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place being prohibited, as the Booteas, although long before informed of our approach and intentions, were not quite certain of our designs.
On the following day, after some fuss, we were allowed to ascend to the village, in which a pucka house had been appropriated for our accommodation.
Dewangari, the temples of which are visible from the plains of Assam, is situated on a ridge, elevated about 2100 feet above the level of the sea, and 1950 above that of the plains. The village extends some distance along the ridge, as well as a little way down its northern face. The houses, which are in most cases mere huts, amount to about 100; they are distributed in three or four scattered groups; amongst these a few pucka or stone-built houses of the ordinary size and construction occur; the only decent one being that occupied by the Soobah, who is of inferior rank.
Along the ridge three or four temples of the ordinary Boodhistical form occur; they are surrounded with banners bearing inscriptions, fixed longitudinally to bamboos. Attached to some of these temples are monumental walls of poor construction, the faces of which bear slabs of slate, on which sacred sentences are well carved.*
The village abounds in filth. The centre of the ridge is kept as a sort of arena for manly exercises; about this space there occur some picturesque simool trees, and a few fig trees, among which is the banyan.
There is no water course or spring near the village; the supply is brought from a considerable distance by aqueducts formed of the hollowed-out trunks of small trees. In one place this aqueduct is carried across a slip, but otherwise there is nothing tending to shew that difficulties existed, or that much skill would have been exerted had such really occurred.
During our long stay at this place we had many opportunities of forming acquaintance with the Soobah, as well as with the immediately adjoining part of his district. We found this almost uncultivated, and overran with jungle. No large paths were seen to point out that there are many villages near Dewangari; in fact the only two which bear marks of frequent communication, are that by which we ascended, and one which runs eastward to a picturesque village about half a mile distant, and which also leads to the plains.
The Soobah we found to be a gentlemanly unassuming man; he received us in a very friendly manner and with some state; the room
Both to the east and west of Dewangari there is a picturesque religious edifice, with ornamented windows. Their effect is much heightened by the presence of the weeping Cypress, which situated as it was here, gave me an idea of extreme beauty.
was decently ornamented, and set off in particular by some well executed Chinese religious figures, the chief of which we were told represented the Dhurma Rajah, whose presence even as a carved block was supposed to give infallibility. We were besides regaled with blasts of music. His house was the most picturesque one that I saw, and had some resemblance, particularly at a distance, to the representations of some Swiss cottages. It was comparatively small, but as he was of inferior rank, his house was of inferior size.
The Soobah soon returned our visit, and in all his actions evinced friendship, and gentlemanly feeling; and we soon had reason to find that among his superiors at least we were not likely to meet with his like again. His followers were not numerous, nor, with the exception of one or two who had dresses of scarlet broad-cloth, were they clothed better than ordinarily.
The population of the place must be considerable; it was during our stay much increased by the Kampa people, who were assembling here prior to proceeding to Hazoo. Most of the inhabitants are pure Booteas; many of them were fine specimens of human build, certainly the finest I saw in Bootan: they were, strange to say, in all cases civil and obliging.
tolerably abundant, and principally of that species known in Assam by the name of Mithans; they were taken tolerable care of, and picketed in the village at night: some, and particularly the bulls, were very fine, and very gentle. Ponies and mules were not uncommon, but not of extraordinary merits. Pigs and fowls were abundant.
The chief communication with the plains is carried on by their Assamese subjects, who are almost entirely Kucharees: they bring up rice and putrid dried fish, and return with bundles of manjistha. On the 23rd, after taking a farewell of the Soobah, who gave us the Dhurma's blessing, and as usual decorated us with scarfs, we left for Rydang, the halting house between Dewangari and Kegumpa, and distant eight miles from the former place.
We reached it late in
the evening, as we did not start until after noon. We first descended to the Deo-Nuddee, which is 800 or 900 feet below the village, and which runs at the bottom of the ravine, of which the Dewangari ridge forms the southern side, and we continued ascending its bed, almost entirely throughout the march.
The river is of moderate size, scarcely fordable however in the rains; it abounds with the fish known to the Assamese by the name of Bookhar, and which are found throughout the mountain streams of the boundaries of the province. They, like all others, are considered
sacred, although after the first distrust had worn off, the Soobah did not object to my fishing. We passed a Sam Gooroo engaged in building a wooden bridge; he was the only instance I met with of a Bootea priest making himself useful. He inquired of Capt. Pemberton, with much condescension, of the welfare of the Goombhanee' and his lordship the Governor General.
24th. Left for Khegumpa. The march was almost entirely an uninterrupted ascent, at least until we had reached 7000 feet, so that the actual height ascended amounted nearly to 5000 feet. It commenced at first over sparingly wooded grassy hills, until an elevation of about 4000 feet was attained, when the vegetation commenced to change; rhododendrons, and some other plants of the same natural family making their appearance. Having reached the elevation of 7000 feet by steep and rugged paths, we continued along ridges well clothed with trees, literally covered with pendulous mosses and lichens, the whole vegetation being extra tropical. At one time we wound round a huge eminence, the bluff and bare head of which towered several hundred feet above us, by a narrow rocky path or ledge overhanging deep precipices; and thence we proceeded nearly at the same level along beautiful paths, through fine oak woods, until we reached Khegumpa. The distance to which, although only eleven miles, took us the whole day to perform.
