This Etext Created by Jeroen Hellingman
Diary of a Pedestrian in Cashmere and Thibet.
To those for whose perusal the following pages were originally written they are affectionately dedicated.
With the fullest sense of the responsibility incurred by the addition of another volume to the countless numbers already existing, and daily appearing in the world, the following Diary has been committed to the press, trusting that, as it was not written WITH INTENT to publication, the unpremeditated nature of the offence may be its extenuation, and that as a faithful picture of travel in regions where excursion trains are still unknown, and Travellers’ Guides unpublished, the book may not be found altogether devoid of interest or amusement. Its object is simply to bring before the reader’s imagination those scenes and incidents of travel which have already been a source of enjoyment to the writer, and to impart, perhaps, by their description, some portion of the gratification which has been derived from their reality. With this view, the original Diary has undergone as little alteration of form or matter as possible, and is laid before the reader as it was sketched and written during the leisure moments of a wandering life, hoping that faithfulness of detail may atone in it for faults and failings in a literary and artistic point of view.
Although the journey it describes was written without the advantages of a previous acquaintance with the writings of those who had already gone over the same ground, subsequent research has added much to the interest of the narrative, and information thus obtained has been added either in the form of Notes or Appendix. Under the latter head, acknowledgment is principally due to an able and interesting essay on the architecture of Cashmere, by Capt. Cunningham, and also to a paper by M. Klaproth, both of whom appear to have treated more fully than any other writers the subjects to which they refer.
As differences will be found to occur in the names of places, &c. between the parts thus added and the remainder of the book, it may be well to explain that in the former only are they spelt according to the usually received method of rendering words of Eastern origin in the Roman character. By this system the letters A, E, I, O, and U, are given the sounds of the corresponding Italian vowels; I and U are pronounced as in “hit” and “put;” and the letter A is made to represent the short U in the word “cut.” In this way it is that Cashmere, correctly pronounced Cushmere, comes to be written Kashmir, and Mutun, pronounced as the English word “mutton,” is written Matan, both of which, to the initiated, represent the true sound of the words. Those who have adopted the system, however, have not always employed it throughout, nor given with it the key by which it alone becomes intelligible; and the result has been that in many ways, but principally from the un-English use made of the letter A, it has tended quite as much to mislead and confuse, as to direct.
In the narrative, therefore, wherever custom has not already established a particular form of spelling, the explanation of the sound has been attempted in the manner which seemed least liable to misconception, and, except as regards the letters A and U no particular system has been followed. These have been invariably given the sounds they possess in the words “path” and “cut” respectively, a circumflex being placed over the latter to denote the short U in the word “put.”
Such names, therefore, as Cushmere, Tibbut, Muhummud, Hijra, &c. have been left as custom has ruled them, and will appear in their more well-known costume of Cashmere, Thibet, Mahomet, and Hegira.
The concluding sketch was originally intended to accompany a series of brightly-coloured Cashmerian designs illustrative of the life of “Krishna;” and the reproduction of these, in their integrity, not having been found feasible, the sketch itself may appear DE TROP.
It has, however, been retained on the possibility of the translations which occur in it being of interest to those who may not be acquainted with the style of Eastern religious literature; while the outline it presents of some of the religions of the East, bare and simple as it is, may be acceptable to such as are not inclined to search out and study for themselves the necessarily voluminous and complicated details.
View in Sirinugger
Road to Egnemo
Rajah’s Palace, Ladak
Monastery of Hemis
Seventh Bridge, Sirinugger
Hindoo Temple in the Himalayas
Birth of Krishna
Temple Decoration, Himalayas
Ancient Jain Temple
Chubootra, or Resting-place in the Himalayas The Head of Affairs
An Unpropitious Moment
Crossing the Sutlej
A Halting-place in Cashmere
Latticed Window, Sirinugger
Sacred Tank, Islamabad
Painting VERSUS Poetry
Cashmerian Temple Sculpture
Roadside Monument, Thibet
Road to Moulwee
Natives and Lama
Thibetian Religious Literature
Monument at Hemis
Ancient Hindoo Temple
Fukeer of Solomon’s Throne
Page 116, line 5, FOR A.D. 1612, READ A.D. 1619.
“Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere, With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave, Its temples, and grottoes, and fountains as clear As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave?”
More than a year and a half had been spent in the hottest parts of the plains of India, and another dreaded hot season was rapidly making its approach, when, together with a brother officer, I applied for and obtained six months’ leave of absence for the purpose of travelling in Cashmere and the Himalayas, otherwise called by Anglo-Indians “The Hills.”
We had been long enough in the country to have discovered that the gorgeous East of our imagination, as shadowed forth in the delectable pages of the “Arabian Nights,” had little or no connexion with the East of our experience — the dry and dusty East called India, as it appeared, wasted and dilapidated, in its first convalescence from the fever into which it had been thrown by the Mutiny of 1857 — 58. We were not long, therefore, in making our arrangements for escaping from Allahabad, with the prospect before us of exchanging the discomforts of another hot season in the plains, for the pleasures of a sojourn in the far-famed valley of Cashmere, and a tramp through the mountains of the Himalayas — the mountains, whose very name breathes of comfort and consolation to the parched up dweller in the plains. The mountains of “the abode of snow!”
Our expeditionary force consisted at starting of but one besides the brother officer above alluded to — the F. of the following pages — and myself. This was my Hindoo bearer, Mr. Rajoo, whose duty it was to make all the necessary arrangements for our transport and general welfare, and upon whose shoulders devolved the entire management of our affairs. He acted to the expedition in the capacity of quartermaster-general, adjutant-general, commissary-general, and paymaster to the forces; and, as he will figure largely in the following pages, under the title of the “Q.M.G.,” and comes, moreover, under the head of “a naturally dark subject,” a few words devoted to his especial description and illumination may not be out of place.
With the highest admiration for England, and a respect for the Englishman, which extended to the very lining of their pockets, Mr. Rajoo possessed, together with many of the faults of his race, a certain humour, and an amount of energy most unusual among the family of the mild Hindoo. He had, moreover, travelled much with various masters, in what are, in his own country, deemed “far lands;” and having been wounded before Delhi, he had become among the rest of his people an authority, and to the Englishman in India an invaluable medium for their coercion and general management.
To us he proved a most efficient incumbent of the several offices we selected him to fill. His administration no doubt did display an occasional weakness; and his conduct as paymaster to the forces was decidedly open to animadversion; for, in this capacity, he seemed to be under the impression that payments, like charity, began at home, and he also laboured under a constitutional and hereditary infirmity, which prevented him in small matters from discerning any difference between MEUM and TUUM.
Having been employed collectively, however, it would be unfair to judge of his performances in detail; and from his satisfactory management of the expedition, occasionally under such trying circumstances as a break-down in the land transport, or an utter failure in his tobacco supply, we had every reason to be satisfied with our choice. The latter misfortune was the only one which really interfered at any time with his efficiency, or upset his equanimity, and it unfortunately occurred always at the most inopportune seasons, and at a time when he was undergoing his greatest hardships.
As long as the supply lasted, the mysterious gurglings of his “Hubble Bubble,” or cocoa-nut water-pipe, might be heard at almost any hour of the day or night. “Hubble bubble, toil and trouble,” was the natural order of his existence; and when in some peculiarly uncivilised region of our wanderings, the compound of dirt, sugar, and tobacco, in which his soul delighted, was not forthcoming, he and his pipe seemed at once to lose their vitality, and to become useless together. The temporary separation which ensued, being in its way a MENSA ET THORO, was a source of trouble and inconvenience to all concerned, and we had, more than once, cause to regret not having given the tobacco question that forethought and consideration to which it would be well entitled by any one undertaking a similar expedition.
Overlooking these weaknesses, Mr. Rajoo’s character was beyond reproach, and for the particular work he had to perform, his combination of efficiency, portability, and rascality, rendered him in every respect “the right man in the right place.”
Such was our “head of affairs,” and such the small force he had at first to provide for. As we passed out of India, and got further from regions of comparative civilisation, his cares increased: cellar, kitchen, larder, farm-yard, tents, &c. had then to accompany our wandering steps, and the expedition gradually increased in size, until it attained its maximum of nearly forty. From this it again as gradually decreased, and as one by one our retainers disappeared, it dwindled in dimensions until it finally reached its original limited proportions, and then “we three met again,” once more upon the plains of India.
All our necessary preparations having been completed, and a sacrifice of three precious weeks having been duly offered to the inexorable genius who presides over public correspondence, we reduced our impedimenta to the smallest possible compass, and with about a hundred pounds to commence life with, all in two shilling pieces, that being the only available coin of the realm in this our second century of British administration, we took our departure by railway for Cawnpore. Here we found ourselves located and hospitably entertained in the house in which our unfortunate fellow-countrywomen were confined on their recapture from the river by the Nana Sahib, one of the few mementos of the mutiny still left standing at Cawnpore.
Next day we laid our dak for Simla, and about six o’clock in the evening, with the Q.M.G. on the roof, and ourselves and our possessions stowed away in the innumerable holes and corners of the rude wooden construction called a “Dak garee,” or post coach, we took our departure. After a few mishaps with our steed, involving the necessity of getting out to shove behind, we entered upon the Grand Trunk Road, and with a refreshing sense of freedom and relief, soon left Cawnpore in all its native dust and dreariness behind us.
The Pleasures of the Plains.
MAY 21, 1860. — Being fairly under weigh, our first attention was directed towards the machine which was to be, in a great measure, our home for many days to come. Not overburdened with springs, and not much to look at, though decidedly an extraordinary one to go, our conveyance was by no means uncomfortable; and, stretched upon a mattress extending its entire length, F. and I chatted over our plans and projects, and star-gazed, and soon fell asleep, in spite of the ruts on the road and the wild discordant bugling of our ragged coachman, who seemed to consider that, however inferior in other respects, in a matter of music we were not to be outdone, not even by Her Majesty’s own royal mail. At first sight, the necessity of trying to clear such lonely roads as we were travelling was not altogether apparent; but a slight acquaintance with the general principles and laws of progression of the national Indian institution called a bullock-cart, or “beil-garee,” soon clears up the difficulty. Built entirely of wood, and held together by scraps of ropes and cord, a more hopeless-looking machine cannot exist; and drivers and bullocks alike share in the general woodenness and impassibility of the structure. The animals, too, having probably lost all the better feelings of their nature in such a service, are appealed to entirely through the medium of their tails, and the operation occasionally results in the whole creaking mass being safely deposited in some capacious rut, there to remain until “the Fates” — assuming, perhaps, the appearance of three additional bullocks — arrive to draw it out again. Occasionally, too, the institution comes to a halt for the night, comfortably drawn up in the centre of the line of traffic, with a delightful disregard for aught but the present, and an air of supreme contempt for the most eloquent music of all the ragged coachmen on the Grand Trunk Road.
Every five miles we stopped to change our horse, and miserable indeed was the raw-boned little animal that made his appearance on every occasion. Still the pace was kept up in spite of appearances, and at seven A.M. we reached “Ghoorsahagunge” — more generally known as GOOSEYGUNGE — sixty miles from Cawnpore, and 197 from Delhi.
