23 JUNE 1860, Page 18


pleasant narrative started from Meerut for Musseorie in the march of a year not specified, but presumably an- tecedent to 1857, for he makes no allusion to the Mutiny, and speaks of the Company as still ruling India. The distance be- tween the two stations is a hundred and twenty miles, the road lying across the rich valley of the Dhoon, midway on which stands the neat little town of Deyrah, looking like an English vil- lage, and being without exception the most cheerful place of the kind our author has seen in India. It is the winter resort of the invalids and others who have taken up their residence in Mussoo- rie, and find the cold season too keen for them in that hill station. The ascent to the latter begins at Rajpore, six miles from Deyrah, and continues for about seven miles to the plateau on which Mus- soorie stands, 5000 feet above the Dhoon, on the first range of hills which rims parallel with the valley. Such an ascent im- plies an average rise of one foot in seven and a quarter, and as the gradients vary considerably, we may well believe that these are "in some places far too steep for comfortable riding." Never- theless our author almost envies the man who has yet to enjoy the first ride up the Mussoorie Hill through the evergreen forest that clothes it from base to summit, beginning with dwarf trees and bushes, intermingled with gigantic creepers, and gradually giving place to pines, oak, and rhodendron. The latter is here a large forest tree, and "nothing can be conceived more beautiful than a hill side covered with these trees in full blossom, each tree

a mass of rich crimson flowers."

"The lateral valley on the left, with its villages and green fields cut in- terraces along the hill aides, the varied hue of the forest patches, the ridge above dotted with white mansions, the park-like Dhoon valley below, its encircling range of low wooded hills, and the shadowy plains beyond, gave at each fresh turn a succession of views so novel, and so widely different from the flat plains of India, that the journey seemed too soon over. Bands of porters were transporting baggage up-hill, some sturdy hill-men from the interior. 'with their loads strapped to their backs • others, many of them of the gentler sex, appeared to be from the plains, and carried their leads on their heads. Some carried single loads, others two four, or half-a- damn together ; and to one large box, which I was told contained a piano- forte, twenty-four men were attached. Mules, donkeys, and ponies, Chiefly loaded with grain, were intermingled with the throng, and though the road was seldom more than nine feet wide, with often a dangerous pre- cipice on one hand, there was no confusion, and accidents are of rare occur- rence. Many years ago, a gentleman and his pony fell off the road, both being killed ; but this was the only mishap of the kind any one appeared to remember as connected with the ascentof the hill. The porters, on hearing my pony behind them, sidled to the edge of the road, and I remarked, al- • A Sunnier Ramble in the Himalayas, with Sporting Adventures in the Vale of Cashmere. Edited by " Mountaineer." Published by Hurst and Blacken. most invariably to the ravine side. The only difficult thi'dg t--; . , -

piano, which, where I overtook it, took up the entire breadthvnien ismote/

and I had to ride behind it some distance till we reached a wider! oharaeA the could pass. Most of the hill-men greeted me with a broad griithe mar,. least jocose remark I made to them as I passed seemed to cause infin.„,, ved hire riment. Two annas and a half, or about four pence, is the regulati:,',1 to a for a single load, or for every porter when more than one arc requireV_ hut load. The loads are not weighed, and some are more and some less,': fifty-six pounds is considered the average, and four pence the hire, which is certainly not too much for carrying that weight seven miles of steep ascent. Some years previous to my visit, the whole of the hill-porters, as well as most of the hill-men employed in Mussoorie, ran away from a very laugh- able cause, though it was scarcely a laughing matter to the residents, who were put to great inconvenience. A report got circulated amongst them, that some of the Europeans were catching any unfortunate native they could find alone, and taking him to a secluded house, extracting the oil from his body by hanging him up by the heels before a large fire. How this strange report originated could never be discovered, but it was most im- plicitly believed in, and nothing could persuade the ignorant puharies of its utter improbability. Many left their places without waiting to receive their wages, so great was their fear ; and in my progress through the hills I found the strange idea still entertained, and was several times asked for what purposes the oil of pillunies was required ? I have not the least doubt that to this day thousands in the hills firmly believe in the rediculons report."

