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:
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 Lahor.
At the same moment that I reached the eastern suburb of the city of Kashmir, near Shaherghur, the viceroy’s palace, I saw him coming out at the gates, attended by a numerous retinue, and approaching the spot where I was. The Kazi pointed him out and requested me to stand still till he came up. I was so covered with dust, however, that a basin of water would then have been the most desirable of earthly conveniences. I, therefore, insisted on the bearers proceeding. From the left bank of the Jelam, we crossed a bridge erected over a canal, and, passing through a great portion of the filthy ruinous suburbs we came at length to the house which had been allotted for my abode. The exterior, dismal and unclean as it appeared, was anything but satisfactory; however, I made no remark but proceeded to take a fuller survey of that part which some of my servants had occupied since the preceding evening. Approaching a lower window, therefore, I discovered that I was a lodger in the second floor of a house elevated far above the river, which is overlooked. The Jelam, at this spot, forcibly reminded me of the Arno at Florence but is much deeper and remarkably still: it winds most picturesquely through the city, and was covered with boats of various form and fashion.
Exactly opposite, on the left shore, within a walled inclosure, was that quarter of the city containing the residence of the viceroy, and the several retainers of the court, civil and military. The principal entrance to the viceroy’s palace is from the shore, whence a broad flight of wooden stairs leads to a terrace and pavilion, adorned with curiously carved woods. I next visited every part of my new dwelling, which, instead of the spacious clean palace I had too readily anticipated, was filthy in the extreme, and divided into a great number of small mean rooms. It was not in the nature of things that I could fail to express my discontent at such a place; I, therefore, inquired, whether I could not find a garden, in which I might pitch my tent. I recollected the Dilawar Khan Bagh, where Jacquemont and Mr Vigne had taken up their residence; and as the wishes of a European are commands in Kashmir, on making an inquiry, whether there was not someplace for me there or elsewhere, I was quickly provided with a boat, which conveyed me to the Shah Hamedan Masjid, whence I proceeded on foot to the garden, in which, surrounded by fruit trees, vines, and the beautiful syringa Persica, I observed two little low square buildings, erected by the side of a large sheet of water. One had been already taken by Mr Vigne. Of the other, I took possession and ordered my tent to be pitched in front of it. While everything was preparing for my reception, I quietly took my seat at the window of my apartment, where I was visited by many of the principal inhabitants. A party of Kashmirian females in boats drew up also beneath the window and sang me their Wonimidn, or song of welcome. The men of this country were handsome. Let me not be deemed ungallant in asserting that the women, on the contrary, in the plainness of their features, were far inferior to any I had ever before cast eyes on in Asia; their singing, moreover, was little better than a dreadful yell.
After they had all taken their departure, satisfied with a few courteous expressions and some trifling presents, I sat down to write; but was interrupted again by the entrance of the Munshi, who came to inform me that a man, most wretchedly clad, without doubt, some Englishman, desired to speak with me. On being ushered in, he presented the most whimsical figure I ever beheld. His long red and white face, prominent nose and eyes, with the matted red beard, constituted his chief personal peculiarities: his filthy tattered garments were partially arranged according to the Tibetan costume. In the strongest Scottish accent, he begged my pardon and said he expected to find Mr Vigne there. I exclaimed involuntarily, “ Who on earth are you?” To which he replied, “ You surely must have heard of Dr Henderson?” I told him I had, and immediately offered my hand, bidding him welcome to clothes, or anything with which I could provide him. Dr Henderson’s character is well known in India. His restless mind could not be satisfied with the quiet routine of his professional duties. Bent on travelling, he had formed various plans, the most important of which, however, was the publication of newspapers and articles, deprecating the policy of the Indian Government. These he edited in so violent a spirit, that the Commander-in-Chief expressly forbad him, as a Company’s officer, having any further connexion with the press. Some months ago, he obtained leave of absence from the station at Ludhiana, to travel on foot to Calcutta, a journey of some three or four months. The greater portion of his time was taken up in wandering from Mandi to Ladak, to trace the Atok to its source; after which he hurried back on his way to Calcutta, hoping to arrive there in time to escape the heavy consequences of exceeding his leave of absence. Meanwhile, the Government had received information that an Englishman in disguise had been seen in the dominions of the independent hill rajahs. All this I had heard in India. I now learnt from Dr Henderson, that he arrived in Ladak at the very time that it was invaded by Zerawar Singh, Guléb Singh’s general. The Raja of Ladék, who was still there, received Henderson very kindly, having soon discovered that he was an Englishman, in spite of his Mohammedan garb, and his fictitious name of Ishmael Khan, firmly persuading himself that he had come to ratify the treaty which poor Moorcroft had entered into with him, in the name of the Company. Vainly did Henderson protest that he was mistaken, the Raja showed him the original document. When produced, his astonishment evidently satisfied the Raja, that Henderson was hitherto utterly ignorant of its existence; and that he had no authority, moreover, to. confirm it. Determined, however, to turn the appearance of an Englishman to his own advantage, he now refused to suffer him to quit Ladak; hoping thereby to make the invading general, Zerawar Singh, believe that he was an envoy, sent from the East India Company, with proffers of assistance. For three months poor Henderson was detained in durance; and, on making an effort to escape, was seized, wounded, and re-imprisoned. During this interval, Zerawar Singh’s military operations were suspended, and he advised Guléb Singh of the supposed envoy’s arrival, requesting fresh instructions. Gulab Singh, on his part, applied to the Maha Raja, who, without a moment's delay, addressed the political resident at Ludhiana, to ascertain the meaning of such proceeding. The resident satisfied Ranjit Singh with an assurance, that Dr Henderson, the traveller, had passed the Setlej in direct violation of the orders of his Government; and that there was not the slightest idea of interfering with Ranjit’s plans of extending his conquests northwards. Zerawar Singh, after this explanation, was desired to proceed with his operations; upon which, the Rajah of Ladak suffered Henderson to depart, and he lost no time in making his way through Iskardii, the smaller state in Tibet, usually marked in our European maps, Balti, to Kashmir, where he had just arrived. Thus did three Europeans meet, two of whom had entered Kashmir, almost at the same hour, from exactly opposite directions.