Here we slept in peace until eleven o’clock, and awoke from dreams of Cashmere to the unpleasant realities of a violent dust-storm. The usual “Khus-khus tatties,” or screens of fragrant grass, which are kept in a continual state of moisture at door and window, and convert the dust-charged scorching blast into a comparative coolness, were not forthcoming, and our halt was not a pleasant one by any means: still our faces were towards the mountains, and the pleasures of hope enabled us to take our misfortunes with entire philosophy. We started again about five P.M., when the power of the sun was somewhat abated, and encountered the usual difficulties with refractory horses at every change. A start was in no case effected without much management and exertion. A half-naked black generally attaches himself to each wheel; the driver, from a post of vantage, belabours the miserable horse with all his might and main; the Q.M.G. takes a firm hold of the rails on the roof; and all shouting, grunting, and using bad language together, away we go at full gallop, if we are in unusual luck, for about 300 yards. Then comes a dead stop: the same operation commences again, and so on, until the animal is sufficiently far from his last stable to be able to look forward with some confidence to the one ahead, and resigns himself to circumstances accordingly. One peculiarity in this peculiar country we found to be, that in putting our steed-to, the English custom is reversed. The cart is “put-to,” not the horse; and the latter being left standing anywhere on the road, the lumbering “garee” is dragged up to his tail, and fastened up with a combination of straps and ropes, marvellous to behold.
MAY 23. — To-day we arrived at “Etawah,” where we found a very comfortable little staging bungalow, but no supplies of either beer or butter procurable. On the road in the early morning there were herds of deer and antelope in sight, but time being precious we left them unmolested.
As yet very little change makes its appearance in the character of the country. Level plains, with patches of trees, mango and palm, as far as the eye can reach, and everywhere dust, dust, dust! The palm-trees, however, with toddy parties scattered about among them, serve to make the scene look cheerful, and, for an eastern one, comparatively lively. In the evening we again took the road, with a hot wind blowing strongly and steadily, and before long we were overtaken by a dust-storm, which completely enveloped us in its murky folds, and interfered with our happiness a good deal. Got through the night much as usual, with the addition of a midnight vocal entertainment, which some hundreds of wolves and jackals treated us to, while the “authorities” were looking to our welfare, by taking off and greasing our wheels. Of travellers we meet but few, generally bullock-train parties, with soldiers, &c., return daks, and an occasional old Mussulman, or other native, taking advantage of the early morning for his journey, and wrapped and swaddled up as if afraid of being congealed by the coolness of the morning air.
Every day’s journey leaves one more and more at a loss to discover the sources of the wealth of this enormous country. The soil, for miles and miles a dead flat, is now barren as a desert, and we meet hardly a sign of active traffic. During the night we certainly did encounter a long train of heavily-laden bullock-waggons; but the merchandize was gunpowder, and its destination was up, instead of down the road.
MAY 24. — Arrived at “Kurga,” where we found neither bread nor butter forthcoming — nothing but — “plenty fowl, Sahib!” In the evening we again encountered a heavy dust-storm, the worst of the season; the whole night it continued to blow in our teeth; and between the fierce dryness of the wind and the searching particles of dust, which visited us without ceremony, we spent anything but an agreeable night. At three A.M. we reached the “Hingus Nuddee,” or river; and changing our solitary horse for two fat bullocks, we crossed its sandy bed, and over a bridge of boats — not so genteelly, perhaps, but much more securely, than we could have otherwise done. There were the remains here of a handsome suspension bridge; but the chains had been cut by the rebel Sepoys, and nothing but the pillars now remained.
MAY 25. — At four A.M. we crossed the bridge of boats over the Jumna, and found ourselves under the gloomy battlements of the Fort of Delhi.
Entering by the Calcutta Gate, we drove through large suburbs, lighted up with rows of oil lamps, reminding one, in the dim light, a good deal of Cairo. Arriving at the dak bungalow, we found it such a dirty looking deserted building, and the interior so much of a piece with the exterior, that we mounted again, and set off to try the Hotel, or “Pahunch Ghur,” — a name originally intended to convey the meaning “An arriving house,” but neatly and appropriately corrupted into the term “Punch Gur,” which speaks for itself, and troubles no one much about its derivation. We were rather disappointed with the general appearance of the city: dirt and grandeur were closely combined, and the combination gave the usual impression of shabby genteelness in general, not at first sight prepossessing. After driving through what might have been an Eastern Sebastopol, from the amount of ruin about, we reached a cut-throat-looking archway; and the coachman, here pointing to a dirty board, above his head, triumphantly announced the “Punch Gur!” Hot and thirsty, we got out, with visions of rest and cooling sherbets, too soon to be dispelled. Passing through long dirty halls, and up unsavoury steps, we at last reached a sort of court, with beds of sickly flowers, never known to bloom, and from thence issued to a suite of musty hot Moorish-looking rooms, with gold-inlaid dust-covered tables, and a heavily-draped four-post bedstead, the very sight of which, in such a climate, was almost enough to deprive one of sleep for ever. Our speech forsook us, and without waiting to remark whether the lady of the house was an ogress, or possessed of a “rose-coloured body” and face like the full moon, we fairly turned tail, and drove in all haste to our despised dak bungalow, where, meekly and with softened feelings towards that edifice, we were glad to deposit ourselves on a couple of charpoys, or “four-legs,” as the bedstead of India is called, and endeavour to sleep the best way we could. “Delhi,” we found, quite kept up its reputation of being the hottest place in India. All idea of sight-seeing was out of the question, and the whole of our energies we were obliged to expend in endeavouring to keep moderately cool.
After enjoying the two first of blessings in a hot climate — viz. a plentiful supply of cold water and a change of raiment, we felt ourselves able to undergo the exertion of meeting the traditional grilled fowl at breakfast, and of inspecting the curiosities from the bazaars. At the first wish on the latter subject, we were invaded by a crowd of bundle-carrying, yellow-turbaned, rascally merchants, who, in half a minute, had the whole of their goods on the floor — rings, brooches, ivory ornaments, and inutilities of all sorts and kinds, all of them exorbitantly dear, and none of any real value.
We left Delhi again at about six P.M., after loitering about the city for a short time, among the teeming bazaars, some parts of which were picturesque and “Eastern” enough. Outside the city walls, the country was ruined and dilapidated in the extreme; demolished houses and wasted gardens telling their tale of the loss of Delhi, and our struggle for its recapture.
MAY 26. — During the night, we got over seventy-three miles, and reached “Kurnaul” at seven A.M. The bungalow we found unusually comfortable, being a remnant of the old regime, and one of the few which escaped from the hands of the rebels during the mutiny.
The country here begins to improve in appearance — more trees and cultivation on all sides; and the natives appear finer specimens than their more southern relations. The irrigation, too, seems to be carried on with more systematic appliances than further south — the water being raised by the Persian wheel, and bullock-power introduced in aid of manual labour.
MAY 27. — Arrived at Umballa at three A.M., and found the staging bungalow full. The only available accommodation being a spare charpoy in the verandah, F. took a lease of it, while I revelled in the unaccustomed roominess of the entire carriage, and slept till six, when we got into our lodgings. Although so near the foot of the Himalayas, the weather was so oppressive here that exploring was out of the question; and at six P.M., changing our carriage for palankeens, or dolies, we commenced a tedious and dusty journey to the village of “Kalka,” the veritable “foot of the hills,” where we were met by a string of deputies from the different “DRY-LODGINGS” in the neighbourhood, soliciting custom. The first house we came to was guarded by an unmistakeable English hotel-keeper, of some eighteen stone; and so terrible was the appearance she presented, with her arms akimbo, rejoicing in her mountain air, that in our down-country and dilapidated condition, we felt quite unequal to the exertion of stepping into HER little parlour; and passing her establishment — something in the small bathingplace-style of architecture — we went on to the next, very much of the same order, and called the “Brahminee Bull.” Here, to my dismay however, standing in the selfsame position, weighing the same number of stone, and equally confident in the purity of her air as her neighbour, stood another female “Briton,” with the come-into-my-parlour expression of countenance, regarding us as prey. Under the circumstances, exhausted nature gave in; though saved from Scylla, our destiny was Charybdis, and we accordingly surrendered ourselves to a wash, breakfast, and the Brahminee Bull. During the day, we had a visit from a friend and ex-brother officer, whom we had promised to stay with, at “Kussowlie,” on our road up. Kalka was not HOT, but GRILLING, so that a speedy ascent to the station was soon agreed upon. Not caring to risk a sun-stroke, I resigned myself to the traditional conveyance of the country, a “jhampan,” while the other two rode up; but here, for the second time, it was “out of the fryingpan into the fire.” Such an infernal machine as my new conveyance turned out never could have existed in the palmiest days of the Inquisition. It was a sort of child’s cradle, long enough for a creature of some five or six summers, made like a tray, and hung after the fashion of a miniature four-post bedstead, with goat’s-hair curtains. The structure is suspended, something in the fashion of a sedan-chair which has been stunted in its growth, between two poles; between the projections of these again, before and behind, connected by a stout strap, are two shorter bars, each supported, when in travelling order, on the shoulders of two bearers. When the machine is in motion, therefore, there are four men in line between the shafts.
The pace is always rather fast, and down a declivity the torturers go at a run; the result is, that prominent parts of one’s body are continually in collision with the seat or sides of the machine, coming down from various altitudes, according to the nature of the ground and the humour of the inquisitors. After getting over about six miles in this graceful and pleasing manner, we reached the first of the fir-trees, and as we rose still higher a delicious breeze came over the hills, as precious to the parched and travel-stained pilgrim from the plains as a drop of water to the thirstiest wanderer in the desert. Kussowlie appeared a picturesque little station, perched at the summit of one of the first of the hilly ranges, and here I found my two companions, burnt and red in the face as if they, too, had had their sufferings on the road, occupied in looking over the goods of a strolling Cashmere merchant; luckily for themselves, however, it was under the protecting superintendence of our hostess. Our friends were living on a miniature estate commanding a magnificent view of the mountain ranges on one side, and, on the, other, the plains of the Punjab, the scorching country from which we had just made our escape lying stretched out before us like an enormous map in relief. Towards the mountains were the military stations of “Dugshai” and “Subathoo,” and the boys’ asylum of “Senore,” the latter rather marring the face of nature by the workhouse order of its architecture. “Simla” we could just distinguish, nestled among the blue mountains in the far distance.
Here we spent a couple of days very pleasantly with our hospitable entertainers, and satisfactorily pulled up all arrears of sleep — a luxury none can really appreciate who have not travelled for six days and nights in the different local conveniences I have mentioned.
Before leaving we had an opportunity of seeing how England in the Himalayas makes its morning calls. Walking, which amounts almost to an impossibility in “the plains,” seems to be voted INFRA DIG. in “the hills,” and Mrs. Kussowlie according made her appearance seated in state in a jhampan, and borne on the shoulders of four of her slaves.
These were active, wiry-looking natives, dressed in long green coats, bound with broad, red, tight-fitting pantaloons, and with small turbans of red and green on their heads. Altogether, a more startling-looking apparition to the uninitiated than this Himalayan morning visitor could hardly be imagined, even in a tour through the remotest regions of the earth.
