From Islamabad to Mattan, a place exclusively inhabited by Brahmins, the road winds along under the hills, and is shaded by the most majestic avenue of plane trees I ever saw. Towards the plain, these hills terminate in steep declivities, and heaps of black marble are scattered about in fantastic disorder; sometimes they decline so gently into the valley that the descent is hardly perceptible. When I entered Mat. tan my horse was stopped by a Brahmin who seized my bridle and de~ manded alms. But he had in me no stranger to Indian customs to deal with. The manner in which charity is sometimes asked here shows the degree of misery and despair to which the beggar must be reduced, and though by no means certain of the extent of the present case, | thought it was probable that the man might be in want, and therefore offered him a rupee. My gift, however, was rejected with scorn, and the fellow demanded fifty. I saw in a moment that I had to deal with one of those impudent fakirs who have presumed to demand from a prince as much as a lack of rupees, and have occasionally received it! “Do you tax me so low?” cried I angrily, “drive him away.” Another Brahmin now presented his petition to be accepted as my guide to Mattan, and on my consent being given, he ran on before me to his house, whence he brought me a present of fruit, offering it with a very well-turned speech, and then preceded us to the temple of Mattan, under the fine plane trees of Kashmir, which overshadowed the couch where pilgrims customarily rest. I alighted from my horse at the entrance, where sat a venerable old man absorbed in the study of the Veda. Having saluted him and put off my shoes, I stepped into a large square building surrounded by smaller ones on three of its sides. The fourth side is open to the valley. There is a large reservoir in the centre which seemed to me about eighty paces broad. A spring of fine water gushes into it from the rock underneath the building and is afterwards conducted by channels to irrigate the plain beyond. Here, as at Islamabad, the fish are in immense numbers in this basin or tank, and like them are looked upon by the people as sacred. The spring reminded me very forcibly of that of the Orontes in Syria, more especially of that of the valley of Balbek, though in respect of the quantity of water, both these are much surpassed by the spring at Mattan.
According to a curious old tradition, it was a European physician, Bernier, who was in Kashmir in Aurungzebe’s time, who first discovered a spring in the mountains, twenty miles from hence, which was absorbed by the earth. Taking it for granted that the water made its appearance in some other part of the valley, he placed man. at all the different springs, and then thrown into the one he had discovered some pieces of straw, which came to light again in the Mattan fountain. I was well pleased to find the name of this adventurous traveller still in the recollections of the people of Kashmir. The elucidation of the story is found some way from this spot. Near Buasuan, which lies on the same limestone rocks, and is separated from Islamabad by a bed of clay that unites and partly covers both, are caverns, which serve as aqueducts to subterranean canals. I was particularly desirous: to see them on account of the organic remains which it was highly probable they contained. These caves occupy a very conspicuous place in the fables of the timid Kashmirians and are supposed to have originated from the following causes. In the year Kali 2108 (993 B.C.) Raja Nara succeeded his father Vibhishana. During his reign, a certain Brahmin espoused Chandrasaha, the daughter of Susravas, a serpent-god, whose palace was in a lake near the Vitusta, and near a city built and inhabited by Nara. One day, as Raja Nara beheld the beautiful daughter of the serpent on the shore of the lake, moving gracefully through the calm waters, he was struck with the deepest admiration and endeavoured vainly to inspire the same sentiments he himself felt. At length, he resolved to carry her off from her husband, but the plan failed, and the enraged Brahmin called on her father to avenge the insult A storm was accordingly called up, and the earth opened and swallowed up the king and his whole court. The sister of the serpent-god assisted him and hurled on the city huge stones from the Baman mountain. The caverns of Mattan are said to be on the spot where these rocks were uptorn. The natives believe that they extend to the far depths of the earth, and none will venture within them, lest with the first step they should be seized by the powers of darkness. Mirza Ahud assured me that the largest of them extended ten kos inwards; that from the exterior halls, chambers, and walks, branched in every direction, the walls of which were covered with inscriptions and representations of various deities. He implored me not to venture where no man had ever been known to find his way out again. Raging torrents, he said, deafened every sound, and an evil spirit called Jin, whose breath smote men to death, had his abode there. I told him, as he was afraid, he might stay where he was, which he agreed to, with many thanks, although he still protested he would follow me if I desired it, Tentered first the small cavean, which lies at the extremity of a broad valley. At the projecting angle of the range of mountains which terminate at this point, a flight of steps, hewn out of the rock, leads to the entrance gate, which is from 60 to one Hundred feet higher than the plain. Here the traveller enters a room about twenty feet long and twelve high and broad. Beyond, is a little temple in the rock, but ths wooden gates were shut, and though most curious to know to what deity it had been dedicated, all my efforts to gain admittance were fruitless. One of my Ghorka companions was more fortunate, and at last, we entered, but neither image nor sign of any kind was there. I concluded that this must be a kind of vestibule to the deeper caves, but could discover no trace of any communication from the place where we now were.
From the hill over this cavern, I enjoyed a fine view of the rich plain of Kashmir, and as far as the Shonibal and Kirwan mountains. Northwards flowed the shallow Lidar, over its stony bed ; and, on the heights behind stood the lone fort of Aismokam, while, about a hundred paces below me, was a small square Buddhist temple, in good preservation. I descended from this eminence, and proceeded towards the great cavern, The. wild intricacy of the rocks around, together with the dreadful stories I had listened to, induced me to order a great many torches to be lighted. While this was being done I espied some birds, new to me, and desired Jwali Singh, a great fellow, six feet high, and athletic in proportion, to fire at them. One of the Kashmirians stared at me with amazement, and cried out, “Maha Raja, it is impossible.” Jwali laughed at his superstition, and taking one of my double-barrelled guns, quickly took his aim; but the gun would not go off, and he turned to me with the greatest anxiety in his countenance. He tried again with fresh powder, but with as little success, when, bringing the gun back to me, he positively declared that nothing should induce him to fire while in this place. To cure them of such superstitious fancies, I determined to take a shot myself; but the wily birds had, by this time, made their escape, so that unluckily their credulity could not be overcome by example. I dare say, if I had succeeded in my aim, they would only have believed me a magician, without feeling a whit the less convinced of the mysterious influence of the place. Mirza Ahud voluntarily offered to follow me into the cavern, the poor Pandit’s office compelling him to do the same. We accordingly proceeded to the entrance, which is about. thirty feet above the plain, and difficult of access. The first thing that struck us was several little chambers of different forms. I went into all of them but could discover no communication between them. In one was a modern tomb, in another a human skeleton; but when we tried to push forwards into the darkness, we found the roof gradually sloping downwards over our heads; and after we had gone about sixty paces more, of which twenty had been in the wet slippery mud, caused by dropping water, we came to the end of this celebrated cave of Mattan. Mohan Bir, who had followed in some terror, owing to Mirza Ahud’s tales, now laughed heartily at the narrator, who took it in very good part, only ridiculing the superstitious fancies of the Kashmirians, of which country he himself was also a native.
I had still Korau Pandau to visit, which is on the high plain that crowns the eminence between the rocks of Buasuan and the mountains of Islamabad. We now travelled along a deep ravine, formed by the violent rains which have gradually washed away the loose soil. This is the only drain for the waters in the plain above. We then ascended a hill, from two to three hundred feet high: it is in some parts perpendicular, in others irregular in its descent, composed of loose mud without any admixture of stone or sand. We made but little progress over this steep and slippery ground, a dead flat being before us, as destitute of vegetation as a desert. The atmosphere peculiar to the country made its dimensions appear of immense extent, while, almost lost in the far distant past, peered the outline of mountains, relieved in the foreground by a dark point standing forth like a sharp black rock.
This was Korau Pandau, and my little ghunt soon galloped away to the temple gate. My first impressions were of gloom and heaviness only; but the dark masses, with their gigantic outlines, are softened down by the slender pillars introduced in many places; and the large round apertures over the doors must have admitted sufficient light to the interior to dispel much of the obscurity.