Dr Henderson described Tibet much as I had expected, as a remarkably poor country, except in precious stones and metals. His road led him over vast mountain passes, the highest of which marked 188° Fahr. boiling point; but these again were so overtopped by still loftier peaks, that the prospect, even from these stupendous heights, was still very limited. On a journey such as his must have been, escaping from Ladék in disguise, and in constant fear of detection, it is not to be wondered at that he did not go out of his way to visit any of the mountain heights around him. But as he was provided with instruments, and had some tact for observation, we may confidently trust that he will be able to give us many valuable particulars on a part of the world so imperfectly known as Tibet.
My tent being ready, I now took possession of it; and was most reluctantly compelled to accept from the Kazi the 525 rupees sent me by Ranjit Singh. An important question now arose, whether the Viceroy or I ought to pay the first visit. As I had no intention to stay many days" in the city, I simply required his permission to see everything remarkable. I resolved not to run the risk of any delay but to pay him the first visit on the following morning. Mehan Singh, the present governor, is a general in Ranjit’s army and has been in Kashmir about sixteen months.
Mirza Ahmed, the Manshf, or rather secretary, of Jacquemont, paid me a visit and brought the testimonial to his faithful services, which he had received from Jacquemont and General Allard, in whose employ he had formerly been. I could not look upon the well-known writing of poor Jacquemont without deep emotion on this identical spot, in this very garden, in which he had passed so many months. Fondly did he look forward to the futurity of happiness and independence in his own native land. He little dreamed, when he penned those lines, full of health and life, how soon he would be called away. Alas! how nearly are hopes and dreams allied! The dawning day disturbs our fairest visions as*time swallows up the cherished anticipations of earthly felicity; "wishes, perhaps, are never, or so late, fulfilled, that the bitter disappointment, the hope long deferred, robs them at the length of the power of conferring happiness. I felt, myself, the same longings whichever haunted his mind, without expecting the same fruits from my wanderings; and who knows whether the yearning of my heart towards home will ever be gratified; or, if so, under what circumstances?
Mr Vigne had gone to the mountain behind the city, called the Takht-i-Sdliman, to make some sketches. 1! wrote him a few lines apprising him of my arrival to share the garden with him, and invited him to dine with me in the evening. I found him an agreeable companion, of a lively, open disposition. This invited intimacy from our first interview. He had returned from Iskardi about three weeks since and prided himself on having accomplished a journey which Jacquemount described as perilous in the extreme.
None but a traveller car understand the delight of visiting a country which is scarcely marked on our maps. The interest he feels as he treads on this terra incognita, hoping, perchance, to discover something new at every step; nay more, the very expectation of coming dangers and events tends to exhilarate and occupy his mind: to say nothing of the possibility of his name being handed down with honour to futurity. There are few men without their share of vanity. Some such feeling, it may be, accompanies the lonely traveller through the remote mountains and valleys of Tibet, and supports him during months of hardship and solitude, in his labours to affect what others have failed to accomplish.
Ahmed Shah, the reigning prince of Iskardu, is at present in a situation of some embarrassment. The Sikhs, who within the last forty years have sprung up in the north-west of India from comparative obscurity to command the greater part of the country, are now united under one powerful head, to whom all the petty Mohammedan states are subject. The hill chieftains east, west, and south of Kashmir have become his tributaries, and those who refuse his terms are deprived of their possessions without any protracted ceremonials.
