DURING THE TRANSITION OF KASHMIR TO THE ATOK THE VISIBLE ABSOLUTE POWER OF MAHARAJA RANJIT SINGH.
In the travelogue penned by Baron Charles Hugel of his tortuous, circuitous and labyrinthine route ascending the eclivities and descending the declivities in a hot and humid and elsewhere extremely cold climate has been poignantly and painstakingly narrated as follows:
Tuesday, December 8.-I was roused before daybreak, by a strange kind of singing. The Dharamséla was properly a Sikh temple, or the residence of a Sikh priest, who is bound to offer a lodging to every traveller of his own faith, and is paid for this hospitable shelter by different sorts of gifts; this is the chief source of his revenue. I had taken possession of the audience hall of a priest of some consequence in Baramulla, and in an open court before it, I remarked a very tasteful building of stone, in which was erected a throne, adorned with red and yellow silk carpets, and hung with richly-ornamented curtains. On this throne was seated the old priest: his beard was as white as snow. In his hand, he held a chduri or fly-fan, made from the tail of the Tibet yak. The handle, which was of silver, he moved to and fro incessantly. Over his head, there was an oil lamp burning, and before him the Grunth, or Book of the Sikh Law, open, from which he was chaunting in aloud voice. When first I was roused from sleep by the noise, and looked out on the elegant throne, and the venerable old man upon it, I could hardly persuade myself that the whole was not a vision; but the continued pains in my head too soon reminded me of the reality of the scene. The severity of the cold was excessive, yet the old man had been at his religious duties since four o’clock, and every now and then the Sikhs came to ask his advice: he seemed in fact to hold a continuous Durbar.
I was shortly interrupted in the writing I had resumed, by the entrance of Mirza Ahud, who had talked to me so much about a giant’s tooth, which was under the care of the Brahmins of Béramulla, that I desired to see it. He now ushered in a deputation from a Brahminical temple near, who straightway seated themselves on the ground, and drawing a large parcel out of a heap of clothes, laid it at my feet. This was the relic: they then commenced a long story about Jin, to whom it had belonged. It is related that while Kasyapa was living by the Satiser, which formerly covered the whole valley, he happened one day to be praying to the goddess Mata. Jin tried to disturb his devotions, but he was reproved by the holy man, who desired him to quit the place. Instead of doing this, he made a snatch at the devotee’s pagri or turban, whereupon Kasyapa gave him so severe a blow, that it knocked out one of his teeth, and sent the evil spirit howling away, this tooth has been preserved in the temple, and shown to pilgrims for thousands of years since. I begged they would let me see this relic, when, after much unwrapping and ceremonious maneuvring, they produced the upper tooth of an elephant. I ventured to insinuate that Jin must have been an elephant, to judge by his teeth; but one and all stoutly maintained it was no such thing, but a real giant's, and that this, to boot, was not one of his largest teeth. The tooth was bona fide that of an elephant of India, and of no great age, to judge from its appearance, While we were together, in rushed Mohan Bir to tell me that my favourite Ghunt had been stolen, and Osman Khan, to inform his master, Mr. Vigne, that the finest of his Yaks or Tibetan bulls was defunct. I held the Thanadar responsible to me for my horse; and as there was no longer any hope for the bull, I begged Vigne to have his head cut off, and let me take it to Europe. Well versed now in Indian habits, I was curious to see their force on my Shikari Jonki, who was a native of the Himalaya, and of a good caste; so I sent for him, and desired him to go to the place where it lay, cut the animal's head of,.and bring it to me. I shall never forget the expression of the man’s visage. He stammered out that he would die for me if necessary, but that this order he could not possibly obey, for that if he only touched the creature, he should assuredly lose his caste. The commission was therefore given to a Mohammedan, to the great satisfaction of poor Jonki, who thanked me very earnestly for not insisting on his obedience.
I could not imagine how my little Ghunt could have been stolen. The stable where he stood, was in an inner court, accessible only through the place where all my servants were lodged, with one entrance door, where a guard was posted. The Thanadar set the whole population on the lookout, to get intelligence of it; and though its appearance was so remarkable, no one observed it. At last, however, it was brought back to me to my great joy; the fact was, that the groom had left him unfastened in the stable, whereupon the poor beast had sagaciously availed himself of the opportunity to take a stroll in the fields. ‘The Thanadar had offered me another horse as a substitute before mine was found, but I refused to take it, which convinced him of the necessity of exerting himself.
Baramulla is the boundary of Kashmir to the westward. On the left bank of the Jelam, near the bridge, and on the road to Prunsh, is a small fort. A gate, close to the town, where the hills approach each other, marks the limit of the territory: here the character of the Jelam changes; from a gentle stream, it becomes a broad and rapid fiver.