Korau Pandau owes its existence and name to the most ancient dynasty of Kashmir. The great antiquity of the ruin will be acknowledged therefore when I remind the reader, that the Pandau dynasty ended 2500 years before Christ, after governing Kashmir according to their historians nearly 1300 years. Here no doubt Sri Nagur, the holy city, was first built; in fact, the Brahmins still call this place by that name. Just as Solomon is celebrated by the Mohammedans, the Empress Flelena in the Holy Land, Charlemagne in Germany, the Cyclops in Italy, and Joseph in Egypt; so every Hindu, from Cape Comorin to Kashmir, ascribes every relic of ancient days to the Pandau dynasty, unless the records of their history pronounce directly to the contrary. That the race really did exist, and in much power, can hardly be questioned, because the ancient Madura, in Southern India, according to history, was subdued by them; and it seems most likely that it was this city to which Ptolemy gave the title Regia Pandionis. Pliny (6. 16) speaks of a city called Panda on the other side of the Sogdus; Solinus (ce. 49) giyes the same name to a town in Sogdiana, beyond the Bactrus; while, in the same 6th book, Pliny mentions another Panda at the mouth of the Indus. Ptolemy says plainly, “the kingdom of the Pandau is near the Bydaspes,” or Jelam. (Circa autem Bydaspum, Pandovorum regio). If the histories of Kashmir and of this race are to be relied on, then these cities may all have been in the possession of the Pandau dynasty, at different epochs. But, after such a lapse of time, all these suppositions must rest in doubt, since the identity of the various places can never be made quite evident to us.
By Korau Pandau is a small house and garden, belonging to a fakir. It is now deserted. The traveller still finds ripe fruit on the trees, which the fakir, who was driven forth by the last famine, will never pluck again. This house was once a place of pilgrimage for Mohammedans; and a well, called Harat and Maérat's Bairi, is yet considered holy spot. The legend says, that these two good angels were sent on earth by God to reform men by their example; but, alas! they could not withstand the beauty of the daughters of Kashmir; and when conscience awoke, instead of repenting of their errors and hoping to obtain pardon by amendment, they cast themselves down, with their beloved companions, into this well, which bears their name-the Bairi, or well of Harat and Marat.
To the left is the ruined aqueduct, which formerly conveyed the water from the mountains to the plain, but has long been dry. Mirza Ahud informed me, that the water was carried to a distance of twenty miles: I asked him, if his calculation was as exact as the ten kos of the great cave of Mattan. Having sent on my people towards Islamabad, I turned back again to the great ruin. The more one examines the mighty mass of Korau Pandau, the deeper is the impression it makes on the mind. The time was passing quietly on; the sun sinking below Islamabad, and the mists of the valley still hanging over the snowy peaks of the Pir Panjal, like vast fleecy clouds, as I gazed attentively on the different aspects presented by these ruins. The short twilight soon faded, and I found myself on the lonely road in utter darkness. My good steed, however, retraced the way he had taken once before, in perfect security; and in a very short time accomplished the four miles to our halting place for the night.
No Brahmins came this evening; and I was glad of it, as it gave me the leisure to make out a plan and description of Korau Pandau. I was assisted also by a fire which my people had lit; and though it smoked abominably, it prevented my fingers from being numbed by the cold.
Islamabad lies near the end of the valley in this direction; and the Jelam, which flows two miles off, soon ceases to be navigable. Two kos further is Sahibabad, which has a small fort, built by Nur Begam, and three old Buddhist temples called Wamadevi. Another two kos brings us to Shahabad, a garden of the Moghul emperors; near to this is Warnégh, which was erected by Jehanghir, and boasts of the finest spring in the valley. All these palaces are now in ruins, and the fallen roofs so block up the interior as ‘to leave little room for a wanderer’s observation. Sahibabad and Warnagh are built on eminences ; Shahabad is at the eastern limit of the valley of Kashmir. The Jelam, soon after passing Shahabad, loses its name ; and at Banhal, twelve kos from Islam. abad, is known as the San-drén. I would fain have gone thus far, but the cold increased daily, and I apprehended a heavy fall of snow might entirely frustrate my intention of visiting the mountains of Tibet. [I was, moreover, to speak the truth, nearly worn out with the indifferent food, the piercing cold, the fatigue of body and mind, I had now so long undergone and was tormented by a constant anxiety to terminate the loneliness of my present position and bring my journeying to a close, Thursday, 26th. The Thanadar was unable to procure me the ore I was desirous of getting from the mountain, and was sadly afraid J should refuse to give him the certificate of good conduct and attention which he was commanded to forward to the Maha Raja. When I assured him to the contrary, his gratitude was unbounded. He informed me that a large animal, of the deer kind, came down from the mountains, in the cold season, and committed great ravages in the fields. The natives pursue and attack them with clubs, and frequently succeed in destroying some. One which has been captured alive has been in Islamabad ever since, roaming about the bazar and adjacent fields; supporting itself om any food it chances to take a fancy to. This tame creature I saw: it was about the size of a fallow deer, but of a greyish colour and had longer hair. It had not shed its horns, which, at their full growth, have as many as twelve antlers. This animal is the Barasinghi twelve antlers, or perhaps great-antler deer of the Himalaya.
The boats were waiting at Kanibal, where the Jelam ceases to be uavigable. ‘[hither we proceeded on foot, the coldness of the morning making the two miles’ walk very agreeable. The bridge over the Jelam consists of two arches only. It is the last of any importance in this direction. In no country in the world, perhaps, are there so many bridges as in Kashmir. They span every river and brook, great and small, and are all built and kept in repair by the Government, without the levy of any toll. It was eleven o’clock when we pushed off from the shore, and I saw that it would be late when we arrived in Kashmir.
The cold, even wrapped up as I was, was so bitter, that it was painful to write; but I persevered, knowing that, in such a journey as mine, what is not set down quickly is lost forever, and no longer to be recalled to memory. We came up before dark with two vessels loading with the park of the birch-tree. It is used in Kashmir to pack up the pears and apples which they export to other parts, the larger pieces are shaped into the long winding pipes of the hookah. Men and women seemed equally busy with the load, which they were carrying through the water, the vessels not being able to approach the shore; they did not appear to be in the least affected with the extreme cold, although their clothing would certainly have afforded them but indifferent protection against it. The bed of the Jelam is everywhere of great depth, but the shores are generally too high to allow of any view beyond them from a boat. Sometimes the river is swollen from twelve to fifteen feet above its ordinary level, and then it overflows, but its motion is so sluggish, that the houses built on the shore are rarely in danger.
The appearance of Ventipoor, as you approach it from Islamabad, is very agreeable. The few buildings and ruins stretching down to the shore, leaning as it were against the mountains, seem to form a safe harbour and landing-place. A fire was lighted on the ground while I took my dinner at seven o'clock in the evening. We then continued our march, and tried every plan to keep ourselves warm. The night, though freezing cold, was fair; the boats glided calmly over the waters, and the boatmen beguiled the time with songs, sometimes in chorus, at other times singly, which they managed with much softness and effect. In summer weather this excursion would have been most delightful, but now the contrast between the keen cold atmosphere and these sentimental strains was rather painful. The lamp burned dimly on the table on which I leaned, while Mohan Bir slept at my feet. Gradually the chaunt of the boatmen lulled me as I smoked my hookah, and I forgot, all associations of the past, Asia, Kashmir, and ever present concern in the reveries of my early youth. The hopés and joyous expectations of boyhood, that happlest time, when the heart longs to know a good world and confides 80 sweetly in the worth of others; the once-felt sentiments uprose now, as from a better world, in my own heart, and I could have dreamed on, and almost fancied that I was living over again those halcyon days of pleasurable unconcern. The intense cold brought me back to the present and cruelly reminded me of the truth that I was far from home, alone, the hopes of my youth still unfulfilled, the wishes of the man frustrated, a wanderer, perhaps forgotten, in a region so far away as I then was from every associate, from all my kindred. I roused Mirza Ahud, who was in the next boat and bade him give me some account of Jacque-mont to divert my mind from such idle dreams. By what he related it would appear that he had rather acted a part in Kashmir: he wished to be considered a philosopher, who held money in contempt, and had even been seen to throw rupees out of the window of his lodging; but Mirza Abud seemed to have seen through this little artifice, and told me that, though his former master did often waste a great deal of money, his first and chief thought seemed always to be wealth.