The north is now to be the scene of his triumphs. Ladak has fallen. Ahmed Shah sees the storm gradually advancing towards him, without any means of opposing it; he is still preparing himself for the worst. Iskardu had so long been at peace; its poverty seemed to defend it so well against the plunderer; all its neighbours seemed to consider its territories so worthless, that the people are perfectly defenceless against warlike talent. An alliance with the Company would have gladdened Ahmed Shah, and set his mind at rest. Mr Vigne’s visit at this juncture was highly acceptable. I know not to how far he may have given him some hopes of an alliance with England, which assuredly never will be entered into, but I am well aware that a confidential servant of Ahmed Shah accompanies Mr Vigne for the purpose of taking a reply to his application for aid from the Governor-General back to Iskardu. Ahmed is not an enemy to be despised even by Ranjit Singh, notwithstanding his lack of regular troops, or the poverty and scanty population of his dominions. His subjects are of a hardy frame, an expert in the chase, and would soon acquire dexterity in the use of any weapons necessary for their own defence. Their country is protected by deep ravines and Jofty mountains. The troops of Iskard4, unaccustomed to war, which they carry on after the oriental fashion on their own accounts would not withstand the well-disciplined forces of their enemy, Ranjit Singh, in the open field for a single hour. Well acquainted, however, with the inaccessibility of their mountains, they might bid defiance to an advancing army, nay, destroy it to a man, if only they were resolute. The Sikh soldiery, mostly composed of natives from the plains, is proof against the heat of the Panjab, or India, but altogether unfitted to resist the variable climate of a mountainous and northern region, or the fatigues inseparable from warfare carried on amid these rugged scenes. The bad effects experienced by the army of a general marching into India from the north, owing to the difference of climate, would be felt equally, though in another way, by an Indian army in Tibet; possibly even more, for the climate of India, by exciting a newcomer to increased activity, often affects him injuriously; but the cold-climate entirely demoralizes those who dwell near the tropics. The easy conquest of Ladak by Ranjit Singh’s army is no proof of anything to the contrary. The faith of the people of Ladakh is Buddhism, while that of Iskardi is that of Mohammed.
The direction of the rivers proves that Iskardu, Ladak, and Lassa belong to the Indian side of ‘the mountain chain. The valley of the Atok forms the chief possession of the first and second of these states, and the valleys of the Samper and the Goljao that of Lassa. It is not certain whether the highest mountain chain lies midway, or to the north of these rivers, but the highest table-land is certainly on the other side of them and is much farther north than we have hitherto supposed.
In the evening I received a message of welcome by Samed Shab, the deputy of Mohammed Shah Nakshbandi, a person of great consequence in Kashmir, who is said to feed two hundred poor men daily. He requested permission to visit me. In return, I sent him the letter of introduction which Captain Wade had given me to him, All that I saw during my first day's stay in Kashmir, was the ruins of what once had been palaces, old dilapidated houses, streets of unexampled filthiness; a population strictly corresponding with them, a large boat full of old fishwomen, who stunned me with their inharmonious voices when they screamed out their wonton, or song of welcome, from the canal.
Such were my first impressions of this long-dreamt-of fairyland; thence, as I gradually turned my disappointed gaze from the works of man to the glorious mountain scenery above, with their thousand peaks of snowy whiteness, their graceful outlines, the harroony and sweet repose which seemed to characterize the calm, motionless valley; the contrast between simple, majestic, Nature, and enterprising, ambitious Man, filled my heart with emotions which imprinted the beauties of the first on my memory, and made human works lose every shadow of significance.
Dr Henderson and Mr Vigne were my guests; I begged them to remain with me during their stay, and thus Hingam, my kbansaman, and the two cooks hired at Rajawar, had a fair opportunity of displaying their culinary skill. How delightful it was, after so long an absence, to find myself once again in the society of men, who, although strangers, seemed like dear friends under present circumstances. The Governor had sent me a capital dessert of fresh fruit, grapes, apples, nuts, and pears, all excellent, having in the earlier part of the day most liberally supplied me with sheep, fowls, and other provisions.
