maharajah himself was plainly dressed in white
robes, with a pair of pale-green striped silk pantaloons fitting his
legs like stockings from the knee down, and terminating in a pair of
English socks, of which he seemed immensely proud. His turban was of
the palest shade of green, and (in strong contrast to the rest of his
court) without any ornament whatever. The little heir to the throne --
a nice little blackamoor of about eight years of age -- was, like his
father, perched upon a chair, and arrayed in a green and gold turban,
pants, and socks, with the addition of a velvet gold-embroidered coat,
while round his neck were three or four valuable necklaces, one of
pear-shaped emeralds of great size and beauty. After a few dances the
doors of the banqueting-room were thrown open, and his Highness led
the way into dinner with the commissioner. On entering, we found a
capital dinner laid out English fashion, and with a formidable army
of black bottles ranged along the table. The Maharajah, however, had
disappeared, and we were left to feed without a host. The grandees,
meanwhile, remained outside, and still enjoyed the dances, ranging
themselves upon their haunches in front of the rows of chairs which
not one among them would have dared to trust himself in for either
love or money. Considering that our entertainer was a Hindoo, and
that his dinner-giving appliances were limited, each person having
to bring his own knife, fork, spoon, and chair, we fared very well,
and after having drunk his health, again assembled in the court,
where we found Rumbeer Singh still occupied with the wearisome nach,
and reattired in a gorgeous dress of green velvet and gold. After a
short stay he got up, and we all followed his example, glad enough
to bring the entertainment to an end, and betake ourselves to our
boats. At the stairs there was a desperate encounter with innumerable
boatmen, each boat having six, eight, or ten sailors, and all being
equally anxious to uphold the credit of their craft by being the
first to land their masters safe, at home. We were fortunate enough to
reach our own at once, and, with a shouting crew, away we dashed up
the river, leaving the others struggling, fighting, and flourishing
their paddles in the air, in a way which was more suggestive of an
insurrection scene in Masaniello than the departure of guests from
a peaceable gentleman's own hall door on the night of an evening party.
On the stairs there was an extraordinary assemblage of slippers, which
seemed to hold the same relative position that hats and cloaks do in
more enlightened communities -- that is, the good ones were taken by
the owners of the bad, and the proprietors of the bad ones were fain
to make the best of the exchange. Next morning our khidmutgar came up
with a most doleful countenance and presented to our notice a pair of
certainly most ill-favoured slippers, which a fellow true-believer had
INADVERTENTLY substituted for a pair of later date. The lost ones had,
in fact, only recently been received from the boot-maker; and the
blow was difficult to bear with resignation, even by the saintliest
follower of Islam -- a reputation which our retainer came short of
by a very long way indeed.
JULY 4. -- Having an accumulation of letters to answer, we devoted the
day to writing -- merely enjoying a little OTIUM CUM DIG. -- in the
evening, reclining in our boat while serenaded by the crew of boatmen.
JULY 5. -- Walked up, before daybreak, to the Tukht e Suleeman,
or Solomon's throne, "the mountainous Portal," which Moore speaks
of in LALLA ROOKH, and which forms the most striking landmark in
the valley.[8]
From the summit there was a curious view of the multitudinous wooden
houses and the sinuous windings of the river, which could alone be
obtained from such a bird's-eye point of inspection. An old temple
at the top was in the hands of the Hindoo faction, being dedicated
to the goddess Mahadewee, and in charge of it I found two of the
dirtiest fukeers, or religious mendicants, I ever had the pleasure
of meeting. One was lying asleep, with his feet in a heap of dust and
ashes, and the other was listlessly sitting, without moving a muscle,
warming himself in the morning sun. Both were almost naked, and had
their bodies and faces smeared with ashes and their hair long and
matted. They appeared to have arrived at a state of almost entire
abstraction, and neither of them even raised his eyes or seemed to
be in the slightest degree aware of my presence, although I took a
sketch of one of them, and stared at both, very much as I would have
done at some new arrival of animals in the Zoological Gardens.
In the evening we went again to Saifula Baba's and visited the
workrooms, where we were much astonished by the quickness with which
the people worked the intricate shawl patterns with a simple needle,
and no copy to guide them.
The first stages of the work are not very promising, but the finished
result, when pressed and rolled and duly exhibited by that true
believer Saifula Baba, in his snowy gown and turban, was certainly
in every way worthy of its reputation.
Returning home, we visited a garden where any of the English visitors
who die in the valley are buried -- the Maharajah presenting a
Cashmere shawl, in some instances, to wrap the body in. There were
about eight or ten monuments built of plaster, with small square
slabs for inscriptions. One of these was turned topsy-turvey, which
was not to be wondered at, for a native almost always holds English
characters upside-down when either trying to decipher them himself
or when holding them to be read by others.
JULY 6. -- In the early morning I ascended to the throne of Solomon,
in order to get a sketch of the Fort of Hurree Purbut, and in the
afternoon we repaired to the lake behind the town, where there was a
grand Mela or fair, on the water, to which the Maharajah and all his
court went in state. The lake is beautifully situated at the foot of
the mountains, and was covered so densely in many parts with weed and
water-plants that it bore quite the appearance of a floating garden;
and as the innumerable boats paddled about, with their bright and
sunny cargoes, talking and laughing and enjoying themselves to their
heart's content, the scene began to identify itself in some measure
with Moore's description of the "Sunny lake of cool Cashmere," and
its "Plane-tree isle reflected clear," although the poet's eyes had
never rested on either lake or isle. Putting poetry on one side,
however, for the present, we made our way to the extremity of the
lake, in order to pay a visit to his Highness's gaol, where we were
received by a very civil gaoler, equipped with a massive sword and
dilapidated shield. We found 110 prisoners in the place, employed
generally in converting dhan into chawul, or, in other words,
clearing the rice-crop. There was also a mill for mustard oil, and
the most primitive machine for boring fire-arms ever invented, both
worked by water-power. The prison dress was uniform in the extreme:
it consisted simply of a suit of heavy leg-irons and nothing more!
After seeing the fair, we paddled across through a perfect water-meadow
to the Shalimar gardens, where we found the Rajah and his suite
just taking their departure. The vista on entering the gardens was
extremely pretty: four waterfalls appear at the same moment, sending
a clear sheet of crystal water over a broad stone slab, and gradually
receding from sight in the wooded distance. A broad canal runs right
through the gardens, bridged at intervals by summer-houses and crossed
by carved and quaintly-fashioned stepping stones. At the extremity
there is a magnificent baradurree of black marble, which looks as if
it had been many centuries in existence, and had originally figured in
some very different situation. The pillars were entire to a length of
seven feet, and were highly polished from the people leaning against
them. Around this, in reservoirs of water, were about two hundred
fountains, all spouting away together, and on one side a sheet of
the most perfectly still water I ever saw. It appeared exactly like
a large looking-glass, and it was impossible to discern where the
artificial bank which inclosed it either began or terminated.
In these gardens it was that Selim, or Jehangeer the son of Akbar,
used to spend so many of his days with the far-famed Noor Jehan in the
beginning of the seventeenth century, and here was the scene of their
reconciliation, as related by Feramorz to Lalla Rookh ere he revealed
himself to her as her future lord, the king of Bucharia. From these
founts and streams it was that the fair Persian sought to entice her
lord, with "Fly to the desert, fly with me!"
"When breathing, as she did, a tone
To earthly lutes and lips unknown;
With every chord fresh from the touch
Of Music's spirit, -- 'twas too much!"
"The light of the universe" overcomes even the "conqueror of the
world." Thinking it, after all, wiser to kiss and be friends than be
sulky, he surrenders at discretion: --
"And, happier now for all their sighs,
As on his arm her head reposes,
She whispers him with laughing eyes,
'Remember, love, the Feast of Roses!' "
Leaving the favourite haunts of the "magnificent son of Akbar," we
crossed the lake again to see the Maharajah inspect a party of about
2,000 soldiers, who were departing for the war at Girgit. Nothing
in the way of supplies being procurable near the scene of action,
the greater part of the review was taken up by the marching past of a
horde of Cashmeree and mountain porters, heavily laden with the sinews
of war. According to report, the pay of the army here is about five
shillings per mensem, with a ration of two pounds of rice per diem.
In the evening, the number of boats congregated on the lake
was marvellous. All were perfectly crammed with Cashmerian
pleasure-seekers; but the turbaned faithful, in spite of the pressure,
in no way lost their dignity, but with pipes and coffee enjoyed
themselves in apparently entire unconsciousness of there being a soul
on the lake beside themselves. The most wonderful sight, however,
was the immense crowd of many-coloured turbans congregated on shore,
witnessing the departure of the Cashmerian Guards; and as they thronged
the green slopes in thousands, they gave one quite the idea of a mass
of very violent-coloured flowers blooming together in a garden. On
our way home we had great jostling, and even fighting, in order to
maintain our position among the crowds of boats, the result of which
was that our crew managed to break two paddles in upholding the dignity
and respectability of their masters. The Maharajah himself, however,
gave us the go-by in great style, in a long quaint boat, propelled by
thirty-six boatmen, and built with a broad seat towards the bows, in
shape like the overgrown body of a gig in indifferent circumstances,
on which his Highness reclined. By his side was the little prince,
in glorious apparel, while half a dozen of his court, arrayed in
spotless white, appeared like so many snow-drifts lying at his feet.
JULY 7. -- Made our arrangements to-day for a trip by water to the
Wuler Lake, and spent the afternoon in inspecting the jeweller's and
other shops in the city. The native workmen appear to engrave cleverly
both on stone and metal, and some of their performances would bear
comparison with any European workmanship of a similar kind. They
also work in filagree silver, charging about sixpence in every two
shillings' worth of silver for their labour. About nine P.M. we took to
our boats; F. and I occupying one together, in which we stowed bedding,
dressing-things, &c. while the cooking apparatus and servants occupied
the other. Passed the night very comfortably, and found the situation
most conducive to sleep, as we glided gently along with the stream.
JULY 8. -- Awoke to find an innumerable swarm of mosquitoes buzzing
about our habitation, and apparently endeavouring to carry it
off bodily. Letting down, however, the muslin curtains, which the
foreknowledge of the faithful Q.M.G. had provided us with, we succeeded
in puzzling the enemy for the time being. About eight o'clock, the
fleet came to an anchor at a luxuriant little island at the entrance
of the great lake; to all appearance, however, it might have been
situated in a meadow, for we had to force our way to it through a
perfect plain of green water-plants, whose slimy verdure covered the
face of the lake for miles around. It was wooded by mulberry trees,
very prettily entwined with wild vines, and in the midst were the
remains of an old Musjid, in which we discovered a slab of black
marble, covered with a beautifully carved inscription in Arabic, and
appearing as if it had not always held the ignoble position which it
now occupied. Scattered about the island, also, were many scraps of
columns and carved stones, which gave evidence of having belonged
to some ancient temple or palace. While thus surveying our island,
we were pestered to death by swarms of prodigious mosquitoes, for
which the Wuler Lake is justly celebrated, and during breakfast the
eating was quite as much on their side as ours; so that we were glad
to weigh anchor, and with our curtains tightly tucked in around us,
we floated away, in lazy enjoyment of climate and scenery, towards the
centre of the lake. As we cleared the margin of the water-plants, we
found ourselves on a glassy surface, extending away towards the west
as far as the eye could see, and bordered on all sides by gorgeous
mountains and ranges of snow. Around the edges of the lake a sunny
mirage was playing tricks with the cattle and the objects on the banks,
and as we glided lazily on with the stream, and the splashing paddles,
and even the foiled mosquitoes, made music about us, we began to
enter more into the spirit of our situation, and to appreciate the
peculiar beauties of the "sunny lake of cool Cashmere," with the
DOLCE FAR NIENTE existence which of right belongs to it. About one
o'clock we reached Sompoor, at the Baramoula extremity of the lake,
and as it came on to blow a little, it was not too soon: our boats
were totally unadapted for anything rougher than a mill-pond, and in
the ripple excited by the small puffs of wind, I had the misfortune
to ship what was, under the circumstances, a heavy sea, and so
sacrificed the prospects of a dry lodging for the night. Sompoor we
found a picturesque but dirty village, with promise of good fishing,
in the river below it. We unfortunately had no tackle, but the boatmen
succeeded in catching five or six good fish with a hook baited with a
mulberry only : a very favourite article of consumption, apparently,
among the Cashmerian little fishes.