Wednesday, December 9.-We began to move on at daybreak, but I purposed to remain here until noon to take the sun’s altitude, and afterwards to follow the people. The day, however, did not promise to be any clearer than yesterday, and I lost my patience and determined to set off at once. The bull’s head not having arrived at 8 o'clock, the Thanadar assured me that it should be sent after me, but I put no faith in his promises, and declared my purpose of remaining at Baramulla until it was ready. As the table and chairs had been taken away, and the Dharamsala was bitterly cold, I strolled to the Jama Masjid, a building now in ruins: four magnificent columns of cedar wood are yet standing, which alone are well worth a visit. As I returned, T met a man with the bull’s head, and would have made him strip off the skin for the convenience of packing it, but he refused, although I offered him a rupee for the job. With much trouble, I found a Mobammedan, who agreed to do it, and for an additional rupee, to carry it to our next station. Such is a specimen of the impediments in the way of those who are forming collections of natural history in these remote countries.
Mirza Ahud accompanied me to the gate of the valley. It was a real grief to me to part forever in this world from this excellent man; he wept bitterly, while the tears stood in my eyes. Mirza Abdul Rahim also ran after me to beg that I would forgive him if he had been remiss in anything. I walked on with the cold reply, ‘ Ucha hy,” all is well, I am satisfied.
And thus leaving this Indian paradise, I passed through a rock, which together with the river forms a strong barrier: northwards, the steep rocks of the Gosieh slant down to the Jelam; southwards, the Pir Panjal stretches on the other shore as far as the Jelam also, where it forms a steep declivity, the snow-capped peaks of both mountains being but a few miles distant from the river.
If there were any truth in the tradition that the valley has been drained by human ingenuity, that Herculean work must have been ‘undertaken at this part. But the height of the mountain, and the breadth of the bed of the river, preclude the possibility of such a conclusion, except in legendary presumption: others attribute its execution to their gods.
Mounted on my trusty Ghunt, I began my long journey homewards, following the windings of the river, and pondering over the many thousand miles which lay between me and my fatherland, and overall the troubles which might occur during the weeks and months which must necessarily elapse before I could reach that spot. But there is very much to encourage hope and patience in the thought that we are gradually approaching the haven of our hopes, however slowly; it is only when we stop to reflect, that our fatigues are removing us daily from it, or even worse, when we have nothing to look forward to in‘ life, that our hearts sink: we too often forget that when all else in this world shall have lost its charms, there is an eternity beyond it, to which we must inevitably come.
I took my departure from the valley of Kashmir with a heavy heart. The fatigues of mind as well as of body which I had undergone during my residence in this region, had been almost too much for my strength; the extreme cold of my inconvenient dwelling-place, was enough to counteract any benefit from relaxation. Long residence in India had made me doubly sensitive in this colder clime, and I suffered so intensely from pain in the soles of my feet and palms of my hands, that it was a misery to me to walk. When able to add a little to my diary, it needed much care to keep my enfeebled hands under proper control. But I neither experienced uneasiness nor pain when the boundaries of this little kingdom were once passed and we were fairly journeying westward. While my escort loitered behind, I followed for a time the banks of the Jelam; and my attention was gradually called off to the objects around me, and to the impetuous stream, which heretofore, while watering the valley of Kashmir, glided on so gently; now turbulent and rapid, hemmed in by protruding mountains, it brawled under huge masses of rock, or dashed hurriedly over cataracts, This day’s journey was easy, the descents and acclivities being alike inconsiderable. About two miles from Baramulla there is a Buddhist temple in ruins, in a small tank; I judged it to be, most probably, that of Panditran. The plane grows indigenously by the wayside, though in Kashmir this tree can only be propagated from layers. Here, as in the valley, the exhalations and dust obscured the view of the heights, and I could only make out the outlines with extreme difficulty at the distance of a few miles; when at length the sun made its appearance it was just half an hour too late to take corresponding altitudes.
Three buildings in Jempura attracted my curiosity. The first, in the form of a sepulchral monument, was a circular edifice about thirty feet in height, on which stood a square chamber; but to what time or faith the monument belonged, I had no means of discovering, nor had I seen anything at all resembling it elsewhere. The walls were massive, and the whole structure seemed to refer to a race whose monuments were all of the same solid proportions. J examined this mysterious fabric on all sides with great attention, in expectation of finding some inscription which might indicate either the builders or the people to whom it once belonged, or at least its purpose, but could discover nothing to help-out my ignorance.
A few miles onward we came to three small forts, Atalgurh, Shenkergurh, and Messekur, which, together with a fourth already passed near Kizenhdéma, and another by Jempura, were evidently constructed to protect the natives against the attacks of predatory bands. There is a Buddhist temple which is in good preservation, near Guniar, but unluckily it is situated on the left bank of the Jelam: as there was no bridge, and the stream was far too strong to allow a boat to cross, I have obliged to content myself with the view from the opposite bank, At T4tmulla, or Mena, seven kos, about fourteen miles, from Béramulla, I found my sleeping tent pitched, the sun has gone down. The Jelam at this place is 1200 feet lower than at Banderpoor, Thermometer at six in the evening, 52°.
