HIMALAYAN JOURNALS or NOTES OF A NATURALIST
IN BENGAL, THE SIKKIM AND NEPAL HIMALAYAS, THE KHASIA MOUNTAINS, etc.
JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER, M.D., R.N., F.R.S.
First published 1854
To CHARLES DARWIN, F.R.S., etc. These volumes are dedicated, by his affectionate friend, J.D. HOOKER Kew, Jan. 12th, 1854
Sunderbunds vegetation—Calcutta Botanic Garden—Leave for Burdwan—Rajah's gardens and menagerie—Coal-beds, geology, and plants of—Lac insect and plant—Camels—Kunker—Cowage— Effloresced soda on soil—Glass, manufacture of—Atmospheric vapours—Temperature, etc.—Mahowa oil and spirits—Maddaobund —Jains—Ascent of Paras-nath—Vegetation of that mountain.
Doomree—Vegetation of table-land—Lieutenant Beadle—Birds— Hot springs of Soorujkoond—Plants near them—Shells in them— Cholera-tree—Olibanum—Palms, form of—Dunwah pass—Trees, native and planted—Wild peacock—Poppy fields—Geography and geology of Behar and Central India—Toddy-palm—Ground, temperature of—Baroon—Temperature of plants—Lizard—Cross the Soane—Sand, ripple-marks on—Kymore hills—Ground, temperature of—Limestone—Rotas fort and palace—Nitrate of lime—Change of climate—Lime stalagmites, enclosing leaves— Fall of Soane—Spiders, etc.—Scenery and natural history of upper Soane valley—Hardwickia binata—Bhel fruit— Dust-storm—Alligator—Catechu—Cochlospermum— Leaf-bellows—Scorpions—Tortoises—Florican—Limestone spheres—Coles—Tiger-hunt—Robbery.
Ek-powa Ghat—Sandstones—Shahgunj—Table-land, elevation, etc. —Gum-arabic—Mango—Fair—Aquatic plants—Rujubbund— Storm—False sunset and sunrise—Bind hills—Mirzapore— Manufactures, imports, etc.—Climate—Thuggee—Chunar— Benares—Mosque—Observatory—Sar-nath—Ghazeepore— Rose-gardens—Manufactory of attar—Lord Cornwallis' tomb— Ganges, scenery and natural history of—Pelicans—Vegetation— Insects—Dinapore—Patna—Opium godowns and manufacture— Mudar, white and purple—Monghyr islets—Hot springs of Seetakoond—Alluvium of Ganges—Rocks of Sultun-gunj— Bhaugulpore—Temples of Mt. Manden—Coles and native tribes— Bhaugulpore rangers—Horticultural gardens.
Leave Bhaugulpore—Kunker—Colgong—Himalaya, distant view of —Cosi, mouth of—Difficult navigation—Sand-storms— Caragola-Ghat—Purnea—Ortolans—Mahanuddy, transport of pebbles, etc.—Betel-pepper, cultivation of—Titalya—Siligoree —View of outer Himalaya—Terai—Mechis—Punkabaree—Foot of mountains—Ascent to Dorjiling—Cicadas—Leeches—Animals— Kursiong, spring vegetation of—Pacheem—Arrive at Dorjiling— Dorjiling, origin and settlement of—Grant of land from Rajah— Dr. Campbell appointed superintendent—Dewan, late and present— Aggressive conduct of the latter—Increase of the station—Trade —Titalya fair—Healthy climate for Europeans and children— Invalids, diseases prejudicial to.
View from Mr. Hodgson's of range of snowy mountains—Their extent and elevation—Delusive appearance of elevation—Sinchul, view from and vegetation of—Chumulari—Magnolias, white and purple— Rhododendron Dalhousiae, arboreum and argentium—Natives of Dorjiling—Lepchas, origin, tradition of flood, morals, dress, arms, ornaments, diet—Cups, origin and value—Marriages— Diseases—Burial—Worship and religion—Bijooas—Kumpa Rong, or Arrat—Limboos, origin, habits, language, etc.—Moormis— Magras—Mechis—Comparison of customs with those of the natives of Assam, Khasia, etc.
Excursion from Dorjiling to Great Rungeet—Zones of vegetation— Tree-ferns—Palms, upper limit of—Leebong, tea plantations— Ging—Boodhist remains—Tropical vegetation—Pines—Lepcha clearances—Forest fires—Boodhist monuments—Fig— Cane-bridge and raft over Rungeet—Sago-palm—India-rubber—Yel Pote—Butterflies and other insects—Snakes—Camp— Temperature and humidity of atmosphere—Junction of Teesta and Rungeet—Return to Dorjiling—Tonglo, excursion to—Bamboo, flowering—Oaks—Gordonia—Maize, hermaphrodite flowered —Figs—Nettles—Peepsa—Simonbong, cultivation at—European fruits at Dorjiling-Plains of India.
Continue the ascent of Tonglo—Trees—Lepcha construction of hut —Simsibong—Climbing-trees—Frogs—Magnolias, etc.—Ticks —Leeches—Cattle, murrain amongst—Summit of Tonglo— Rhododendrons—Skimmia—Yew—Rose—Aconite—Bikh poison—English genera of plants—Ascent of tropical orders— Comparison with south temperate zone—Heavy rain—Temperature, etc.—Descent—Simonbong temple—Furniture therein— Praying-cylinder—Thigh-bone trumpet—Morning orisons—Present of Murwa beer, etc.
Difficulty in procuring leave to enter Sikkim—Obtain permission to travel in East Nepal—Arrangements—Coolies—Stores—Servants —Personal equipment—Mode of travelling—Leave Dorjiling— Goong ridge—Behaviour of Bhotan coolies—Nepal frontier—Myong valley—Ilam—Sikkim massacre—Cultivation—Nettles—Camp at Nanki on Tonglo—Bhotan coolies run away—View of Chumulari— Nepal peaks to west—Sakkiazong—Buceros—Road to Wallanchoon—Oaks—Scarcity of water—Singular view of mountain-valleys—Encampment—My tent and its furniture— Evening occupations—Dunkotah-Cross ridge of Sakkiazong—Yews— Silver-firs-View of Tambur valley—Pemmi river—Pebbly terraces —Geology—Holy springs—Enormous trees—Luculia gratissima—Khawa river, rocks of—Arrive at Tambur— Shingle and gravel terraces—Natives, indolence of—Canoe ferry —Votive offerings—Bad road—Temperature, etc.—Chingtam village, view from—Mywa river and Guola—House—Boulders— Chain-bridge—Meepo, arrival of—Fevers.
Leave Mywa—Suspension bridge—Landslips—Vegetation—Slope of river-bed—Bees' nests—Glacial phenomena—Tibetans, clothing, ornaments, amulets, salutation, children, dogs—Last Limboo village, Taptiatok—Beautiful scenery—Tibet village of Lelyp—Opuntia—Edgeworthia—Crab-apple—Chameleon and porcupine—Praying-machine—Abies Brunoniana—European plants—Grand scenery—Arrive at Wallanchoon—Scenery around— Trees—Tibet houses—Manis and Mendongs—Tibet household— Food—Tea-soup—Hospitality—Yaks and Zobo, uses and habits of —Bhoteeas—Yak-hair tents—Guobah of Walloong—Jatamansi— Obstacles to proceeding-Climate and weather—Proceed— Rhododendrons, etc.—Lichens—Poa annua and Shepherd's purse—Tibet camp—Tuquoroma—Scenery of pass—Glaciers and snow—Summit—Plants, woolly, etc.
Return from Wallanchoon pass—Procure a bazaar at village—Dance of Lamas—Blackening face, Tibetan custom of—Temple and convent —Leave for Kanglachem pass—Send part of party back to Dorjiling —Yangma Guola—Drunken Tibetans—Guobah of Wallanchoon—Camp at foot of Great Moraine—View from top—Geological speculations —Height of moraines—Cross dry lake-bed—Glaciers—More moraines—Terraces—Yangma temples—Jos, books and furniture— Peak of Nango—Lake—Arrive at village—Cultivation—Scenery —Potatos—State of my provisions—Pass through village— Gigantic boulders—Terraces—Wild sheep—Lake-beds—Sun's power—Piles of gravel and detritus—Glaciers and moraines— Pabuk, elevation of—Moonlight scene—Return to Yangma— Temperature, etc.—Geological causes of phenomena in valley— Scenery of valley on descent.
Ascend to Nango mountain—Moraines—Glaciers—Vegetation— Rhododendron Hodgsoni—Rocks—Honey-combed surface of snow —Perpetual snow—Top of pass—View—Elevation—Geology— Distance of sound—Plants—Temperature—Scenery—Cliffs of granite and hurled boulders—Camp—Descent—Pheasants—Larch —Himalayan pines—Distribution of Deodar, note on— Tassichooding temples—Kambachen village—Cultivation—Moraines in valley, distribution of—Picturesque lake-beds, and their vegetation—Tibetan sheep and goats—Cryptogramma crispa —Ascent to Choonjerma pass—View of Junnoo—Rocks of its summit —Misty ocean—Nepal peaks—Top of pass—Temperature, and observations—Gorgeous sunset—Descent to Yalloong valley— Loose path—Night scenes—Musk deer.
Yalloong valley—Find Kanglanamo pass closed—Change route for the southward—Picrorhiza—View of Kubra— Rhododendron Falconeri—Yalloong river—Junction of gneiss and clay-slate—Cross Yalloong range—Yiew—Descent—Yew— Vegetation—Misty weather—Tongdam village—Khabang—Tropical vegetation—Sidingbah mountain—View of Kinchinjunga— Yangyading village—Slopes of hills, and courses of rivers— Khabili valley—Ghorkha Havildar's bad conduct—Ascend Singalelah —Plague of ticks—Short commons—Cross Islumbo pass—Boundary of Sikkim—Kulhait valley—Lingcham—Reception by Kajee—Hear of Dr. Campbell's going to meet Rajah—Views in valley—Leave for Teesta river—Tipsy Kajee—Hospitality—Murwa beer—Temples —Acorus Calamus—Long Mendong—Burning of dead— Superstitions—Cross Great Rungeet—Boulders, origin of— Purchase of a dog—Marshes—Lamas—Dismiss Ghorkhas—Bhoteea house—Murwa beer.
Raklang pass—Uses of nettles—Edible plants—Lepcha war— Do-mani stone—Neongong—Teesta valley—Pony, saddle, etc.— Meet Campbell—Vegetation and scenery—Presents—Visit of Dewan —Characters of Rajah and Dewan—Accounts of Tibet—Lhassa— Siling—Tricks of Dewan—Walk up Teesta—Audience of Rajah— Lamas—Kajees—Tchebu Lama, his character and position—Effects of interview—Heir-apparent—Dewan's house—Guitar—Weather —Fall of river—Tibet officers—Gigantic trees—Neongong lake —Mainom, ascent of—Vegetation—Camp on snow—Silver-firs— View from top—Kinchin, etc.—Geology—Vapours—Sunset effect —Elevation—Temperature, etc.—Lamas of Neongong—Temples— Religious festival Bamboo, flowering—Recross pass of Raklang— Numerous temples, villages, etc.—Domestic animals—Descent to Great Rungeet.
