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:
By degrees, my servants found their way to Agnur. About eleven o’clock at night, I was able to break my day’s fast, and at midnight to lie down, The servants were the greatest sufferers after all; for their work is only beginning when the baggage arrives, the bearers alone being at liberty to betake themselves to rest.
One of my people shot a rare specimen of the stork on the wing, very like one which I obtained in Ceylon; but not a native could be found to bring the bird to Agnur for us, a distance of three kos, until Mirza resorted to the means, common from Syria to the Himalaya, in such cases-taking off the turban of a countryman, he endeavoured to compel him to lend his services; but the peasant chose rather put up with his loss, and consoled himself by repeating that he had another at home; and I ordered Mirza, therefore, to let him go, and to hang his turban on the next hedge. While in India, and especially in the Dekhan, I had seen numbers of men scrambling to be hired, at the rate of a pice per kos; here I found it necessary to pay eight annas, or thirty-two pice, for the day's work, surely no proof of poverty in the country. I met with another old acquaintance here, a black cormorant, of that kind so abundant in the South of India.
Thursday, November 5.-Thermometer, morning 59°, noon 80°, evening 64°. The inhabitants were unanimous in their information, that the road was quite level to Rajaor, with the single exception of one ascent near Agnur; and yot I found the day's journey one of extreme toil and difficulty, The distance was reckoned nine kos, that is, between twelve and thirteen miles, It took us from seven in the morning to six in the evening, and their boasted level road led us over two mountains, comparable with those climbed by the traveller in the Himalaya, going from Pahar to Subh&too, over smooth rocks, and mountain torrents. From the bed of the Kotheri, we began our ascent of the first hill; enormous stones piled one over another, composed the road to the summit; there a torrent, which has worn its bed deeply into the soil, with sandstone and limestone in detached masses, somewhat varied the route. About one-third of the way, we came to the abode of a fakir, near several little stone buildings, and a spring called Dendrsh, round which a considerable party of the dwellers of the mountains were spending their hours of rest from work. Many were carrying to Jammu large bundles of rose-coloured wood of the Deobasa, which is found about this spot also; but I could not find any of the trees, though I went out of my way, with one of the collectors, in search of one. Overcome by the heat, my people lay down by the-spring, from which the fakir brought them all water, while multitudes of monkeys were leaping from tree to tree, and flocks of parrots filled the air with their clatter. Gigantic trees, round which climbed many a parasite, rose in the little plain near the spring. When the fakir had administered to the wants of all my servants, I beckoned to him, and he quickly drew near with a vessel filled with water. I then perceived that he was a very aged man-*“ How old are you ?” said I. “ Ninety-two,” replied he. “And how long have you lived at this spring?” “‘ Since I grew to manhood.” “ And why do you remain here?” “Why!” repeated he, “see you not that I refresh the weary traveller with water, and send him strengthened on his way?” “ But he would find it without you.” “ And when the sand in this lonely spot chokes the spring, who would find the water then? By serving the poor J serve God.” “ But these same poor feed you, otherwise you could not exist.”
"He who has abundance gives to the needy if he values his own happiness. I am the rich man here; for the water is mine: and many a great man travelling this way is bounteous to me, in order that I may live until another comes, Truly there are such good men in this world; for many are the years that I have lived without quitting this spring.”
Poor man! Knowing only one small valley, how narrow and confined must God’s beautiful creation appear to thee! To theatres must be a forest, a hill a division of the world, the spring thine ocean; and yet, who would not give all his knowledge, every worldly advantage, in exchange for this peaceful mind, this conscientious assurance that he commands everything that constitutes happiness.
On the hill which we next reached from Dendrah, I had a beautiful view of the country, conclusive enough to me, that I should soon be in the heart of a mountainous region. This was the last glimpse I had of the plains of India for some time: its native inhabitants also, a perfect host of white monkeys, of peacocks and parrots, as if desirous of taking leave of me, screamed in chorus over my head.
It is curious to observe here, how quickly a little spring becomes a deep stream. At the top of a mountain, it is perhaps like a thread of water, and 100 steps further down, we find it two fathoms across. Over a pretty rivulet called Dalashel, about which are scattered the cottages composing the village of Inghal, we arrived at an extraordinary formation of sandstone; and by clambering first over the great blocks scattered along the bed of the stream, and then up a steep ascent to the second point, and looking back to the first, I became fully alive to the surprising nature of its form. From the valley beneath, spring up, in multitudes, detached sharp points of rocks, while above, the mountain seems to have no end. Until the summit is once gained, the road to Poni appears to be as steep downwards to the banks of the river, as that just surmounted; and then there is another great ascent ere one can reach the town, which is on the opposite side of a river. I lingered on the summit a few minutes and then commenced the toilsome dangerous descent. Fatigued as I was, it was necessary to descend on foot; but how the poor animals or the bearers were ever to reach the bottom, I could not even surmise. What I might have expected soon occurred; the men would not follow me with the baggage, because they were accustomed to move as slowly as they chose, and to rest whenever they could find any shade, which did not suit my desire to end the day’s march as soon as practicable. I had always taken care to send on the small tent, under the care of the Chaprasi, Khair Singh, that I might find it ready on my arrival; and now, when I reached the river, I found them on the point of carrying it over. As the sun went down, I entered the little town on foot, wearied not a little. Very few of my people were with me, and the night came on, finding me without bed or food. I could not help heartily despising the great broad-shouldered Kashmirians, who carried the Jampan, and let both it and its unlucky tenant fall no less than four times this day until I began to think my own feet a much safer mode of transport: I am not sure they did not fall purposely. Late at night, when the coldness of the air made me long for warmer clothing, I was favoured with the sight of the Charpdi, my Indian bedstead, a Chepdti, a kind of unleavened cake made by my huntsmen, and a fire.
