Part 1 out of 5
A HOLIDAY IN THE HAPPY VALLEY WITH PEN AND PENCIL
T. R. SWINBURNE
MAJOR (LATE) R.M.A.
WITH 24 COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS
[ILLUSTRATION: THE JHELUM AT SRINAGAR]
"_Over the great windy waters, and over the clear crested summits,
Unto the sea and the sky, and unto the perfecter earth,
Come, let us go_!"
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK
I observe that it is customary to begin a book by an Introduction, Preface,
or Foreword. In the good old days of the eighteenth century this generally
took the form of a burst of grovelling adoration aimed at some most noble
or otherwise highly important person. This fulsome fawning on the great
was later changed into propitiation of the British public, and unknown
authors revelled in excuses for publishing their earlier efforts.
But now that every one has written a book, or is about to do so, I feel
that my apologies are rather due to the public for not having rushed into
print before. I have really spared it because I had nothing in particular
to write about, and I confess I am somewhat doubtful as to whether I am
even now justified in invoking the kind offices of a publisher with a view
to bringing forth this literary mouse in due form!
No admiring (if partial) relatives have hung upon my lips as I read them
my journal, imploring me with tears in their eyes to waste not an instant,
but give to a longing world this literary treasure. I have no illusions as
regards my literary powers, and I do not imagine that I shall depose the
gifted author of _Eoethen_ from his pride of place.
I claim, however, the merit of truth. The journal was written day by day,
and the sketches were all done on the spot; and if this account--bald and
inadequate as I know it to be--of a very happy time spent in rambling
among some of the finest scenery of this lovely earth, may induce any one
to betake himself to Kashmir, he will achieve something worth living for,
and I shall not have spilt ink in vain.
II. THE VOYAGE OUT
III. KARACHI TO ABBOTABAD
IV. ABBOTABAD TO SRINAGAR
V. FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF SRINAGAR
VI. OUR FIRST CAMP
VII. BACK TO SRINAGAR
VIII. THE LOLAB
IX. SRINAGAR AGAIN
X. THE LIDAR VALLEY
XIII. THE FLOOD
XIV. THE MACHIPURA
XV. DELHI AND AGRA
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE JHELUM AT SRINAGAR (Frontispiece)
A SOLUTION OF CONTINUITY
A SRINAGAR BYE-WAY--EARLY SPRING
ON THE JHELUM--EARLY SPRING
THE BUND SRINAGAR--EARLY SPRING
IN THE NISHAT BAGH
THE PIR PANJAL FROM ALSU--MORNING
ON THE DAL--SUNSET
THE RAMPARTS OF KASHMIR
A TARN ABOVE TRONKOL
ON THE CIRCULAR ROAD, GULMARG
NANGA PARBAT FROM KITARDAJI
MIXED BATHING (UDAIPUR)
MAP OF KASHMIR
A HOLIDAY IN THE HAPPY VALLEY
A journey to Kashmir now--in these days of cheap and rapid locomotion--is
in nowise serious. It takes time, I grant you, but to any one with a few
months to spare--and there are many in that happy position--there can be
few pleasanter ways of spending a summer holiday.
It would be as well to start from England not later than the middle of
March, as the Red Sea and the Sind Desert begin to warm up uncomfortably
in spring. Srinagar would then be reached fairly early in April, and the
visitor should arrange, if possible, to remain in the country until the
middle of October. We had to leave just as the gorgeous autumn colouring
was beginning to blaze in the woods, and the first duck were wheeling over
the Wular Lake.
The climate of Kashmir is fairly similar to that of many parts of Southern
Europe. There is a good deal of snow in the valley in winter. Spring is
charming, the brilliant days only varied by frequent thunderstorms--which,
however, are almost invariable in keeping their pyrotechnics till about
five in the afternoon. July and August are hot and steamy in the valley,
and it is necessary to seek one of the cool "Margs" which form ideal
camping-grounds on all the lofty mountain slopes which surround the valley.
Gulmarg is the most frequented and amusing resort in summer of the English
colony and contingent from the broiling plains of the Punjab. Here the
happy fugitive from the sweltering heat of the lower regions will find a
climate as glorious as the scenery. He can enjoy the best of polo and golf,
and, if he be not a misogynist, he will vary the 'daily round' with
picnics and scrambles on foot or on horseback, in exploring the endless
beauty of the place, coming home to his hut or tent as the sun sinks
behind the great pines that screen the Rampur Road, to wind up the happy
day with a cheery dinner and game of bridge. But if Gulmarg does not
appeal to him, let him go with his camping outfit to Sonamarg or
Pahlgam--he will find neither polo nor golf nor the gay little society of
Gulmarg, but he will find equally charming scenery and, perhaps, a drier
climate--for it must in fairness be admitted that Gulmarg is a rainy
place. Likewise his pocket will benefit, as his expenses will surely be
less, and he will still find neighbours dotted about in white tents under
the pine trees.
Towards the middle of September the exodus from the high 'Margs' takes
place--many returning sadly to Pindi and Sealkote--others merely to
Srinagar, while those who yearn after Bara Singh and Bear, decamp quietly
for their selected nullahs, to be in readiness for the opening of the
Thus, from April to October, a more or less perfect climate may be
obtained by watching the mercury in the thermometer, and rising or
descending the mountain slopes in direct ratio with it.
It is quite unnecessary to take out a large and expensive wardrobe. Thin
garments for the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, such as one wears in a fine
English summer, and for Kashmir the same sort of things that one would
take up to Scotland. For men--knickerbockers and flannel shirts--and for
ladies, short tweed skirts and some flannel blouses. The native tailors in
Srinagar are clever and cheap, and will copy an English shooting suit in
fairly good material for about eleven rupees, or 14s. 8d.! One pair of
strong shooting boots (plentifully studded with aluminium nails) is enough.
For all mountain work, the invaluable but uncomfortable grass shoes must
be worn, and both my wife and I invariably wore the native chaplies for
ordinary marching. Foot-gear for golf, tennis, and general service at
Srinagar and Gulmarg must be laid in, according to the traveller's fancy,
Underwear to suit both hot and cold weather should be purchased at
home--not on any account omitting cholera belts.
Shirts and collars should be taken freely, as it is well to remember that
the native washerman--the well-abused "Dobie"--has a marvellous skill in
producing a saw-like rim to the starched collar and cuff of the newest
shirt; while the elegant and delicate lace and embroidery, with which the
fair are wont to embellish their underwear, take strange and unforeseen
patterns at the hands of the skilled workmen. It is surprising what an
effect can be obtained by tying up the neck and sleeves of a garment,
inserting a few smooth pebbles from the brook, and then banging the moist
bundle on the bank!
The arrangement of clothing for the voyage is rather complicated, as it
will probably be necessary to wear warm things while crossing Europe, and
possibly even until Egypt is reached. Then an assortment of summer
flannels, sufficient to last as far as India, must be available. We were
unable to get any washing done from the date we left London, on the 22nd
of February, until we reached Rawal Pindi, on the 21st March. Capacious
canvas kit-bags are excellent things for cramming with grist for the
In arranging for luggage, it should be borne in mind that large trunks and
dress boxes are inadmissible. From Pindi to Srinagar everything must be
transported by wheeled conveyance, and, in Kashmir itself, all luggage
must be selected with a view to its adaptability to the backs of coolies
or ponies. In Srinagar one can buy native trunks--or yakdans--which are
cheap, strong, and portable; and the covered creels or "kiltas" serve
admirably for the stowage of kitchen utensils, food, and oddments.
The following list may prove useful to any one who has not already been
"east of Suez," and who may therefore not be too proud to profit by
1. "Compactum" camp-bed with case, and fitted with sockets to take
2. Campaigning bedding-bag in Willesden canvas, with bedding complete.
3. Waterproof sheet.
4. Indiarubber bath.
If shooting in the higher mountains is anticipated, a Wolseley
sleeping-bag should be taken.
5. Small stable-lantern.
6. Rug or plaid--light and warm.
7. Half-a-dozen towels.
8. Deck chair (with name painted on it).
We had also a couple of Roorkhee chairs, and found them most useful.
9. A couple of compressed cane cabin trunks.
9_a_. The "Ranelagh Pack" is a most useful form of "luggage."
10. Camp kit-bag.
11. Soiled-linen bag, with square mouth, large size. This is an
excellent "general service" bag, and invaluable for holding boots, &c.
12. Large "brief-bag," most useful for stowing guide-books, flasks,
binoculars, biscuits, and such like, that one wants when travelling, and
never knows where to put. Our "yellow bag" carried even tea things, and
was greatly beloved. Like the leather bottel in its later stage, "it
served to put hinges and odd things in"!
13. Luncheon basket, fitted according to the number of the party.
The above articles can all be bought at the Army and Navy Stores.
14. A light canvas box, fitted as a dressing-case.
Ours were made, according to our own wishes and possessions, by Williams,
of 41 Bond Street. The innumerable glass bottles, so highly prized by the
makers of dressing-cases, should be strictly limited in number. They are
exceedingly heavy, and, as the dressing-case should be carried by its
owner, the less it weighs the more he (or she) will esteem it.
15. A set of aluminium cooking-utensils is much to be recommended. They
can easily be sold on leaving Kashmir for, at least, their cost price.
16. Pocket flask. This may be of aluminium also, although personally I
dislike a metal flask.
17. Umbrella--strong, but cheap, as it is sure to be lost or stolen.
There are few things your native loves more than a nice umbrella, unless
18. A knife fitted with corkscrew and screwdriver; therefore take two,
and try to keep one carefully locked up.
19. Pair of good field-glasses.
I took a stalking telescope, but it was useless to my shikari, who always
borrowed my wife's binoculars until she lost them--or he stole them!
20. Hats. It is obviously a matter of taste what hats a man should take.
The glossy silk may repose with the frock-coat till its owner returns to
find it hopelessly out of date, its brim being a thought too curly, or its
top impossibly wide; but the "bowler" or Homburg hat will serve his turn
according to his fancy, until, at Aden, he invests in a hideous, but shady
"topee," for one-third of the price he would pay in London; and this will
be his only wear, before sunset, until he again reaches a temperate
climate. Ladies, who are rightly more particular as to the appearance of
even so unlovely a thing as a sola topee, would do well, perhaps, to buy
theirs before starting. Really becoming pith helmets seem very scarce in
After sunset, or under awnings, any sort of cap may be worn.
21. Shirts and collars are obviously matters of taste. A good supply of
white shirts and collars must be taken to cope with the destruction and
loss which may be expected at the hands of the dobie. Flannel shirts can
be made easily enough from English models in Srinagar.
22. Under-garments should be of Indian gauze for hot weather, with a
supply of thicker articles for camping in the hills.