Tassiding, view of and from—Funereal cypress—Camp at Sunnook— Hot vapours—Lama's house—Temples, decorations, altars, idols, general effect—Chaits—Date of erection—Plundered by Ghorkas —Cross Ratong—Ascend to Pemiongehi—Relation of river-beds to strike of rocks—Slopes of ravines—Pemiongehi, view of— Vegetation—Elevation—Temple, decorations, etc.—Former capital of Sikkim—History of Sikkim—Nightingales—Campbell departs—Tchonpong—Edgeworthia—Cross Rungbee and Ratong—Hoar-frost on plantains—Yoksun—Walnuts—View— Funereal cypresses—Doobdi—Gigantic cypresses—Temples— Snow-fall—Sikkim, etc.—Toys.
Leave Yoksun for Kinchinjunga—Ascend Ratong valley— Salt-smuggling over Ratong—Landslips—Plants—Buckeem— Blocks of gneiss—Mon Lepcha—View—Weather—View from Gubroo —Kinchinjunga, tops of—Pundimcliff—Nursing—Vegetation of Himalaya—Coup d'oeil of Jongri—Route to Yalloong—Arduous route of salt-traders from Tibet—Kinchin, ascent of—Lichens— Surfaces sculptured by snow and ice—Weather at Jongri—Snow— Shades for eyes.
Ratong river below Mon Lepcha—Ferns—Vegetation of Yoksun, tropical—Araliaceae, fodder for cattle—Rice-paper plant —Geology of Yoksun—Lake—Old temples—Funereal cypresses— Gigantic chart—Altars—Songboom—Weather—Catsuperri— Velocity of Ratong—Worship at Catsuperri lake—Scenery—Willow —Lamas and ecclesiastical establishments of Sikkim—Tengling— Changachelling temples and monks—Portrait of myself on walls— Block of mica-schist—Lingcham Kajee asks for spectacles— Hee-hill—Arrive at Little Rungeet—At Dorjiling—Its deserted and wintry appearance.
Dispatch collections—Acorns—Heat—Punkabaree—Bees— Vegetation—Haze—Titalya—Earthquake—Proceed to Nepal frontier—Terai, geology of—Physical features of Himalayan valleys—Elephants, purchase of, etc.—River-beds—Mechi river —Return to Titalya—Leave for Teesta—Climate of plains— Jeelpigoree—Cooches—Alteration in the appearance of country by fires, etc.—Grasses—Bamboos—Cottages—Rajah of Cooch Behar —Condition of people—Hooli festival—Ascend Teesta—Canoes —Cranes—Forest—Baikant-pore—Rummai—Religion—Plants at foot of mountains—Exit of Teesta—Canoe voyage down to Rangamally—English genera of plants—Birds—Beautiful scenery —Botanizing on elephants—Willow—Siligoree—Cross Terai— Geology—Iron—Lohar-ghur—Coal and sandstone beds—Mechi fisherman—Hailstorm—Ascent to Kursiong—To Dorjiling— Vegetation—Geology—Folded quartz-beds—Spheres of feldspar— Lime deposits.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Fig. I. The Dhak, iButea frondosa,/i and iCochlospermum gossypium,/i with the Kymore Hills in the background. p.53 Fig. II. View of Kinchinjunga from Mr. Hodgson's bungalow at Dorjiling, from a sketch by W. Tayler, Esq., B.C.S. Frontispiece. Fig. III. From Chingtam, looking up the Tambur Valley. p.196 Fig. IV. Nango mountain, from the summit of the great moraine in Yangma Valley, looking eastward. p.232 Fig. V. Junnoo mountain from the Choonjerma Pass. p.264
Fig. 1. Old tamarind trees. p.17 Fig. 2. Crossing the Soane River above Tura, with the Kymore Hills in the background. p.47 Fig. 3. Equatorial sun-dial, Benares Observatory. p.74 Fig. 4. Equinoctial sun-dial, Benares Observatory. p.75 Fig. 5. Azimuth circle, Benares Observatory. p.76 Fig. 6. Monghyr on the Ganges. p.88 Fig. 7. Punkabaree, Sikkim Terai, and Balasun River. The trees in the foreground are iAraliaceae./i p.105 Fig. 8. Lepcha girl and Boodhist priest. From a sketch by Miss Colvile. p.129 Fig. 9. iPinus longifolia,/i in the great Rungeet Valley. p.148 Fig. 10. Construction of a cane suspension-bridge. p.149 Fig. 11. Lepcha boy carrying a bamboo water-vessel. From a sketch by Miss Colvile. p.156 Fig. 12. Amulet usually worn by Lepchas. p.161 Fig. 13. Trunk-like root of iWightia gigantea,/i ascending a tree, which its stout rootlets clasp. p.164 Fig. 14. Interior of Boodhist temple at Simonbong. p.172 Fig. 15. Trumpet made of a human thigh-bone. p.173 Fig. 16. Tibetan amulet set with turquoises. p.176 Fig. 17. Head of Tibet Mastiff. From a sketch taken in the zoological gardens by C. Jenyns, Esq. p.203 Fig. 18. View on the Tambur River, with iAmbies brunoniana/i. p.207 Fig. 19. Wallanchoon village, East Nepal. p.210 Fig. 20. Head of a Tibetan demon. From a model in the possession of Captain H. Strachey. p.226 Fig. 21. Ancient moraines surrounding the lower lake-bed in the Yangma valley (looking west). p.234 Fig. 22. Second lake-bed in the Yangma valley, with Nango mountain, (looking east). p.237 Fig. 23. Diagram of the terraces and glacial boulders, etc., at the fork of the Yangma valley (looking north-west up the valley). The terraces are represented as much too level and angular, and the boulders too large, the woodcut being intended as a diagram rather than as a view. p.242 Fig. 24. View of the head of the Yangma valley, and ancient moraines of debris, which rise in confused hills several hundred feet above the floor of the valley below the Kanglachem pass (elevation 16,000 feet). p.245 Fig. 25. Skulls of iOvis ammon./i Sketched by J. E. Winterbottom, Esq. p.249 Fig. 26. Ancient moraines, in which small lake-beds occur, in the Kambachen valley (elevation 11,400 feet). p.260 Fig. 27. Brass box to contain amulets, from Tibet. p.270 Fig. 28. Pemiongchi goompa (or temple) with Chaits in the foreground. p.286 Fig. 29. Costumes of Sikkim lamas and monks, with the bell, mani, dorje, and trident. p.291 Fig. 30. The Do-mani stone, with gigantic Tibetan characters. p.294 Fig. 31. Implements of worship in the Sikkim temples. p.314 Fig. 32. Chaits at Tassiding, with decayed funereal cypresses. p.316 Fig. 33. Vestibule of temple at Tassiding. p.319 Fig. 34. Southern temple, at Tassiding. p.320 Fig. 35. Middle temple, at Tassiding, with mounted yaks. p.321 Fig. 36. Chair, altar, and images in the great temple at Tassiding. p.322 Fig. 37. Ground-plan of southern temple at Tassiding. p.323 Fig. 38. Interior of temple at Pemiongchi, the walls covered with allegorical paintings. p.329 Fig. 39. Doobdi temple, with young and old funereal cypress. p.337 Fig. 40. Summit of Kinchinjunga, with Pundim on the right; its black cliff traversed by white granite veins. p.347 Fig. 41. Image of Maitrya, the coming Boodh. p.357 Fig. 42. Stone altar, and erection for burning juniper ashes. p.361 Fig. 43. Facsimile of the vermilion seal of the Dhurma Rajah of Bhotan, head of the Dookpa sect of Boodhists. Opposite p.372 Fig. 44. A Mech, native of the Sikkim Terai. Sketched by Miss Colvile. p.406 Fig. 45. Mech pocket-comb (of wood). p.408
HAVING accompanied Sir James Boss on his voyage of discovery to the Antarctic regions, where botany was my chief pursuit, on my return I earnestly desired to add to my acquaintance with the natural history of the temperate zones, more knowledge of that of the tropics than I bad hitherto had the opportunity of acquiring. My choice lay between India and the Andes, and I decided upon the former, being principally influenced by Dr. Falconer, who promised me every assistance which his position as Superintendent of the H.E.I.C. Botanic Garden at Calcutta, would enable hum to give. He also drew my attention to the fact that we were ignorant even of the geography of the central and eastern parts of these mountains, while all to the north was involved in a mystery equally attractive to the traveller and the naturalist.
On hearing of the kind interest taken by Baron Humboldt in my proposed travels, and at the request of my father (Sir William Hooker), the Earl of Carlisle (then Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests) undertook to represent to Her Majesty's Government the expediency of securing my collections for the Royal Gardens at Kew; and owing to the generous exertions of that nobleman, and of the late Earl of Auckland (then First Lord of the Admiralty), my journey assumed the character of a Government mission, 400 per annum being granted by the Treasury for two years.
I did not contemplate proceeding beyond the Himalaya and Tibet, when Lord Auckland desired that I should afterwards visit Borneo, for the purpose of reporting on the capabilities of Labuan, with reference to the cultivation of cotton, tobacco, sugar, indigo, spices, guttapercha, etc. To this end a commission in the navy (to which service I was already attached) was given me, such instructions were drawn up as might facilitate my movements in the East, and a suitable sum of money was placed at my disposal.
Soon after leaving England, my plans became, from various causes, altered. The Earl of Auckland* [It is with a melancholy satisfaction that I here record the intentions of that enlightened nobleman. The idea of turning to public account what was intended as a scientific voyage, occurred to his lordship when considering my application for official leave to proceed to India; and from the hour of my accepting the Borneo commission with which he honoured me, he displayed the most active zeal in promoting its fulfilment. He communicated to me his views as to the direction in which I should pursue my researches, furnished me with official and other information, and provided me with introductions of the most essential use.] was dead; the interest in Borneo had in a great measure subsided; H.M.S. "Maeander," to which I had been attached for service in Labuan, had left the Archipelago; reports of the unhealthy nature of the coast had excited alarm; and the results of my researches in the Himalaya had proved of more interest and advantage than had been anticipated. It was hence thought expedient to cancel the Borneo appointment, and to prolong my services for a third year in India; for which purpose a grant of 300 (originally intended for defraying the expense of collecting only, in Borneo) was transferred as salary for the additional year to be spent in the Himalaya.