Dropping down the river, we dined on the bank among the mulberry trees,
and I afterwards essayed to take a sketch of the village; such a firm
and determined body of mosquitoes, however, immediately fell upon
me, that, after a short but unsuccessful combat, I was fairly put to
flight, and Sompoor remained undrawn. We passed the night above the
town, ready for an early start in the morning.
JULY 9. -- Left our moorings before sunrise, and halted about eight
A.M. at a little island stacked with elephant-grass, where, after
as good a swim as the tangled weeds would permit, we breakfasted
pleasantly under the trees.
From this point we adopted a new mode of progression, the boatmen
towing us from the bank; and the motion was a great improvement on
the paddling system, except that it had a tendency to set one to
sleep altogether. Reached Sirinugger, and our camp again, at four P.M.
JULY 10. -- Paid Saifula Baba, the shawl merchant, a visit to-day,
in order to get a bill of exchange on Umritsur cashed. Found
him just going out to Mosque, in his snow-white robe and turban,
cleanly-shaved pate, and golden slippers. Not having any money,
he promised us a hundred rupees of the Maharajah's coinage to go on
with. These nominal rupees are each value 10 annas, or 1S. 3D., the
most chipped and mutilated objects imaginable. On one face of the coin
are the letters I.H.S. stamped, a strange enough device for a heathen
or any other mint to have adopted. While floating about the Eastern
Venice, we discovered a number of finely-cut old blocks of stone in
the built-up wall which bounded the river; and on inspecting the place,
we came upon an ancient Mussulman cemetery and ruined Musjid, in which
there were some very antique-looking carvings, which apparently had
commenced life elsewhere than on Mussulman ground. The graveyard,
however, was itself extremely old, although many of the turbaned and
lettered tombstones of the faithful were in perfect preservation. All
began with the "La Ulah ila Ullah," or "B'ism Ullah,"[9] with which
everything connected with a Mussulman does commence, either in life
or death.
All through the city one can trace the remains of some much more
ancient structure in the huge blocks of carved stone which are
scattered about among their more plebeian brethren, and serve to form
with them, in humble forgetfulness of past grandeur, the foundations
of the lofty rattletrap but picturesque wooden structures which line
both sides of the river and form the city of Cashmere in the year of
grace 1860.
Some of these houses, as one looks into the narrow lanes leading to
the river and sees them in profile, are apparently in the last stage
of dissolution, leaning out of the perpendicular and overtopping their
lower stories and foundations in a way that would put even the leaning
tower of Pisa to shame. One six-storied house, of long experience
in this crooked world, had made the most wonderful efforts to redeem
his character and to recover his equilibrium by leaning the contrary
way aloft from what he did below. Poor fellow! he had been but badly
conducted in his youth, and was nobly endeavouring to correct his
ways in a mossy and dilapidated old age. The tracery of much of the
wood-work carvings, and particularly of the windows, varies greatly,
and in some places is so minute that it requires close inspection to
find out the design. Of these the Zenana windows of the Maharajah's
palace are about the finest specimens; but as there is no way of
approaching them closely, it is impossible to make out their details.
JULY 11. -- Started this evening by water for Islamabad, the ancient
capital of Cashmere.
We made a slight change in our arrangements, rather for the better,
by hiring a large boat for ourselves and handing our own over to the
servants and culinary department in general.
JULY 12. -- Found ourselves not very far on our road on awakening
this morning, the night having been very dark, the current strong
against us, and the sailors lazy.
Another cause of delay also, if these were insufficient, was, that
the proprietor of the boat dropped his turban overboard, with two
rupees in the folds of it, and the old lady his spouse had stopped
the fleet for at least an hour to cry over the misfortune. Before
breakfast we had a swim, and found ourselves only just able to make way
against the stream. Breakfasted on the river bank, under the trees,
and surrounded by rocky snow-capped mountains. Reading, scribbling,
and eating apricots brought us to about an hour before sunset, when
F. and I landed and went ahead to pick out a spot for a dining-room
for ourselves. In the search, we passed through orchards and gardens
innumerable, and finally decided upon a grove of magnificent sycamores
on the river bank, where we laid out our table just as the sun went
down. Within view was a picturesque old wooden bridge, on the mossy
tree-formed piles of which the bushes were growing, as if quite at
home, and hanging gracefully over the flowing river.
JULY 13. -- Found ourselves at sunrise at the end of our boat journey,
bathed in the river, and started for Islamabad, about half a kos off.
On the bank we found three other travellers encamped, and leaving them
fast asleep, we pushed ahead and took possession of the baraduree. This
we found a charming little place in a garden, full of ponds of sacred
fish, with old carved stones scattered about, belonging to the Hindoo
mythology. Through one corner of an upper tank a stream of crystal
water flowed in from the mountain which rose perpendicularly behind
it -- the water welling up from below in a constant and abundant
stream. Round this corner were some most grotesque stones; and here
the sacred fish were assembled in such shoals as to jostle each other
almost out of the water; but whether they were attracted by the fresh
supply of water or the sacred images covered as they were with votive
offerings of milk and rice, flowers, &c., the fish or the Brahmins
alone can tell.
Tradition states that an infidel Christian officer once killed three of
these fish, and having eaten one of them, died shortly after. Putting
their sanctity out of the question, however, the little creatures
are so tame and so numerous that few people would be inclined either
to kill or to eat them. While feeding them with bread, I could have
caught any number with my hand; and holding a piece of tough crust
under water, it was amusing to feel them tugging and hauling at it,
making occasional snaps at one's fingers in their efforts. They were
generally about half a pound in weight.
Our baraduree was built of wood, in the usual style, with latticed
windows of various designs, and having one room overhanging the
stream which ran through the centre of the house from the sacred
tanks. Directly below the place we occupied was a little waterfall,
which conversed pleasantly day and night; and by taking-up a loose
plank in the floor we could see as well as hear it. Learning that
there were some ruins in the neighbourhood, supposed to have existed
from before the birth of our Saviour, we started in the afternoon for
a place called Bowun, or more popularly Mutton, about two and a half
kos off.
The sun to-day we found very hot in this same valley of coolness,
its rays coming down on the backs of our heads in a very searching
and inquisitive manner. Along the entire path there were running
streams in every direction: and what with these and the magnificent
sycamores and walnut-trees which shaded us as we walked, our opinions
of the beauty of the country got a considerable rise. The path from
the Peer Punjal Pass by which we entered appears to be the worst
point of view from which to see the valley. From either the Peshawur
or Murree roads the effect is much finer; and from the north-east,
from which direction it is perhaps seldomer seen than any other, it
looks greener and more beautiful than from either of the other points.
At Mutton we found our three lazy friends of the morning, encamped
under the trees reading green railway-novels, and evidently very much
puzzled how to kill time. Beyond a tank teeming with sacred fishes,
there appeared nothing whatever to be seen here. Taking warning
from this, we thought it not worth while proceeding to Bamazoo,
where we were told there were caves; but, treating the fishes to a
small coin's worth of Indian maize, we retraced our steps and diverged
about a kos off the Islamabad road to Pandau. Here we were rewarded by
coming suddenly upon a magnificent old Cyclopeian ruin of grey stone,
bearing, from a little distance, the appearance rather of an ancient
Christian Church -- such as may be seen occasionally in Ireland --
than of a heathen place of worship. On entering, we found a number of
ancient carvings on the massive stone walls, but they were much worn,
and the designs to us were unintelligible. Some of them were like
the Hindoo divinities, while others were more like Christian devices,
such as cherubims, &c. Altogether, it puzzled us completely as to its
origin; but there was no doubt whatever as to its having existed from
an extremely ancient date; and from its general style, as well as the
absence of any similitude to any other place of heathen worship we have
met, we set it down in our own minds as most probably a temple to the
Sun.[10] Most of the figures, as far as their worn state would allow
one to judge, appeared to be female; and there was an entire absence
of any symbol at all resembling a cross. Many of the huge pillars had
been eaten away as if they were of wood, by the combined effects of
wind and weather; but hands had also been at work, as pieces of the
decorations and figures appeared scattered about in every direction.
Passing through the town of Islamabad on our return, we went into some
of the houses to see the people at work at the loom-made shawls. Very
hard-working and intricate business it seemed to be, and very hard
and MANCHESTERY the production looked to my eye, far inferior to the
hand-made, shawl, though not generally considered so.
I tried to negotiate a shawl with the overseer, but he assured me
that the pieces were all made separately, and were sent in to the
merchant at Sirinugger to be put together, and that he in fact had
nothing whatever to do with the sale of them.
In the evening we dined at a fashionably late hour, and were lulled
to sleep by the simple music of our domesticated waterfall.
JULY 14. -- Started at daybreak for Atchabull, three and a half kos
off towards the north-east. The baraduree we found situated in the
middle of a large reservoir, in a beautiful but half-ruined garden;
and here, the commissariat being unusually late in arriving, we
took the edge off our appetites with a quantity of small apricots,
red plums, cherries, &c.
While exploring the gardens, we found, among other remains of grandeur,
a Humaam, or hot-bath room, which was in very good preservation, and
had probably in its day been honoured by the fair presence of Noor
Jehan, with whom Atchabull was a favourite resort, and who has been,
at one time or another, over all these gardens, during her lord's
visit to the valley.
About thirty yards from the house, at the base of an almost
perpendicular hill, were the great sources of interest which the place
possesses -- viz., a number of springs of ice-cold water, bubbling up
to a height of two or three feet above the surrounding water level,
and forming three separate rivers: one in the centre which expanded
round our house, and one on either side. Around were fruit-trees of
all sorts and kinds, and from every quarter came the gurgling sound
of rushing water mingled with the singing of innumerable birds. Here
sweetly indeed do the "founts of the valley fall;" and their number
and beauty, as well as the purity of the clear and crystal streams
which they pour over the length and breadth of the land, it is which
forms one of its chief and pleasantest features, and has, no doubt,
mainly contributed to its reputation as a terrestrial paradise. To
the abundance of these streams the inhabitants are indebted for the
crops of waving rice which spread their delicately-green carpetting
over the entire valley; the purity of the waters give to the silks
the brightness of their dyes and to their shawls their fame; and from
its virtues also the love-lighted eyes are supposed to derive their
far-famed lustre. No wonder, therefore, that to the Hindoo at least,
"Cashmere is all holy land." From his sun-burnt plains and his home
by the muddy banks of his sacred Ganges, he can form but a small
conception of these cooling streams and shady pleasures. Should he
happen to read the glowing descriptions of Lalla Rookh, and be perhaps
led to reflect that --
"If woman can make the worst wilderness dear,
What a heaven she must make of Cashmere!"
He no doubt ejaculates "Wa, wa!" in admiration of the poetry of
the West, and thinks complacently of the partner of his joys as all
his fancy painted her. His highest flights of imagination, however,
probably fail to transplant him very far beyond the actual wilderness
which bounds his mortal vision, while Pudmawutee and Oonmadinee,
as here depicted by his own artistic skill, present, in all their
loveliness of form and feature, his best conceptions of ideal worth
and beauty. No wonder, therefore, that the reality of
"Those roses, the brightest that earth ever gave,
Those grottoes and gardens and fountains so clear!"
and above all of --
"Those love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave,"[11]
should shed its influence largely on his imagination, and that,
in contrast to his own dry and dusty native plains, Cashmere should
well be called the Hindoo's Paradise.
JULY 15. -- Marched at dawn for Vernagh, a distance of eight kos,
rather over a Sabbath-day's journey. Here we had to wait a considerable
time for our breakfast, the cook being an indifferent pedestrian and
the day a very hot one. The baradurree was curiously built, close to
an octagon tank, the water from which ran at a great pace through an
arch in the middle of the house.[12] The tank was supplied with 
water in great volume, but
from no apparent source, and was filled with fine fish, all sacred,
and as fat as butter, from the plentiful support they receive from the
devout among the Hindoos, not to mention the unbelieving travellers,
who also supply them for amusement. The tank itself, the natives
informed us, was bottomless, and it really appeared to be so; for
from the windows of the baradurree, some fifty feet over the water,
we could see the sides stretching back as they descended, and losing
themselves in the clear water, which looked, from the intensity of
its blue, both deep and treacherous to an unlimited extent. The water,
too, was so intensely, icily cold, that an attempt to swim across it
would have been a dangerous undertaking, and neither F. nor I could
summon courage to jump in. We, however, bathed in the stream which
ran out of the inexhaustible reservoir, and its effect we found very
similar to that of hot water, so that a little of it went a very Iong
way with us. As for the fish, they swarmed in such numbers that they
jostled each other fairly out of the water in a dense living mass,
while striving for grains of rice and bread.