Cholera belts should on no account be omitted.
23. Socks, according to taste--very few knickerbocker stockings need be
taken, as putties are cheap and usual in Srinagar.
24. Ties--the white ones of the cheap sort that can be thrown away after
use, with a light heart. Handkerchiefs, and a few pairs of white gloves.
25. Sleeping-suits, both thick for camp work and light for hot weather,
should be taken.
26. Dress suit and dinner-jacket.
27. Knickerbocker or knee-breeches, which can be copied in Kashmir by the
Riding-breeches are not in the least necessary unless the traveller
contemplates any special riding expedition. Ordinary shooting
continuations do quite well for all the mounted work the tourist is likely
to do. A pair of stohwasser gaiters may be taken, but even they are not
necessary, neither is a saddle.
A lady, however, should take out a short riding-skirt, or habit, and a
28. A tweed suit of medium warmth for travelling, and a couple of flannel
suits, will bring the wearer to Srinagar, where he can increase his stock
at a ridiculously low price--about 22 rupees or L1, 9s. 4d. per suit.
29. Boots. Here, again, the wayfarer is at full liberty to please
himself. A pair of strong shooting-boots, with plenty of spare laces and,
say, a hundred aluminium nails, is a _sine qua non_. A pair of rubbers, or
what are known as "gouties" in Swiss winter circles, are not to be
despised. Otherwise, boots, shoes, slippers, and pumps, according to taste.
30. A large "regulation" waterproof, a rain-coat or Burberry, and a warm
greatcoat will all be required.
It is hard to give definite advice to a lady as to the details of her
outfit. Let her conform in a general way to the instructions given above,
always remembering that both Srinagar and Gulmarg are gay and festive
places, where she will dine and dance, and have ample opportunity for
displaying a well-chosen wardrobe.
Let her also take heed that she leaves the family diamonds at home. The
gentle Kashmiri is an inveterate and skilful thief, and the less jewellery
she can make up her mind to "do with," the more at ease will her mind be.
But if she must needs copy the lady of whom we read, that
"Rich and rare were the gems she wore,"
then why not line the jewel-case--or rather the secret bag, which she will
sew into some mysterious garment--with the diamonds of Gophir and the
pearls of Rome?
If the intending visitor to Kashmir be a sportsman who has already had
experience in big-game shooting, he will not need any advice from me
(which, indeed, he would utterly disdain) as to the lethal weapons which
should form his battery; but if the wayfarer be a humble performer who has
never slain anything more formidable than a wary old stag, or more
nerve-shattering than a meteoric cock pheasant rising clamorously from
behind a turnip, he may not be too proud to learn that he will find an
ordinary "fowling piece" the most useful weapon which he can take with
him. If his gun is not choked, he should be provided with a dozen or more
ball cartridge for bear.
If the pursuit of markhor and ibex is contemplated, a small-bore rifle
will be required, but a heavy express is wanted to stop a bear. I had a
"Mannlicher" and an ordinary shot-gun, with a few ball cartridges for the
Duty has to be paid on taking firearms into India, and this may be
refunded on leaving the country. This is not always done, however, as I
found to my cost, my application for a refund being refused on the quibble
that my guns were taken back to England by a friend, although I was able
to prove their identity.
It is not necessary to take a large number of rifle cartridges out, as it
is exceedingly unlikely that the tyro will be able to shoot all the beasts
allowed him by his game licence. Smooth-bore cartridges of fair quality
can be bought in Srinagar, and I certainly do not consider it worth the
trouble and expense to convey them out from England.
To the amateur artist I would say: Be well supplied with brushes and
paper--the latter sealed in tin for passage through the Red Sea and India.
Colours, and indeed all materials can he got from Treacher & Co., Bombay,
and also from the branch of the Army and Navy Stores there.
Paper is, however, difficult to get in good condition, being frequently
spoilt by mildew.
It is almost impossible to get anything satisfactory in the way of
painting materials in Kashmir itself; therefore I say: Be well supplied
before leaving home.
Finally, a small stock of medicines should certainly be taken, not
omitting a copious supply of quinine (best in powder form for this
purpose), and also of strong peppermint or something of the sort, to give
to the native servants and others who are always falling sick of a fever
or complaining of an internal pain, which is generally quite cured by a
dose of peppermint.
Neither Jane nor I love guide-books; we found however, in Kashmir, the
little book written by Dr. Neve an invaluable companion; while Murray's
_Guide to India_ afforded much useful information when wandering in that
The best book on Kashmir that I know is Sir Walter Lawrence's _Valley of
Any one going out as we did, absolutely ignorant of the language, should
certainly take an elementary phrase-book or something of the sort to study
on the voyage. We forgot to do this, and had infinite trouble afterwards
in getting what we wanted, and lost much time in acquiring the rudimentary
knowledge of Hindustani which enabled us to worry along with our native
servants, &c. No mere "globe-trotter" need attempt to learn any Kashmiri,
as Hindustani is "understanded of the people" as a rule, and the tradesmen
in Srinagar know quite as much English as is good for them.
 See Appendix 1.
 _The Tourist's Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh, Skardo, &c._, edited by
Arthur Neve, F.R.G.S.
THE VOYAGE OUT
It seems extraordinary to me that every day throughout the winter, crowds
of people should throng the railway stations whence they can hurry south
in search of warmth and sunshine, and yet London remains apparently as
full as ever! We plunged into a seething mass of outward-bound humanity at
Victoria Station on the 22nd of February, and, having wrestled our way
into the Continental express, were whirled across the sad and sodden
country to Dover amidst hundreds of our shivering fellow-countrymen.
Truly we are beyond measure conservative in our railway discomforts. With
a bitter easterly wind searching out the chinks of door and window, we sat
shivering in our unwarmed compartment--unwarmed, I say, in spite of the
clumsy tin of quickly-cooled hot water procured by favour--and a
gratuity--from a porter!
The Channel showed even more disagreeable than usual. A grey, cold sky,
with swift-flying clouds from the east hung over a grey, cold sea, the
waves showing their wicked white teeth under the lash of the strong wind.
The patient lightship off the pier was swinging drearily as we throbbed
past into the gust-swept open and set our bows for the unseen coast of
The tumult of passengers was speedily reduced to a limp and inert swarm of
cold, wet, and sea-sick humanity.
The cold and miserable weather clung to us long. In Paris it snowed
heavily, and I was constrained to betake myself in a cab--"chauffe," it is
needless to remark--to seek out a kindly dentist, the bitter east wind
having sought out and found a weak spot wherein to implant an abscess.
At Bale it was freezing, but clear and bright, and a good breakfast and a
breath of clean, fresh air was truly enjoyable after the overheated
sleeping-car in which we had come from Paris.
It may seem unreasonable to grumble at the overheating of the "Sleeper"
after abusing the under-heating of our British railways. Surely, though,
there is a golden mean? I wish neither to be frozen nor boiled, and there
can be no doubt but that the heating of most Continental trains is
excellent, the power of application being left to the traveller.
The journey by the St. Gotthard was delightful, the day brilliant, and the
frost keen, while we watched the fleeting panorama of icebound peaks and
snow-powdered pines from the cushions of our comfortable carriage.
The glory of winter left us as we left the Swiss mountains and dropped
down into the fertile flats of Northern Italy, and at Milan all was raw
chilliness and mud.
Nothing can well be more depressing than wet and cheerless weather in a
land obviously intended for sunshine.
We slept at Milan, and the next day set forth in heavy rain towards Venice.
The miserable ranks of distorted and pollarded trees stood sadly in pools
of yellow-stained water, or stuck out of heaps of half-melted and
No colour; no life anywhere, excepting an occasional peasant plodding
along a muddy road, sheltering himself under the characteristic flat and
bony umbrella of the country.
At Peschiera we had promise of better things. The weather cleared somewhat,
revealing ranges of white-clad hills around Garda.... But, alas! at Verona
it rained as hard as ever, and we made our way from the railway station at
Venice, cowering in the coffin-like cabin of a damp and extremely draughty
gondola, while cold flurries of an Alpine-born wind swept across the Grand
Sunshine is absolutely necessary to bring out the real beauty of Italy.
This is particularly the case in Venice, where light and life are required
to dispel the feeling of sadness so sure to creep over one amid the signs
of long-past grandeur and decaying magnificence.
On a grey and wintry day one is chiefly impressed by the dank chilliness
of the palaces on the Grand Canal, whose feet lie lapped in slimy water;
the lovely tracery of whose windows shows ragged and broken, whose stately
guest-chambers are in the sordid occupation of the dealer in false
antiques, and whose motto might be "Ichabod," for their glory has departed.
It is five-and-twenty years since I was last in Venice, and I can truly
say that it has not improved in that long time. The loss of the great
Campanile of St. Mark is not compensated for by the gain of the penny
steamer which frets and fusses its prosaic way along the Grand Canal, or
blurts its noisome smoke in the very face of the Palace of the Doges.
Well! A steady downpour is dispiriting at any time, excepting when one is
snugly at home with plenty to do, and it is particularly so to the unlucky
traveller who has to live through half-a-dozen long hours intervening
between arrival at and departure from Venice on a cold, dull, wintry
The sombre gondola writhed its sinuous course and deposited us all forlorn
in the near neighbourhood of the Piazza San Marco. Splashing our way
across, and pushing through the crowd of greedy fat pigeons, we entered
the world-famous church. I know my Ruskin, and I feel that I should be
lost in wonder and admiration--I am not.
The gloom--rich golden gloom if you will--of the interior oppresses me; it
is cavernous. A service is being held in one of the transepts, and the
congregation seems noisier and less devout than I could have believed
possible. My thoughts fly far to where, on its solitary hill, the noble
pile of Chartres soars majestic, its heaven-piercing spires dominating the
wide plain of La Beauce. In fancy I enter by the splendid north door and
find myself in the pillared dimness softly lighted by the great window in
the west. This seems to me to be the greatest achievement of the Christian
architect, noble alike in conception and in execution.
There is no means of procuring a cold more certain than lingering too long
in a cold and vault-like church or picture gallery, so we adjourned to the
Palazzo Daniele, now a mere hotel, where we browsed on the
literature--chiefly cosmopolitan newspapers--until it was time to start
The journey is not an attractive one, as we seemed to be perpetually
worried by Custom-house authorities and inquisitive ticket-collectors! If
possible, the wary traveller should so time his sojourn at Venice as to
allow him to go to Trieste by steamer. The Hotel de la Ville at Trieste is
not quite excellent, but 'twill serve, and we were remarkably glad to
reach it, somewhere about midnight, having left Milan soon after seven in
Trieste itself is rather an engaging town; at least so it seemed to us
when we awakened to a fresh, bright morning, a blue-and-white sky overhead,
and a copious allowance of yellow mud under foot!