The portion of the Himalaya best worth exploring, was selected for me both by Lord Auckland and Dr. Falconer, who independently recommended Sikkim, as being ground untrodden by traveller or naturalist. Its ruler was, moreover, all but a dependant of the British government, and it was supposed, would therefore be glad to facilitate my researches.
No part of the snowy Himalaya eastward of the northwest extremity of the British possessions had been visited since Turner's embassy to Tibet in 1789; and hence it was highly important to explore scientifically a part of the chain which, from its central position, might be presumed to be typical of the whole range. The possibility of visiting Tibet, and of ascertaining particulars respecting the great mountain Chumulari,* [My earliest recollections in reading are of "Turner's Travels in Tibet," and of "Cook's Voyages." The account of Lama worship and of Chumulari in the one, and of Kerguelen's Land in the other, always took a strong hold on my fancy. It is, therefore, singular that Kerguelen's Land should have been the first strange country I ever visited (now fourteen years ago), and that in the first King's ship which has touched there since Cook's voyage, and whilst following the track of that illustrious navigator in south polar discovery. At a later period I have been nearly the first European who has approached Chumulari since Turner's embassy.] which was only known from Turner's account, were additional inducements to a student of physical geography; but it was not then known that Kinchinjunga, the loftiest known mountain on the globe, was situated on my route, and formed a principal feature in the physical geography of Sikkim.
My passage to Egypt was provided by the Admiralty in H.M. steam-vessel "Sidon," destined to convey the Marquis of Dalhousie, Governor-General of India, thus far on his way. On his arrival in Egypt, his Lordship did me the honour of desiring me to consider myself in the position of one of his suite, for the remainder of the voyage, which was performed in the "Moozuffer," a steam frigate belonging to the Indian Navy. My obligations to this nobleman had commenced before leaving England, by his promising me every facility he could command; and he thus took the earliest opportunity of affording it, by giving me such a position near himself as ensured me the best reception everywhere; no other introduction being needed. His Lordship procured my admission into Sikkim, and honoured me throughout my travels with the kindest encouragement.
During the passage out, some days were spent in Egypt, at Aden, Ceylon, and Madras. I have not thought it necessary to give here the observations made in those well-known countries; they are detailed in a series of letters published in the "London Journal of Botany," as written for my private friends. Arriving at Calcutta in January, I passed the remainder of the cold season in making myself acquainted with the vegetation of the plains and hills of Western Bengal, south of the Ganges, by a journey across the mountains of Birbhoom and Behar to the Soane valley, and thence over the Vindhya range to the Ganges, at Mirzapore, whence I descended that stream to Bhaugulpore; and leaving my boat, struck north to the Sikkim Himalaya. This excursion is detailed in the "London Journal of Botany," and the Asiatic Society of Bengal honoured me by printing the meteorological observations made during its progress.
During the two years' residence in Sikkim which succeeded, I was laid under obligations of no ordinary nature to Brian H. Hodgson, Esq., B.C.S., for many years Resident at the Nepal Court; whose guest I became for several months. Mr. Hodgson's high position as a man of science requires no mention here; but the difficulties he overcame, and the sacrifices he made, in attaining that position, are known to few. He entered the wilds of Nepal when very young, and in indifferent health; and finding time to spare, cast about for the best method of employing it: he had no one to recommend or direct a pursuit, no example to follow, no rival to equal or surpass; he had never been acquainted with a scientific man, and knew nothing of science except the name. The natural history of men and animals, in its most comprehensive sense, attracted his attention; he sent to Europe for books, and commenced the study of ethnology and zoology. His labours have now extended over upwards of twenty-five years' residence in the Himalaya. During this period he has seldom had a staff of less than from ten to twenty persons (often many more), of various tongues and races, employed as translators and collectors, artists, shooters, and stuffers. By unceasing exertions and a princely liberality, Mr. Hodgson has unveiled the mysteries of the Boodhist religion, chronicled the affinities, languages, customs, and faiths of the Himalayan tribes; and completed a natural history of the animals and birds of these regions. His collections of specimens are immense, and are illustrated by drawings and descriptions taken from life, with remarks on the anatomy,* [In this department he availed himself of the services of Dr. Campbell, who was also attached to the Residency at Nepal, as surgeon and assistant political agent.] habits, and localities of the animals themselves. Twenty volumes of the Journals, and the Museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, teem with the proofs of his indefatigable zeal; and throughout the cabinets of the bird and quadruped departments of our national museum, Mr. Hodgson's name stands pre-eminent. A seat in the Institute of France, and the cross of the Legion of Honour, prove the estimation in which his Boodhist studies are held on the continent of Europe. To be welcomed to the Himalaya by such a person, and to be allowed the most unreserved intercourse, and the advantage of all his information and library, exercised a material influence on the progress I made in my studies, and on my travels. When I add that many of the subjects treated of in these volumes were discussed between us, it will be evident that it is impossible for me to divest much of the information thus insensibly obtained, of the appearance of being the fruits of my own research.
Dr. Campbell, the Superintendent of Dorjiling, is likewise the Governor-General's agent, or medium of communication between the British Government and the Sikkim Rajah; and as such, invested with many discretionary powers. In the course of this narrative, I shall give a sketch of the rise, progress, and prospects of the Sanatarium, or Health-station of Dorjiling, and of the anomalous position held by the Sikkim Rajah. The latter circumstance led indirectly to the detention of Dr. Campbell (who joined me in one of my journeys) and myself, by a faction of the Sikkim court, for the purpose of obtaining from the Indian Government a more favourable treaty than that then existing. This mode of enforcing a request by idouce violencei and detention, is common with the turbulent tribes east of Nepal, but was in this instance aggravated by violence towards my fellow-prisoner, through the ill will of the persons who executed the orders of their superiors, and who had been punished by Dr. Campbell for crimes committed against both the British and Nepalese governments. The circumstances of this outrage were misunderstood at the time; its instigators were supposed to be Chinese; its perpetrators Tibetans; and we the offenders were assumed to have thrust ourselves into the country, without authority from our own government, and contrary to the will of the Sikkim Rajah; who was imagined to be a tributary of China, and protected by that nation, and to be under no obligation to the East Indian government.
With regard to the obligations I owe to Dr. Campbell, I confine myself to saying that his whole aim was to promote my comfort, and to secure my success, in all possible ways. Every object I had in view was as sedulously cared for by him as by myself: I am indebted to his influence with Jung Bahadoor* [It was in Nepal that Dr. Campbell gained the friendship of Jung Bahadoor, the most remarkable proof of which is the acceding to his request, and granting me leave to visit the eastern parts of his dominions; no European that I am aware of, having been allowed, either before or since, to travel anywhere except to and from the plains of India and valley of Katmandu, in which the capital city and British residency are situated.] for the permission to traverse his dominions, and to visit the Tibetan passes of Nepal. His prudence and patience in negotiating with the Sikkim court, enabled me to pursue my investigations in that country. My journal is largely indebted to his varied and extensive knowledge of the people and productions of these regions.
In all numerical calculations connected with my observations, I received most essential aid from John Muller, Esq., Accountant of the Calcutta Mint, and from his brother, Charles Muller, Esq., of Patna, both ardent amateurs in scientific pursuits, and who employed themselves in making meteorological observations at Dorjiling, where they were recruiting constitutions impaired by the performance of arduous duties in the climate of the plains. I cannot sufficiently thank these gentlemen for the handsome manner in which they volunteered me their assistance in these laborious operations. Mr. J. Muller resided at Dorjiling during eighteen months of my stay in Sikkim, over the whole of which period his generous zeal in my service never relaxed; he assisted me in the reduction of many hundreds of my observations for latitude, time, and elevation, besides adjusting and rating my instruments; and I can recall no more pleasant days than those thus spent with these hospitable friends.
Thanks to Dr. Falconer's indefatigable exertions, such of my collections as reached Calcutta were forwarded to England in excellent order; and they were temporarily deposited in Kew Gardens until their destination should be determined. On my return home, my scientific friends interested themselves in procuring from the Government such aid as might enable me to devote the necessary time to the arrangement, naming, and distributing of my collections, the publication of my manuscripts, etc. I am in this most deeply indebted to the disinterested and generous exertions of Mr. L. Horner, Sir Charles Lyell, Dr. Lindley, Professor E. Forbes, and many others; and most especially to the Presidents of the Royal Society (the Earl of Rosse), of the Linnean (Mr. R. Brown), and Geological (Mr. Hopkins), who in their official capacities memorialized in person the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests on this subject; Sir William Hooker at the same time bringing it under the notice of the First Lord of the Treasury. The result was a grant of 400 annually for three years.
Dr. T. Thomson joined me in Dorjiling in the end of 1849, after the completion of his arduous journeys in the North-West Himalaya and Tibet, and we spent the year 1850 in travelling and collecting, returning to England together in 1851. Having obtained permission from the Indian Government to distribute his botanical collections, which equal my own in extent and value, we were advised by all our botanical friends to incorporate, and thus to distribute them. The whole constitute an Herbarium of from 6000 to 7000 species of Indian plants, including an immense number of duplicates; and it is now in process of being arranged and named, by Dr. Thomson and myself, preparatory to its distribution amongst sixty of the principal public and private herbaria in Europe, India, and the United States of America.
For the information of future travellers, I may state that the total expense of my Indian journey, including outfit, three years and a half travelling, and the sending of my collections to Calcutta, was under 2000 (of which 1200 were defrayed by government), but would have come to much more, had I not enjoyed the great advantages I have detailed. This sum does not include the purchase of books and instruments, with which I supplied myself, and which cost about 200, nor the freight of the collections to England, which was paid by Government. Owing to the kind services of Mr. J. C. Melvill, Secretary of the India House, many small parcels of seeds, etc., were conveyed to England, free of cost; and I have to record my great obligations and sincere thanks to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, for conveying, without charge, all small parcels of books, instruments and specimens, addressed to or by myself.
It remains to say something of the illustrations of this work. The maps are from surveys of my own, made chiefly with my own instruments, but partly with some valuable ones for the use of which I am indebted to my friend Captain H. Thuillier, Deputy Surveyor-General of India, who placed at my disposal the resources of the magnificent establishment under his control, and to whose innumerable good offices I am very greatly beholden.
The landscapes, etc. have been prepared chiefly from my own drawings, and will, I hope, be found to be tolerably faithful representations of the scenes. I have always endeavoured to overcome that tendency to exaggerate heights, and increase the angle of slopes, which is I believe the besetting sin, not of amateurs only, but of our most accomplished artists. As, however, I did not use instruments in projecting the outlines, I do not pretend to have wholly avoided this snare; nor, I regret to say; has the lithographer, in all cases, been content to abide by his copy. My drawings will be considered tame compared with most mountain landscapes, though the subjects comprise some of the grandest scenes in nature. Considering how conventional the treatment of such subjects is, and how unanimous artists seem to be as to the propriety of exaggerating those features which should predominate in the landscape, it may fairly be doubted whether the total effect of steepness and elevation, especially in a mountain view, can, on a small scale, be conveyed by a strict adherence to truth. I need hardly add, that if such is attainable, it is only by those who have a power of colouring that few pretend to. In the list of plates and woodcuts I have mentioned the obligations I am under to several friends for the use of drawings, etc.