I then asked him whether he could not amuse me with some of the old tales of his native land, whereupon he instantly began as follows:- The king Chandranand desired to erect a temple to Siva, and had been long in quest of some suitable place. Having acquired his object he set regularly to work. Now it chanced that part of the ground was in possession of a tanner, but as that trade is followed by none except persons of low caste, they turned him out of the place without ceremony. When the King heard of it, he punished the officer severely and ordered the work to be suspended till the tanner consented to quit the place of his own free will.
I then desired Mirza Ahud to think of something more national, as this manner 6f dealing was common to all countries. He then commenced a second story.
The Raja, Jayanand was the greatest king on earth, and after subduing every country in the seven climates, returned laden with treasures, to his own dominions. Here he lived in the enjoyment of life, forgetting that his successes were all due to the protection and help of God. He had been carousing one night until very late, witnessing the displays of his three hundred nach girls, who had been amusing him with their songs and dances, and quaffing huge draughts of the forbidden spirit, when he lay down; but although he desired his servants to leave him to recruit his strength for the next day’s pleasures, sleep refused to obey his call. Presently there appeared to him Maha Padma, a serpent-god, and entreated his aid against a powerful magician of Dravira, who had enchanted him, promising him, as a reward for his assistance, to lead him into a great cavern filled with an incredible mass of gold, which should be wholly at his disposal. The king sent the next morning for the magician and desired him to point out the serpent-god. The magician accompanied the king to the lake, where the god was lying, and having turned the waters into a cloud, the serpent god became visible to them in the same form as before. The king then commanded the magician to fill the lake again; and the cloud, at his bidding, sank down, and covered it ten kos in depth; vivid lightning shot from it, and, within half an hour, the lake was a sheet of water as before. Jayanand then rewarded the magician and sent him back to Dravida. Maha Padma appeared again the next night, and reproached Jayanand for the anguish he had occasioned him; but, in reward for his having sent away the magician finally, he showed him a copper-mine instead of the cavern of gold. The king ordered it to be worked; and, during his reign, 100 kror (990 millions) were coined. He then sent to every monarch in the world, defying them to surpass him in riches.
I asked Mirza whether the Mohammedan writers admitted such sheer nonsense as this into the histories of Kashmir; and his answer was, that if they said nothing about serpent-gods, they related wonders of another kind, but quite as surprising. For instance, they say, that in Daulut Jang’s reign, a violent earthquake in Kashmir removed the city bf Husanpur from the right to the left bank of the river, and caused it to change places with Huseinpoor; but I stated to him, that this was but a false statement of a true event, which turned the course of the winding Jelam. The Auk, before which we now found ourselves, comes from the mountains of Tibet. Should the rainfall heavily for a few days, it brings down pieces of timber, which the natives pick up; ¢besé shine in the dark as long as they continue moist.
Friday, November 27. It was six o'clock in the morning when we were put ashore at the Hamedan Masjid in Kashmir, so benumbed with cold, that I was obliged to hurry to the garden as fast as I could, to warm my frozen limbs. Early in the day I assembled my attendants and desired that every preparation should be made for my departure, and at the same time I despatched the mGnshi to the K4zi, and begged that the Governor might be informed of my intention to leave Kashmir on the 29th, the day I had appointed before I quitted for Islamabad, The Kazi came an hour after, to tell me that it would require four days to hire the hundred and twenty bearers that I required, but I answered that my minshi would do it in less time, and that I-left that charge to him. This had its effect, and the Kazi promised that everything should be ready on Monday. My next visitor was S4med Shah, the confidential servant of Mohammed Shah Nakshbandi, who came to remind me of my promise to pay his master a visit. It was agreed, therefore, that I should partake of a supper at his house on the next day, and I was glad of the opportunity of seeing something more of the manners and customs of the country.
I had brought several baskets of potatoes to Kashmir, with the hope of being able to introduce this valuable article among the natives, Mr. Vigne had already spoken of its great utility to Ahmed Shah, the Raja of Iskardu, and I hoped to extend its cultivation to Tibet also, With a view of smoothing the way, I thought of sending the Raja, together with the potatoes, several presents which I judged would be acceptable, among which were three bottles of cognac and some drugs: these were accordingly dispatched to IskardG, with our letters, in a gold embroidered bag.
I now proposed to my two English friends, that we should erect something like a monument to the travellers who had preceded us in Kashmir ; and, at the sume time, leave a memorial of our having met, on the present occasion, at this spot. We agreed to carve the following inscription on a black marble tablet, and set it up in the little building on the Char Chanar island:
“Three travellers in Kashmir on the 18th November 1835, the Baron Ch. Hiigel, from Jami; Th. G. Vigne, from Iskardé; and Dr John Henderson, from Ladak, have caused the names of all the travellers who have preceded them in Kashmir to be engraved on this stone.
“Bernier, 1663. Forster, 1736. Moorcroft, Guthrie, and Trubeck, 1823. Victor Jacquemont, 1831. Joseph Wolff, 1832. “Two only of all these, the first and last, ever returned to their native country.”
I need not remark, that in the list I have included no Catholic missionaries; Forster did, strictly speaking, return home, but he came out again and died at Madras.
Vigne and Henderson accepted the commission with pleasure; and as it was necessary to get the stone at a short notice, I thought of one of the doors at the mosque of Nagarnagar. This plan I proposed to the Kazi; but he looked grave, and said he must consult the Governor about it, which I desired him to do forthwith. Hecame back in an hour or two, and informed me that Mehan Singh had thought it right to send off and request the permission of Ranjit Singh before we did so. I expressed my hope that the Governor would not object to the stone being got ready, on my promise being given, that all subsequent proceedings should depend on the Maha Raja’s answer. This was acceded to, and the K4zi said we might take away as many of the stones as we wanted. To guard against any further interruption, Vigne undertook to remove the door at sunset. To another message from Mehan Singh, asking whether it would not be agreeable to me to see the Nach girls, I replied in the affirmative, and they were accordingly ordered to attend and exhibit before us in my tent. Towards evening I went to the bazar, to see whether it had anything particularly worthy of attention, while Vigne proceeded to the ruinous mosque to fetch away the marble tablet. But he had forgotten to take any ropes or poles with him, and the stone was too heavy to be removed without such helps. He had to come back therefore, after making many fruitless efforts, without having advanced our object.
Just before it was dark, a number of the Kashmirian beauties made their appearance, accompanied by musicians, duennas, and divers hideous wretches who usually attend on them, and “whose monstrous ugliness makes the features of the dancers, who are almost invariably unsightly in appearance, shew off to greater advantage. After dinner was over, the tents were cleared and lighted, and the whole of our attendants were admitted to view what was going on. There was one among the dancers whose animated cast of features made her much more prepossessing than the rest. The passion of the Sikhs for this amusement is so great, that my chief pleasure was really derived from attending to them, and I believe there is much truth in the proverb, that you may take away the wife and child of a Sikh while he is listening to the adventures of Riistam and Sirdéb, and he would not miss them. I shall have more to say in another place, on the dancing and song peculiar to Kashmir.
The Nach girls are called sometimes Kanchni, but not by polite speakers; and sometimes Nachwali, dancers, which is more courteous. They are throughout India under the surveillance of the Government, and are, in fact, little better than slaves. These poor creatures are doomed to a hard fate; they are not allowed either to sing or dance without permission and if they get this, an officer of the Government always accompanies them, who grasps whatever they receive. When I had dismissed the troop, they demanded one hundred rupees for the evening’s performance.
Saturday, 28th November. If I had anticipated so long a stay here I should have insisted on Mehan Singh visiting me in the first instance, and I advise every traveller who purposes to remain in Kashmir for any time to do the same, and in case of a refusal, not to visit him at all. He should insist moreover on his own visit being punctiliously returned. For the sake of those who may follow me here, I reproach myself for having swerved from this rule, which I did from my aversion to this ceremonial, which always costs a morning, but principally because I never intended to stay in Kashmir more than a few days.