There were various final purchases to be made. Our deck chairs were with
the heavy luggage, which the passenger by Austrian Lloyd only gets at Port
Said, as it is sent from London by sea; so a deck chair had to be got,
also a stock of light literature wherewith to beguile the long sea hours.
A visit to our ship--the _Marie Valerie_--showed her to be a
comfortable-looking vessel of some 4500 tons. She was busily engaged in
taking in a large cargo, principally for Japan, and she showed no signs of
an early departure. Her nominal hour for starting was 4 P.M., but the
captain told us that he should not sail until next morning. So we
descended to examine our cabin, and found it to be large and airy, but
totally deficient in the matter of drawers or lockers.
Well! we shall have to keep everything in cabin trunks, and "live in our
boxes" for the next three weeks.
There was cabin accommodation for twenty passengers, but at dinner we
mustered but nine. This is, of course, the season when all right-minded
folks are coming home from India, and we never expected to find a crowd;
still, nine individuals scattered abroad over the wide decks make but a
The first meal on board a big steamer is always interesting. Every one is
quietly "taking stock" of his, or her, neighbours, and forming estimates
of their social value, which are generally entirely upset by after
Of our fellow-passengers there were only five whose presence affected us
in any way. A young Austrian, Herr Otto Frantz, with his wife, going out
as first secretary of legation to Tokio; Major Twining, R.E., and his wife;
and Miss Lungley, a cosmopolitan lady, who makes Kashmir her headquarters
and Rome her _annexe_.
We became acquainted with each other sooner than might have been expected,
by reason of an exploit of the stewardess--a gibbering idiot. The night
was cold, so several of the ladies, following an evil custom, sent forth
from their cabins those vile inventions called hot bottles. Only two came
back..., and then the fun began. The stewardess, who speaks no known
tongue, played "hunt the slipper" for the missing bottles through all the
cabins, whence she was shot out by the enraged inhabitants until she was
reduced to absolute imbecility, and the harassed stewards to gesticular
The missing articles were, I believe, finally discovered and routed out of
an unoccupied bed, where they had been laid and forgotten by the
addle-pated lady, and peace reigned.
We sailed from Trieste early on the morning of the 28th of February, and
steamed leisurely on our way. The Austrian Lloyd's "unaccelerated"
steamers are not too active in their movements, being wont to travel at
purely "economical speed," and so we were given an excellent view of some
of the Ionian Islands, steaming through the Ithaca channel, with the
snow-tipped peak of Cephalonia close on our starboard hand.
Then, leaving the far white hills of the Albanian coast to fade into the
blue mists, we sped
"Over the sea past Crete,"
until the tall lighthouse of Port Said rose on the horizon, followed by
the spars of much shipping, and the roofs of the houses dotted apparently
over the waters of the Mediterranean. At length the low mudbanks which
represent the two continents of Africa and Asia spread their dull monotony
on either hand, and the good ship sat quietly down for a happy day's
Port Said has grown out of all knowledge since I first made its
acquaintance in 1877. It was then a cluster of evil-looking shanties, the
abode of the scum of the Levant, who waxed fat by the profits of the
gambling hells and the sale of pornographic photographs. It has now donned
the outwardly respectable look of middle age; it has laid itself out in
streets; the gambling dens have disappeared, and the robbers have betaken
themselves to the sale of the worst class of Japanese and Indian "curios,"
ostrich feathers from East Africa, and tobacco in all its forms.
Port Said has undoubtedly improved, but still it is not a nice place, and
we were unfeignedly glad to repair on board the _Marie Valerie_ as soon as
we noted the cessation of the black coaly cloud, through the murkiness of
which a chattering stream of gnome-like figures passed their burthens of
"Cardiff" into the bowels of the ship.
Port Said was cold, and Suez was cold, and we started down the Red Sea
followed by a strong north wind, which kept us clad in greatcoats for a
day or two, and, as we got down into wider waters, obliged us to keep our
An object-lesson on the subject of closed ports was given in our cabin,
where the fair chatelaine was reclining in her berth reading, fanned by
the genial air which floated in at the open port,--a truculent Red Sea
billow, meeting a slight roll of the ship, entered the cabin in an
unbroken fall on the lady's head. A damp tigress flew out through the door,
wildly demanding the steward, a set of dry bedding, and the instant
execution of the captain, the officer of the watch, and the man at the
How dull we should be without these little incidents!
A hoopoe took deck, or rather rigging, passage for a while, and evoked the
greatest interest. Stalking glasses and binoculars were levelled at the
unconcerned fowl, who sat by the "cathead" with perfect composure, and
preened himself after his long flight.
The striking of "four bells" just under his beak unnerved him somewhat,
and he departed in a great fuss and pother.
Our roomy decks afford many quiet corners in which to read or doze, and
now that the weather is rapidly warming up we spend many hours in these
peaceful pastimes, varied by an occasional constitutional--none of your
fisherman's walks, "three steps and overboard"--but a good, clear tramp,
unimpeded by the innumerable deck-chairs, protruding feet, and ubiquitous
children which cover all free space on board a P. & O.
Then comes dinner, followed by a rubber of bridge, and so to bed.
On Saturday the 11th we passed the group of islands commonly known as the
First, a tiny rock, rising lonely from the blue--brilliantly blue--waves;
then a yellow crag of sandstone, looking like a haystack; and then a whole
group of wild and fantastic islands, evidently of volcanic origin, and
varying in rough peaks and abrupt cliffs of the strangest
colours--brick-red, purple-black, grey, and yellow--utterly bare and
"Nor tree, nor shrub, nor plant, nor flower,
Nor aught of vegetative power,
The weary eye may ken,"
save only the white lighthouse, which, perched on its arid hill, serves to
emphasise the desolation of earth and sky.
The Red Sea is remarkably well supplied with lighthouses; and, considering
the narrowness of the channel in parts, the strong and variable currents,
and the innumerable islands and shoals, the supply does no more than equal
I cannot imagine a more grievous death in life than the existence of a
lighthouse-keeper in the Red Sea!
_Sunday, 12th_.--We passed through the Gate of Tears this morning--the
dismal, flat, and unprofitable island of Perim being scanned by me from
the bathroom port, while exchanging an atmosphere of sticky salt air for
an unrefreshing dip in sticky salt water.
The hoopoe is again with us; in fact I do not think he really left the
ship, but simply sought a secluded perch, secure from prying observation.
He reappeared upon the port stay, and proceeded to preen himself and
observe the ship's course. He is evidently bound for Aden, casting glances
of quiet unconcern on Perim and the coast of Araby the blest.
Towards sunset we passed the fantastic peaks of little Aden, and, drawing
up to Steamer Point, cast anchor under the "Barren Rocks of Aden."
_Monday, 13th_.--We had a shocking time last night. All ports closed for
coaling left us gasping, whilst a fiendish din arose from the bowels of
the ship, whence cargo was being extracted. The stifling air, reeking with
damp, developed in the early morning a steady rain, which dripped
mournfully on the grimy decks. Rain in Aden! We are told on the best
authority that this is most unusual.
Aden, to the passing stranger, shows few attractions. We went on shore
when the rain showed signs of ceasing, and after buying a few odds and
ends, such as a pith hat and some cigarettes, we betook ourselves to the
principal hotel, where an excessively bad breakfast was served to us,
after which we were not sorry to shake the mud of Aden off our feet, so we
chartered a shore boat amid a fearful clamour for extra pay and backshish,
and set forth to rejoin our ship, now swept and garnished, and showing
little trace of the coal she had swallowed.
_Monday, 20th_.--We reached Karachi yesterday morning after a quiet, calm,
and utterly uneventful passage across the Indian Ocean.
It was never hot--merely calm, grey, and even showery, our only
excitements being an occasional school of porpoises or the sight of a
passing tramp steamer.
Some time before leaving England I had written to my old friend General
Woon, commanding the troops at Abbotabad, asking him to provide me with a
servant capable of dry-nursing a pair of Babes in the Wood throughout
their sojourn in a strange land. The General promised to supply us with
such an one, who, he said, would rob us to a certain extent himself, but
would take good care that nobody else did so!
Immediately, then, upon our arrival in Karachi roads, a dark and swarthy
person, with a black beard and gleaming white teeth, appeared on board,
and reported himself as Sabz Ali, our servant and our master!
His knowledge of English "as she is spoke" was scanty and of strange
quality, but his masterful methods of dealing with the boatmen and
Custom-house subordinates inspired us with awe and a blind confidence that
he could--and would--pull us through.
There was no difficulty at the Custom-house until it transpired that I
wanted to take three firearms into the country. This appeared to be a most
unusual and reprehensible desire, and my statement that one weapon was a
rifle which I was taking charge of for a friend did not improve the
situation. It being Sunday, the principal authorities were sunning
themselves in their back parlours, and the thing in charge (called a Baboo,
I understand) became exceedingly fussy, and desired that the guns should
be unpacked and exhibited lest they should be of service pattern. This was
simple, as far as my battery was concerned, and I promptly laid bare the
beauties of my Mannlicher and ancient 12-bore; but, alas! Mrs. Smithson's
rifle was soldered like a sardine into a strong tin case, and no
cold-chisel or screwdriver was forthcoming.
Messengers were sent forth to seek the needful instruments, while I
proceeded to cut another Gordian knot.... An acquaintance of mine, hearing
that I was coming to India, suggested that I should take charge of a
parcel for a friend of hers, who wanted to send it to her fiance in Bombay.
As all the heavy baggage was sent from London to join us at Port Said, I
had not seen the "parcel," and, finding no case or box addressed to any
one but myself, I had to select one that seemed most likely to be right,
and forward that.
At last the needful appliances were got and the rifle unpacked; but,
although it proved to be (as I had said) a large-bore Express, the Baboo
refused, like a very Pharaoh, to let it go, and I, after a two-hour
vexatious delay, paid the duty on my own guns, and, leaving a note for the
chief Customs official, explaining the case and begging him to send the
rifle on forthwith, packed myself--hot, hungry, and angry--into a "gharri,"
and set forth to the Devon Place Hotel, whither the rest of the party had
I have gone into this little episode somewhat at length in order to
impress upon the voyager to India the necessity for limiting the number of
firearms or getting a friend to father the extra ones through the
Customs--a perfectly simple matter had one foreseen the difficulty. Also
the danger of taking parcels for friends--of which more anon!
The Devon Place Hotel may be the best in Karachi, but it is pretty bad....