With regard to the spelling of native names, after much anxious discussion I have adopted that which assimilates most to the English pronunciation. For great assistance in this, for a careful revision of the sheets as they passed through the press, and for numerous valuable suggestions throughout, I am indebted to my fellow-traveller, Dr. Thomas Thomson.
Sunderbunds vegetation—Calcutta Botanic Garden—Leave for Burdwan—Rajah's gardens and menagerie—Coal-beds, geology, and plants of—Lac insect and plant—Camels—Kunker—Cowage— Effloresced soda on soil—Glass, manufacture of—Atmospheric vapours—Temperature, etc.—Mahowa oil and spirits—Maddaobund —Jains—Ascent of Paras-nath—Vegetation of that mountain.
I left England on the 11th of November, 1847, and performed the voyage to India under circumstances which have been detailed in the Introduction. On the 12th of January, 1848, the "Moozuffer" was steaming amongst the low swampy islands of the Sunderbunds. These exhibit no tropical luxuriance, and are, in this respect, exceedingly disappointing. A low vegetation covers them, chiefly made up of a dwarf- palm (Phoenix paludosa) and small mangroves, with a few scattered trees on the higher bank that runs along the water's edge, consisting of fan-palm, toddy-palm, and Terminalia. Every now and then, the paddles of the steamer tossed up the large fruits of Nipa fruticans, a low stemless palm that grows in the tidal waters of the Indian ocean, and bears a large head of nuts. It is a plant of no interest to the common observer, but of much to the geologist, from the nuts of a similar plant abounding in the tertiary formations at the mouth of the Thames, and having floated about there in as great profusion as here, till buried deep in the silt and mud that now forms the island of Sheppey.* [Bowerbank "On the Fossil Fruits and Seeds of the Isle of Sheppey," and Lyell's "Elements of Geology," 3rd ed. p. 201.]
Higher up, the river Hoogly is entered, and large trees, with villages and cultivation, replace the sandy spits and marshy jungles of the great Gangetic delta. A few miles below Calcutta, the scenery becomes beautiful, beginning with the Botanic Garden, once the residence of Roxburgh and Wallich, and now of Falconer,—classical ground to the naturalist. Opposite are the gardens of Sir Lawrence Peel; unrivalled in India for their beauty and cultivation, and fairly entitled to be called the Chatsworth of Bengal. A little higher up, Calcutta opened out, with the batteries of Fort William in the foreground, thundering forth a salute, and in a few minutes more all other thoughts were absorbed in watching the splendour of the arrangements made for the reception of the Governor-General of India.
During my short stay in Calcutta, I was principally occupied in preparing for an excursion with Mr. Williams of the Geological Survey, who was about to move his camp from the Damooda valley coal-fields, near Burdwan, to Beejaghur on the banks of the Soane, where coal was reported to exist, in the immediate vicinity of water-carriage, the great desideratum of the Burdwan fields.
My time was spent partly at Government-House, and partly at Sir Lawrence Peel's residence. The former I was kindly invited to consider as my Indian home, an honour which I appreciate the more highly, as the invitation was accompanied with the assurance that I should have entire freedom to follow my own pursuits; and the advantages which such a position afforded me, were, I need not say, of no ordinary kind.
At the Botanic Gardens I received every assistance from Dr. McLelland,* [Dr. Falconer's locum tenens, then in temporary charge of the establishment.] who was very busy, superintending the publication of the botanical papers and drawings of his friend, the late Dr. Griffith, for which native artists were preparing copies on lithographic paper.
Of the Gardens themselves it is exceedingly difficult to speak; the changes had been so very great, and from a state with which I had no acquaintance. There had been a great want of judgment in the alterations made since Dr. Wallich's time, when they were celebrated as the most beautiful gardens in the east, and were the great object of attraction to strangers and townspeople. I found instead an unsightly wilderness, without shade (the first requirement of every tropical garden) or other beauties than some isolated grand trees, which had survived the indiscriminate destruction of the useful and ornamental which had attended the well-meant but ill-judged attempt to render a garden a botanical class-book. It is impossible to praise too highly Dr. Griffith's abilities and acquirements as a botanist, his perseverance and success as a traveller, or his matchless industry in the field and in the closet; and it is not wonderful, that, with so many and varied talents, he should have wanted the eye of a landscape-gardener, or the education of a horticulturist. I should, however, be wanting in my duty to his predecessor, and to his no less illustrious successor, were these remarks withheld, proceeding, as they do, from an unbiassed observer, who had the honour of standing in an equally friendly relation to all parties. Before leaving India, I saw great improvements, but many years must elapse before the gardens can resume their once proud pre-eminence.
I was surprised to find the Botanical Gardens looked upon by many of the Indian public, and even by some of the better informed official men, as rather an extravagant establishment, more ornamental than useful. These persons seemed astonished to learn that its name was renowned throughout Europe, and that during the first twenty years especially of Dr. Wallich's superintendence, it had contributed more useful and ornamental tropical plants to the public and private gardens of the world than any other establishment before or since.* [As an illustration of this, I may refer to a Report presented to the government of Bengal, from which it appears that between January, 1836, and December, 1840, 189,932 plants were distributed gratis to nearly 2000 different gardens.] I speak from a personal knowledge of the contents of our English gardens, and our colonial ones at the Cape, and in Australia, and from an inspection of the ponderous volumes of distribution lists, to which Dr. Falconer is daily adding. The botanical public of Europe and India is no less indebted than the horticultural to the liberality of the Hon. East India Company, and to the energy of the several eminent men who have carried their views into execution.* [I here allude to the great Indian herbarium, chiefly formed by the staff of the Botanic Gardens under the direction of Dr. Wallich, and distributed in 1829 to the principal museums of Europe. This is the most valuable contribution of the kind ever made to science, and it is a lasting memorial: of the princely liberality of the enlightened men who ruled the counsels of India in those days. No botanical work of importance has been published since 1829, without recording its sense of the obligation, and I was once commissioned by a foreign government, to purchase for its national museum, at whatever cost, one set of these collections, which was brought to the hammer on the death of its possessor. I have heard it remarked that the expense attending the distribution was enormous, and I have reason to know that this erroneous impression has had an unfavourable influence upon the destination of scarcely less valuable collections, which have for years been lying untouched in the cellars of the India House. I may add that officers who have exposed their lives and impaired their health in forming similar ones at the orders and expense of the Indian government, are at home, and thrown upon their own resources, or the assistance of their scientific brethren, for the means of publishing and distributing the fruits of their labours.] The Indian government, itself, has already profited largely by these gardens, directly and indirectly, and might have done so still more, had its efforts been better seconded either by the European or native population of the country. Amongst its greatest triumphs may be considered the introduction of the tea-plant from China, a fact I allude to, as many of my English readers may not be aware that the establishment of the tea-trade in the Himalaya and Assam is almost entirely the work of the superintendents of the gardens of Calcutta and Seharunpore.
From no one did I receive more kindness than from Sir James Colvile, President of the Asiatic Society, who not only took care that I should be provided with every comfort, but presented me with a completely equipped palkee, which, for strength and excellence of construction, was everything that a traveller could desire. Often en route did I mentally thank him when I saw other palkees breaking down, and travellers bewailing the loss of those forgotten necessaries, with which his kind attention had furnished me.
I left Calcutta to join Mr. Williams' camp on the 28th of January, driving to Hoogly on the river of that name, and thence following the grand trunk-road westward towards Burdwan. The novelty of palkee-travelling at first renders it pleasant; the neatness with which every thing is packed, the good-humour of the bearers, their merry pace, and the many more comforts enjoyed than could be expected in a conveyance horsed by men, the warmth when the sliding doors are shut, and the breeze when they are open, are all fully appreciated on first starting, but soon the novelty wears off, and the discomforts are so numerous, that it is pronounced, at best, a barbarous conveyance. The greedy cry and gestures of the bearers, when, on changing, they break a fitful sleep by poking a torch in your face, and vociferating "Bucksheesh, Sahib;" their discontent at the most liberal largesse, and the sluggishness of the next set who want bribes, put the traveller out of patience with the natives. The dust when the slides are open, and the stifling heat when shut during a shower, are conclusive against the vehicle, and on getting out with aching bones and giddy head at the journey's end, I shook the dust from my person, and wished never to see a palkee again.
On the following morning I was passing through the straggling villages close to Burdwan, consisting of native hovels by the road side, with mangos and figs planted near them, and palms waving over their roofs. Crossing the nearly dry bed of the Damooda, I was set down at Mr. M'Intosh's (the magistrate of the district), and never more thoroughly enjoyed a hearty welcome and a breakfast.
In the evening we visited the Rajah of Burdwan's palace and pleasure-grounds, where I had the first glimpse of oriental gardening: the roads were generally raised, running through rice fields, now dry and hard, and bordered with trees of Jack, Bamboo, Melia, Casuarina, etc. Tanks were the prominent features: chains of them, full of Indian water-lilies, being fringed with rows of the fan-palm, and occasionally the Indian date. Close to the house was a rather good menagerie, where I saw, amongst other animals, a pair of kangaroos in high health and condition, the female with young in her pouch. Before dark I was again in my palkee, and hurrying onwards. The night was cool and clear, very different from the damp and foggy atmosphere I had left at Calcutta. On the following morning I was travelling over a flat and apparently rising country, along an excellent road, with groves of bamboos and stunted trees on either hand, few villages or palms, a sterile soil, with stunted grass and but little cultivation; altogether a country as unlike what I had expected to find in India as well might be. All around was a dead flat or table-land, out of which a few conical hills rose in the west, about 1000 feet high, covered with a low forest of dusky green or yellow, from the prevalence of bamboo. The lark was singing merrily at sunrise, and the accessories of a fresh air and dewy grass more reminded me of some moorland in the north of England than of the torrid regions of the east.
At 10 p.m. I arrived at Mr. Williams' camp, at Taldangah, a dawk station near the western limit of the coal basin of the Damooda valley. His operations being finished, he was prepared to start, having kindly waited a couple of days for my arrival.
Early on the morning of the last day of January, a motley group of natives were busy striking the tents, and loading the bullocks, bullock-carts and elephants: these proceeded on the march, occupying in straggling groups nearly three miles of road, whilst we remained to breakfast with Mr. F. Watkins, Superintendent of the East India Coal and Coke Company, who were working the seams.