That I might feel the cold less severely, I had ordered my bed to be arranged on the carpet of my tent within the pavilion. Unfortunately, this pavilion was constructed for a dwelling place during the great heat of summer; the walls, to the height of two feet, were composed of the beautiful open lattice wood carving for which Kashmir is so celebrated; through this, the air entered at every crevice, and windows were pierced on all the four sides. It is superfluous to state that what is delightful in July is exactly the reverse in November, especially to very thinly clad travellers, I fell asleep, indeed, from sheer exhaustion, but the piercing cold soon chased slumber away, nor could I again close my eyes during that long night. How busy was a memory the while, calling back: the long past events, and the more recent incidents of my pilgrimage, until positive bodily suffering brought up the account to the present, Reluctantly I acknowledge that my arrival in Kashmir had not afforded me any satisfaction. It had neither contributed to my pleasure nor to my repose. Such, methought, is this chapter of my travels, or rather, of my life. I have attained the object of my desire, compared with which every other has appeared insignificant. Have I been sufficiently grateful to God, who has permitted me to reach this place? How great occasion has me for thankfulness as well as for serious reflection. Here am I, in the very land presumed to be the loveliest spot of the whole habitable earth, by many considered the terrestrial paradise: - crumbling ruins attest the instability of human greatness; everything made by man is in course of destruction, without the accompanying loveliness of decay; while nature blooms on forever in the same youth, energy, and life, as heretofore. In that life all is truth, every promise fulfilled, every hope gratified since Earth is the obedient child of the All-wise Creator. Man is governed, how often! by his own wayward fancies, his mind tossed to and fro, his fears conflicting with his wishes, nor can the wisest of human philosophers rightly explain or understand what moral truths. What is a knowledge we must discover in our own hearts, and it will address us with a mighty voice; let us take heed not to turn a deaf ear to it. It tells us that we were made to be the living temples, not of the world, nor the world’s vanities, but of our Father in heaven. Does not every situation of life satisfy us of this fact? ‘When we can no longer enjoy the pleasures of youth; when the deceitful views of happiness are abandoned; when a man feels how swiftly years roll over his head, never to return; when many sorrows have bowed his spirit, does he not turn for consolation and hope to Heaven, and search, whatever may be his creed, for those promises which religion holds out retribution, reward, forgiveness, in happier futurity. Yes! even they whose objects are limited to earth, its fame and honours, aspire to that which they never can attain there-Immortality ! and fools who raise out their thoughts above this transitory scene, vainly flatter themselves that their memory will live forever on earth; these lift up the pyramid, Sesostris-like, destroy one of the world’s wonders with an Eratostratus, or themselves, like Cato. Vain man! thou forgettest that the ever-rolling tide of time carries away all thy boasted deeds and works-even thy very name also is soon blotted out and forgotten!
Thursday, November 19. How strange is the feeling of finding oneself at a place which it has cost much time and trouble to reach? If it is unconnected with any still more distant object, we have at first a sensation of unnecessary fatigue, which might possibly have been spared; the only remedy for this is the activity, whereupon I began my day with the employment of various kinds. In the first place, it was an important matter to ascertain the situation of Kashmir for my map. The quadrant to-day gave 72,4, by the artificial horizon for Dilawar Khan’s garden. I neglected the index error, as Dr Henderson had noted it, my visit precluding my taking any observation with the sextant. I reckoned on seeing everything worthy of observation in the course of four days, at the expiration of which I purposed to take my leave of the city. At ten o'clock the Kazi came to attend me to the presence of the Governor, Mehan Singh. He had brought the state boat, an unshapely affair, sixty or seventy feet long, and only six feet wide, manned by thirty rowers. The seat was at the upper end, and covered with a Kashmir shawl, or Pashmina, for by that name articles made from their goats’ wool are known here. Mr Vigne and Dr Henderson wished to accompany me, but by the time the breakfast was over, and we were ready to start, it was noon, and the Kazi told me it was then too late. I was vexed that he had not reminded me of the hour before and declared my intention of not going at all. The Kazi was horrified: he sent an officer off to inform the General that I was coming, and he was only to be pacified on my consenting to pay my visit on the following morning; upon this, he overwhelmed me with praises and thanks until he was quite out of breath. The fact was, that Mohan, my little interpreter, who thought a vast deal of my dignity, and was not very careful of his expressions, heard the Kazi say it was too late, and hastily exclaimed, “If I were in my master’s place, I would not go to visit any man half so uncivil: he should come to me.” The Kazi whispered in his ear, that the Governor, desiring that I should see him in all his glory, had held a grand levee, or durbar, at ten o'clock, and that the company, after waiting two hours, had been dismissed; the Governor being accustomed daily, at that hour, to drink two bottles of Kashmir spirits.* When Mohan reported this to me, I most readily deferred presenting myself, not wishing to visit a viceroy and find him in a state of drunken insensibility.
I took advantage of this afternoon’s leisure, and with my new European companions, went to see the famous Lake Dal. It is partly surrounded by a ditch, to prevent its waters mingling with those of the Jelam, and causing an inundation, for the houses near the lake are built on the same level as it. Exactly under the Takht-i-Sdliman is the sluice called Drogshuh, the only outlet of the lake, which flows into the Zand, an arm of the Jelam. A channel which is lined with stone connects this great river with the lake and is the only means of getting at the latter, without making a circuit of more than two miles by water from the inhabited part of the town. In olden times, the flood-gate was much nearer to the city but was removed to the place where it now is, in consequence of the water of the lake discharging itself too rapidly from the direction it was allowed to take. A large white stone, lying in the great canal which leads to the Shalimar Bagh, is of much importance as a mark; when the water covers it, there is danger from the waters of the lake, and the flood-gate is so constructed, that it then shuts off itself. It is about two or three miles from the Dilawar Khan Bagh, under the Takht-i-Suliman.
The lake is divided into several distinct parts. Gagribal, the first and least division, is separated from the rest by a narrow tongue of land: the second, called Ropelang, has a little island in the middle, on which we landed. A building, now levelled to the ground, formerly stood on it, and the regular form of the whole certainly shows that it was the work of human ingenuity. In many parts, the lake is shallow enough to allow of similar contrivances.