Thursday, December 10, thermometer, 7 a.m. 48°, noon 64°, 6 p.m. 52°. The route continued to skirt the rapid Jelam, and the hills throughout the day’s march were of no great height. About five miles from Tétmulla we saw a pretty waterfall, called Shula. The land between Baramulla and Mazafferabad, was formerly worth six lacks of rupees annually to the Pathdns; its value at present is altogether nominal. Itis partitioned out between a number of petty Mohammedan chiefs, who style themselves, rajas, with the further dignity of khan. This part of the country is thus reduced to the lowest stage of wretchedness, and the unhappy people see themselves stript of everything they possess, that is worth taking. One of these petty chiefs, called Sarfaraz Khan Kaker, whose territory extends along the left bank of the Jelam from Kashmir, resides in the fort of Messekur, and as they | usually take the designation of their place of residence, he is called the Messekur-raja. Another style himself Dushina-raja, from the place called Dushina, and bears in addition the title of Zaberdast Khan Ginghel. His country commences on this side of Jempura. Zaberdast Khan is still in his childhood, and is now retained in Kashmir as a hostage for the government of his mother, who resides at Ginghel.
I found my tent pitched five kos from Menah. The ruins of a once important town and temple are visible for some distance along the bank of the river, but at present Dianun cannot boast of so much as one solitary inhabitant. The bed of the Jelam inéreases in depth. Opposite to Dianun is a Buddhist temple still in good repair, and built in the same style as those of Kashmir. Its situation is its best defence; its name is Brangutri. Dianun lies 600 feet lower than Menah. At the close of the day my fellow traveller, Mohammed Shah Nakshbandi, paid me a visit of some hours.
Friday, December 11.-The country from Didoun is highly picturesque. The Jelam has hollowed out its bed many hundred feet deep, and roars over huge fragments of rock: it made us quite dizzy to look down from the pathway, as it winds along the course of the lofty precipitous bank. Three miles beyond Kho, the river has forced a passage through the rocks, which hang several hundred feet over it, and almost form a natural bridge. Uri Serai is very near this, and the ruins of its stone bridge are still discernible. These ruins, the bridge, and the serai for travellers, induce me to believe that the high road from India formerly passed by Rajawar, Uri, and Baramulla. What were the stations between Rajawar and Uri, I know not, but the road must certainly have passed Punsh, which is not more than five kos distant. Had I not been deterred by the winter season, I would gladly have explored this road, which at Punsh joins that from Baramulla, direct to Rajawar, and there meets the high road from the Panjéb to Kashmir. T should thus have confirmed my conjecture, that the best route from India to Kashmir must be by punsh and un, so that by avoiding the Pir Panjal, it would be found practicable throughout the year.
The road now led over a mountain, at the foot of which winds the Jelam. On the bank of the river is the fort of Ghorigurh, and over against it, on the perpendicular height, is Uri Kilah; a rope bridge, or sort of ladder, is thrown over the roaring flood, stretching from the deep abyss to the mountain above. I dismounted in order to witness some men pass over this bridge, which in reality is an enterprise attended with considerable peril, it being nothing better than a thick rope twisted together, made out of horse hides. At the distance of every third foot is a loop or knot, which connects the skins together, and prevents the passenger from slipping off; but as it would be impossible to strain this material tight, he finds himself occasionally receding from the mountain across the deep abyss. On each side, however, there is another rope, about four feet above the footway, to lay hold by. In descending as well as ascending this contrivance the utmost precaution is necessary to grasp the hand ropes firmly, and to plant the foot securely on the loops or knots; the weight causing the bridge to fall from Uri as nearly perpendicularly as possible, it requires the greatest presence of mind. Its length is from 500 to 600 feet. The danger when two persons meet is not so great as might be imagined, unless they are both laden with some burden, which certainly increases the difficulty; but I neéd hardly say that such a bridge is incapable of bearing the weight of any animal, though I did, to my no small astonishment, see one man carrying a sheep on his back across this frail construction.
Beyond Uri Kilah, lie Uri and Dilawara, on a mountain, the surface of which is formed into numberless terraces, which are planted with rice. Behind this, again, one of the loftiest peaks of the Pir Panjal projects aloft, and in every direction, the eye follows the line traced out by this snowy ridge. A small river, the Gota, dashes down the steep declivity, losing itself in a deep hollow on one side of the terraces; while the other is bounded by a mountain brook. The whole scene is one of the wildest and most romantic I ever remember to have seen, and the smiling green fields in the midst of the stern natural features around them, render the entire landscape doubly imposing.