The coal crops out at the surface; but the shafts worked are sunk through thick beds of alluvium. The age of these coal-fields is quite unknown, and I regret to say that my examination of their fossil plants throws no material light on the subject. Upwards of thirty species of fossil plants have been procured from them, and of these the majority are referred by Dr. McLelland* [Reports of the Geological Survey of India. Calcutta, 1850.] to the inferior oolite epoch of England, from the prevalence of species of Zamia, Glossopteris, and Taeniopteris. Some of these genera, together with Vertebraria (a very remarkable Indian fossil), are also recognised in the coal-fields of Sind and of Australia. I cannot, however, think that botanical evidence of such a nature is sufficient to warrant a satisfactory reference of these Indian coal-fields to the same epoch as those of England or of Australia; in the first place the outlines of the fronds of ferns and their nervation are frail characters if employed alone for the determination of existing genera, and much more so of fossil fragments: in the second place recent ferns are so widely distributed, that an inspection of the majority affords little clue to the region or locality they come from: and in the third place, considering the wide difference in latitude and longitude of Yorkshire, India, and Australia, the natural conclusion is that they could not have supported a similar vegetation at the same epoch. In fact, finding similar fossil plants at places widely different in latitude, and hence in climate, is, in the present state of our knowledge, rather an argument against than for their having existed cotemporaneously. The Cycadeae, especially, whose fossil remains afford so much ground for geological speculations, are far from yielding such precise data as is supposed. Species of the order are found in Mexico, South Africa, Australia, and India, some inhabiting the hottest and dampest, and others the driest climates on the surface of the globe; and it appears to me rash to argue much from the presence of the order in the coal of Yorkshire and India, when we reflect that the geologist of some future epoch may find as good reasons for referring the present Cape, Australian, or Mexican Flora to the same period as that of the Lias and Oolites, when the Cycadeae now living in the former countries shall be fossilised.
Specific identity of their contained fossils may be considered as fair evidence of the cotemporaneous origin of beds, but amongst the many collections of fossil plants that I have examined, there is hardly a specimen, belonging to any epoch, sufficiently perfect to warrant the assumption that the species to which it belonged can be again recognised. The botanical evidences which geologists too often accept as proofs of specific identity are such as no botanist would attach any importance to in the investigation of existing plants. The faintest traces assumed to be of vegetable origin are habitually made into genera and species by naturalists ignorant of the structure, affinities and distribution of living plants, and of such materials the bulk of so-called systems of fossil plants is composed.
A number of women were here employed in making gunpowder, grinding the usual materials on a stone, with the addition of water from the Hookah; a custom for which they have an obstinate prejudice. The charcoal here used is made from an Acacia: the Seiks, I believe, employ Justicia Adhatoda, which is also in use all over India: at Aden the Arabs prefer the Calotropis, probably because it is most easily procured. The grain of all these plants is open, whereas in England, closer-grained and more woody trees, especially willows, are preferred.
The jungle I found to consist chiefly of thorny bushes, Jujube of two species, an Acacia and Butea frondosa, the twigs of the latter often covered with lurid red tears of Lac, which is here collected in abundance. As it occurs on the plants and is collected by the natives it is called Stick-lac, but after preparation Shell-lac. In Mirzapore, a species of Celtis yields it, and the Peepul very commonly in various parts of India. The elaboration of this dye, whether by the same species of insect, or by many from plants so widely different in habit and characters, is a very curious fact; since none have red juice, but some have milky and others limpid.
After breakfast, Mr. Williams and I started on an elephant, following the camp to Gyra, twelve miles distant. The docility of these animals is an old story, but it loses so much in the telling, that their gentleness, obedience, and sagacity seemed as strange to me as if I had never heard or read of these attributes. The swinging motion, under a hot sun, is very oppressive, but compensated for by being so high above the dust. The Mahout, or driver, guides by poking his great toes under either ear, enforcing obedience with an iron goad, with which he hammers the animal's head with quite as much force as would break a cocoa-nut, or drives it through his thick skin down to the quick. A most disagreeable sight it is, to see the blood and yellow fat oozing out in the broiling sun from these great punctures! Our elephant was an excellent one, when he did not take obstinate fits, and so docile as to pick up pieces of stone when desired, and with a jerk of the trunk throw them over his head for the rider to catch, thus saving the trouble of dismounting to geologise!
Of sights on the road, unfrequented though this noble line is, there were plenty for a stranger; chiefly pilgrims to Juggernath, most on foot, and a few in carts or pony gigs of rude construction. The vehicles from the upper country are distinguished by a far superior build, their horses are caparisoned with jingling bells, and the wheels and other parts are bound with brass. The kindness of the people towards animals, and in some cases towards their suffering relations, is very remarkable, and may in part have given origin to the prevalent idea that they are less cruel and stern than the majority of mankind; but that the "mild" Hindoo, however gentle on occasion, is cruel and vindictive to his brother man and to animals, when his indolent temper is roused or his avarice stimulated, no one can doubt who reads the accounts of Thuggee, Dacoitee, and poisoning, and witnesses the cruelty with which beasts of burthen are treated. A child carrying a bird, kid, or lamb, is not an uncommon sight, and a woman with a dog in her arms is still more frequently seen. Occasionally too, a group will bear an old man to see Juggernath before he dies, or a poor creature with elephantiasis, who hopes to be allowed to hurry himself to his paradise, in preference to lingering in helpless inactivity, and at last crawling up to the second heaven only. The costumes are as various as the religious castes, and the many countries to which the travellers belong. Next in wealth to the merchants, the most thriving-looking wanderer is the bearer of Ganges' holy water, who drives a profitable trade, his gains increasing as his load lightens, for the further he wanders from the sacred stream, the more he gets for the contents of his jar.
Of merchandise we passed very little, the Ganges being still the high road between north-west India and Bengal. Occasionally a string of camels was seen, but, owing to the damp climate, these are rare, and unknown east of the meridian of Calcutta. A little cotton, clumsily packed in ragged bags, dirty, and deteriorating every day, even at this dry season, proves in how bad a state it must arrive at the market during the rains, when the low wagons are dragged through the streams.
The roads here are all mended with a curious stone, called Kunker, which is a nodular concretionary deposit of limestone, abundantly imbedded in the alluvial soil of a great part of India.* [Often occurring in strata, like flints.] It resembles a coarse gravel, each pebble being often as large as a walnut, and tuberculated on the surface: it binds admirably, and forms excellent roads, but pulverises into a most disagreeable impalpable dust.
A few miles beyond Taldangah we passed from the sandstone, in which the coal lies, to a very barren country of gneiss and granite rocks, upon which the former rests; the country still rising, more hills appear, and towering far above all is Paras-nath, the culminant point, and a mountain whose botany I was most anxious to explore.
The vegetation of this part of the country is very poor, no good-sized trees are to be seen, all is a low stunted jungle. The grasses were few, and dried up, except in the beds of the rivulets. On the low jungly hills the same plants appear, with a few figs, bamboo in great abundance, several handsome Acanthaceae; a few Asclepiadeae climbing up the bushes; and the Cowage plant, now with over-ripe pods, by shaking which, in passing, there often falls such a shower of its irritating microscopic hairs, as to make the skin tingle for an hour.
On the 1st of February, we moved on to Gyra, another insignificant village. The air was cool, and the atmosphere clear. The temperature, at three in the morning, was 65 degrees, with no dew, the grass only 61 degrees. As the sun rose, Parasnath appeared against the clear grey sky, in the form of a beautiful broad cone, with a rugged peak, of a deeper grey than the sky. It is a remarkably handsome mountain, sufficiently lofty to be imposing, rising out of an elevated country, the slope of which, upward to the base of the mountain, though imperceptible, is really considerable; and it is surrounded by lesser hills of just sufficient elevation to set it off. The atmosphere, too, of these regions is peculiarly favourable for views: it is very dry at this season; but still the hills are clearly defined, without the harsh outlines so characteristic of a moist air. The skies are bright, the sun powerful; and there is an almost imperceptible haze that seems to soften the landscape, and keep every object in true perspective.
Our route led towards the picturesque hills and values in front. The rocks were all hornblende and micaceous schist, cut through by trap-dykes, while great crumbling masses (or bosses) of quartz protruded through the soil. The stratified rocks were often exposed, pitched up at various inclinations: they were frequently white with effloresced salts, which entering largely into the composition tended to hasten their decomposition, and being obnoxious to vegetation, rendered the sterile soil more hungry still. There was little cultivation, and that little of the most wretched kind; even rice-fields were few and scattered; there was no corn, or gram (Ervum Lens), no Castor-oil, no Poppy, Cotton, Safflower, or other crops of the richer soils that flank the Ganges and Hoogly; a very little Sugar-cane, Dhal (Cajana), Mustard, Linseed, and Rape, the latter three cultivated for their oil. Hardly a Palm was to be seen; and it was seldom that the cottages could boast of a Banana, Tamarind, Orange, Cocoa-nut or Date. The Mahowa (Bassia latifolia) and Mango were the commonest trees. There being no Kunker in the soil here, the roads were mended with angular quartz, much to the elephants' annoyance.
We dismounted where some very micaceous stratified rock cropped out, powdered with a saline efflorescence.* [An impure carbonate of soda. This earth is thrown into clay vessels with water, which after dissolving the soda, is allowed to evaporate, when the remainder is collected, and found to contain so much silica, as to be capable of being fused into glass. Dr. Boyle mentions this curious fact (Essay on the Arts and Manufactures of India, read before the Society of Arts, February 18, 1852), in illustration of the probably early epoch at which the natives of British India were acquainted with the art of making glass. More complicated processes are employed, and have been from a very early period, in other parts of the continent.] Jujubes (Zizyphus) prevailed, with the Carissa carandas (in fruit), a shrub belonging to the usually poisonous family of Dog-banes (Apocyneae); its berries make good tarts, and the plant itself forms tolerable hedges.
The country around Fitcoree is rather pretty, the hills covered with bamboo and brushwood, and as usual, rising rather suddenly from the elevated plains. The jungle affords shelter to a few bears and tigers, jackals in abundance, and occasionally foxes; the birds seen are chiefly pigeons. Insects are very scarce; those of the locust tribe being most prevalent, indicative of a dry climate.