This also was a favourite resort of Jehangeer and Noor Jehan; and I
found an inscription in the Persian character which, in a sentence
according to Eastern custom, fixed the date of the erection of the
building attached to the tank as A.H. 1029, or, about A.D. 1612. The
inscription runs thus: --
"The king of seven climes, the spreader of justice, Abdool, Muzuffer,
Noor-ul-deen[13] Jehangeer Badshah, son of Akbar, conqueror of kings,
on the day of the 11th year of his reign paid a visit to this fountain
of favour, and by his order this building has been completed. By
means of Jehangeer Shah, son of Akbar Shah, this building has raised
its head to the heavens."
"The 'Inventor of Wisdom' has fixed its date in this line, viz : --
'Aqsirabad o Chushma Wurnak.' "
The fountain or reservoir, and the canal, &c. seem to have been the
work of Shah Jehan, Noor Jehan's son, or were probably remodelled in
his reign. The inscription referring to them runs also in the Persian
character on a slab of copper:
"Hyan, by order of Shah Jahan, King, thanks be to God, built this
fountain and canal. From these have the country of Cashmere become
renowned, and the fountains aye as the fountains of Paradise."
"The poet Survashi Ghaib has written the date in this sentence, viz: --
'From the waters of Paradise have these fountains flowed.' "
JULY 16. -- On the road again at daybreak, with the intention of
going to a place called Kukunath, where there were more springs, and
which, from information obtained from the sepoy who accompanied us,
was on our road to Islamabad. However, like most information relative
to either direction or to distance in this country, it turned out to
be wrong, and we accordingly altered our course and made for our old
quarters. Breakfasted under a huge walnut-tree, at a village about six
kos off, and reached Islamabad about one P.M., after a very hot tramp
of ten kos, through groves of sycamore and walnuts, and hundreds and
hundreds of acres of rice-fields, immersed in water, and tenanted by
whole armies of croaking frogs. The people were principally employed
in weeding their rice-crops, standing up to their knees in mud and
water, and grubbing about, with their heads in a position admirably
adapted to give anybody but a native, apoplexy in such a hot sun.
JULY 17. -- In the middle of the night we were awoke by a tremendous
uproar in our wooden habitation, as if some one was crashing about the
boards and panels with a big stick; immediately afterwards something
jumped upon my bed, and with a whisk and a rush, clattered through the
room to F.'s side, over the table, and back again to my quarter. Half
asleep and half awake, I hit out energetically, without encountering
anything of our uninvited guest; and the faithful Rajoo coming in
with a light, I found F. brandishing a stick valiantly in the air,
everything knocked about the room; an earthenware vessel of milk spilt
upon the floor, a tumbler broken, and a plate of biscuits on the table
with marks of teeth in them. This latter discovery was quite a relief
to my mind, for the visitation had a most diabolic savour about it,
and we were just beginning to fancy that there was a slight smell of
sulphur. However, the milk and the biscuits being such innocent food,
we were enabled to fancy that the intruder might have been no worse
than a wild cat, which had frightened itself by breaking, our tumbler,
and had eventually jumped through the window and made its escape. This
interpretation, however satisfactory to ourselves, was apparently
not so to the Q.M.G., and to his dying day he will probably remain
rather doubtful of the kind of company we kept that night.
At sunrise I paid another visit to the ruins of Pandau, or Martund,
and sketched it from the north-east; a view which took in the only
columns of any perfection that remained standing.
Islamabad being, as its name implies, the "abode of Mahomedanism,"
I had set the kotwal to work to procure me a good copy of the Koran.
On returning, however, I found that he had collected together a
bundle of the common editions printed in the Arabic alone, without
interlineations. He assured me, however, that they were rare and
valuable specimens; and I was amused by the old gentleman reading out
a passage in a sonorous voice, following each word with his finger,
and astonishing the bystanders by the display of his erudition; but
at the same time holding the precious volume upside down, and thus
failing in impressing at least one of his audience. In the evening
we started again for Sirinugger.
JULY 18. -- Found ourselves, according to sailing directions, at
anchor this morning, or in other words, tied to an upright stick,
at Wentipore, on the left bank of the river, where there were some
old ruins to be seen.
The architecture we found very similar to the Pandau temple. One
column, however, was left standing, which was more perfect than any
we had seen before.
The ruins consisted of a large quadrangle, with cloisters all round,
and the remains of a temple in the centre; both these were completely
decayed, but the enormous stones piled together in grand confusion
showed that the buildings had been of considerable extent.[14] The
corner stones here alone pointed out the position of the cloisters,
which at Pandau had been in very fair preservation.
About fifty yards from the entrance there were three columns of
different form, sunk in the ground, their capitals just reaching a
little below the surface, and connected by trefoil arches, all in
pretty good preservation.
A few hundred yards down the river we found another large ruin, but
in a more dilapidated state than either of the others. In both, the
designs carved in the huge stones were something similar in pattern
-- viz. a female figure, with what appeared to be a long strip of
drapery passing round either arm and descending to the ancles. It
was impossible to decipher the exact device, but the breast and head,
in most instances, were plainly distinguishable.
About three kos from Sirinugger, we stopped at another very extensive
site of Cyclopeian ruins, at a place called Pandreton. Here we found
the most perfect building of any we had met; and for a considerable
distance around were traces of what must have been, in ages past,
a city of some extent.
Among other interesting remains, there was the base of a colossal
figure standing in the midst of a field of cut corn. Only from the
knees down remained, but this block alone was over seven feet high;
the toes were mutilated a good deal, but the legs were in wonderful
preservation. There was also, about half a, mile off, an enormous
base of a column, resting on its side, at the summit of a little
eminence, where a, considerable amount of mechanical power must have
been required to place it. Its diameter was about six feet; and at
some distance we found the remainder of the column, split into three
pieces. It was about twelve feet long, the lower part polygon, the
upper round, and the top a cone similar in form to the stones dedicated
to Mahadeo in the temples of the Hindoos. The building which alone
remained in at all a perfect state was situated in a sort of pond or
tank of slimy green, and was quite inaccessible without a boat.[15]
Sending on the cooking apparatus and servants, I remained with the
smaller boat; and with a rug and a supply of biscuits, set to work to
sketch the ruins. The operation, however, was not performed without
very great difficulty. Innumerable mosquitoes made the spot their
home, and at critical moments they persisted in settling themselves
in the most uncomfortable positions. The ants, too, took a fancy to
my paint-box, and even endeavoured to carry off some of the colours;
so that between the two I was soon fairly put to flight, and obliged
to evacuate the territory.
On consulting my Hindoo authority, Rajoo, on the subject of Cyclopeian
ruins, he tells me that they were built, not by man but by "the gods,"
in the Sut Jug, or golden age, an epoch which existed no less than
2,165,000 years ago, or thereabouts!
This view of the matter increases the interest of the ruins immensely,
besides being very complimentary to the style of building practised by
"the gods" in that age.
The Hindoo ages are four, and we are believed to be at present
in the last of the four, of which 5,000 years have been already
accomplished. The names and duration are as follows, viz : -- Sut Jug,
1,728,000 years; Treth Jug, 1,296,000 years; Duapur Jug, 864,000 years;
and Kul Jug. 432,000 years. This makes the present age of the world
to be about 3,893,000 years!
About five P. M. I reached Sirinugger, and found the advanced guard in
possession of one of the bungalows. Spent the night in a succession
of skirmishes with innumerable fleas, who appeared to have been out
of society for a considerable time previous to our arrival. Up to
this moment I fancied that I knew something of the natural history
of the race, having studied them and fought with them and slept with
them in their happiest hunting grounds. Greek fleas, Albanian fleas,
Tartar fleas, Russian fleas, I had combated on their own soil, but
never before was I put to such utter confusion. All night long the
enemy poured in upon me, and several times during the action was I
forced to leave the field and recruit my shattered forces outside
in the moonlight. As day dawned, however, I fell upon the foe at a
certain advantage, and managed at last to get a few hours of sleep.
JULY 19. -- Made an expedition to the small lake to see a building
which we were informed was built by the Puree, or fairies -- the Peri
of poetical licence.
After a sharp struggle up a steep hill, under a hot sun, we reached
the building; but, to all appearance, the fairies had less to do
with the edifice than a race of very indifferent engineers. It was
evidently the remains of a hill fort, built of stones and mortar,
and with nothing wonderful in its construction whatever. It was
tenanted by buffaloes and a few natives; and having seen specimens
of both before, we took our departure again rather in a bad humour
with both the fairies and their partisans.
In the plain below we found the remains of Cyclopeian ruins in an
enormous block of stone, part of a column.
JULY 22. -- Started this evening in the direction of the water-lake
in further search of ancient ruins.
JULY 23. -- Found ourselves at daybreak among the mosquitoes in a
little stream about two kos from Patrun. After breakfasting, we started
for the vicinity of the ruins. As usual, in the villages we passed
through, we found traces of cut stone doing duty as washing-stones,
or corners of walls, &c; and at Patrun we found
rather a fine old ruined temple, something similar in style to those
towards Islamabad.[16] It was surrounded at some distance by trees,
which had tended apparently to preserve the building, for the stone
carvings were clearer and less decayed by time than any others we
had seen. Being caught here in a heavy rain, we had a scamper for
our boats, and after a wet journey, reached Sirinugger about eight P.M.
JULY 26. -- Finding ourselves rather tired of Sirinugger, and with
no other books than Hindostanee to beguile the time, we resolved
upon an expedition across the mountains into the regions of Little
Thibet. Began preparations by hiring twelve coolies, at thirteen
shillings each per mensem, and a mate or head man to look after
them. Increased our stock of ducks to twelve, and otherwise added to
our necessary stores, and completed the arrangements for a move.
To-day a number of arrivals and departures took place, and the whole
settlement was in a state of excitement and confusion. Boatmen swarmed
about in rival application for employment, while all the rascals in
the place seemed to have assembled together for the occasion: those
who had bills, wanting to get them paid; and those who were either
lucky or unfortunate enough to have none, wanting to open them as
soon as possible with the new comers. What with these and pistol
practice and rifle shooting from upper casements across the river,
in order to expend spare ammunition, the European quarter was a very
Babel all day long, and we were not sorry to escape the turmoil and
get under weigh to new scenes as soon as possible.
About dusk we embarked in two large boats with Rajoo, the cook, and the
bhistie, the other servants remaining behind, much to their delight,
to take charge of spare baggage, &c. left in the bungalow. One of
the Maharajah's army also accompanied us, a rough-and-ready-looking
sepoy irregular, whose duty it was to ferret out supplies and coolies,
&c. during our march, and at the same time, perhaps, to keep a watch
over our own movements and desperate designs. Passed the night under
gauze fortifications, the disappointed mosquitoes buzzing about
outside in myriads, and striving hard to take a fond farewell of
their much-loved foreign guests.
By strange sounds from the direction of my companion's quarters,
as if of smacking of hands, &c., I was led to infer that they had
partially succeeded in bidding him good-bye. I, however, luckily
escaped without receiving even as much as a deputation from the enemy,
and slept in happy unconsciousness of their vicinity.
Little Thibet.