Friday, November 6.-The servants and bearers were not ready until nine o'clock, and then out of humour at the prospect of a fatiguing march, the bearers threw the bedstead on the ground, breaking two of the feet and the frame. These Kashmirians I take to be an unwilling, ill-tempered, discontented set; and their coarse disagreeable manner of speaking is hardly to be endured. Their exterior is far more pleasing, and some of the old men might have served as models for a patriarch. At Simla, and indeed until [ arrived at Jama, I had seen but two classes, the tailors and shawl weavers, and had fancied the whole race diminutive and insignificant like them. But I knew little of them at that time. About noon I was informed, that my large tent was brought as far as the hill; but that ten men at least were necessary to drag it through paths which were inaccessible to my beasts of burden. Neither fair words nor gold could congregate, out of this populous place, more than half of that number, nor that indeed without great difficulty. I decided, therefore, on climbing the lofty eminence once more, and strengthening the hired force with my eight bearers. Again my trusty Ghunt took me up this arduous ascent, and I was well repaid for my toil; for I discovered, by the way, many interesting plants. My Shikarf shot a black pheasant, and I enjoyed the fine prospect and the sweet coolness of the evening. Very lovely was that evening, and the view over the valley of Ras Dhan, at the foot of the Trikota, was magnificent. But I was thoroughly convinced that the road which from fatigue and long watching I had imagined to be more dangerous than it was in reality last evening, was sufficiently perilous: the eye shrinks from the deep yawning chasm below, over which hang grotesque masses of projecting rock, as the road winds round and round, on the very edge of the precipice. One spot we came to, where the rocky wall dropped perpendicularly to a depth of several thousand feet; and, further on, hundreds of steps seem cut out obliquely, and so dangerously projecting over the abyss, that it is almost impossible to descend them. The head swims in passing this fearful place; and as no animal can turn about, on account of the narrowness of the path, I expected every instant to see one or the other of them stumble, and fall into the depths below. Many did flounder about, and nearly lost their footing, trembling meanwhile in every limb; but seemingly aware of their danger, they walked with the most surprising care, and arrived at the bottom safely, their loads being taken off, and carried on men’s shoulders.
When I reached my tent again, I found two messengers awaiting me, with a letter from the Thanadar of Narpoor, who sent me, by command of the Maha Raja, 101 rupees; for which, as I mentioned above, the bill was given at Narpoor without the money. They now demanded Ranjit’s note, which I. had kept as a curiosity. I desired not to take the money if this could be done without giving offence to the Maha Raja, and as part of my suite had already quitted Poni, this gave me the opportunity of declining the money, because the bill of exchange was with my luggage, and could not be returned. I was obliged to remain at Poni another night; and a good meal and rest were doubly welcome to me, after a very uncomfortable night and two fatiguing days, spent almost without sustenance.
Saturday, November 7, thermometer, morning 58°, noon 70°, evening 66°. This morning had nearly seen the last of my earthly excursions; for, while breakfasting as usual before my tent, and some of the servants were taking it down, the rest being seated round me on the grass, it suddenly fell with a crash, shivering in pieces the table at which I was sitting. Had I’ been but ever so little to the right, the roof of the tent weighing 600 Ibs. and the poles, 25 feet high, would have descended on my devoted head. The poor Munshi, who was reading a letter by my side, lay for some time nearly dead with terror; and when I bade him go on, and think no more of the accident, he could find no consolation in my coolness for the fright he had received. I found on inquiry, that the Kalasi had wound up all. the ropes, except the principal stay ropes, which were not strong enough to bear the weight of the tent. The pegs were forced out which fastened them to the ground, and the whole gave way together. My people saw the impending danger, and tried to rouse me by their cries; but these things are so commonly heard, that I listened without paying attention to them. The least movement in the direction of the falling load would have brought me under it.
Poni lies in a narrow deep ravine, and the castle, which, at a distance, looks grand and well fortified, is, on a nearer approach, very insignificant. Two roads lead from Poni to Rajaor, the shortest being twenty-four kos, the longest passing by Bal and Noshera, and both, according to the natives, being over a plain country. As I was told that the shortest would bring me in four days’ journey to Rajaor, I proposed it on account of the miserable state of my cattle. I made another discovery here, and not an agreeable one. The fatigues and hunger and want of sleep I had lately suffered, made me sensible that I could not, without danger, brave hardships which in younger days I should have laughed at.
The road passes between two rather lofty hills, and up and down through ravines hollowed out by the streams in the rich soil. At Bethyan, we completely lost our way, and Mirza asked a man who was working in the field which direction we should take. He was about to point it out, when they desired him to show it quickly, upon which he stoutly refused to stir from the spot. The usual snatch of the turban from his head, brought on a skirmish, in which three field labourers engaged on his side, and valiantly defended him; one seizing the silver-tipped stick, the sign of Mirza’s authority, and another regaining possession of the turban. It was with much difficulty that the stick was wrested from his grasp. During this contest the cowardly bearers had set me down and runoff, so that I found myself in the midst of the combatants, quite unprepared to interfere were it necessary, although I looked carefully after my kukeri or knife. My men being provided with sabres, and the peasants carrying mattocks, I expected that blood would be shed; particularly, when at a loud shout from our four enemies, I saw people rushing out of the village: fortunately the Kotwal was among them, and Mirza laying hold of him without any ceremony, obliged him to guide us to Moghul, the next station. Moghul consists of a few houses only and has no bazar. It is distant from Poni five kos, or between eight and nine miles, which took us five hours to reach.
