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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"


not expected to hear the warbling nightingale here, but at times its
music comes from the trees.

I enjoy an extraordinary good view from the house, which has
doors on all four sides and windows on three. Did ever another writer
or do-nothing have an outlook like that from my window here?
Nature has simply run riot in the profusion which she has strewn for
dozens of miles in each direction—certainly more attractive to me
than the sanguinous riots in which I have seen human beings engage.
The ridges are extremely tangled, first seeming to rush towards each
other and then receding just before they touch. Glens, gorges, valleys
and hollows alternate in a confused conglomeration with the solid
granite mass of barren hills and with dense jungles, thick forests and
towering peaks. Two rivers cut their way through the mountains,
plunging downwards here and there over the rocks with the wild
music of waterfalls.

But finest of all views is that of the snows and the crevassed rock-
strewn glaciers looming against a bl,ue sky. I am far better placed
now to enjoy them than before. I find them at my very window, so to
speak, for it has a northern outlook. The giant ice-clad summits rear
themselves in all their grandeur and in all their detail before my
eyes. Their nearness provides me with a sense of inspiration which is
sometimes overwhelming, whilst the complete clarity of their fronts
is irresistibly fascinating.

Some peaks are sharp cones, others are great humps. One by one
I pick them out on the long hundred-mile line which confronts me,
and which so effectually bars all sight of Tibet from my gaze. On the
outermost end, to the left, I catch a glimpse of the last of the Trans-
Sutlej peaks. Nearer still is the clean-cut dip of the Baranghad Pass,
a 17,ooo-feet high road into Tibet. Exactly opposite me and largely
shutting out my view of Jumnotri stands the queer peak of Bandar-
punch, whose top is 20,000 feet above sea-level. The name fits it
well and means "monkey's tail". The round body and the curling
tail are plainly there, fashioned in snowy vesture and wrapped
around a skeleton of rock though they be. It is streaked with glaciers
like seas of ice with frozen waves fifty to a hundred feet deep. A few
miles away its companion, Srikanta, pierces the sky almost to the
same height. The snowy mass of its conventional triangular form
rises to a vertical precipice and embodies all one's preconceived
notions of what a Himalayan peak should be. To its right a fragment
of Gangotri emerges from its sheltering back, overshadowing, at a
point eight miles distant and 10,000 feet high, the ancient temple
which is the Mecca of the more venturesome of pilgrims throughout
the summer, because it is near the glacier source of India's holiest
river, the Ganges, or rather of the Bhagirathi, which is the chief