JULY 27. -- About six o'clock this morning we found ourselves at
anchor under the mountains at the northern extremity of the lake,
and at the mouth of a dashing river of ice-cold water, into which we
lost no time in plunging. On mustering our forces after breakfast,
we found that our possessions required fourteen coolies for their
transport. Our own immediate effects took four, viz. bedding two,
guns one, and clothes, &c. one; the kitchen required four more;
tent one, charpoys one, servants' reserve supply of food one,
brandy, one, plank for table and tent poles one, and last though
not least, the twelve ducks took up the services of the fourteenth
all to themselves. The rest of our train consisted of the faithful
Rajoo, who came entirely at his own request to see a new country,
the two servants, the sepoy, and the coolie's mate, who was to act as
guide, carry small matters, and make himself generally useful. After
a most affectionate parting with our boatmen, Messrs. Suttarah,
Ramzan, Guffard, and Co., we started on our new travels at about ten
A.M. under a broiling sun. After several halts under shady chestnuts,
groves of mulberry, &c., and passing by a gentle ascent through a
lovely country, we came to our first encamping ground, at Kungur, and
pitched our tent under a chestnut grove, considerably hot and tired by
our first march, after all the ease and comparative idleness we had of
late been enjoying in the valley. Here we saw the first of the system
of extortion which goes on among the government authorities and the
people; for after the paymaster to the forces had settled with the
seven coolies who were not in our permanent employ, not being able
to take all as we had originally intended, they assembled round us,
and complained most dolefully of the smallness of their pay. The
sepoy, who appeared a most pugnacious customer, cuffed some of them,
and made desperate flourishes at others with a big stick, and seemed
altogether so anxious to prevent, as he said, the "cherishers of
the poor," from being inconvenienced by the "scum of the earth,"
that we suspected something wrong, and on inquiring, ascertained,
that out of the amount due to the seven, viz. one rupee five annas,
or about two shillings and eightpence, the organ of government had
actually stopped eight annas, or one shilling. The mistake we soon
rectified, much to the delight of the "scum of the earth," -- who had
certainly earned their three annas, or fourpence halfpenny per man,
by carrying our impedimenta eight kos under a hot sun, -- and equally
to the disgust of "the organ" who handed over the difference with
a very bad grace indeed, and was rather out of tune for the rest of
the day. Our hearts being expanded by this administration of justice,
we proceeded to a further act of charity, and emancipated our twelve
ducks from their basket, into a temporary pond constructed for them
by the bhistie, where they dabbled about to their hearts' content,
and soon forgot the sorrows of the road in a repast of meal and rice.
JULY 28. -- Marched at six A.M., and after proceeding about a kos
found that we were in for a regular wetting. Our path lay through a
beautifully wooded ravine with precipitous mountain peaks appearing
ahead in every direction: these, however, were soon shrouded in
impenetrable mist, which gradually gathered in about us, and proceeded
to inspect us in a most searching and uncomfortable way.
The road however, though beautiful, was by no means a good one, and it
was in many places difficult work to keep one's feet in the wet slush,
over wooden bridges, or along the side of a dashing torrent which kept
us company, and which seemed to be labouring just now under an unusual
degree of temporary excitement, in consequence of having had too
much to drink. We had arranged to breakfast on the road, but the rain
made us push on, and on reaching the vicinity of our halting-place,
we stopped to inspect the condition of our garments, and to satisfy
ourselves as to our future prospects in the matter of dry changes of
raiment. On opening our small reserve, of which the mate had charge,
I found that sad havoc had been made in the precious articles we had
been so hopefully depending upon for comfort and consolation at the
end of our soaking march. The last efforts of our generally rather
useless dhobie had been brought to bear upon our present equipment. The
massive brass smoothing-iron and its owner had alike done their best
to start us creditably in life with the only clean linen we were
likely to behold for many weeks, and now nothing remained of the
first instalment of these spotless results, but a wringing mass of
wet and dirty linen. The sun, however, coming out opportunely to our
assistance, we made the best of our misfortune by spreading out our
small wardrobe to the greatest advantage in its rays. Our guide, who
by the way appeared to know nothing whatever about the path, proceeded
to unroll his turban, and divesting himself of his other garments,
took to waving his entire drapery to and fro in the breeze, with a
view to getting rid of the superfluous moisture. Leaving him to this
little amusement, in which he looked like a forlorn and shipwrecked
mariner making signals of distress, I repaired to a torrent close by,
and after a satisfactory bathe in the cold snow water, and very nearly
losing the whole of my personal property in the rushing stream, donned
the few dry articles I was possessed of, and proceeded to pick out
our camping ground. We fixed it among the scattered cottages of the
little village of Gundisursing, and while waiting for the main body,
stayed our appetites with the few apricots we managed to discover on
the already rather closely picked trees.
Got breakfast at two P.M. just as the rain began to come down upon us
again. The supplies procurable here were flour, milk, fowls, and eggs;
butter, however, was not forthcoming.
JULY 29. -- Marched early after enjoying a drier night than I had
anticipated from the look of the evening and the fine-drawn condition
of our tent.
Our road continued up a beautifully wooded and watered valley, and
reaching a gorge in the mountains, about five kos from our start, we
halted at a log hut a little way beyond a wooden settlement dignified
by the name of Gugenigiera.
Here we had a bathe in the rushing snow torrent, a curious combination
of pain and pleasure, but the latter considerably predominating,
particularly when it was all over.
After breakfast we sent the coolies on again, intending to halt three
kos off; however, on reaching the ground, they unanimously requested
to be allowed to go on to the village of Soonamurg, the halting-place
shown on our route. It was altogether considerably over a Sabbath-day's
journey, being nine kos of a bad mountain-path; but as no supplies
whatever were procurable short of it, we held on our course. After
leaving our halt, the path led us close to the torrent's edge, and
the gorge narrowing very much, we were completely towered over in our
march by gigantic peaks of rock, blocks of which had come down from
their high estate at some remote period of their existence, and now
occupied equally prominent though humbler positions in the torrent's
bed below. Occasionally they presented themselves in our actual path,
and at one place we found that our course was blocked completely, the
inaccessible mountain side descending precipitously to the torrent,
and leaving us no option but to take to the water, roaring and boiling
as it was. Our guide went first with great deliberation and groping
his way with a stick, and after an ineffectual attempt to scale the
rock above, F. and I also unwillingly followed his example. The water
was piercingly cold as it swept against us, and the pain was so great
that we were glad to blunder over as quickly as possible, without
taking very much trouble about picking our steps. After passing
this in safety we came suddenly upon a band of hill-men with their
loads, from Thibet; they were the first natives we had encountered,
and wild and weird-looking savages they appeared as they congregated
about us, gibbering to each other in their astonishment at our sudden
appearance. With them, was a strange-looking bullock, with long black
mane and tail, and hind quarters like a horse, which they apparently
used for carrying their merchandize. To-day we passed the first snow
since leaving the valley, although in the distance there was plenty
of it to be seen.
Nothing could exceed the beauty of the view as we approached our
intended halting-place. Having crossed the torrent by a wooden bridge,
the mountains we had been winding through showed out in all their
grandeur, while above us, inaccesible peaks, with sharp and fanciful
projections, nestled their mighty heads among the fleecy clouds, which
hung about after the recent rains. In advance again, other mountain
ranges rose behind each other, clothed on their southern faces with
delicate grass up to the point where the snow lay lightly on their
rocky top-knots and hid itself among the clouds. From the bridge,
a rustic structure of entire pine-trees, we passed through an upper
valley carpeted with the brightest soft green pasturage, until we
reached the usual little cluster of dilapidated wooden tenements
which constitute a village in these mountains. This was Soonamurg,
and crossing another bridge, formed of two single giant pines, we
came to a halt and pitched our camp close to a huge bank of snow on
the river's brink. What with our halt, and the badness of the path,
we did not arrive until five P.M., and as the sun set, the spray from
our snowy neighbour began to wrap its chilling influence about us,
and we were glad enough to invest ourselves in some thick cashmere
wraps of native manufacture, which we had hitherto considered merely
as standbyes in case of extraordinary cold on mountain tops.
According to general report, however, we only reach THE FOOT OF THE
MOUNTAINS to-morrow. This sounds well, considering that we have been
ascending steadily for three days, and have left huge avalanches of
snow beneath us, not to mention the mountains which we traversed on the
Peer Punjal side before even entering the Valley of Cashmere at all.
At Soonamurg, where we had been warned that there were no supplies,
we found large herds of sheep and goats. The, people, however,
were not at all inclined to sell them, and we had some trouble in
getting hold of a couple of fine fat sheep from them, for which we
paid, what was here considered a high price, viz. two rupees, or four
shillings each. We also enlisted the temporary services of two hairy,
horny goats, which are to accompany us for the next three marches as
portable dairies, no supplies being procurable on the road. Butter and
milk are both forthcoming here in abundance, and occasionally rice is
to be got. Penetrated with the freshness of the mountain air and the
freedom of our vagabond life, we came unanimously to the conclusion
that we had made a wise exchange from the FAR NIENTE DOLCES of
Sirinugger, and passed a vote of general confidence in the expedition.
JULY 30. -- The wind this morning blew bitterly cold over the snow
and into our tent, rendering the operation of turning out rather more
unpopular than usual.
Got off, however, about six, and had a fine bracing march over a
grassy valley among the mountains. After about four kos, the sun began
again to assert his supremacy, and, in conjunction with the cold of
the morning, rather took liberties with our faces and hands. About
half-way we came upon the merry ring of axes among the trees, and
found a party of natives constructing a log-house for the benefit of
travellers towards Ladak. Pitched our camp in a wild spot at the foot
of the mountains, bathed in the snow water, and had a sheep killed
for breakfast.
One of the live stock died this morning: an unfortunate hen had been
sat upon by the ducks, and the result was asphyxia, and consignment
to the torrent.
JULY 31. -- Finished up the month by a difficult march of four and
twenty miles, encamping at Pandras about eight P.M. and no longer at
the FOOT of the mountains. Immediately on leaving our halting-place we
commenced the ascent of a steep glacier, and for upwards of four miles
our path lay entirely over the snow: so dense and accumulated was it,
that even when the sun came out and burned fiercely into our faces
and hands, there was no impression whatever made on its icy surface.
The glacier was surrounded on all sides by peaks of perpetual snow,
while parts of it were of such ancient date that, ingrained as it was
with bits of stick and stones &c., it bore quite the appearance of
rock. The path was in some places so indistinct, that on one occasion
I found myself far ahead of the rest of the party, and approximating
to the clouds instead of to the direction of Ladak. About five kos
on our journey we halted to let the kitchen come up, and had our
breakfast on the snow in the company of a select party of marmots. The
little creatures appeared to live in great peace and seclusion here,
for they let us up, in their ignorance of fire-arms, to within thirty
yards of them before scuttling into their habitations. They were all
dressed in blackish brown suits of long thick fur, and considering
that they live in snow for at least eight months out of twelve,
they appeared not the least too warmly clothed. As we went by they
used to come out and sit up on their hind legs, with their fore
paws hanging helplessly over their paunches, while, with a shrill
discordant cry, they bid us good-morning and then hurried back to
their houses again. Not having our rifles handy they escaped scot
free, otherwise we might have borrowed a coat from one of them as a
reminiscence of the country. After another kos or two we began to get
clear of the glacier; but occasionally we came upon enormous masses of
snow jammed up on either side of the torrent, the action of the water
having worn away the centre. The path gradually led us through rocky
passes, over torrents spanned by snow among the magnificent mountain
range; and although the march was, rather long for a hill country,
we found no fault with it until about the last three kos, when it
was getting late in the day, and although fast becoming hungry,
we saw no immediate prospect of getting anything to eat.
The last few kos we find invariably longer than their fellows;
one kos by DESCRIPTION, at this stage of the proceedings, being
generally equal to two in reality. Asking a native, how far we are
from a halting-place, is invariably answered in one of two ways:
either THOREE DOOR, not very far, or NUZDEEK, close. THOREE DOOR means
generally about four miles, while NUZDEEK may be translated five at
least. A kos too, which ought to be from one and a half to two miles,
means here anything between one mile and seven. Delaying as much as
possible, to let our servants up, we reached Pandras at last, and
found all the inhabitants turned out to see our arrival; they were
dressed in long woollen coats and sheepskins, and looked something
between Russians and Tartars, with a strong flavour of the Esquimaux,
as depicted by Polar voyagers. As the sun went down it became bitterly
cold, and we found the natives even, shuddering under the influences
of the snowy wind, which, setting in from the mountains, appeared to
blow from all points of the compass at one and the same time. What
the village of Pandras must be in mid-winter it is hard to imagine,
so covered with snow as the mountains around it are even in August,
and so bleak and so barren the valley in which it is situated.