Sunday, Nov. 8.-Thermometer 49°, 84°, 68°. The difference of climate was more perceptible from day today, and I dreaded to think what I should do with my Indians when we reached the Pir Panjal, on which, doubtless, the snow was then lying, for they were hard to be driven forth this morning on account -of the cold. The road was uninteresting and bad; the country is intersected in every direction by ranges of hills, and the people seemed very poor, the villages being paltry and built-in valleys, or scattered in small patches about the hills; the vegetation is still tropical, and the Mango, Banana, Parrots, and Maina, abundant as ever. The Nerium Oleander abounds in the river beds, and the stunted Phoenix farinifera or date palm, on the rocks. We were seven hours going eight kos, or fourteen miles, to Dharmsala, a larger station, which has a bazar. Near it, we fell in with a company of Banjaris, or corn merchants, with 100 or 150 oxen laden with grain, J was forced to pass the evening in the little morning tent, having vainly waited for the larger one.
Monday, Nov. 9, Thermometer 46°, 74°, 66% A very cold morning. There was no getting my people up before 7 o'clock, and the day’s route was over steep hills and very rugged paths. Here the houses are built close together for security; each, as in Syria, resembling a little castle. The owner enters his dwelling by a ladder, which he draws up after him, a proof of the fear entertained of the Sikh and Mohammedan troops, and of the few means of defence possessed by the inhabitants, since a day would suffice to pull down every house in the neighbourhood.
On leaving Dharmsala we had a fine view of the Pir Panjal, covered with snow to a considerable extent; many streams of cold and clear water descended towards us from the mountain; of these, the Naritari, dashing over immense stones in its progress, is the most considerable. In order to ford it, we were forced to jump from stone to stone, a feat by no means agreeable or easy, on account of their slipperiness and the depth at which they lie. The vegetation still continues tropical. The Barberry and Pine, which commence here and seem to confer their character on this region, are both abundant. The harvest was just over. The day’s journey was six kos, which occupied us five hours.
Tuesday, Nov. 10.-Thermometer, 42°, 72°, 64°. From yesterday’s station, I had dispatched a letter to the Raja of Rajawar, requesting that six horses might be sent to convey my tent to that place. The night was bitterly cold, and my tent was pitched on the heights of Safedar, in a very unprotected situation, where the wind had full liberty to pierce every cranny. In the morning it was covered with a white hoar frost. From a rising ground, by the way, we had a fine view of the Bimber valley which we were soon to descend. We were met by the horses which I had applied for, and their leader informed me that the Raja himself: was only four miles off. By Moradpoor we came to that ancient road by which the Emperors of Dehli went from Lahore to Kashmir, and of which Bernier gives so entertaining a description. Moradpoor was ono of the resting-places on the route, and under the Moghul rule was a place of some note, but the Serai is now a very unpicturesque ruin, its narrow rooms are converted into stables, and a fine clump of trees is all that remains of the garden. It is five miles from Rajawar. I had just quitted the village when a party of men rode up to me and requested that I would there await the Raja’s arrival. The idea of standing still at this spot, under a hot sun, was not very agreeable, but politeness demanded the sacrifice of comfort; so, taking my glass, I soon espied a gaily accoutred cavalcade engaged in sporting; as soon as the partridges were on the wing, they threw after them their large sparrow-hawks, but in such a direction that they could hardly have shot the game without wounding their hawks likewise; the gun is, therefore, rarely used: they did not take more than half-a-dozen. The Raja of Rajawar is an extremely prepossessing and honest-looking man. Surrounded by his little court, he received me standing, and I, having alighted also, took his hand. On declining the offer of his horse or elephant, we took our way together to the town, he on his horse, I in my own favourite conveyance. My new friend was evidently very well informed and had a good and fitting answer to give to every question. Originally a Sikh, he had now gone over to the Mohammedan creed and had acquired Rajawar since the expulsion and imprisonment of the restless Raja Agur Khan, who has seized by Gulab Singh, during the second and fortunate expedition of Ranjit Singh into Kashmir in May 1320. For this service he received Jami as a jaghir, The present Raja Sultan Khan was formerly Raja of Bimber, and in 1812, Joined the other Mohammedan princes against Ranjit, but they were subdued, and he spent seven years in captivity at Lahore. Ranjit Singh thought that his acquaintance with Kashmir might be useful to his army on his second march, and Sultan Khan being set at liberty, performed services which gained for him, on the return of the expedition, the jaghir or fief of Rajdwar.
The Raja led me into the once beautiful, but now ruined garden, where the Emperors used to rest on their progress. Its chief ornaments pow are the plane trees, two of which measure between five and six feet in diameter near the ground. There is a fine view from one of the ruined aqueducts over the river and the town, which is protected by walls and towers and surrounded on all sides with hills. The Raja pointed out to my notice, with great pride, a high point, which is distant about five kos, called Azimgurh, as a very strong fort. After leaving me alone for half-an-hour, which he spent in the garden, he returned to my little tent, where there was but one chair, which he would not accept. After a mutual series of complimentary apologies, we concluded by starting forth again and seating ourselves on 8 stone balustrade overlooking the Tohi, I informed him, through the Munshi, that I proposed to return his visit, but he replied, that if I came to his Durbar he should make me a present in money, and that, as to be had been informed of my refusal to accept such gifts, he preferred rather to decline to receive me than to endure the affront of seeing his offering rejected. He stayed the whole day in the garden and ordered his servants to bring me flowers, fish, and fruit: a sheep and several fowls were, moreover, liberally furnished for the wants of my followers. In the evening he came again, and I assured him that, on my return from Kashmir, must disregard his wishes, and pay him a long visit, at all hazards.