It was known that I was forming collections of everything rare, and this whole day I was pestered with men having all sorts of things to sell. About noon came Ganesh Pandit, the first interpreter of the Government, and a Brahmin of some consequence in the place; after a conversation of greater length than learning, he laid an immense roll of paper at my feet, a history of Kashmir, which he presented to me, having heard much of my wisdom and learning. I opened it, and found a list of names, neatly written on the finest Kashmir paper, in the Persian character, which Ganesh Pandit explained to be the names of the different Rajas who reigned in Kashmir before the Mohammedan conquest. Did I ask, how many kings were there? “Six thousand nine hundred and forty,” he replied, evidently with a tone and look of triumphant pride at being born in such a country. His catalogue finished with the year 864 (Hegira 250), to which period he incorrectly assigned the first arrival of the Mohammedans in the valley. ‘‘ But,” said I, “ how many years of the Kali Yug had passed when this event took place?” After a long reckoning, he said 3938, This again was a mistake, for the year 250 of the Hegira is the 3966 of the Kali Yug, an epoch which begins 3102 years before Christ. “Then,” said I, “how is it possible that in 3938 gears 6940 kings could reign?” To which he replied, that in his list he had included 400 years of the Dwapar Yug, the epoch which preceded the Kali Yag. So that his 6940 kings had 4338 years to reign in. I said only in reply, that as Kasyapa, according to their histories, had drained the lake which covered the valley 612 years before the Kali Yug commenced, he had forgotten the kings of the first 212 years altogether. I however took the list as a curiosity.
At 6 o'clock, Mohammed Shah’s state boat was sent to fetch Vigne, Henderson, and myself to dinner. When we had finished, the Shah took us into a room apart; but as the Indian fashion usually’ demands some appearance of mystery to be displayed in all things, I took this for some empty form, and was rather surprised when the Shah solicited me to do him a great favour. I must premise that the Shah is a Syad-a descendant of the Prophet and that his surname Nakshbandi is taken from a mystical sect founded by one of his ancestors. His family is of the royal house of Tashkend, whence his ancestors went to Turkisthan, and his grandfather, Khoja Shah Niy4s, more recently wandered as far as Kashmir, where he assembled some hundred disciples of his sect around him, from Iskardd, Yarkand, and Turkisthan. Family affairs now render the presence of Mohammed in Turkisthan very advisable, but as the governor declines to allow of his departure on his own responsibility, he has decided on going himself to Lahor, personally to request leave to travel of Ranjit Singh. He had already besought Mr Vigne to allow him to make one of his party, being influenced in this by another and a very justifiable motive. Every European who had travelled in Kashmir had largely shared in his attentions, and they were particularly useful to Moorcroft during his long sojourn in the valley. He seems naturally to hope now, that the Company may repay this hospitality to him in some way or other; and it is his present object to go from Lahore to Ludiana, where Captain Wade resides, and get some acknowledgment, from the official residence, of his services to English travellers.
It so happened, that one of the Shah’s kinsmen, holding some post in Kishtewar, had fallen under the displeasure of Gulab Singh, and had made his escape to Kashmir; the Shah now begged me to take him ag my munshi, and thus smuggle him out of the country. This was not agreeable to me, for I did not know what fault he had been guilty of, nor what I should do with him in HindGsthan; my answer was therefore evasive, and I told the Shah that I had no power to protect all the suite accompanying me and that he would be quite as safe and less noticed in his own company. He understood me, and pressed the matter no further, merely asking my leave to introduce his kinsman, which I could not refuse. The young man, on entering, prostrated himself at my feet. His face was remarkable for its expression of stupidity, relieved only by anxiety for the consequences of an offence for which I could not offer much comfort, as I was perfectly ignorant of its nature.
Mohammed Shah has a great manf of the natives of Yarkand about him, pilgrims who are on their way to Mecca, which they reach more speedily and safely by way of India and Bombay, than by the considerably shorter route of Central Asia and Persia. This circumstance ought to smooth many difficulties in the path of Europeans travelling in Central Asia; for when the natives return full of the kindness and hospitality they have received from the Company’s officers, they will surely requite their generous feeling in the only way they have in their power, by showing them the like. Most of the pilgrims I met in Bombay were men of wealth, and therefore naturally of influence in their own country, and it is to be hoped they. will use both for the benefit of fellow-wanderers.
The productions of Yarkand, which were all spread out before me, were highly interesting; thirty-two species of tea brought from the interior of China by way of Axor and Turfan were also shown me. The natives of Ydrkand told me, that the caravans go in twenty-eight days from Kashgar to Samarkhand; from Kashgar to Yark4nd in five days; from Samarkhand to Bokhara in ten days. The tea comes from Ili, the Chinese place of exile, by Turfan to Axor. Turfan is on the confines of Turkistan towards China. It was 10 o’clock when I took leave of my host.
Sunday, November 29.-Mr. Vigne had sent his servant, Mitehell, last evening, with twenty men, provided with everything requisite, except common sense, to bring the stone away from the ruined mosque. On.our return, we heard from him that the guard had threatened to shoot him if he remained there, and that a large crowd had assembled in Nagarnagar to prevent the stone being taken away. This Mitchell was a half-caste and a confirmed drunkard, and I have some notion that he never went at all, and fabricated the whole story. This morning the K4zi came from Mehan Singh to request that I would visit him, for the purpose of receiving the khilat, or garb of honour, the Maha Raja's parting gift to travellers. This I would gladly have avoided; for I felt quite sure that Mehan Singh would select some worthless shawls, and expect me to return the gift with something of real value, but I did not wish to offend him, so promised to go speedily. Vigne and Henderson were also invited.
We were received by the Viceroy in a room in the first story in Shaherghur, without any furniture or ornaments suited to an inhabited apartment. A few officers only were present, who retired as soon as we were seated. After the usual oriental fine speeches, I thanked the Governor for the facilities I had enjoyed for seeing Kashmir. He answered that it was nothing more than the Mahé Raja’s order. I then told him that it was my intention to travel through the Baramulla pass to Atok. He stared in astonishment and remarked that the road was a very bad one. I had heard however from many people in Kashmir, that it was the very best, and that the Sikhs always describe it as dangerous, to deter Englishmen from taking that route. I merely said, therefore, that I was prepared to find it so, but wished to travel that way, unless it were displeasing to the Maha Raja. ‘Here is a letter to the Maha Raja,” I added, “in answer to one lately received from him. I have informed him that I purpose to enter the Panjab again at Hussein Abdul.” I stated further that Mohammed Shah Nakshbandi would travel with me. He again enforced on my mind the danger of meeting with parties of Mohammedan robbers by the way; but seeing that he could not move me, he turned the conversation on the beautiful shawls which I had bought. “If you wish for any more,” he added, “when you go to your own country, I hope you will commission me to buy them for you.”
I now spoke of our inscription, of which we had prepared a Persian translation, and Mr. Vigne obtained his promise that we should not be ‘called to any account if the stone did disappear from Nagarnagar that evening. The khilat, composed of eleven dirty old shawls, was next brought in. I had an opportunity here of observing how well Dr Henderson had studied the character of this people. When he gave Mehan Singh a gold coin as a mark of his subjection, the features excepted, he might have been taken for one of themselves. When a trifling present was offered to him, he declined it, calling himself a poor fakir, and I would have done the same if my travelling arrangements had been quite secured. Mehan Singh was not so tipsy as at our first interview, but most assuredly was not sober. We took our leave with an embrace.
I had brought letters of credit from Ludhiana on a saraf, or moneychanger in Kashmir; and when first I arrived in the city, he had paid me a visit in my tent. I told-him Before, several persons, that when I wanted money I should apply: to tam, not being then aware that the possessor of ever so little wealth makes the greatest mystery of it, on account of the cupidity of their Sikh masters; and I remember being surprised at the faltering tone in which he answered that he did not know how it would be possible for him to collect even one thousand rupees; when however he paid me a second visit, he explained the reason why, and told me that any sum I wanted was at my command. I commissioned him to buy the best shawls he could find for me, and to-day he brought me some unfinished, which were not of the first class. I suspected at first that this was a trick to impose upon me, but on stricter inquiry, I found that it was a very difficult thing to get these shawls complete in Kashmir. More of this, however, hereafter.
