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  • 1863
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was the immense crowd of many-coloured turbans congregated on shore, witnessing the departure of the Cashmerian Guards; and as they thronged the green slopes in thousands, they gave one quite the idea of a mass of very violent-coloured flowers blooming together in a garden. On our way home we had great jostling, and even fighting, in order to maintain our position among the crowds of boats, the result of which was that our crew managed to break two paddles in upholding the dignity and respectability of their masters. The Maharajah himself, however, gave us the go-by in great style, in a long quaint boat, propelled by thirty-six boatmen, and built with a broad seat towards the bows, in shape like the overgrown body of a gig in indifferent circumstances, on which his Highness reclined. By his side was the little prince, in glorious apparel, while half a dozen of his court, arrayed in spotless white, appeared like so many snow-drifts lying at his feet.

JULY 7. — Made our arrangements to-day for a trip by water to the Wuler Lake, and spent the afternoon in inspecting the jeweller’s and other shops in the city. The native workmen appear to engrave cleverly both on stone and metal, and some of their performances would bear comparison with any European workmanship of a similar kind. They also work in filagree silver, charging about sixpence in every two shillings’ worth of silver for their labour. About nine P.M. we took to our boats; F. and I occupying one together, in which we stowed bedding, dressing-things, &c. while the cooking apparatus and servants occupied the other. Passed the night very comfortably, and found the situation most conducive to sleep, as we glided gently along with the stream.

JULY 8. — Awoke to find an innumerable swarm of mosquitoes buzzing about our habitation, and apparently endeavouring to carry it off bodily. Letting down, however, the muslin curtains, which the foreknowledge of the faithful Q.M.G. had provided us with, we succeeded in puzzling the enemy for the time being. About eight o’clock, the fleet came to an anchor at a luxuriant little island at the entrance of the great lake; to all appearance, however, it might have been situated in a meadow, for we had to force our way to it through a perfect plain of green water-plants, whose slimy verdure covered the face of the lake for miles around. It was wooded by mulberry trees, very prettily entwined with wild vines, and in the midst were the remains of an old Musjid, in which we discovered a slab of black marble, covered with a beautifully carved inscription in Arabic, and appearing as if it had not always held the ignoble position which it now occupied. Scattered about the island, also, were many scraps of columns and carved stones, which gave evidence of having belonged to some ancient temple or palace. While thus surveying our island, we were pestered to death by swarms of prodigious mosquitoes, for which the Wuler Lake is justly celebrated, and during breakfast the eating was quite as much on their side as ours; so that we were glad to weigh anchor, and with our curtains tightly tucked in around us, we floated away, in lazy enjoyment of climate and scenery, towards the centre of the lake. As we cleared the margin of the water-plants, we found ourselves on a glassy surface, extending away towards the west as far as the eye could see, and bordered on all sides by gorgeous mountains and ranges of snow. Around the edges of the lake a sunny mirage was playing tricks with the cattle and the objects on the banks, and as we glided lazily on with the stream, and the splashing paddles, and even the foiled mosquitoes, made music about us, we began to enter more into the spirit of our situation, and to appreciate the peculiar beauties of the “sunny lake of cool Cashmere,” with the DOLCE FAR NIENTE existence which of right belongs to it. About one o’clock we reached Sompoor, at the Baramoula extremity of the lake, and as it came on to blow a little, it was not too soon: our boats were totally unadapted for anything rougher than a mill-pond, and in the ripple excited by the small puffs of wind, I had the misfortune to ship what was, under the circumstances, a heavy sea, and so sacrificed the prospects of a dry lodging for the night. Sompoor we found a picturesque but dirty village, with promise of good fishing, in the river below it. We unfortunately had no tackle, but the boatmen succeeded in catching five or six good fish with a hook baited with a mulberry only : a very favourite article of consumption, apparently, among the Cashmerian little fishes.

Dropping down the river, we dined on the bank among the mulberry trees, and I afterwards essayed to take a sketch of the village; such a firm and determined body of mosquitoes, however, immediately fell upon me, that, after a short but unsuccessful combat, I was fairly put to flight, and Sompoor remained undrawn. We passed the night above the town, ready for an early start in the morning.

JULY 9. — Left our moorings before sunrise, and halted about eight A.M. at a little island stacked with elephant-grass, where, after as good a swim as the tangled weeds would permit, we breakfasted pleasantly under the trees.

From this point we adopted a new mode of progression, the boatmen towing us from the bank; and the motion was a great improvement on the paddling system, except that it had a tendency to set one to sleep altogether. Reached Sirinugger, and our camp again, at four P.M.

JULY 10. — Paid Saifula Baba, the shawl merchant, a visit to-day, in order to get a bill of exchange on Umritsur cashed. Found him just going out to Mosque, in his snow-white robe and turban, cleanly-shaved pate, and golden slippers. Not having any money, he promised us a hundred rupees of the Maharajah’s coinage to go on with. These nominal rupees are each value 10 annas, or 1S. 3D., the most chipped and mutilated objects imaginable. On one face of the coin are the letters I.H.S. stamped, a strange enough device for a heathen or any other mint to have adopted. While floating about the Eastern Venice, we discovered a number of finely-cut old blocks of stone in the built-up wall which bounded the river; and on inspecting the place, we came upon an ancient Mussulman cemetery and ruined Musjid, in which there were some very antique-looking carvings, which apparently had commenced life elsewhere than on Mussulman ground. The graveyard, however, was itself extremely old, although many of the turbaned and lettered tombstones of the faithful were in perfect preservation. All began with the “La Ulah ila Ullah,” or “B’ism Ullah,”[9] with which everything connected with a Mussulman does commence, either in life or death.

All through the city one can trace the remains of some much more ancient structure in the huge blocks of carved stone which are scattered about among their more plebeian brethren, and serve to form with them, in humble forgetfulness of past grandeur, the foundations of the lofty rattletrap but picturesque wooden structures which line both sides of the river and form the city of Cashmere in the year of grace 1860.

Some of these houses, as one looks into the narrow lanes leading to the river and sees them in profile, are apparently in the last stage of dissolution, leaning out of the perpendicular and overtopping their lower stories and foundations in a way that would put even the leaning tower of Pisa to shame. One six-storied house, of long experience in this crooked world, had made the most wonderful efforts to redeem his character and to recover his equilibrium by leaning the contrary way aloft from what he did below. Poor fellow! he had been but badly conducted in his youth, and was nobly endeavouring to correct his ways in a mossy and dilapidated old age. The tracery of much of the wood-work carvings, and particularly of the windows, varies greatly, and in some places is so minute that it requires close inspection to find out the design. Of these the Zenana windows of the Maharajah’s palace are about the finest specimens; but as there is no way of approaching them closely, it is impossible to make out their details.

JULY 11. — Started this evening by water for Islamabad, the ancient capital of Cashmere.

We made a slight change in our arrangements, rather for the better, by hiring a large boat for ourselves and handing our own over to the servants and culinary department in general.

JULY 12. — Found ourselves not very far on our road on awakening this morning, the night having been very dark, the current strong against us, and the sailors lazy.

Another cause of delay also, if these were insufficient, was, that the proprietor of the boat dropped his turban overboard, with two rupees in the folds of it, and the old lady his spouse had stopped the fleet for at least an hour to cry over the misfortune. Before breakfast we had a swim, and found ourselves only just able to make way against the stream. Breakfasted on the river bank, under the trees, and surrounded by rocky snow-capped mountains. Reading, scribbling, and eating apricots brought us to about an hour before sunset, when F. and I landed and went ahead to pick out a spot for a dining-room for ourselves. In the search, we passed through orchards and gardens innumerable, and finally decided upon a grove of magnificent sycamores on the river bank, where we laid out our table just as the sun went down. Within view was a picturesque old wooden bridge, on the mossy tree-formed piles of which the bushes were growing, as if quite at home, and hanging gracefully over the flowing river.

JULY 13. — Found ourselves at sunrise at the end of our boat journey, bathed in the river, and started for Islamabad, about half a kos off.

On the bank we found three other travellers encamped, and leaving them fast asleep, we pushed ahead and took possession of the baraduree. This we found a charming little place in a garden, full of ponds of sacred fish, with old carved stones scattered about, belonging to the Hindoo mythology. Through one corner of an upper tank a stream of crystal water flowed in from the mountain which rose perpendicularly behind it — the water welling up from below in a constant and abundant stream. Round this corner were some most grotesque stones; and here the sacred fish were assembled in such shoals as to jostle each other almost out of the water; but whether they were attracted by the fresh supply of water or the sacred images covered as they were with votive offerings of milk and rice, flowers, &c., the fish or the Brahmins alone can tell.

Tradition states that an infidel Christian officer once killed three of these fish, and having eaten one of them, died shortly after. Putting their sanctity out of the question, however, the little creatures are so tame and so numerous that few people would be inclined either to kill or to eat them. While feeding them with bread, I could have caught any number with my hand; and holding a piece of tough crust under water, it was amusing to feel them tugging and hauling at it, making occasional snaps at one’s fingers in their efforts. They were generally about half a pound in weight.

Our baraduree was built of wood, in the usual style, with latticed windows of various designs, and having one room overhanging the stream which ran through the centre of the house from the sacred tanks. Directly below the place we occupied was a little waterfall, which conversed pleasantly day and night; and by taking-up a loose plank in the floor we could see as well as hear it. Learning that there were some ruins in the neighbourhood, supposed to have existed from before the birth of our Saviour, we started in the afternoon for a place called Bowun, or more popularly Mutton, about two and a half kos off.

The sun to-day we found very hot in this same valley of coolness, its rays coming down on the backs of our heads in a very searching and inquisitive manner. Along the entire path there were running streams in every direction: and what with these and the magnificent sycamores and walnut-trees which shaded us as we walked, our opinions of the beauty of the country got a considerable rise. The path from the Peer Punjal Pass by which we entered appears to be the worst point of view from which to see the valley. From either the Peshawur or Murree roads the effect is much finer; and from the north-east, from which direction it is perhaps seldomer seen than any other, it looks greener and more beautiful than from either of the other points.

At Mutton we found our three lazy friends of the morning, encamped under the trees reading green railway-novels, and evidently very much puzzled how to kill time. Beyond a tank teeming with sacred fishes, there appeared nothing whatever to be seen here. Taking warning from this, we thought it not worth while proceeding to Bamazoo, where we were told there were caves; but, treating the fishes to a small coin’s worth of Indian maize, we retraced our steps and diverged about a kos off the Islamabad road to Pandau. Here we were rewarded by coming suddenly upon a magnificent old Cyclopeian ruin of grey stone, bearing, from a little distance, the appearance rather of an ancient Christian Church — such as may be seen occasionally in Ireland — than of a heathen place of worship. On entering, we found a number of ancient carvings on the massive stone walls, but they were much worn, and the designs to us were unintelligible. Some of them were like the Hindoo divinities, while others were more like Christian devices, such as cherubims, &c. Altogether, it puzzled us completely as to its origin; but there was no doubt whatever as to its having existed from an extremely ancient date; and from its general style, as well as the absence of any similitude to any other place of heathen worship we have met, we set it down in our own minds as most probably a temple to the Sun.[10] Most of the figures, as far as their worn state would allow one to judge, appeared to be female; and there was an entire absence of any symbol at all resembling a cross. Many of the huge pillars had been eaten away as if they were of wood, by the combined effects of wind and weather; but hands had also been at work, as pieces of the decorations and figures appeared scattered about in every direction.

Passing through the town of Islamabad on our return, we went into some of the houses to see the people at work at the loom-made shawls. Very hard-working and intricate business it seemed to be, and very hard and MANCHESTERY the production looked to my eye, far inferior to the hand-made, shawl, though not generally considered so.