About Rajawar tropical plants are still seen, as, the Cotton and Banana, but the climate is much changed. Snow storms are frequent in January, and the snow often lies two whole days on the ground. The country is generally flat and uninteresting, but there is a torment for every traveller, whether on foot or horseback, or other conveyance: the Zixiphus or Jujube thorn, tears everything to pieces, and renders the journey to Rajawar extremely troublesome and tedious. The thorns of the plant are so curved that when they catch hold of anything it is no easy matter to get clear of them, the damage they occasion both to clothes and skin is by no means trifling.
I travelled this day about seven kos in five hours. Unluckily, I found my cook one of the most quarrelsome fellows that I had met with; notwithstanding the softness of his name, Gulab Khan, or rose-water lord, none of the Musselmans could agree with him, and there was no end to his disputes and quarrels with the Hindus. After I had heard him vociferating loudly for some time, he came and complained that he had not time to prepare my curry and that he was over-worked, his labour consisting of the preparation of my dinner, for the khidmatg4r always got the breakfast and tea ready. I soon turned him out of the tent, with an order never to let me see his face or hear his voice again. By the time I had forgotten all about this, Jwali, the most active and useful of my chaprasis, ran in, took off his badge of office, laid it on the table, and declared that he had been too much insulted to feel justified in bearing such a mark of my confidence any longer. I then perceived that his hand was bleeding, and it turned out that in a sore fight, the cook, Gulab Singh, had bitten the hand of the Chaprési, Jwali Singh, who, on this occasion, had not maintained the honour of his name of the fiery lion. I was, therefore, obliged to send the former about his business forthwith, and took on myself the office of doctor to the injured Jwali, whose wound, however, was of no material importance.
Wednesday, Nov. 11.-Thermometer, 48°. 70°, 59°. Before my departure I took another view of the garden, and admired anew the large Plane trees, a Plum and Magnolia Champaka, before which were lying, in this Mohammedan garden, some Hindu images; large rosebushes, bearing the rosa-semperflorens; Indian crysanthemums, white and yellow, and a number of white jonquils with yellow cups, filled the whole garden with their sweet perfume. The road lay along the Tohi, which rushes over rocks and stones, to Thana, a place about twelve miles off. The valley of the Tohi, to judge from its situation, ought to be very delightful; as it opens to the mountains on the south, and seemingly cultivated; yet it is not so, the hills, to a great height, are cut into terraces and converted into rice fields, but wherever irrigation is impracticable, the whole country is overrun with briars and wild shrubs. Two of these last, and a very remarkable creeping plant were new to me, the others were all natives of the Himalaya. I am indebted to this day’s journey for a large collection of seeds. It is curious to observe the gradual change from the vegetation of the tropics to that of the north, as we approach in that direction. At Berode, the son of the Raja of Rajawar was waiting to receive me, under a group of splendid lime and chesnut trees. The small distance between Rajawar and Berode made so great a difference in climate, that these trees, belonging to a northern region, were now substituted for the Magnolia and the Banana. The son was shooting also, and I thought it probable, with the view of having a present to offer me, in the shape of the game.
To meet a person with a gift is the highest courtesy an Indian can show, and both father and son availed themselves of the pretext of shooting, to do me this honour, without in the least derogating from their own dignity. Falcons were the destroyers employed. Curious to follow the tactics of these little birds of prey, I accompanied the party on their way. They sat as tamely as possible on the sportsman’s hand, their feet being fastened together, as in our country, with a silken lace which was held tight, and on each foot was a little bell which betrayed its presence, if the sportsman was not alert in taking it off as he slipped his bird. The falcon usually catches the prey instantly and seats himself on the ground with it, but a fine black partridge baffled its pursuer for a long time. At length ‘it was brought to me alive and little injured. I reached Thana before nightfall. The ruined Serai is tenanted by a little colony of Kashmirians.
Thursday, Nov. 12.-Thermometer, 44°, 60°, 49°. I have traduced nature in this part. As we journeyed northwards to-day she assumed again a richer attire. The majestic form of the mighty trees, tinged with the most splendid tints of autumn, reminded me forcibly of the forests of my own country, with their garb varying from the golden yellow to the dark deep brown. Between Thana and Perhamgals we scaled the Ratan Panjal, a mountain more than 9000 feet high, following the banks of the Tohito its source. The road is not invariably precipitous. From the summit of the Ratan Panjal, the view js splendid, stretching over seven mountain ranges, to the great plains of the Panjab. As we ascended, the vegetation around reminded me of Simla and its neighbourhood. I discovered a stunted Vaccinium, a well-known native of the Himalaya, and in the course of the day observed two of the Rhododendron arboretum. But these grow on the south side of the Ratan Panjal, and on the north side of the Himalaya. There is hardly a foot’s breadth of level ground near the summit of this mountain, and Ratan Shahi, not forty feet below its highest peak, js a resting place, consisting of three houses and a tower. A party of soldiers belonging to the Maha Raja are stationed in the pass throughout the year. Shaded by the finest oaks, limes and chesnuts, unlike those found in European forests, we descended the northern side, taking our downward course over a hard stony path. The larger pinesclothe the highest ridge, and blocks of ice, which the noonday’s sun had not to power to melt, were lying about. The thermometer at this time marked 60°, but the wind blew keenly, and the cold was very piercing. The unmelted piece of ice was a better thermometer, in fact than the quicksilver, a phenomenon to be attributed to the extreme rarity and dryness of the air. The Perhamgala on which the little town is built consists of two small streams, over which a bridge is thrown. The principal stream is a clear rapid mountain torrent, which has its source fifteen miles from the town, in the Pir Panjal, where there are a tank and place of pilgrimage; the Damdam flowing thence to Kashmir, and the Perhamgala taking a southward course.