There is a charming view of the mountains from the first small lake, and in a semi-circle, a branch of the inferior ridge comes down to the very edge of the stream. High up on the first of these hills, going from the city, stands a very extensive building called Kulimar, founded by Achan Millah Shah, the major-domo of the Emperor Jehangir, as a school for Mohammedans. It was never completed and is now in ruins. The next prominent object is of interest to every Hind, being a place of pilgrimage called Kali Sangam, built on an eminence projecting far into the lake. K4&li signifies black, and Sangam the confluence of two rivers. These spots are always sacred to the Hindus. With this exception the mountains encircling this lake gradually decrease to a gentle plain, on which villages and pretty gardens have been laid out. There is a beautiful garden in the Ropelang lake, called Nishad Bagh, or Garden of Bliss, made by Jehangir, after his first visit to Kashmir. The garden is entered by a fine terrace near the shore, leading into an avenue adorned with fountains and basins. Over these are raised small and fanciful buildings on large arches, so as not to shut up the view down the avenue, which is so contrived as to appear much longer than it really is. From the highly ornamented pavilions, the view of the more distant buildings in the back-ground is exceedingly picturesque. The beautiful plane trees are the chief ornaments of this garden at present, which is now almost in other respects, a perfect wilderness. The gardener presented me with a bouquet of the Indian chrysanthemum, yellow, white, and pink, for which he asked me a rupee as an enamour present. Mr Vigne, who was in this garden during the hot season, found among its tenants a fine hooded snake.
A wealthy Hindi Pandit once built a causeway from Kashmir to this point, which has naturally much impeded the free course of the waters, and only a narrow line was left for our boat to be rowed under a bridge from the Nishéd Bagh to the most admired division of the lake, where is tho island of Char Chunar. Under this bridge the water is twenty-four foot deep; in every other part it is but from six to eight feet, allowing the majesty Nelumbium to overspread the whole surface of the lake with its expansive foliage, and rich white and red flowers.
Arrived in the Char Ghunar lake, we were first rowed to the Shalimar garden, which, with its famous palace, was one of the great works of Jehangir. I do not think he chose the prettiest part of the lake, but the high mountains are here softened down to the plain, and a broad valley afforded more space than elsewhere. A canal half a mile long, but now only capable of admitting a small boat, leads from this lake to the wooden entrance of the building. This entrance has been completely disfigured by the successive Patan Governors, who have erected an ugly flat roof over it, for the convenience of smoking their pipes. According to the style of the period, six inferior buildings, in the midst of an avenue of colossal plane trees, lead, at considerable intervals, to the principal, though not a very extensive palace.
A small building is erected over a spring, the roof of which rests on twelve massive black marble columns. The whole forms a square of twelve fathoms, consisting of two covered walks, or terraces, between which are the halls, having on either side partitions of lattice-work, through which were to be seen the once ornamented chambers. It is kept in good repair, as the governors of Kashmir have always made it an occasional resort. The garden is 376 paces Jong and 220 broad. Compared with the Nishad garden, the view from the hall is very poor. The fine planes are beginning to decay from age, and one had already fallen to the earth. The wood of this tree is highly esteemed by the natives of Kashmir, who think it the best for their gun-stocks. I admired likewise the corn-flag and jonquil, the syringa Persica and chrysanthemum, and wild plum, which, in the spring, has a flower of delicious fragrance. A little hamlet is gradually extending itself to this royal wilderness.
On quitting the Shalimar garden, we found Mohammed Shah Nakshbandi’s boat, and his confidential servant, who presented us with a repast in the name of his master. It was composed of Rewash, or rhubarb from Kabil, red partridges, grapes, tea of different sorts, & c. This Samed Shah is an amusing character and often cheated me out of a smile, while he keeps the Mohammedans in an incessant roar of laughter with his wit and buffoonery.
About a mile and a half from the garden, and near the centre of this division of the lake, the island Char Chaucer, celebrated by Bernier and Thomas Moore, rises from the waters, a skilful monument of the reign of the Moghul Emperor, who named it from the four plane trees he planted on the spot: two of them are still standing. It has also its building in the centre, surrounded by a deserted garden, and consists of a single open hall, with a little tower, commanding a fine prospect of the lake. Under one of the plane, trees is a water-wheel in perfect preservation, made of the incorruptible Himalayan cedar, the invaluable Deodara. It raises the water from the lake to the terrace. Ducks without number live in this lake, feeding on the roots of the water caltrop, (Trapa bispinosa), but it is difficult to come within gunshot distance of them. Formerly, the taking of these creatures afforded a livelihood to numbers of men, but for some reason best known to himself, the present Governor has discountenanced the practice; his protection of the ducks, however, does not extend to a prohibition of the amusement of Europeans, on the strength of which one of the boatmen produced a matchlock, about fourteen feet long, and begged my permission to take one shot for me. With this, I readily complied, and furnished him with some powder and shot. At the first discharge, with a single barrel, he brought down eight ducks.