MAY 29. — About six o’clock in the evening we remounted our instruments of torture and took the road to Simla. For about seven miles the path was down hill, and the bearers being fresh, they huddled us along at a pace calculated to outrage our feelings most considerably, and, at the same time, with no more consideration for our welfare than if we were so many sacks of coal. In spite of the sufferings of the principal performers, the procession was most amusing; and as we jolted, bumped, and bundled along, it was impossible to keep from laughing, although crying, perhaps, would, under the circumstances, have been more appropriate. My machine led the way, four of the inquisition being in the shafts, and four in waiting, running along at the side with pipes, bundles, sticks, &c. Then came F. similarly attended, and finally the Q.M.G., hubble bubble in hand, and attired in a gold embroidered cap, surrounded by a lilac turban: seated in a sort of tray, and reclining at his case in full enjoyment of his high position, he looked the priest of the procession, and managed to retain his dignity in spite of the rapid and unceremonious way in which he was being whirled along. As the moon went down we had the additional effect of torchlight to the scene, three bearers having the special duty of running along to show the pathway to the rest. This seemed a service of some danger, and our torch-bearers at times verged upon places where a stumble would have apparently extinguished both themselves and their torches for ever. About half way we stopped for about an hour for the bearers to partake of a light entertainment of “ghee and chupatties” — otherwise, rancid butter and cakes of flour and water. This was their only rest and only meal, from the time they left Kussowlie at six P.M. until they reached Simla at eight A.M. The same set of bearers took us the entire distance, about thirty-five miles; and the four men who were not actually in the shafts used to rest themselves by running, ahead and up precipitous short cuts, so as to insure a few minutes’ pull at the pipe of consolation before their turn arrived again. To us, supposed to be the OTIUM CUM DIG. part of the procession, the road seemed perfectly endless. No sooner were we up one ascent than we were down again on the other side; and when we thought Simla must be in sight round the next turn, it seemed suddenly to become more hid than ever. In one of these ups and downs of life my machine, during a heavy lurch, fairly gave way to its feelings, and with a loud crash the pole broke, and down we both came, much to my temporary satisfaction and relief. A supply of ropes and lashings, however, formed part of the inquisitors’ stores, and we were soon under weigh again to fulfil the remainder of our destiny.
The entrance to Simla led us through a fine forest of oaks, firs, cedars, and other large trees; and winding along through these we could, every now and then, discern, towering over the backs of endless ranges of blue and hazy mountains, ridge upon ridge of glittering snow, which cast its icy breath upon us even where we were, helping us to forget the horrors of the night, and giving us a renewal of our lease of existence. Simla itself soon opened on our view, a scattered and picturesque settlement of houses of the most varied patterns perched about over the mountain top, just as an eligible spot presented itself for building purposes. It is situated 8,000 feet above the level of the sea and 7,000 over the average level of “the plains,” Umballa, which is near the foot of the range, being 1,000 above the sea-level. From our halting-place we could discern the scene of our night’s journey, with Kussowlie looking like a mere speck in the distance, and we felt a proud sort of consciousness of having accomplished a desperate undertaking in very good style. Passive endurance was, under the circumstances quite as worthy of praise as the more active virtues displayed by those who were the cause of our sufferings. After the first good breakfast I had eaten for three months, we pulled up arrears of sleep till four P.M. and found, on awaking, that our much expected letters had arrived from the post, and among them the necessary permission from the Punjab Government to travel in Cashmere, and instructions for our guidance while in the territory. From among the routes laid down in the latter we chose No. 1. The direct line across the mountains from Simla would have entailed additional delay and permission, and as time was precious we decided upon descending again to the plains and making our way through Lahore, not, however, without a severe pang at leaving so soon the terrestrial paradise of which we had got a glimpse. After arranging our movements with the “authorities,” we sallied out to see fashionable Simla airing itself, which, as far as dress is concerned, it appeared to do very much in the fashionable watering-place style at home. The jhampans, palkies, dandies, &c. which took up the entire road, however, loudly proclaimed India, Simla being much too dainty to touch the ground with its pretty feet, and too lazy to use its own legs for purposes of out-door locomotion. The station seems a curious combination of many styles and places; the scenery and houses, Swiss; the people Anglo Indians, Affghans, Cashmeeries, &c.; the conveyances, Inquisito-Spanish; and the bazaars, in their native dirt, pure Indian.
MAY 31. — After making our leave secure, we made up our minds for a plunge into the plains again and a forced march to Lahore, being rather expedited in the determination by hearing that several travellers had been recalled from leave in consequence of there being a scarcity of officers with their regiments.
With a fine moonlight night in our favour we again took the road; and practice slightly assuaging our sufferings, we got on smoothly enough till within a few hours from Hureepore Bungalow, when my machine again broke with a crash, and the nature of the fracture being compound, I walked on and left the executioners to repair the instrument at their leisure.
JUNE 1. — Reached Hureepore at four A.M., and found the place in possession of a crowd of monkeys of all sorts and sizes, taking an early breakfast. Here, chicken and eggs being again written in our destiny, we halted for an hour or two, and at eleven again took the road with our cast-iron bearers, and hurried along in the noonday sun, up hill and down dale, through Kussowlie, and on and on till we were once more fairly deposited at the feet of “Mrs. Charybdis.” A slight dinner here, and at 8.30 P.M. we were again in train, shuffling along through several feet of dust, which the bearers, and torch-carriers, and the rest of our numerous train, kicked up about us, in clouds nearly dense enough to cause suffocation.
JUNE 2. — At 8.30 A.M. we arrived again at Umballa, and with nothing to comfort us in our dusty and worried condition but the reflection that our start from Simla was a magnificent triumph of stern determination over present enjoyment and unwonted luxury, we again resumed our forced march. At six P.M. we took our departure, in a very magnificent coach, but in an “unpropitious moment,” for the horse was unusually averse to an advance of any sort, and when we did get clear of the station his opinions were borne out by a terrific storm of dust, with a thunder, lightning, and rain accompaniment, which effectually put a stop to all further progress. The horse for once had his wish, and was brought to a regular stand. The wind howled about us, and the dusty atmosphere assumed a dull red appearance, such as I had only once before seen at Cawnpore, and the like of which might possibly have prevailed during the last days of Pompeii. After getting through the worst of the storm, we pushed along, and had reached the twentieth mile-stone, when, catching a flavour of burning wood, I looked out and found the wheel at an angle of some 30 degrees, and rubbing against the side preparatory to taking its leave altogether. Here was another effect of starting in an unpropitious moment. The interruption in the great forced march preyed heavily upon our minds, but, on the principle of doing as “Rome does,” we took a lesson from the religion of “Islam,” and concurring in the views expressed by our attendant blacks, viz. that “whatever is written in a man’s destiny that will be accomplished,” we ejaculated “Kismut” with the rest, and resignedly adapted ourselves to the writings in our own particular page of fate. Having sent back to Umballa the news of our distress, a new conveyance in a few hours made its appearance; and hauling it alongside the wreck, we unshipped the stores, reloaded, and eventually reached “Thikanmajura” at eight A.M.
JUNE 3. — Starting at about three o’clock P.M., we found the unpropitious moment still hanging over us: first a violent dust-storm, and then a refractory horse, which bolted completely off the road, and nearly upset us down a steep bank, proved to demonstration that our star was still obscured.
About midnight we reached the river “Sutlej,” and exchanged our horse for four fat and humpy bullocks, who managed, with very great labour and difficulty, to drag us through the heavy sands of the river-bed down to the edge of the water. Here we were shipped on board a flat-bottomed boat, with a high peaked bow; and, after an immensity of hauling and grunting, we were fairly launched into the stream, and poled across to the opposite shore. The water appeared quite shallow, and the coolies were most of the time in the water; but its width, including the sands forming its bed, could not have been less than two miles and a half. It was altogether a wild and dreary-looking scene, as we paddled along — the wild ducks and jackals, &c. keeping up a concert on their own account, and the patient old bullocks ruminating quietly on their prospects at our feet.
On arriving at what appeared to be the opposite bank, we were taken out, and again pulled and hauled through the deep sand, only to be reshipped again on what seemed a respectable river in its own right; and here, getting out of patience with a stream that had no opposite bank, I fell asleep, and left the bullocks to their sorrows and their destiny.
JUNE 4. — Arrived at Jullundur, where we had to share the bungalow with another traveller and a rising family, who kept us alive by howling vigorously all day. The road from this being “Kucha,” literally UNCOOKED, but here meant to express “unmetalled,” we had yet another form of conveyance to make acquaintance with. It was a palkee, rudely strapped upon the body of a worn-out “Dak garee;” and although a more unpromising-looking locomotive perhaps never was placed upon wheels, the actual reality proved even worse than the appearance foreboded.
Anybody who has happened to have been run away with in a dust-cart through Fenchurch Street, or some other London pavement, the gas pipes being up at the time, might form some idea of our sensations as we pounded along, at full gallop, over some thirty miles of uneven, UNCOOKED road; but to anybody who has not had this advantage, description would be impossible. About half way, it appeared that it was written in my miserable destiny that the off fore-wheel of my shay was to come off, and off it came accordingly; so that once more I became an involuntary disciple of Islam, and went to sleep among the ruins, with rather a feeling of gratitude for the respite than otherwise. On awaking, I found myself again under way; and effecting a junction with my companion, we had a light supper off half a water-melon; and, after crossing the River Beas by a bridge of boats, and being lugged through another waste of sand by bullocks, we once again reached a “cooked” road, and arrived at “Umritsur” at six A.M.
JUNE 5. — Found the heat so great here that we were unable to stir out.
As a consolation, we received a visit from four “Sikh Padres,” who rushed in and squatted themselves down without ceremony, previously placing a small ball of candied sugar on the table as a votive and suggestive offering. The spokesman, a lively little rascal, with a black beard tied up under his red turban, immediately opened fire, by hurling at us all the names of all the officers he had ever met or read of. The volley was in this style: First, the number of the regiment, then Brown Sahib, Jones Sahib, Robinson Sahib, Smith Sahib, Tomkins Sahib, Green Sahib, and so on, regiment after regiment and name after name, his brother Padres occasionally chiming in in corroboration of their friend’s veracity and in admiration of his vast stock of military information. After much trouble, we got rid of the pack, at the price of one rupee, which was cheap for the amount of relief afforded by their departure.
JUNE 6. — Reached Lahore at ten P.M. and had a night in bed, for the third time only since leaving Cawnpore. The Q.M.G. being at once set to work to make the necessary arrangements for our final start for Cashmere, we paid a hurried visit to the Tomb of Runjeet Singh and the Fort and City of Lahore. These were worth seeing, but they abounded in sights and perfumes, which rendered the operation rather a trying one, considering the very high temperature of the weather.
JUNE 7. — Drove out in a dilapidated buggy, and with an incorrigible horse, to Mean Meer, the cantonments of Lahore. The place looked burnt up and glaring like its fellows, and a fierce hot wind swept over it, which made us glad enough to turn our backs on it and hurry home again as fast as our obstinate animal would take us. The Q.M.G., we found, had collected our staff of servants together, and was otherwise pushing on our preparations as fast as the dignity and importance of the undertaking would admit.
The staff consisted of khidmutgar, bawurchie, bhistie, dhobie, and mihtar; or, in plain English, butler, cook, water-carrier, washerman, and sweeper.
Of these, the washing department only brought with it its insignia and badge of office. This was an enormous smoothing-iron, highly ornamented with brass, decorated with Gothic apertures, and made to contain an amount of charcoal that would have kept an entire family warm in the coldest depths of winter. Being of great weight, we rather objected to such an addition to our stores — the more so as our linen was not likely to require much GETTING-UP. The DHOBIE, however, declared himself unable to get on without it, and it accordingly had to be engaged with its master.
JUNE 8. — To-day Rajoo is still hard at work laying in stores from the bazaars and arranging means of transport for them; the weather hot beyond measure; and as neither our food nor quarters are very good, we begin to forget our lessons of resignation, more especially as the mosquitoes begin to form a very aggravating item in our destiny.
JUNE 9. — About four P.M. the Q.M.G. came in triumphantly with about sixteen tall baskets covered with leather, which he called “khiltas;” and having ranged them about the room like the oil-jars of “Ali Baba,” he proceeded to cram them with potatoes, tea, clothes, brandy, and the whole stock of our earthly goods, in a marvellous and miscellaneous manner, very trying to contemplate, and suggestive of their entire separation from us and our heirs for ever.
