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left bank of the river of this space; the fort occupies about three-quarters of a mile. It is fast falling to ruin; the Raja no longer resides in the old Noor, (citadel, palace) which is occupied by some of his officers; there is a miserable garrison of a few ragamuffins dressed as sepahees, and some twenty or thirty suwars whose steeds are like Pharaoh's lean kind. The walls are in a very dilapidated state, having suffered much from the effects of the extraordinary flood in 1836. The bamboo thicket, which was cut down during the time the territory was in our possession, used to act as a breakwater, and protected the walls, which are very ill-constructed of unhewn stones. The ditch and swamp which defended the other three faces are in a great measure filled up and overgrown with weeds, and must render that quarter of the town very unhealthy. There are many good dwelling houses of one and two stories, built of stone; there are also many temples, but few of them have any pretensions to elegance, and the generality are covered with most obscene figures badly executed.
There is no appearance of any great trade being carried on, nor is there so much as the sight of such a large and populous place would lead you to suppose. Merchants concentrate here from Cuttack, Buddruc, Nagpur, Bhopal, Chutteesgurh, and Sirgoojah, and barter their goods; those of the lower provinces bringing salt, cocoanuts, cotton cloths, spices, brass utensils, &c. exchange the same with those of the central for wheat, gram, lac, and cotton; gold in small lumps is also taken in payment, and occasionally diamonds. The only produce of the province exported, consists of oil seeds, cotton, and rice, which are taken by bullocks, and (during the rains) sent by water to the Mogulbundí of Orissa.
Sumbulpúr has always been famous for its gold and diamonds; as far back as 1766 a Mr. Motte was sent expressly by Lord Clive to open a trade in them, and to explore the mines, but was unsuccessful on account of the disturbed state of the country, and the inclemency of the season, he having arrived there in the rains; two other Europeans who accompanied him died of fever, and he was himself nigh losing his life. An account of his expedition is to be found in the 1st Vol. of the Asiatic Annual Register, p. 50, published in 1800. The perusal of this narrative would amply repay the reader for his trouble.
The people of the country are too apathetic and indolent to attempt to work the mines, or rather to seek for them; for the diamonds are at present obtained by washing the red earth (their matrix) which is brought down by the Heebe-nuddí, and empties itself into the Mahanuddí, some miles above Sumbulpúr, from the mountains to the north-east,
in which there are most probably inexhaustible mines of gems and precious metals; gold is found in many of the streams flowing from the gneiss rocks throughout these tracts, the Heebe among the rest.
Touching the state of Sumbulpúr, it was (previous to its dismemberment by the Marhatta hordes and its becoming subject to Berar) subdivided into eighteen "gurhs," or chieftainships, held in fief of the Lord Paramount, who resided at Sumbulpúr, and called therefore "Authareh gurh Sumbulpúr"; amongst these were, Boad, Sohnpúr, Gangpûr, Oodeypúr, Phooljur, Sarengurh, Sarinda, Banaie, Baumur. ra, Lehrapal, Rerhakhōl, and seven others, including Sumbulpúr proper; most of these however have long since thrown off their allegiance and ceased to pay tribute or to furnish their quota of "Paiks” (militia). Some of the smaller "gurhs" used to be held on very curious tenures, which I shall allude to more particularly in a future page.
Sumbulpúr lapsed to the British Government in 1827 by the death of the late Raja, but for some reason (with which I am not acquainted) they sought for an heir-at-law and conferred it on an obscure and aged Zemindar, and a perfect imbecile, who is now entirely in the hands of his crafty ministers. These people and the Brahmins possess the best lands, and obtain his sanction to all kinds of extortion; as a specimen of which, I am informed that Zemindarí leases are renewed every year, and on these renewals, or on the occasions of lands being transferred to another, the party favored has to give a “Salamí” or fee, and nothing short of gold is accepted; the farmers in their turn grind their ryots; the effects of such an unjust and oppressive system are every where apparent.
It is said that the Raja realizes 7,00,000 Rupees per annum, but 4,00,000 is perhaps nearer the mark, including valuable diamonds which are occasionally found; it is certain that were the province under proper rule, much more could be made of it, therefore it is to be hoped that on the demise of the present Raja, who has no children, the Government will avail itself of the opportunity and resume it; at present it pays us an annual tribute of 8,000 Rupees, 500 of which has for some years past been remitted in consideration of the dawk road being kept in repair, and the jungle in its immediate vicinity cleared.
I was somewhat surprised one morning while taking my ride to see three human heads stuck on a pole at the junction of two roads near the town; they were placed there in January, 1838, their owners having forfeited them for treason, though not without a protracted and severe struggle.
There are no antiquities at this place save a few fragments from the ruins of a Budhist temple, some thirty or forty miles up the river, which were brought some years ago for building purposes. I was told that there was an inscription on a rock in the middle of the river about a mile above the town; I went one morning to examine it, and found merely a few brief sentences and the name of a Byragi who had died there some few years ago. The spot is held sacred on account of the evil deity supposed to preside over the river, which is evidently very deep, being confined in a long narrow basin formed by the gneiss rocks which stretch across it in all directions. Some years back the Marhattas in attempting to carry away a heavy brass gun on a raft, it sank and every soul perished; the credulous inhabitants believe that the demon appeared on this occasion, and dragged them all into a fathomless abyss which is said to exist there.