This march was a beautiful, as well as an interesting one, owing to the changes that occurred in the vegetation. It was likewise so varied, that although at a most unfavourable season of the year, I gathered no fewer than 130 species in flower or fruit. Rhododendrons of other species than that previously mentioned, oaks, chesnuts, maples, violets, primroses, &c., &c. occurred. We did not pass any villages, nor did we meet with any signs of habitation, excepting a few pilgrims proceeding to Hazoo.
Khegumpa itself is a small village on an exposed site; it does not contain more than twelve houses, and the only large one, which as usual belonged to a Sam Gooroo, appeared to be in a ruinous state. The elevation is nearly 7000 feet. The whole place bore a wintery aspect, the vegetation being entirely northern, and almost all the trees having lost their leaves. The cold was considerable, although the thermometer did not fall below 46°. The scarlet tree rhododendron was common, and the first fir tree occurred in the form of a solitary specimen of Pinus excelsa. In the small gardens attached to some of the
* So are they called from their peculiar sanctity. Sam is a priest, and Gooroo also a priest; each priest is therefore twice a priest.
houses I remarked vestiges of the cultivation of tobacco and Probosa.* In the vallies however surrounding this place there seemed to be a good deal of cultivation, of what nature distance prevented me from ascer
25th. Left for Sasee. We commenced by descending gradually until we had passed through a forest of oaks, resembling much our well known English oak; then the descent became steep, and continued so for sometime; we then commenced winding round spurs clothed with humid and sub-tropical vegetation; continuing at the
same elevation we
subsequently came on dry open ridges, covered with rhododendrons. The descent recommenced on our reaching a small temple, about which the long leaved fir was plentiful, and continued without interruption until we reached a small torrent.
The ascent recom
river, one of considerable size, but fordable. menced immediately, and continued uninterruptedly at first through tropical vegetation, then through open rhododendron and fir woods, until we came close upon Sasee, to which place we descended very slightly. This march occupied us the whole day. After leaving the neighbourhood of Khegumpa we saw no signs of cultivation; the country, except in some places, was arid; coarse grasses, long leaved firs, and rhododendrons forming the predominating vegetation. We halted at Sasee, which is a ruined village, until the 28th. The little cultivation that exists about it is of barley, buckwheat, and hemp. 28th. We commenced our march by descending steeply and uninterruptedly to the bed of the Geeri, a small torrent, along which we found the vegetation to be tropical; ascending thence about 500 feet, we descended again to the torrent, up the bed of which we proceeded for perhaps a mile; the ascent then again commenced, and continued until we reached Bulphai. The path was generally narrow, running over the flank of a mountain whose surface was much decomposed; it was of such a nature that a slip of any sort would in many places have precipitated one several hundred feet. The face of the country was very barren, the trees consisting chiefly of firs and rhododendrons, both generally in a stunted state. We reached Bulphai late in the evening; and the latter part of the march was very uncomfortable owing to the cutting severity of the wind. The vegetation was not interesting until we came on a level with Bulphai, when we came on oaks and some other very northern plants. We were well accommodated in this village, which is a very small one, situated in a somewhat
* Eleusine coracana.
sheltered place, and elevated to 6800 feet above the sea. The surrounding mountains are very barren on their southern faces, while on the northern, or sheltered side, very fine oak woods occur. The houses were of a better order than those at Sasee, and altogether superior to those of Khegumpa. They are covered in with split bamboos, which are secured by rattans, a precaution rendered necessary by the great violence of the winds, which at this season blow from the south or south-east. Bulphai is a bitterly cold place in the winter, and there is scarcely any mode of escaping from its searching winds. The vegetation is altogether northern, the woods consisting principally of a picturesque oak, scarcely ever found under an elevation of 6000 feet. There is one small patch of cultivation, thinly occupied by abortive turnips or radishes, and miserable barley. It was at this place that we first heard the very peculiar crow of true Bootan cocks, most of which are afflicted with enormous corns.
On the 31st we resumed our journey, ascending at first a ridge to the N. E. of Bulphai, until we reached a pagoda, the elevation of which proved to be nearly 8000 feet; and still above this rose to the height of about 10,000 feet a bold rounded summit, covered with brown and low grass. Skirting this at about the same level as the pagoda, we came on open downs, on which small dells, tenanted by well defined oak woods were scattered. After crossing these downs, which were of inconsiderable extent, we commenced to descend, and continued doing so until we came to Roongdoong. About a third of the way down we passed a village containing about twenty houses, with the usual appendage of Sam Gooroo's residence; and still lower we came upon a picturesque temple, over which a beautiful weeping cypress hung its branches. We likewise passed below this a large temple raised on a square terraced basement. From this the descent is very steep, until a small stream is reached, from which we ascended very slightly to the castle of Roongdoong, in the loftiest part of which we took up our quarters. From the time that we descended after crossing the downs, the country had rather an improved aspect, some cultivation being visible here and there. We met a good many Kampas, pilgrims, and one chowry tailed cow, laden with rock salt, which appears to be the most frequent burden.
There was more cultivation about Roongdoong than any other place we had yet seen, although even here it was scanty enough. It would appear that they grow rice in the summer, and barley or wheat during the winter; and this would seem to be the case in all those places of sufficient altitude where the fields were terraced. The elevation of the place is 5175 feet, yet a few orange trees appeared to flourish ;