I tried to negotiate a shawl with the overseer, but he assured me that the pieces were all made separately, and were sent in to the merchant at Sirinugger to be put together, and that he in fact had nothing whatever to do with the sale of them.

In the evening we dined at a fashionably late hour, and were lulled to sleep by the simple music of our domesticated waterfall.

JULY 14. — Started at daybreak for Atchabull, three and a half kos off towards the north-east. The baraduree we found situated in the middle of a large reservoir, in a beautiful but half-ruined garden; and here, the commissariat being unusually late in arriving, we took the edge off our appetites with a quantity of small apricots, red plums, cherries, &c.

While exploring the gardens, we found, among other remains of grandeur, a Humaam, or hot-bath room, which was in very good preservation, and had probably in its day been honoured by the fair presence of Noor Jehan, with whom Atchabull was a favourite resort, and who has been, at one time or another, over all these gardens, during her lord’s visit to the valley.

About thirty yards from the house, at the base of an almost perpendicular hill, were the great sources of interest which the place possesses — viz., a number of springs of ice-cold water, bubbling up to a height of two or three feet above the surrounding water level, and forming three separate rivers: one in the centre which expanded round our house, and one on either side. Around were fruit-trees of all sorts and kinds, and from every quarter came the gurgling sound of rushing water mingled with the singing of innumerable birds. Here sweetly indeed do the “founts of the valley fall;” and their number and beauty, as well as the purity of the clear and crystal streams which they pour over the length and breadth of the land, it is which forms one of its chief and pleasantest features, and has, no doubt, mainly contributed to its reputation as a terrestrial paradise. To the abundance of these streams the inhabitants are indebted for the crops of waving rice which spread their delicately-green carpetting over the entire valley; the purity of the waters give to the silks the brightness of their dyes and to their shawls their fame; and from its virtues also the love-lighted eyes are supposed to derive their far-famed lustre. No wonder, therefore, that to the Hindoo at least, “Cashmere is all holy land.” From his sun-burnt plains and his home by the muddy banks of his sacred Ganges, he can form but a small conception of these cooling streams and shady pleasures. Should he happen to read the glowing descriptions of Lalla Rookh, and be perhaps led to reflect that —

“If woman can make the worst wilderness dear, What a heaven she must make of Cashmere!”

He no doubt ejaculates “Wa, wa!” in admiration of the poetry of the West, and thinks complacently of the partner of his joys as all his fancy painted her. His highest flights of imagination, however, probably fail to transplant him very far beyond the actual wilderness which bounds his mortal vision, while Pudmawutee and Oonmadinee, as here depicted by his own artistic skill, present, in all their loveliness of form and feature, his best conceptions of ideal worth and beauty. No wonder, therefore, that the reality of

“Those roses, the brightest that earth ever gave, Those grottoes and gardens and fountains so clear!”

and above all of —

“Those love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave,”[11]

should shed its influence largely on his imagination, and that, in contrast to his own dry and dusty native plains, Cashmere should well be called the Hindoo’s Paradise.

JULY 15. — Marched at dawn for Vernagh, a distance of eight kos, rather over a Sabbath-day’s journey. Here we had to wait a considerable time for our breakfast, the cook being an indifferent pedestrian and the day a very hot one. The baradurree was curiously built, close to an octagon tank, the water from which ran at a great pace through an arch in the middle of the house.[12] The tank was supplied with water in great volume, but
from no apparent source, and was filled with fine fish, all sacred, and as fat as butter, from the plentiful support they receive from the devout among the Hindoos, not to mention the unbelieving travellers, who also supply them for amusement. The tank itself, the natives informed us, was bottomless, and it really appeared to be so; for from the windows of the baradurree, some fifty feet over the water, we could see the sides stretching back as they descended, and losing themselves in the clear water, which looked, from the intensity of its blue, both deep and treacherous to an unlimited extent. The water, too, was so intensely, icily cold, that an attempt to swim across it would have been a dangerous undertaking, and neither F. nor I could summon courage to jump in. We, however, bathed in the stream which ran out of the inexhaustible reservoir, and its effect we found very similar to that of hot water, so that a little of it went a very Iong way with us. As for the fish, they swarmed in such numbers that they jostled each other fairly out of the water in a dense living mass, while striving for grains of rice and bread.

This also was a favourite resort of Jehangeer and Noor Jehan; and I found an inscription in the Persian character which, in a sentence according to Eastern custom, fixed the date of the erection of the building attached to the tank as A.H. 1029, or, about A.D. 1612. The inscription runs thus: —

“The king of seven climes, the spreader of justice, Abdool, Muzuffer, Noor-ul-deen[13] Jehangeer Badshah, son of Akbar, conqueror of kings, on the day of the 11th year of his reign paid a visit to this fountain of favour, and by his order this building has been completed. By means of Jehangeer Shah, son of Akbar Shah, this building has raised its head to the heavens.”

“The ‘Inventor of Wisdom’ has fixed its date in this line, viz : — ‘Aqsirabad o Chushma Wurnak.’ ”

The fountain or reservoir, and the canal, &c. seem to have been the work of Shah Jehan, Noor Jehan’s son, or were probably remodelled in his reign. The inscription referring to them runs also in the Persian character on a slab of copper:

“Hyan, by order of Shah Jahan, King, thanks be to God, built this fountain and canal. From these have the country of Cashmere become renowned, and the fountains aye as the fountains of Paradise.”

“The poet Survashi Ghaib has written the date in this sentence, viz: — ‘From the waters of Paradise have these fountains flowed.’ ”

JULY 16. — On the road again at daybreak, with the intention of going to a place called Kukunath, where there were more springs, and which, from information obtained from the sepoy who accompanied us, was on our road to Islamabad. However, like most information relative to either direction or to distance in this country, it turned out to be wrong, and we accordingly altered our course and made for our old quarters. Breakfasted under a huge walnut-tree, at a village about six kos off, and reached Islamabad about one P.M., after a very hot tramp of ten kos, through groves of sycamore and walnuts, and hundreds and hundreds of acres of rice-fields, immersed in water, and tenanted by whole armies of croaking frogs. The people were principally employed in weeding their rice-crops, standing up to their knees in mud and water, and grubbing about, with their heads in a position admirably adapted to give anybody but a native, apoplexy in such a hot sun.

JULY 17. — In the middle of the night we were awoke by a tremendous uproar in our wooden habitation, as if some one was crashing about the boards and panels with a big stick; immediately afterwards something jumped upon my bed, and with a whisk and a rush, clattered through the room to F.’s side, over the table, and back again to my quarter. Half asleep and half awake, I hit out energetically, without encountering anything of our uninvited guest; and the faithful Rajoo coming in with a light, I found F. brandishing a stick valiantly in the air, everything knocked about the room; an earthenware vessel of milk spilt upon the floor, a tumbler broken, and a plate of biscuits on the table with marks of teeth in them. This latter discovery was quite a relief to my mind, for the visitation had a most diabolic savour about it, and we were just beginning to fancy that there was a slight smell of sulphur. However, the milk and the biscuits being such innocent food, we were enabled to fancy that the intruder might have been no worse than a wild cat, which had frightened itself by breaking, our tumbler, and had eventually jumped through the window and made its escape. This interpretation, however satisfactory to ourselves, was apparently not so to the Q.M.G., and to his dying day he will probably remain rather doubtful of the kind of company we kept that night.

At sunrise I paid another visit to the ruins of Pandau, or Martund, and sketched it from the north-east; a view which took in the only columns of any perfection that remained standing.

Islamabad being, as its name implies, the “abode of Mahomedanism,” I had set the kotwal to work to procure me a good copy of the Koran.

On returning, however, I found that he had collected together a bundle of the common editions printed in the Arabic alone, without interlineations. He assured me, however, that they were rare and valuable specimens; and I was amused by the old gentleman reading out a passage in a sonorous voice, following each word with his finger, and astonishing the bystanders by the display of his erudition; but at the same time holding the precious volume upside down, and thus failing in impressing at least one of his audience. In the evening we started again for Sirinugger.

JULY 18. — Found ourselves, according to sailing directions, at anchor this morning, or in other words, tied to an upright stick, at Wentipore, on the left bank of the river, where there were some old ruins to be seen.

The architecture we found very similar to the Pandau temple. One column, however, was left standing, which was more perfect than any we had seen before.

The ruins consisted of a large quadrangle, with cloisters all round, and the remains of a temple in the centre; both these were completely decayed, but the enormous stones piled together in grand confusion showed that the buildings had been of considerable extent.[14] The corner stones here alone pointed out the position of the cloisters, which at Pandau had been in very fair preservation.

About fifty yards from the entrance there were three columns of different form, sunk in the ground, their capitals just reaching a little below the surface, and connected by trefoil arches, all in pretty good preservation.

A few hundred yards down the river we found another large ruin, but in a more dilapidated state than either of the others. In both, the designs carved in the huge stones were something similar in pattern — viz. a female figure, with what appeared to be a long strip of drapery passing round either arm and descending to the ancles. It was impossible to decipher the exact device, but the breast and head, in most instances, were plainly distinguishable.

About three kos from Sirinugger, we stopped at another very extensive site of Cyclopeian ruins, at a place called Pandreton. Here we found the most perfect building of any we had met; and for a considerable distance around were traces of what must have been, in ages past, a city of some extent.

Among other interesting remains, there was the base of a colossal figure standing in the midst of a field of cut corn. Only from the knees down remained, but this block alone was over seven feet high; the toes were mutilated a good deal, but the legs were in wonderful preservation. There was also, about half a, mile off, an enormous base of a column, resting on its side, at the summit of a little eminence, where a, considerable amount of mechanical power must have been required to place it. Its diameter was about six feet; and at some distance we found the remainder of the column, split into three pieces. It was about twelve feet long, the lower part polygon, the upper round, and the top a cone similar in form to the stones dedicated to Mahadeo in the temples of the Hindoos. The building which alone remained in at all a perfect state was situated in a sort of pond or tank of slimy green, and was quite inaccessible without a boat.[15] Sending on the cooking apparatus and servants, I remained with the smaller boat; and with a rug and a supply of biscuits, set to work to sketch the ruins. The operation, however, was not performed without very great difficulty. Innumerable mosquitoes made the spot their home, and at critical moments they persisted in settling themselves in the most uncomfortable positions. The ants, too, took a fancy to my paint-box, and even endeavoured to carry off some of the colours; so that between the two I was soon fairly put to flight, and obliged to evacuate the territory.

On consulting my Hindoo authority, Rajoo, on the subject of Cyclopeian ruins, he tells me that they were built, not by man but by “the gods,” in the Sut Jug, or golden age, an epoch which existed no less than 2,165,000 years ago, or thereabouts!

This view of the matter increases the interest of the ruins immensely, besides being very complimentary to the style of building practised by “the gods” in that age.

The Hindoo ages are four, and we are believed to be at present in the last of the four, of which 5,000 years have been already accomplished. The names and duration are as follows, viz : — Sut Jug, 1,728,000 years; Treth Jug, 1,296,000 years; Duapur Jug, 864,000 years; and Kul Jug. 432,000 years. This makes the present age of the world to be about 3,893,000 years!

About five P. M. I reached Sirinugger, and found the advanced guard in possession of one of the bungalows. Spent the night in a succession of skirmishes with innumerable fleas, who appeared to have been out of society for a considerable time previous to our arrival. Up to this moment I fancied that I knew something of the natural history of the race, having studied them and fought with them and slept with them in their happiest hunting grounds. Greek fleas, Albanian fleas, Tartar fleas, Russian fleas, I had combated on their own soil, but never before was I put to such utter confusion. All night long the enemy poured in upon me, and several times during the action was I forced to leave the field and recruit my shattered forces outside in the moonlight. As day dawned, however, I fell upon the foe at a certain advantage, and managed at last to get a few hours of sleep.