From this point the traveller journeys for some time by the mountainside. The masses of rock crumble and fall into the valleys below on the occurrence of every storm of rain, thus perpetually obliterating the road tracks, and making them altogether impassable, till eventually some new path is formed, either above, or often below the former. One horse can only pass at a time, and there are places where it might not infrequently be supposed to be quite impracticable to proceed a step further. The ground trembles underfoot, and the stone which had just borne one’s weight, falls heavily into the depths below; sometimes the traveller stumbles and slides downward several feet; my brave horse, as if conscious of the danger, summoned all his strength to extricate himself and his rider from this most imminent peril. The eye has ample opportunity to measure the deep chasm beneath, where the Jelam roars along, a certain grave if once the traveller should miss his footing.
About halfway up this high mountain is a village called Nogrant, surrounded on every side by terraces. Some rain had fallen during the night, and the temperature was warmer; a few tropical plants also made their appearance. The whole way from Uri the road was bad and uneven, and I had an excellent opportunity of ascertaining how very contrary to fact is the assertion of the natives of Kashmir, that the Sikhs have given a bad name to the road, solely to serve their own political ends. The Jelam at this place is so deep and contracted by the mountains, that approach to the brink is impossible. Shah Dera, my station for the night, was fourteen miles from Didnun. It has a mosque with a beautiful doorway, ¢he carving of which was executed in Kashmir. The thermometer was 58°, 75°, and 52°
Saturday, December 12.-On leaving this morning, I had been warned to expect a difficult mountainous road, and truly it was so, but diversified with many majestic scenes. The Jelam flowed along under high rocks, so precipitous and deep, that the natives dwelling on its banks cannot avail themselves of the water, and in Shah Dera, my people suffered much inconvenience from the want of this necessary, though close to the very stream.
Vigne was very busy with the pretty mosque above alluded to, and its carved work; while I-found myself encircled by the sick and poor, to whom, in spite of my best wishes, I could only administer partial relief with my medicaments. We began our long day’s march some hours after the tents were struck, and on their road. As for my large tent, we found it a hard matter to light on an even spot of ground sufficiently spacious to pitch it, the mountain on which Shah Dera is built being formed for the most part into terraces, which were too harrow to allow of this accommodation.
About three kos from Shah Dera the river has broken through the hills in a very remarkable manner, and in order to behold the scene I drew as close as I could to the edge of the precipice, and there gazed ' on the snow-capped mountains on either side, totally destitute of vegetation; and on the perpendicular wall springing upwards of a thousand feet above the river. In the middle of the narrow bed was a solitary rock of the same height as the bank on either side. It resembled the gates of a huge sluice: on the summit of this rock, which is about thirty or forty feet in circumference, lie two enormous blocks of stone, one upon the other, to all appearance brought there in sport. One might almost imagine that the power of the waves had flung them where they are, ages since; for they stand on the very extreme edge of the chasm, as though there needed but a breath to precipitate them from their present situation.
Let not the reader, in transporting himself in idea to this spot, be misled by the legend of the valley mentioned in the former part of this | work, nor believe for a moment in the theory that human power ever could succeed in drying the valley. This is one of the spots named as the scene of action, but to form such theories is an easy matter, and many love to entertain them, and to ascribe the works of an Almighty power to the ordinary agency. It is very certain that no human exertions ever produced this wonderful scene, nor could the drying up of the Kashmirian lake have contributed in the slightest degree to the formation of such a mighty breach; for the fall of the Jelam is so great, that if the river ran here as high as the road itself, there would be no perceptible difference in-its height even at Tatmulla.
Not far from this spot there is a large place smoothly hewn in the rock, evidently intended for an inscription; they told me that it had once borne the name of Emperor Akbar. The superstitious people of Kashmir believe this spot to be the especial resort of evil spirits, and a Sikh soldier related an adventure of his own which proved to what lengths superstition can carry its votaries. This shall be noticed elsewhere. Another assured me that in this same place, as soon as night draws on, a spirit called Jeja takes his seat, having 5000 leeches on his breast.
This was the place, moreover, where the battle was fought between the sons and successors of Timur Shah and the Viceroys of Kashmir, when the last declared their independence of the throne of Kabel. These viceroys were unable to maintain their freedom, and the inevitable consequence was, that the fall of the Afghan kingdom, begun by the folly of the brothers, was more and more accelerated.