Unlike Simla, where fevers and dysentery are sometimes as prevalent as in the plains, Mussoorie at all times enjoys a very salubrious climate, and it is without doubt the healthiest of all the hill sanitariums. The season visitors come up in April, and leave in October, though that month and November are the finest in the year. May and June are the hottest months, but even then one may keep out all day without inconvenience, and the mornings and evenings are delicious, as they are again in October and November. The rainy season from the middle of June to the middle of September, is not so Pleasant, but it is healthy, and the weather is generally fine enough either in the morning, or after sunset, for out-door exercise. Some optical effects of great beauty are perceived in the rainy season, one of them being what is commonly called a glory. "You are walking up or down a little ridge, and your shadow is thrown on a bankside opposite, forty or fifty yards distant. The sun is shining through a thin watery cloud, in which you are enveloped, and round your shadow is an arch of from five to nine small rainbows, the inner one per- fectly resplendent, and the other gradually decreasing in lustre as they increase in size." At Mussoorie, the author bade adieu for awhile to civilized life having equipped himself for a six or seven months' excursion, his purpose being to visit the source of the Ganges, and march thence by way of Koonawar, Spiti and Ladak to Cashmere. His re- tinue consisted of thirty persons, including two shikarees, or orderlies to carry his guns, a chuprassie, a cook, a man of all work, and five-and-twenty coolies to carry his baggage, which was a full load for them, although he had restricted it within the limits that seemed to him compatible with comfort. At one of the villages on the Ganges he halted for half a day to witness a strange feat peculiar to that region, where it has been practised at intervals from time immemorial in certain villages, the inhabi- tants of which believe that its entire disuse would subject them to a failure of their crops :— " It consisted of a man sliding down a rope, nearly half a mile in length, and is called in local parlance, a ' burt.' The rope extended from an emi- nence on the hill side above the village, over a ravine, and down to a green knoll in the fields below, and was drawn as tight as several hundred men with their united strength could effect. They had just finished stretching it when we arrived, and I could scarcely believe a man was actually going to elide down it, the feat appeared so utterly impracticable with any chance of safety. Imagine a rope extended from the top of a rock at least 500 feet high, to a pole some 2000 feet from its base, and some idea may be formed of the undertaking. A great concourse of people of both sexes were as- sembled, all in their holiday garb, and the man who was to slide was swing- ing round at the end of a long plank fixed on an upright pole as a pivot. Every few moments he called some person amongst the crowd by name and swinging round several times to the individual's honour, received &on: him a trifling gratuity. He no sooner noticed me than I was included in this category, and being told it was a religious ceremony, I gave him a rupee. When this was over, he was escorted to the eminence above, amidst the loud lamentations of his family, and the discordant music of the village band. With the glass, I saw him placed on a kind of saddle on the rope, two in- dividuals busied fastening something to his legs, which I saw afterwards were bags filled with earth. The spectators, amongst whom I stood, were assembled in groups near the pole to which the lower end of the rope was attached, all intently watching for the descent. Presently, he was let go, and came down several hundred yards with terrible velocity, a stream of smoke following in his wake. As he approached us, the incline being gra- dually diminished, his career was less rapid, and became slower and slower towards the end, where, the rope being sufficiently near the ground, he was taken down, amidst the .shout s and congratulations of the villagers. The ride, which was over in a few moments, did not appear to have at all dis- tressed him."

At Derallee, the last and highest village on the Ganges, the au- thor fell in with his future editor, Mr. Wilson, well known to all Indian sportsmen, under his nom de plume of "Mountaineer." "He had been out six days, and had killed during the time seven musk- deer. This, he said was very indifferent sport, but that these animals in this part of the country were now very scarce, a number of men from Koo- loo haying snared the greater number. In the western world, hundreds of our countrymen follow hunting in some shape or other as a profession, but in the Eastern, I believe Wilson is the first and only one who has attempted it. If not a remunerating, it is, he says, an exciting and healthful occupa- tion followed in the cold and bracing climate of the higher Himalayas. This no one will doubt, but many would object to the solitude and depriva- tion of intercourse with any but the ignorant Puharies. Musk is what he chiefly depends on to supply the sinews of war, but he also collects birds and the skins and horns of various animals, disposing of some at Mussoorie and, sending others to England. After hearing my plans, he delighted me by proposing to shoot with me fore fortnight."

The musk-deer is a solitary animal, about three times the Size

I a hare, which it greatly resembles in its general habits. It h no horns, but the male has two tusks about three inches long, depending from the upper jaw. The musk which is found only in the male, is contained in a pod under the skin, attached to the navel, which increases with the animal's growth until in olsl males the contents vary from one to two ounces. The pod of a musk-deer shot by the author was about the size of a pullet's egg, and worth about twenty-five shillings, being one of the largest. The other animals shot by the sportsmen in Gurwhal were chiefly the tahr or wild goat ; the burrell a species of wild sheep ; the giral or Himalayan chamois ; and the serow, another of the chamois species. They also killed specimens of the two species of bear found in the Himalayas, the brown and the black. The latter is a huge animal, often upwards of eight feet in length, and the fat alone will sometimes load four or five men. Though generally flying from man, like the rest of its genus, it sometimes attacks people from sheer ferocity ; and instead of hugging its victim as other bears do, it almost invariably strikes at the face, from which it strips off the flesh at one stroke. This seems to sa- tisfy the brute, for it never kills outright, but decamps after thus venting its fury. Mr. Wilson knows a Puharie, who in this way lost his cheeks, nose, lips, and one eye.

"The man is still alive, and with his skeleton features concealed in a cotton wrapper, he followa his usual avocations. Fearing his young e would decline to live with such an ogre as he now was, he gave some hints of an intention to cut off her nose, and by thus spoiling her beauty pre- vent any one else from taking her, which so frightened the poor girl that she would never go near him afterwards, though declaring she would other- wise have remained with him and done all in her power to console him in his affliction."

This story is taken from Mr. Wilson's very able and interesting account of the Gurwhal country and its inhabitants, which he has contributed to his friend's volume. We recommend this mono- graph to the attention of all who desire to become better ac- quainted with the real condition of the natives of India—a sub- ject which can never be rightly understood if studied only from an official point of view. It is only men who like Mr. Wilson have for years mixed closely and continually with some portion of the native race, who know them as it is essential for the pros- perity of our Indian empire that they should be known.