JULY 19. — Made an expedition to the small lake to see a building which we were informed was built by the Puree, or fairies — the Peri of poetical licence.

After a sharp struggle up a steep hill, under a hot sun, we reached the building; but, to all appearance, the fairies had less to do with the edifice than a race of very indifferent engineers. It was evidently the remains of a hill fort, built of stones and mortar, and with nothing wonderful in its construction whatever. It was tenanted by buffaloes and a few natives; and having seen specimens of both before, we took our departure again rather in a bad humour with both the fairies and their partisans.

In the plain below we found the remains of Cyclopeian ruins in an enormous block of stone, part of a column.

JULY 22. — Started this evening in the direction of the water-lake in further search of ancient ruins.

JULY 23. — Found ourselves at daybreak among the mosquitoes in a little stream about two kos from Patrun. After breakfasting, we started for the vicinity of the ruins. As usual, in the villages we passed through, we found traces of cut stone doing duty as washing-stones, or corners of walls, &c; and at Patrun we found rather a fine old ruined temple, something similar in style to those towards Islamabad.[16] It was surrounded at some distance by trees, which had tended apparently to preserve the building, for the stone carvings were clearer and less decayed by time than any others we had seen. Being caught here in a heavy rain, we had a scamper for our boats, and after a wet journey, reached Sirinugger about eight P.M.

JULY 26. — Finding ourselves rather tired of Sirinugger, and with no other books than Hindostanee to beguile the time, we resolved upon an expedition across the mountains into the regions of Little Thibet. Began preparations by hiring twelve coolies, at thirteen shillings each per mensem, and a mate or head man to look after them. Increased our stock of ducks to twelve, and otherwise added to our necessary stores, and completed the arrangements for a move.

To-day a number of arrivals and departures took place, and the whole settlement was in a state of excitement and confusion. Boatmen swarmed about in rival application for employment, while all the rascals in the place seemed to have assembled together for the occasion: those who had bills, wanting to get them paid; and those who were either lucky or unfortunate enough to have none, wanting to open them as soon as possible with the new comers. What with these and pistol practice and rifle shooting from upper casements across the river, in order to expend spare ammunition, the European quarter was a very Babel all day long, and we were not sorry to escape the turmoil and get under weigh to new scenes as soon as possible.

About dusk we embarked in two large boats with Rajoo, the cook, and the bhistie, the other servants remaining behind, much to their delight, to take charge of spare baggage, &c. left in the bungalow. One of the Maharajah’s army also accompanied us, a rough-and-ready-looking sepoy irregular, whose duty it was to ferret out supplies and coolies, &c. during our march, and at the same time, perhaps, to keep a watch over our own movements and desperate designs. Passed the night under gauze fortifications, the disappointed mosquitoes buzzing about outside in myriads, and striving hard to take a fond farewell of their much-loved foreign guests.

By strange sounds from the direction of my companion’s quarters, as if of smacking of hands, &c., I was led to infer that they had partially succeeded in bidding him good-bye. I, however, luckily escaped without receiving even as much as a deputation from the enemy, and slept in happy unconsciousness of their vicinity.

Little Thibet.

JULY 27. — About six o’clock this morning we found ourselves at anchor under the mountains at the northern extremity of the lake, and at the mouth of a dashing river of ice-cold water, into which we lost no time in plunging. On mustering our forces after breakfast, we found that our possessions required fourteen coolies for their transport. Our own immediate effects took four, viz. bedding two, guns one, and clothes, &c. one; the kitchen required four more; tent one, charpoys one, servants’ reserve supply of food one, brandy, one, plank for table and tent poles one, and last though not least, the twelve ducks took up the services of the fourteenth all to themselves. The rest of our train consisted of the faithful Rajoo, who came entirely at his own request to see a new country, the two servants, the sepoy, and the coolie’s mate, who was to act as guide, carry small matters, and make himself generally useful. After a most affectionate parting with our boatmen, Messrs. Suttarah, Ramzan, Guffard, and Co., we started on our new travels at about ten A.M. under a broiling sun. After several halts under shady chestnuts, groves of mulberry, &c., and passing by a gentle ascent through a lovely country, we came to our first encamping ground, at Kungur, and pitched our tent under a chestnut grove, considerably hot and tired by our first march, after all the ease and comparative idleness we had of late been enjoying in the valley. Here we saw the first of the system of extortion which goes on among the government authorities and the people; for after the paymaster to the forces had settled with the seven coolies who were not in our permanent employ, not being able to take all as we had originally intended, they assembled round us, and complained most dolefully of the smallness of their pay. The sepoy, who appeared a most pugnacious customer, cuffed some of them, and made desperate flourishes at others with a big stick, and seemed altogether so anxious to prevent, as he said, the “cherishers of the poor,” from being inconvenienced by the “scum of the earth,” that we suspected something wrong, and on inquiring, ascertained, that out of the amount due to the seven, viz. one rupee five annas, or about two shillings and eightpence, the organ of government had actually stopped eight annas, or one shilling. The mistake we soon rectified, much to the delight of the “scum of the earth,” — who had certainly earned their three annas, or fourpence halfpenny per man, by carrying our impedimenta eight kos under a hot sun, — and equally to the disgust of “the organ” who handed over the difference with a very bad grace indeed, and was rather out of tune for the rest of the day. Our hearts being expanded by this administration of justice, we proceeded to a further act of charity, and emancipated our twelve ducks from their basket, into a temporary pond constructed for them by the bhistie, where they dabbled about to their hearts’ content, and soon forgot the sorrows of the road in a repast of meal and rice.

JULY 28. — Marched at six A.M., and after proceeding about a kos found that we were in for a regular wetting. Our path lay through a beautifully wooded ravine with precipitous mountain peaks appearing ahead in every direction: these, however, were soon shrouded in impenetrable mist, which gradually gathered in about us, and proceeded to inspect us in a most searching and uncomfortable way.

The road however, though beautiful, was by no means a good one, and it was in many places difficult work to keep one’s feet in the wet slush, over wooden bridges, or along the side of a dashing torrent which kept us company, and which seemed to be labouring just now under an unusual degree of temporary excitement, in consequence of having had too much to drink. We had arranged to breakfast on the road, but the rain made us push on, and on reaching the vicinity of our halting-place, we stopped to inspect the condition of our garments, and to satisfy ourselves as to our future prospects in the matter of dry changes of raiment. On opening our small reserve, of which the mate had charge, I found that sad havoc had been made in the precious articles we had been so hopefully depending upon for comfort and consolation at the end of our soaking march. The last efforts of our generally rather useless dhobie had been brought to bear upon our present equipment. The massive brass smoothing-iron and its owner had alike done their best to start us creditably in life with the only clean linen we were likely to behold for many weeks, and now nothing remained of the first instalment of these spotless results, but a wringing mass of wet and dirty linen. The sun, however, coming out opportunely to our assistance, we made the best of our misfortune by spreading out our small wardrobe to the greatest advantage in its rays. Our guide, who by the way appeared to know nothing whatever about the path, proceeded to unroll his turban, and divesting himself of his other garments, took to waving his entire drapery to and fro in the breeze, with a view to getting rid of the superfluous moisture. Leaving him to this little amusement, in which he looked like a forlorn and shipwrecked mariner making signals of distress, I repaired to a torrent close by, and after a satisfactory bathe in the cold snow water, and very nearly losing the whole of my personal property in the rushing stream, donned the few dry articles I was possessed of, and proceeded to pick out our camping ground. We fixed it among the scattered cottages of the little village of Gundisursing, and while waiting for the main body, stayed our appetites with the few apricots we managed to discover on the already rather closely picked trees.

Got breakfast at two P.M. just as the rain began to come down upon us again. The supplies procurable here were flour, milk, fowls, and eggs; butter, however, was not forthcoming.

JULY 29. — Marched early after enjoying a drier night than I had anticipated from the look of the evening and the fine-drawn condition of our tent.

Our road continued up a beautifully wooded and watered valley, and reaching a gorge in the mountains, about five kos from our start, we halted at a log hut a little way beyond a wooden settlement dignified by the name of Gugenigiera.

Here we had a bathe in the rushing snow torrent, a curious combination of pain and pleasure, but the latter considerably predominating, particularly when it was all over.

After breakfast we sent the coolies on again, intending to halt three kos off; however, on reaching the ground, they unanimously requested to be allowed to go on to the village of Soonamurg, the halting-place shown on our route. It was altogether considerably over a Sabbath-day’s journey, being nine kos of a bad mountain-path; but as no supplies whatever were procurable short of it, we held on our course. After leaving our halt, the path led us close to the torrent’s edge, and the gorge narrowing very much, we were completely towered over in our march by gigantic peaks of rock, blocks of which had come down from their high estate at some remote period of their existence, and now occupied equally prominent though humbler positions in the torrent’s bed below. Occasionally they presented themselves in our actual path, and at one place we found that our course was blocked completely, the inaccessible mountain side descending precipitously to the torrent, and leaving us no option but to take to the water, roaring and boiling as it was. Our guide went first with great deliberation and groping his way with a stick, and after an ineffectual attempt to scale the rock above, F. and I also unwillingly followed his example. The water was piercingly cold as it swept against us, and the pain was so great that we were glad to blunder over as quickly as possible, without taking very much trouble about picking our steps. After passing this in safety we came suddenly upon a band of hill-men with their loads, from Thibet; they were the first natives we had encountered, and wild and weird-looking savages they appeared as they congregated about us, gibbering to each other in their astonishment at our sudden appearance. With them, was a strange-looking bullock, with long black mane and tail, and hind quarters like a horse, which they apparently used for carrying their merchandize. To-day we passed the first snow since leaving the valley, although in the distance there was plenty of it to be seen.

Nothing could exceed the beauty of the view as we approached our intended halting-place. Having crossed the torrent by a wooden bridge, the mountains we had been winding through showed out in all their grandeur, while above us, inaccesible peaks, with sharp and fanciful projections, nestled their mighty heads among the fleecy clouds, which hung about after the recent rains. In advance again, other mountain ranges rose behind each other, clothed on their southern faces with delicate grass up to the point where the snow lay lightly on their rocky top-knots and hid itself among the clouds. From the bridge, a rustic structure of entire pine-trees, we passed through an upper valley carpeted with the brightest soft green pasturage, until we reached the usual little cluster of dilapidated wooden tenements which constitute a village in these mountains. This was Soonamurg, and crossing another bridge, formed of two single giant pines, we came to a halt and pitched our camp close to a huge bank of snow on the river’s brink. What with our halt, and the badness of the path, we did not arrive until five P.M., and as the sun set, the spray from our snowy neighbour began to wrap its chilling influence about us, and we were glad enough to invest ourselves in some thick cashmere wraps of native manufacture, which we had hitherto considered merely as standbyes in case of extraordinary cold on mountain tops.

According to general report, however, we only reach THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAINS to-morrow. This sounds well, considering that we have been ascending steadily for three days, and have left huge avalanches of snow beneath us, not to mention the mountains which we traversed on the Peer Punjal side before even entering the Valley of Cashmere at all.