Coolies not being procurable in sufficient numbers to carry away all our stores together, F. and I agreed to start in the morning, leaving the head of affairs with the rearguard to follow at his leisure. Got away at last in two “palkees,” with four “banghy wallahs,” or baggage-bearers, carrying our immediate possessions, guns, &c. Spent the night wretchedly enough, the roads being of the worst, and covered nearly a foot deep everywhere with fine dust, which our bearers very soon stirred up into an impenetrable cloud, enveloping us in its folds to the verge of suffocation.
The sensation is strange enough, travelling in this way along a lonely road at dead of night, closely shut up in an oblong box, and surrounded by some twenty or more dusky savages, who could quietly tap one on the head at any time, and appropriate the bag of rupees — inseparable from Indian travelling — without the slightest difficulty. That they do not do so is probably from the knowledge they possess that with the bag of rupees there is generally to be found a revolver, and that an English traveller is of so generous a disposition that he seldom parts from his money without giving a little lead in with the silver.
JUNE 10. — After a dusty jolt of forty miles, we reached “Gugerwalla” at eight A.M., and felt the change from Lahore most refreshing. The village seemed a quiet little settlement, very little visited by Englishmen, and the inhabitants, probably on that account, appeared of a different stamp from those we had hitherto met. The women, in particular, were more gaily dressed, and not so frightened at a white face as more south. The rearguard not having come up at six P.M. we started off without it. Crossed the Chenab during the night. The fords, by torchlight, were most picturesque, and rather exciting, in consequence of the water at times taking it into its head to see what was inside the “palkee.” The Chenab makes the fourth out of the “five waters” from which the “Punjab” takes its name. The Jhelum only remains — the ancient Hydaspes of Alexandrian notoriety.
JUNE 11. — Reached “Goojerat” at five A.M. and enjoyed a few hours of quiet sleep in a very comfortable bungalow. The “khiltas” not making their appearance, we halt here for the night. In the evening we explored the city — a straggling rabbit-barrow settlement, inclosed by a mud wall, and boasting the narrowest streets I had ever seen. In an open space we came upon a marvellously-ornamented “mundir,” or Hindoo temple, painted in the most florid style, with effigies of dark gentlemen in coloured pants riding on peacocks, antelopes, and other beasts of burden common in the country. It seemed the centre of attraction to a numerous concourse of strangers from the north; among others, a bevy of young ladies with loose trousers and fair complexions, evidently “Cashmeeries,” who seemed to regard the “heathen temple” as one of the wonders of the world. In the middle of the night the rearguard came in with the supplies, and we at once turned it into an advanced-guard, and packed it off to make preparations for our arrival at “Bimber.”
JUNE 12. — Spent a very hot day at Goojerat, and amused ourselves by inspecting the gold-inlaid work for which the place is famous. At 5.30 P.M. we started for our last night’s journey in British territory; and thus terminated, for the present, our experiences of all the hot and dusty “pleasure of the Plains.”
JUNE 13. — About two A.M. we passed out of India into the territory of His Highness the Maharajah of Cashmere, and halted at Bimber. The accommodation here turned out to be most indifferent, although in our route the edifice for travellers was called a “Baraduree,” which sounded grandly. It means a summer-house with twelve doors; but beyond the facilities it afforded of rapid egress, we found it to possess but few advantages.
Putting a couple of charpoys outside, we managed a few hours’ sleep AL FRESCO, in spite of the flies and mosquitoes innumerable, who lost no time in taking possession of their new property. On being able to discern the face of the country, we found ourselves at the foot of a range of hills of no great height, but still veritable hills; and although the sun was nearly as hot as in the plains, we felt that we were emancipated from India, and that all our real travelling troubles were over. In the evening we inspected the Maharajah’s troops, consisting of eight curiously-dressed and mysteriously-accoutred sepoys under a serjeant. These same troops had rather astonished us in the morning by filing up in stage style in front of our two charpoys just as we awoke, and delivering a “Present arms” with great unction as we sat up in a half-sleepy and dishevelled condition, rubbing our eyes, and not exactly in the style of costume in which such a salute is usually received. We now found the “army” in the domestic employment of cooking their victuals, so that we were unable to have much of a review. However, we looked at their arms and accoutrements; ammunition they had none; and saw them perform the “manual and platoon.” Their arms had been matchlocks, but had been converted, these stirring times, into flintlocks! In addition to these, which were about as long as a respectable spear, they had each a sword and shield, together with a belt and powder-horn, all clumsy in the extreme. In loading, we found an improvement on the English fashion, for, after putting the imaginary charge in with the hand, they BLEW playfully down the muzzle to obviate the difficulty of the powder sticking to the sides. After presenting the troops with “bukhshish,” we strolled through the village and met the “thanadar,” or head man, coming out to meet us, arrayed in glorious apparel and very tight inexpressibles, and mounted on a caparisoned steed. Dismounting, he advanced towards us salaaming, and holding out a piece of money in the palm of his hand; and not exactly knowing the etiquette of the proceeding, we touched it and left it where we found it, which appeared to be a relief to his mind, for he immediately put it in his pocket again.
His chief conversation was on the subject of the Maharajah and the delights of Cashmere, and anxiety as to our having got all supplies, &c. which we required, as he had been appointed expressly for the purpose of looking after the comfort of the English visitors. What with our friend and his train, and the detachment of “THE ARMY” which had accompanied us, our retinue began to assume the appearance of a procession; and it was with great difficulty that we induced them all to leave us, which they did at last after we had expressed our full satisfaction at the courtesy displayed by the Maharajah’s very intelligent selection of a “thanadar.”
JUNE 14. — Broke up our camp about three A.M. and started our possessions at four o’clock, after some difficulty in prevailing upon the coolies to walk off with their loads. On mustering our forces, we found that they numbered thirty-seven, including ourselves. Of these twenty-four were coolies, carrying our possessions — beer, brandy, potatoes, &c.; our servants were six more; then there were four ponies, entailing a native each to look after them; and, last of all, one of the redoubtable “army” as a guard, who paraded in the light marching order of a sword, shield, bag of melons, and an umbrella. F. and I travelled on “yaboos,” or native ponies — unlikely to look at, but wonderful to go. Mine was more like a hatchet than anything else, and yet the places he went over and the rate he travelled up smooth faces of rock was marvellous to behold.
About eight o’clock we found ourselves once more among the pine-trees; and, although the sun was very powerful, we had enough of the freshness of the mountain air to take away the remembrance of the dusty plains from our minds. No rain having fallen as yet, the springs and rivers were all nearly dry; but we saw several rocky beds, which gave good promise of fly-fishing, should they receive a further supply of water.
About nine A.M. we reached our halting-place, “Serai Saidabad,” a ruined old place, with a mud tenement overlooking, at some elevation, the banks of a river.
Here we were again received with a salute, by a detachment of warriors drawn up in full dress — viz. red and yellow turbans, and blue trousers with a red stripe.
After undergoing a refreshing bath of a skin of water, taken in our drawing-room, we got our artist to work at breakfast, and shortly after found, with considerable satisfaction, that we were in for the first of the rains. This welcome fact first proclaimed itself by the reverberation of distant thunder from among the mountains to the north; then an ominous black cloud gradually spread itself over us, and, with a storm of dust, down came the rain in torrents, making the air, in a few minutes, cool and delicious as possible, and entirely altering the sultry temperature which had previously prevailed. The thirsty ground soaked up the moisture as if it had never tasted rain, and the trees came out as if retouched by Nature’s brush; while as, for F. and myself, we turned the unwonted coolness to the best account we could, by setting ourselves to work to pull up all arrears of sleep forthwith.
JUNE 15. — Started at four A.M., with our numerous train, and found the road all the pleasanter for the rain of the previous evening, and all things looking green and fresh after the storm. Our path led us up a rocky valley, with its accompanying dashing stream, in the bed of which we could see traces of what the brawler had been in his wilder days, in huge and polished boulders and water-worn rocks, which had been hurled about in all directions. We afterwards went straight up a precipitous mountain, wooded with pine, which was no light work for the coolies, heavily laden as they were. No sooner, however, were we on the top of this than down we went on the other side; and how the ponies managed their ups-and-downs of life was best known to themselves; certainly, nothing but a cat or a Cashmere pony could have got over the ground. About nine A.M. we reached “Nowshera,” under another salute, where we found an indifferent-looking “Baraduree,” completely suffocated among the trees of a garden called the “Bauli Bagh,” or “Reservoir Garden,” from a deep stone well in the centre of it. Here we got on indifferently well, the weather being close after the rain, and the place thickly inhabited by crowds of sparrows, all with large families, who made an incessant uproar all day long; besides an army of occupation of small game, which interfered sadly with our sleeping arrangements at night. In the evening we made the acquaintance of a loquacious and free-and-easy gardener, entirely innocent of clothes, who came and seated himself between F. and myself, as we were perched upon a rock enjoying the prospect. According to his account, the Maharajah’s tenants pay about seven rupees, or fourteen shillings, per annum for some five acres of land. In the middle of the night we came in for another storm of thunder and lightning, which took a good many liberties with our house, but cooled the air; and only for the mosquitoes, and other holders of the property, whose excessive attentions were rather embarrassing, we would have got on very well. As it was, however, I hardly closed an eye all night, and spent the greater part of it in meandering about the Bauli Bagh, VESTITO DA NOTTE — in which operation I rejoice to think that, like the Russians at the burning of Moscow, I at least put the enemy to very considerable inconvenience, even at the expense of my own comfort.
JUNE 16. — About half-past four A.M. we got under weigh again, heartily delighted to leave the sparrows and their allies in undisputed possession of their property.
The “kotwal,” and other authorities, who had been extremely civil in providing supplies, coolies, &c., according to the Maharajah’s order, took very good care not to let us depart without a due sense of the fact, for they bothered us for “bukhshish” just as keenly as the lowest muleteer; and when I gave the kotwal twelve annas, or one shilling and sixpence, as all the change I had, he assured me that the khidmutgar had more, and ran back to prove it by bringing me two rupees. I gave the scoundrel one, and regretted it for three miles, for he had robbed the coolies in the morning, either on his own or his master’s account, of one anna, or three-halfpence each, out of their hardly-earned wages. To-day we find ourselves once more among the rocks and pines, and as we progressed nothing could exceed the beauty of the views which opened upon us right and left. A mountain stream attended our steps the whole way sometimes smoothly and placidly, sometimes dancing about like a mad thing, and teasing the sturdy old battered rocks and stones which long ago had settled down in life along its path, and which, from the amount of polish they displayed, must themselves have been finely knocked about the world in their day. Rounding a turn of the river, where it ran deeply under its rocky bank, we came suddenly upon the ghastly figure of a man carefully suspended in chains from a prominent tree. His feet had been torn off by the wolves and jackals, but the upper part of the body remained together, and there he swung to and fro in the breeze, a ghastly warning to all evildoers, and a not very pleasing monument of the justice of the country. He was a sepoy of the Maharajah’s army, who had drowned his comrade in the stream below the place where he thus had expiated his crime. Not far from this spot we discovered traces of another marauder, in the shape of a fresh footprint of a tiger or a leopard, just as he had prowled shortly before along the very path we were pursuing.
