« السابقةمتابعة »
requires all one's resolution not to scratch them, as in that case they are apt to form bad sores. The only security against these pests consists in soaking the stockings in brine; but where one wades for miles through "fresh-water formations" the salt is soon washed away. The idea prevails in the mountains that these leeches possess the power of springing on their prey: this requires verification, but is not altogether improbable. It is only too certain that by getting into the nostrils of sheep, goats, ponies, &c. they do much mischief by keeping them lean and unhealthy. We also found the small round fly or gnat very troublesome here: they give no fair notice of their approach as does the mosquito, and inflict a very irritating bite, for which death is a poor revenge.
About three miles above Kupkot, there is a good Sanga bridge of two planks, 66 feet long, across the Surjoo, leading to Moongsharee, Milum, and the Oonta Dhoora Pass. The river here receives a large affluent on each bank. At one and half miles from Sooring, the path quits it, and mounting 800 or 1000 feet, we found ourselves at our camp with, as at Kupkot, a number of convenient sheds for the servants and coolies, a most welcome piece of hospitality confined, I think, to Kumaoon, but well worthy of introduction elsewhere. Our camp occupies an open spot above Sooring, and below a village called Lohagaon. As water boils at 200°, the elevation is somewhere near 6,700 feet above the sea. A colony of agricultural Bhoteeahs is established in the mountains, which rise steeply above this to the west; unlike the rest of their race, they never quit their villages, and had never even descended to Bagesur they told us. "The world forgetting, by the world forgot," their talk is of bullocks and bears; their only visiter is the tax-gatherer, who ferrets out the most determined hermit; but in this respect the burden of the Kumaoonees is light.
The scenery across the Surjoo is fine. The Lahour ka Dhoora, so named from a village visible to the north-east rather higher than Sooring, is bold, lofty, green, and wooded to the summit; it extends from north to south, and beyond it is the valley of the Ramgunga. From two P. M. we had smart showers for a couple of hours, with a drizzling cloudy afternoon, and more rain at night. It is wonderful how a little experience in Himalayan meteorology opens the understanding with regard to certain doctrines of Hindu Theology: e. g. Vishnu sleeps
Uluka, and Soomeroo, glittering derived from the glorious tints "Peaks of Gold," when "the god
on the serpent Sesha during the rainy season; but the shastras which affirm the fact, omit the reason; this can be no other than that the earth is concealed from the skies by so dense a canopy of clouds that even the Lotus-eyed himself cannot pierce it; and hence, unable any longer to observe and preserve his very peculiar people of India, he even goes to sleep like Baal of old, letting every man go to the devil his own way. So also it would appear that their representations of Kylas, Bykunth, with gold and precious stones, are which light up the Hemakoot, or of gladness sheds his parting ray" on its snows; aided perhaps by the reality that gold, rock-crystal, &c. are found there, especially near the sacred Lakes of Mansorowur, the neighbourhood of which is now ascertained by Mr. Strachey actually to originate four great rivers, flowing to the cardinal points, viz. the Sanpoo, east; Sutluj, west; Indus, north, and Gogra, (Kurnalee) south. Lastly, the shastras affirm that the Ganges, &c. fall from heaven, and, just touching the crests of the Himalaya, flows along the earth: a representation not so utterly ridiculous to those who have seen the sources of these rivers chiefly fed by innumerable cascades, pouring down their sheets of water from the unseen plateaux above the glens. But enough of Hindoo Geography!
I made some inquiries here concerning the Ma-murree, a very deadly fever, which annually devastates whole villages in north-west Kumaoon and south-east Gurhwal, but though the reverse is believed at Almorah, could not hear that it had ever penetrated to any place in our line of route. It is chiefly prevalent in the hot season, and is accompanied by buboes under the ears and armpits, and on the groin, exactly as in the plague; attacking for the most part the population clad in woollens, and unquestionably originating in the extreme filthiness of their persons and villages. The disease is mentioned as a typhus fever in Mr. Traill's report; and has lately excited a more lively interest from its having last season approached within 14 kros of Almorah, and included the cotton-weavers amongst its victims. Such is the consternation caused by its appearance, that the village is immediately deserted, and the patient left to shift for himself, which, considering the Sangrado simplicity of native prescriptions, such as violets in cholera, &c. may
perchance deduct little from the otherwise small hope of recovery. The rank cultivation of hemp close to the doors of the houses, may very likely be connected with the origin of this pestilence, which should be investigated. As to goitre (gega) the people of Kumaoon appear less afflicted by it than those of Bissahur, and amongst the Bhoteeahs it appears to be unknown; a fact, if it be one, strongly corroborative of the opinion now received in Switzerland, that it has nothing to do with snow or other water, but is induced by the infected air of close valleys liable to abrupt transitions from heat to cold, a removal from which is often followed by cure. The people of Kumaoon employ a remedy, sold in the Almorah bazar, and called Gelur-ka-puta; on procuring a bit of this, and steeping it in warm water, it speedily developed into an unmistakeable fucus or sea weed; a fact on which Dr. Royle (Illustrations, p. 442,) expresses some doubt, and desires information. All that the druggists of Almorah know is that it comes from the west, and is taken internally. It may be assumed as an illustration of the small intercourse between England and Switzerland (at all events, its interior), in the age of Shakspeare, that the poet makes Gonzalo ask in the Tempest-" When we were boys, who would believe that there were mountaineers, dewlapp'd like bulls, whose throats had hanging at them wallets of flesh?" and then proceed to adduce as equally authentic, the "men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders ;" not yet discovered.