At Soonamurg, where we had been warned that there were no supplies, we found large herds of sheep and goats. The, people, however, were not at all inclined to sell them, and we had some trouble in getting hold of a couple of fine fat sheep from them, for which we paid, what was here considered a high price, viz. two rupees, or four shillings each. We also enlisted the temporary services of two hairy, horny goats, which are to accompany us for the next three marches as portable dairies, no supplies being procurable on the road. Butter and milk are both forthcoming here in abundance, and occasionally rice is to be got. Penetrated with the freshness of the mountain air and the freedom of our vagabond life, we came unanimously to the conclusion that we had made a wise exchange from the FAR NIENTE DOLCES of Sirinugger, and passed a vote of general confidence in the expedition.

JULY 30. — The wind this morning blew bitterly cold over the snow and into our tent, rendering the operation of turning out rather more unpopular than usual.

Got off, however, about six, and had a fine bracing march over a grassy valley among the mountains. After about four kos, the sun began again to assert his supremacy, and, in conjunction with the cold of the morning, rather took liberties with our faces and hands. About half-way we came upon the merry ring of axes among the trees, and found a party of natives constructing a log-house for the benefit of travellers towards Ladak. Pitched our camp in a wild spot at the foot of the mountains, bathed in the snow water, and had a sheep killed for breakfast.

One of the live stock died this morning: an unfortunate hen had been sat upon by the ducks, and the result was asphyxia, and consignment to the torrent.

JULY 31. — Finished up the month by a difficult march of four and twenty miles, encamping at Pandras about eight P.M. and no longer at the FOOT of the mountains. Immediately on leaving our halting-place we commenced the ascent of a steep glacier, and for upwards of four miles our path lay entirely over the snow: so dense and accumulated was it, that even when the sun came out and burned fiercely into our faces and hands, there was no impression whatever made on its icy surface.

The glacier was surrounded on all sides by peaks of perpetual snow, while parts of it were of such ancient date that, ingrained as it was with bits of stick and stones &c., it bore quite the appearance of rock. The path was in some places so indistinct, that on one occasion I found myself far ahead of the rest of the party, and approximating to the clouds instead of to the direction of Ladak. About five kos on our journey we halted to let the kitchen come up, and had our breakfast on the snow in the company of a select party of marmots. The little creatures appeared to live in great peace and seclusion here, for they let us up, in their ignorance of fire-arms, to within thirty yards of them before scuttling into their habitations. They were all dressed in blackish brown suits of long thick fur, and considering that they live in snow for at least eight months out of twelve, they appeared not the least too warmly clothed. As we went by they used to come out and sit up on their hind legs, with their fore paws hanging helplessly over their paunches, while, with a shrill discordant cry, they bid us good-morning and then hurried back to their houses again. Not having our rifles handy they escaped scot free, otherwise we might have borrowed a coat from one of them as a reminiscence of the country. After another kos or two we began to get clear of the glacier; but occasionally we came upon enormous masses of snow jammed up on either side of the torrent, the action of the water having worn away the centre. The path gradually led us through rocky passes, over torrents spanned by snow among the magnificent mountain range; and although the march was, rather long for a hill country, we found no fault with it until about the last three kos, when it was getting late in the day, and although fast becoming hungry, we saw no immediate prospect of getting anything to eat.

The last few kos we find invariably longer than their fellows; one kos by DESCRIPTION, at this stage of the proceedings, being generally equal to two in reality. Asking a native, how far we are from a halting-place, is invariably answered in one of two ways: either THOREE DOOR, not very far, or NUZDEEK, close. THOREE DOOR means generally about four miles, while NUZDEEK may be translated five at least. A kos too, which ought to be from one and a half to two miles, means here anything between one mile and seven. Delaying as much as possible, to let our servants up, we reached Pandras at last, and found all the inhabitants turned out to see our arrival; they were dressed in long woollen coats and sheepskins, and looked something between Russians and Tartars, with a strong flavour of the Esquimaux, as depicted by Polar voyagers. As the sun went down it became bitterly cold, and we found the natives even, shuddering under the influences of the snowy wind, which, setting in from the mountains, appeared to blow from all points of the compass at one and the same time. What the village of Pandras must be in mid-winter it is hard to imagine, so covered with snow as the mountains around it are even in August, and so bleak and so barren the valley in which it is situated.

In spite of the cold, we astonished the entire swaddled population by taking off our clothes, and bathing in a little crystal stream close by: two operations, in all probability, which they themselves had never perpetrated within the memory of the oldest inhabitant, This feat accomplished, we were much astonished by the arrival of a RARA AVIS, in the shape of a British traveller, from the direction of Ladak. He turned out to be an officer of the Government survey, now being carried on in the mountains, and we took the opportunity of deriving from him all the information we could, relative to the prospect before us. He strongly recommended us to go to the monastery of Hemis, beyond Ladak, and also to the Lakes, but the latter would appear to be beyond the limits of our time. The only natives we had met during our unusually long march to-day, were four hairy-looking savages from the interior, from whom, after much difficulty, I succeeded in purchasing an aboriginal tobacco-pouch, flint, and steel, all combined in one, paying for the same about three times its actual and local value, viz. two rupees. They were dressed in long woollen coats, with thick bands of stuff rolled round their waists; and all four had bunches of yellow flowers stuck in their caps, and pipes, knives, tobacco-pouches, &c. hung round their girdles. Their shoes were of the Esquimaux pattern, the soles sheepskin, coming up all round the front of the foot, where they were joined by woollen continuations — shoes, socks, and leggings, being thus conveniently amalgamated into one article of apparel.

AUGUST 1. — On the road a little later than usual, all hands being tired after yesterday’s exertions. The path to-day lay among huge boulders of rock, which had come down as specimens from the mountains above, and after a short march of five kos, we reached Dras, a little assemblage of flat-roofed houses, with a mud fort about half a mile from it, in the valley. This was built with four bastions and a ditch scarped with paving-stones, which surrounded it on all sides except one, where it was naturally defended by the torrent. On the road we passed a curious bridge, built entirely of rope manufactured from twigs of trees. The cables thus formed were swung across the torrent, from piles of loose stones, in a most scientific way, though not one calculated to inspire confidence in any traveller with weak nerves who might have to trust himself to its support. It appeared, nevertheless, a most serviceable structure, and was decidedly picturesque. At Dras we were able to get all supplies except fowls.

AUGUST 2. — Having a long and up-hill march before us, we were up and dressed by moonlight. Outside the village, we came upon two curious old stones, standing about six feet high, upright, and carved in the way we had already seen at the ruins of Pandau and elsewhere. These stones were of irregular form, and carved on three sides, and the designs, though much worn, were distinctly traceable. They represented, apparently, a male and female figure, standing about five feet high, and surrounded by three smaller figures each. Like all the other sculptured figures we had seen, they were innocent of clothes, with the exception of the rope, or very scant drapery, which ran across their ancles and up either side to the shoulders.

Leaving these, we passed through a wild and rugged valley among the mountains, cultivated in patches, and watered by numerous little sparkling crystal streams. At short intervals, there were little settlements of mud huts, built, Tartar fashion, one on top of another, and peopled by a few miserable-looking natives, who appeared, in their woollen rags, to be cold, even in the middle of this summer’s day. The few travellers we met during our march were flat nosed, heavy-looking creatures, with Chinese skull-caps and pig-tails, and were employed in conveying salt to Cashmere, packed in bags of woven hair, and laden on cows and asses as weird and strange-looking as their owners. About five kos off, we called a halt for breakfast, and reached Tusgam about four P.M.

Here we found a few ARBOR VITAE, and other shrubs, in bad health, the first of the tree species we had encountered since ascending the glacier.

AUGUST 3. — Struck our camp at sunrise, and crossing the torrent, which still accompanied us, descended the Pass by a slight decline. During the day we passed through numerous gorges, studded with giant masses of rock, and bounded on all sides by rugged and inhospitable mountains. We only saw one village, and that some way off the road — Kurroo, the guide called it. Breakfasted under an overhanging rock on the mountain side, just where our path was, hemmed in by the torrent, and were disturbed during our repast by several volleys of stones which rattled down over us from above. They were set free by the melting of some large masses of snow, which, being covered with sticks and dirt, we had not noticed when we chose our breakfast parlour so close to their uncomfortable proximity. To-day we met more salt-carrying parties — uncouth-looking savages in pig-tails, speaking a language that not one of our party could understand. We also encountered an original-looking gold-washing association of five, who were wending their way towards the snow with their wooden implements. They were all also weighted with bags of grain, to keep them alive during their search. Their labour consists in sifting the fine sand which comes down in the snow-torrents, charged with minute particles of gold; and the proceeds, from the appearance of “the trade,” would not seem to be very great. They say it amounts only to a few annas a day, but would probably not allow to the full amount for fear of being taxed.

At our breakfast-halt we saw the most primitive specimen of a smoking apparatus probably ever invented. It consisted of a dab of mud stuck in a hole of a tree, about five feet from the ground. Two small sticks, inserted in this from above and below and then withdrawn, had evidently served to form the smoke passage; while the bowl as evidently had been fashioned by the simple impression of a Thibetian thumb, the whole forming, for the use of needy travellers, as permanent and satisfactory a public pipe as could well have been devised. It had just been in requisition before we passed, for a small quantity of newly-burned tobacco lay in the bowl; and a fresh patch of clay on the mouthpiece had probably been added, either in the way of general repairs or by some extra-fastidious traveller, who preferred having a private mouthpiece of his own. After rather a severe march through rocky mountain gorges, we reached Chungun, a little oasis of about five acres of standing barley, with three or four flat-roofed houses dotted about it in the usual Tartar style of architecture. It also boasted four poplar-trees, standing in a stiff and reserved little row, evidently in proud consciousness of their family importance among such rugged, treeless, iron mountains.

It was altogether a refreshing little spot for a halt, after the savage scenery we had marched through; and pitching our camp in it, we were not long in introducing ourselves to the little brawling stream of clear cold water to which it owed its existence.

AUGUST 4. — Started this morning in a mountain mist. Just outside the village we passed the scene of the fall of an avalanche, which gave one some faint idea of the enormous forces occasionally at work among these mountains. It had taken a small village in its path, and over the place where it had stood we now took our way, among a perfect chaos of masses of rock, and uptorn earth, trees, &c. The whole ground was torn and rent, as by the eruption of volcanoes or the explosion of enormous magazines of powder. Passing this, our path continued to descend the gorge until about two kos from Chungun, when another torrent came down to join its forces to the one we were accompanying; and leaving our old companion to roar its way down to join the Indus, we proceeded up the valley in the society of our new friend. Passing a series of little villages nestled among the rugged rocks, we crossed the stream by a tree bridge and causeway, to the Fort of Kurgil, where, after a long consultation, we breakfasted. The differences of opinion between the guide and the rest of the natives as to the distance of a village ahead, where milk and supplies were forthcoming, were so wide, some saying three kos, others six, &c., that we finally determined upon getting some breakfast before deciding the true distance for ourselves. The village Hundas was another most perfect little oasis. It was only about five or six acres in extent, under the frowning mountain, and was terraced and planted in the neatest and most economical way imaginable. The fields were beautifully clean, and were quaintly adorned in many instances by huge blocks of rock from the mountain above, bigger considerably than the whole of the houses of the village put together. Leaving Kurgil, we made a sharp ascent, and crossed a plateau bounded by some extremely curious formations of rock and sandstone.

The mountains appeared to have been reared on end and cut with a knife, as if for the especial benefit of geologists in general, although the hues of their many-coloured strata were calculated to attract even the most ungeological mind by their brightness. Descending from this plateau, we came to a pass dotted with three or four little villages, wooded with poplars, and adorned with a few shrubs of different kinds. Here every available inch of ground which the grudging rocks bestowed was cultivated, although all around, the mud-built native huts were broken down and deserted, in such numbers as to give the idea of an Irish settlement whose inhabitants had transplanted themselves to America. At the last of these little villages, called Pushkoom, we pitched our camp, the retainers taking a fancy to the place from the promise it gave of abundant supplies.