In spite of the cold, we astonished the entire swaddled population
by taking off our clothes, and bathing in a little crystal stream
close by: two operations, in all probability, which they themselves
had never perpetrated within the memory of the oldest inhabitant,
This feat accomplished, we were much astonished by the arrival of a
RARA AVIS, in the shape of a British traveller, from the direction
of Ladak. He turned out to be an officer of the Government survey,
now being carried on in the mountains, and we took the opportunity
of deriving from him all the information we could, relative to the
prospect before us. He strongly recommended us to go to the monastery
of Hemis, beyond Ladak, and also to the Lakes, but the latter would
appear to be beyond the limits of our time. The only natives we had met
during our unusually long march to-day, were four hairy-looking savages
from the interior, from whom, after much difficulty, I succeeded
in purchasing an aboriginal tobacco-pouch, flint, and steel, all
combined in one, paying for the same about three times its actual and
local value, viz. two rupees. They were dressed in long woollen coats,
with thick bands of stuff rolled round their waists; and all four had
bunches of yellow flowers stuck in their caps, and pipes, knives,
tobacco-pouches, &c. hung round their girdles. Their shoes were of
the Esquimaux pattern, the soles sheepskin, coming up all round the
front of the foot, where they were joined by woollen continuations --
shoes, socks, and leggings, being thus conveniently amalgamated into
one article of apparel.
AUGUST 1. -- On the road a little later than usual, all hands being
tired after yesterday's exertions. The path to-day lay among huge
boulders of rock, which had come down as specimens from the mountains
above, and after a short march of five kos, we reached Dras, a little
assemblage of flat-roofed houses, with a mud fort about half a mile
from it, in the valley. This was built with four bastions and a ditch
scarped with paving-stones, which surrounded it on all sides except
one, where it was naturally defended by the torrent. On the road we
passed a curious bridge, built entirely of rope manufactured from
twigs of trees. The cables thus formed were swung across the torrent,
from piles of loose stones, in a most scientific way, though not one
calculated to inspire confidence in any traveller with weak nerves who
might have to trust himself to its support. It appeared, nevertheless,
a most serviceable structure, and was decidedly picturesque. At Dras
we were able to get all supplies except fowls.
AUGUST 2. -- Having a long and up-hill march before us, we were up and
dressed by moonlight. Outside the village, we came upon two curious
old stones, standing about six feet high, upright, and carved in the
way we had already seen at the ruins of Pandau and elsewhere. These
stones were of irregular form, and carved on three sides, and the
designs, though much worn, were distinctly traceable. They represented,
apparently, a male and female figure, standing about five feet high,
and surrounded by three smaller figures each. Like all the other
sculptured figures we had seen, they were innocent of clothes, with
the exception of the rope, or very scant drapery, which ran across
their ancles and up either side to the shoulders.
Leaving these, we passed through a wild and rugged valley among the
mountains, cultivated in patches, and watered by numerous little
sparkling crystal streams. At short intervals, there were little
settlements of mud huts, built, Tartar fashion, one on top of another,
and peopled by a few miserable-looking natives, who appeared, in
their woollen rags, to be cold, even in the middle of this summer's
day. The few travellers we met during our march were flat nosed,
heavy-looking creatures, with Chinese skull-caps and pig-tails,
and were employed in conveying salt to Cashmere, packed in bags of
woven hair, and laden on cows and asses as weird and strange-looking
as their owners. About five kos off, we called a halt for breakfast,
and reached Tusgam about four P.M.
Here we found a few ARBOR VITAE, and other shrubs, in bad health,
the first of the tree species we had encountered since ascending
the glacier.
AUGUST 3. -- Struck our camp at sunrise, and crossing the torrent,
which still accompanied us, descended the Pass by a slight
decline. During the day we passed through numerous gorges, studded
with giant masses of rock, and bounded on all sides by rugged and
inhospitable mountains. We only saw one village, and that some way
off the road -- Kurroo, the guide called it. Breakfasted under an
overhanging rock on the mountain side, just where our path was, hemmed
in by the torrent, and were disturbed during our repast by several
volleys of stones which rattled down over us from above. They were set
free by the melting of some large masses of snow, which, being covered
with sticks and dirt, we had not noticed when we chose our breakfast
parlour so close to their uncomfortable proximity. To-day we met
more salt-carrying parties -- uncouth-looking savages in pig-tails,
speaking a language that not one of our party could understand. We
also encountered an original-looking gold-washing association of
five, who were wending their way towards the snow with their wooden
implements. They were all also weighted with bags of grain, to keep
them alive during their search. Their labour consists in sifting
the fine sand which comes down in the snow-torrents, charged with
minute particles of gold; and the proceeds, from the appearance of
"the trade," would not seem to be very great. They say it amounts
only to a few annas a day, but would probably not allow to the full
amount for fear of being taxed.
At our breakfast-halt we saw the most primitive specimen of a smoking
apparatus probably ever invented. It consisted of a dab of mud stuck
in a hole of a tree, about five feet from the ground. Two small sticks,
inserted in this from above and below and then withdrawn, had evidently
served to form the smoke passage; while the bowl as evidently had
been fashioned by the simple impression of a Thibetian thumb, the
whole forming, for the use of needy travellers, as permanent and
satisfactory a public pipe as could well have been devised. It had
just been in requisition before we passed, for a small quantity of
newly-burned tobacco lay in the bowl; and a fresh patch of clay on
the mouthpiece had probably been added, either in the way of general
repairs or by some extra-fastidious traveller, who preferred having
a private mouthpiece of his own. After rather a severe march through
rocky mountain gorges, we reached Chungun, a little oasis of about
five acres of standing barley, with three or four flat-roofed houses
dotted about it in the usual Tartar style of architecture. It also
boasted four poplar-trees, standing in a stiff and reserved little
row, evidently in proud consciousness of their family importance
among such rugged, treeless, iron mountains.
It was altogether a refreshing little spot for a halt, after the
savage scenery we had marched through; and pitching our camp in it,
we were not long in introducing ourselves to the little brawling
stream of clear cold water to which it owed its existence.
AUGUST 4. -- Started this morning in a mountain mist. Just outside
the village we passed the scene of the fall of an avalanche, which
gave one some faint idea of the enormous forces occasionally at work
among these mountains. It had taken a small village in its path, and
over the place where it had stood we now took our way, among a perfect
chaos of masses of rock, and uptorn earth, trees, &c. The whole ground
was torn and rent, as by the eruption of volcanoes or the explosion
of enormous magazines of powder. Passing this, our path continued
to descend the gorge until about two kos from Chungun, when another
torrent came down to join its forces to the one we were accompanying;
and leaving our old companion to roar its way down to join the Indus,
we proceeded up the valley in the society of our new friend. Passing a
series of little villages nestled among the rugged rocks, we crossed
the stream by a tree bridge and causeway, to the Fort of Kurgil,
where, after a long consultation, we breakfasted. The differences
of opinion between the guide and the rest of the natives as to the
distance of a village ahead, where milk and supplies were forthcoming,
were so wide, some saying three kos, others six, &c., that we finally
determined upon getting some breakfast before deciding the true
distance for ourselves. The village Hundas was another most perfect
little oasis. It was only about five or six acres in extent, under
the frowning mountain, and was terraced and planted in the neatest
and most economical way imaginable. The fields were beautifully clean,
and were quaintly adorned in many instances by huge blocks of rock from
the mountain above, bigger considerably than the whole of the houses
of the village put together. Leaving Kurgil, we made a sharp ascent,
and crossed a plateau bounded by some extremely curious formations
of rock and sandstone.
The mountains appeared to have been reared on end and cut with a knife,
as if for the especial benefit of geologists in general, although the
hues of their many-coloured strata were calculated to attract even
the most ungeological mind by their brightness. Descending from this
plateau, we came to a pass dotted with three or four little villages,
wooded with poplars, and adorned with a few shrubs of different
kinds. Here every available inch of ground which the grudging rocks
bestowed was cultivated, although all around, the mud-built native huts
were broken down and deserted, in such numbers as to give the idea
of an Irish settlement whose inhabitants had transplanted themselves
to America. At the last of these little villages, called Pushkoom,
we pitched our camp, the retainers taking a fancy to the place from
the promise it gave of abundant supplies.
AUGUST 5. -- Made our first day's halt, and enjoyed it considerably
-- not the least of its advantages being the immunity it gave us
from being torn out of bed at grey hours in the morning. The rest
of the force also appreciated the day of rest, and made themselves
comfortable after their fashion under our grove of trees.
In the afternoon I ascended the mountain opposite to reconnoitre and
inspect the curious formation of strata, which formed the principal
feature of the place.
The ascent I found at first to be over a soft crumbling small stone,
resembling ashes, but of various colours, and in distinctly-marked
strata. These were generally of pinkish red and grey, and from them
in large masses, rose enormous blocks of concrete, in all manner
of forms and shapes, some like towers and fortifications, and
others standing out boldly by themselves, worn by the weather into
holes and ridges. After a considerably difficult ascent, from the
crumbling nature of the stones, I reached the summit of the mountain,
and climbing a concrete monster which capped it, had a magnificent
survey of the mountain ranges and country around. In every direction
the eye rested on snowy summits, and the wind from them fell coolly
and refreshingly after the toil of ascent under a hot sun.
Returning through the village, I found the natives hard at work
collecting their crops of wheat and barley, and stowing them away,
generally upon the flat tops of their houses. They seemed altogether
a peaceful, primitive race; but, although their ground appears in
first-rate order, they themselves are uncultivated and dirty in the
extreme. The ladies, I am sorry to say, are even rather worse in this
matter than the gentlemen. The female costume consists generally of
robes of sheep and goat skins thrown across the shoulders; while
a long tail of twisted worsted plaits, looking like a collection
of old-fashioned bell-ropes, forms the chief decoration. This is
attached to the back hair, and hangs down quite to the heels, where it
terminates in a large tuft, with tassels and divers balls of worsted
attached to it. On a hill overhanging the village were the remains
of a mud fort, which had been pulled down by Gulab Singh in one of
his excursions to Thibet, with a view to bringing the inhabitants
to a proper sense of their position, and enforcing the payment of
his tribute.
The number of battered and deserted huts about the village is accounted
for by the erratic habits of the people, which induce them never to
stay long in one set of houses, but to flit from one side of the valley
and from one settlement to another as the fancy strikes them. That the
large increase of the flea population among such a race, however, may
have something to do with their restlessness, seems more than probable.
Except when impressed for government employ, they seldom leave the
vicinity of their villages, and one old gentleman told me he had
never been even as far as a place called Lotzum, which is only two kos
off! The religion seems to be a mixture of Buddhism and Mahomedanism --
the latter on the decrease as we get farther into the country.
The dress assimilates to the Chinese -- pig-tails and little skull-caps
being the order of the day. We obtained here good supplies of cow's
milk, butter, &c., and among other things, some peas. These enabled
us to celebrate our Sunday's dinner by a "duck and green peas," and
never since the first invention of ducks could a similar luxury have
been so thoroughly appreciated.
AUGUST 6. -- Started early again, and marched five kos, through the
little half-deserted settlement of Lotzum to the village of Shergol,
where we halted for breakfast. Here we found ourselves fairly among
the Buddhists, and saw an entirely new description of monuments
connected with religion, from anything we had yet encountered. The
most striking objects were a series of tomb-like buildings, without
entrances, and adorned on all sides by the most hideous effigies,
rudely executed in coloured mud.[17]
Some of these were men, depicted in bright red on a yellow ground, with
horrible staring countenances; others women, adorned with numberless
necklaces and other ornaments; besides these, there were peacocks,
griffins with human arms, deer, &c., and all in the most flaring
colours and the very rudest designs.
In the perpendicular face of a rock beyond was a very curious
monastery, or abode of the Lamas. It was built completely IN the rock,
and was reached by a natural cavity on the face of the stone.
