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The Alice Eastwood Library 


California Academy of Sciences 
January 19, 1 949 

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The author reserves to himself the right of authorising a translation of this work. 





Efjesc Folumes are ©etficateti, 



Kkw, Jan. 12th, 1854. 


Having accompanied Sir James Ross 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 tempe- 
rate zones, more knowledge of that of the tropics than 
I had 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, Avho promised me every assistance which his 
position as Superintendent of the H. E. I. C. Botanic 
Garden at Calcutta, would enable him 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 

b 2 

viii PREFACE. 

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 Hima- 
laya 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, gutta- 
percha, &c. 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* was 
dead ; the interest in Borneo had in a great measure 
subsided; H. M. S. "Mseander," to which I had been 
attached for service in Labuan, had left the Archipelago ; 
reports of the unhealthy nature of the coast had excited 

* 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 


alarm ; and the results of my researches in the Hima- 
laya 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 

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 north- 
west 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,* 
w T hich was only known from Turner's account, were addi- 
tional inducements to a student of physical geography ; 

* 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 


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 obliga- 
tions 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," 

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. 


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 diffi- 
culties 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 stuff ers. 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 ana- 
tomy,* 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 

* Iu 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. 

PREFACE. xiii 

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 like- 
wise the Govern or- General's- agent, or medium of com- 
munication between the British Government and the 
Sikkim Rajah ; and as such, invested with many dis- 
cretionary 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 douce violence 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 govern- 
ments. The circumstances of this outrage were mis- 
understood at the time ; its instigators were supposed 
to be Chinese ; its perpetrators Tibetans j 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 sedu- 
lously cared for by him as by myself: I am indebted 
to his influence with Jung Bahadoor* 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 inves- 
tigations 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 obser- 
vations, 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 them- 
selves 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 

* 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. 


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 obser- 
vations for latitude, time, and elevation, besides adjusting 
and rating my instruments; and I can recal no more 
pleasant days than those thus spent with these hospitable 

Thanks to Dr. Falconer's indefatigable exertions, such 
of my collections as reached Calcutta were forwarded 
to England in excellent order ; and they were tempo- 
rarily 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 manu- 
scripts, &c. 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 

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, &c., 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- Gene- 
ral 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 

The landscapes, &c. 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 exag- 
gerate 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 pre- 
tend 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 

xviii PREFACE. 

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, &c. 

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, manu- 
facture of — Atmospheric vapours — Temperature, &c. — 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, tempe- 
rature of — Limestone — Rotas fort and palace — Nitrate of lime — Change of 
climate — Lime stalagmites, enclosing leaves — Fall of Soane — Spiders, &c. — 
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 25 


Ek-powa Ghat — Sandstones — Shahgunj — Table-land, elevation, &c. — Gum-arabic 
— Mango — Fair — Aquatic plants — Rujubbund — Storm — False sunset and 
sunrise — Bind hills — Mirzapore — Manufactures, imports, &c. — 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. Man den — Coles and 
native tribes — Bhaugulpore rangers — Horticultural gardens . . .59 



Leave Bhaugulpore — Kunker — Colgong — Himalaya, distant view of— Cosi, mouth 
of — Difficult navigation — Sand-storms — Caragola-Ghat — Pumea — Ortolans 
— Mahanuddy, transport of pebbles, &c. — 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 ap- 
pointed 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 . .94 


View from Mr. Hodgson's of range of snowy mountains — Their extent and eleva- 
tion — Delusive appearance of elevation — Sinchul, view from and vegetation 
of — Chumulari — Magnolias, white and purple — Rhododendron Balhousice, 
arboreum and argenteum — 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, &c. — Moormis — 
Magras — Mechis — Comparison of customs with those of the natives of Assam, 
Khasia, &c. 122 


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 — Tempe- 
rature and humidity of atmosphere — Junction of Teesta and Rungeet — 
Return to Dorjiling — Tonglo, excursion to — Bamboo, flowering — Oaks— 
Oordonia — Maize, hermaphrodite flowered — Figs — Nettles — Peepsa — Simon- 
bong, cultivation at — European fruits at Dorjiling — Plains of India . . 142 


Continue the ascent of Tonglo— Trees — Lepcha construction of hut— Simsibong — 
Climbing-trees — Frogs— Magnolias, &c. — 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, &c. 
— Descent — Simonbong temple — Furniture therein — Praying-cylinder — 
Thigh-bone trumpet — Morning orisons — Present of Murwa beer, &c. . 162 



Difficulty in procuring leave to enter Sikkim — Obtain permission to travel in 
East Nepal— Arrangements — Coolies — Stores — Servants — Personal equip- 
ment — Mode of travelling — Leave Dorjiling — Goong ridge — Behaviour of 
Bhotan coolies — Nepal frontier — Myong valley — Ham — 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, &c. — Chingtam village, view from — 
Mywa river and Ghiola — House — Boulders — Chain-bridge — Meepo, arrival 
of— Fevers 177 


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 — A hies 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, &c. — Lichens — Poa annua and Shep- 
herd's purse — Tibet camp — Tuquoroma — Scenery of pass — Glaciers and 
snow — Summit — Plants, woolly, &c. . . . . . . .199 