AUGUST 5. — Made our first day’s halt, and enjoyed it considerably — not the least of its advantages being the immunity it gave us from being torn out of bed at grey hours in the morning. The rest of the force also appreciated the day of rest, and made themselves comfortable after their fashion under our grove of trees.

In the afternoon I ascended the mountain opposite to reconnoitre and inspect the curious formation of strata, which formed the principal feature of the place.

The ascent I found at first to be over a soft crumbling small stone, resembling ashes, but of various colours, and in distinctly-marked strata. These were generally of pinkish red and grey, and from them in large masses, rose enormous blocks of concrete, in all manner of forms and shapes, some like towers and fortifications, and others standing out boldly by themselves, worn by the weather into holes and ridges. After a considerably difficult ascent, from the crumbling nature of the stones, I reached the summit of the mountain, and climbing a concrete monster which capped it, had a magnificent survey of the mountain ranges and country around. In every direction the eye rested on snowy summits, and the wind from them fell coolly and refreshingly after the toil of ascent under a hot sun.

Returning through the village, I found the natives hard at work collecting their crops of wheat and barley, and stowing them away, generally upon the flat tops of their houses. They seemed altogether a peaceful, primitive race; but, although their ground appears in first-rate order, they themselves are uncultivated and dirty in the extreme. The ladies, I am sorry to say, are even rather worse in this matter than the gentlemen. The female costume consists generally of robes of sheep and goat skins thrown across the shoulders; while a long tail of twisted worsted plaits, looking like a collection of old-fashioned bell-ropes, forms the chief decoration. This is attached to the back hair, and hangs down quite to the heels, where it terminates in a large tuft, with tassels and divers balls of worsted attached to it. On a hill overhanging the village were the remains of a mud fort, which had been pulled down by Gulab Singh in one of his excursions to Thibet, with a view to bringing the inhabitants to a proper sense of their position, and enforcing the payment of his tribute.

The number of battered and deserted huts about the village is accounted for by the erratic habits of the people, which induce them never to stay long in one set of houses, but to flit from one side of the valley and from one settlement to another as the fancy strikes them. That the large increase of the flea population among such a race, however, may have something to do with their restlessness, seems more than probable.

Except when impressed for government employ, they seldom leave the vicinity of their villages, and one old gentleman told me he had never been even as far as a place called Lotzum, which is only two kos off! The religion seems to be a mixture of Buddhism and Mahomedanism — the latter on the decrease as we get farther into the country.

The dress assimilates to the Chinese — pig-tails and little skull-caps being the order of the day. We obtained here good supplies of cow’s milk, butter, &c., and among other things, some peas. These enabled us to celebrate our Sunday’s dinner by a “duck and green peas,” and never since the first invention of ducks could a similar luxury have been so thoroughly appreciated.

AUGUST 6. — Started early again, and marched five kos, through the little half-deserted settlement of Lotzum to the village of Shergol, where we halted for breakfast. Here we found ourselves fairly among the Buddhists, and saw an entirely new description of monuments connected with religion, from anything we had yet encountered. The most striking objects were a series of tomb-like buildings, without entrances, and adorned on all sides by the most hideous effigies, rudely executed in coloured mud.[17]

Some of these were men, depicted in bright red on a yellow ground, with horrible staring countenances; others women, adorned with numberless necklaces and other ornaments; besides these, there were peacocks, griffins with human arms, deer, &c., and all in the most flaring colours and the very rudest designs.

In the perpendicular face of a rock beyond was a very curious monastery, or abode of the Lamas. It was built completely IN the rock, and was reached by a natural cavity on the face of the stone.

Jutting out from the upper part, balconies had been erected overhanging the precipice, and these were decorated with red copings, spotted with white. From the fact of only one of our party knowing the language, it was difficult to ascertain from the natives the history of this curious abode, but they gave us to understand that it was the home of their Lamas, or spiritual preceptors. Here we met another of the race of wandering Englishmen, who was wending his way back to the valley. He was returning from a shooting tour, was all alone, and appeared to have had very hard work indeed of it, if his face and hands and generally dilapidated appearance might taken as a criterion. Not being quite in such light marching order ourselves, we were able to ask him to breakfast, and from his ready acceptance and the entire justice he did to our offer, I don’t think he could have had anything to eat for a week.

He appeared to be a thorough sportsman, and had bagged several head of large game, which he showed us. They were principally a kind of wild sheep with enormous heads and horns, each of his trophies being almost a coolie load in itself. Leaving Shergol, we entered a curious valley with rocks of concrete standing out like towers and fortifications, and on the summits of these again, airy-looking habitations with red streaks adorning them, and entered, as that at Shergol, by holes in the face of the rock. These were, or had been, the abodes of the Lamas; numbers of them now however, as well as the mud settlements at their feet, appeared in ruins, and gave no sign of habitation, beyond having about them a number of little flags stuck on long poles, which fluttered about in the breeze. According to the account of our interpreter, which had to pass from Thibetian into Hindostanee before it could clothe itself in English, the cause of this dilapidation was the state of wealth and ambition at which the Lamas had arrived, and the consequent interposition of Gulab Singh to take down their pride and ease them of a little of their wealth, both of which he accomplished in the style to which he was so partial, by slaughtering some hundreds of them and reducing their airy habitations to ruins.

At a place called Moulwee we came to a curious block of massive rock standing close beside the path, with one of the red-topped houses built into its side. Above this was a colossal figure with four arms, rudely cut on the face of the rock, and above all was perched an implement, something after the fashion of a Mrs. Gamp’s umbrella of large proportions, together with sundry sticks and rags, which seem to be the common style of religious decoration in these parts.

The figure was about eighteen feet high, the lower extremities being hidden behind the building at the base of the rock. It resembled in some measure the sculptures occasionally seen among Hindoo temples, but no one appeared to know anything whatever of its origin or history.

Close to this there were an immense number of stones collected together, bearing inscriptions in two different characters, one of which resembled slightly the Devanagree or Sanscrit. Seeing such a profusion about, I appropriated one which happened to be conveniently small, and carried it off in my pocket.

The sun being intensely powerful, we called a halt at a village named Waka, perched among the rocks, where we found a rattletrap of a baradurree, which saved us the trouble of pitching our tents. Opposite to us was a curiously worn mass of concrete mountain, which might easily have been mistaken for artificial lines of fortification, had not the scale been so large as to preclude the possibility of any but giants or fairies having been the engineers. At the head of the valley there was a fine snow-covered mountain, which helped to keep us cool in an otherwise excessively hot position. The cook having been rather overcome by his exertions to-day, we got our dinner at the fashionable hour of nine P.M.

AUGUST 7. — Starting from Waka at cock-crow, we marched up a steep ascent, through a bleak-looking range of hills, to Khurboo, where we bivouacked under a tree and got breakfast about noon.

Afterwards, I examined more minutely the inscription on the stones, which, as we advanced into the country, appeared to increase considerably in number. They consisted in almost every case of the same word, containing five letters in one character and six in the other, though I occasionally there were additional letters, and sometimes, though very rarely, a stone with a different inscription altogether. After a good deal of difficulty I succeeded in unearthing a Lama from the village to help me in my researches, and a strange-looking dignitary of the Church he turned out to be when he did make his appearance. He was a bloated and fat old gentleman, dressed in a yellowish red garment of no particular shape, and looked altogether more like a moving bundle of red rags than anything else, human or divine.

Finding that nothing was required of him more expensive than information, he appeared delighted to show off his learning, and by means of the sepoy, who was the only one of our party acquainted with both Thibetan and Hindoostanee, I ascertained that the words carved upon the stones were “Um mani panee,” and meant, as far as I could make out, “the Supreme Being.” As the old gentleman repeated the mystic syllables, he bobbed and scraped towards a strange-looking monument close by, in an abject, deprecatory way, as if in extreme awe of its presence.[18]

On inquiring the origin of this new structure, which was built of stones and plaster, and decorated with red ochre, all we could get out of him was a fresh string of “Um mani panees,” and a further series of moppings and mowings, accompanied by a sagacious expression of his fat countenance, indicative of the most entire satisfaction at the clearness of his explanations, and a sense of his own importance as a Lama and an expositor of the doctrines of Buddh.

He also explained the only other inscription which I had seen; and according to the interpretation of the sepoy, it ran thus: — ” As God can do so none other can.”[19]

Not another piece of information could I elicit relative to the religion beyond the continual “Um mani panee, Um mani panee!” which our friend seemed never tired of mumbling; and although the sepoy was, I believe, considerably more adapted for the extraction of reluctant supplies of food for our kitchen than for eliciting such information on the subject of theology as I was in search of, the real cause of failure was more to be attributed to the extreme ignorance of the particular pillar of the Church that we had got hold of, than to any little literary failings of the interpreter. Such were the quantities of the inscribed stones about this place, that in one long wall I estimated there must have been upwards of 3,000, and this in a country where inhabitants of any sort are few and far between, and where none appear who seem at all capable of executing such inscriptions.

AUGUST 8. — Having suffered a good deal yesterday from the heat of the sun, we started this morning by a bright moonlight, at about half-past four A.M.

Entering the Pass of Fotoola, we ascended gradually for some five kos, and reached a considerable elevation, with a good deal of snow lying about on the mountains. A peak on the right was 19,000 feet above the sea level, and few of those in our immediate vicinity were under 17,000 feet. From the summit of this pass we descended about three kos to Lamieroo, without passing a single hut or village on the entire road. The only natives we encountered were a party of three from Ladak, on their way to Cashmere, with a couple of fine native dogs, as a present from the Thanadar to some of his visitors. The pedestrians one generally meets now are old ladies, carrying conical baskets filled with sulphur or saltpetre, in the direction of Cashmere, and so shy are they, that on beholding “the white face” they drop their loads as if shot, and scuttle away among the mountains, so that, if inclined, we could seize upon the Maharajah’s munitions of war and carry them off without difficulty. On reaching the vicinity of Lamieroo, the inscribed stones became more frequent than ever. They were placed generally upon long broad walls, the tops of which sloped slightly outwards, like the roof of a house. Supplies of uncut stones were also in many instances collected together in their vicinity, as if for the benefit of any pedestrian who might feel inclined to carve out his future happiness by adding to the collection. Lamieroo, as its name would seem to imply, appears to have been a headquarters of the Lamas and their religion. It contains a curious monastery, or Lamaserai, built upon the extreme top ledge of a precipice of concrete stone, and at its base (some hundred feet below) the habitations which constitute the village are also perched on pinnacles of rock, and scattered about, often in the most unlikely spots imaginable. Entering the bason formed by the valley in which this curious settlement is situated, one opens suddenly by an ascending turn upon the whole scene, and anything more startlingly picturesque it would be hard to conceive. As the view appears, the first objects presented are a host of little monument-like buildings, which line the path and are dotted about in groups of from three to twelve or fourteen together. They stand about seven feet high, and, as far as we could make out from the natives, are erected over the defunct Lamas and other saints of the Buddhist religion, after which they become sacred in the eyes of the living, and are referred to with scrapings and bowings and “Um mani panees” innumerable. In the monastery we found twenty Lamas at present domiciled — fat, comfortable-looking gentlemen they all were, dressed in orange-yellow garments, and not a bit cleaner than the rest of the natives, nor looking by any means more learned. Mounting the side of the bill, and passing under one of the red-ring pillared monuments, we entered the precincts of the monastery, and threading some very steep and dark passages in the interior of the rock, were received by a deputation of Lamas, with the salutation of “Joo, Joo!”