My tent was pitched about a mile up the stream, close by the ruined Serai; the road was singularly romantic, the mountains closely hemmed together, and towering aloft towards the sky, scarcely admit one beam of sunlight to pierce the deep and narrow dell below. A beautiful water-fall on the right would have attracted many a traveller in Europe’ from a great distance to admire this so magnificent a scene.
Friday, November 13, thermometer 40°, 58°, 50°. The Thanadar made his appearance this ‘morning and demanded my Perwana, or permission to travel, which I had received from the Maha Raja found that the man was only doing his duty, and therefore referred him to my Munshi, that the Perwana might be produced. It was in the possession of the Chobdar’s servant, and he was still snugly lodged in a house, whence, however, he was quickly summoned. When he did come forth, I ordered him to take care in future that he produced the Maha Raja’s permit whenever it was necessary, that I might not be importuned by such inquiries; and the man assured me that he had done so the preceding day. The Thanadar then came in for his share, and he was asked what he meant by such impertinence. He could only answer that he was entitled to ask a certain sum from anyone who went by this mountain pass and that he hoped I would not refuse to give the accustomed toll. I desired him to be told that he had chosen a wrong method of asking for a present and that he might turn his back on my tent: as soon as possible.
The snow, which often lies to the depth of a hundred feet at Perhamgala, occasions the place to be entirely abandoned during winter. The road continued to wind down to the valley, which is still closely hemmed in by vast overhanging mountains and is so low that the presence of daylight is in some places almost unknown. Strange to say, the south side of this valley is everywhere wild and dreary, while fine trees grow up to the very summit of the mountain on the north face. The reason may possibly be found in the fact, that, on the south side, the repeated action of alternate freezing and thawing destroys every kind of vegetation, except a few grasses. Wherever a little open space is seen in the valley, itis crowded with chesnut trees of enormous size in which troops of large white monkeys with black faces have taken up their abode; these live on the fruits as they ripen. The chesnut, oak and holly, the pine and the fir, are the only natives of this region, The trunk of the first, which is very unlike the European tree, sometimes measures as much as six or seven feet in diameter. When the tree is old, the bark peels off in a remarkable way, and stands away from the trunk, in pieces, at a distance of two feet; the outer shell of the fruit has no excrescence. On one spot I saw a tuft of the gigantic lily and robbed it of as many seeds and bulbs as I could get possession of from the step rock in which it grew. One stalk measured nine feet and had six seed capsules. The Shikari was by far the most active of my attendants in climbing the declivities; and as this lily grew on a slippery soil, which gave way under the feet, there was some little difficulty in obtaining it. When he had succeeded, the next feat was to slit off a part of the stem in an oblique direction, which he then formed into a musical instrument, on which he played after the manner of the shepherds of Switzerland and the Tyrol. This rustic pipe is much in fashion among the Himalayan shepherds also. Early recollections made the sound of this wild music so charming to me, that my attendants imagined they could do no better than providing themselves with each with a similar instrument; but the discord that ensued was so terrible, that I was obliged at length to put a stop to their trials, not one of them understanding how to draw one proper sound from the reed except the Shikari.
The pretty village of Dobran is three kos distant from Perhamgala. The women, according to the custom of these mountains, were all on the flat roofs of their cottages and greeted my arrival with songs. In the valley, I was visited by a man, whom I took for a common beggar. I asked him the name of the place; but misunderstanding me, he told me his own, adding, that he was the Sirdar or lord of the ‘ whole. I made him a present of a rupee, which he thankfully accepted. My next visitors were a large party of monkeys. Two of immense size began fighting together, without taking the slightest notice of us; and when, I tried: to separate them, by throwing stones, they took my mediation very il, and springing to a rock hard by, amused themselves and us by making the most hideous grimaces.
Two miles from Dobran, a steep road continued up to the hill on which is the ruined Serai of Poshyan. It is inhabited during the summer by traders in provisions, & c., who betake themselves in the winter to Rajawar. The whole range from Ratan Panjab to Pir Panjal belongs to Gulab Singh. I found my tent spread on the roofs of several houses, the only level place to be found on the mountain, which as far as the eye can reach, is without tree or bush. I arrived at noon, but the sun gave no warmth, and a chilly west wind which at sunset veered round to the east, and blew direct from the snowy mountains, made the air piercingly cold.