Jutting out from the upper part, balconies had been erected overhanging
the precipice, and these were decorated with red copings, spotted with
white. From the fact of only one of our party knowing the language,
it was difficult to ascertain from the natives the history of this
curious abode, but they gave us to understand that it was the home
of their Lamas, or spiritual preceptors. Here we met another of
the race of wandering Englishmen, who was wending his way back to
the valley. He was returning from a shooting tour, was all alone,
and appeared to have had very hard work indeed of it, if his face
and hands and generally dilapidated appearance might taken as a
criterion. Not being quite in such light marching order ourselves,
we were able to ask him to breakfast, and from his ready acceptance
and the entire justice he did to our offer, I don't think he could
have had anything to eat for a week.
He appeared to be a thorough sportsman, and had bagged several head of
large game, which he showed us. They were principally a kind of wild
sheep with enormous heads and horns, each of his trophies being almost
a coolie load in itself. Leaving Shergol, we entered a curious valley
with rocks of concrete standing out like towers and fortifications,
and on the summits of these again, airy-looking habitations with
red streaks adorning them, and entered, as that at Shergol, by holes
in the face of the rock. These were, or had been, the abodes of the
Lamas; numbers of them now however, as well as the mud settlements
at their feet, appeared in ruins, and gave no sign of habitation,
beyond having about them a number of little flags stuck on long poles,
which fluttered about in the breeze. According to the account of our
interpreter, which had to pass from Thibetian into Hindostanee before
it could clothe itself in English, the cause of this dilapidation
was the state of wealth and ambition at which the Lamas had arrived,
and the consequent interposition of Gulab Singh to take down their
pride and ease them of a little of their wealth, both of which he
accomplished in the style to which he was so partial, by slaughtering
some hundreds of them and reducing their airy habitations to ruins.
At a place called Moulwee we came to a curious block of massive rock
standing close beside the path, with one of the red-topped houses
built into its side. Above this was a colossal figure with four arms,
rudely cut on the face of the rock, and above all was perched an
implement, something after the fashion of a Mrs. Gamp's umbrella of
large proportions, together with sundry sticks and rags, which seem
to be the common style of religious decoration in these parts.
The figure was about eighteen feet high, the lower extremities being
hidden behind the building at the base of the rock. It resembled in
some measure the sculptures occasionally seen among Hindoo temples,
but no one appeared to know anything whatever of its origin or history.
Close to this there were an immense number of stones collected
together, bearing inscriptions in two different characters, one of
which resembled slightly the Devanagree or Sanscrit. Seeing such a
profusion about, I appropriated one which happened to be conveniently
small, and carried it off in my pocket.
The sun being intensely powerful, we called a halt at a village
named Waka, perched among the rocks, where we found a rattletrap of a
baradurree, which saved us the trouble of pitching our tents. Opposite
to us was a curiously worn mass of concrete mountain, which might
easily have been mistaken for artificial lines of fortification,
had not the scale been so large as to preclude the possibility of any
but giants or fairies having been the engineers. At the head of the
valley there was a fine snow-covered mountain, which helped to keep
us cool in an otherwise excessively hot position. The cook having
been rather overcome by his exertions to-day, we got our dinner at
the fashionable hour of nine P.M.
AUGUST 7. -- Starting from Waka at cock-crow, we marched up a steep
ascent, through a bleak-looking range of hills, to Khurboo, where we
bivouacked under a tree and got breakfast about noon.
Afterwards, I examined more minutely the inscription on the
stones, which, as we advanced into the country, appeared to
increase considerably in number. They consisted in almost every
case of the same word, containing five letters in one character
and six in the other, though I occasionally there were additional
letters, and sometimes, though very rarely, a stone with a different
inscription altogether. After a good deal of difficulty I succeeded
in unearthing a Lama from the village to help me in my researches,
and a strange-looking dignitary of the Church he turned out to be when
he did make his appearance. He was a bloated and fat old gentleman,
dressed in a yellowish red garment of no particular shape, and looked
altogether more like a moving bundle of red rags than anything else,
human or divine.
Finding that nothing was required of him more expensive than
information, he appeared delighted to show off his learning, and by
means of the sepoy, who was the only one of our party acquainted with
both Thibetan and Hindoostanee, I ascertained that the words carved
upon the stones were "Um mani panee," and meant, as far as I could
make out, "the Supreme Being." As the old gentleman repeated the
mystic syllables, he bobbed and scraped towards a strange-looking
monument close by, in an abject, deprecatory way, as if in extreme
awe of its presence.[18]
On inquiring the origin of this new structure, which was built of
stones and plaster, and decorated with red ochre, all we could get out
of him was a fresh string of "Um mani panees," and a further series
of moppings and mowings, accompanied by a sagacious expression of
his fat countenance, indicative of the most entire satisfaction at
the clearness of his explanations, and a sense of his own importance
as a Lama and an expositor of the doctrines of Buddh.
He also explained the only other inscription which I had seen;
and according to the interpretation of the sepoy, it ran thus: --
" As God can do so none other can."[19]
Not another piece of information could I elicit relative to the
religion beyond the continual "Um mani panee, Um mani panee!" which
our friend seemed never tired of mumbling; and although the sepoy was,
I believe, considerably more adapted for the extraction of reluctant
supplies of food for our kitchen than for eliciting such information
on the subject of theology as I was in search of, the real cause of
failure was more to be attributed to the extreme ignorance of the
particular pillar of the Church that we had got hold of, than to any
little literary failings of the interpreter. Such were the quantities
of the inscribed stones about this place, that in one long wall I
estimated there must have been upwards of 3,000, and this in a country
where inhabitants of any sort are few and far between, and where none
appear who seem at all capable of executing such inscriptions.
AUGUST 8. -- Having suffered a good deal yesterday from the heat
of the sun, we started this morning by a bright moonlight, at about
half-past four A.M.
Entering the Pass of Fotoola, we ascended gradually for some five kos,
and reached a considerable elevation, with a good deal of snow lying
about on the mountains. A peak on the right was 19,000 feet above
the sea level, and few of those in our immediate vicinity were under
17,000 feet. From the summit of this pass we descended about three
kos to Lamieroo, without passing a single hut or village on the entire
road. The only natives we encountered were a party of three from Ladak,
on their way to Cashmere, with a couple of fine native dogs, as a
present from the Thanadar to some of his visitors. The pedestrians one
generally meets now are old ladies, carrying conical baskets filled
with sulphur or saltpetre, in the direction of Cashmere, and so shy
are they, that on beholding "the white face" they drop their loads as
if shot, and scuttle away among the mountains, so that, if inclined,
we could seize upon the Maharajah's munitions of war and carry them
off without difficulty. On reaching the vicinity of Lamieroo, the
inscribed stones became more frequent than ever. They were placed
generally upon long broad walls, the tops of which sloped slightly
outwards, like the roof of a house. Supplies of uncut stones were also
in many instances collected together in their vicinity, as if for the
benefit of any pedestrian who might feel inclined to carve out his
future happiness by adding to the collection. Lamieroo, as its name
would seem to imply, appears to have been a headquarters of the Lamas
and their religion. It contains a curious monastery, or Lamaserai,
built upon the extreme top ledge of a precipice of concrete stone,
and at its base (some hundred feet below) the habitations which
constitute the village are also perched on pinnacles of rock, and
scattered about, often in the most unlikely spots imaginable. Entering
the bason formed by the valley in which this curious settlement is
situated, one opens suddenly by an ascending turn upon the whole
scene, and anything more startlingly picturesque it would be hard to
conceive. As the view appears, the first objects presented are a host
of little monument-like buildings, which line the path and are dotted
about in groups of from three to twelve or fourteen together. They
stand about seven feet high, and, as far as we could make out from
the natives, are erected over the defunct Lamas and other saints of
the Buddhist religion, after which they become sacred in the eyes
of the living, and are referred to with scrapings and bowings and
"Um mani panees" innumerable. In the monastery we found twenty Lamas
at present domiciled -- fat, comfortable-looking gentlemen  they all
were, dressed in orange-yellow garments, and not a bit cleaner than the
rest of the natives, nor looking by any means more learned. Mounting
the side of the bill, and passing under one of the red-ring pillared
monuments, we entered the precincts of the monastery, and threading
some very steep and dark passages in the interior of the rock, were
received by a deputation of Lamas, with the salutation of "Joo, Joo!"
We were then ushered with great ceremony into their temple, much to the
awe and consternation of our guides, who apparently expected to see
us as much overcome by the sanctity of the place as they themselves
were. The temple we found a small square room with a gallery round
it, from which were suspended dingy-looking Chinese banners, flowers,
&c., and at one end were about twenty idols of various designs, seated
in a row staring straight before them, and covered with offerings of
Indian corn, yellow flowers, butter, &c. They were for the most part
dressed in Chinese fashion, and in the dusky light had certainly a
queer weird-looking appearance about them, which was quite enough
to overawe our village guide; not being accustomed to such saintly
society, he could hardly raise his eyes or speak above his breath,
but stood with hands joined together and in a supplicating posture,
enough to melt the heart of even the very ugliest of idols. The service
(by particular desire) began by three of the most unctuous of the
Lamas squatting down on some planked spaces before the divinities,
and raising a not unmusical chaunt, accompanying themselves at the same
time with a pair of cymbals, while two large double-sided tom-toms or
drums gradually insinuated themselves into the melody. These were each
fixed on one long leg and were beaten with a curved stick, muffled
at the end. The performance of the cymbals was particularly good,
and the changes of time they introduced formed the chief feature
of the music, and was rather pleasing than otherwise. The service
as it drew to a close, was joined by a duett upon two enormous brass
instruments like speaking-trumpets grown out of all decent proportions;
they were about five feet long, and were placed on the ground during
the performance, and as two of the fattest of the Lamas operated and
nearly suffocated themselves in their desperate exertions, the result
was the most diabolical uproar that ever could have been produced
since the first invention of music.
Not being able to trust the sepoy in such a delicate undertaking, I was
unable to get any information from the Lamas on religious subjects;
and all signs and suggestive pointings, &c. were immediately and
invariably answered by "Um mani panee," so that we left about as wise
as we entered. The most interesting object in the place was a library
of Thibetian books. It consisted of an upright frame divided into
square compartments, each with a word cut deeply into the wood over
it, and containing the volumes. These were merely long narrow sheets,
collected between two boards, also carved on the outside with a name
similar to the one on the shelf. The characters were beautifully
formed, and I tried to purchase a small volume, if a thing about two
feet long could be called so, but without effect. There were about
thirty of these books in the place, ponderous tomes, carefully covered
up, and little read, to judge by the quantity of dust collected on
them. They read us, however, a small portion of one, in a drawling,
sonorous tone, and with no very great facility.
These books, together with a number of rudely-printed papers, of the
nature of tracts, one of which I carried away, containing some of the
characters similar to that on the inscribed stones, appear to have been
printed at Lassa,[20] the capital of Thibet Proper, and from there,
the head-quarters of the religion in these parts, all the musical
instruments and other paraphernalia belonging to the temples are
also sent. One exception, however, I discovered; this was an empty
brandy-bottle, bearing a magnificent coloured label, which certainly
could not have been issued from the Grand Lama's religious stores. To
the English eye, or rather nose, it had but little of the odour of
sanctity about it; but here it evidently held a high position, and
was prominently placed among the temporal possessions of "the Gods."
The women here, and those we met on the road during the last two
marches, wore a curious head-dress, differing from anything of the kind
we had before seen. It consisted of a broad band extending from the
forehead to the waist behind, and studded thickly with large coarse
turquoises. These generally decrease in size from the forehead, where
there is a larger turquoise than the others, down to the waist, and
where the hair ends, it is joined into a long worsted tail terminating
at the heels. Some of these bands must be of considerable value,
but the proprietors, although otherwise in complete rags, will not
part with them for any consideration. One lady whom I accosted on
the subject, thought I was going to murder her, and took to her
heels forthwith. In general, however, the fair sex here carefully
hide both their charms and their turquoises behind the nearest rock
or the most convenient cover that presents itself, and vanish like
phantoms whenever they discern a white man in the distance.
The cooking department being delayed by the ascent, we got no breakfast
to-day until one o'clock, unless a drink of milk and a biscuit on
arrival could be called by courtesy a breakfast.
AUGUST 9. -- Descended from Lamieroo through a precipitous pass
for about three kos and a half, to Kulchee, a tidy little village
of fifteen huts, situated in an oasis of apricot and walnut-trees,
the first we had encountered since leaving Cashmere.