The temperature at 3 a.m. was 65 degrees; at 3 p.m. 82 degrees; and at 10 p.m., 68 degrees, from which there was no great variation during the whole time we spent at these elevations. The clouds were rare, and always light and high, except a little fleecy spot of vapour condensed close to the summit of Paras-nath. Though the nights were clear and starlight, no dew was deposited, owing to the great dryness of the air. On one occasion, this drought was so great during the passage of a hot wind, that at night I observed the wet-bulb thermometer to stand 20.5 degrees below the temperature of the air, which was 66 degrees; this indicated a dew-point of 11.5 degrees, or 54.5 degrees below the air, and a saturation-point of 0.146; there being only 0.102 grains of vapour per cubic foot of air, which latter was loaded with dust. The little moisture suspended in the atmosphere is often seen to be condensed in a thin belt of vapour, at a considerable distance above the dry surface of the earth, thus intercepting the radiation of heat from the latter to the clear sky above. Such strata may be observed, crossing the hills in ribbonlike masses, though not so clearly on this elevated region as on the plains bounding the lower course of the Soane, where the vapour is more dense, the hills more scattered, and the whole atmosphere more humid. During the ten days I spent amongst the hills I saw but one cloudy sunrise, whereas below, whether at Calcutta, or on the banks of the Soane, the sun always rose behind a dense fog-bank.
At 9.30 a.m. the black-bulb thermometer rose in the sun to 130 degrees. The morning observation before 10 or 11 a.m. always gives a higher result than at noon, though the sun's declination is so considerably less, and in the hottest part of the day it is lower still (3.30 p.m. 109 degrees), an effect no doubt due to the vapours raised by the sun, and which equally interfere with the photometer observations. The N.W. winds invariably rise at about 9 a.m. and blow with increasing strength till sunset; they are due to the rarefaction of the air over the heated ground, and being loaded with dust, the temperature of the atmosphere is hence raised by the heated particles. The increased temperature of the afternoon is therefore not so much due to the accumulation of caloric from the sun's rays, as to the passage of a heated current of air derived from the much hotter regions to the westward. It would be interesting to know how far this N.W. diurnal tide extends; also the rate at which it gathers moisture in its progress over the damp regions of the Sunderbunds. Its excessive dryness in N.W. India approaches that of the African and Australian deserts; and I shall give an abstract of my own observations, both in the vallies of the Soane and Ganges, and on the elevated plateaus of Behar and of Mirzapore.* [See Appendix A.]
On the 2nd of February we proceeded to Tofe-Choney, the hills increasing in height to nearly 1000 feet, and the country becoming more picturesque. We passed some tanks covered with Villarsia, and frequented by flocks of white egrets. The existence of artificial tanks so near a lofty mountain, from whose sides innumerable water-courses descend, indicates the great natural dryness of the country during one season of the year. The hills and vallies were richer than I expected, though far from luxuriant. A fine Nauclea is a common shady tree, and Bignonia indica, now leafless, but with immense pods hanging from the branches. Acanthaceae is the prevalent natural order, consisting of gay-flowered Eranthemums, Ruellias, Barlerias, and such hothouse favourites.* [Other plants gathered here, and very typical of the Flora of this dry region, were Linum trigynum, Feronia elephantum, Aegle marmelos, Helicteres Asoca, Abrus precatorius, Flemingia; various Desmodia, Rhynchosiae, Glycine, and Grislea tomentosa very abundant, Conocarpus latifoliusa, Loranthus longiflorus, and another species; Phyllanthus Emblica, various Convolvuli, Cuscuta, and several herbaceous Compositae.]
This being the most convenient station whence to ascend Paras-nath, we started at 6 a.m. for the village of Maddaobund, at the north base of the mountain, or opposite side from that on which the grand trunk-road runs. After following the latter for a few miles to the west, we took a path through beautifully wooded plains, with scattered trees of the Mahowa (Bassia latifolia), resembling good oaks: the natives distil a kind of arrack from its fleshy flowers, which are also eaten raw. The seeds, too, yield a concrete oil, by expression, which is used for lamps and occasionally for frying.
Some villages at the west base of the mountain occupy a better soil, and are surrounded with richer cultivation; palms, mangos, and the tamarind, the first and last rare features in this part of Bengal, appeared to be common, with fields of rice and broad acres of flax and rape, through the latter of which the blue Orobanche indica swarmed. The short route to Maddaobund, through narrow rocky vallies, was impracticable for the elephants, and we had to make a very considerable detour, only reaching that village at 2 p.m. All the hill people we observed were a fine-looking athletic race; they disclaimed the tiger being a neighbour, which every palkee-bearer along the road declares to carry off the torch-bearers, torch and all. Bears they said were scarce, and all other wild animals, but a natural jealousy of Europeans often leads the natives to deny the existence of what they know to be an attraction to the proverbially sporting Englishman.
Illustration-OLD TAMARIND TREES.
The site of Maddaobund, elevated 1230 feet, in a clearance of the forest, and the appearance of the snow-white domes and bannerets of its temples through the fine trees by which it is surrounded, are very beautiful. Though several hundred feet above any point we had hitherto reached, the situation is so sheltered that the tamarind, peepul, and banyan trees are superb. A fine specimen of the latter stands at the entrance to the village, not a broadheaded tree, as is usual in the prime of its existence, but a mass of trunks irregularly throwing out immense branches in a most picturesque manner; the original trunk is apparently gone, and the principal mass of root stems is fenced in. This, with two magnificent tamarinds, forms a grand clump. The ascent of the mountain is immediately from the village up a pathway worn by the feet of many a pilgrim from the most remote parts of India.
Paras-nath is a mountain of peculiar sanctity, to which circumstance is to be attributed the flourishing state of Maddaobund. The name is that of the twenty-third incarnation of Jinna (Sanscrit "Conqueror"), who was born at Benares, lived one hundred years, and was buried on this mountain, which is the eastern metropolis of Jain worship, as Mount Aboo is the western (where are their libraries and most splendid temples). The origin of the Jain sect is obscure, though its rise appears to correspond with the wreck of Boodhism throughout India in the eleventh century. The Jains form in some sort a transition-sect between Boodhists and Hindoos, differing from the former in acknowledging castes, and from both in their worship of Paras-nath's foot, instead of that of Munja-gosha of the Boodhs, or Vishnoo's of the Hindoos. As a sect of Boodhists their religion is considered pure, and free from the obscenities so conspicuous in Hindoo worship; whilst, in fact, perhaps the reverse is the case; but the symbols are fewer, and indeed almost confined to the feet of Paras-nath, and the priests jealously conceal their esoteric doctrines.
The temples, though small, are well built, and carefully kept. No persuasion could induce the Brahmins to allow us to proceed beyond the vestibule without taking off our shoes, to which we were not inclined to consent. The bazaar was for so small a village large, and crowded to excess with natives of all castes, colours, and provinces of India, very many from the extreme W. and N.W., Rajpootana, the Madras Presidency, and Central India. Numbers had come in good cars, well attended, and appeared men of wealth and consequence; while the quantities of conveyances of all sorts standing about, rather reminded me of an election, than of anything I had seen in India.
The natives of the place were a more Negro-looking race than the Bengalees to whom I had previously been accustomed; and the curiosity and astonishment they displayed at seeing (probably many of them for the first time) a party of Englishmen, were sufficiently amusing. Our coolies with provisions not having come up, and it being two o'clock in the afternoon, I having had no breakfast, and being ignorant of the exclusively Jain population of the village, sent my servant to the bazaar, for some fowls and eggs; but he was mobbed for asking for these articles, and parched rice, beaten flat, with some coarse sugar, was all I could obtain; together with sweetmeats so odiously flavoured with various herbs, and sullied with such impurities, that we quickly made them over to the elephants.
Not being able to ascend the mountain and return in one day, Mr. Williams and his party went back to the road, leaving Mr. Haddon and myself, who took up our quarters under a tamarind-tree.
In the evening a very gaudy poojah was performed. The car, filled with idols, was covered with gilding and silk, and drawn by noble bulls, festooned and garlanded. A procession was formed in front; and it opened into an avenue, up and down which gaily dressed dancing-boys paced or danced, shaking castanets, the attendant worshippers singing in discordant voices, beating tom-toms, cymbals, etc. Images (of Boodh apparently) abounded on the car, in front of which a child was placed. The throng of natives was very great and perfectly orderly, indeed, sufficiently apathetic: they were remarkably civil in explaining what they understood of their own worship.
At 2 p.m., the thermometer was only 65 degrees, though the day was fine, a strong haze obstructing the sun's rays; at 6 p.m., 58 degrees; at 9 p.m., 56 degrees, and the grass cooled to 49 degrees. Still there was no dew, though the night was starlight.
Having provided doolies, or little bamboo chairs slung on four men's shoulders, in which I put my papers and boxes, we next morning commenced the ascent; at first through woods of the common trees, with large clumps of bamboo, over slaty rocks of gneiss, much inclined and sloping away from the mountain. The view from a ridge 500 feet high was superb, of the village, and its white domes half buried in the forest below, the latter of which continued in sight for many miles to the northward. Descending to a valley some ferns were met with, and a more luxuriant vegetation, especially of Urticeae. Wild bananas formed a beautiful, and to me novel feature in the woods.
The conical hills of the white ants were very abundant. The structure appears to me not an independent one, but the debris of clumps of bamboos, or of the trunks of large trees, which these insects have destroyed. As they work up a tree from the ground, they coat the bark with particles of sand glued together, carrying up this artificial sheath or covered way as they ascend. A clump of bamboos is thus speedily killed; when the dead stems fall away, leaving the mass of stumps coated with sand, which the action of the weather soon fashions into a cone of earthy matter.
Ascending again, the path strikes up the hill, through a thick forest of Sal (Vateria robusta) and other trees, spanned with cables of scandent Bauhinia stems. At about 3000 feet above the sea, the vegetation becomes more luxuriant, and by a little stream I collected five species of ferns and some mosses,—all in a dry state, however. Still higher, Clematis, Thalictrum, and an increased number of grasses are seen; with bushes of Verbenaceae and Compositae. The white ant apparently does not enter this cooler region. At 3500 feet the vegetation again changes, the trees all become gnarled and scattered; and as the dampness also increases, more mosses and ferns appear. We emerged from the forest at the foot of the great ridge of rocky peaks, stretching E. and W. three or four miles. Abundance of a species of berberry and an Osbeckia marked the change in the vegetation most decidedly, and were frequent over the whole summit, with coarse grasses, and various bushes.
At noon we reached the saddle of the crest (alt. 4230 feet), where was a small temple, one of five or six which occupy various prominences of the ridge. The wind, N.W., was cold, the temp. 56 degrees. The view was beautiful, but the atmosphere too hazy: to the north were ranges of low wooded hills, and the course of the Barakah and Adji rivers; to the south lay a flatter country, with lower ranges, and the Damooda river, its all but waterless bed snowy-white from the exposed granite blocks with which its course is strewn. East and west the several sharp ridges of the mountain itself are seen; the western considerably the highest. Immediately below, the mountain flanks appear clothed with impenetrable forest, here and there interrupted by rocky eminences; while to the north the grand trunk road shoots across the plains, like a white thread, as straight as an arrow, spanning here and there the beds of the mountain torrents.