During my stay at Sumbulpúr I endeavoured to collect as much information regarding the country lying between it and Mednipúr as I could; this was no easy matter, for the accounts I received were so contradictory that I determined at all hazards to explore the country, following the direction of Mednipúr as nearly as possible and keeping south of the old road. Every argument and persuasion were made by the Raja and his ministers to dissuade me; all kinds of dangers and difficulties were pictured to me, which failed in their intent, for I could plainly see that there was some object in view. Amongst the persons who exerted themselves most to deceive and dissuade me was an individual whom Major W(the Governor General's Agent for the South-western frontier) had sent with a view to his assisting my unfortunate predecessor, which he was capable of doing from his knowledge of the country; his anxiety was perhaps attributable more to a desire to prevent my hearing of the tricks he had been playing in the Baumurra district when awaiting his arrival, than to any other cause. During my stay here I had searched for a good spot for erecting a bridge over the Mahanuddí, (if such a great work were ever undertaken) which I found very near the present ford and ferry; the river is there 4,500 feet broad in the rains, and there are huge masses of rock at convenient intervals right across, which would afford excellent foundations for either wooden frames or masonry to support a wire or ⚫an iron suspension bridge; I found the highest flood water mark to be about 47 feet above the level of the shallow stream flowing during dry seasons in the centre of the bed.
Before taking my final departure from Sumbulpúr, I made an outline sketch of the hills, which are distant at their nearest point fourteen miles, extending from Baumunsassun, about north-west, till they
vanish in the horizon to the south-east in the direction of Ungool; in this range, (the highest peaks of which are perhaps 1000 feet) there are several ghats, which was readily admitted. That of Baumunsassun, near which the present road passes, is the first, next to it is one called Kurorumma, then Oorsing, all north of the proper direction of Mednipúr, lastly the ghat of Burrorumma about eight or ten miles further south; it was by this latter (which had been visited by one of Mr. Babington's people) that I determined on proceeding.
My first march from Sumbulpúr was to a large village called Bahum, having many fine mango topes and good cultivation, chiefly sugar cane; the fields are irrigated from a large nulla called Maltaijoor, which rising in the adjacent hills empties itself into the Mahanuddí at Munesswur, a village about three miles below Sumbulpúr; its course through the plains (from the foot of the Burrorumma range to the Mahanuddí) is very circuitous, it is navigable during the heavy floods, but dry for the greater part of the year, except that a plentiful supply of excellent water is always to be obtained by digging in the sand.
The distance travelled this stage was eleven miles and three-quarters measured by the Perambulator, but it is certainly no more than eight as the crow flies, for on leaving Sumbulpúr, I was led for upwards of a mile in a direction at right angles to that I had ultimately to reach; I was then led considerably to the southward ere I gained the proper course. Such an account may excite surprise in the minds of those who have not visited these regions of knaves and savages, but so it is in reality.
Several small villages were passed a little to the right and left of the road; there is a good portion of arable and clear land in the vicinity of each, particularly of those nearer Sumbulpúr. One small village close to which the road passed, particularly attracted my attention, the huts being built on the bare white granite rocks, which have the appearance of so many terraces; on one of them I observed veins of quartz about an inch wide crossing each other at right angles, resembling a large cross-close to this was another curiosity in the shape of a Goolur tree (Ficus glomerata,) growing on the bare rock, on which the roots were spread and interwoven in a most curious manner; the main root appears to be sunk in a narrow fissure beneath the trunk: it has a most singular appearance. There is not much jungle except on the rocky and unfavourable spots, and the only large trees I saw were on a small hillock about one-third of the way, beside the village of Durriapullí, from whence to an elevated spot where there are rocks of micaceous schist the country has a perceptible rise, and undulates
considerably; from thence to Bahum it inclines towards the Multaie ;* the soil is firm, being a stiff sandy clay with much decomposed quartz, granite, and talcite, of which very beautiful specimens occur.
Notwithstanding the sky being overcast, the heat was very great; the thermometer in a tent exposed to the occasional sunshine, rose to 115°, but with tatties and under a shady tope we managed to keep the temperature down to 98°. I say we, for Mr. Babington and his assistant, Mr. Martin, having resolved on accompanying me as far as Burorumma, had sent on tents. My camp equipage consisted simply of a palkee and a couple of settringies, one to spread, and the other to hang over a bough to serve as an awning for the purpose of screening me from the scorching sun. I had a small pony on which I rode occasionally to relieve myself and the bearers, also one Mussulman servant to cook for me, I had an escort of a havildar's party from the Ramgarh L. I. Bat". which I found of much use, I had also a Naik's party from the 19th N. I. which had accompanied me from Cuttack, and it was well I mustered so strong a party, as will be seen hereafter.
In the evening I sketched a rough outline of the Hills, in which at some distance north of the ghat I was to proceed by; I perceived a wide gap or break through which I was most positively assured by all the Raja's people that there was no pass. I had taken the bearing of this identical spot on a former occasion when it was pointed out to me as the Burorumma pass, so that I was convinced that further attempts were being made to deceive me; this made me the more determined to have my own way, which was best to be effected alone, so I took leave of my companions, persuading them to return; for although I cared but little for the exposure and privations I saw clearly that I should have to undergo, yet I did not wish to subject them to any. The next morning, the 24th May, I marched at an early hour, crossing the Maltai, north, half a mile from camp; for several miles I travelled through alternate woody and cultivated tracts, by an excellent broad path, in the direction of the gap before mentioned. I began to hope that it was the real ghat, and its appearance warranted the expectation that it was a very trifling one, but I was soon undeceived, the guide stopped short, for there was a tree felled and thrown across the path—the usual hint laid for a guide to lead the traveller from the
The Multaie-joor "joor" is an affix to the proper name Multaie, meaning a nulla or torrent; for instance, Dhoba-joor, Bur-joor, Bramuní-joor, &c. Khai and Naul are likewise affixes, having the same meaning, such as Khor-khaí, Scam-khaí, Rama-naul, Kussum-naul, &c. &c.
+ Cotton carpets.