I am told that all Indian hotels are bad--still, the breakfast was a
considerable improvement on the _Marie Valerie_, and we sallied forth as
giants refreshed to have a look at Karachi and do a little shopping. It
being Sunday, the banks were closed, but a kindly shopman cashed me a
cheque for twenty pounds in the most confiding manner, and enabled us to
get the few odds and ends we wanted before going up country--among them a
couple of "resais" or quilted cotton wraps and a sola topee for Jane.
Karachi did not strike us as being a particularly interesting town, but
that may be to a great extent because we did not see the best part of it.
On landing at Kiamari we had only driven along a hot and glaring mole,
bordered by swamps and slimy-looking flats for some two miles. Then, on
reaching the city proper, a dusty road, bordered by somewhat
suburban-looking houses, brought us to the Devon Place Hotel, near the
Frere station. After breakfast we merely drove into the bazaars to shop
before betaking ourselves to the station, in good time for the 6.30 train.
Passengers--at least first-class passengers--were not numerous, and Major
Twining and I had no difficulty in securing two compartments--one for our
wives and one for ourselves.
An Indian first-class carriage is roomy, but bare, being arranged with a
view to heat rather than cold Two long seats run "fore and aft" on either
side, and upon them your servant makes your bed at night. Two upper berths
can be let down in case of a crowd. At the end of each compartment is a
It was unexpectedly chilly at night, and Twining and I were glad to roll
ourselves up in as many rugs and "resais" as we could persuade the ladies
to leave to us.
 A big deal case which we unpacked at Srinagar proved to contain a
"life-sized" work-table. The package holding our camp beds and bedding,
having a humbler aspect, had been sent to Bombay and cost as a world
of worry and expense to recover!
KARACHI TO ABBOTABAD
This morning we awoke to find ourselves rattling and shaking our way
through the Sind Desert--an interminable waste of sand, barren and
thirsty-looking, covered with a patchy scrub of yellowish and grey-purple
I can well imagine how hatefully hot it can be here, but to-day it has
been merely pleasantly warm.
Jane and I were deeply interested in the novel scenes we passed through,
which, while new and strange to us, were yet made familiar by what we had
read and heard. The quiet-eyed cattle, with their queer humps, were just
what we expected to see in the dusty landscape. The chattering crowds in
the wayside stations, their bright-coloured garments flaunting in the
white sunlight--the fruit-sellers, the water-carriers, were all as though
they had stepped out of the pages of _Kim_--that most excellent of Indian
And so all day we rattled and shook through the Sind Desert in the hot
sunlight till the dust lay thick upon us, and our eyes grew tired of
watching the flying landscape.
In the afternoon we reached Samasata junction, where the Twinings parted
company with us, being bound for Faridkot.
Sorry were we to lose such charming companions, especially as now indeed
we become as Babes in the Wood, knowing nothing of the land, its customs,
or its language!
Henceforward, Sabz Ali shall be our sheet-anchor, and I think he will not
fail us. His English is truly remarkable, so much so that I regret to say
I have more than once supposed him to be talking Hindustani when he was
discoursing in my own mother-tongue. But he certainly is extraordinarily
sharp in taking up what I and the "Mem-sahib" say.
He presented to me to-day a remarkable letter, of which the following is
an exact copy. I presume it is a sort of statement as to his general
"_To the_ MAGER SAHIB.
"Sir,--I beg to say that General 'Oon Sahib send me to you. He
order me that the arrangement of Mager Sahib do.
"To give pice to porter kuli this is my work. This is usefull to
"You give him many pice.
"Your work is order and to do it my work. You give me Rupee at
once. Then I will write it on my book, from which you will see it
is right or wrong. Now I am going to Cashmir with you and
Cashmiree are thief.
"If you will give me one man other it will usefull to you. I ask
one cloth. All Sahib give cloth to Servant on going to Cashmir.
"If will give cloth then all men say that this Sahib is good. I am
fear from General 'Oon Sahib. It is order to give cloth.
"I can do all work of cook and bearer. I wish that you will happy
on me, also your lady, and say to General 'Oon Sahib that this
man is good and honest man.
"I have servant to many Sahib.
"I have more certificate.
"You are rich man and king. I am poor man. I will take two annas
allowance per day in Cashmir, you will do who you wish.
"I wish that you and lady will happy on me. This is begging you
will.--I remain, Sir, your most obedient Servant,
"SABAZ ALI, _Bearer_."
_Wednesday, March_ 22.--We slept again in the train on Monday night, and
arrived in Lahore about 6 o'clock yesterday morning.
We had been advised to tub and dress in the waiting-rooms at the station,
as we had a break of some six hours before going on to Pindi; but, upon
investigation, Jane found her waiting-room already fully occupied by an
uninviting company of Chi-chis (Eurasians), and several men--their
husbands and brothers presumably--were sleeping the sleep of the just in
mine, so we left all our luggage stacked on the platform under the eye of
Sabz Ali, and hurried off to Nedou's Hotel. Ye gods! What a cold drive it
was, and how bitterly we regretted that we had not brought our wraps from
I was fearfully afraid that Jane would get a chill--an evil always to be
specially guarded against in a tropical climate, but a very hot tub and a
good breakfast averted all calamity, and we set forth in a funny little
trap to inspect Lahore.
This is the first large and thoroughly Indian city that we have
seen--Karachi being merely a thriving modern seaport and garrison
town--and we set to work to see what we could in the limited time at our
disposal. We whisked along a road--bumpy withal in parts, and somewhat
dusty, but broad. On either hand rose substantial stone mansions, half
hidden by trees and flowering shrubs. Many of these fine-looking buildings
were shops. I was impressed by their importance, for they were quite what
would be described by an auctioneer or agent as "most desirable family
mansions, approached by a carriage drive ... standing within their own
beautifully wooded and secluded grounds in an excellent residential
neighbourhood," &c. &c.
Anon we whirled round a corner, and plunged into the seething life of the
native city. The road was crammed with an apparently impenetrable crowd of
men and beasts, the latter--water-buffaloes, humpy cattle, and
donkeys--strolling about and getting in everybody's way with perfect
nonchalance, while men in strange raiment of gaudy hue pursued their
lawful occupations with much clamour. The variety of smells--all bad--was
We could only go at a walk, as the streets were very narrow and the
inhabitants thereof--particularly the cows--seemed very deaf and difficult
to arouse to a sense of the need for making room, though our good driver
yelled himself hoarse and employed language which I feel sure was highly
flavoured. Our progress was a succession of marvellous escapes for human
toes and bovine shoulders, but our "helmsman steered us through," and we
emerged from the kaleidoscopic labyrinth into the open space before the
Fort of Lahore, whose pinkish brick walls and ponderous bastions rose
The last thing I would desire would be to usurp in any way the functions
of grave Mr. Murray or well-informed Herr Baedeker, but there are certain
points to which I will draw attention, and which it seems to me very
necessary to keep in mind.
To the ordinary traveller in the Punjab and Northern India no buildings
are more attractive, no ruins more interesting, than those of the Mogul
dynasty, and the rule of the Mogul princes marks the high-water limit of
Indian magnificence. It was but for a short time, too, that the highest
level of grandeur was maintained.
For generations the Moguls had poured in intermittent hordes into Northern
India, but it was only in 1556 that Akbar, by defeating the Pathans at
Panipat, laid India at his feet. Following up his success he overthrew the
Rajputs, and extended his dominion from Afghanistan to Benares. Having
conquered the country as a great warrior, he proceeded to rule it as a
noble statesman, being "one of the few sovereigns entitled to the
appellation both of Great and Good, and the only one of Mohammedan race
whose mind appears to have arisen so far above all the illiberal
prejudices of that fanatical religion in which he was educated, as to be
capable of forming a plan worthy of a monarch who loved his people and was
solicitous to render them happy." This "plan" was to study the religion,
laws, and institutions of his Hindu subjects in order that he might govern
as far as possible in conformity with Hindu usage. The Emperor Akbar was
the first of the Mogul monarchs who was a great architect. The city of
Fattepur Sikri being raised by him as a stately dwelling-place until want
of water and the unhealthiness of the locality caused him to move into
Agra, leaving the whole city of Fattepur Sikri to the owls and jackals,
and later to the admiration of the Sahib logue.
A palace in Lahore, the fort at Allahabad, and much lovely work in the
city of Agra testify to the creative genius of that contemporary of our
own Good Queen Bess, the first "Great" Mogul. Jehangir, his son and
successor, has left few buildings of note, but his grandson, Shah Jehan,
was undoubtedly the most splendid builder of the Mogul Mohammedan period.
To him Delhi owes its stately palace and vast mosque--the Jama Masjid--and
Agra would be famous for its wonderful palace of dark red stone and
fretted marble, even without that masterpiece of Mohammedan inspiration,
the world-famed Taj Mahal. The brief period of supreme magnificence came
to an end with the last of the "Great" Moguls--Aurungzeb, died in
1707--having only blazed in fullest glory for some century and a half, but
leaving behind it some of the noblest works of man.
It seemed somehow very curious, as we drove up through the stately
entrance of the Hathi Paon, or Elephant Gate of the fort, to be saluted
with a "present arms" by British Tommies clad in unobtrusive khaki, and to
reflect that we are the inheritors of the fallen grandeur of the Mogul
Emperors; that we in our turn, on many a hard-fought field, asserted our
power to conquer; and that since then we have (I trust) so far followed
the sound principles of Akbar as to keep by justice and wise rule the
broad lands with their teeming millions in a state of peace and security
unknown before in India.
Opposite the entrance rise the walls of the Palace of Akbar, curiously
decorated with brilliant blue mosaics of animals and arabesques.
We visited the armoury--a remarkably fine collection of weapons--not the
least interesting being those taken from the Sikhs and French in the
earlier part of the last century. Opposite the armoury, and across a small
beautifully-paved court, were the private apartments of Shah Jehan. They
reminded me very much of the Alhambra, only, instead of the honeycomb
vaulted ceilings, and arches decorated in stucco by the Moors, the Eastern
architect inlaid his ceilings with an extraordinary incrustation of glass,
usually silvered on the back, but also frequently coloured, and giving a
strange effect of mother-o'-pearl inlay, bordering on tawdriness when
examined in detail.
It is possible that this coloured glass actually had its intended effect
of inlaid jewels, and that the gem-encrusted walls, so enthusiastically
described by Tavernier and others, as almost matching the peacock throne
itself, may have been but imitation.
Many of the pilasters were, however, very beautiful--of white marble
inlaid with flower patterns of coloured stones--while the arched window
openings were filled in with creamy tracery of fair white marble.