From this narrow pass, the road led through deep ravines and over heights nearly inaccessible to a place where the valley widens, and the traveller arrives at a spot where traces of the most careful cultivation are still perceptible. From the foot to the summit the mountains are formed into terraces, and laid out into rice fields, which in former times were irrigated artificially; but these are now overrun with grass, and bear no vestige of any sort of culture. In truth, anything like agriculture in this region seems quite out of fashion. On every side are mountain torrents gushing from the rocks, and many streams have ploughed so deep into the earth, in imitation of the great river, that it is scarcely possible to conceive anything more laborious than the task of clambering down to wade through them, and then again struggling upwards to reach the level of the wall of rock. At the end of eight long kos from Shah Dera is Kathai. The vegetation on the way, and in the country itself, frequently brought the Apennines to my remembrance. There were the olive and the vine, the pinus longifolia in lieu of the common fir; the Myrsine instead of myrtles; the laurel and oleander; about Kathai especially are many olive trees, but the fruit yields no oil; they are very much like the wild olive of Europe, and are probably of the same species. Tropical plants are more and more commonly met’ with, and the climate was evidently milder, but the consequences of the cold experienced in Kashmir, began now, especially to shew themselves; my hands were inflamed and swollen, and the blood would frequently gush out from the broken skin. My feet were in the same miserable predicament, and both were nearly as large again as the natural size. But worse than this, I suffered from an inflammation in the throat, which had prevented me from taking nourishment since we left Baramulla, and which now extending itself to the ears, rendered me entirely deaf. I had already resorted to calomel, and this morning I repeated the dose of twelve grains. I felt better towards the evening, whether from the remedy employed or the gradually increasing temperature, I could not rightly say. My tent was pitched at Kathai. The fort, or Kila, if such a name is permitted, is a simple square inclosure with mud walls, built near to the wretched town, Kathai, and belongs to a Mohammedan prince called by the pompous title of Sultan Zaberdast Khan. Neither houses nor walls can boast of any material more durable than mud and wood; nor is the situation well chosen. A few impudent dependents were seated about the gate, who regarded both the Sikhs and ourselves with the most marked contempt. There was no difficulty in returning this, and I begged to know, as we drew near them, where this Sultan Zaberdast Khan might then be. The soldiers taking my question as an insult, their Sultan being detained in Kashmir as one of the Mohammedan hostages, made me no reply, but immediately retired within their fort, and barricaded the gate. My people entreated me to break up the encampment forthwith, and journey onward some miles; they fancied the jinjals, or musketry of the place, were already turned against us, and the Mohammedans sallying forth; but I assured them that the affair would have no such fearful consequences, and remained very unconcerned within range of their artillery, without anything occurring to disturb our quiet, unless it were the hideous screams they favoured us with from time to time.
Kathai is the name borne by the Chinese empire in Central Asia, and when I heard in Kashmir that my road would lead me through Kathai, I could not help fancying that it must be a powerful state to which the name had been given for some evident reason. I soon discovered that the place had nothing in common with the Celestial Empire, being, in fact, a most insignificant possession, which scarce produces to its king so much as the pay of a captain in the Company's service.
The Deodara, literally, the gift of God, the cedar of the Himalaya, is not seen at 4000 feet above the level of the sea, and the Pinus longifolia takes its place; huge masses of petrified or opalized wood are seen on the road between Shah Dera and Kathai, and at the former place the limestone ceases. Kathai is 2200 feet lower than Kashmir.
Sunday, December 13.-Feeling much better this morning, I began to hope that the warmer climate would soon set me free from the ailments brought on by cold.
The garrison within the fort seemed determined to insult us, and took occasion when the Jemidar, or Sikh officer in command of our guard, was near the gate, to hail him with an order not to show himself again at 80 short a distance. The officer brought his complaint to me, whereupon I dispatched one of my Chaprdsis to desire the presence of the Thanadar, who sent me word, with many civil apologies, that he dared not quit the fort. I betook myself, therefore, to the gate, and summoned him to appear, which he did immediately. I assured him that I should be very sorry to receive a bad impression of his behaviour; that being an independent European, and not connected either with the East India Company or Ranjit Singh, but merely travelling for my own pleasure, I was surprised to find a want of hospitable feeling, new to me in this country. The Sikh Jemidar, I added, commanded the guard of honour given me by Ranjit Singh, and without which a man of my rank could not travel at all in India; I was much surprised on my arrival, to find that he had not been apprized of this, in order to strengthen my escort by a party of his own people. Mohan interpreted my harangue so effectually, that the Thanadar immediately poured forth a volley of excuses, begged me to enter the fort, and on my refusal attended me to the tent. I shortly after quitted the place for Khanda, the next station, which was seven kos, or about fifteen miles, off. The Jelam flowed along in a more tranquil stream, and once we found ourselves on its shore; the vegetation on the bank consisted of evergreens. Oleanders grew close to some of the smaller streams; the Linum trigynum grew in the ravines; the Justicia in drier spots; the Czsalpinia Sappan covered the bushes, and the méina and bulbul warbled in the deep thickets.