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 di-y 
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, &c. — Geological causes of phenomena 
in valley — Scenery of valley on descent . . . . . . . 22 1 

vol. i. c 



Ascend to Nango mountain — Moraines— Glaciers — Vegetation — Rhododendron 
Hodgsoni — Rocks — Honey-combed surface of snow — Perpetual snow — Top of 
p ass — View — Elevation — Geology — Distance of sound — Plants — Tempe- 
rature — 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 Choonjermapass 
—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 . . . .250 


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 — -View — Descent — 
Yew — Vegetation— Misty weather — Tongdam village — Khabang — Tropical 
vegetation — Sidingbah mountain — View of Kinchin junga — Yangyading 
village — Slopes of hills, and courses of rivers — Khabili valley — Ghorkha 
Havildar's bad conduct — Ascend Singalelah — Plague of ticks — Short com- 
mons — 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 — A corns 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 271 


Raklang pass — Uses of nettles — Edible plants — Lepcha war — Do-mani stone — 
Neongong — Teesta valley — Pony, saddle, &c. — 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 posi- 
tion — 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, &c. — Geology — Vapours — Sunset effect — Elevation — 
Temperature, &c. — Lamas of Neongong — Temples — Religious festival — 
Bamboo, flowering — Recross pass of Raklang — Numerous temples, villages, 
&c. — Domestic animals — Descent to Great Rungeet ..... 292 



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 
Pemiongchi — Relation of river-beds to strike of rocks — Slopes of ravines — 
Pemiongchi, view of — Vegetation — Elevation — Temple, decorations, &c. — 
Former capital of Sikkim — History of Sikkim — Nightingales — Campbell 
departs — Tchonpong — Edgev:orilua — Cross Rungbee and Ratong — Hoar- 
frost on plantains — Yoksun — Walnuts — View — Funereal cypresses — Doobdi 
— Gigantic cypresses — Temples — Snow-fall — Sikkim, &c. — Toys . . 315 


Leave Yoksun for Kinchinjunga — Ascend Ratong valley — Salt-smuggling over 
Ratong — Landslips — Plants — Buckeem — Blocks of gneiss — Mon Lepcha — 
View — Weather — View from Gubroo — Kinchinjxinga, tops of — Pundim- 
cliff — 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 ........... 340 


Ratong river below Mon Lepcha — Ferns — Vegetation of Yoksun, tropical — 
Araliacece, fodder for cattle — Rice-paper plant — Geology of Yoksun — Lake 
— Old temples — Funereal cypresses — Gigantic chait — 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 ap- 
pearance ............ 353 


Dispatch collections — Acorns — Heat — Punkabaree — Bees — Vegetation — Haze — 
Titalya — Earthquake — Proceed to Nepal frontier — Terai, geology of — Phy- 
sical features of Himalayan valleys — Elephants, purchase of, fee. — River-beds 
— Mechi river — Return to Titalya — Leave for Teesta — Climate of plains — 
Jeelpigoree — Cooches — Alteration in the appearance of country by fire.-;, &a 
— Grasses — Bamboos — Cottages — Rajah of Cooch Behar — Condition of people 



— Hooli festival — Ascend Teesta — Canoes — Cranes — Forest — Baikant-pore 
— Ruminai — Religion — Plants at foot of mountains — Exit of Teesta — Canoe 
voyage clown 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 — Hail- 
storm — Ascent to Kursiong — To Dorjiling — Vegetation — Gfeology — Folded 
quartz-beds — Spheres of feldspar — Lime deposits ..... 373 


Fig. Page 




from a sketch by w. tayler, esq., b.c.s . . Frontispiece. 










4. EQUINOCTIAL SUN-DIAL, DITTO . . . . . . . 75 








Fig. Pa g e 




13. trunk-like root of wightia gigantea, ascending a tree, which 

its stout rootlets clasp 164 

14. interior of boodhist temple at simonbong . . ' . . . . 172 

15. trumpet made of a human thigh-bone . . . . . .173 

16. tibetan amulet set with turquoises 176 

17. head of tibet mastiff. from a sketch taken in the zoological 

gardens by c. jenyns, esq 203 

18. view on the tambur river, with abies brunoniana . . . . 207 

19. wallanchoon village, east nepal 210 

20. head of a tibetan demon. from a model in the possession of 

captain h. strachey . , 226 

21. ancient moraines surrounding the lower lake-bed in the yangma 

valley (looking west) 234 

22. second lake-bed in the yangma valley, with nango mountain, 

(looking east) 237 

23. diagram of the terraces and glacial boulders, &c, 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 242 

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) 















































The Tibetan portion of this map is to a great extent conjectural, and is intended to 
convey a general idea of the arrangement of the mountains, according to the infor- 
mation collected by Dr. Campbell and myself, and to show the position of the principal 
groups of snowed peaks between the Yaru-tsampu and the plains of India, and their 
relations to the water- shed of the Himalaya. 