Dr Henderson’s servant arrived to-day from Lad&k, and alone, having, as he said, lost the horses and every other article in the snow jn the Naubak pass. He was dismissed, together with the servant who had come to Kashmir with him: they had subsisted for three days on two chepatis. As I could not find that there was any fault in either, I agreed to take them into my service. The Doctor proposed bending his course now to the Hindu Khosh, and Balkh, and though I tried to dissuade him from such a step at this season, he was bent on it. I therefore fitted him out with such things as instruments, and a second watch, &c., ag well as J could, and in this remote land, where a few days passed together make men more familiar, than years would under other circumstances, we both felt much at parting. It was arranged that we should leaye Kashmir the same day, the 1st of December, travel westward to the confines of the country together, and their part, hoping to meet early in the following year at Lahore. The rest of the day was spent in packing up the different collections I had made at this place.
Monday, November 30.-My people all informed me, that the whole city was up in arms at the idea of our removing the stone from their mosque, and that nothing but our robbery was talked of in the bazar. We judged it as well therefore to have the Governor’s authority for what we were going to do; and when the K4zi came to tell me that every thing would be ready for my departure in two days, Mr. Vigne pressed him for the order, but this he would not give, repeating that if we chose to remove the stone, no notice would be taken. I saw how many difficulties were in our way, and that the Sikhs did not wish openly to offend the prejudices of the Mqhanimedans, I, therefore, recommended that we should look out for another tablet, and Mohammed Shah succeeded in getting us a beautiful slab of black marble out of the Shalimar garden.
Several dozen pair of shawls was sent to-day for my selection; I purchased two blue and two white ones, but neither of them was finished. The conduct of Mirza Abdul Rahim highly disgusted me on this occasion, and I was the more confirmed in my original opinion of the man. The first time that Mr. Vigne visited the Governor, he was accompanied by this Mirza Abdul Rahim, who demanded a seat as the Company’s agent. It was at first refused, but at last his demand way complied with, although he had no right whatever to the privilege in question. The giving or withholding of this seat, is a matter of vast importance in India, and every European must not only stand firm on his rightful pretensions, but even in his own solitary tent Keep up all the etiquette of a court. I passed the day in packing and purchasing, while Mr. Vigne went to complete his drawing on the Tahkt-i-Suliman, I regretted that time would not permit me to ascend this mountain again, for the great antiquity of the ruin gave it additional interest. The erection of the temple is ascribed to Gopaditya, of the Gonerdya dynasty, B.c., 370. Dr. Henderson spent the whole day in the bazar in preparing for his journey. In the evening we all dined together in my tent.
Tuesday, December 1. The Lieutenant and his guard, who had been stationed before my tent during my stay in Kashmir, were appointed to escort me to Lahor. This was against my will, for such a thing as a guard had never occurred to me during my wanderings from one end of India to the other, and I had no inclination to avail myself of this novel protection.
The servant of Maha Raja Ranjit Singh’s chobdar had been dangerously ill in Kashmir, and so had the havildar ; several of my attendants had also been attacked with fever. I administered to, and succeeded in curing, them all. Strange to say, the natives of Bengal were of all the least affected by the cold and the fatigues of our journey, and my only surprise still is, how one of the Hindus survived it, seeing that, while they are preparing their food, they throw off every thing except the cloth which is tied round their waist, and that the highest castes all eat in this state of nudity. My minshi, a Brahmin, never failed to eat his rice thus unclad, even when the glass was at the freezing point, and his health was much better than that of the Mohammedans from the north of India, who could not clothe themselves too warmly. Among others who had heard of my success as a physician, was the Kazi, who came to consult me, but I saw that he suffered from confirmed asthma, so I made him over to Dr. Henderson, his case not being one by which I could hope for any credit.
Mr. Vigne made a drawing for me to-day of the Dilawer Khan Bagh, and every inhabitant at present in it, servants, horses, dogs, goats, and poultry. My dealings with the shawl merchants harassed me beyond endurance; indeed no patience can stand out against the torments of making ever so trifling 4 bargain with these people. The mode of their negotiating business is altogether peculiar: the two parties seated on the ground, give their right hand to each other, under a large cloth, without a word being uttered by either of them, the offer and answer are signified by different ways of pressing the hand. Several days frequently elapse in such dealings, without any thing being concluded. My deputy, Abdul Rahim, I had reason to believe equal to any species of knavery; Mirza Ahud, however, had always proved himself strictly honest and disinterested.
My Indian servants assisted me to-day in packing up my collection of the fishes of Kashmir; and I may remark here, that I found them on all occasions unsparing in their attention and most willing; quite undeserving of the contempt they sometimes receive from their English masters, because they do not comprehend, as it were by instinct, all the petty wants and desires of European fastidiousness.
Dr Henderson and I had reckoned on starting to-day, but the servants he had engaged refused to go when they found that he was journeying to Atok, the bands of robbers being so numerous and daring, that it has at times required the whole power of Ranjit Singh to oppose them. He was therefore compelled to look out for others, while my tents underwent some repairs, and the boats had not yet left the city. The days were so short and so cold, that we did not get through much business.
Wednesday, December 2.- The Dilawer Khan Bagh was like a bazar to-day, not only for me but for my attendants, everyone being desirous of taking something to India from Kashmir, Then came the task of examining the munshi’s accounts; and the writing of testimonials of good conduct for all Ranjit Singh’s officers, from the Viceroy down to the spy. In the evening a robbery, the first that had befallen me in India, and which was instantly laid to the Kashmirians, was effected in my little territory, the object stolen being a coverlet that Jwali Singh had bought in Rajawar. It was soon discovered, cut into two pieces, in the possession of Mali, my gardener. He vowed that he had purchased it off a Kashmirian, but the secrecy with which he had offered to sell one half to my bearer as soon as it was dark, proved his criminality. My servants wanted to complain to the Kazi, but I would not permit this, telling them that in my tents I was lord, and entitled to punish any crime committed by my servants; and late as it was, 1 ordered a formal hearing of the case, assisted by Mr. Vigne. But the evidence was so contradictory and so lengthy, that I was soon glad to break up my court and pay Jwali Singh the value of his property. I must admit that the gardener was too easily Jet off, as he still had the stolen article in his possession.
The evening was employed in carving our inscription on the stone, Mirza Ahud received thirty rupees to give to the sculptor, and he was to be charged with the care of the stone until permission came. from Lahor, with authority to put it up in the Char Chianar island. Dr Henderson set off this afternoon, but divers disagreeable affairs obliged me to remain another night in Kashmir.
Thursday, December 3.- The tents were packed by dawn, and my baggage, which was greatly increased by the collections I had made at -this place, was all carried off to the boats. My stock of provisions was very low, compared with what it had been when first I arrived in Kashmir; the potatoes, wine, and beer, were nearly exhausted, the remains of my cellar consisting of half-a-dozen bottles of port wine, one bottle of brandy, and a very few of other kinds of wine. From Narpoor J had written to Ludiana for a fresh supply, but it had not arrived. I was obliged in consequence to leave a request with the Governor that as goon as it should find its way to Kashmir, it should be forwarded to me. It was not till two o’clock that we left the garden. The shawl merchant promised that my unfinished purchases should be sent to Ludiana within four weeks, and took a bill of exchange payable at Calcutta. I mention this as a proof of the facility with which Europeans can receive money in any part of India.
Neither Vigne nor I quitted the Dilawer Khan Bagh without emotion, but it was caused by very opposite feelings: he had many pleasant remembrances connected with his abode in that garden; I had none, and the sufferings of my body almost annihilated every sentiment of pleasure which, in a more genial season, the many beauties around me must have kept alive. At the Hamidan Masjid a little fleet of seven boats was waiting for us, and threading the crowds which were assembled on the shore and the bridge, we found ourselves gently gliding down the stream, and taking our last farewell view of the city. The architecture of the wooden edifices situated on its shores, ‘is peculiar. They are two, three, and sometimes four stories high, but only one ‘window in breadth; being built moreover detached, they appear to invite the wind, if perchance it should ever blowhard in Kashmir, to overthrow them.