I was once again in India, and the thermometer, which, at six in the morning, was at 58°, rose at noon to 72° in the shade, not falling lower than 64° towards evening. On both sides of the Jelam was deserted villages with their terraces all lying waste. I did not see a single native all the way, although this was no proof that the country was uninhabited, for the people invariably flee at the approach of such a train as mine. The rivulets which fall into the Jelam, in some places, rush down in cascades; at others, hollow out channels to a vast depth.
The village of Tani affords an example of the highly cultivated state of this country in former times, the mountain on which it stands, to an elevation of nearly 3000 feet, being cut into terraces for rice fields, now almost entirely abandoned.
In the evening the Shah visited me, and I availed myself of his long stay to make many inquiries about Kashmir and the country I was now passing through. This Mohammedan was evidently a conscientious person, and would admit his ignorance of a fact rather than tell an untruth.
Monday, December 14.-Today to Hatia, seven kos. The shores of the Jelam are becoming flattered; they are, notwithstanding, very rarely accessible. To the south-east, the valley widens, and the eye glancing over the nearest high lands, rests on the snowy mountains which lift their heads beyond in every direction. At Hatia we saw two Hindus, the first we had met with for a long time, and my Brahmin, Thakurdas, accosted them quickly. It was of great importance to him, as a Brahmin, to ascertain to which class they belonged, and my curiosity was not less than his. When they told him that they also were Brahmins, I bade him get all the information from them that he could, and particularly I wished him to find out how long they had been settled in this place; they were very sparing in their answers, and we could only understand that their forefathers had come there about 150 years since. But it was interesting to see the deep respect with which they received my Brahmin, the first of a rank superior to their own, whom they had ever met with. Hatia is the most northerly point in this direction to which the Hindus are known to have migrated, after their subjection to Mohammedan power, and at present fifteen families are settled in this place. It has a fort, Topata Kila, built of mud only, and garrisoned by Sikhs; a second to the south-west, Shekara Kila, stands on a mountain on the left bank of the Jelam. Near Hatia is a bridge made of goat’s skins, one rope serving for the feet, and two others for the hands to lay hold by, like the bridge of Uri; the three ropes are kept at an equal distance from each other by pieces of carved wood, but with this precaution, there is no little risk in passing over. At Hatia the banks of the Jelam are low.
Near it stands Petiéra, governed by a Raja of its own, called Nasir Ali; this personage, when requested by the Jemidar to see that we were supplied with provisions, refused with the utmost insolence, whereupon my guard proceeded to load their firelocks and direct them against the Raja’s house, who took to instant flight, leaving us at liberty to help ourselves. This, however, occasioned a violent dispute between my favourite Mohan and the Jemidar, the former drawing no flattering comparison between the Jemidar’s behaviour in the morning towards the Kiladar, and his present violence against the defenceless Raja, reproaching bim with not having revenged himself on the man who had really insulted him, but complaining to me instead, like an old woman, and getting out of the way while I conferred with the Kiladar. The Jemidar very stoutly denied this imputation on his bravery, and Mohan getting more and more enraged, gave him a blow on the face, when his antagonist brought his complaint formally to me, and I was obliged to reprove Mohan very severely. In the midst of my lecture, he exclaimed, “Is not the Jimidar a cowardly rogue?” “If he were, you have no right to tell him so,” I said, “and still less to strike him.” “Perhaps not,” answered Mohan, “but if he were not a poltroon, he would have killed me rather than come to you with his complaint.”
Rain fell today for the first time for a long period, but happily, for my baggage, it was of no great continuance. My suite enjoyed the unwonted pleasure of a bazar in this place, for so they called two little houses where provisions were sold in such moderate quantities, that ten of my people’ would have consumed the whole stock; still it was entitled a bazar, and for the first time since they left Kashmir, they sat and smoked for an hour within; most gladly I gave them this treat, for the poor fellows had suffered fearfully from fatigue and cold together, more especially those who were from the Himalaya; my Bengalees were all in perfect health.
Tuesday, December 15.-The distance from Hatia to Mazafferabad is reckoned ten kos, and on the way, we passed several villages, but they were either quite deserted or very thinly peopled. There seemed an abundance of the purest water flowing in every direction; the ascents were numerous and steep, but the banks of the Jelam were mostly accessible, and in many places, we came to small plains. The country, hitherto uninteresting in its general character, near the somewhat important town of Kosoli, became very pleasing. The Jelam forms a sudden bend, and a pretty island starts from its waters. Kosoli stands in a very favourable situation on an elevated plain on the left bank, and seemed to have several well-built houses; the whole aspect of the place greatly reminded me of an Italian village. From hence the road was very steep as far as Mahra, which is remarkable only for its huge cypress trees and its acacias. The banks of the Jelam continue very precipitously until it meets the river Kishen Ganga, which runs onward to Mazafferabad, having about one third less water than the Jelam, There is a point, about half a mile up the Kishen Ganga, whence we can see the valley in which the united rivers flow into the Panjab. This valley is surrounded with mountains, and the Jelam flows along with it for some distance, in a totally contrary direction to that of the combined streams.