Leaving the fort after an all too short visit, we crossed to the great
mosque built by Aurungzeb. Ascending--from a garden bright with flowers
and blossoming trees--a flight of broad steps, we found ourselves at the
end of a rectangular enclosure, at each corner of which stood a red column
not altogether unlike a factory chimney. In the centre was a circular
basin, very wide, and full of clear water, while in front, three white
marble domes rose like great pearls gleaming against the cloudless blue.
The mosque itself is built of red--dark red--sandstone, decorated with
floral designs in white marble.
We climbed one of the minarets, and had a view of the city at our feet,
and the green and fertile plains stretching dim into the shimmering haze
beyond the Ravee River.
Then back to the hotel through the teeming alleys and down to the
station--the road, that we had found so bitterly cold in the early morning,
now a blaze of sunlight, where the dust stirred up by the shuffling feet
of the wayfarers quivered in the heat, and the shadows of men and beasts
lay short and black beneath them.
We were not sorry to seek coolness in the bare railway carriage, and let
the fresh wind fan us as we sat by the open window and watched the flat,
monotonous landscape sliding past.
The journey from Lahore to Rawal Pindi is not a very long one--only about
170 miles, or less than the distance from London to York; but an Indian
train being more leisurely in its movement than the Great Northern Express,
gave us ample time to contemplate the frequent little villages--all very
much alike--all provided with a noisy population, among which dogs and
children were extremely prevalent; the level plains, broken here and there
by clumps of unfamiliar trees, and inhabited by scattered herds of water
buffaloes, cattle, and under-sized sheep, all busily engaged in picking up
a precarious livelihood, chiefly roast straw, as far as one could see!
We had grown so accustomed to the monotony of the plains, that when we
suddenly became aware of a faint blue line of mountains paling to snow,
where they melted into the sky, the Himalayas came upon us almost with a
shock of surprise.
As we drew nearer, the rampart of mountains that guards India on the north,
took form and substance, until at Jhelum we fairly left the plain and
began to ascend the lower foothills.
Between Jhelum and Rawal Pindi the line runs through a country that can
best be described by that much abused word "weird." Originally a
succession of clayey plateaux, the erosion of water has worn and
honeycombed a tortuous maze of abrupt clefts and ravines, leaving in many
cases mere shafts and pinnacles, whose fantastic tops stand level with the
surrounding country. The sun set while we were still winding through a
labyrinth of peaks and pits, and the effect of the contrasting red gold
lights and purple shadows in this strange confused landscape was a thing
to be remembered.
We rolled and bumped into Pindi at 8 P.M., having travelled nearly 1000
miles during our two days and nights in the train.
Our friends the Smithsons were on the platform waiting to receive us and
welcome us as strangers and pilgrims in an unknown land. They have only
remained here to meet us, and they proceed to Kashmir to-morrow, sleeping
in a carriage in the quiet backwater of a siding, to save themselves the
worry of a desperately early start to-morrow morning.
The direct route into Kashmir by Murree is impassable, the snow being
still deep owing to a very late spring following a severe winter. This
will oblige us to go round by Abbotabad, so I wired to my friend General
Woon to warn him that we propose to invade his peaceful home.
_Sunday, March 26._--We stayed a couple of days at Pindi, in order to make
arrangements for transporting ourselves and our luggage into Kashmir. The
journey can be made _via_ Murree in about a couple of days by mail tonga,
but it is a joyless and horribly wearing mode of travel. The tonga, a
two-wheeled cart covered by an arched canvas hood and drawn by two
half-broken horses, holds a couple of passengers comfortably, who sit
behind and stare at the flying white ribbon of road for long, long hours,
while the driver urges his wild career. The horses are changed every ten
miles or so, and horrible and blood-curdling tales are extant of the
villainy and wrong-headedness of some of these tonga ponies, how they jib
for sheer pleasure, and leap over the low parapet that guards them from
the precipice merely to vex the helpless traveller. When we suggested that
to sit facing the past might be conducive to a sort of sea-sickness and
certainly to headache, and that a total absence of view was to be
deprecated, it was impressed upon us that if the horses darted over the
"khud," we could slip out suddenly and easily, leaving the driver and the
ponies to be dashed to pieces by themselves! This appeared sound, but,
upon inquiry I could not hear that any accident had ever happened to any
traveller going into Kashmir by tonga.
Besides the tonga, there are other modes of going into Kashmir. For
instance, the sluggish bullock-cart--safe, deliberate, and affording ample
leisure for admiring the scenery; the light native cart, or ekka,
consisting of a somewhat small body screened by a wide white hood, and
capable of holding far more luggage than would at first sight seem
possible, and drawn by a scraggy-looking but much enduring little horse
tied up by a wild and complicated system of harness (chiefly consisting of
bits of old rope) between a pair of odd V-shaped shafts.
Finally, there is the landau--a civilised and luxurious method of
conveyance which greatly appealed to us. We decided upon chartering a
landau for ourselves and servant, and two ekkas to carry the heavy baggage.
Mr. de Mars, the landlord of the hotel, was most obliging in helping us to
arrange for our journey, promising to provide us with carriage and ekkas
for a sum which did not seem to me to be at all exorbitant.
I soon found, however, that the worthy Sabz Ali did not at all approve of
the arrangement. It was extremely hard to find out by means of his scant
English what he proposed to do; but I decided that here was an excellent
opportunity of finding out what he was good for, so we determined to give
him his head, and let him make his own arrangements.
A smile broke over his swarthy face for a moment, and he disappeared,
coming back shortly afterwards just as the already ordered ekkas made
These he promptly dismissed--much to the vexation of Mr. de Mars; but I
explained to him that I intended to see if my man was really to be
depended upon as an organiser, and that I should allow him to work upon
his own lines.
We had arranged to sleep in a carriage drawn into a siding at the station,
to avoid a very early start next morning. So after dinner we strolled down
towards our bedroom to find our henchman on the platform, full of zeal and
energy. I found out (with difficulty) that he proposed to go on to Hassan
Abdal with the luggage that night by goods train; that we should find him
there next morning, and that all would be right. So he departed, and we
rolled ourselves up in our "resais," and wondered how it would all turn
On Friday morning we rattled out of Rawal Pindi about seven, and slowly
wound through a rather stony and uninteresting country, until we arrived
at the end of our railway journey about ten o'clock, and scrambled out at
the little roadside station.
Our excellent factotum, Sabz Ali, awaited us with a capacious landau, and
informed us that the heavy baggage had gone on in the ekkas. So we set
forth at once on our 42-mile drive to Abbotabad without "reposing for a
time in the rich valley of Hussun Abdaul, which had always been a
favourite resting-place of the Emperors in their annual migrations to
Cashmere" (_Lalla Rookh_).
The landau, though roomy and comfortable, was, like Una's lion, a "most
unhasty beast," and we rolled quite slowly and deliberately over a
distinctly uninteresting plain for about twenty miles, until we came to
Haripur, a pretty village enclosed in a perfect mass of fruit trees in
Here we changed horses, and lunched at the dak bungalow--a first and
favourable experience of that useful institution. The dak bungalow
generally consists of a simple wooden building containing a dining-room
and several bedrooms opening on to a verandah, which usually runs round
three sides of the house. The furniture is strong and simple, consisting
of tables, bedsteads, and some long chairs. A khansamah or cook provides
food and liquor at a fixed and reasonable rate.
Travellers are only permitted to remain for twenty-four hours if the rooms
are wanted, each person paying one rupee (1s. 4d.) for a night, or half
that amount for a mere day halt.
The khansamah would appear to be the only functionary in residence until
the hour of departure draws near, when a whole party of
underlings--chowkidars, bheesties, and sweepers--appear from nowhere in
particular; and the lordly traveller, having presented them with about
twopence apiece, rolls off along the dusty white road, leaving the
khansamah and his myrmidons salaaming on the verandah.
We made the mistake of over-tipping at first in India, not realising that
a couple of annas out here go as far as a shilling at home; but it is a
mistake which should be rectified as soon as possible, for you get no
credit for lavishness, but are merely regarded as a first-class idiot. No
sane man would ever expend two annas where one would do!
On leaving Haripur the road began to ascend a little, and at the village
of Sultanpur we entered a valley, through which a shrunken stream ran, and
which we crossed more than once.
Then a long ascent of about eleven miles brought us near our destination.
It had been threatening rain all the afternoon, and now the weather made
its threat good, and the rain fell in earnest. It grew dark, too; and,
finally, not having had any reply to my telegram to General Woon, we did
not know whether we were expected or not.
Sabz Ali, however, had no doubts on the matter. We were approaching his
own particular country, and whether "Gen'l 'Oon Sahib" was there to
entertain us or not, _he_ was; and so it was "alright."
Our poor horses were done to a turn, a heavy landau with five people in it,
as well as a fair amount of luggage, being no trifle to drag up so long
and steep a hill. So we had to walk up the last rise to the General's
house in the dark and rain, mildly cheered, however, by finding the two
ekkas just arrived with the baggage.
A most hearty greeting from my old friend and his charming wife awaited us,
and after a hasty toilet and an excellent dinner we felt at peace with all
Both yesterday (Saturday) and to-day it has been cold and disagreeable.
The past winter, I am told, has been a very severe one, and the melancholy
brown skeletons of all the eucalyptus trees in the place show the dismal
results of the frost.
This forenoon the day darkened, and a very severe thunderstorm broke. So
dark was it at lunch that candles had to be lighted in haste, and even now
(4 P.M.) I can barely see to write.
_Thursday, March_ 30.--Monday was showery, and Tuesday decidedly wet; but,
in spite of the hospitable blandishments of our kind hosts, we were most
anxious to get on, as, having arranged with the Smithsons to go into the
Astor district to shoot, it was most important to reach Srinagar before
the first of April--the day upon which the shooting passes were to be
issued to sportsmen in rotation of application. Knowing that only ten
passes were to be given for Astor, and that several men were ahead of me,
I felt that we were running it somewhat fine to leave only three days for
General Woon, who knew Kashmir well, did his very best to dissuade us from
attempting the passes into Astor, reading to us gloomy extracts from his
journal, and pointing out that it was no fit country for a lady in early
He did much to shake our enthusiasm, but still I felt we must do our best
to "keep tryst" with the Smithsons. So, on Tuesday, we sent on the heavy
luggage in two ekkas which Sabz Ali had procured, the two others being
only hired from Hassan Abdal to Abbotabad.
Sabz Ali had pointed out that, although he himself was a wonderful man,
and could do almost, if not quite, everything, a second servant would be
greatly to our (and his) advantage. So, acting on my permission, he
engaged one Ayata--a gentle person of a sheep-like disposition, who did
everything he was told, and nothing that he was told not to, during our
sojourn in Kashmir.
 Robertson's _India_, Appendix.