On the south side the vegetation was more luxuriant than on the north, though, from the heat of the sun, the reverse might have been expected. This is owing partly to the curve taken by the ridge being open to the south, and partly to the winds from that quarter being the moist ones. Accordingly, trees which I had left 3000 feet below in the north ascent, here ascended to near the summit, such as figs and bananas. A short-stemmed palm (Phoenix) was tolerably abundant, and a small tree (Pterospermum) on which a species of grass grew epiphytically; forming a curious feature in the landscape.
The situation of the principal temple is very fine, below the saddle in a hollow facing the south, surrounded by jungles of plantain and banyan. It is small, and contains little worthy of notice but the sculptured feet of Paras-nath, and some marble Boodh idols; cross-legged figures with crisp hair and the Brahminical cord. These, a leper covered with ashes in the vestibule, and an officiating priest, were all we saw. Pilgrims were seen on various parts of the mountain in very considerable numbers, passing from one temple to another, and generally leaving a few grains of dry rice at each; the rich and lame were carried in chairs, the poorer walked.
The culminant rocks are very dry, but in the rains may possess many curious plants; a fine Kalanchoe was common, with the berberry, a beautiful Indigofera, and various other shrubs; a Bolbophyllum grew on the rocks, with a small Begonia, and some ferns. There were no birds, and very few insects, a beautiful small Pontia being the only butterfly. The striped squirrel was very busy amongst the rocks; and I saw a few mice, and the traces of bears.
At 3 p.m., the temperature was 54 degrees, and the air deliciously cool and pleasant. I tried to reach the western peak (perhaps 300 feet above the saddle), by keeping along the ridge, but was cut off by precipices, and ere I could retrace my steps it was time to descend. This I was glad to do in a doolie, and I was carried to the bottom, with only one short rest, in an hour and three quarters. The descent was very steep the whole way, partly down steps of sharp rock, where one of the men cut his foot severely. The pathway at the bottom was lined for nearly a quarter of a mile with sick, halt, maimed, lame, and blind beggars, awaiting our descent. It was truly a fearful sight, especially the lepers, and numerous unhappy victims to elephantiasis.
Though the botany of Paras-nath proved interesting, its elevation was not accompanied by such a change from the flora of its base as I had expected. This is no doubt due to its dry climate and sterile soil; characters which it shares with the extensive elevated area of which it forms a part, and upon which I could not detect above 300 species of plants during my journey. Yet, that the atmosphere at the summit is more damp as well as cooler than at the base, is proved as well by the observations as by the vegetation;* [Of plants eminently typical of a moister atmosphere, I may mention the genera Bolbophyllum, Begonia, Aeginetia, Disporum, Roxburghia, Panax, Eugenia, Myrsine, Shorea, Millettia, ferns, mosses, and foliaceous lichens; which appeared in strange association with such dry-climate genera as Kalanchoe, Pterospermum, and the dwarf-palm, Phoenix. Add to this list the Berberis asiatica, Clematis nutans, Thalictrum glyphocarpum, 27 grasses, Cardamine, etc., and the mountain top presents a mixture of the plants of a damp hot, a dry hot, and of a temperate climate, in fairly balanced proportions. The prime elements of a tropical flora were however wholly wanting on Paras-nath, where are neither Peppers, Pothos, Arum, tall or climbing palms, tree-ferns, Guttiferae, vines, or laurels.] and in some respects, as the increased proportion of ferns, additional epiphytal orchideous plants, Begonias, and other species showed, its top supported a more tropical flora than its base.
Doomree—Vegetation of table-land—Lieutenant Beadle—Birds— Hot springs of Soorujkoond—Plants near them—Shells in them— Cholera-tree—Olibanum—Palms, form of—Dunwah Pass—Trees, native and planted—Wild peacock—Poppy fields—Geography and geology of Behar and Central India—Toddy-palm—Ground, temperature of—Barroon—Temperature of plants—Lizard—Cross the Soane—Sand, ripple marks on—Kymore hills—Ground, temperature of—Limestone—Rotas fort and palace—Nitrate of lime—Change of climate—Lime stalagmites, enclosing leaves— Fall of Soane—Spiders, etc.—Scenery and natural history of upper Soane valley—Hardwickia binata—Bhel fruit— Dust-storm—Alligator—Catechu—Cochlospermum— Leaf-bellows—Scorpions—Tortoises—Florican—Limestone spheres—Coles—Tiger-hunt—Robbery.
In the evening we returned to our tamarind tree, and the next morning regained the trunk road, following it to the dawk bungalow of Doomree. On the way I found the Caesalpinia paniculuta, a magnificent climber, festooning the trues with its dark glossy foliage and gorgeous racemes of orange blossoms. Receding from the mountain, the country again became barren: at Doomree the hills were of crystalline rocks, chiefly quartz and gneiss; no palms or large trees of any kind appeared. The spear-grass abounded, and a detestable nuisance it was, its long awns and husked seed working through trowsers and stockings.
Balanites was not uncommon, forming a low thorny bush, with Aegle marmelos and Feronia elephantum. Having rested the tired elephant, we pushed on in the evening to the next stage, Baghoda, arriving there at 3 a.m., and after a few hours' rest, I walked to the bungalow of Lieutenant Beadle, the surveyor of roads, sixteen miles further.
The country around Baghoda is still very barren, but improves considerably in going westward, the ground becoming hilly, and the road winding through prettily wooded vallies, and rising gradually to 1446 feet. Nauclea cordifolia, a tree resembling a young sycamore, is very common; with the Semul (Bombax), a very striking tree from its buttressed trunk and gaudy scarlet flowers, swarming with birds, which feed from its honeyed blossoms.
At 10 a.m. the sun became uncomfortably hot, the thermometer being 77 degrees, and the black-bulb thermometer 137 degrees. I had lost my hat, and possessed no substitute but a silken nightcap; so I had to tie a handkerchief over my head, to the astonishment of the passers-by. Holding my head down, I had little source of amusement but reading the foot-marks on the road; and these were strangely diversified to an English eye. Those of the elephant, camel, buffalo and bullock, horse, ass, pony, dog, goat, sheep and kid, lizard, wild-cat and pigeon, with men, women, and children's feet, naked and shod, were all recognisable.
It was noon ere I arrived at Lieutenant Beadle's, at Belcuppee (alt. 1219 feet), glad enough of the hearty welcome I received, being very hot, dusty, and hungry. The country about his bungalow is very pretty, from the number of wooded hills and large trees, especially of banyan and peepul, noble oak-like Mahowa (Bassia), Nauclea, Mango, and Ficus infectoria. These are all scattered, however, and do not form forest, such as in a stunted form clothes the hills, consisting of Diospyros, Terminalia, Gmelina, Nauclea parvifolia, Buchanania, etc. The rocks are still hornblende-schist and granite, with a covering of alluvium, full of quartz pebbles. Insects and birds are numerous, the latter consisting of jays, crows, doves, sparrows, and maina (Pastor); also the Phoenicophaus tristis ("Mahoka" of the natives), with a note like that of the English cuckoo, as heard late in the season.
I remained two days with Lieutenant Beadle, enjoying in his society several excursions to the hot springs, etc. These springs (called Soorujkoond) are situated close to the road, near the mouth of a valley, in a remarkably pretty spot. They are, of course, objects of worship; and a ruined temple stands close behind them, with three very conspicuous trees—a peepul, a banyan, and a white, thick-stemmed, leafless Sterculia, whose branches bore dense clusters of greenish foetid flowers. The hot springs are four in number, and rise in as many ruined brick tanks about two yards across. Another tank, fed by a cold spring, about twice that size, flows between two of the hot, only two or three paces distant from one of the latter on either hand. All burst through the gneiss rocks, meet in one stream after a few yards, and are conducted by bricked canals to a pool of cold water, about eighty yards off.
The temperatures of the hot springs were respectively 169 degrees, 170 degrees, 173 degrees, and 190 degrees; of the cold, 84 degrees at 4 p.m., and 75 degrees at 7 a.m. the following morning. The hottest is the middle of the five. The water of the cold spring is sweet but not good, and emits gaseous bubbles; it was covered with a green floating Conferva. Of the four hot springs, the most copious is about three feet deep, bubbles constantly, boils eggs, and though brilliantly clear, has an exceedingly nauseous taste. This and the other warm ones cover the bricks and surrounding rocks with a thick incrustation of salts.
Confervae abound in the warm stream from the springs, and two species, one ochreous brown, and the other green, occur on the margins of the tanks themselves, and in the hottest water; the brown is the best Salamander, and forms a belt in deeper water than the green; both appear in broad luxuriant strata, wherever the temp. is cooled down to 168 degrees, and as low as 90 degrees. Of flowering plants, three showed in an eminent degree a constitution capable of resisting the heat, if not a predilection for it; these were all Cyperaceae, a Cyperus and an Eleocharis, having their roots in water of 100 degrees, and where they are probably exposed to greater heat, and a Fimbristylis at 98 degrees; all were very luxuriant. From the edges of the four hot springs I gathered sixteen species of flowering plants, and from the cold tank five, which did not grow in the hot. A water-beetle, Colymbetes(?) and Notonecta, abounded in water at 112 degrees, with quantities of dead shells; frogs were very lively, with live shells, at 90 degrees, and with various other water beetles. Having no means of detecting the salts of this water, I bottled some for future analysis.* [For an account of the Confervae, and of the mineral constituents of the waters, etc. see Appendix B.]
On the following day I botanized in the neighbourhood, with but poor success. An oblique-leaved fig climbs the other trees, and generally strangles them: two epiphytal Orchideae also occur on the latter, Vanda Roxburghii and an Oberonia. Dodders (Cuscuta) of two species, and Cassytha, swarm over and conceal the bushes with their yellow thread-like stems.
I left Belcuppee on the 8th of February, following Mr. Williams' camp. The morning was clear and cold, the temperature only 56 degrees. We crossed the nearly dry broad bed of the Burkutta river, a noble stream during the rains, carrying along huge boulders of granite and gneiss. Near this I passed the Cholera-tree, a famous peepul by the road side, so called from a detachment of infantry having been attacked and decimated at the spot by that fell disease; it is covered with inscriptions and votive tokens in the shape of rags, etc. We continued to ascend to 1360 feet, where I came upon a small forest of the Indian Olibanum (Boswellia thurifera), conspicuous from its pale bark, and spreading curved branches, leafy at their tips; its general appearance is a good deal like that of the mountain ash. The gum, celebrated throughout the East, was flowing abundantly from the trunk, very fragrant and transparent. The ground was dry, sterile, and rocky; kunker, the curious formation mentioned at Chapter 1, appears in the alluvium, which I had not elsewhere seen at this elevation.