The Kishen Ganga is about twenty-five fathoms broad, and is passed first by a rope bridge, and at a point further down the stream by a ferry. Not far from the right bank lies the Zehela Serai, built by Shah Jehan, and near it the building which tradition calls the palace of Nir Jehan Begum, but which, in truth, was a mausoleum, now in ruins.
Near Thandu I observed granite in large blocks, hurled, as it were, over the trap rock, and about Mazafferabad a considerable quantity of petrified wood. This town lies on a plain about 150 or 200 feet above the Kishen Ganga. The houses, built on this plain beside a wild stream, are surrounded by groups of trees, and have a very pretty, romantic appearance; while behind the plain rises the majestic snowy mountain Kahori-Kataka, a range of stupendous hills forming an amphitheatre around it. My camp was pitched on a natural terrace 150 feet higher than the river, under some large olive trees. The whole population soon collected around my retinue, drawn together by the unusual and no doubt the attractive sight of so many strangers in this remote place: curious also to witness the bustle of unpacking and arranging the tents, the various costumes of my followers, and their strange features. There soon came a message from the Raja, begging me to command his services. I thankfully declined accepting anything, however, as Mazafferabad boasts a regular bazar, and I strictly charged the men not to take anything without paying for it. The bearers and animals were laden with my baggage had accompanied me thus far from Kashmir. I now directed the Munshi to hire others to-day, that we might be all ready to start on the morrow. In the evening the Shah came; after which I was occupied in writing my journal till midnight.
Wednesday, December 16.-Mazafferabad is nearly 3000 feet lower than Kashmir, and contains 2100 inhabitants, of whom 700 are Hindus of the three higher castes, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Shudras. Early this morning the Governor of the place, Sultan Zaberdast Khan, literally, the mighty prince, sent to announce that he was coming to pay mea visit. Shortly afterwards he appeared in person, dressed in the costume of Kabail, with a mantle of fur, ornamented with gold. His suite was but small.
As he entered the tent I observed, notwithstanding his apparent strength, he needed the help of a servant to reach the chair set ready for him. When we were seated, I inquired the cause of this infirmity, and heard that his eyes were so affected that he could not discern anything in a very strong light.
Having heard that I had great skill as a physician, he hoped I might be able to do him some good. I had the kanat, or wall, of the tent taken down, that I might examine his state more narrowly. I have rarely seen handsome features; the nose slightly arched, the curved brows, and the lofty forehead, all harmonized with the look of gravity, and with the grey beard which covered the lower part of his careworn face. The light of the eye was nearly quenched, and the optic nerve was evidently fast failing. As the eyes were rather inflamed, I prescribed leeches and abstinence from spirituous liquors, to which the Mohammedans are much addicted in this country. The Khan seemed to have great faith in me, and consulted me about another, but an incurable malady, which must soon put an end to his existence, and for which I could only recommend a temperate course of life. Sad as were his bodily ailments, those of his mind were even more pitiable. He had lost his only son not long before, and the last relative now left, a youth, was detained as a hostage in Kashmir, The poor old grandfather’s sole wish was to see and embrace this lad once more, but all his entreaties to Ranjit Singh to grant him thig favour were in vain. I promised to add my petition to his own, and during my stay in Lahor to bring the matter before the Maha Raja.
As the little state possessed hereditarily by Sultan Zaberdast Khan is situated on the high road between Kashmir and Kabul, it is an independent territory of some importance. The ferry over the Kishen Ganga used to bring him in a yearly sum of a lac of rupees; but since the decrease of traffic and the separation of Kashmir and Kabul, but especially since the population of this country has fallen off at least one-fifth, the number of passengers has of course diminished in the same proportion, and the whole revenue of the country is estimated at little more than 30,000 rupees, from which we must deduct 6000, the tribute paid to Kashmir, and at this time Mehan Singh contemplates exacting double this sum. I asked the Khan to whom the small house belonged, which is erected high above the wild rivulet, and which was clearly visible from the plain where we were, and seemed inhabited by females, whose forms we were able to distinguish in the distance. It was his new residence, built of wood, the former abode of his ancestors being in a ruinous state, but he was too poor to build another. There was a bitterness in the tone of the poor old man whenever he spoke, which showed how deeply his feelings had been outraged. I considered which among the treaties I still had in reserve would best please him, and soon excited his amazement by presenting him with some of the little instantaneous lights, which are kindled by a touch, and which he firmly believed to be the fruits of some magical device.