From this we gradually got into a region of fruit-trees, interspersed with pines; and sometimes we came upon a group of scented palms, which looked strangely enough in such unusual company. Through clustering pomegranates, figs, plums, peach-trees, wild but bearing fruit, we journeyed on and on; and, as new beauties arose around us, we could not help indulging in castles in the air, and forming visions of earthly paradises, where, with the addition only of such importations as are inseparable from all ideas of paradise, either in Cashmere or elsewhere, one might live in uninterrupted enjoyment of existence, and, at least, bury in oblivion all remembrance of such regions as the “Plains of India.”
About ten A.M., after a continuous series of ups-and-downs of varied scenery, we arrived at “Chungas,” a picturesque old serai, perched upon a hill over the river. It was marked off in our route as having no accommodation, but, located among the mouldering remnants of grandeur of an old temple in the centre of the serai, we managed to make ourselves very comfortable, and thought our “accommodation” a most decided improvement upon our late fashionable but rather overcrowded halting-place. From the serai we can see, for the first time, the snowy range of the Himalayas, trending northwards, towards the Peer Punjal Pass, through which our route leads into the Valley of Cashmere.
JUNE 17. — Another ride through hill and dale to “Rajaori,” or “Rampore,” a most picturesque-looking town, built in every possible style of architecture, and flanked at one extremity by a ruined castle. Our halting-place was in an ancient serai, with a dilapidated garden, containing the remains of some rather handsome fountains. It was situated on a rock, several hundred feet above the river which separated us from the town; and, from our elevated position, we had a fine view of the whole place, and got an insight into the manners and customs of the inhabitants, without their being at all aware of our proximity.
The women and children appeared to be dressed quite in the Tartar style: the women with little red square-cornered fez caps, with a long strip of cloth thrown gracefully over them, and either pyjamas of blue stuff with a red stripe, or a long loose toga of greyish cloth, reaching nearly to the feet. The little girls were quite of the bullet-headed Tartar pattern, of Crimean recollection, but wore rather less decoration. The Crimean young ladies generally had a three cornered charm suspended round their necks, while the youthful fashion of Rajaori, scorning all artificial adornment, selected nature only as their mantua-maker, and wore their dresses strictly according to her book of patterns. After enjoying a delightfully cool night in our elevated bedroom, we started for “Thanna.”
Our path led through a gradually ascending valley, cultivated, for the rice crop, in terraces, and irrigated by a complicated net-work of channels, cut off from the mountain streams, and branching off in every direction to the different elevations. The ground was so saturated in these terraces that ploughing was carried on by means of a large scraper, like a fender, which was dragged along by bullocks, the ploughman standing up in the machine as it floundered and wallowed about, and guiding it through the sea of mud.
JUNE 18. — Reached Thanna at nine A.M. and came to a halt in a shady spot outside the village. There was an old serai about half a mile off, but it was full of merchants and their belongings, and savoured so strongly of fleas and dirt, that we gave it up as impracticable.
This was the first instance of our finding no shelter; and, as ill luck would have it, our tents took the opportunity of pitching themselves on the road, a number of coolies broke down, and one abandoned our property and took himself off altogether. Under these interesting circumstances, we were obliged to spend the day completely AL FRESCO, and to wait patiently for breakfast until the fashionable hour of half-past two P.M. The inhabitants took our misfortunes very philosophically, and stopped to stare at us to their heart’s content as they went by for water, wondering, no doubt, at that restless nature of the crazy Englishman, which drives him out of his own country for the sole purpose, apparently, of being uncomfortable in other people’s. Our position, although at the foot of the grander range of mountains, we found very hot, and a good deal of ingenuity was required in order to find continued shelter from the scorching rays of the sun. The natives here, seemed to suffer to a great extent from goitre, and one of our coolies in particular had three enormous swellings on his neck, horrible to look at. During the night, Rajoo came in with the missing baggage, except two khiltas, for which no carriage could be procured, and which he was in consequence obliged to abandon on the road until assistance could be sent to them.
JUNE 19. — Started at daybreak from our unsatisfactory quarters, and enjoyed some of the finest scenery we had yet encountered. The road ascended pretty sharply into what might be called the REAL mountains, and finding our spirits rise with the ground, we abandoned our ponies and resolved to perform the remainder of our wanderings on foot. As we reached the summit of our first ascent, and our range of view enlarged, mountain upon mountain rose before us, richly clothed with forest trees; while, overtopping all, peeped up the glistening summits of the snowy range, everything around seems cool and pleasant, in spite of the hot sun’s rays, which still poured down upon us. Our road from this, descending, lay among the nooks and dells of the shady side of the mountain; and the wild rose and the heliotrope perfumed the air at every step as we walked along in full enjoyment of the morning breeze. Our sepoy guide of to-day was not of the educated branch of the army. He was the stupidest specimen of his race I had ever met; and as his language was such a jargon as to be nearly unintelligible, we failed signally in obtaining much information from him.
Among other questions, I made inquiries as to woodcock, the cover being just suited to them, and after a great deal of difficulty in explaining the bird to him, he declared that he knew the kind of creature perfectly, and that there were plenty of them. By way of convincing us, however, of his sporting knowledge, he added that they were in the habit of living entirely on fruit; and he was sadly put out when F. and I both burst into laughter at the idea of an old woodcock with his bill stuck into a juicy pear, or perhaps enjoying a pomegranate for breakfast. Shortly after, we came suddenly upon quite a new feature in the scene — a strange innovation of liveliness in the midst of solitude.
At a bend in the road, what should appear almost over our heads but a troop of about a hundred monkeys, crashing through the firs and chestnuts, and bounding in eager haste from tree to tree, in their desire to escape from a party of natives coming from the opposite direction. They were large brown monkeys, of the kind called lungoors, standing, some of them, three feet high, and having tails considerably longer than themselves. Their faces were jet black, fringed with light grey whiskers, which gave them a most comical appearance.; and as they jumped along from tree to tree, sometimes thirty and forty feet, through the air, with their small families following as best they could, they made the whole forest resound with the crashing of the branches, and amused us not a little by their aerial line of march.
After crossing a dashing mountain-torrent by a rude bridge of trees thrown across it, we arrived at the village of Burrumgulla. Here our guide wanted us to halt in a mud-built native serai, but, with the recollection of past experience fresh upon us, we declined, preferring to choose our own ground and pitch our first encampment. The ground we selected was almost at the foot of a noble waterfall, formed by a huge cleft in a mass of rugged rock. The water, dashing headlong down, was hidden in the recess of rock below, but the spray, as it rose up like vapour and again fell around us, plainly told the history of its birth and education. Even had we not seen the snowy peaks before us from the mountain top, there was no mistaking, from its icy breath, the nursery in which its infant form had been cradled. Just at our feet was one of the frail and picturesque-looking pine bridges spanning the torrent; while just below it another mountain river came tumbling down, and, joining with its dashing friend, they both rolled on in life together. As soon as our traps arrived, F. and I had a souse in the quietest pool we could find, and anything so cold I never felt; it was almost as if one was turned into stone, and stopping in it more than a second was out of the question. After breakfast and a SIESTA, we sallied out to try and explore the head of the cataract above us. After rather a perilous ascent over loose moss and mould, and clutching at roots of shrubs and trees, we were brought to a stand by a huge mass of perpendicular rock, which effectually barred us from the spot through which the water took its final leap. The upper course of the torrent, however, amply repaid us for our labour, for it ran through the most lovely dell I ever saw; and as it bounded down from rock to rock, and roared and splashed along, it seemed to know what there was before it, and to be rejoicing at the prospect of its mighty jump. Torrent as it seemed, it was evidently nothing to what it could swell to when in a rage, for here and there, far out of its present reach, and scattered all about, were torn and tattered corpses of forest trees, which had evidently been sucked up and carried along until some rock more abrupt than its neighbours, had brought them to a stand and left them, bleached and rotting, in the summer’s sun. At night we found ourselves glad to exchange our usual covering of a single sheet for a heavy complement of blankets, and found our encampment not the least too warm. The authorities here were particularly civil and obliging, and supplied us with the best of butter, eggs, and milk. The latter was particularly good, and, not having often tasted cow’s milk in the Plains, we did it ample justice here.
JUNE 20. — Found it rather hard to turn out this morning, in consequence of the great change in the temperature, but got under weigh very well considering. Our path led us up the main torrent towards the snow, and in the first three miles we crossed about twenty pine-tree bridges thrown across the stream, some of them consisting of a single tree, and all in the rudest style of manufacture. Near one of these, under an immense mass of rock, we passed our first snow. It looked, however, so strange and unexpected, that we both took it for a block of stone; and being thatched, as it were, with leaves and small sticks, &c., and discoloured on all sides, it certainly bore no outward resemblance to what it really was.
After an almost perpendicular ascent up natural flights of steps, we reached our next stage, Poshana — a little mud-built, flat-roofed settlement on the mountain-side. Here we engaged a couple of “shikarees,” or native sportsmen, and made preparations for a DETOUR into the snows of the Peer Punjal in search of game.
JUNE 21. — Having made a division of our property, and sent the Q.M.G. with an advanced guard two stages on to Heerpore, F. and I started at daybreak for a five-days’ shooting expedition in the mountains.
We took with us a khidmutgar and bhistie — both capital servants, but unfortunately not accustomed to cold, much less to snow. Besides these, we had ten coolies to carry our baggage, consisting of two small tents, bedding, guns, and cooking utensils, &c.; and our two shikarees with their two assistants. The two former wore named Khandari Khan and Baz Khan, — both bare-legged, lightly clothed, sharp-eyed, hardy-looking mountaineers, and well acquainted with the haunts of game, and passes through the snow.
For the first time we had now to put on grass shoes or sandals; and though they felt strange at first, we soon found that they were absolutely necessary for the work we had before us. Our shoemaker charged us six annas, or ninepence, for eight pairs, and that was thirty per cent. over the proper price. However, as one good day’s work runs through a new pair, they are all the better for being rather cheap. Along the road in all directions one comes across cast-off remains of shoes, where the wearer has thrown off his worn-out ones and refitted from his travelling stock; and in this way the needy proprietor of a very indifferent pair of shoes may, perchance, make a favourable exchange with the cast-off pair of a more affluent pedestrian; but, to judge from the specimens we saw, he must be very needy indeed in order to benefit by the transaction. On leaving Poshana, we immediately wound up the precipitous side of a mountain above us, and soon found that, from the rarification of the air, and the want of practice, we felt the necessity of calling a halt very frequently, for the purpose, of course, of admiring the scenery and expatiating upon the beauties of nature. About two miles on the way we came to a slip in the mountain-side, and just as we scrambled, with some difficulty, across this, our foremost shikaree suddenly dropped down like a stone, and motioning us to follow his example, he stealthily pointed us out four little animals, which he called “markore,” grazing at the bottom of a ravine. Putting our sights to about 250 yards, we fired both together, with the best intentions, but indifferent results; for they all scampered off apparently untouched, and we again resumed our march.
Our encamping ground we found situated among a shady grove of fir-trees, with a mountain-torrent running beneath, bridged over, as far as we could see, with dingy-looking fields of snow and ice. Here, in the middle of June; with snow at our feet, above us, and around us, we pitched our tent, and had breakfast, and laid our plans for a search for game to-morrow. Though the wind blew cold and chilly off the snows, we soon found that the midday sun still asserted his supremacy, and our faces and hands soon bore witness to the fierceness of the trial of strength between the two. Our camp, although so high up, was not more than six miles from Poshana, and from thence we drew all our supplies, such as milk, eggs, and fowls, &c., the coolies’ and shikarees’ subsistence being deducted from their pay. Our own living was not expensive: fowls, threepence each for large, three-halfpence small; milk, three-halfpence per quart, and eggs, twelve for the like amount, or one anna. For the rest, we lived upon chupatties, or unleavened cakes of flour — very good hot, but “gutta-percha” cold — potatoes from Lahore, and, in the liquid line, tea and brandy. At night we slept upon the ground — pretty hard it was while one was awake to feel it — and not having any lamp, we turned in shortly after dark, while in the morning we were up and dressed before the nightingales had cleared their voices. These latter abounded all about us, and formed a most agreeable addition to our establishment.