We did not fail, while here, to visit the beautiful wood. of plane trees, planted by Akbar, called Nazim, or Salubrious, to the number of 1200 trees. They are still in fine preservation, although planted more than two hundred years, forming beautiful walks, whose refreshing shade in summer must be delicious. Near this is a large garden, built-in successive terraces, but now altogether in ruins. They say that it was the fancy of Nur Begum, the wife of Jehangir.
The coming evening warned us that it was time to return homewards. At a mile’s distance, we passed the Hirné Parvat Mountain, which terminates the semi-circle around the lake on the west, as the Takht-i-Suliman does on the east, and soon came to the floating gardens, where on a square of about twenty feet, they raise their melons and cucumbers: the surface of the earth is scarcely above that of the water. This circumstance alone would seem full to prove the fact that a perpetual calm must prevail on the lake. So regular indeed, and so gentle, is the movement of the whole body of water, and so very still is the air of the valley, that’ no flood is ever likely to visit, and consequently to overwhelm, these little islands.
In spite of the exertions of our fifty boatmen, the evening overtook us, and a bitterly cold evening it was. In our garden I found it impossible, even ‘with the assistance of port and sherry at dinner, to make myself comfortably warm. But I preferred sleeping in my tent rather than passing another night of disturbed rest in the pavilion.
Friday, November 20, was a great holiday in the Sikh calendar, and the Governor sent an apology for not receiving me to-day; I, therefore, decided on ascending the Takht-i-Suliman, whence the best view of the city and the valley is to be had. At this spot, Mr Vigne took sketches for a panorama, which will doubtless be offered to a public exhibition in Europe. The road to the mountain was over the bridge of the floodgate called Drogshuh, alluded to yesterday, and led by a quadrangular tower called Makabara, and through a splendid avenue of poplar trees, which for their age and symmetry, from the trunk to the topmost branches, are most striking. The avenue begins with a group of planes on each side, and the whole separated from the town by an arm of the Jelam, is seemingly planted for the sake of its beauty alone, leading neither to building nor garden of any kind. Beneath the tower is a wretched mosque, built of wood, and known as the Drogshuh Masjid, near to which is a miserable village of the same name. Not far from the tower Makabara is Rustamghur, an unfinished residence built by the late governor Shir Singh as a place for the burning of the bodies of deceased Brahmins. Having with great difficulty clambered up the mountain pompously styled the Throne of Solomon, the first object which presented itself was an ancient Buddhist temple (Deval) composed of masses of rock, with a curious doorway, evidently of very high antiquity. The temple was, in later times, converted into a mosque; a Persian inscription, of more modern date, gives no information as to the original temple, but to Solomonis ascribed the honour of being the founder, It is said, moreover, that a very ancient Sanscrit inscription is now buried underground. At present, the Hindus call the temple Shankar Acharya, The massive construction and peculiar form of this edifice render it well worthy of a visit. The mountain, divided from the Tibetan chain to which it evidently belongs, is 1200 feet high; the view from it, over the whole valley of Kashmir, is indeed most truly grand and beautiful. Motionless as a mirror, the lake lies outstretched below, reflecting the vast chain of the Tibetan hills, while the extensive city is seen spreading along its shores; and the Jelam winds slowly like a serpent through the green valleys, and to complete the scene, the lofty Pir Panjal, with its countless peaks of snow, forms on one side a majestic boundary.
The Mohammedans have a story of that mountain, which they say derives its name from Pany, five, and Pir, saints; five pious brothers, according to them, having settled on it and performed several wondrous feats around; but to me, it seems more probable that the name came from Pansal, which, in the Kashmirian language, signifies a pass, and Pir, a devotee. I have before alluded to the tomb of a holy man, which corroborates the probability of this explanation. The Europeans and Persians call the whole mountain Pir Panjal, but the natives restrict this name to the pass. To them, mountain chains offer nothing remarkable, while the passes leading through them are of some importance. So also are isolated mountains, when they serve as landmarks or are deemed holy as places of pilgrimage. In general, they give no name to any other.
Some high peaks of the Tibetan mountains tower aloft beyond that dark chain observable from the Takht-i-Suliman, and fancy is beguiled to follow their wanderings long after any continuous form has vanished from the observer's eye. Our friend Samed Shah was already on the hill-top, with a repast for us. In order to animate the scene Mr Vigne had desired that he would bring several persons with him; and he took advantage of their picturesque and original appearance, to transfer them to his intended panorama. The Kashmirians had all donned their winter garments, and wore them with a certain air of vanity, peculiar to Mohammedans; while the simple costume of the natives of Tibet, the dark complexion, sprightly animated fonturos and movements of my southern Indians, were all strangely contrasted with another group of strangers from the distant country of Yérkund, who might have been taken for natives of the north of Germany, with their fair hair and red cheeks: these were pupils or guests of Mohammed Shah Nakshbandi and will be mentioned again. The days wore so short, that we did not get back by daylight; the two Englishmen wore again my guests, and the evening passed away most agreeably.