ABBOTABAD TO SRINAGAR
Dismal tidings came in of floods and storms on the Hassan Abdal road. The
river had swollen, and both men and beasts had been swept away while
trying to cross. Undeterred, however, by such news, even when backed by
warnings and persuasions from our friends, we set forth in the rain
yesterday morning. The prospect was not cheerful--a grey veil of cloud lay
over all the surrounding hills, here and there deepening into dark and
angry thunder-clouds. The road was desperately heavy, but the General had
most kindly sent on a pair of mules ahead, and, with another pair in the
shafts, our own nags took a holiday as far as Manserah.
The weather grew worse. It rained very heavily and thundered with great
vigour, and as we straggled up the deeply-muddied slope to the dak
bungalow at Manserah we felt somewhat low; but we did not in the least
realise what was before us!
Our road had lain through fairly level plains, with low cuttings here and
there, where the saturated soil was already beginning to give way and fall
upon the road in untidy heaps; but this did not foreshadow what might
At Manserah we met Hill and Hunt, two young gunners, _en route_ for Astor.
They left in a tonga soon after we arrived, and we did not expect to see
their speedier outfit again.
Being pressed for time, we only had a cup of cocoa, and then hastened on
our dismal career.
The road grew steeper, winding over some low hills, but we could not see
very much, as the whirling cloud masses blotted out all the view.
By-and-by it bent towards a pine-clad hill, and began to ascend steeply.
By this time we were very wet, as we had to walk up the hills to ease the
horses. The scene was extraordinary, as the great thunder-clouds boiled up
and over us--tawny yellow, and even orange in the lights, and dull and
solid lead colour in the depths. The distance was invisible, but gleams
now and again revealed, through the drifts of rain, wide stretches of
cultivated land lying below us, and a ragged forest of pines piercing the
Dripping, we walked by our wet horses up to the top of the pass, hoping
for a swift and easy descent on the farther side to Ghari Habibullah,
where we intended to sleep, as we had given up all idea of being able to
get on to Domel.
Presently the horses were pulled up sharply as a ton or two of rock and
earth came crashing upon the road in front of us.
More fallen masses encumbering the way farther on made us feel rather
anxious, until, on rounding a corner, we found the whole road barred by a
huge mass of rock and soil.
It was blowing hard, the stormy wind striking chill and bleak through the
bending pines; it was raining in torrents; it was 5 P.M., and we were
still some six miles from the haven where we would be; so, after a short
and utterly ineffectual attempt to get the carriage past the obstacle,
Jane and I set off to walk down the hill and seek help.
It was exciting, as we had to dodge the rock-falls and run past the
shaky-looking places! At a turn of the road we came upon the gunners'
tonga, embedded in a mud-slide. The occupants had had an escape from total
wreck, as one of the ponies had swerved over the khud, but the other saved
the situation by lying down in the mud! Hunt had gone off into the
landscape to try for a village and help, while Hill remained to wrestle
with the tonga, which, however, remained obstinately immovable. We could
do nothing to mend matters, so we fled on, meeting Hunt, with a few
natives and a shovel, on his way back to the scene of action.
After an hour and a half of very anxious work, we emerged at dusk from the
wood, hoping our troubles were over. We could dimly see, and hear, through
the mist a stream below us; but, alas! no bridge was visible. I
commandeered a man from the first hut we came to, and tried by signs to
make him understand that he was to carry the lady across the river; but,
luckily, just as we reached the bank of what was a very nasty-looking
stream in full spate, the liberated tonga overtook us, and Jane was
bundled into it, while we three men waded. The stream was strong and up to
our knees, and level with the tonga floor, and the horses getting
frightened began to jib. Hill seized one by the head, and Jane was safely
drawn to shore and sent on her way under guidance of the driver, while we
tramped on in the dark until a second torrent barred our way. Here, in the
gloom, we made out the tonga empty, and stuck fast against the far bank.
It was all right though, for Jane had crawled out at the front and
wandered on in search of the dak bungalow, leaving the driver squatting
helplessly beside the water.
It was so dark that she missed the bungalow, which stands a little above
the road, and struggled on till she came to a small cluster of native huts.
One of the inhabitants, on being boldly accosted, was good enough to point
out the way, and so the re-united party--tired, wet, and with no prospect
of dry clothing--took possession of the cheerless-looking dak bungalow.
Things now began to improve. To our joy we found our ekkas with their
contents drawn up in the yard. And while a fire was being encouraged into
a blaze, and the lean fowl was being captured and slain on the back
premises, we obtained dry garments--of sorts--from the baggage.
Madame's dinner costume consisted of a blue flannel garment--nocturnal by
design--delicately covered by a quilted dressing-gown, and the rest of us
were _en suite_, a great lack of detail as to collars and foot-wear being
apparent! Nevertheless, the fire blazed royally, and we ate up all the old
hen and called for more, and prepared to make a night of it until, about
ten o'clock, our bearer Sabz Ali appeared, with a train of coolies carrying
our bedding and the other contents of the derelict carriage.
This morning the two young gunners departed on foot, leaving their tonga,
as the road to Domel is reported to be quite impassable. They intend to
walk by a short cut over the hills, and get on as best they may, the race
for Astor being a keen one.
We decided to remain here, the weather being still gloomy and unsettled,
and the road being impossible for a lady.
At noon the landau was brought in, minus a step and very dirty, but
otherwise "unwounded from the dreadful close."
Ghari Habibullah is not at all a cheerful spot, as it appears, the centre
of a grey haze, with dense mist low down on the surrounding mountains.
Sabz Ali, too, complains of fever, which is not surprising after the
wetting and exposure of yesterday; and when a native gets "fever" he curls
up and is fit for nothing, and won't try.
The dak bungalow stands on a little plateau overlooking the road and a
swift river, whose tawny waves were loaded with mud washed from the hills
by recent storms. On a slope opposite, the queer, flat-roofed native
village perched, and above it swirled a misty pall which hid all but the
bases of the hills. To this village we strolled, but it was not
interesting; the inhabitants did not seem wildly friendly, and the mud and
dirt and dogs were discouraging. So we roamed along the Domel road till we
came to a high cliff of conglomerate, which had recently been shedding
boulders over the track to an alarming extent; so, deciding that it would
be merely silly to risk getting our heads cracked, we turned back, and,
re-crossing the river, clambered up a steep path above the right bank. Here
we soon found great rents and rifts where falling rocks had come bounding
down the steeps from above, so once more we turned tail, and, giving up
the idea of any more country walks in that region, betook ourselves to the
gloomy and chilly bungalow. The only really delightful things we saw
during our doleful excursion were a lovely clump of big, rose-coloured
primula, drooping from the clefts of a steep rock, and a pair of large and
handsome kingfishers, pursuing their graceful avocations by a roadside
pool--their white breasts, ruddy flanks, and gleaming blue backs giving a
welcome note of colour to the sedate and misty grey of the landscape.
_Tuesday, April_ 4.--Thirty-six hours of Ghari Habibullah give ample time
for the loneliest recluse to pant for the bustle of a livelier world. We
were so bored on Thursday that we determined to push on, _coute que coute_,
on Friday morning, although a note sent back by one of the gunners from
Domel, by a coolie, informed us that the road about a mile short of that
place was completely blocked by a fallen mass of some hundreds of tons.
Our henchman having somewhat recovered of his fever, thanks to a generous
exhibition of quinine, we gave the order to pack and start, hoping to
achieve the twelve miles which separated us from Domel, even though the
last bit had to be done on foot. About two miles from Ghari Habibullah we
came to the Kashmir custom-house, presided over by a polite gentleman,
whose brilliant purple beard was a joy to look upon.
Most of the elderly natives dye their beards with, I think, henna,
producing a fine orange effect, but purple...!
_Bottom_. What beard were I best to play it in?
_Quince_. Why, what you will.
_Bottom_. I will discharge it in either your straw-coloured beard, your
orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your
French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow
_Midsummer Night's Dream_,
Act I. Sc. 2.
"What _coloured beard_ comes next by the window?"
"A black man's, I think."
"I think a _red_: for that is most in fashion."
Truly, until I beheld that tax-gatherer of the Orient, I had no idea that
the "purple-in-grain" beard existed outside a poet's fancy!
The road took us along the left bank of the river, whose soil-stained
waters churned their way through a wild and rocky gorge. On our left the
mountain rose bare and steep, fringed with a few straggling bushes, and
here and there a clinging patch of rose-coloured primula. Part of the
conglomerate cliff had come down and obliterated the road, but a party of
coolies was busily at work, and, after about an hour's delay, we
triumphantly bumped our way past.
The road now led steadily upward, leaving an ever-increasing slope (or
khud) between it and the river, until it attained a height of over a
thousand feet, when, turning to the left, it swung over the watershed, and
began to descend into the valley of the Kishenganga. Through the haze we
could make out Domel, our goal, lying far below, and then the old Sikh
fort of Musafferabad.
The road was so encumbered with rock-falls that we walked the greater part
of it, until we came to the new bridge over the Kishenganga, whose dark
red waters rush into the Jhelum about a mile below.
Here was Musafferabad, the whole place a confused jumble of wheeled
traffic caught up by the big landslip in front. Passing, amid the chatter
and clamour of men and beasts, through the medley of bullock-carts and
ekkas that crowded every available space, we hauled the carriage through
the bed of a watercourse whose bridge was broken. Up over the prostrate
trunk of a fallen tree we regained the road, to find ourselves in front of
the big landslip of which we had been warned. It consisted of some
thousands of tons of dark red mud and loose boulders, and it blocked the
road for fully a couple of hundred yards.
A large and energetic swarm of coolies was busily engaged in "tidying up."
This was apparently to be achieved by means of shovels, each little shovel
worked by two men--one to shovel, and the other to assist in raising it
when full by means of a little rope round the head. This labour had to be
lubricated by much conversation.
It seemed upon the whole unlikely that a path could be made for a
considerable time, so we lunched peacefully in the carriage, a pair of
extremely friendly crows assisting at the feast, and then, leaving our
landau to follow as best it might, we walked into Domel, crossing the
Jhelum by a fine bridge.
The dak bungalow, prettily placed in a clump of trees, seemed the abode of
luxury to us after the discomfort of Ghari Habibullah, and we fondly hoped
that, being now upon the main road which runs from Rawal Pindi to Srinagar,
our troubles were over.
Saturday was the 1st of April, the day upon which I should have applied
for my pass for Astor. Wiring to Srinagar to explain that I was in Kashmir
territory (which I subsequently found was enough to entitle me to a pass),
and also to Smithson to say that we were making the best of our way to
join him, we "took the road" after breakfast.
The carriage and the two ekkas had come in early, having been unloaded and
then carried bodily over the "slide."