Saturday, Nov. 14.-It was late when the servants crept out of the houses, and I was obliged to have a fire lighted to dispel the chill which I also suffered. The thermometer, in a southern aspect, was 50°, at 7 o’clock; at one it fell to 45° in the mountains, The day’s march, however, was of much interest; at every step, the vegetation seemed to dwindle, until we attained the region of perpetual snow when it disappeared altogether. This was on the north side of the mountain; on the south flank immense naked rocks towered one above the other, in whose deep clefts the snow was piled up. The gradual transition from the vegetation of South Germany, the chesnut, lime, ilex, elm, and alder, to that of Norway, with its stunted firs and birches, as all we met with here, differing however in form from the productions of Europe, gave room to much and most interesting observation and reflection. My company of followers were often forced to quit the straight road and follow the devious paths in every direction, that I might satisfy my strong desire to possess some plant, insect, or stone. My booty in new plants and seeds exceeded my expectation, and the autumn had even spared a few rare flowers. Among the firs on the north side of the mountain I espied a Daphne, at least so I judge from the bud, and a little further on, a Vaccinium, much resembling our own; and, still onwards, on the other side of a ravine amid some birches, a new shrub like the Rhododendron, whose branches were mostly bent earthwards by the snow. Its hardy appearance, however, convinces me that it would flourish in our cold climates. With infinite fatigue and trouble, I reached a clump, but could find neither bud nor seed, and returned quite exhausted to the road. Later in the day, I perceived a second and larger group, growing on a steep place on, the opposite side of the ravine, and I promised to give a couple of rupees to the man who first brought me some of the seeds. In an instant they were all rushing down the precipice, without heed or precaution, springing from rock to rock, until I trembled to look after them; the steep bank was goon gained. My glass showed me that they were breaking off all the branches at hazard, but they were gone too far for my voice to reach them, and I could only hope that by good luck they might bring me one slip, at least, on which fruit might be found. On their return, a small wood was laid before me, but not what I wished, and I retained the rupees, thinking we might be more fortunate presently. With the Rhododendron was intermingled the Elm, and a species of the Evonymus, or spindle tree, both with trunks lying along with the earth, and sometimes reaching to a length of forty feet. The Juniper is the highest bush found on the north flank of the mountain; the Barberry and Currant on the south. The snow, which had been falling for a fortnight, prevented me from searching for anything higher. Clay and mica schist is found on the west side of the Pir Panjab up to its summit, and single pieces of hornblende are lying about, as though some way-worn traveller had cast them down, unable to endure the trouble of bearing them along. The ascent is dreadfully steep. With a volume of Bernier in my hand, I gazed around and recalled in imagination the time when the gorgeous suite of the Emperor of Dehli clambered up these perilous and difficult paths. In many parts the soil is so loose and crumbling, as to afford no safe footing; and large masses falling from above, block up the usual road, and force the traveller to find out a new one as he best can. It seems to me impossible that elephants could ever tread such a pass, not so much on account of their unwieldy size, for they climb steep places with incredible facility; but that their weight is so enormous, and I find in Bernier an account of a number of elephants which were precipitated into the depths below, as they proceeded with the Zenana on their backs. A small tower is built on the highest point, where a party of the Maha Raja’s troops are stationed throughout the year; and hard by is the grave of a Mohammedan fakir, named Pir Panjal, from whom the mountain takes its name. There is a fine prospect in the direction of the Panjab, and the eye stretching over unnumbered ranges of hills loses all further view in the dimmer and warmer atmosphere of the south. A little further on, we passed into a gorge of the mountain, On the north, or right side was a vast wall of snow above us. The south was a naked rock; in vain I essayed to catch one glimpse of the long-looked-for valley, the limits of my wanderings in Asia in this direction. Towards the east stretched a barren plain, through which flows the Damdam, a river now partly frozen; and in many spots were deep holes, evidently dug by bears; I saw none of these animals, but their traces were very perceptible. One creature we saw climbing up the naked rock, which I imagine must have been a leopard: it was nearly white, with a long tail, and of large size. Finally, after another hour of toilsome way, my anxious eye descried the huge mountain masses of Tibet, beyond the valley of Kashmir, their highest. peaks, Mer and Ser being plainly visible. I saw them but for an instant, a turn of the road again hid them from my view but never rose any more proudly than they, with their two pyramids, the one black, the other white, close to one another, and apparently of the same altitude. The valley itself could not be seen from any point.
It seems natural to all nations to experience more or less of fear in passing over these wild mountains. After my Indians and Kashmirians had all prayed at the tomb of Pir Panjal the devotee, they sacrificed some cowries and muscle shells to his namesake the mountain; these represent the smallest Indian money: the bearers also asked me for ‘gore Tittle present, as a thank-offering for my safe conveyance through the dangerous mountain pass. Allahabad Serai, or, as it is usually called, Padshahi Serai, is completely hemmedén on every side by high snowy mountains and is the only abode kept up for the reception of travellers in this part. The desolate tract between Rajawar and Kashmir is so thinly inhabited that, if it were not for this station, which is occupied by a corporal and a few sepoys, who are not relieved until they have passed several years in this wilderness, travellers would, indeed, be sadly off. In October, they lay in their winter stock of provisions, wood, & c.; at the end of November the snowstorms begin, and from that time the men do not even venture into the yard, where the snow remains piled up for months. My little tent was pitched in the middle of this yard, and the cold was certainly most piercing. I wrote and amused myself with my map until my benumbed fingers refused to serve me any longer. At six in the evening, the thermometer fell to 39°.
Sunday, Nov. 15.-Thermometer 48°, 52°, 46°. The night was dreadful. My poor Indians kept up a chorus of coughs, and some of the stoutest, instead of sleeping, sat up all night around a large fire and tried to while away the cold by singing. In vain I courted sleep under my thick coverlets. In spite of the fatigues I had undergone, I could not close my eyes, and that painful feeling that generally accompanies want of sleep, brought before me, sad and sweet recollections as if from a past world, of all that I had felt and endured in this. How wearisome such nights appear! With the dawn my mind became more tranquillized; images of the future, and hopes all full of home, dispelled the troubles and fancies brought on by cold and fatigue.