JUNE 22. — Left our camp before sunrise, and crossing a large field of snow over the main torrent, we clambered up the precipitous side of our opposite mountain. The snow at first felt piercingly cold as it penetrated our snow-shoes, but before we reached the top, we had little to complain of in the way of chilliness. Our sharp-sighted guides soon detected game on the rocks above us, and off we went on a stalk, over rocks and chasms of snow — now running, now crawling along, more like serpents than respectable Christians, and all in a style that would have astonished nobody more than ourselves, could we have regarded the performance in the cool light of reason, and not influenced by the excitement of chasing horned cattle of such rare and curious proportions.
The markore, however, were quite as interested in the sport as we were, and after an arduous and protracted stalk, they finally gave us the slip, and we called a halt at the summit of a hill for breakfast and a rest during the heat of the day. The former we enjoyed as we deserved, but for the latter I can’t say much : occasionally a cold blast from off the snow would run right through us, while the sun bore down upon our heads with scorching power, making havoc with whatever part of us it found exposed to its rays, and blistering our hands and legs. The guides helped us out by building up a most ricketty-looking shanty with sticks and pieces of their garments and our own, and under this apology for shelter, with our feet almost in the snow, we passed the day, until it was cool enough again to look for game. In the evening we came suddenly upon a kustura, a sort of half goat, half sheep, with long teeth like a wolf. He was, however, in such thick cover, that we were unable to get a shot at him.
Our camp, we found, moved, according to order, some three miles higher up, to facilitate the shooting on that side: it was still, however, among the firs and nightingales.
JUNE 23. — Up again before sunrise, and off to the tops of the mountains in search of game. The pull-up took us about an hour and a half, and on reaching the summit, we found ourselves above the pass of the Peer Punjal, the rocky and snow-covered ranges of mountain around us gradually trending off on all sides, and losing themselves in pine-covered slopes, till they finally blended with the blue outlines of the ranges of Pills we had crossed on our route from Bimber. While taking a sharp look around us for a herd of some twenty animals which we had seen the day previously, we suddenly found ourselves close to a party of five markore, but they scampered off so fast over rock and snowdrift, that they gave us no opportunity of getting a shot.
Following them up, we came, while clinging to an overhanging ledge of rock, upon one solitary gentleman standing about 150 yards below. We both fired together, but the pace we had come, and the ground we had crossed, had unsteadied our aim, and though my second bullet parted the wool on his back, it was not written that our first markore was to fall so easily. After this we tracked the first herd for a long distance over the snow, until they scampered down an almost perpendicular face of snow and ice, and here we gave them up, halting on a spur of the mountain for a repast of chicken, eggs, chupatties, and cold tea. During our morning’s work we had come across some most break-neck places, and had one or two narrow escapes, which, at the time, one was hardly conscious of. The snow was wedged into the ravines like sheets of ice, and being most precipitous, and continuing to the very foot of the mountains, terminating in the numerous torrents which they fed, a single false step in crossing would have sent one rolling down, without a chance of stopping, to be dashed to pieces at the bottom. In this way, a couple of years before, two coolies and a shikaree had been killed, while shooting with an officer. F. and I generally crossed these places in the footsteps of the guides, or in holes cut by them for our feet with a hatchet; but the men themselves passed them with a dash, which only long practice and complete confidence could have imitated. During our halt we suffered a good deal from the sun, although the snow was only six inches off. In spite of the shade which our guides constructed for us out of mysterious portions of their dress, both our wrists and ankles were completely swollen and blistered before evening, while our faces and noses in particular began to assume the appearance so generally suggestive of Port wine and good living.
Our descent to the camp was a good march in itself, and we arrived there about five P.M. hot and tired, ‘but quite ready for our mountain fare. On our road, we luckily discovered a quantity of young rhubarb, growing in nature’s kitchen-garden, and pouncing on it, we devoted it to the celebration of our Sunday dinner. We also saw a number of minaur, or jungle-fowl, something of the pheasant tribe; but they were so wild that nothing but slugs would secure them, and they entirely declined the honour of an invitation to our Sunday entertainment.
JUNE 24. — We were not at all sorry to remember this morning, as the sun rose, that it was a day of rest, for after our last few days of work we were fully able to enjoy it. Amused ourselves exploring all about us, and picking wild flowers in memory of our camp. The commonest were wild pansy and forget-me-not, and the rhododendron grew in quantities. In the afternoon we made a muster of our standing provisions, having only brought four days’ supply, and seeing little chance of getting back for ten. The result was., that tea was reported low, potatoes on their last legs, and brandy in a declining state. Under these melancholy circumstances, we agreed to stop another day for shooting, and then march over the snows for Aliabad and Heerpore, to join our main body at the latter place. A road by Cheta Panee was declared impracticable for coolies, in consequence of the hardness of the snow; so we gave it up.
JUNE 25. — All over the mountains again this morning before daybreak, and up to breakfast-time without seeing game. However, one of our sharp-sighted guides then detected markore, grazing at a long distance up the mountains; even through the glasses they were mere specks, and, to our unpractised eyes, very like the tufts and stones around them; but in all faith that our guides were right, off we started in pursuit. The first step was to lose all our morning’s toil by plunging for a mile or so down a steep descent. After that being accomplished, up we went again, up and up an apparently interminable bank of snow, at an angle of about sixty degrees, and slippery as glass. At the summit, exhausted and completely out of breath, we did at last arrive, and from this our friends of the morning were expected to be within shot. Not a sign of a living creature appeared, however, to enliven the solitude around us, and we began to think that our guides were a little TOO clear-sighted this time, when what should suddenly come upon us but a solitary old markore, slowly and leisurely rounding a rugged point of rock below. We were all squatted in a bunch upon a space about as large as a good-sized towel; but, hidden as we thought ourselves, I could discern that our friend had evidently caught a glimpse of something which displeased him in his morning cogitations. Still, on he came, and just as he crossed a small field of snow, F. opened fire at him across the ravine: the ball struck just below his body, and, as he plunged forward, I followed with both barrels. On he went, however, and before another shot could be fired he was coolly looking down upon us from a terrace of inaccessible rocks, completely out of range. Nothing remained but to descend again, and this we accomplished very much more speedily, though perhaps not quite in such a graceful style as we had ascended. The shikarees merely sat down on the inclined plane, and with a hatchet or a stick firmly pressed under the arm as a lever to regulate the pace, or a rudder to steer clear of rocks as occasion might require, down they went at a tremendous pace, until the slope was not sufficient to propel them further.
Our own wardrobe being limited in dimensions we declined adopting this mode of locomotion, and slipping and sliding along, soon accomplished the descent, in a less business-like but equally satisfactory manner. While taking the direction of our camp, we espied seven more animals, perched apparently upon a smooth face of rock; and after a short council of war off we started on a fresh stalk, down another descent, over more fields of snow, and up a place where a cat would have found walking difficult.
While accomplishing this latter movement, our guides detected two huge red bears, an enormous distance off, enjoying themselves in the evening air, and feeding and scratching themselves alternately, as they sauntered about in the breeze. Abandoning our present stalk, which was not promising, down we went again, and crossing about a mile and a half of broken ground, snow, rocks, &c., we reached a wood close to the whereabouts of our new game. F. and I, separating, had made the place by different routes, and just as I had caught sight of one enormous monster, F. and the shikaree appeared, just on the point of walking into his jaws. Having, by great exertion, prevented this catastrophe, we massed our forces, and taking off our hats, just as if we were stalking an unpopular landed proprietor in Tipperary, we crept up to within sixty yards of the unsuspicious monster, and fired both together. With a howl and a grunt, the huge mass doubled himself up, and rolled into the cover badly wounded. Being too dangerous a looking customer to follow directly, we reloaded and made a circuit above him; and after a short search, discovered him with his paws firmly clasped round a young tree. By way of finishing him, I gave him the contents of my rifle behind the ear, and we then rolled him down a ravine on to the snow beneath, where, a heavy storm of rain, hail, and thunder coming on, we left him alone in his glory. Putting our best legs foremost, we made for our camp, amid a pelting shower of hail like bullets and an incessant play of lightning around us, as we pushed our way along the frozen torrent. About five P.M., tired and drenched, we reached the camp, when we discovered that our tents, though extremely handy for mountain work, were not intended to keep out much rain, and that all our rugs, and other comforts, were almost in as moist a state as ourselves. During the entire night it continued to hail, rain, thunder, and lighten; and with the exception of the exact spots we were each lying on, there was not a dry place in the tent to take refuge in.
JUNE 26. — After an exceedingly moist night, we made the most of a little sunshine by turning out all our property, and hanging it around us on stones and bushes to dry. After we had distinguished ourselves in this way, for a couple of hours, down came the rain again; and after stowing our half-dried goods, we assembled under a tree, and held a council of war as to our future movements. The rain had swelled the mountain torrents considerably, and the hail, lying on the old snow, had made it slippery as glass, so that we were obliged to give up the mountain pass we had agreed upon, and decided on a retreat to “Poshana,” our present ground being fairly untenable. Sending off our tents and traps, and half-drowned servants, who were completely out of their element, we remained behind under the pines till the rain a little abated, and having secured the bear-skin for curing, we started off with our rear-guard for Poshana. The road was so slippery, that even with grass-shoes we could hardly keep from falling; and the snow we found as hard as ice, and proportionately difficult to cross. The consequence was, that in passing a steep incline with the guide, he slipped, and I followed his example, and down we both went like an engine and tender, the guide fishing about with his legs for obstacles, and I above him, endeavouring to use my pole as an anchor to bring us to.
Luckily, we both reached TERRA FIRMA safely, after a perilous run, though at the same side we started from, and a long distance from our point of previous departure. On at length reaching the opposite side, we found a disconsolate coolie bemoaning himself and reckoning his bones, having also fallen down the snow, while a little further on we came upon the bhistie lamenting over a similar disaster. The latter functionary had also lost a valuable pot of virgin honey, which had only come up from Poshana the day before, and which we had not had time to see the inside of even, ere it was thus lost to us for ever, and made over as a poetical reparation to the bears of the country for the ruthless murder we had committed on one of their number. Found the hut at Poshana empty, and were glad to get into its shelter again. The rain seeming quite set in, we determined to discharge our shikarees, and after paying them three rupees each for their week’s work, we sent them away perfectly happy, with a few copper caps and a good character apiece.
JUNE 27. — Left Poshana at five A.M., and made for the Peer Punjal pass. A sharp struggle brought us to the summit, where we found a polygon tower erected, apparently as a landmark and also a resting-place for travellers to recover themselves after their exertions. At the Cashmere side of the pass I had expected to see something of the far-famed valley, but nothing met the eye but a wild waste of land, bounded on all sides by snow, while a few straggling coolies toiled up towards us with some itinerant Englishman’s baggage like our own.