A broad and smooth road, whose gentle gradient of ascent was merely
sufficient to keep us level with the river bank, opened up an alluring
prospect of ease and comfort. We lay back on our comfortable cushions and
watched the clouds as they swept over the mountains, hiding all but
occasional glimpses of snow-streaked slopes and steep and barren ridges.
The valley of the Jhelum between Domel and Ghari is not beautiful--merely
wide and desolate, with steep hills rising from the river, their lower
slopes sparsely clad with leafless scrub, their shoulders merging into the
dull mist which hangs around their invisible summits.
Alas! it soon became apparent that our troubles were not over. The cliffs
above us became steeper, and the familiar boulder reappeared upon the road.
Small landslips gave us a good deal of trouble, although we had no serious
difficulty before reaching Ghari. Here we were told that a complete
"solution of continuity" in the road at Mile 46 would prevent our reaching
Chakhoti, so we reluctantly decided to remain where we were for the night.
Although a cold and dull spring afternoon is not exciting at Ghari, where
distractions are decidedly scanty, we found interest in the discovery of
the Smithsons' heavy luggage, which had been sent on from Rawal Pindi ages
ago. Here it lay in the peaceful backwater of a native caravansary, piled
high on a bullock-cart, whose placid team lay near pensively chewing the
"cud of sweet and bitter fancy," and apparently quite innocent of any
intention of moving for a week or two!
We extracted the charioteers from a neighbouring hut, and gave them to
understand, by means of Sabz Ali, that hanging was the least annoyance
they would suffer if they didn't get under way "ek dam" at once. They
promptly promised that their oxen--like Pegasus--should fly on the wings
of the wind, and, having seen us safely round a corner, departed
peacefully to eat another lotus.
The luggage arrived in Srinagar towards the end of the month.
Sunday morning saw us again battling with a perfect coruscation of
landslips; so "jumpy" was it in many places that we sat with the carriage
doors ajar, in hopes that a timely dart out might enable us to evade a
falling rock. At Mile 46 we were held up for an hour until a ramp was made
over a bad slide, and the carriage and ekkas were unloaded and got across.
The landau looked for all the world like a great dead beetle surrounded by
ants, as, man-handled by a swarm of coolies, it was hauled, step by step,
over the improvised track. A landau is not at all a suitable or convenient
carriage for this sort of work, and had we guessed what was before us we
should most certainly have employed the handier tonga.
The road to-day, cut as it was out of the steep flank of the mountain, was
magnificent, but, in its present condition, nerve-shattering. Fallen
boulders and innumerable mud-slides constantly forced us to get out and
walk, while the sturdy little horses tugged the carriage through places
where the near wheels were frequently within a few inches of the broken
edge of the road, while far below Jhelum roared hungrily as he foamed by
the foot of a sheer precipice.
Reaching Chakhoti about four o'clock, we decided to remain there for the
night, as it was growing late and the weather looked gloomy and
threatening. Although we had only achieved a short stage of twenty-one
miles, there was no suitable place for a night's halt until Uri, distant
some thirteen miles and all uphill.
About half a mile above Chakhoti there is a rope bridge over the Jhelum,
and after tea we set forth to inspect it.
The river is here about 150 yards wide and extremely swift, and I confess
the means of crossing it, although practised with perfect confidence by
the natives, did not appeal to me.
From two great uprights, formed from solid tree-trunks, three strong ropes
were stretched--the upper two parallel, and the third, about four feet
lower, was equidistant from each.
These three ropes were kept in their relative positions by wooden
stretchers--something like great merrythoughts, lashed at intervals of a
"And up and down the people go,"
stepping delicately upon the lower rope, and holding on to the upper ones
with their hands. The uncomfortable part seemed to the unpractised
European to be where the graceful sweep of the long ropes brought the
traveller to within a painfully close distance of the hurrying, hungry
water, before he began to slither circumspectly up the farther slope!
We stood for some little time watching the natives going to and fro,
passing one another with perfect ease by means of a dexterous squirm, and
carrying loads on their backs, or live fowls under their arms, with the
We left Chakhoti early this morning--Tuesday--with the intention of
getting right through to Baramula. The road was of course extremely bad,
and the long ascent to Uri very hard upon our willing little nags. Of
course they have had a remarkably easy time of it lately, as we have been
limited to very short stages, and they are in excellent hard condition, so
that we felt it no great hardship to ask them to do forty-two miles:
albeit to drag a heavy landau containing five people and a good deal of
luggage for that distance, with a rise of over 2000 feet, is a heavy
demand upon a single pair of horses!
The scenery was very fine as we toiled up the gorge, in which Uri stands
on a plateau over the river and guards the pass into Kashmir valley.
The ruins of an ancient fort rose on the near edge of the little plain.
The Jhelum tore through a rocky gorge far below, and a dark semi-circle of
mountains stood steeply up, their cloud-hidden summits giving fleeting
glimpses of snow and precipice and pine-clad corries as the sun now and
again shot through the clinging vapours.
The dak bungalow of Uri, white and clean, was most attractive, and I
should imagine the place to be charming in summer, but as yet the short
crisp turf is still brown from recent snow, and although hot in the sun,
which now began to shine steadily, it was extremely cold in the shade,
while lunch (or should I say "tiffin"?) was being got ready. I strolled
over to the post-office to find--as usual--another urgent wire from
Smithson several days old, beseeching me to secure my pass for Astor at
once. Directly after lunch we set forward, and as the road on leaving Uri
takes a long bend of some miles to the right to a point where the Haji Pir
River is crossed, and then sweeps back along its right hank to a spot
almost opposite the dak bungalow, we thought that a short cut down to the
water, which from our height seemed quite insignificant, and thence up to
the road on the other side, would be a desirable stroll. As we walked down
the steep path into the nullah a brace of red-legged partridges (chikor)
rose in a great fuss, and sailed gaily across the river, whose roaring
gained ominously in volume as we drew near. It soon became plain to us
that everything is on a very big scale in this country, and that the
clearness of the atmosphere helps to delude the unwary stranger. The
little stream that seemed to require but an occasional stepping-stone to
enable us to pass over dry-shod, proved in the first place to be much
farther off than we had supposed, and when, after a hot scramble, we found
ourselves on the bank, the stepping-stones were no more, but only here and
there we saw the shoulders of huge rocks which doggedly threw aside the
flying foam of a fair-sized river. It was obviously impossible to cross
except by deep wading, but, being unwilling to own defeat, I yelled to a
brown native on the far bank, and made signs that he should come and do
beast of burthen. He, however, stolidly shook his head, pointed to the
water, and then to his chest, and finally we sadly and wrathfully toiled
back to the road we had so lightly left, and expended all our energies on
attracting the notice of the carriage, which, having crossed the bridge,
was crawling along the opposite face of the nullah, and when, after a hot
three miles, we once more embedded ourselves amongst the cushions with a
sigh of relief, we swore off short cuts for the future.
We had been warned at Uri that there was a "bad place" at Mile 73, and
sure enough, on rounding a bend, we came upon the familiar mass of
semi-liquid red earth and a pile of boulders heaped across the road, the
khud side of which had entirely given way. The usual crowd of coolies was
busily engaged in trying to clear the obstruction by means of toothpicks
We quitted the carriage with a celerity engendered of much practice, and,
having crossed the obstacle on foot, sat down to await the coming of our
It seemed perfectly marvellous that the heavy vehicle could be safely got
over a jagged avalanche of earth and rock piled some eight or ten feet
above the roadway, and having an almost sheer drop to the river entirely
unguarded for some hundred yards, where the retaining parapet and even
some of the road itself had gone.
Amid much apparent confusion and tremendous chattering, a sort of rough
ramp was engineered up the slip, and presently the horseless landau
appeared borne in triumph by a mob of coolies superintended by our
priceless Sabz Ali.
For a minute we held our breath as one of the near wheels lipped the edge
of the chasm, but the thing was judged to an inch, and in due time the
sturdy chestnuts, the two ekkas, and all the luggage were assembled on the
right side of what proved to be the last of the really bad slips.
The road engineer, who arrived in great state on a motor cycle while we
were executing the portage, told us that there were no more difficulties,
but an officer who was going out, and whose tonga was checked also at the
big slip, informed us that about a mile farther were two great boulders on
the road, lying so that although a short vehicle such as a tonga or motor
cycle could wriggle round, yet a long four-wheeled landau could not
possibly execute the serpentine curve required.
We therefore requisitioned a few coolies with crowbars, and set forward to
attack the boulders. Sure enough there were two beauties, placed so that
we could not possibly get by, until a large slice was chipped from the
inner side of each.
This done, our most excellent and skilful driver piloted his ponies
through the narrow strait, and we felt that, at last, our troubles were
over, and that we could breathe freely and admire at leisure the snowy
peaks of the Kaj-nag beyond the Jhelum, and the rough wooded heights that
frowned upon our right.
I confess the relief was great, as we had endured six days of incessant
strain on our nerves, never knowing when a turn of the road might bring us
to an impassable break, or when the conglomerate cliffs beetling above
might shed a boulder or two upon us!
Passing the somewhat uninviting little village of Rampur, we crossed a
torrent pouring out of a dark pine-clad gorge, and halted for tea by the
curious ruined temple of Bhanyar. The building consists of a rectangular
wall, cloistered on two sides of the interior and surrounding a small
temple approached by a dilapidated flight of stone steps. I regret to be
obliged to own that I know but a mere smattering of architecture. I do not
feel competent therefore to discuss this, the first Kashmiri temple I have
seen, upon its architectural merits. I only know that it struck me as
being extremely small, and principally interesting from its magnificent
background of shaggy forest and snow-capped mountain.
Tea on a short smooth sward, starred with yellow colchicum, while the
carriage, travel-stained and with one step lacking, stood on the road hard
by, and the horses nibbled invigorating lumps of "gram" and molasses. Then
the etna was returned to the "allo bagh" (yellow bag) and the tea things
to the tiffin basket, and away we went along the now smooth and level road
with only fifteen easy miles between us and Baramula.
The vegetation had gradually grown much richer. The sparse and
storm-buffeted pines and the rough scrub merged into a tangled mass of
undergrowth and forest, where silver firs and deodars rose conspicuous.
The little streams that rushed down the hillsides were fringed with
maidenhair fern, lighted up here and there with a bunch of pink primula or
a tiny cluster of dog violets.
Jhelum had ceased from roaring, pursuing his placid path unwitting of the
rush and fury that would befall him lower down, and by-and-by we emerged
from the dark and forest-covered gorge into a wide basin where the river,
now smooth and oily, reflected tall poplars and the red shoots of young
Through a village, round a sweep to the left, over a tract said to be much
frequented by serpents, and then in the deepening and chilly dusk we made
out Baramula, lying engirdled by a belt of poplars about a mile away.