From this military post to Hirpoor, the distance is ten long kos, over the steep side of the Pir Panjal. The road first took us through a deep ravine; and then, just as I expected to get at last a glimpse of the valley, came another hill, and another. We skirted, for some time, a wall of rock, which was built as a safeguard, by order of Shah Jehan. The superstitious inhabitants of these parts have a tale concerning Ali Merdan Khan, the builder of this wall, and of all the Serais between Lahore and Kashmir. According to this fable, as the architect marshalled his workmen along the road, he came suddenly to a tower, which they one and all refused to pass because a man-eater called Lal Gulam dwelt there, who was accustomed from the tower to seize upon the passengers, as they stole one by one along the narrow path, and hurl them down the precipice when he devoured them at leisure. The brave Ali Merdan Khan went into the tower first, but Lal Gdlam had just quitted it. He found his son there, however, whom he instantly hurled down the precipice. Since that time, nothing more has been heard of Lal Gulam, and the remembrance of the murders he committed is gradually dying away, but the tower still bears his name and was certainly a fit place for the dwelling of a robber. That the Pir Panjal has ever been dangerous enough, without the needless addition of cannibals, is shown by the countless skeletons of horses and oxen, and the whitened human bones, which remain, melancholy evidences of the fate which has overtaken many a wanderer in these terrific passes, The sudden transition from great heat to excessive cold, had brought a fever on many of my servants; and as there was no better physician at hand, and I had often seen the beneficial effects of calomel in similar cases, I gave them doses of twelve to fifteen grains on this occasion. Poor fellows! it was with the utmost difficulty that they could pursue their way, laden as they necessarily were; they were forced to lie down for a while at the top of every level spot, from sheer exhaustion. I would gladly have thrown away a part of my baggage if that would have availed them; but they had loaded themselves very absurdly with a weight, on their own account, at least twice as great as what they carried for me.
Four kos from the Padshahi Serai, we arrived at the picturesque fortress of Inganali Kilah; two branches of the Damdam river unite here, and the mountain sinking abruptly to a hill, discloses also two detached towers defending the entrance of the mountain, which towards the north, from the right bank of the stream, might be easily mastered. At all other points, it may safely be deemed impregnable. The Serai pow in a ruined state, from the frequent f-"ing masses, which have destroyed the former approaches, lies at the base of the mountain, and near the river.
From this ruin, we again directed our steps to the highest of the towers we had previously observed, which is perched 1000 feet above it. The valley of the Damdam was on the route, enriched with beautiful firs, pines, & c., and giving somewhat the appearance of a park to the various points where these little forests have long grown and flourished, far from all human dwellings. Here nature seems to have reigned perfectly free and uncontrolled by the ingenuity of man, since its first creation, I strolled into the forest for some time; and, lost in the interest of such a scene, gazed untired on the myriads of strange birds which were flying about in this oasis; and the large squirrels, which were merrily bounding from branch to branch. How much of life, of happy life too, was there in this lonely spot!
Hirpoor was a miserable place, over which towers the snowy head of the Pir Papjal. The Thanadar came to see me; but I could procure nothing for my servants, although I tried, by every means, to restore their wasted strength by more generous nourishment, and diligently, though in vain, enquired for a sheep. Hirpoor lies in the mountains, and in an elevated situation; but from no point is Kashmir discernible, and amid the continued and devious hill ranges, one can only now and then distinguish the outline of the high chain of Tibet.
In the course. of the evening, a fakir, almost naked, crawled to my tent door and began tosing. ‘The weather had become so bitterly cold, that, wrapped up in vests and shawls as I was, I could not hold a pen in my fingers. Compassionating his wretched appearance, I ordered the servants to give him a rupee, and to bid him shelter himself where he liked, or at least to take as a gift one of my blankets; but no, his vow bound him to add nothing to his present scanty garb. His voice was remarkably fine; and in his song, which was all in praise and honour of God, were mingled wishes for my happiness and peace. He kept me awake till the night was far gone; and when I awoke in the morning, there was the singer still, his voice only hoarser than before. If I had pitied the poor fakir yesterday, how could I help to admire, at the same time, the firm devotedness, the deep conviction, however mistaken, that he was expiating worldly sins, by this endurance of pain and destitution?
Monday, November 16, thermometer 20°, 48°, 52°. I had erroneously anticipated that, on turning my back on Pir Panjal, I had passed the limit of extremest cold. I suffered much from it this morning, and my uneasiness increased, when I considered that as Hirpoor could not be more than 500 feet higher than Kashmir, the cold there must also have robbed nature of her loveliest charms. At sunrise, the fakir ceased, and my people began a chorus of complaints. The water-bearer did not know what he should do, his leathern sack was turned into stone, and not a drop of water could he squeeze out; the khidmatgar brought me a broken bottle, in which the water had frozen hard, as something which he thought as new and strange to me, as it was to him; and: the bearer who attended to my toilet, after he had got water from the river, did not understand what use he could make of it, everything being hard as iron; gradually, however, the novelty of the sight diverted their minds from these grievances, and a sparkling fire helped to cheer them still more. The cold of northern Europe had never swollen my face and lips as now; and that we might all have as much rest and as little travelling as possible, I limited the day's journey to Chupayan, which is not more than seven miles further, Our route was over another hill, to the narrow valley of the Damdam.
Everywhere I was reminded of the great difference between the poverty of a warm climate, and of a cold one. Where the heaven is cloudless, and the temperature high or moderate, the very first want of life, warmth, renders misery, if painful, at least endurable; but when a man cannot protect himself against the pitiless climate he inhabits, and wants, at the same time, every proper necessary of life, then indeed is poverty terrible.