This turned out to belong to a party returning to Sealkote, and we were rather elated by seeing among their possessions several enormous antlers, which promised well for sport at the other side of the valley. They turned out, however, to have been bought, and, as their owners informed us, there was no chance of meeting such game until October or November. About two miles down the pass we reached the old serai of Aliabad, and found the only habitable part of it in possession of a clergyman and a young Bengal artilleryman bound for the shooting-grounds we had just left. With much difficulty we obtained a few eggs, and a little milk with which we washed down the chupatties we had brought with us; but the coolies were so long getting over the path, that no signs of breakfast made their appearance until about two o’clock. At mid-day it came on to rain heavily, and we took up our quarters in a miserable den, with a flooring of damp rubbish and a finely carved stone window not very much in keeping with the rest of the establishment. Here we spent the day drearily enough, the prospect being confined to a green pool of water in the middle of the serai, around which the Pariah dogs contended with the crows for the dainties of offal scattered about. As soon as it was dark, we were glad enough to spread our waterproof sheets on the ground, and sleep as well as the thousands of tenants already in possession would allow us.
JUNE 28. — Up at sunrise, and packed off our things down the mountain for Heerpore, where the main body of our possessions were concentrated.
Shortly after their departure it began to rain an Irish and Scotch combined mist, and after warming our toes and blinding our eyes over a wood fire for about three hours, in hopes of its clearing, we donned grass-shoes and, putting our best legs foremost, accomplished about thirteen miles of a most slippery path without a halt, except for the occasional purpose of adjusting our dilapidated shoes.
After the first five or six miles the path entered a beautifully-wooded valley, and at one spot, where two torrents joined their foaming waters at the foot of a picturesque old ivy-grown serai, the landscape was almost perfection. Passing this, we entered a thickly-shaded wood, studded with roses and jessamine, and peopled with wood-pigeons and nightingales, who favoured us with a morning concert as we passed. Crossing a wooden bridge over the torrent, we reached a fine grass country, and here the presence of a herd of cows told us we were near our destination. At Heerpore we found Mr. Rajoo located with all our belongings in a little wooden sort of squatter’s cabin, where we were glad to take shelter out of the dripping rain. It reminded one strongly of Captain Cuttle’s habitation and a ship’s cabin together, and made one feel inclined to go on deck occasionally. It was on the whole, however, very comfortable, and seemed, after our late indifferent quarters, to be a perfect palace. After breakfast, we made inquiries as to our worldly affairs, and found that all were thriving with the exception of the potatoes, which had been taken worse on the road, and were already decimated by sickness. We added a sheep to our stock, for which we paid three shillings, and laid in a welcome supply of butter. The khidmutgar and bhistie, we found, had retailed the history of their many sorrows to the other servants, and, having expatiated most fully on the horrors they had endured among the snows and thunderstorms of the mountains, were promising themselves a speedy end to all their woes among the peace and plenty of the promised land of Cashmere.
JUNE 29. — After some trouble in procuring coolies, we started at eleven in a shower of rain, and found ourselves gradually passing into the valley, and exchanging rocks and firs for groves of walnut; and moss and fern for the more civilized strawberry and the wild carnation. The strawberries, though small, had a delicious flavour, and we whiled away the time by gathering them as we passed. About two o’clock we reached the village of Shupayon, and here began to perceive a considerable change in the style of architecture from what we had been accustomed to; the flat mudden roof giving place to the sharply-pitched wooden one, thatched with straw, or coarsely TILED with wood.
Our halting-place we found, for the first time, to possess a staircase and upper story. A little square habitation it was, with a verandah all round it, and built entirely of wood. From this, as the clouds lifted from the mountain-tops around, a most lovely view opened out before us.
Wherever the eye rested toward the mountains, the snow-capped peaks raised themselves up into the clear blue sky; while at our feet lay the far-famed valley, reaching towards the north, to the very base of the mountain range, and rising gradually and by a gentle slope to our halting-place, and so back to the pass from which we had just descended.
As the sun appeared to have come out again permanently, we took the opportunity of getting our tents and other property which had suffered from the wet out for a general airing.
JUNE 30. — Marched about nine miles through fertile slopes of rice-fields, shaded by walnuts and sycamores, and found our halting-place situated in a serai, shrouded in mulberry and cherry trees, and with a charming little rivulet running through it, discoursing sweet music night and day. Our habitation was a baraduree, or summer-house, of wood, and having an upper room with trellised windows, where we spent the day very pleasantly. At dinner we had the first instalment of the land of promise, in the shape of a roly-poly pudding of fresh cherries, a thing to date from in our hitherto puddingless circumstances.
JULY 1. — Started at daybreak for our last march into the capital. The first appearance of the low part of the valley was rather disappointing, for there was nothing striking in the view; still, the country was extremely fertile, and its tameness was redeemed by the glorious mountain range, which bounded the valley in every direction, with its pure unsullied fringe of snow. Our path was occasionally studded with the most superb sycamores and lime-trees; and as we approached the town we entered a long avenue of poplars, planted as closely together as possible, and completely hiding all the buildings until close upon them. Passing through the grand parade-ground, we found a bustling throng of about four hundred Cashmeeries, with heavy packs beside them, waiting for an escort to take out supplies to the Maharajah’s army, now on active service at a place called Girgit, in the mountains. The said army seemed to be fighting with nobody knew who, about nobody knew what; but report says that his Highness, having a number of troops wanting arrears of pay, sends them out periodically to contend with the hill tribes, by way of settlement in full of all demands.
Having engaged a boat’s crew at Ramoon, we were, on arriving at the River Jhelum, which runs through the city, immediately inducted to the manners and customs of the place; and being safely deposited in a long flat-bottomed boat, with a mat roof and a prow about twelve feet out of the water, we were paddled across by our six new servants, and landed among a number of bungalows on the right bank, which were erected by the Maharajah for the reception of his English visitors. These are entirely of wood, of the rudest construction, and are built along the very edge of the river, which is here about a hundred yards broad.
We were received on landing by the Baboo and Moonshee, the native authorities retained by the Maharajah for the convenience of his visitors; and learning from them that there were no bungalows vacant, we pitched our little camp under a shady grove of trees close by; and thus, in the capital of the land of poetry and promise, the far-famed paradise of the Hindoo, we brought our wanderings to an end for the present, and gave ourselves and our retainers a rest from all the toils and troubles of the road.
A Halt in the Valley.
Being fairly settled in our quarters, we were not long in putting our new staff of dependants into requisition; and, taking to our boat, sallied forth to get a general view of the city of Sirinugger. Finding, however, a review of the army going on, we stopped at the parade-ground to witness the interesting ceremony. The troops we found drawn up in lines, forming the sides of a large square, and dressed in what his Highness Rumbeer Singh believes confidently to be the ENGLISH COSTUME. As far as one could see, however, the sole foundation for this belief lay in the fact of their all wearing trousers! These were certainly the only articles of their equipment that could in any way be called English in style; and they bore, after all, but a slender resemblance to the corresponding habiliments of the true Briton.
The head-dress, generally speaking, was a turban. One regiment, however, had actually perpetrated a parody on the English shako — a feat which I had always hitherto considered absolutely impossible.
The cavalry were mounted upon tattoos, or native ponies, and wore white trousers, with tight straps, which rendered them for the time being the most miserable of their race.
A few of them had imitations of Lancer caps, some had boots, some slippers, some spurs, others none; some had wondrous straps of tape and cord, others wore their trousers up to their knees; but one and all were entirely uniform in looking completely ill at ease and out of their element in their borrowed would-be-English plumage. Just as we had finished taking a general view of the army, the Maharajah appeared upon the stage, dressed in a green-and-gold embroidered gown and turban and tight silk pantaloons, mounted on a grey caparisoned Arab steed. After riding round the lines with his retinue, he came up, and we were presented in due form; and after asking us if we had come from Allahabad, and expressing his opinion that it was a long way off, in which we entirely concurred with him, he shook hands in English style; and, taking his seat in a chair which was placed for him, we collected ourselves around, and, similarly seated, prepared to inspect the marching past of his highness’s redoubtables. Before this began, however, the Maharajah’s little son made his appearance, dressed in all respects like his papa, with miniature sword and embroidered raiment; and to him we were also introduced in form. During the marching past, I congratulated myself upon being several seats distant from his highness’s chair, for the effect was so absurd that it was almost impossible to preserve that dignity and composure which the occasion demanded.
The marching was in slow time, and the step being fully thirty-six inches the fat little dumpy officers nearly upset themselves in their efforts to keep time, and at the same time prevent their slippers from deserting on the line of march; while, in bringing their swords to the salute, they did it with a swing which was suggestive of their throwing away their arms altogether. Besides artillery, five regiments of infantry and two of cavalry marched past — in all, little over 2,000 men — colours flying and bands playing “Home, sweet home!” After this the irregulars began to appear; and although the first part of the army might have almost deserved the name, these put them completely in the shade. One colonel had a pair of enormous English gold epaulettes and a turban; another a black embroidered suit, with white tape straps, and slippers; and as for the men, there were no two of them dressed alike, while in the way of arms, each pleased his own particular fancy also. A long gun over the shoulder was the most popular weapon; but each had, in addition, a perfect armoury fastened in his girdle: pistols with stocks like guns, daggers and even blunderbusses made their appearance; and the general effect, as the crowd galloped independently past, dressed in their many-coloured turbans, and flowing apparel, was most picturesque. As soon as the last of the flags and banners and prancing horses had gone past, the Maharajah set us the example of rising, and mounting his grey steed, cantered off in state, surrounded by the crowd of dusky parasites, arrayed in gold and jewels, who formed his court.
His Highness appeared to be about thirty-eight years old, and was as handsome a specimen of a native as I had ever seen. He wore a short, jet-black beard, and mustachios, turned up from the corners of his mouth, and reaching, in two long twists, nearly to his eyes. He appeared absent and thoughtful which, considering the low state of his exchequer, was perhaps not to be wondered at. His English visitors spend a good deal of money every summer in his kingdom; and for this reason alone, he is anxious enough to cultivate their acquaintance, and gives naches, or native dances, and champagne dinners periodically to amuse them. He presents, also, an offering to each traveller that arrives, and we in due course received two sheep, two fowls, and about fourteen little earthen dishes containing rice, butter, spices, eggs, flour, fruit, honey, sugar, tea, &c., all of which were laid at the door of our tent, with great pomp and ceremony, by a host of attendants.
After the review, we took boat again and paddled down the stream to look at the town, and a quainter and more picturesque-looking old place it would be hard to conceive. The, houses are built entirely of wood, of five and six stories, and overhanging the river, and are as close as possible to each other, except where here and there interspersed with trees. Communication is kept up between the banks by means of wooden rustic bridges, built on enormous piles of timber, laid in entire trees, crossing each other at equal distances. Not a single straight line is to be seen in any direction — the houses being dilapidated and generally out of the perpendicular; and everywhere the river view is bounded by the snow-capped ranges of mountain, which, towards the north, appear to rise almost from the very water’s edge.
JULY 2. — Taking the Q.M.G. as a guide, we sallied out immediately after breakfast to explore the land part of this Eastern Venice. Entering at the city gate, on the left bank of the river, near the Maharajah’s palace, we walked past a row of trumpery pop-guns, on green and red carriages, and so through the most filthy and odoriferous bazaar I ever met with, till we reached the residence of Saifula Baba, the great shawl merchant of Sirinugger. Here we found a noted shawl fancier inspecting the stock, and were inducted to the mysteries of the different fabrics. Some that we saw were of beautiful workmanship, but dangerous to an uninitiated purchaser. They ranged from 300 to 1,000 rupees generally, but could be ordered to an almost unlimited extent of price. After inspecting a quantity of Pushmeena and other local manufactures, Mr. Saifula Baba handed us tea and sweetmeats, after the fashion of his country; and we adjourned to the abode of a worker in papier mache, where we underwent a second edition of tea and sweetmeats, and inspected a number of curiosities. The chief and only beauty of the work was in the strangeness of the design; and some of the shawl patterns, reproduced on boxes, &c., were pretty in their way, but as manufacturers of papier mache simply, the Cashmeeries were a long way behind the age.