Saturday, November 21.-The Kézi and Abdul Rahim, who gave himself out as the Company's agent in Kashmir, came in tho state boat to accompany me in my interview with Mehan Singh. The party consisted of the two English gentlemen and myself, the Kézi and Abdul Rahim; the Brahmin Thakir Das, Mohan Bir, Bahadur Singh, and three of my chaprasis. We were more than half an hour on our way to Shaherger, the viceroy’s palace, which owes its name to one of the Moghul governors, who belonged to the Shiah sect, called in Kashmir, Shaher. The chief entrance to the palace is by a broad flight of wooden steps outside, and the whole of our way was lined with troops. We were received in an open pavilion on the terrace, which may be very delightful in summer, but on a very cold day is quite the reverse. In the centre stood a square platform, surrounded by a lattice of fine wood, worked like Brussels lace, in which Mehan Singh was seated in an armchair. The number of his attendants was considerable; and in a cuter circle stood his bodyguard, very richly dressed in red and gold, with red silk sashes; most of them wore a black heron’s plume, called in Kashmir a kalga, in their low turbans.
Mehan Singh came forward himself to receive me and conducted me to the place appointed for me. He has a thickset unwieldy figure; and, though still in the prime of life, his dissolute way of living has given him the appearance of an old man: his hair was white as silver. To judge by his countenance, one would pronounce him good-natured and kind; but, in many respects, he is not the Governor required in the present critical state of Kashmir. The long unclipped beard announces him to be a Sikh; and his thick lips and but half-opened eyes, indeed every feature, shew him to be an Epicurean in the strictest sense of the word. On this occasion he was wrapped in a yellow silk robe, his head-dress consisting of a simple white handkerchief. On the ground, to his right, sat many of the Mohammedan Rajas, from the Baramula and Mazafferabad mountains, tributaries of Ranjit Singh. One of every family is detained as a hostage in Kashmir, and from time to time, they are obliged to bring large gifts to the Governor, otherwise, their tribute is raised: their present condition is mainly owing to their former habits of independence, which made it necessary for Ranjit Singh to lead his troops against their hill fastnesses. The poor princes, coming from warmer regions, were evidently freezing in their Indian garb; and their eyes sparkled with indignation, at the degradation of sitting at our feet, particularly when Mehan Singh, proud no doubt at showing me the humbled position of half a dozen princes, pointed out each one to me by name. He gave me to understand, with many exaggerated compliments, that the Mah& Rajah had desired my stay in Kashmir to be rendered as agreeable to me as possible, and that I had but to express a wish to make it as effective as a command. In reply to such fine speeches, I said that the advanced season would not permit of my making a long stay in Kashmir, that I perceived in what good hands the government of the valley was placed, and had only to request permission to visit Islamabad, a city at the south-east extremity of Kashmir, and to wonder about the valley at pleasure. The Governor assured me in return, that I was master of all my actions, and that his permission was altogether unnecessary.
Besides the princes already alluded to, there were no persons of consideration at this Durbar; in fact, the country is so completely subjugated, that the natives, except a few traders in shawls, are nothing better than so many beggars. When the proper time for such visits had elapsed, I took my leave, being accompanied by Mehan Singh to the head of the flight of stairs.
I spent the rest of the day in exploring the city; and, among the things most deserving of remark, I visited the seven bridges which span the Jelam, at once the most enduring and the most dangerous I ever saw. The date of their construction and the material are evidence of the first quality, their appearance and the experience of every passenger sufficiently attest the last. The piers are composed of large cedar trees, fifteen or twenty feet long and three feet in diameter, which are placed one over the other, in the form of a funeral pile, while large lime trees, the seeds having been carried to the place by birds, grow from this foundation, and shadow a part of the bridge. The cross-beams on which one tread are everywhere in a condition to afford an excellent view of the river beneath; and huts and booths have been thrown up, at different periods, on this slippery ground, although nothing is clearer than that one storm would involve houses, bridges, trees, and piles in one common overthrow. A storm, however, or even a wind of any great violence, is a thing altogether unknown in Kashmir.
These bridges were found already laid across the river by the Mohammedans, which gives them an antiquity of at least 500 years. Since the dominion of the last Hindu sovereign, or, more correctly, of the last queen of Kashmir, Rani Kotadevi, which, according to the Ayin Akbari, terminated in 1364, the last partial restoration was undertaken by the governor Ali Merdan Khan, in the reign of the Emperor Jehangir. The Shah Hamedan Musjid is a modern-looking building, the prototype of every mosque in Kashmir, and if not exactly resembling a Chinese temple, is certainly unlike Indian architecture in general, though some of the same form may be occasionally seen in the British Himalaya. It is nearly square, and within, the roof is supported by slender pillars. Without, and about half way up the wall, are balconies, ornamented with finely carved wood and small columns. The roof of the temple projects over the outer walls and is finished at the four corners with hanging bells; while, on the summit, which rises in a pyramidal form, is a golden ball, instead of the Mohammedan crescent. This form is common throughout the valley of Kashmir, from the simplest village temple to the richly ornamented mosque of the capital. This, as well as all the mosques of Kashmir, is built of cedar.