The vegetation between Kupkot and the base of the Sooring Hill, though less luxuriant than yesterday's route, exhibited most of the same forms, but as we rose, the Anemone vitifolia, Berberis lycium,
Kilmora," Erythrina arborescens, (coral-bush,) "Roongura," and latterly the Parochetus communis and Quercus incana, become the substance of things hoped for in the way of a better climate. In Don's Prodromus we find this last tree, the "Banj," (Ban of Simlah,) confounded with the Reeanj, or Quercus lanuginosa, which is very distinct, the latter, common on the Ghagur range, is unnoticed by Dr. Royle, as well as the Quercus annulata, common everywhere. Another plant common along the Surjoo to-day was the Æchmanthesa gossypina, abundant also on the hills between Bheemtal and Mulooa Tal, and very remarkable for the dense, thick, and pure white coat of tomentum which invests the branches and stem; it is called "Jounde
la." Bees are said to be particularly fond of the honey afforded by the flowers, and to make it in large quantities when these are most plentiful. On the sunniest quartz rocks above Sooring, the Vitis macrophylla? creeps along with its stems 5 or 6 feet long, and great cordate leaves from 18 to 20 inches each way. The people call it "Umlee," Assonjee," and eat the fruit in November: it is not uncommon near Almorah, and Dr. Royle mentions it as climbing over trees at Mussooree; where, however, I never saw it; nor if this be his macrophylla as it should be, has it at all a climbing habit.
September 15th.-To Khatee, 12 miles, over the Dhakree (or Thakooree) Benaik. There is a bitter proverb that if you want to know the value of money, try to borrow some; so to realize the height of these mountains, you must walk up one of them. Such an experience will also go far to reclaim one from the intellectual system of the most honest, able, and amiable of bishops since Synesius, Berkeley, who endeavours to reason us out of our senses, and persuade us that all which we see, hear, feel, touch, and taste has really no external existence-all that we perceive being only ideal-and existing therefore only in the mind. The brain itself, as a sensible thing, exists only in the mind, and not the mind in the brain, as the materialists vainly allege: if full of such sublimated cobwebs, one commences such an ascent as to-day's, he speedily begins to waver; what, have all these rocks, forests, torrents, snows, this "brave o'erhanging firmament"-" immense, beautiful, glorious beyond expression, and beyond thought;" and still more, these wearied legs and craving stomach, no absolute being? If so, it is quite surprising how these two latter ideas are burnished and stimulated by other ideas, such as an easy chair and a pleasant glass of ale. The higher we mount into the atmosphere, the lower we fall in the region of metaphysics; and on the summit of the mountain will generally in practice be found pure materialists, adopting with full conviction the moral enjoined in the apologue of Menenius Agrippa.
We left Sooring at 6: 20, and reached Tantee, a châlet, about 200 feet below the Dhakree Benaik Pass, at 10: 10. Here we breakfasted. Water boils at about 1924°, giving the elevation about 10,700 feet, and the actual ascent 3000, not half what one has to climb on many other routes. The path rises at once from Sooring, and is in parts very steep and rocky, interspersed with occasional undulating meadows. The
streams passed are inconsiderable, but a large one, rising between the pass, and the Chilt ka Dunda flows down the spacious wooded glen on the right hand towards the Surjoo, and in one spot forms a fine waterfall. The limestone rock ceases at Sooring, and is replaced by quartzose rocks, and finally by gneiss. The views across the Surjoo are very grand, and from the pass we enjoyed, not to-day, but on our return, a near and magnificent, though contracted prospect of the snowy range: -extending from the Nunda Kot Peak on the east to Mauntolee ka Dhoora (Trisool) on the west. The eastern peak of the Trisool (No. XIII. of the map) faces the west in a great bluff (which our guides affirmed to be Nunda Devee), from which a long easy ridge, presenting to us an unbroken sheet of snow, slopes down to the east, connecting the Trisool with the Nunda Devee cluster. Strange to say that here, within 20 miles of the two great rocky peaks of this cluster, and elevated 10,800 feet, they are invisible, being concealed by the two beautiful pinnacles of pure snow, which from Almorah, &c. are seen to be merely the abrupt terminations of two immense spurs, the easternmost of which, apparently with a large Loggan stone on its summit, is there known as Nunda-khat, "Devee's bed." From this point of view it rises into so fine and lofty a spire that our ignorant guides insisted it was the Darcoola (Panch-choola). In the hollow between the Trisool and Nunda groups rises the Soondur-Doongee or Redinga river, which flowing nearly south down a narrow and most profound glen, joins the Pindur a little above Wachum, affording probably the best and easiest route to the traveller desirous of penetrating to the core of the Nunda Devee mass. This stream, we were assured, has its source in a glacier like that at Pindree. East of Nunda Devee, in a deep col is "Traill's Pass" supposed by him to be 20,000 feet high, leading NOBODY to Milum; its eastern portal formed by the N. W. shoulder of "Nunda Kot"-which mountain closes the view in a colossal rectangular summit of pure snow, with the glen of the Pindur easily made out. The line of perpetual or at all events of unmelted snow, was very well defined along the whole extent of the range, certainly 2000 feet below the crest of Traill's Pass. It is unfortunate for the hurried tourist that to the east of the Dhakree Benaik the range gradually rises, and three or four miles distant, in the Chilt ka Dunda, a bluff woody summit with a temple to Devee,