We were then ushered with great ceremony into their temple, much to the awe and consternation of our guides, who apparently expected to see us as much overcome by the sanctity of the place as they themselves were. The temple we found a small square room with a gallery round it, from which were suspended dingy-looking Chinese banners, flowers, &c., and at one end were about twenty idols of various designs, seated in a row staring straight before them, and covered with offerings of Indian corn, yellow flowers, butter, &c. They were for the most part dressed in Chinese fashion, and in the dusky light had certainly a queer weird-looking appearance about them, which was quite enough to overawe our village guide; not being accustomed to such saintly society, he could hardly raise his eyes or speak above his breath, but stood with hands joined together and in a supplicating posture, enough to melt the heart of even the very ugliest of idols. The service (by particular desire) began by three of the most unctuous of the Lamas squatting down on some planked spaces before the divinities, and raising a not unmusical chaunt, accompanying themselves at the same time with a pair of cymbals, while two large double-sided tom-toms or drums gradually insinuated themselves into the melody. These were each fixed on one long leg and were beaten with a curved stick, muffled at the end. The performance of the cymbals was particularly good, and the changes of time they introduced formed the chief feature of the music, and was rather pleasing than otherwise. The service as it drew to a close, was joined by a duett upon two enormous brass instruments like speaking-trumpets grown out of all decent proportions; they were about five feet long, and were placed on the ground during the performance, and as two of the fattest of the Lamas operated and nearly suffocated themselves in their desperate exertions, the result was the most diabolical uproar that ever could have been produced since the first invention of music.

Not being able to trust the sepoy in such a delicate undertaking, I was unable to get any information from the Lamas on religious subjects; and all signs and suggestive pointings, &c. were immediately and invariably answered by “Um mani panee,” so that we left about as wise as we entered. The most interesting object in the place was a library of Thibetian books. It consisted of an upright frame divided into square compartments, each with a word cut deeply into the wood over it, and containing the volumes. These were merely long narrow sheets, collected between two boards, also carved on the outside with a name similar to the one on the shelf. The characters were beautifully formed, and I tried to purchase a small volume, if a thing about two feet long could be called so, but without effect. There were about thirty of these books in the place, ponderous tomes, carefully covered up, and little read, to judge by the quantity of dust collected on them. They read us, however, a small portion of one, in a drawling, sonorous tone, and with no very great facility.

These books, together with a number of rudely-printed papers, of the nature of tracts, one of which I carried away, containing some of the characters similar to that on the inscribed stones, appear to have been printed at Lassa,[20] the capital of Thibet Proper, and from there, the head-quarters of the religion in these parts, all the musical instruments and other paraphernalia belonging to the temples are also sent. One exception, however, I discovered; this was an empty brandy-bottle, bearing a magnificent coloured label, which certainly could not have been issued from the Grand Lama’s religious stores. To the English eye, or rather nose, it had but little of the odour of sanctity about it; but here it evidently held a high position, and was prominently placed among the temporal possessions of “the Gods.”

The women here, and those we met on the road during the last two marches, wore a curious head-dress, differing from anything of the kind we had before seen. It consisted of a broad band extending from the forehead to the waist behind, and studded thickly with large coarse turquoises. These generally decrease in size from the forehead, where there is a larger turquoise than the others, down to the waist, and where the hair ends, it is joined into a long worsted tail terminating at the heels. Some of these bands must be of considerable value, but the proprietors, although otherwise in complete rags, will not part with them for any consideration. One lady whom I accosted on the subject, thought I was going to murder her, and took to her heels forthwith. In general, however, the fair sex here carefully hide both their charms and their turquoises behind the nearest rock or the most convenient cover that presents itself, and vanish like phantoms whenever they discern a white man in the distance.

The cooking department being delayed by the ascent, we got no breakfast to-day until one o’clock, unless a drink of milk and a biscuit on arrival could be called by courtesy a breakfast.

AUGUST 9. — Descended from Lamieroo through a precipitous pass for about three kos and a half, to Kulchee, a tidy little village of fifteen huts, situated in an oasis of apricot and walnut-trees, the first we had encountered since leaving Cashmere.

The people here seemed particularly simple and happy among their waving corn-fields and wild fruit-trees, and they were most anxious to supply us with apricots and milk, and whatever they could produce. The Gopa, or head-man of the village, could speak a little Hindostanee, besides being able to read and write his own language in two characters, and as he seemed unusually sharp and intelligent, I was very glad to have a chat with him while waiting for the commissariat to come up. The character most common on the inscribed stones, and one of those now in actual use, he told me was Romeeque; the other, the square character on the stones, is obsolete, and is called Lantza;[21] while a third character, which was the one he was most conversant with, but which did not appear upon any of the stones, he called Tyeeque.

His explanation of the stones was, that at the last day a certain recording angel, whom he called Khurjidal, would pass through the land, and inspecting these mounds of inscribed stones, would write down the names of all those who had contributed to the heap. What the inscription was he seemed unable clearly to explain, but believed it to refer in some manner to the Supreme Being. Whatever it was, all those who had contributed their share towards its dissemination, by adding stones to the mounds, were certain of future rewards, while those who had omitted to do so were as equally certain of punishment.[22]

This explanation of the difficulty caused me some qualms of conscience on account of the future prospects of the unfortunate writer whose particular stone I had appropriated; but for fear the Gopa himself might be the sufferer, I thought it better not to confide my emotions to him, but to leave the case in the hands of Khurjidal.

Regarding the state of the people here, he told me that each house paid a tax of seven rupees per annum to the Maharajah. This, for the entire village, would only give 105 rupees per annum towards the enrichment of the Treasury.

The Lamas, who have no ground of their own, appear to be a further burden on the population. They are supplied gratuitously with food, and appear to be somewhat similar to the Hindoo Fukeer, devoting themselves to religion and remaining unmarried. They, however, are not so violent in their opinions, and are more conversable, to say nothing of being decidedly cleaner.

We breakfasted under the spreading walnuts, among an audience composed of the entire village, who seemed much edified and amused by our novel manners and customs. Some of our English possessions took their fancy immensely. A cut-glass lantern and the label of a bottle of cherry-brandy in particular, seemed to them the very essence of the rare and curious, and they seemed never tired of admiring them. After breakfast we again took the road, and marched three kos to another little wooded settlement, called Nurila, situated, like Kulchee, upon the Indus, or, as it is here called, the Attock. The noisy, dirty torrent, as it here appears, however, gives little promise of becoming, as it does in after life, one of the largest of the stately Indian rivers.

AUGUST 10. — From Nurila we travelled along the Indus bank to Suspul, a distance of seven kos or thereabouts, stopping for breakfast at a village whose entire population consisted of one woman! The river being shut in by high and rocky mountains, our path took several most abrupt turns and startling ascents and descents in its meanderings, and proved altogether the worst for coolies to travel that we had as yet encountered. The greater part of our march, too, was under a burning sun, whose rays the rocks on either side of us reflected in anything but an agreeable way, giving thereby a considerable addition of colour to our already well-bronzed countenances. Near Suspul we had to take to the water, as a mass of overhanging rock jutted into the river and completely obstructed the path; and here one of our coolies, stumbling, dropped his load into the torrent. It was a particularly precious part of our expeditionary stores, containing, among other things, the small stock of brandy which was to last us back to Sirinugger. However, on inspecting the contents of the basket, the precious liquid was safe and sound, and the only damage was the conversion, PRO TEM. of our stock of best lump sugar into MOIST. Suspul we found situated in a half-moon shaped break of fertility among the barren mountains. The snow was within half an hour’s climb, while at the same time the sun shone with such power as to blister our faces, and even to affect the black part of the expedition, rendered somewhat tender, no doubt, by the unusual mixture of heat and cold to which they had already been exposed. We encamped here under a grove of apricot and apple-trees, which resulted in the production of an apple-dumpling for dinner.

AUGUST 11. — Leaving Suspul, we ascended considerably to the village of Buzgo, another of the cloud-built little settlements so dear to the Lamas. The tenements were most picturesquely pitched upon the extreme tips of almost perpendicular rocks, and to many of them access seemed apparently impossible. Leaving this, we entered upon a desert of shifting sand and stones, in the midst of which there was an unusually long wall of the inscribed stones, one of which, although containing the same inscription, was of a different pattern from any I had hitherto discovered.[23]

The next oasis was Egnemo, formed, like all the others, by the existence of numerous little springs of crystal water, which enabled the waving corn to raise its golden head, and the apricot and the apple-tree to flourish in refreshing contrast to the general barrenness and sterility which reigned around.

After a grilling march, we enjoyed the delights of a bathe under a waterfall of clear cold water, and got our breakfast by eleven o’clock.

To-day, some of our brigade of coolies begin to complain of sickness, which sounds alarming, not only to themselves, but to us, for none others are now procurable. This results from their making too free with unripe apricots, and drinking too many gallons of cold water on the road; also, however, from the fact of my having doctored the first patient who had presented himself, with a couple of pills and some tea — a piece of generosity which drove all the others nearly mad with jealousy and envy, and set them thinking how they also might be participators in similar luxuries. The pills, although in this instance selected promiscuously from a varied stock, were the great objects of desire, and such was their confidence in the virtuous properties of the remedy, that the character of the particular bolus that fell to their share was to them a matter of no consequence whatever. So great a rage is there for medicine among people who have never known the luxury of paying for it, that even the blind and deformed continually applied to us for it on the road.

AUGUST 12. — Halted to-day, and gave all hands a day of rest, which was rather required after our incessant marching. In the afternoon we explored the village, and enjoyed a magnificent sunset behind the ranges of distant snowy mountains. The crops here were more backward than those met hitherto, although the power of the sun was rather on the increase than otherwise, as we advanced. Some of the fields were occupied by beans, peas, and wheat, all growing like a happy family together.

AUGUST 13. — Made an unusually early start, this morning, for our final march into Ladak. The first part of the journey was up a precipitous ascent, and over shifting gravel, which was very trying to our already well-worn boots; and it was a relief when, on arriving at the summit, we found a long and gradual descent before us, with an entirely new panorama of snow-clad mountains extending away towards Ladak.

In the distance, close to the river Indus, which here branched out into several small and separate streams, there was a high mound, topped with buildings, which we made for, under the full impression that it was our journey’s end: however, on reaching it, and turning confidently round the corner, we found nothing but a deserted-looking building, surrounded by an immense number of the monuments which the natives call Permessur; while, stretched out at our feet, and forming, as it were, the bottom of a large basin among the mountains, was a dreary desert of glaring, burning sand. The place altogether looked like a city of the dead: not a soul appeared in sight, except one solitary old woman, who was slowly traversing the weary waste of sands, and all around was still and silent as the grave. In order to gain some intelligence of our whereabouts, I was obliged to give chase to this only inhabitant, and from her I discovered, that to reach Ladak — a green-looking speck which she pointed out in the far distance — we had to cross the desert sands, and still hold on our course for several miles. The sun was by this time high in the heavens, and we had already come a longish march, so that by the time I had traversed the arid plain under the blinding glare, and reached the green fields beyond, it was nearly twelve o’clock, and I had had nearly enough of the journey. It was, however, a couple of miles farther to the grove of trees, where, under very indifferent shade, travellers are in the habit of halting to pitch their camps; and on reaching this, I was glad to throw myself down on the grass, and, after a drink of milk, and the slight refreshment afforded by a leathery chupattie, to go to sleep on the grass, until the arrival of our servants and baggage should give us a prospect of breakfast. These made their appearance about two P.M., and all hands requiring a little rest from the toils of the road, we pitched our camp under the trees, and set ourselves to the enjoyment of a few days’ halt in the city of Ladak.