Descending to the village of Burshoot, we lost sight of the Boswellia, and came upon a magnificent tope of mango, banyan, and peepul, so far superior to anything hitherto met with, that we were glad to choose such a pleasant halting-place for breakfast. There are a few lofty fan-palms here too, great rarities in this soil and elevation: one, about eighty feet high, towered above some wretched hovels, displaying the curious proportions of this tribe of palms: first, a short cone, tapering to one-third the height of the stem, the trunk then swelling to two-thirds, and again tapering to the crown. Beyond this, the country again ascends to Burree (alt. 1169 feet), another dawk bungalow, a barren place, which we left on the following morning.
So little was there to observe, that I again amused myself by watching footsteps, the precision of which in the sandy soil was curious. Looking down from the elephant, I was interested by seeing them all in relief, instead of depressed, the slanting rays of the sun in front producing this kind of mirage. Before us rose no more of those wooded hills that had been our companions for the last 120 miles, the absence of which was a sign of the nearly approaching termination of the great hilly plateau we had been traversing for that distance.
Chorparun, at the top of the Dunwah pass, is situated on an extended barren flat, 1320 feet above the sea, and from it the descent from the table-land to the level of the Soane valley, a little above that of the Ganges at Patna, is very sudden. The road is carried zizgag down a rugged hill of gneiss, with a descent of nearly 1000 feet in six miles, of which 600 are exceedingly steep. The pass is well wooded, with abundance of bamboo, Bombax, Cassia, Acacia, and Butea, with Calotropis, the purple Mudar, a very handsome road-side plant, which I had not seen before, but which, with the Argemone Mexicana, was to be a companion for hundreds of miles farther. All the views in the pass are very picturesque, though wanting in good foliage, such as Ficus would afford, of which I did not see one tree. Indeed the rarity of the genus (except F. infectoria) in the native woods of these hills, is very remarkable. The banyan and peepul always appear to be planted, as do the tamarind and mango.
Dunwah, at the foot of the pass, is 620 feet above the sea, and nearly 1000 below the mean level of the highland I had been traversing. Every thing bears here a better aspect; the woods at the foot of the hills afforded many plants; the bamboo (B. stricta) is green instead of yellow and white; a little castor-oil is cultivated, and the Indian date (low and stunted) appears about the cottages.
In the woods I heard and saw the wild peacock for the first time. Its voice is not to be distinguished from that of the tame bird in England, a curious instance of the perpetuation of character under widely different circumstances, for the crow of the wild jungle-fowl does not rival that of the farm-yard cock.
In the evening we left Dunwah for Barah (alt. 480 feet), passing over very barren soil, covered with low jungle, the original woods having apparently been cut for fuel. Our elephant, a timid animal, came on a drove of camels in the dark by the road-side, and in his alarm insisted on doing battle, tearing through the thorny jungle, regardless of the mahout, and still more of me: the uproar raised by the camel-drivers was ridiculous, and the danger to my barometer imminent.
We proceeded on the 11th of February to Sheergotty, where Mr. Williams and his camp were awaiting our arrival. Wherever cultivation appeared the crops were tolerably luxuriant, but a great deal of the country yielded scarcely half-a-dozen kinds of plants to any ten square yards of ground. The most prevalent were Carissa carandas, Olax scandens, two Zizyphi, and the ever-present Acacia Catechu. The climate is, however, warmer and much moister, for I here observed dew to be formed, which I afterwards found to be usual on the low grounds. That its presence is due to the increased amount of vapour in the atmosphere I shall prove: the amount of radiation, as shown by the cooling of the earth and vegetation, being the same in the elevated plain and lower levels.* [See Appendix C.]
The good soil was very richly cultivated with poppy (which I had not seen before), sugar-cane, wheat, barley, mustard, rape, and flax. At a distance a field of poppies looks like a green lake, studded with white water-lilies. The houses, too, are better, and have tiled roofs; while, in such situations, the road is lined with trees.
A retrospect of the ground passed over is unsatisfactory, as far as botany is concerned, except as showing how potent are the effects of a dry soil and climate during one season of the year upon a vegetation which has no desert types. During the rains probably many more species would be obtained, for of annuals I scarcely found twenty. At that season, however, the jungles of Behar and Birbhoom, though far from tropically luxuriant, are singularly unhealthy.
In a geographical point of view the range of hills between Burdwan and the Soave is interesting, as being the north-east continuation of a chain which crosses the broadest part of the peninsula of India, from the Gulf of Cambay to the junction of the Ganges and Hoogly at Rajmahal. This range runs south of the Soane and Kymore, which it meets I believe at Omerkuntuk;* [A lofty mountain said to be 7000-8000 feet high.] the granite of this and the sandstone of the other, being there both overlaid with trap. Further west again, the ranges separate, the southern still betraying a nucleus of granite, forming the Satpur range, which divides the valley of the Taptee from that of the Nerbudda. The Paras-nath range is, though the most difficult of definition, the longer of the two parallel ranges; the Vindhya continued as the Kymore, terminating abruptly at the Fort of Chunar on the Ganges. The general and geological features of the two, especially along their eastern course, are very different. This consists of metamorphic gneiss, in various highly inclined beds, through which granite hills protrude, the loftiest of which is Paras-nath. The north-east Vindhya (called Kymore), on the other hand, consists of nearly horizontal beds of sandstone, overlying inclined beds of non-fossiliferous limestone. Between the latter and the Paras-nath gneiss, come (in order of superposition) shivered and undulating strata of metamorphic quartz, hornstone, hornstone- porphyry, jaspers, etc. These are thrown up, by greenstone I believe, along the north and north-west boundary of the gneiss range, and are to be recognised as forming the rocks of Colgong, of Sultangunj, and of Monghyr, on the Ganges, as also various detached hills near Gyah, and along the upper course of the Soane. From these are derived the beautiful agates and cornelians, so famous under the name of Soane pebbles, and they are equally common on the Curruckpore range, as on the south bank of the Soane, so much so in the former position as to have been used in the decoration of the walls of the now ruined palaces near Bhagulpore.
In the route I had taken, I had crossed the eastern extremity alone of the range, commencing with a very gradual ascent, over the alluvial plains of the west bank of the Hoogly, then over laterite, succeeded by sandstone of the Indian coal era, which is succeeded by the granite table-land, properly so called. A little beyond the coal fields, the table-land reaches an average height of 1130 feet, which is continued for upwards of 100 miles, to the Dunwah pass. Here the descent is sudden to plains, which, continuous with those of the Ganges, run up the Soane till beyond Rotasghur. Except for the occasional ridges of metamorphic rocks mentioned above, and some hills of intruded greenstone, the lower plain is stoneless, its subjacent rocks being covered with a thicker stratum of the same alluvium which is thinly spread over the higher table-land above. This range is of great interest from its being the source of many important rivers,* [The chief rivers from this, the great watershed of western Bengal, flow north-west and south-east; a few comparatively insignificant streams running north to the Ganges. Amongst the former are the Rheru, the Kunner, and the Coyle, which contribute to the Soane; amongst the latter, the Dammooda, Adji, and Barakah, flow into the Hoogly, and the Subunrika, Braminee, and Mahanuddee into the Bay of Bengal.] and of all those which water the country between the Soane, Hoogly, and Ganges, as well as from its deflecting the course of the latter river, which washes its base at Rajmahal, and forcing it to take a sinuous course to the sea. In its climate and botany it differs equally from the Gangetic plains to the north, and from the hot, damp, and exuberant forests of Orissa to the south. Nor are its geological features less different, or its concomitant and in part resultant characters of agriculture and native population. Still further west, the great rivers of the peninsula have their origin, the Nerbudda and Taptee flowing west to the gulf of Cambay, the Cane to the Jumna, the Soane to the Ganges, and the northern feeders of the Godavery to the Bay of Bengal.
On the 12th of February, we left Sheergotty (alt. 463 feet), crossing some small streams, which, like all else seen since leaving the Dunwah Pass, flow N. to the Ganges. Between Sheergotty and the Soane, occur many of the isolated hills of greenstone, mentioned above, better known to the traveller from having been telegraphic stations. Some are much impregnated with iron, and whether for their colour, the curious outlines of many, or their position, form quaint, and in some cases picturesque features in the otherwise tame landscape.
The road being highly cultivated, and the Date-palm becoming more abundant, we encamped in a grove of these trees. All were curiously distorted; the trunks growing zigzag, from the practice of yearly tapping the alternate sides for toddy. The incision is just below the crown, and slopes upwards and inwards: a vessel is hung below the wound, and the juice conducted into it by a little piece of bamboo. This operation spoils the fruit, which, though eaten, is small, and much inferior to the African date.
At Mudunpore (alt. 440 feet) a thermometer, sunk 3 feet 4 inches in the soil, maintained a constant temperature of 71.5 degrees, that of the air varying from 77.5 degrees, at 3 p.m., to 62 at daylight the following morning; when we moved on to Nourunga (alt. 340 feet), where I bored to 3 feet 8 inches with a heavy iron jumper through an alluvium of such excessive tenacity, that eight natives were employed for four hours in the operation. In both this and another hole, 4 feet 8 inches, the temperature was 72 degrees at 10 p.m.; and on the following morning 71.5 degrees in the deepest hole, and 70 degrees in the shallower: that of the external air varied from 71 degrees at 3 p.m., to 57 degrees at daylight on the following morning. At the latter time I took the temperature of the earth near the surface, which showed, surface 53 degrees, 1 inch 57 degrees, 2 inches 58 degrees, 4 inches 62 degrees, 7 inches 64 degrees.
The following day we marched to Baroon (alt. 345 feet) on the alluvial banks of the Soane, crossing a deep stream by a pretty suspension bridge, of which the piers were visible two miles off, so level is the road. The Soane is here three miles wide, its nearly dry bed being a desert of sand, resembling a vast arm of the sea when the tide is out: the banks are very barren, with no trees near, and but very few in the distance. The houses were scarcely visible on the opposite side, behind which the Kymore mountains rise. The Soane is a classical river, being now satisfactorily identified with the Eranoboas of the ancients.* [The etymology of Eranoboas is undoubtedly Hierrinia Vahu (Sanskrit), the golden-armed. Sons is also the Sanskrit for gold. The stream is celebrated for its agates (Soane pebbles), which are common, but gold is not now obtained from it.]
The alluvium is here cut into a cliff, ten or twelve feet above the bed of the river, and against it the sand is blown in naked dunes. At 2 p.m., the surface-sand was heated to 110 degrees where sheltered from the wind, and 104 degrees in the open bed of the river. To compare the rapidity and depth to which the heat is communicated by pure sand, and by the tough alluvium, I took the temperature at some inches depth in both. That the alluvium absorbs the heat better, and retains it longer, would appear from the following, the only observations I could make, owing to the tenacity of the soil.
2 p.m. Surface 104 degrees 22.5 inches 93 degrees 5 inches 88 degrees Sand at this depth 78 degrees. 5 a.m. Surface 51 degrees 28 inches 68 degrees