The fine stone steps, which in every Hiadd city lead down to the river, are in Kashmir without any extensive ornament; but I remarked one novelty in the river in this city, viz., large wooden cages, for I know no more fitting name for them, which stood in great numbers close to the shore, for the convenience df the female bathers. The Jelam is also covered with boats of every size, which gives a pleasant stirring appearance to the whole city. The numerous canals on the right shore of the river, on the left there is but one, have no communication with it, although so close, except through the Drogshuh gate ; and hence, from the Dilawer Khan Bagh to the Shah Hamedan mosque, the first being on the great canal, and the last on the Jelam, we were 1} hour going by water, the distance by land being only afew hundred feet.
Mr. Vigne had left his sketch-book in the Dilawer Khan Bagh, and was obliged to send one of the men back for it; but, in order that we might not lose any time, he waited in his boat while we were rowed to the mosque of Nur Jehan Begum, which is called the new, or Naya masjid, and is opposite the one before mentioned. It is unfinished, built of white marble in the best Indo-Mohammedan taste, and is now used as a magazine. Just as Dr Henderson and I turned from our inspection of it, Mr. Vigne arrived, and with his customary eagerness of movement sprang from his seat towards us. The next moment he had fallen into the river. A cry of terror burst from the crowd of assembled natives on the shore; the boats were all pushed quickly to his aid, and his own boatmen hastened towards the spot. But he was an excellent swimmer; and although the cramp seized him for a moment, as he fell into the water, the temperature of which was at the freezing point, he soon recovered himself; and, to the astonishment of the Kashmirians, who are quite ignorant of the art, he continued swimming about to warm himself before he re-entered the boat. His progress homewards, however, was not very pleasant to him after this accident.
Dr Henderson and I, acompanied by a very inquisitive crowd, then proceeded to the mosque, where Seynul-ab-ud-Din lies buried. This second Mohammedan king, or the eighth, according to Abul-Fasl, worthy, above all others, of a monument to his memory. It was he who first introduced the love of art into the valley of Kashmir: he caused the people to be instructed in that of making glass; and bringing weavers from Turkistan, he bad them taught the weaving of wool from the goats of Tibet, into the shawls since that time so celebrated. The natives have now forgotten his real name, and only remember him as the Badsha or Emperor. The mosque is near to an ancient ruinous Buddhist temple, Wihare, the remains of which are still lying about: a few ornaments, at the door and entrance in the courtyard, shew something of what it once was. The interior is dark and devoid of all pretensions to ornament. Several Mohammedan graves stand in the court around it; and from the appearance of the tombstones I should judge that some inscriptions of interest might be found ; but my visit was too hasty to permit any examination into their merits. I was told by a Mullah that Moorcroft lay buried here; but after a long search, I came toa stately marble slab, with a Persian inscription, stating that the servant of that unfortunate traveller lay beneath.
At some distance from this is the Jama Masjid. It is a pity that it is now in a ruinous condition, having once been a beautiful edifice built of cedar, so far back as the time of their own native princes. It forms a large square, each side measuring sixty-three fathoms, and in the centre is an open space with a small building upon it. The roof is supported by large columns, hewn out of a single piece, and with a florid capital and base. The small building in the centre of the court is open on all sides and raised a step. In other mosques, a tank for ablution is usually placed in such spots. On my observing that the mosque was not built due east and west, the guides produced from a heart-shaped silver and black enamelled box, a modern needle, which points out the Kibla to them, when they pray, or direction of Mecca. Being ignorant of the fact that’ Mecca does not lie due west of Kashmir, their needle is worth nothing.
We passed through dirty streets, interminable bazars, and over two canals, to the fort on the Harni Parvat. We observed several large buildings on our route, tenanted in ancient times by the courtiers of the Moghul Emperors, and Kabal Sovereigns, but, with some few solitary exceptions, where these have been replaced by shawl manufactories, the dwellings are deserted, lonely ruins. At the foot of Harni Parvat, the great Akbar built another city, which he named Nagarnagar, and inclosed it with strong walls and towers. It was about three miles from Shaherghur; the remains, dilapidated as they are, cover a vast extent of what was always considered the loveliest part of the valley. Blocks of stone and large columns, brought from the more ancient temples of Kashmir, lie in desolate grandeur around. A beautiful mosque, built by Achan Mullah Shah, deserves to be mentioned, particularly on account of the finely wrought black marble and stone lavished upon it. The gates are made of one single stone and polished like a mirror, but the wanton love of