Just before reaching Chupayan, we passed two houses belonging to Pirs, Mohammedan saints, which are surrounded by large plane trees, and decorated with the beautiful iris. I was curious to find in this part the forms of many of our European plants, without recognising anywhere the same exact species. Except for the red clover, the blue chicory and the sweet-scented violet, I could gather nothing which grows in Germany. Apples were plentiful, and of many sorts, but neither were they what we cultivate. Grafting or improving their trees in any way seems unpractised among them, probably unknown; hence propagation by layers or offsets is their only means of increasing the species. Two small villages preceded the larger one, which cannot be said to lie in the plain, although the declivity is very slight. I sent to the Thanadar for a sheep, which he provided, with an entreaty that I would not allow it to be killed.on this day, which was holy; as it was for my attendants I suffered them to do as they pleased with it; and they obeyed the request, depriving themselves of the animal food they really stood in need of. Leprosy, which I had seen continually in the Himalaya mountains, and on my route hither, seemed to disappear in the valleys.
The wind was so piercing, that. we were forced to quicken our pace, to keep ourselves from suffering dreadfully from its effects. The sky was clear, with the exception of one little cloud, which seemed to take its stand, seemingly to hide the sun from us until the afternoon, when it had sunk too low to afford us any warmth. In the evening, a change of weather came on; clouds obscured the sky, and the cold abated. Tuesday, 17th, thermometer 36°, 52°,47°. The bed of the Damdam at this place is not much less than a mile in width; but at the present season is a shallow stream, certainly not more than a foot deep, and flows in the middle of the channel. Large stones fill up the bed of the watercourse, on which the drought of last season has favoured the growth of Juxuriant vegetation. It was my wish to reach Kanakpoor to-day, and though rain in the morning had somewhat retarded our journey, there was still plenty of time before us; but, at the distance of a few miles, I was met by the Thanadar of Rami. Our road traversed a beautiful country; two fine mosques, now in ruins indicated its former prosperity. His welcome consisted of two delicious pears, and a few rupees, the first of which I accepted most willingly, the latter I declined. He confidently assured me I should do well to spend the night at Rama, where I should find all that I could require, instead of proceeding to Kanakpoor, where I might solicit in vain, even for water. I took his advice accordingly. Rami is situated at the foot of a hill, whence they told me that the city of Kashmir or Srinagar, the first being the Mohammedan, the last the ancient Hindu name, was plainly discernible. In anxious expectancy to catch a glimpse of the goal of my long journey, I climbed to the top but saw nothing but smoke and dust. In the evening I was visited by Mirza Abdul Rahim from Kashmir, a native of Tdarkestan, who, as my Mdnshf informed me, had been a teacher in the Gymnasium at Agra. His glitter. ing dress and green turban designated a descendant of the prophet, and his first act was to offer me half a dozen rupees, which I touched, ac. cording to custom, and then returned. He next gave me a letter written by Mr Vigne, an Englishman, who had extended his Asiatic travels as far as Kashmir, to certify that he was an agent of the East India Company. I was surprised that Captain Wade should neither have spoken nor written to me about him but doubted not Mr Vigne’s authority, and accordingly treated him with great distinction, that is, I allowed him to take a chair. As he intended to spend the night here and accompany me to Kashmir on the morrow, made arrangements that he should share my smaller tent with the Mdanshi. Meanwhile, no less a personage than the K4zi, or Mohammedan judge, made his appearance, to salute me in the Viceroy’s name; but ere he uttered a syllable, forth came a handful of rupees, which, on my declining, he distributed among my people. I was much pleased with his manners, although I did not think fit to take his advice, which was, that f should divide the ten kos which lay between me and the capital, into two days’ journey.
My bearers, who were all well lodged and provided for by the Thanadar, at first refused to go all the way to Srinagar in one day; but they, who in the heart of desolate mountains might have laid down the law with impunity, when they reach well-peopled regions, are forced to yield their will to their master’s, unless they wish to quit his service. Wednesday, November 18.-For two miles our path led over gentle hills, whence there was a lovely view of the valley beneath, about five or six miles across and beyond it, to the mountains of Tibet. We passed the ruins of the Serai of Kénakpoor; and thence, winding over another hill, we came to the banks of the Dudh Ganga, ornamented with villages and rice fields, amid which grew the plane and poplar tree, with many others, bearing rich fruits. All round, and as far as the eye could reach, the land appeared highly cultivated and populous, A little way further, a body of soldiers was sent to escort me; these, with my own suite, and that of the Kazi, formed a considerable, and to moe, a most incommodious party, for the dust, they raised in the loose soil was perfectly suffocating.
There is nothing in the approach to Kashmir to remind the traveller of the vicinity of a place of note; the Takht-i-Suliman and fort being the most prominent features. We followed the windings of the Dudh Ganga and were in Kashmir before we were aware of it. Fine avenues of plane and poplar are the first signs of the former beauty of this favourite and the lovely abode of the splendid Moghul emperors; and then comes the square, where the soldiers of Ranjit Singh practised those European tactics which gained him possession of his large dominions. Two of his regiments, disciplined by Europeans, are stationed here; their uniform consisted of a red jacket, with yellow facings, and blue trousers and turban, blue being the favourite Sikh colour. The subalterns wear white turbans. The whole would have had an excellent effect, the men being evidently carefully selected for height and carriage if their fine dresses had not been in so ragged a condition. The muskets are made after the English fashion and manufactured in Lahore.
Author: Navin Kumar Jaggi
Co-Author: Gurmeet Singh Jaggi