When we had left the city behind us, the motion of the boat seemed too slow and tedious in my present frame of mind, and I desired to be put on shore and see whether exercise would not divert my thoughts from melancholy. It was bitter cold, and long ere by dint of hard walking I could get any warmth into my frame. The country is generally marshy, and in many parts uncultivated. The most romantic part of the valley is evidently in the south and south-east, although further west there is a point which the Kashmirians consider by far the most beau, tiful part of this region, and which has gained the appellation of the Village of Roses, or Gul Mari. I had heard of it before, but it lay out of my way, and the season of the year altogether precluded my wish to see it. After we left Kashmir, not a flower was to be seen; and the native whom I appointed to search for some, brought me nothing but a few evergreen leaves, the frost having completely destroyed every other description of vegetation.
We came to Koshpara, a village remarkable only for having the largest plane-trees in Kashmir. This tree, as I have often mentioned, is considered of much importance by the natives, who call it the end of misfortune. On its branches criminals are hanged, a punishment of constant occurrence under the Patan sway, when the smallest offence wag visited with death, but now only inflicted in cases of murder. Men are too valuable to the present ruler of Kashmir to be lightly spared: penal. ties and stripes are therefore the usual punishments. The people seem content with the justice dealt out to them, and admitted to me that not more than one guilty person in every twenty is ever visited with the reward due to his crimes. The dreadful cruelties perpetrated by their earlier rulers, who, for the smallest offence, punished them with the loss of their noses or ears, make the poor Indians well satisfied with their present comparatively mild government; and, in truth, there is very little oppression on the part of the governors orthanadars. The ideas of the Indians on this and many other subjects are also, it may be observed, very different from our own. As an example, I may mention that I had delayed my departure from the Dilawer Khan Bagh until noon, in order to take the sun’s altitude once more. The sky was unclouded, and not to lose a moment, I began my observation at half-past eleven. Mr. Vigne meanwhile was sketching in the garden, which was crowded by the natives, who gathered around to see what we were. doing. My English friend thought that they must be much impressed with our . skill; I, on the contrary, had always remarked throughout India a total want of appreciation for any of ouy occupations, and rather a contemptible idea of those who were thus engaged. To settle this difference of opinion, Vigne called Mirza Ahud, and asked him what the Kashmirians said of us. ‘Being told that he would not give us any offence, he frankly acknowledged that we were both looked upon as two madmen, who were troubling our heads about nothing better than stones and plants. Even the Governor concluded Mr. Vigne must be a downright idiot, to waste his time in drawing the likeness of old ruin or a poor native. The Orientals only concern themselves about those treasures which will procure them the enjoyments of this life, or the religion which promises them the pleasures of the next.
At six o’clock the boats stopped, for it was quite dark; and as my people wished to spend the night in Shadipur, I landed, in order to take a survey of the place, which Abul Faz] calls the city of Shahabadipur, the ancient Phalapur. I found it a wretched village, offering no shelter except that of a plane-tree; but as they told me that there was a beautiful garden on the other side of the Jelam, I desired that I might be taken over to it. This garden, Dab Bagh, Surij Bagh of the Hinds, lies at the confluence of the Sirhund and the Jelam, the first a small stream, called by us the Chota Sind, or little Indus, a name as little known among the natives as the Indus, which in Kashmir is called Atok, and in northern India, Niléb. The little Indus has been extolled by many writers as one of the chief sources of the Indus, and many have divided this into two branches, and made one of them to flow through Kashmir, the reason of this being the similarity between names, a most prolific source of error, and an occasion of the most absurd theories. In the history of Kashmir, it is said, that Sujjya, whose birth and life were both most marvellous, ordained the course of this river about the year 880. The junction of the Sirhund with the Jelam, which before this, took place further down the stream by the temple of Vainya SwAmi, was then removed higher up, namely, between the cities of Parihasapur and Phalapur. The junction of the Sirhund and Jelam does occur almost at a right angle, which accounts for the story. At the point of confluence is a little island, on which stands a small Buddhist temple.
The garden appointed for our night station, is three-quarters of a mile from the shore; the night was dark, and there was no beaten path. When we reached it, we saw and went over several buildings, until I found, at last, a very convenient room in a pavilion of marble. I desired one of the Kashmirians to light a fire there, while I went forth again to seek for Vigne; and when we returned together, the fire was kindled on the marble pavement; but the smoke was so unbearable, that we were obliged to throw open every door and window, and the cold was sharper than without. We did not get our dinner until midnight, and then I went to bed perfectly exhausted. Thus ended our first day. Friday, December 4.-The Surij Bagh, or Dab Begh, is a large pleasure-ground, laid out in the Indian taste, the chief art of which consists in giving a full view of the whole garden and buildings in it from the entrance gates, which are always of considerable elevation. From these, a broad way leads to the basin, where fountains play in abundant variety: large beds of flowers ornament the garden, and the buildings are adorned with all that caprice could desire, or money purchase. The Surij Bagh was made by Surij Bahri, who was summoned to Kashmir by Moti R&m, the first viceroy under Ranjit Singh, to superintend the new partition of the lands into portions of greater or less size. Several parcels of land were given to him, for which he paid a tribute, and gradually he had charge of eighteen per gannahs, for which he had to pay not less than six lacs of rupees. During the famine, he received only five lacs, and prayed, therefore, to be excused the sixth, but Ranjit Singh refused this, telling him that if he had lost something this year, he had gained largely in the last. On the tribute failing altogether, Surij Bahri was deprived of every thing, and received for his maintenance two villages, which keep him poorly enough. The consequence of such arbitrary proceedings on the part of their ruler, is, that no man feels quite sure of his own, and that neither in the Panjab nor in Kashmir, ‘have individuals much credit. For, who would lend his richest subject money, unless at enormous interest, when the Maha Raja may, by a word, reduce him to beggary. The garden is falling to ruin, though never completed, and many a lac of rupees must all this carving and marble undoubtedly have cost.
The pavilion where we slept, consists of several little rooms, all of marble. The windows are most tastefully ornamented with the glass of Bengal; in the midst of the large square forming the garden, is an airy edifice of wood, with beautiful columns and lattice-work, where the cool of the evening is usually passed by the natives; and the largest of the buildings is close to a piece of water brought from the Sirhund; the water, when high, reaches te the walls of the buildings, although they are built at a height of forty or fifty feet above it. There are three species of the beautiful rose of Kashmir in the garden, and in defiance of the season, one of the bushes yielded me a flower.
The Surij Bagh is probably on the site of the once famous city of Parihasapur, of the marvels of which the native legends speak so highly. This city was built by the great conqueror Lalitaditya, who reigned from A.D. 714 to 750, and was adorned with many fine temples and monuments; among others, with a pillar cut out of one stone, twenty-four yards high, at the top of which stood the image of Garuda, half-man, half-eagle. Sikandar Budh Shikan probably destroyed it, but several fragments were seen in 1727 by Mohammed Azim. Immense images of gold, silver, and other metals, also adorned the interior, but all traces of this splendour have disappeared. The point where two rivers meet is called Prayaga, or Sangam, and is always holy. The island at the junction of the Jelam and Sirhund has been the scene of many a self-immolation, and the Raja Taringini relates that Mitra Serma, the faithful diwan: or minister of the great King Lalitaditya, terminated his life here. The sacrifice is made a matter of many ceremonies. The man tired of his life, makes his prescribed ablutions before a vast multitude, repeats the prayers. required of his sect, and then seats himself in the water, praying all the while, and remaining there uncovered until he is drowned. ‘The holiest stream for these suicides is the Ganges, where the alligators sometimes destroy the victim before the waters, In the Shastras, suicide, on account of grief or illness, is only allowed at the sacred Praydga at Allahabad, where the Ganges and Jamna unite with the invisible Séreswati.