The people here seemed particularly simple and happy among their waving
corn-fields and wild fruit-trees, and they were most anxious to supply
us with apricots and milk, and whatever they could produce. The Gopa,
or head-man of the village, could speak a little Hindostanee, besides
being able to read and write his own language in two characters, and
as he seemed unusually sharp and intelligent, I was very glad to have
a chat with him while waiting for the commissariat to come up. The
character most common on the inscribed stones, and one of those now in
actual use, he told me was Romeeque; the other, the square character
on the stones, is obsolete, and is called Lantza;[21] while a third
character, which was the one he was most conversant with, but which
did not appear upon any of the stones, he called Tyeeque.
His explanation of the stones was, that at the last day a certain
recording angel, whom he called Khurjidal, would pass through the
land, and inspecting these mounds of inscribed stones, would write
down the names of all those who had contributed to the heap. What the
inscription was he seemed unable clearly to explain, but believed it to
refer in some manner to the Supreme Being. Whatever it was, all those
who had contributed their share towards its dissemination, by adding
stones to the mounds, were certain of future rewards, while those
who had omitted to do so were as equally certain of punishment.[22]
This explanation of the difficulty caused me some qualms of conscience
on account of the future prospects of the unfortunate writer whose
particular stone I had appropriated; but for fear the Gopa himself
might be the sufferer, I thought it better not to confide my emotions
to him, but to leave the case in the hands of Khurjidal.
Regarding the state of the people here, he told me that each house
paid a tax of seven rupees per annum to the Maharajah. This, for
the entire village, would only give 105 rupees per annum towards the
enrichment of the Treasury.
The Lamas, who have no ground of their own, appear to be a further
burden on the population. They are supplied gratuitously with food,
and appear to be somewhat similar to the Hindoo Fukeer, devoting
themselves to religion and remaining unmarried. They, however, are
not so violent in their opinions, and are more conversable, to say
nothing of being decidedly cleaner.
We breakfasted under the spreading walnuts, among an audience composed
of the entire village, who seemed much edified and amused by our
novel manners and customs. Some of our English possessions took their
fancy immensely. A cut-glass lantern and the label of a bottle of
cherry-brandy in particular, seemed to them the very essence of the
rare and curious, and they seemed never tired of admiring them. After
breakfast we again took the road, and marched three kos to another
little wooded settlement, called Nurila, situated, like Kulchee,
upon the Indus, or, as it is here called, the Attock. The noisy,
dirty torrent, as it here appears, however, gives little promise of
becoming, as it does in after life, one of the largest of the stately
Indian rivers.
AUGUST 10. -- From Nurila we travelled along the Indus bank to Suspul,
a distance of seven kos or thereabouts, stopping for breakfast at
a village whose entire population consisted of one woman! The river
being shut in by high and rocky mountains, our path took several most
abrupt turns and startling ascents and descents in its meanderings, and
proved altogether the worst for coolies to travel that we had as yet
encountered. The greater part of our march, too, was under a burning
sun, whose rays the rocks on either side of us reflected in anything
but an agreeable way, giving thereby a considerable addition of colour
to our already well-bronzed countenances. Near Suspul we had to take
to the water, as a mass of overhanging rock jutted into the river and
completely obstructed the path; and here one of our coolies, stumbling,
dropped his load into the torrent. It was a particularly precious part
of our expeditionary stores, containing, among other things, the small
stock of brandy which was to last us back to Sirinugger. However,
on inspecting the contents of the basket, the precious liquid was
safe and sound, and the only damage was the conversion, PRO TEM. of
our stock of best lump sugar into MOIST. Suspul we found situated in
a half-moon shaped break of fertility among the barren mountains. The
snow was within half an hour's climb, while at the same time the sun
shone with such power as to blister our faces, and even to affect the
black part of the expedition, rendered somewhat tender, no doubt, by
the unusual mixture of heat and cold to which they had already been
exposed. We encamped here under a grove of apricot and apple-trees,
which resulted in the production of an apple-dumpling for dinner.
AUGUST 11. -- Leaving Suspul, we ascended considerably to the village
of Buzgo, another of the cloud-built little settlements so dear to
the Lamas. The tenements were most picturesquely pitched upon the
extreme tips of almost perpendicular rocks, and to many of them
access seemed apparently impossible. Leaving this, we entered upon
a desert of shifting sand and stones, in the midst of which there
was an unusually long wall of the inscribed stones, one of which,
although containing the same inscription, was of a different pattern
from any I had hitherto discovered.[23]
The next oasis was Egnemo, formed, like all the others, by the
existence of numerous little springs of crystal water, which enabled
the waving corn to raise its golden head, and the apricot and the
apple-tree to flourish in refreshing contrast to the general barrenness
and sterility which reigned around.
After a grilling march, we enjoyed the delights of a bathe under a
waterfall of clear cold water, and got our breakfast by eleven o'clock.
To-day, some of our brigade of coolies begin to complain of sickness,
which sounds alarming, not only to themselves, but to us, for none
others are now procurable. This results from their making too free
with unripe apricots, and drinking too many gallons of cold water on
the road; also, however, from the fact of my having doctored the first
patient who had presented himself, with a couple of pills and some
tea -- a piece of generosity which drove all the others nearly mad
with jealousy and envy, and set them thinking how they also might be
participators in similar luxuries. The pills, although in this instance
selected promiscuously from a varied stock, were the great objects of
desire, and such was their confidence in the virtuous properties of
the remedy, that the character of the particular bolus that fell to
their share was to them a matter of no consequence whatever. So great
a rage is there for medicine among people who have never known the
luxury of paying for it, that even the blind and deformed continually
applied to us for it on the road.
AUGUST 12. -- Halted to-day, and gave all hands a day of rest, which
was rather required after our incessant marching. In the afternoon
we explored the village, and enjoyed a magnificent sunset behind the
ranges of distant snowy mountains. The crops here were more backward
than those met hitherto, although the power of the sun was rather
on the increase than otherwise, as we advanced. Some of the fields
were occupied by beans, peas, and wheat, all growing like a happy
family together.
AUGUST 13. -- Made an unusually early start, this morning, for
our final march into Ladak. The first part of the journey was up a
precipitous ascent, and over shifting gravel, which was very trying
to our already well-worn boots; and it was a relief when, on arriving
at the summit, we found a long and gradual descent before us, with
an entirely new panorama of snow-clad mountains extending away
towards Ladak.
In the distance, close to the river Indus, which here branched out into
several small and separate streams, there was a high mound, topped with
buildings, which we made for, under the full impression that it was
our journey's end: however, on reaching it, and turning confidently
round the corner, we found nothing but a deserted-looking building,
surrounded by an immense number of the monuments which the natives
call Permessur; while, stretched out at our feet, and forming, as it
were, the bottom of a large basin among the mountains, was a dreary
desert of glaring, burning sand. The place altogether looked like a
city of the dead: not a soul appeared in sight, except one solitary
old woman, who was slowly traversing the weary waste of sands, and
all around was still and silent as the grave. In order to gain some
intelligence of our whereabouts, I was obliged to give chase to this
only inhabitant, and from her I discovered, that to reach Ladak --
a green-looking speck which she pointed out in the far distance --
we had to cross the desert sands, and still hold on our course for
several miles. The sun was by this time high in the heavens, and we
had already come a longish march, so that by the time I had traversed
the arid plain under the blinding glare, and reached the green fields
beyond, it was nearly twelve o'clock, and I had had nearly enough of
the journey. It was, however, a couple of miles farther to the grove
of trees, where, under very indifferent shade, travellers are in the
habit of halting to pitch their camps; and on reaching this, I was
glad to throw myself down on the grass, and, after a drink of milk,
and the slight refreshment afforded by a leathery chupattie, to go
to sleep on the grass, until the arrival of our servants and baggage
should give us a prospect of breakfast. These made their appearance
about two P.M., and all hands requiring a little rest from the toils
of the road, we pitched our camp under the trees, and set ourselves
to the enjoyment of a few days' halt in the city of Ladak.
Ladak and the Monastery of Hemis.
The first event after being settled in our new quarters was the
arrival of a sheep, presented to us by the Kardar, or chief dignitary
of the town, as a mark of affection and distinction. This, according
to the strict letter of the law, we should have refused to accept;
twenty days marching, however, while it had sharpened our appetites,
had rather diminished our stores. Sheep were not to be got every day,
and an ill-looking animal which we had succeeded in purchasing at
Egnemo, had been overcome by the heat of the weather and taken itself
off on the road. Other supplies, also, were a good deal weakened by
successive attacks; potatoes had been extinct many days, and the stock
of ducks, which formed our main stay in case of future difficulties,
was rapidly succumbing to the knife of the assassin. Under these
circumstances we felt that we would be in no way justified in hurting
the Kardar's feelings at the expense of our own, by refusing his
present, and believing ourselves to be in this instance fit subjects
for out-door relief, the new arrival was soon swinging about in the
breeze, a welcome addition to our unfurnished larder.
Having thus ended the struggle between our duty and our feelings,
we turned our attention to the exploration of the surrounding country.
The town of Ladak, although in a commercial point of view by no means
a flourishing-looking settlement, was, as far as picturesqueness was
concerned, everything that could be desired. It was built in the style
so popular throughout the country -- on pinnacles of rock, and such
out of the way positions as seemed, of all others, the least adapted
for building purposes -- immediately outside the town, occupying a
sort of bason among the surrounding mountains, and was what might
fairly be called a "city of the dead." It was of considerable extent,
and was formed of groups of the numerous monumental buildings which
I have described, and which in a country where the habitations of
the living appear so few in proportion to those of the dead, form so
curious and remarkable a feature. These tombs, although by no means
of very modern date, bear traces, in many instances, of the more
recently departed of the Buddhist population. Burnt fragments of
bone, hair, &c., were scattered about in various directions, while,
collected together in one corner, were the little mounds of mud with
a rise at one extremity, where the sculptured turban ought to rest,
which denoted the last resting-place of the Moslem faithful. Meeting
with the Kardar's chupprassie, I entered into conversation with
him about the manners and customs of the Thibetians, a subject on
which he seemed to have very hazy ideas indeed, although not on that
account at all the less inclined to impart them to one more ignorant
than himself. His opinion of the inscribed stones was that they were
all written by the Lamas, but he failed completely in explaining
for what reason they were collected together. He was aware, however,
of Khurjidal, who was to inspect them at the last day. The tomb-like
erections, he said, were considered in the light of gods; the bones and
ashes of departed Lamas having been pounded up together and deposited
beneath them, together with such valuables as turquoises, Pushmeena,
rupees, &c. This fact would perhaps account for their being so often
in a ruined state -- Gulab Singh having, probably, taken a look at
their foundations in search of such valuable pickings. The reason my
informant gave me for the unwillingness of the people, however poor,
to sell their superabundant ornaments, was that they regarded them as
sacred, and held them as their own property during their lifetime only;
on decease the jewels reverted to the possessions of the Church. The
Lamas are provided, by the custom of dedicating in every family of two
or more, one to that office; should there be a number of girls in a
family, all those that do not marry become nuns, and adopt the male
attire of red and yellow. The nuns, however, seem to be by no means
kept in confinement; they work in the fields, and one of them enlisted
with us as a coolie, and brought her load into camp before any of her
male coadjutors. Among other curious information my friend told me,
that the Thibetians by no means consider that each man is entitled
to the luxury of a wife all to himself; but that a family of four
or five brothers frequently have but one between them, and that the
system is productive of no ill-feeling whatever among the different
members.[24] He also pointed out a fact which I had not before noticed,
viz., that the Thibetians invariably pass to the right hand of these
piles of stones and other monuments, but for what reason he was
unable to inform me.[25] Having finished his stock of information,
which I received thank-fully in default of better, he told me, with
delightful coolness, that it was the proper thing for me to give him
a bottle of brandy for the Kardar, and that it would be necessary to
send also a corkscrew with the bottle, to enable him to get at it! The
impudence of the request was almost worth the bottle, but brandy
was too scarce and precious a commodity to justify us in pleasing
the Kardar, so that all I could do was politely to decline sending
the corkscrew or the bottle either. In the afternoon we explored
the Bazaar, where we found abundance of dogs, dirt, and idlers,
but little else. What little there was in the way of merchandise
the proprietors seemed utterly indifferent about disposing of, and
after visiting a few shops we went away in disgust. The people were
a mixture of Cashmeeries, Chinese, Tartars, Bengalees, and Indians of
all sorts and sects, and more idle, good-for-nothing looking scoundrels
I never laid eyes on. One most amusing group of Mahomedan exquisites
reminded one forcibly of PUNCH'S Noah's ark costumes and Bond Street
specimens of fashion. They were dressed in exaggerated turbans and
long white Chogas, or loose coats, which reached down to their heels;
and, as arm in arm, with gentle swagger, they sauntered through the
bazaar, they had, in addition to their heavy swellishness, an air of
Eastern listlessness to which the most exquisite of their European
prototypes could never hope to attain. On reaching our camp we found
another traveller had added his little canvas to the scene; it was
one of the Government Survey, whom the natives invariably designate
by the comprehensive title of "the Compass Wallahs." Wallah is,
in Hindostanee, as nearly as possible an equivalent to "fellow,"
and in explaining the character of this particular order of Wallah,
the accent is always strong on the second syllable of the compass. The
Compass Wallah in question we found quite a wild man of the mountains;
his face, from changes of heat and cold and long exposure, was burnt
and blistered into all sorts of colours, and, to make his appearance
more generally striking, he wore as head-dress, a flyaway, puggery,
or turban of blue cotton, of the most voluminous dimensions and
wonderful construction imaginable. He gave us an amusing account
of his operations among the clouds; how he always rode a cow! and
was so much alone that he at times began to doubt the existence of
other white men in creation besides himself; how he was SEA sick at
first, and unable to sleep at night from the great rarification of the
atmosphere, &c. He joined us during dinner, just in time for a triumph
of a plum pudding which our cook had unexpectedly produced, and his
heart was so gladdened and expanded by either the suet, the raisins,
or the brandy, that he chatted away until the dissipated mountain
hour of eleven o'clock, when we sent him off to bed, much pleased
with his entertainment, and again reassured, at least for a time,
of the continued existence, not only of white men in the world, but
of their plum puddings. Among other statistics he gave us the height
of Ladak, as 11,000 feet, and that of the recently discovered monarch
of the mountains, now set at rest as belonging to the Himalayan range,
as being 29,003 feet above the level of the sea.[26]
AUGUST 15. -- Employed all the morning in endeavouring to procure
supplies of tea, and after unearthing a queer-looking package
containing seven pounds and a half, we differed about the price,
the proprietor demanding twenty-four shillings, or about twice its
local value.
