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this was the highest elevation at which we saw these trees living.
Feb. 1st. Our march commenced by descending, gradually at
We were lodged in a summer house of the Soobah, about half
The place itself is the Gibraltar of Bootan, consisting of a large
A few days after our arrival we had an interview with the Soobah, on the open spot in front of our residence. On this he had caused to be pitched a small silken pavilion, about half the size of a sipahis' paul. He came in all possible state, with about thirty armed followers, preceded by his state band, which consisted of a shrill clarionet and a guitar, (guiltless of sound) a gong and a bell, ponies, a Tartar dog, gentlemen of the household, priests, all assisted in forming a long string which advanced in single file.
He was polite and obliging, and maintained his rank better than any other of the Soobahs we saw. After the interview, at the end of which presents of decayed plantains, papers of salt, scarfs, and strips of coarse blanket were returned, we were treated with music and dancing women, who only differed from their compeers of India in being elderly, ugly, very dirty, and poorly dressed. The spectators were then seated on the ground and regaled with rice and chong.
On his departure the noise far exceeded that attending on his advent. Shrieks and outcries rent the air, the musketoons made fearful report, and, in fact, every one of the followers, of sufficiently low rank, made as much noise as he could. The most curious parts of the ceremony were,-the manner in which they shuffled the Soobah off and on his pony; the mode in which the ponies' tails were tied up; and the petition of the head of the priests for at least one rupee.
It was here that we first heard of the deposition of the old Deb, and the consequent disturbances.
Feb. 5th. Punctually on the day appointed by the Soobah did we leave this place, and descended by a precipitous path to the Monass, which we crossed by a suspension bridge, the best and largest, I suspect, in Bootan. The bed of this river, which is of large size (the banks which are mostly precipitous being sixty or seventy yards asunder) and of great violence is 1300 feet below Benka. We then commenced ascending very gradually, following up the north side of the ravine, until we reached Nulka: the march was a very short one. The country was perhaps still more barren than any we had hitherto seen, scarcely any vegetation but coarse grasses occurring. Near Nulka the long leaved pine recommenced. We passed two miserable villages scarcely exceeded by Nulka, in which we took up our abode. No cultivation was to be seen, with the exception of a small field of rice below Nulka.
Feb. 6th. We descended to the Monass, above which Nulka is situated 6 or 700 feet, and continued along its right bank for a considerable time, passing here and there some very romantic spots, and one or two very precipitous places. On reaching a large torrent, the Koollong,
we left the Monass, and ascended the former for a short distance, when we crossed it by a wooden bridge. The remainder of the march consisted of an uninterrupted ascent up a most barren mountain, until we reached Kumna, a small and half-ruined village, 4300 feet above the sea.
Little of interest occurred: we passed a small village consisting of two or three houses and a religious building, and two decent patches of rice cultivation. The vegetation throughout was almost tropical, with the exception of the long leaved fir, which descends frequently as low as 1800 or 2000 feet. I observed two wretched bits of cotton cultivation along the Monass, and some of an edible Labiata, one of the numerous makeshifts ordinarily met with among Hill people.
Feb. 7th. Left for Phullung. We ascended at first a few hundred feet, and then continued winding along at a great height above the Koollong torrent, whose course we followed, ascending gradually at the same time, until we reached our halting place. As high as 5000 feet the Kumna mountain retained its very barren appearance; at that elevation stunted oaks and rhododendrons commenced, and at 5300 feet the country was well covered with these trees, and the vegetation became entirely northern.
Throughout the march many detached houses were visible on the opposite bank of the Koollong, and there appeared to be about them a good deal of terrace cultivation. On the left side of the torrent two villages were seen, both as usual in a ruinous state.
8th, and 9th. We were detained partly by snow, partly by the non-arrival of our baggage. On the 9th I ascended to a wood of Pinus excelsa, the first one I had noticed, and which occurred about 1000 feet above Phullung. The whole country at similar elevations was covered with snow, particularly the downs which we passed after leaving Bulphei. Tassgong was distinctly visible. The woods were otherwise composed of oaks and rhododendrons. At Phullung they were endeavouring to keep alive the wild indigo of Assam ; a species of Ruellia, but its appearance shewed that it was unsuited to the climate. Feb. 10th. To Tassangsee. We continued through a similar country, and at a like elevation, with the exception of a trifling descent to a small nullah, and an inconsiderable one to the Koollong, on the right bank of which, and about 500 feet above its bed, Tassangsee is situated. We crossed this torrent, which even here is of considerable size and not fordable, by means of an ordinary wooden bridge, and then ascended to the village. This is constituted almost entirely by the Soobah's house, which is a large quadrangular building; on the same side, but several hundred feet above the house,
there is a large tower; also a small one on the same level, and some religious edifices. We were lodged over the stable.
The country about Tassangsee is picturesque, with large woods of Pinus excelsa, which here has much the habit of a larch, a few villages are visible on the same side of the Koollong, and a little cultivation. The Soobah was absent at Tongsa, to which place he had been summoned owing to the disturbances, so that we were relieved from undergoing the usual importunities and disagrèmens between his followers and ours. The place is said to be famous for its copper manufactures, such for instance as copper cauldrons of large dimensions; but I saw nothing indicating the existence of manufacturers, unless it were a small village below the castle, and on the same side of the Koollong, which looked for all the world like the habitation of charcoal burners. A little further up this stream a few small flour mills occur.
Snow was visible on the heights around, and especially on a lofty ridge to the north. We found Tassangsee to be very cold owing to the violent south or south-east winds; the thermometer however did not fall below 34°. Its elevation is 5270 feet, the vegetation entirely northern, consisting of primroses, violets, willows, oaks, rhododendrons, and pines; very fine specimens of weeping cypress occur near this place.
Feb. 14th. Resumed our journey, interrupted as usual by the nonarrival of our baggage, and scarcity of coolies-and proceeded to Sanah. We descended at first to the torrent, which bounds one side of the spur on which the castle is built, and which here falls into the Koollong; the march subsequently became a gradual and continued ascent, chiefly along its bed. We crossed two small torrents by means of rude flat wooden bridges, and passed two or three deserted villages. Snow became plentiful as we approached Sanah. This we found to be a ruined village, only containing one habitable house. It is situated on an open sward, surrounded with rich woods of oaks and rhododendrons, yews, bamboos, &c. Its elevation is very nearly 8000 feet.
Feb. 15th. We started at the break of day, as we had been told that the march was a long and difficult one. We proceeded at first over undulating ground, either with swardy spots, or through romantic lanes; we then ascended an open grassy knoll, after passing which we came on rather deep snow. The ascent continued steep and uninterrupted until we reached the summit of a ridge 11,000 feet high. Although we had been told that each ascent was the last, we found that another ridge was still before us, still steeper than the
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preceding one, and it was late in the day before we reached its summit,
The descent from the ridge was for the first 1500 feet, or thereabout,
I resumed the march early next morning, and overtook my com-
We continued descending uninterruptedly, and almost entirely