We breakfasted in the boat, reached Sambal, where is a bridge near the Jelam, in two hours, and there landed. The natives say that a fine city is here buried under the river, the summits of temples and other buildings having been often distinctly seen. There is no likelihood of this. The deepest part of the river is not more than twelve or fifteen feet, the sounding line finds nothing but earth and slime, and the Jelam carries so much mud along with it, that it would long since have filled up any inequalities of the bed. But the Kashmirians have a legend of this wonderful city, which is sinking deeper and deeper into the earth. I will repeats the story as told me by Mirza Abdul. The city was called Narapoor from its founder, Buz Nara, a Hindi Raja, who lived 1000 years before Christ, and being on the Jelam, and near the beautiful lake, it soon became the favourite abode of the chief Brahmins, one of whom, Chandrabaha, so pleased Karkota, the serpent god, that he gave him his sister Nila Banu to wife. Her greatest pleasure, however, was to visit her brother, and linger for hours beneath the clear waters. It chanced that one day, the King Buz, who often visited Narapoor, beheld the charming Nila Banu on the shore, and became desperately enamoured of her. Failing in every attempt to obtain a return of this passion, the king determined to carry her away by force, and accordingly followed her steps with two of his trusty attendants. They were just about to seize her, when her brother Karkota appeared ; he hurled a huge wave on the head of the king’s servants, drew them into the lake and stifled them. Finding that even this did not put an end to the king’s presumptuous hopes, Karkota’s rage became unbounded, he raised a storm so terrific, that the king and all his subjects dwelling in Naérapoor, were carried away, and he and his sister even still unsatisfied, took huge masses of rock from the Romanya mountains, and hurled them on the city, causing it to fall in ruins into the Jelam. When all was still as death, Karkota began to be rather ashamed of his anger, and gave the country to his sister and her husband Chandrabaha, after he had turned the lake where he dwelt into milk: hence, the Mansbal Ser is called also Jamatri Saras. The place is still to be seen where the serpent-god dwelt; it is called Amantri, and the milk-white colour distinguishes it from other points. I desired Mirza Ahud to point it out to me as soon as he saw it.
We sent our boats forward from Sambal, with orders to wait for us at the point where the Mansbal Ser runs into the Jelam, our object being to visit the lake. On the south side, it is bounded by a sedgy marsh, but in other parts, the shores are steep and bare, and the oval form is clearly marked throughout. We strolled along the western shore, which is completely encircled by swelling hills, and reached a lovely point where was a garden inhabited by a fakir. We then passed Sofapoor, and the palace of the Empress Nur Jehan, the beloved wife of Jehangir, whose name is still revered in Kashmir and throughout northern India, for her virtues and for the noble monuments which she has left of her taste and munificence.
The lake is deep, the mountains of Tibet towering proudly above it, and their deep shadows darkening the waters far beyond the shore. The large building, never quite completed, is now destroyed to the very foundations; but there are remains of three terraces, fifty fathoms in length, which were constructed one above the other.
While Mr. Vigne took a sketch, I hailed a boat, and with some trouble made them take me across to Kondebal, to see the only lime pits in Kashmir. Their kilns are eight feet in diameter, and it takes sixteen days’ labour, and requires 2000 logs of stout wood to heat them thoroughly. The wood, which is from a species of the fir called katr, is brought from a distance of twelve kos. There were twenty men, at the charge of the government, working under the superintendence of three sepoys. One hundred and ninety-two pounds (a kurwar) of burnt lime, sells on the average for one rupee.
A small stream, called the Amrawati falls into the lake at the northern extremity. The ground over which it flows is so white, that it looks at a distance like a foaming cataract, and this is the very spot where Karkota is said to have turned the waters into milk. The Hindus smear their bodies with the chalky soil, supposing it to be a means of religious purification.
From the palace a gentle declivity stretches down to the Jelam, This, like the Korau Pandau, only wants irrigation to make it very fruitful. A few little streamlets flow from the mountains and fertilize a small tract, but the rest is a complete waste. In the deep soil of this plain, not a field was cultivated last year, and the blame of this may be charged equally to the indolence of the people, and the carelessness of the government. We saw several villages in the distance, but the population is too scanty in this place to keep the ground in order. We found our boats at Jinpur, which we reached, after many delays and windings, an hour before nightfall, exhausted almost to death. In Hayapur the Thanadar and the most considerable of the natives came out to meet me. I wanted shelter; the Thanadar led me into a palace (for so it might be called in Kashmir) were a man of some consequence was residing with his family, and desired him to make room for me. Luckily for him, neither his doors nor windows would admit my portable bedstead; and though I perambulated every house in the town, not one could accommodate my simple furniture. The way in which a stranger finds lodgings in Kashmir is certainly very strange. He walks through the town and chooses the most convenient quarters, it being a matter of course that the owner moves out for him, without receiving either payment or thanks. At first, I felt ashamed to treat any man so, but Jearnt that it is considered as great an honour to be turned out of one’s house here, as it is in Europe to a subject to be put to the immense expense and trouble of a royal visit. In this place there was literally not a house where I could rest for the night; I, therefore, gave orders for my tent to be made ready.
Mohammed Shah arrived with ‘his suite, and as there was some difficulty in purchasing food for so many people, I was forced to levy subsidies in the town. Indeed, along this route, the country is so thinly peopled, that a large party cannot expect the villages to supply their wants. They tell me that this state of things will continue as far as Mazafferabad. In other parts of Kashmir, and generally throughout India, every servant and bearer buys his provisions daily in the markets; and a walk through the bazar is always a treat for an Indian, no matter how tired he may be.
The tent was pitched in the tall grass, which at this season is very dry; well remembering how often fires break out in New Holland, and destroy everything near, I ordered that it should be cut close all about my tent. Vigne thought it would be a more expeditious way to set fire to it at once: it instantly burned with violence, nor was it without the utmost trouble that the destruction of his entire baggage was prevented.
Saturday, December 5.-We followed the course of the Jelam for two hours through an uncultivated district, ending in a marsh, and finally entered the Wallar Lake, into which the Jelam flows in two places. Not far from the shore is a little island called Lankh, a name which might lead us to imagine that the Kashmirians once had an observatory on it, where all their astronomical calculations were made. Here is an extensive building in ruins, formerly, no doubt, a Buddhist temple, which was overthrown by the fanatical Musselman Sikander Budh Shikan. Like the temple of Korau Pandau, it was of a square form, and surrounded by a flight of stone steps leading down to the lake. The view from this island, including the ruins of a mosque built by Bab Hassan Khan, the grandson of Zeynal 4b ud Din*, and of a palace called Zeynlankh, erected by Zeynal himself, is particularly romantic. I observed several boats engaged in collecting the Singhara or water-nut, which is found in abundance in. the muddy bottom of the lake, and serves the natives as food in India: it is eaten by the Brahmins on one particular day of the year only.
A veil of mist hung over the motionless lake, and flocks of water fowl, from the gigantic pelican to the little sea-swallow, were flying slowly through the heavy atmosphere. When Mr. Vigne had finished his sketch of the lake, and I had obtained all the information I could from the fishermen, we pursued our way by water to Banderpoor, whence we were to surmount one of the loftiest passes to Tibet. Banderpoor (Haven City) lies a mile away from the shore in a marsh, which the retiring waters of the Wallar Lake have left. We stepped from the boats on planks, which supported us until the soil became firm enough to bear our feet, but owing to its nature, we were forced to take a very circuitous road to the town of Banderpoor, which, from being a large and well-peopled place, is now a comparatively deserted heap of ruins. The Thanadar met me, with the few remaining inhabitants, and brought me a horse, which I very gladly mounted. The saddle was made in the fashion of Central Asia, and very richly ornamented with silver and mother-of-pearl; the seat was embroidered with velvet and gold. In fact, it was a piece of magnificence_which was quite fit for a cabinet or a museum, but the pommel being a foot high in front, and half that height behind, it was so very unlike what I had ever been used to, that I much preferred entering the town less ostentatiously on foot, to the honour of feeling so very uncomfortable. The more ambitious Mohan Bir mounted the animal, and soon had a very serious fall. The Thanadar showed me a house which would have suited me for a night’s lodging, but time was too precious to me to allow of my stopping so early; I, therefore, continued my way on foot to Bonikut, the abode of the Malik of Banderpoor. I was met halfway by his son, and a number of his followers. Bonikut lies on the banks of a charming rivulet, completely shut in by a range of high mountains. They soon spread out a carpet for me under some large poplar-trees, by a gurgling spring, a delightful spot for a weary traveller in summer, though anything but inviting at the present time. I accepted it nevertheless, as my servants had not yet arrived, and I was thoroughly exhausted. The Malik, whose office answers to that of a commandant on the frontier, is a fine venerable-looking personage. He had just built a house which was yet unoccupied, and he invited me to lodge in his old one, why I do not exactly know, but I fancied that I should prefer the place where I was. One by one of my party came up, first Vigne, then the attendants. The Khansamen, a Mohammedan, took possession of the mosque, and cooked in the entrance; while the Hindus lighted their fire, and gathered round it in groups. The cold was additionally trying after the previous fatigue I had undergone. Before I settled myself to sleep I ordered some of my people to watch during the night that the fires did not go out.