Ladak and the Monastery of Hemis.

The first event after being settled in our new quarters was the arrival of a sheep, presented to us by the Kardar, or chief dignitary of the town, as a mark of affection and distinction. This, according to the strict letter of the law, we should have refused to accept; twenty days marching, however, while it had sharpened our appetites, had rather diminished our stores. Sheep were not to be got every day, and an ill-looking animal which we had succeeded in purchasing at Egnemo, had been overcome by the heat of the weather and taken itself off on the road. Other supplies, also, were a good deal weakened by successive attacks; potatoes had been extinct many days, and the stock of ducks, which formed our main stay in case of future difficulties, was rapidly succumbing to the knife of the assassin. Under these circumstances we felt that we would be in no way justified in hurting the Kardar’s feelings at the expense of our own, by refusing his present, and believing ourselves to be in this instance fit subjects for out-door relief, the new arrival was soon swinging about in the breeze, a welcome addition to our unfurnished larder.

Having thus ended the struggle between our duty and our feelings, we turned our attention to the exploration of the surrounding country.

The town of Ladak, although in a commercial point of view by no means a flourishing-looking settlement, was, as far as picturesqueness was concerned, everything that could be desired. It was built in the style so popular throughout the country — on pinnacles of rock, and such out of the way positions as seemed, of all others, the least adapted for building purposes — immediately outside the town, occupying a sort of bason among the surrounding mountains, and was what might fairly be called a “city of the dead.” It was of considerable extent, and was formed of groups of the numerous monumental buildings which I have described, and which in a country where the habitations of the living appear so few in proportion to those of the dead, form so curious and remarkable a feature. These tombs, although by no means of very modern date, bear traces, in many instances, of the more recently departed of the Buddhist population. Burnt fragments of bone, hair, &c., were scattered about in various directions, while, collected together in one corner, were the little mounds of mud with a rise at one extremity, where the sculptured turban ought to rest, which denoted the last resting-place of the Moslem faithful. Meeting with the Kardar’s chupprassie, I entered into conversation with him about the manners and customs of the Thibetians, a subject on which he seemed to have very hazy ideas indeed, although not on that account at all the less inclined to impart them to one more ignorant than himself. His opinion of the inscribed stones was that they were all written by the Lamas, but he failed completely in explaining for what reason they were collected together. He was aware, however, of Khurjidal, who was to inspect them at the last day. The tomb-like erections, he said, were considered in the light of gods; the bones and ashes of departed Lamas having been pounded up together and deposited beneath them, together with such valuables as turquoises, Pushmeena, rupees, &c. This fact would perhaps account for their being so often in a ruined state — Gulab Singh having, probably, taken a look at their foundations in search of such valuable pickings. The reason my informant gave me for the unwillingness of the people, however poor, to sell their superabundant ornaments, was that they regarded them as sacred, and held them as their own property during their lifetime only; on decease the jewels reverted to the possessions of the Church. The Lamas are provided, by the custom of dedicating in every family of two or more, one to that office; should there be a number of girls in a family, all those that do not marry become nuns, and adopt the male attire of red and yellow. The nuns, however, seem to be by no means kept in confinement; they work in the fields, and one of them enlisted with us as a coolie, and brought her load into camp before any of her male coadjutors. Among other curious information my friend told me, that the Thibetians by no means consider that each man is entitled to the luxury of a wife all to himself; but that a family of four or five brothers frequently have but one between them, and that the system is productive of no ill-feeling whatever among the different members.[24] He also pointed out a fact which I had not before noticed, viz., that the Thibetians invariably pass to the right hand of these piles of stones and other monuments, but for what reason he was unable to inform me.[25] Having finished his stock of information, which I received thank-fully in default of better, he told me, with delightful coolness, that it was the proper thing for me to give him a bottle of brandy for the Kardar, and that it would be necessary to send also a corkscrew with the bottle, to enable him to get at it! The impudence of the request was almost worth the bottle, but brandy was too scarce and precious a commodity to justify us in pleasing the Kardar, so that all I could do was politely to decline sending the corkscrew or the bottle either. In the afternoon we explored the Bazaar, where we found abundance of dogs, dirt, and idlers, but little else. What little there was in the way of merchandise the proprietors seemed utterly indifferent about disposing of, and after visiting a few shops we went away in disgust. The people were a mixture of Cashmeeries, Chinese, Tartars, Bengalees, and Indians of all sorts and sects, and more idle, good-for-nothing looking scoundrels I never laid eyes on. One most amusing group of Mahomedan exquisites reminded one forcibly of PUNCH’S Noah’s ark costumes and Bond Street specimens of fashion. They were dressed in exaggerated turbans and long white Chogas, or loose coats, which reached down to their heels; and, as arm in arm, with gentle swagger, they sauntered through the bazaar, they had, in addition to their heavy swellishness, an air of Eastern listlessness to which the most exquisite of their European prototypes could never hope to attain. On reaching our camp we found another traveller had added his little canvas to the scene; it was one of the Government Survey, whom the natives invariably designate by the comprehensive title of “the Compass Wallahs.” Wallah is, in Hindostanee, as nearly as possible an equivalent to “fellow,” and in explaining the character of this particular order of Wallah, the accent is always strong on the second syllable of the compass. The Compass Wallah in question we found quite a wild man of the mountains; his face, from changes of heat and cold and long exposure, was burnt and blistered into all sorts of colours, and, to make his appearance more generally striking, he wore as head-dress, a flyaway, puggery, or turban of blue cotton, of the most voluminous dimensions and wonderful construction imaginable. He gave us an amusing account of his operations among the clouds; how he always rode a cow! and was so much alone that he at times began to doubt the existence of other white men in creation besides himself; how he was SEA sick at first, and unable to sleep at night from the great rarification of the atmosphere, &c. He joined us during dinner, just in time for a triumph of a plum pudding which our cook had unexpectedly produced, and his heart was so gladdened and expanded by either the suet, the raisins, or the brandy, that he chatted away until the dissipated mountain hour of eleven o’clock, when we sent him off to bed, much pleased with his entertainment, and again reassured, at least for a time, of the continued existence, not only of white men in the world, but of their plum puddings. Among other statistics he gave us the height of Ladak, as 11,000 feet, and that of the recently discovered monarch of the mountains, now set at rest as belonging to the Himalayan range, as being 29,003 feet above the level of the sea.[26]

AUGUST 15. — Employed all the morning in endeavouring to procure supplies of tea, and after unearthing a queer-looking package containing seven pounds and a half, we differed about the price, the proprietor demanding twenty-four shillings, or about twice its local value.

AUGUST 16. — There being no tidings of the arrival of expected caravans, we marched for the monastery of Hemis, crossing the Indus immediately after leaving Ladak, and following it up towards its source. Outside the town we passed a mound of the inscribed stones, which must have been nearly a quarter of a mile in length, and probably contained as many as 30,000. The left bank of the river, which thus formed our path, was a continuation of detached huts, forming no regular villages, and affording very little shade or apparent prospect of shelter for man or beast. The right bank, however, was studded with picturesque-looking little villages, built generally on rocky summits, and surrounded by tombs and Mani panees, to an extent almost to rival the towns themselves in size and importance. About nine miles on the road we halted for breakfast, on the confines of a desert of smooth stones, from which the heat ascended like vapour, and made our eye-balls ache again. There was no shade in sight, however, and milk was here forthcoming, so we made the best of a bad situation, and, after our repast, lost no time in getting again under weigh. After a hot tramp over a perfect desert, we reached the wooded little village of Chunga, where, as it was getting late, we called a halt and pitched our camp. All hands being tired by their march, we got our dinner at nine o’clock.

AUGUST 17. — Started early for Hemis. From the formation of the mountains in which it is situated, the entrance to the village opens upon the traveller suddenly and as if by magic; and as we tramped this morning along the parched and sandy desert, welcome indeed was the unexpected vision of trees and rushing water which the sharp turn presented to our astonished gaze.

The entrance to the gorge in which the monastery is situated was, as usual, quite covered with Mani panees and walls of inscribed stones; one of the former was studded with human skulls, and otherwise ornamented, in a way that proved the vicinity of some stronghold of Lama talent, though not perhaps of the very highest order.

The monastery we found situated in a beautifully-wooded valley, thickly planted, and having a dashing little torrent foaming through the centre.

It was built as usual, on the very face of the rock, and towering above it was an airy fort, ensconced among a number of crows’-nest habitations, perched about apparently with more regard to effect than comfort.

While waiting for the kitchen to come up, we inspected the monastery, and were waited upon by half-a-dozen Lamas, who showed us through the various temples of the gods. Originally containing some two hundred Lamas, its numbers had now dwindled down, by their account, to fifteen or sixteen. We, however, saw actually more than that number ourselves while wandering through the building.

They owned to having treasure in the monastery to the amount of three lakhs of rupees ([pound sterling]30,000), but of this we saw small signs during our inspection.

Some of the divinities were, however, provided with vestments of cloth of gold, and were seated upon thrones, studded with would-be precious stones. Others were accommodated with large silver bowls, placed on pedestals, filled to the brim with “ghee,” or rancid butter, and unless blest with inordinate appetites, these, from their enormous size, might fairly last them all till doomsday. We were altogether conducted through four temples, each inhabited by a number of Chinese figures, seated in state, with offerings of corn, flour, rice and ghee, &c. before them, and these were generally served in valuable cups of china, and precious metals. Hanging from the ceiling and the walls around were scrolls, decorated in the Chinese fashion, with figures of tightly-robed, narrow-eyed ladies and gentlemen, scattered about with the usual perspective results.

Some of these scrolls were decorated with scenes which it would take hours to decipher and appreciate. One, in particular, of the last day, was covered with innumerable little figures, and appeared well worthy of a close inspection.

The bad people might here be seen, falling into the hands of some of the most disrespectable looking monsters I have ever beheld; while the good were sitting up in a bunch, looking on at the dreadful scene, in a satisfied and undisturbed way, beautiful to behold.

The most curious things in the place, however, were the praying wheels, which I here saw for the first time. They were little wooden drums, covered round the sides with leather, and fitted vertically in niches in the walls.[27] A spindle running through the centre, enabled them to revolve at the slightest push. They were generally in rows of eight and ten, and well thumbed and worn they looked, but others of larger dimensions were placed by themselves, decorated with the words “Um mani panee,” in the Lanza character, all round the barrel.

In the vicinity of the monasteries were various small temples, probably chapels of ease, rudely decorated with grotesque figures, in red and yellow, and having queer-looking structures fastened on the top of them, generally a trident, with tufts of hair attached, or strips of coloured calico, horns of animals, and other rude devices.

In one place we came upon a praying-wheel, turned by water, but I was unable to ascertain whether the benefit accrued to the water, or to the possessor of the stream, or to the public generally. Sometimes the people carry portable wheels, and one old gentleman we met was provided with a huge brass one, with a wooden handle. It was suspended from his neck, in company with a collection of square leather charms, fastened by a string to his coat.

On my asking him what the structure meant, he immediately begun to set it in motion, and piously ejaculating “Um mani panee,” passed on without another word, but in evident pity for my benighted spiritual condition.