On reaching home, we found that the Maharajah had sent his salaam, together with the information that he was going to give a nach and dinner, to which we were invited.
JULY 3. — After continuing our explorations of Sirinugger, we repaired, about seven o’clock, to the Maharajah’s palace, where we were received by a guard of honour of sixty men and four officers., the latter in gold embroidered dresses, and hung all over with ear-rings and finery of divers sorts and kinds.
Ascending the stairs, we were met by the DEEWAN, or prime minister, who conducted us into an open sort of terrace over the river, where we found the Maharajah with the few English officers already arrived seated on either side of him, and the nach-girls, about twenty in number, squatted in a semicircle opposite them. Standing behind his Highness were colonels of regiments and native dignitaries of all sorts, dressed in cloth of gold and jewels, and in every variety and hue of turban and appointments. A number of these were Sikhs; and magnificent-looking men they were, with their flowing dress and fiercely-twisted whiskers and mustachios. The nach-girls, too — a motley group — were attired in all the hues of the rainbow, and with the white-robed musicians behind them, awaited in patience the signal to commence. In singular contrast to this glittering throng, which formed the court, were the guests whom the Maharajah, on this occasion, delighted to honour. The British officer appeared generally in the national but uncourtly costume of a shooting jacket! and though some few had donned their uniform, and one rejoiced in the traditional swallow-tail of unmistakeable civilization, neither the one nor the other contrasted favourably in point of grace with the Cashmerian rank and fashion.
After shaking hands with his Highness, who prides himself upon his English way of accomplishing that ceremony, and does it by slipping into one’s hand what might be taken for a dying flat fish, we took our seats, and the dancing began shortly afterwards. Though on a more magnificent scale than anything I had seen of the kind before, the programme was flat and insipid enough. The ladies came out two and two, and went through a monotonous die-away movement, acting, dancing, and singing all at the same time, and showing off their red-stained palms and the soles of their feet to the best advantage. Some of the women were very pretty, but very properly they modified their charms by dressing in the most unbecoming manner possible. Their head-dress was a little cloth of gold and silver cap hung all round with pendent ornaments, and these were becoming enough, but the remainder of the dress was much more trying. A short body of shot silk was separated by a natural border from a gauze skirt, which hung down perfectly straight and innocent of fulness, and allowed a pair of white pyjamas to appear beneath. These were fastened tightly round the ancles, which were encircled by little bunches of the tinkling bells, which the ladies make such use of in the dance. Round the shoulders comes a filmy scarf of various colours, which also plays a prominent part in all their movements, and answers in its way to the fan of more accomplished Western belles.
After each couple had gone through the whole of their performances, they used to squat themselves down suddenly in the most ungraceful style imaginable, and were then relieved by another pair of artistes from the group.
One lady, in addition to the dance, favoured us with “the Marseillaise” with the French words, being occasionally prompted by the head of the orchestra, who nearly worked himself into a frenzy while accompanying the dancers with both vocal and instrumental music at the same time. The Maharajah himself was plainly dressed in white robes, with a pair of pale-green striped silk pantaloons fitting his legs like stockings from the knee down, and terminating in a pair of English socks, of which he seemed immensely proud. His turban was of the palest shade of green, and (in strong contrast to the rest of his court) without any ornament whatever. The little heir to the throne — a nice little blackamoor of about eight years of age — was, like his father, perched upon a chair, and arrayed in a green and gold turban, pants, and socks, with the addition of a velvet gold-embroidered coat, while round his neck were three or four valuable necklaces, one of pear-shaped emeralds of great size and beauty. After a few dances the doors of the banqueting-room were thrown open, and his Highness led the way into dinner with the commissioner. On entering, we found a capital dinner laid out English fashion, and with a formidable army of black bottles ranged along the table. The Maharajah, however, had disappeared, and we were left to feed without a host. The grandees, meanwhile, remained outside, and still enjoyed the dances, ranging themselves upon their haunches in front of the rows of chairs which not one among them would have dared to trust himself in for either love or money. Considering that our entertainer was a Hindoo, and that his dinner-giving appliances were limited, each person having to bring his own knife, fork, spoon, and chair, we fared very well, and after having drunk his health, again assembled in the court, where we found Rumbeer Singh still occupied with the wearisome nach, and reattired in a gorgeous dress of green velvet and gold. After a short stay he got up, and we all followed his example, glad enough to bring the entertainment to an end, and betake ourselves to our boats. At the stairs there was a desperate encounter with innumerable boatmen, each boat having six, eight, or ten sailors, and all being equally anxious to uphold the credit of their craft by being the first to land their masters safe, at home. We were fortunate enough to reach our own at once, and, with a shouting crew, away we dashed up the river, leaving the others struggling, fighting, and flourishing their paddles in the air, in a way which was more suggestive of an insurrection scene in Masaniello than the departure of guests from a peaceable gentleman’s own hall door on the night of an evening party.
On the stairs there was an extraordinary assemblage of slippers, which seemed to hold the same relative position that hats and cloaks do in more enlightened communities — that is, the good ones were taken by the owners of the bad, and the proprietors of the bad ones were fain to make the best of the exchange. Next morning our khidmutgar came up with a most doleful countenance and presented to our notice a pair of certainly most ill-favoured slippers, which a fellow true-believer had INADVERTENTLY substituted for a pair of later date. The lost ones had, in fact, only recently been received from the boot-maker; and the blow was difficult to bear with resignation, even by the saintliest follower of Islam — a reputation which our retainer came short of by a very long way indeed.
JULY 4. — Having an accumulation of letters to answer, we devoted the day to writing — merely enjoying a little OTIUM CUM DIG. — in the evening, reclining in our boat while serenaded by the crew of boatmen.
JULY 5. — Walked up, before daybreak, to the Tukht e Suleeman, or Solomon’s throne, “the mountainous Portal,” which Moore speaks of in LALLA ROOKH, and which forms the most striking landmark in the valley.
From the summit there was a curious view of the multitudinous wooden houses and the sinuous windings of the river, which could alone be obtained from such a bird’s-eye point of inspection. An old temple at the top was in the hands of the Hindoo faction, being dedicated to the goddess Mahadewee, and in charge of it I found two of the dirtiest fukeers, or religious mendicants, I ever had the pleasure of meeting. One was lying asleep, with his feet in a heap of dust and ashes, and the other was listlessly sitting, without moving a muscle, warming himself in the morning sun. Both were almost naked, and had their bodies and faces smeared with ashes and their hair long and matted. They appeared to have arrived at a state of almost entire abstraction, and neither of them even raised his eyes or seemed to be in the slightest degree aware of my presence, although I took a sketch of one of them, and stared at both, very much as I would have done at some new arrival of animals in the Zoological Gardens.
In the evening we went again to Saifula Baba’s and visited the workrooms, where we were much astonished by the quickness with which the people worked the intricate shawl patterns with a simple needle, and no copy to guide them.
The first stages of the work are not very promising, but the finished result, when pressed and rolled and duly exhibited by that true believer Saifula Baba, in his snowy gown and turban, was certainly in every way worthy of its reputation.
Returning home, we visited a garden where any of the English visitors who die in the valley are buried — the Maharajah presenting a Cashmere shawl, in some instances, to wrap the body in. There were about eight or ten monuments built of plaster, with small square slabs for inscriptions. One of these was turned topsy-turvey, which was not to be wondered at, for a native almost always holds English characters upside-down when either trying to decipher them himself or when holding them to be read by others.
JULY 6. — In the early morning I ascended to the throne of Solomon, in order to get a sketch of the Fort of Hurree Purbut, and in the afternoon we repaired to the lake behind the town, where there was a grand Mela or fair, on the water, to which the Maharajah and all his court went in state. The lake is beautifully situated at the foot of the mountains, and was covered so densely in many parts with weed and water-plants that it bore quite the appearance of a floating garden; and as the innumerable boats paddled about, with their bright and sunny cargoes, talking and laughing and enjoying themselves to their heart’s content, the scene began to identify itself in some measure with Moore’s description of the “Sunny lake of cool Cashmere,” and its “Plane-tree isle reflected clear,” although the poet’s eyes had never rested on either lake or isle. Putting poetry on one side, however, for the present, we made our way to the extremity of the lake, in order to pay a visit to his Highness’s gaol, where we were received by a very civil gaoler, equipped with a massive sword and dilapidated shield. We found 110 prisoners in the place, employed generally in converting dhan into chawul, or, in other words, clearing the rice-crop. There was also a mill for mustard oil, and the most primitive machine for boring fire-arms ever invented, both worked by water-power. The prison dress was uniform in the extreme: it consisted simply of a suit of heavy leg-irons and nothing more!
After seeing the fair, we paddled across through a perfect water-meadow to the Shalimar gardens, where we found the Rajah and his suite just taking their departure. The vista on entering the gardens was extremely pretty: four waterfalls appear at the same moment, sending a clear sheet of crystal water over a broad stone slab, and gradually receding from sight in the wooded distance. A broad canal runs right through the gardens, bridged at intervals by summer-houses and crossed by carved and quaintly-fashioned stepping stones. At the extremity there is a magnificent baradurree of black marble, which looks as if it had been many centuries in existence, and had originally figured in some very different situation. The pillars were entire to a length of seven feet, and were highly polished from the people leaning against them. Around this, in reservoirs of water, were about two hundred fountains, all spouting away together, and on one side a sheet of the most perfectly still water I ever saw. It appeared exactly like a large looking-glass, and it was impossible to discern where the artificial bank which inclosed it either began or terminated.
In these gardens it was that Selim, or Jehangeer the son of Akbar, used to spend so many of his days with the far-famed Noor Jehan in the beginning of the seventeenth century, and here was the scene of their reconciliation, as related by Feramorz to Lalla Rookh ere he revealed himself to her as her future lord, the king of Bucharia. From these founts and streams it was that the fair Persian sought to entice her lord, with “Fly to the desert, fly with me!”
“When breathing, as she did, a tone
To earthly lutes and lips unknown;
With every chord fresh from the touch Of Music’s spirit, — ’twas too much!”
“The light of the universe” overcomes even the “conqueror of the world.” Thinking it, after all, wiser to kiss and be friends than be sulky, he surrenders at discretion: —
“And, happier now for all their sighs, As on his arm her head reposes,
She whispers him with laughing eyes, ‘Remember, love, the Feast of Roses!’ ”
Leaving the favourite haunts of the “magnificent son of Akbar,” we crossed the lake again to see the Maharajah inspect a party of about 2,000 soldiers, who were departing for the war at Girgit. Nothing in the way of supplies being procurable near the scene of action, the greater part of the review was taken up by the marching past of a horde of Cashmeree and mountain porters, heavily laden with the sinews of war. According to report, the pay of the army here is about five shillings per mensem, with a ration of two pounds of rice per diem.
In the evening, the number of boats congregated on the lake was marvellous. All were perfectly crammed with Cashmerian pleasure-seekers; but the turbaned faithful, in spite of the pressure, in no way lost their dignity, but with pipes and coffee enjoyed themselves in apparently entire unconsciousness of there being a soul on the lake beside themselves. The most wonderful sight, however,