The place of Malik of Kashmir, first appointed by Akbar, was formerly one of considerable power and influence, and the Malik was almost independent, being subject only to the authority of the distant Emperor of Delhi. By degrees this place has sunk into insignificance, although the present officer, living on the borders of the yet unconquered Ahmed Shah’s territory, is a person of some consequence, but his office would speedily be suppressed altogether, if Ranjit Singh were to seize on IskardG. The Maliks were intended to keep watch on the frontiers ; but as Ranjit has already extended his dominions on every side beyond them, this single conquest would render the office quite superfluous: There are nominally 500 armed men in the district of Banderpoor; but here, as in most places about the country, famine and sickness have so depopulated the town, that the Malik could not muster the half of that number. Henderson travelled through this pass, but he did not praise the reception given him by the Malik, nor could he expect any thing better in such a garb as his. He ought to have taken the coldness of his reception as a compliment to the skill with which he played the part of a fakir.
Sunday, December 6.-My attendants were indefatigable in keeping up a good fire during the night; and whenever I waked, I saw the Indians seated about it, and doing their best to maintain the heat on the side where I was lying. We began our preparations for departure at dawn; and yesterday's lesson made me cautious in choosing a horse for the mountains, provided with a saddle-cloth instead of the more picturesque but very inconvenient saddle of Turkisthan, which, at best, is only adapted to a level country: Malik’s son was deputed to be our guide. We commenced our journey by several steep mountains inferior only to the Pir Panjal, to a height which is reckoned to be 4000 feet; here we first entered the pine forests. Through these, we continued 1000 feet further until we stopped at a narrow slip of level ground, which was scarped perpendicularly on either side. At 6000 feet we could distinguish the highest summits of the Nanenwara mountain before us. We had still 1000 feet to climb. The ascent was made on horseback, until “we were within 300 feet of the top, and thus far I observed the juniper and saxifrage growing, but the peaks were quite destitute of vegetation, and in the clefts, snow was still lying in small quantities. I never shall forget the cold I felt on the summit of that mountain.
The north wind cut my face as with a knife, and my very bones seemed turned to ice; my thermometer, notwithstanding, was not lower than 31°, All around me was utter desolation, not a living creature, not a tree, nor sign of vegetation, as far as the eye could reach. Nought else in fact but rocks and ice, and masses of snow-clouds. I had brought everything necessary to kindle a fire, that I might ascertain the boiling point; and while they were preparing it under a rock 100 feet below the highest peak, I ascended it again to look around me. Diamal, or Nangaparvat, the highest of the chain, rises out of it like a vast pyramid and was now veiled in clouds, showing little more than its prodigious bass. This bounded the prospect towards the N.N.W. and N.E.; further west and W.S.W. the Gosieh mountains stretch to the Baramulla chain, and beyond this again was the snowy ridge which joins the Hindu Khosh. Southwards and 8.W. lay the valley, only distinguished by a low stripe of mist, above which appeared the snowy peaks of Pir Panjal, which seemed to form but one part of the great Panjal of Tibet. Between 34° and 35° of latitude, the air is generally most transparent, and this, together with the great elevation of my present position, may account for the apparently interminable distance to which the view reached. Towards the S.W. the prospect was bounded by the Pir Panjal: of course the Indian plain beyond it cannot be reached by the naked eye. In every other direction, mountains towering above mountains were seen to an immense distance.
Standing thus on the northernmost point of my wanderings in Asia, my eye involuntarily sought to pierce the veil far beyond those snowy barriers in the west, where Europe and Austria were now so far away, and my heart dreamed of the beloved ones never forgotten there. The mountain tops rose one above the other, like the billows of a stormy sea, and seemed to shut out all hope of escaping from their dreary wastes. How fondly did my thoughts then revert to my much-loved home, with prayer, that this day, hallowed in my recollections as the birth-day: of my honoured mother, now in her 66th year, might be best to her, as well as to her absent, though not forgetful son.
A dreadful headache came on while I was on this high point, but I could not make up my mind to leave it until I had ascertained the height of the boiling point. For this purpose I descended 100 feet, where my people had lighted a fire under a projection of the rock. It was a long time ere the ice in our iron pot would melt at all; the rarity of the air causing it to evaporate, without dissolving into water. At last, the boiling point reached 188°, or, by the rectification of the instrument + 1°2 °186°8°. The pains in the head, which had seized Vigne also, and all my people, were now so intense, that we hastened to leave our present situation, and I thought that the horror of the people of Kashmir for these mountain passes, which they suppose haunted by evil spirits, was not so unaccountable after all. This was the farthest limit of my travels, and it seemed a consolation that every step henceforward would take me nearer home. As soon as we again reached the region of birches, I looked about for the rhododendron, but could not see one; in the pine-woods, however, I saw the titmouse and other birds of our climate.
The descent was even more painful than the ascent, for the poor horses stepped so cautiously down the precipitous paths, that we chose rather walk, that we might reach Banderpoor before nightfall. It is to be remarked, that neither plant nor bird did we see, except in the pine-forests, and in some ravines where water was heard foaming over rocks.
Three miles before Bonikut, we struck into a foot-path, generally taken by the lime-burners of Kondibal with their loads of fir; it led us over a narrow shelf of rocks as slippery as ice, over which I fell several times. As soon as we were once more in the plain, I dismissed Malik’s son and went on to Banderpoor, where I passed the night in my tent distracted with headache, and unable to swallow a morsel of food.
Monday, December 7.-Later than usual, and long after the attendants and baggage were on their way to the lake, Mr Vigne and J began our day’s work. I gave Mohan horse to-day, and his rapture was shown in galloping about the marshy plain, and dashing into the canals, unmindful of several tumbles. Vigne stayed behind with his boat, while I crossed the lake in mine in six hours, and in a short time afterwards arrived in So poor. There I declined the Thanadar’s invitation to his Darbar and went on to Tuilibal. To this point both shores of the river were covered with muscles, which supply the natives with plenty of unwholesome food.
The Jelam flows rather more briskly on this side of the Wallar Lake. The sun had set sometime before we reached Béramulla. I chose my night’s abode in an open hall of the Dharamsala, seeing that the room in which my people had kindled a fire was enveloped in smoke. I was welcomed by the Thanadar of the place, a Brahmin from Delhi, and received letters from Dr Henderson, whose journey had prospered hitherto, and from Mehan Singh, who wrote to wish me a happy journey, and to express his hope that the arrangements for conveying my baggage and supplying my party with provisions, had given me satisfaction. This they had certainly done hitherto, but the Thanadar assured me now that it would be impossible for him to find the requisite number of bearers (coolies), and carriage (tattoos), by to-morrow morning. I was reluctantly compelled to wait, as the cold became daily more insupportable, and my people suffered much from sickness.
The open hall where I was lodged was spacious, adorned with marble pillars, and paved with squares of the same. True, I fancied more than once that I should have died of cold; but I must admit that I had-been most incautious with regard to my wardrobe and that I possessed neither cloak nor great coat. I drew and wrote until I was quite worn out, and lay benumbed with cold in my charpai. I would not positively affirm that I had not occasionally some dreamy idea how pleasant it might be to be spared ever again awaking to the sorrows. miseries, and labours of this nether world.
Navin Kumar Jaggi
Gurmeet Singh Jaggi