Among other curious sights, we saw one of the Lamas sitting at a chapel door, having, before him seven little brass pots. In each of these there was a letter of the words “Um mani panee,” and the pots being filled with water, he was employed in strewing each with a few grains of corn from a heap at his side, keeping up at the same time a loud mournful chant, and swaying himself to and fro, in time with the music. To have inquired the meaning of this would only have again resulted in the comprehensive information contained in “Um mani panee,” so we rested in our ignorance, and passed on, much to the relief of the chaunter. After going all through this curious monastery, we repaired to our tents, which had arrived in the interim, and which we found pitched pleasantly among the trees, within a few yards of the torrent. After a bathe and breakfast, we came unanimously to the conclusion that the water was so cold, and the air so cool and refreshing, we could not do better than halt for a couple of days, under the protection of the Church, before again taking the road on our homeward route.

AUGUST 18. — Out early for a day’s stalk over the mountains, after deer, or anything there might be forthcoming. One of the coolies being a “shikaree,” or what they call in Ireland a “sportsman,” I took him with me, and with another to carry some breakfast, off we started at about five A.M. The ascent at first was so abrupt, that, although in pretty good walking condition by this time, I found myself halting very frequently to admire the prospect. Having attained the greatest height actually attainable, we spied quietly grazing, about half a mile off, some half dozen little animals, which my “sportsman” declared to be Ibex, and down Aye went again, best pace, with a view to making a circumbendibus, to get behind them. With a view to accomplish this, we had to pass across some very difficult ground, and at last came to a smooth face of rock, with nothing whatever about it to hold on by, and, moreover, an overhanging ledge, which fairly seemed to bar all further progress.

The coolie, however, whose every toe was as useful to him as a finger, managed to scramble up; and not to be outdone, I also attained some height, when, holding on fly-fashion, and clinging to the rock with my fingers and grass shoes, suddenly the pole which partly supported me slipped away, and my whole attention had to be directed to again reaching the ground in as soft and comfortable a manner as possible. In this I succeeded beyond my expectations, and, a second attempt being more successful, finally reached the top. On attaining our hardly-earned post of vantage, however, there was no sign of our friends, but, suddenly, on the mountain below us a herd of about five-and-twenty more appeared to our delighted view. They were standing gazing up at us in astonishment, and for some moments we remained fixed and motionless, hoping to be taken for the stones we were habited in imitation of. Then, crouching down and crawling along as if on velvet, down we went again, and after another long and trying stalk, over broken ground formed apparently of small slates placed edgeways, and crumbling rocks, whose slightest fall would have been destruction to our plans, we attained a rock about two hundred yards from the herd, and paused for breath once more. They were lying about sunning themselves, with an outlying sentinel posted here and there on either side of them on the look-out; and seeing an eligible spot some fifty yards nearer, we stole along to reach it. We were not, however, destined to take this unfair advantage of the enemy. Just as we had half crossed the distance, an ill-fated, abominable little fragment of rock suddenly broke off, and at its first bound away went the herd like lightning over the precipitous rocks, and with a little chirrupping noise like sparrows, were in a few seconds well out of range of bullets. As the natives express it, “they became wind,” and we were left behind our rock, looking, after all our toils, to say the least of it, extremely foolish. A shot which I took at some 250 yards was more to relieve ourselves by making a noise than with any hopes of bringing down one of the light-heeled little creatures, for their bounding powers put all correctness of aim at that range out of the question.

The next part of the programme was breakfast, but alas! there were no signs in any direction of the bearer of our supplies, and I now recollected that the rock which had so puzzled us would be quite inaccessible to the coolie and his precious charge, without which he himself was useless. All we could do was to ascend a high peak of mountain, in hopes that the breakfast would ascend another, and that we could then exchange signals of distress and obtain relief. However, after reaching our look-out station, which took us some climbing, we could discern nothing around us bearing the slightest resemblance to a coolie, and our hopes began to descend below zero.

It was now about twelve o’clock, and taking advantage of the produce of the country, I made a light breakfast off two stalks of rhubarb, and tying a handkerchief to the top of my pole as a signal, lay down in the very minute portion of shade procurable under a midday sun, and indulged in the pleasures of imagination, conjured up by absent chicken legs and cold chupatties. After a long wait, I came to the conclusion that the two pieces of rhubarb were entirely insufficient to continue the day’s work upon, so I reluctantly gave the order to retreat upon our camp, and turned from thoughts of breakfast to those of dinner. My grass shoes were by this time completely worn out by the pointed rocks and flinty ground we had traversed, and my spare ones were in the society of the cold chicken and the chupatties, so that I was soon walking in nothing but socks. Before long, this portion of my property was also run through, and I was finally obliged to borrow the sportsman’s pointed slippers, in which I managed to get along over the ruggedest piece of creation I ever traversed, and reached our camp about three P.M. Tired, hungry, and burnt by the sun, a bathe in the rushing torrent and a visit to the kitchen were soon accomplished, and I then learnt that the coolie, being stopped by the rock, had come back at once, and, having been again immediately packed off by F. to search for us, had not been since heard of.

AUGUST 19. — Found the Q.M.G. to-day laid up with fever and influenza, and administered some quinine pills to him, besides ordering a steed to carry him on to Ladak to-morrow.

Explored the Lama’s habitations and temples, and saw some very curious carvings and paintings on stones, some of them not altogether in the Church order of design.

Some of the ceilings were beautifully decorated, and must have cost a good deal of money in their day, but they were now rapidly falling into decay.

During the day we had a good opportunity of seeing the Lamas go through their private devotions. The operation appeared simple enough. Each as he entered the court and passed along the rows of wheels, by simply stretching out his arm set the whole of them in motion, at the same time repeating “Um mani panee” in a dolorous voice to himself. Coming then to the large wheel with painted characters, he gave it an extra energetic spin, which sufficed to keep it in motion for several minutes, and having thus expended his energies for the time being, he again disappeared as he had come. One of the smaller wheels I found in a state of neglect and dilapidation as to its outer case, and thinking it a good opportunity to discover something as to the meaning of the system in general and of “Um mani panee” in particular, I quietly abstracted the inner contents, in full assurance that it would never be missed; that the wheel itself would go round as merrily as ever, and that, as far as the prayers were concerned, there were still sufficient left behind, considering the reduced state of the monasteries, to satisfy the conscience even of the devoutest of Lamas.[28]

As I passed out, however, a huge black dog, which was chained up in the yard, seemed, by the rabid manner in which he made feints at my legs, to be quite aware of what I had done, and he snapped and howled, and strained and tore at his chain as I went by, just as if he detected the holy bundle sticking out of my pocket, and thoroughly understood my consequent guilty appearance. The principal designs upon the stones here — some of which, in colour, were in wonderful preservation — appear to be cross-legged effigies of Buddha, seated in that state of entire abstraction from all passions and desires, which seem to be the end and object of Buddhists’ aspirations.

A certain rotundity of form, however, and appearance of COMFORTABLENESS, rather tend to suggest that the pleasures of the table at least have not quite been renounced among the other pomps and vanities of Buddhist life.

AUGUST 20. — Started for Ladak again, nominally at some desperately early hour of the morning, but in reality at about half-past five, the sun not shining upon our position until late, in consequence of our proximity to the mountains. Mr. Rajoo being still indisposed, and, in his own belief, dying, we mounted him upon a hill horse, where he looked like a fly on a dromedary. Halted for breakfast half way, and had a hot wearisome march afterwards into Ladak, the sun being intensely powerful, and the greater part of the journey over a glaring desert of shifting sand and loose stones. So deep was this in some places, that it was with difficulty we could drag our steps along. The latter part seemed perfectly interminable, and not until four o’clock, burnt, tired, and parched with thirst, did we reach our old halting place. Since our departure, the Thanadar had changed his fancy as to brandy, and now requested a bottle of vinegar. This we promised in the event of his procuring us some tea, our stock being low, and none other procurable without government assistance. By this means we obtained a decorated bundle of pale-looking tea for thirteen rupees, or 1L. 6S. The bundle contained 71/2 lbs., so that the price was heavy enough, considering our proximity to the land of tea.

My shoe-leather being in a doubtful state, I invested in a pair of the sheepskin Chino-Esquimaux ones of local manufacture, but soon found that the old saw of “nothing like leather” was quite a fallacy, when the leather savoured so strongly of mutton as that composing my new boots did. In the morning they were absent, and it was not until after much search that the mutilated remains of one foot was discovered, gnawed and sucked out of all semblance to Blucher, Wellington, or any other known order of shoe or boot, while the other appeared irretrievably to have gone to the dogs. Our lantern here was also carried off by some of the canine race, and left beautifully cleaned, but unbroken, not far from our tent door.

Finding that there was no news of caravans, or probability of their arriving, we determined upon striking our camp, and retiring again towards Cashmere, having attained the furthermost point which the limits of our leave allowed.

A Retreat to the Valley.

AUGUST 21. — Left Ladak about four P.M. and halted for the night on the confines of the desert-plain at Pitok. On the road I succeeded — much to my astonishment — in getting a necklace of bits of amber, and a turquoise, from an old lady, whom I found at her cottage-door weaving goat’s-hair cloth. She took two rupees for the family jewels, and, when the bargain was struck, seemed in a desperate fright at what she had done, looking about in every direction to see that no avaricious old Lama was near, nor any of her gossiping acquaintance, who would be likely to tell THE MINISTER of what she had done.

For the first time during our travels, the retainers turned a little rusty to-day. The scarcity of the tobacco supply and dislike to quit the amusements of city life were the chief causes, and the consequence was that the cook, who was sent off at two o’clock to have dinner ready for us on arrival, made his appearance about sunset and gave us dinner at nine P.M. The Q.M.G. and the Sipahee sauntered in afterwards at their leisure, having left the coolies and ourselves to pitch the camp how and where we liked. Smarting under these indignities, and knowing that the Sipahee was the head and front of the offending, I, in a weak moment, committed an assault upon that ferocious warrior. The consequence was that the representative of “The Army,” feeling its dignity insulted in the face of the populace, immediately set to work upon the unfortunate natives, and assaulted even the gopa, or kotwal, of the village; and so severely was one of the coolies handled, that I was obliged to interfere in the cause of peace, and not without difficulty succeeded in stopping the stone I had thus so unwittingly set rolling.

This same Sipahee rejoiced in the name of Dilour Khan, which might be loosely translated the “Invincible One,” and such we always called him. He was a fierce-looking soldier beyond measure to look at, and very terrible among the miserable Thibetians, making desperate onslaughts upon the unfortunate boors, to obtain supplies fit, as he said, for the Grandees, the Cherishers of the Poor, the Protection of the World, &c.

The style of head-dress generally worn among the natives facilitated his efforts immensely in these matters; for, throwing aloft his sword, and relinquishing his umbrella, he used to seize suddenly upon a pig-tail, and, handling it after the fashion of a bell-rope, proceed to insist upon the production of impossible mutton and other delicacies in a way that was almost always successful, even under circumstances apparently the most hopeless.

He had a sharp, detonating way, too, of delivering a volley of Thibetian, at the same time curling up his fierce-looking moustaches and whiskers, and gesticulating with both arms, which always had a great effect, the more so that the expletives were generally in Hindostanee, and not being understood, were all the more terrible to the unfortunate pig-tails on that account.

AUGUST 22. — Left for Egnemo, over our old ground, which, wanting the attraction of novelty, appeared to us rather longer than on first acquaintance. The sun, too, was more powerful than ever and the deep soft sand more trying, so that we were glad enough to get under shelter at our journey’s end. Here we found the apricot trees, which were teeming with fruit when we passed, completely stripped and bare, and it was with difficulty we got a few from the houses for preserving purposes.

AUGUST 23. — Made an early start, and arrived at Suspul after a pleasant march, a cool breeze from the mountains fanning our faces the entire way. Here we pitched upon a cool and shady camping-ground, close to a rushing torrent, where we were soon immersed in ice-cold