Mazafferabad, or Masafirabad, the abode of travellers, is the modern name of the ancient Hindu-Shikri, and was given to it, according to the Brahmins, 200 years ago by the Mohammedans. A footway along the bank of the Kishen Ganga leads from the town to the Gures, or Dures, one of its tributary streams, which rises nearDiosay; from this place one road leads to Iskardé, another for horses from Mazafferabad to Derband on the Atok, and a third goes to Pakeli. Durand is said to be fifty kos from this place, the first ten of which are over a chain of hills. I have no faith, however, in this estimate. Mazafferabad itself offers a rich field for the researches of a geologist; mountains of tertiary formation rise up to the limit of perpetual snow, and on them are piled, in wondrous masses, broken and dismembered heaps of stone. In many places, whole mountains look as if they had been riven through and through, and the spectator beholds the vast clefts, one or two thousand feet in-depth, as fresh as if the violent convulsion of nature had taken place only yesterday. Nanga Parvat, the famous pyramid, which I observed at Nanenwara, is only thirty kos from this spot.
We were occupied half the day in settling terms with the bearers and drivers; the price they agreed to go to Lahor was nine rupees. I had only given eight from Kashmir to this place, and as the very same bearers hired themselves again, I was fairly taken in. I might by a little patience have soon found men who would have taken half the money, but time had now become very precious to me; I longed most eagerly to see my own home once more, and therefore J hurried on my departure, until noon saw the bearers on the opposite side of the river in the Zehela Serai. While they were moving off, I strolled about the neighbouring parts, and up the hill where the Sultan’s new residence stands, whence I could perceive the kila of Mazafferabad, a regular fort, one mile north of the town, and garrisoned by Sikhs. Having returned from my walk, I had a great desire to shew some little attention to the poor Sultan; but this was not easy, for a visit paid to him would have obliged him to offer me some present or other. I, therefore, sent the Munshi to tell him I would come and see how he was, if he would dispense with the Nazar. The Munshi soon returned with many compliments, but the Sultan excused himself, at the same time assuring me that his house was too wretched to receive me.
Two boats, constructed of the trunks of trees rudely hollowed out, convey travellers across the river. Each passenger pays a pice for himself, and as much for every load carried either by man or beast, The animals swim across the stream, which is deep and hurried: there are certain fixed places where only it is practicable to land; the bank further down is inaccessible from the steep falling rocks, and our little boats wheeled about in a manner which inspired no great confidence of our reaching the opposite side either safely or expeditiously. After all, considering how they were stranded, the only wonder is that we did hot find our way to the bottom. I desired to have gone entirely to myself and Mohan, but while the boat was pushing off, and after it had got fairly into the rapid current, three men sprang in, giving it a sudden shock, and half-filled it with water. I sat perfectly still until we came to the other side, and then discovered that our unwelcome companions were ferrymen, who were resolved on crossing with me, that they might share the present, expected as a matter of course.
The Serai is situated on a height a few minutes walk from the shore, and was built by Ali Merdan Khan, by command of Shah Jehan. It forms a large square, and is kept in excellent repair; but my tent, pitched under a thick clump of trees, was far more inviting to me than the closer apartments of the building. Just as I had made myself comfortable, and it began to grow dark, the Shah came to tell me that a party was desirous to see me. His cautious and mysterious manner excited my curiosity; accordingly, I requested him to admit them. But he would not bring them through the front entrance where they would be seen, but requested permission to usher them through the back way. Having ordered that no one should obtrude, the Shah went out, and returned shortly with three Mohammedans, who threw themselves at my feet, and laid some trifling presents on the ground. I had the utmost difficulty in finding out from amidst a mass of words, compliments and repetitions, who they could be. I guessed rather than heard, for in spite of my manifold questions as to the name of their master, could gather nothing but, Malik, Mir, Hakim, Sirdar, &c., which may all be translated, king, prince, lord, and master, that they had been sent for me from Sultan Zaberdast Khan, and described his unhappy situation-the iron yoke imposed on the Mohammedans by Ranjit Singh the beautiful land of Kashmir-and the peculiar advantages of the Mazafferabad route. I conjectured their object at last; and after they had gone on for half an hour, told them that I was no servant of the East India Company, and that if the Khan wished to enter into any treaty with the British, which would certainly be his best policy, in fact, his only chance of preserving his independence, the present time was not the most favourable for such an attempt. They looked at me with amazement; and when I had spoken out thus freely, they drew back, and, perhaps, fearful of compromising themselves, told me that I had not understood their meaning. I answered, that in that case, the error was mine; and begging them to assure the Khan of my deep sympathy with him, I dismissed them, whereupon they quitted the tent as mysteriously as they had entered it. Having called my people, Jwala ran in to tell me of the arrival of a fakir, with a letter to me from a European. It was from Henderson, written in Mazafferabad the very day before my arrival there, and telling me that he had been most kindly received by the bearer, and now was think