AUGUST 16. -- There being no tidings of the arrival of expected
caravans, we marched for the monastery of Hemis, crossing the Indus
immediately after leaving Ladak, and following it up towards its
source. Outside the town we passed a mound of the inscribed stones,
which must have been nearly a quarter of a mile in length, and probably
contained as many as 30,000. The left bank of the river, which
thus formed our path, was a continuation of detached huts, forming
no regular villages, and affording very little shade or apparent
prospect of shelter for man or beast. The right bank, however, was
studded with picturesque-looking little villages, built generally on
rocky summits, and surrounded by tombs and Mani panees, to an extent
almost to rival the towns themselves in size and importance. About
nine miles on the road we halted for breakfast, on the confines of a
desert of smooth stones, from which the heat ascended like vapour,
and made our eye-balls ache again. There was no shade in sight,
however, and milk was here forthcoming, so we made the best of a bad
situation, and, after our repast, lost no time in getting again under
weigh. After a hot tramp over a perfect desert, we reached the wooded
little village of Chunga, where, as it was getting late, we called
a halt and pitched our camp. All hands being tired by their march,
we got our dinner at nine o'clock.
AUGUST 17. -- Started early for Hemis. From the formation of the
mountains in which it is situated, the entrance to the village opens
upon the traveller suddenly and as if by magic; and as we tramped
this morning along the parched and sandy desert, welcome indeed was
the unexpected vision of trees and rushing water which the sharp turn
presented to our astonished gaze.
The entrance to the gorge in which the monastery is situated was, as
usual, quite covered with Mani panees and walls of inscribed stones;
one of the former was studded with human skulls, and otherwise
ornamented, in a way that proved the vicinity of some stronghold of
Lama talent, though not perhaps of the very highest order.
The monastery we found situated in a beautifully-wooded valley,
thickly planted, and having a dashing little torrent foaming through
the centre.
It was built as usual, on the very face of the rock, and towering
above it was an airy fort, ensconced among a number of crows'-nest
habitations, perched about apparently with more regard to effect
than comfort.
While waiting for the kitchen to come up, we inspected the monastery,
and were waited upon by half-a-dozen Lamas, who showed us through the
various temples of the gods. Originally containing some two hundred
Lamas, its numbers had now dwindled down, by their account, to fifteen
or sixteen. We, however, saw actually more than that number ourselves
while wandering through the building.
They owned to having treasure in the monastery to the amount of three
lakhs of rupees ([pound sterling]30,000), but of this we saw small
signs during our inspection.
Some of the divinities were, however, provided with vestments of
cloth of gold, and were seated upon thrones, studded with would-be
precious stones. Others were accommodated with large silver bowls,
placed on pedestals, filled to the brim with "ghee," or rancid butter,
and unless blest with inordinate appetites, these, from their enormous
size, might fairly last them all till doomsday. We were altogether
conducted through four temples, each inhabited by a number of Chinese
figures, seated in state, with offerings of corn, flour, rice and
ghee, &c. before them, and these were generally served in valuable
cups of china, and precious metals. Hanging from the ceiling and
the walls around were scrolls, decorated in the Chinese fashion,
with figures of tightly-robed, narrow-eyed ladies and gentlemen,
scattered about with the usual perspective results.
Some of these scrolls were decorated with scenes which it would take
hours to decipher and appreciate. One, in particular, of the last day,
was covered with innumerable little figures, and appeared well worthy
of a close inspection.
The bad people might here be seen, falling into the hands of some of
the most disrespectable looking monsters I have ever beheld; while
the good were sitting up in a bunch, looking on at the dreadful scene,
in a satisfied and undisturbed way, beautiful to behold.
The most curious things in the place, however, were the praying wheels,
which I here saw for the first time. They were little wooden drums,
covered round the sides with leather, and fitted vertically in niches
in the walls.[27] A spindle running through the centre, enabled them
to revolve at the slightest push. They were generally in rows of
eight and ten, and well thumbed and worn they looked, but others of
larger dimensions were placed by themselves, decorated with the words
"Um mani panee," in the Lanza character, all round the barrel.
In the vicinity of the monasteries were various small temples,
probably chapels of ease, rudely decorated with grotesque figures,
in red and yellow, and having queer-looking structures fastened on
the top of them, generally a trident, with tufts of hair attached,
or strips of coloured calico, horns of animals, and other rude devices.
In one place we came upon a praying-wheel, turned by water, but I was
unable to ascertain whether the benefit accrued to the water, or to
the possessor of the stream, or to the public generally. Sometimes
the people carry portable wheels, and one old gentleman we met was
provided with a huge brass one, with a wooden handle. It was suspended
from his neck, in company with a collection of square leather charms,
fastened by a string to his coat.
On my asking him what the structure meant, he immediately begun to
set it in motion, and piously ejaculating "Um mani panee," passed on
without another word, but in evident pity for my benighted spiritual
Among other curious sights, we saw one of the Lamas sitting at a
chapel door, having, before him seven little brass pots. In each
of these there was a letter of the words "Um mani panee," and the
pots being filled with water, he was employed in strewing each with
a few grains of corn from a heap at his side, keeping up at the
same time a loud mournful chant, and swaying himself to and fro,
in time with the music. To have inquired the meaning of this would
only have again resulted in the comprehensive information contained
in "Um mani panee," so we rested in our ignorance, and passed on,
much to the relief of the chaunter. After going all through this
curious monastery, we repaired to our tents, which had arrived in
the interim, and which we found pitched pleasantly among the trees,
within a few yards of the torrent. After a bathe and breakfast, we
came unanimously to the conclusion that the water was so cold, and
the air so cool and refreshing, we could not do better than halt for
a couple of days, under the protection of the Church, before again
taking the road on our homeward route.
AUGUST 18. -- Out early for a day's stalk over the mountains, after
deer, or anything there might be forthcoming. One of the coolies being
a "shikaree," or what they call in Ireland a "sportsman," I took him
with me, and with another to carry some breakfast, off we started at
about five A.M. The ascent at first was so abrupt, that, although in
pretty good walking condition by this time, I found myself halting very
frequently to admire the prospect. Having attained the greatest height
actually attainable, we spied quietly grazing, about half a mile off,
some half dozen little animals, which my "sportsman" declared to be
Ibex, and down Aye went again, best pace, with a view to making a
circumbendibus, to get behind them. With a view to accomplish this,
we had to pass across some very difficult ground, and at last came to
a smooth face of rock, with nothing whatever about it to hold on by,
and, moreover, an overhanging ledge, which fairly seemed to bar all
further progress.
The coolie, however, whose every toe was as useful to him as
a finger, managed to scramble up; and not to be outdone, I also
attained some height, when, holding on fly-fashion, and clinging to
the rock with my fingers and grass shoes, suddenly the pole which
partly supported me slipped away, and my whole attention had to be
directed to again reaching the ground in as soft and comfortable a
manner as possible. In this I succeeded beyond my expectations, and,
a second attempt being more successful, finally reached the top. On
attaining our hardly-earned post of vantage, however, there was no
sign of our friends, but, suddenly, on the mountain below us a herd
of about five-and-twenty more appeared to our delighted view. They
were standing gazing up at us in astonishment, and for some moments
we remained fixed and motionless, hoping to be taken for the stones we
were habited in imitation of. Then, crouching down and crawling along
as if on velvet, down we went again, and after another long and trying
stalk, over broken ground formed apparently of small slates placed
edgeways, and crumbling rocks, whose slightest fall would have been
destruction to our plans, we attained a rock about two hundred yards
from the herd, and paused for breath once more. They were lying about
sunning themselves, with an outlying sentinel posted here and there
on either side of them on the look-out; and seeing an eligible spot
some fifty yards nearer, we stole along to reach it. We were not,
however, destined to take this unfair advantage of the enemy. Just
as we had half crossed the distance, an ill-fated, abominable little
fragment of rock suddenly broke off, and at its first bound away went
the herd like lightning over the precipitous rocks, and with a little
chirrupping noise like sparrows, were in a few seconds well out of
range of bullets. As the natives express it, "they became wind,"
and we were left behind our rock, looking, after all our toils, to
say the least of it, extremely foolish. A shot which I took at some
250 yards was more to relieve ourselves by making a noise than with
any hopes of bringing down one of the light-heeled little creatures,
for their bounding powers put all correctness of aim at that range
out of the question.
The next part of the programme was breakfast, but alas! there were
no signs in any direction of the bearer of our supplies, and I now
recollected that the rock which had so puzzled us would be quite
inaccessible to the coolie and his precious charge, without which
he himself was useless. All we could do was to ascend a high peak of
mountain, in hopes that the breakfast would ascend another, and that
we could then exchange signals of distress and obtain relief. However,
after reaching our look-out station, which took us some climbing,
we could discern nothing around us bearing the slightest resemblance
to a coolie, and our hopes began to descend below zero.
It was now about twelve o'clock, and taking advantage of the produce
of the country, I made a light breakfast off two stalks of rhubarb,
and tying a handkerchief to the top of my pole as a signal, lay down
in the very minute portion of shade procurable under a midday sun,
and indulged in the pleasures of imagination, conjured up by absent
chicken legs and cold chupatties. After a long wait, I came to the
conclusion that the two pieces of rhubarb were entirely insufficient
to continue the day's work upon, so I reluctantly gave the order to
retreat upon our camp, and turned from thoughts of breakfast to those
of dinner. My grass shoes were by this time completely worn out by the
pointed rocks and flinty ground we had traversed, and my spare ones
were in the society of the cold chicken and the chupatties, so that
I was soon walking in nothing but socks. Before long, this portion of
my property was also run through, and I was finally obliged to borrow
the sportsman's pointed slippers, in which I managed to get along over