Glad were we, and probably gladder still our weary horses, to draw up
before the uninviting-looking dak bungalow, knowing that only thirty-five
miles of level and open road lay now between us and Srinagar.
The dak bungalow of Baramula is, upon the whole, the worst we have yet
sampled. No fire seemed able to impart any cheerfulness to the gloomy den
we were shown into, and the dinner finally produced by the
khansamah-kitmaghar-chowkidar (for a single tawny-bearded ruffian
represented all these functionaries when the morning tip fell due) was not
of an exhilarating nature. Strolling out to have a look at the town of
Baramula, I shivered to see a heap of snow piled up against the wall. It
snowed here, heavily, three days ago, I am told.
We have not been, so far, altogether lucky in the weather. Bitter cold in
Europe, cold at Port Said and Suez, chilly in the Red Sea, and wet at Aden!
Distinctly chilly in India, excepting during the day; we seem to have hit
off the most backward spring known here for many years. The Murree route,
which was closed to us by snow, should have been clear a month earlier,
and spring here seems not yet to have begun.
_April_ 5.--We crept shivering to our beds last night, to be awakened at 6
A.M. by an earthquake!
I had just realised what the untoward commotion meant when I heard Jane
from under her "resai" ask, "What _is_ the matter--is it an earthquake?"
Almost before I could reply, she was up and away, in a fearful hurry and
very little else, towards the open country.
I followed, but finding hoar-frost on the ground and a nipping eagerness
in the air, I went back for a "resai." The feeling was that of going into
one's cabin in a breeze of wind, and the door was flapping about. Seizing
the wrap in some haste, as I was afraid of the door jamming, I rejoined
Jane in the open, to watch the poplars swaying like drunken men and the
solid earth bulging unpleasantly. The shock lasted for three minutes, and
when it seemed quite over we retired to our beds to try to get warm again.
The morning at breakfast-time was perfectly beautiful. Baramula lay
serenely mirrored in the silver waters of the Jhelum, its picturesque
brown wooden houses clustering on both banks, and joining hands by means
of a long brown wooden bridge. No signs of any unusual disturbance could
be seen among the chattering crews of the snaky little boats and
deep-laden "doungas" that lined the banks or furrowed the waters of the
We left Baramula in high spirits to accomplish the five-and-thirty miles
which still stretched between us and Srinagar. The scenery was quite
different from anything we had yet known, for now we were in the broad
flat valley of Kashmir, which stretches for some eighty miles from beyond
Islamabad, on the N.E., to Baramula, planted at the neck where the Jhelum
River, after spreading itself abroad through the fertile plain,
concentrates to pour its many waters through the mountain barrier until it
joins the Indus far away in Sind.
A broad and level road stretched straight and white between a double row
of stark poplars, reminding one of the poplar-guarded ways of Picardy;
also (as in France) not only were the miles marked, but also the
thirty-two subdivisions thereof. On the right hand the ground sloped
slowly up in a succession of wooded heights, the foothills of the Pir
Panjal, whose snow-crowned peaks enclose the Kashmir valley on the south.
Opposite, through a maze of leafless trees, one caught occasional gleams
of water where the winding reaches of the river flowed gently from the
turquoise haze where lay the Wular Lake, and beyond--clear and pale in
the clear, crisp air--shone a glorious range of snow mountains, stretching
away past where we knew Srinagar must lie, to be lost in the distant haze
where sky and mountain merged in the north-east.
By the roadside we passed many small lakes, or "jheels," full of duck, but
as there was never any cover by the sides I could not see how the duck
were to be approached.
We lunched at the fascinating little bungalow at Patan (pronounced
"Puttun"), about half-way between Baramula and Srinagar. The Rest House
stands back from an apparently extremely populous and thriving village,
the inhabitants whereof were all engaged in conversation of a highly
animated kind! In the compound stood a fine group of chenar trees
(_Platanus orientalis_) whose noble trunks and graceful branches showed in
striking contrast to the slender stems of the poplars. The guide-book
informed us that an ancient temple lay in ruins near by, but we trusted to
a later visit and determined to push on. By-and-by a fort-crowned hill
rose above the tree-tops. This we took to be Hari Parbat, the ancient
citadel of Srinagar, and presently, through the poplars and the willows
queer wooden huts or chalets began to appear, and the increasing number of
men and beasts upon the road showed the proximity of the city.
Ekkas, white-hooded, with jingling bells hung round the scraggy necks of
their lean ponies; brown men clad in sort of night-shirts composed of
mud-coloured rags; brown dogs, humpy cattle, and children innumerable,
swarmed upon the causeway in ever-increasing density until we drew up at
the custom-house, and the usual jabber took place among Sabz Ali, the
driver, and the officials.
All appeared satisfactory, however, and we were presented with bits of
brown paper scrawled over with hieroglyphics which we took to be passes,
and drove on, leaving the native town apparently on our left and making a
detour through level fields and between rows of poplars, until we swung
round and crossed the river by a fine bridge. Here we first got some idea
of the city of Srinagar, which lay spread around us, bisected by the broad,
but apparently far from sluggish river, which seems here to be about the
width of the Thames at Westminster at high water.
Tier upon tier, the rickety wooden houses crowded either bank, the
prevailing brown being oddly lighted up by the roofs, which were
frequently covered with deep green turf. Here and there the steep and
peculiar dome of a Hindu temple flashed like polished silver in the keen
sunlight, while around and beyond all rose the ring of the everlasting
hills, their peaks clear, yet soft, against a background of cloudless blue.
Close below us stood a remarkably picturesque pile of buildings, of a
mixed style of architecture, yet harmonising well enough as a whole with
its surroundings. Over it flew a great "banner with a strange device," and
we assumed (and rightly) that we looked upon the palace of His Highness
Sir Pratab Singh, Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir.
Crossing the river, we dived into a bit of the native town, and were much
struck by the want of colour as compared with an Indian street. Everything
seemed steeped in the same neutral brown--houses, boats, people, and dogs!
Emerging from the native street, with its open shop-fronts and teeming
life, we drove for some little way along a straight level road, flanked,
as usual, on either side by poplars of great size which ran through a
brown, flat field, showing traces of recent snow, and finally finished our
two-hundred-mile drive in front of the one and only hotel in all Kashmir.
Our two little chestnuts, which had brought us right through from Chakhoti
to Srinagar--a distance of about seventy-eight miles--in two days, were as
lively and fit as possible, and playfully nibbled at each other's noses as
they were walked off to their well-earned rest.
The ekka horses, too, had brought our heavy luggage all the way from
Abbotabad over a shocking road in the most admirable manner, and we had
every reason to congratulate ourselves on having entrusted the arrangement
of the whole business--the "bandobast" in native parlance--to our henchman
Sabz Ali, who had thus proved himself an energetic and trustworthy
organiser, and saving financier to the extent of some twenty rupees.
I may emphasise here the importance of keeping one's heavy baggage in
sight, herding on the ekkas in front, if possible, and keeping a wary eye
and a firm hand on the drivers at all halts. The Smithsons, who had sent
on their gear from Rawal Pindi some days before we got there, did not
receive it in Srinagar until the 22nd of April. It took about five weeks
to do the journey, and the rifle which I was obliged to leave in Karachi
on the 19th of March finally turned up in Srinagar, after an infuriating
and vain expenditure of telegrams, on the 1st of May!
Of course, part of the delay was due, and all was attributed, to the
unusually bad state of the roads. The heavy storms and floods which, by
wrecking the road, had delayed us so much, naturally checked the heavy
transport still more; and severe congestion of bullock-carts resulted at
all the halting-places along the route. Still, the main cause of delay
lies in the fact that the monopoly of transport has been granted by the
Maharajah to one Danjibhoy, who charges what he pleases, and takes such
time over his arrangements as suits his Oriental mind.
The motto over the Transport Office door might well be "_Ohne Hast--mit
The other (much-cherished) monopoly in this favoured land is that enjoyed
by Mr. Nedou, the owner of THE HOTEL in Kashmir.
We were advised when at Lahore to approach Mr. Nedou (who winters in his
branch there) with many salaams and much "kow-towing," in order to make a
certainty of being received into his select circle in Kashmir. The great
man was quite kind, and promised that he would do his best for us; and he
was as good as his word, as we were immediately welcomed and permitted to
add two to the four persons already inhabiting the hostelry. I confess
that, even after a dak bungalow of the most inferior quality--such as that
at Ghari Habibullah or Baramula--Mr. Nedou's hotel fails to impress one
with an undue sense of luxury. In fact, it presented an even desolate and
forlorn appearance with its gloomy and chilly passages and cheerless
 _N. Smyrnensis_ (?).
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF SRINAGAR
We learnt that the earthquake of this morning was far more than the
ordinary affair that we had taken it to be. The hotel showed signs of a
struggle for existence. Large cracks in the plaster, spanned by strips of
paper gummed across to show if they widened, and little heaps of crumbled
mortar on the floors, betrayed that the grip of mother earth had been no
Telegrams from Lahore inquired if the rumour was true that Srinagar had
been much damaged, and reported an awful destruction and loss of life at
Dharmsala. I think if we had fully known what an earthquake really meant,
we should not have so calmly gone back to bed again!
The advent of Mrs. Smithson upon the scene relieved a certain anxiety which
we had felt as to immediate plans. The idea of rushing into Astor had been
given up, we found--not so much on account of our tardy arrival, permits
being still obtainable, but on account of the impossibility--at any rate
for ladies--of forcing the high passes which the late season has kept
Walter, having pawed the ground in feverish impatience for some days, had
gone off into a region said to be full of bara singh; so we decided to
possess our souls in patience for a little time, and remain quietly in
Srinagar. Accordingly, instead of unpacking our "detonating musquetoons,"
we exhumed our evening clothes, and began life in Srinagar with a cheerful
dinner at the Residency.
_Friday, April 7th_.--We are evidently somewhat premature here as far as
climate goes. The weather since our arrival has become cold and grey, and
we have seemed on the verge of another snowfall. However, the clerk of the
weather has refrained from such an insult, contenting himself with sending
a breeze down upon us fresh from the "Roof of the World," and laden with
the chilly moisture of the snows. We have consumed great quantities of
wood, vainly endeavouring to warm up the den which Mr. Nedou has let to us
as a sitting-room. Fires are not the fashion in the public rooms--probably
because the only "public" besides ourselves consist of one or two
enterprising sportsmen, who doubtless are acclimatising themselves to camp
life amid the snows, and have implored the proprietor to save his fuel and
keep the outer doors open.