The positions and direction of the minor spurs of the mountain ranges of Central 
India and Behar are also, to a great extent, conjectural. It is particularly requisite 
to observe, that the only object of this map is to give a better general idea of the 
physical geography of South-eastern Tibet and Central India, from the materials at 
my command, and hence to afford a better guide to the understanding of some of the 
points I have attempted to explain in these volumes, than is obtainable from any map 
with which I am acquainted. 

Above the map is a view of the Sikkim Himalaya, from Nango to Donkia, as seen 
from Dorjiling. On the right are four views of celebrated mountains, as seen from 
great distances : — 





On the left is a survey of the moraines, &c, in the Yangma valley, as described in 
vol. i. p. 231-238. 

I beg to return my acknowledgments to Mr. Petermann for the skill and care winch 
he has devoted to the construction of this map. The scale is approximate only, and 
perhaps very erroneous. 


On the cover of this work is a Sikkim chait of the ordinary construction, with a 
pole, to which is attached a long narrow banner or strip of cotton cloth, inscribed with 
Tibetan characters. 

On the back is a copy of the sacred sentence, " Om mani padmi om," in the 
lichen character of Tibet. 



Page 141, line 2, for ' ' Looties " read "Cookies." 
,, 165, ,, 4 from bottom, erase " 7000 feet." 
,, 187, ,, 10, for " 700 " read "7000." 
,, 389, heading, for "Rajah of Cooch" read " Rajah of Jeel. 

Chap. XVIL, heading, for "Behar" read, "Pigoree." 



Sunderbuuds 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, manu- 
facture of — Atmospheric vapours — Temperature, &c. — 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 pahidosa)&iid 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 Nip a 
fruticanSy 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 

VOL. I. B 

2 CALCUTTA. Chap. I. 

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.* 

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 cultiva- 
tion, 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 feAv minutes more all other thoughts 
were absorbed in watching the splendour of the arrange- 
ments 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 invita- 
tion was accompanied with the assurance that I should 

* Bowerbank " On the Fossil Fruits and Seeds of the Isle of Sheppey," and 
Lyell's " Elements of Geology," 3rd ed. p. 201. 


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,* 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 require- 
ment of every tropical garden) or other beauties than some 
isolated grand trees, which had survived the indiscri- 
minate 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, pro- 
ceeding, 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, 

* Dr. Falconer's locum tenens y then in temporary charge of the establishment. 

b 2 

4 CALCUTTA. Chap. I. 

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 superinten- 
dence, 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.* 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. f 

* 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 

f 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 1 829, without recording its 
sense of the obligation, and I was once commissioned by a foreign government, to pur- 
chase 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 


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 manv of my English readers mav 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, 
Avas 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. AYilliams' 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 Iiorsed by men, the 
warmth when the sliding doors are shut, and the breeze 
when they are open, are all fully appreciated on first 

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. 

(5 BURDWAN. Chap. I. 

starting, but soon the novelty wears off, and the dis- 
comforts 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 " Buck- 
sheesh, 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, 
&c. Tanks were the prominent features : chains of them, 
fall 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 follow- 
ing 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 break- 
fast with Mr. E. Watkins, Superintendent of the East 
India Coal and Coke Company, who were working the 

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 

8 BURDWAN7 Chap. I. 

majority are referred by Dr. McLelland* to the inferior 
oolite epoch of England, from the prevalence of species 
of Zamia, Glossopteris, and Tceniopteris. 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 satis- 
factory 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 knoAvledge, rather an argument 
against than for their having existed cotemporaneously. 
The Cycadcce 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 

* Reports of the Geological Survey of India. Calcutta, 1850. 


Flora to the same period as that of the Lias and Oolites, 
when the Cycadece now living in the former countries shall 
be fossilised. 

Specific identity of their contained fossils may be con- 
sidered 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 natu- 
ralists 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 gun- 
powder, 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 

10 BURDWAN. Chap. I. 

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 

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 increas- 
ing 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, 

12 HILLS OF BEHAR. Chap. I. 

called Kunker, which is a nodular concretionary deposit of 
limestone, abundantly imbedded in the alluvial soil of a 
great part of India.* 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 moun- 
tain 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 Acanthacece ; a few Asclejnadew 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°, 
with no dew, the grass only 61°. As the sun rose, Paras- 
nath 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 

* Often occurrm"' in strata, like flints. 


it is surrounded by lesser hills of just sufficient elevation to 
set it off. The atmosphere, too, of these regions is pecu- 
liarly 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 imper- 
ceptible haze that seems to soften the landscape, and keep 
every object in true perspective. 

Our route led towards the picturesque hills and vallies 
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 (Bas- 
sia latifolid) 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 wliere 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 

14 HILLS OF BEHAR. Chap. I. 

Jujubes (Zizyphus) prevailed, with the Carissa carandas 
(in fruit), a shrub belonging to the usually poisonous family 
of Dog-banes (Apocynea) ; its berries make good tarts, and 
the plant itself forms tolerable hedges. 

The country around Fitcoree is gather 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 

The temperature at 3 a.m. was 65°; at 3 p.m. 82°; and 
at 10 p.m., 68°, 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^° below the tempera- 
ture of the air, which was 66° ; this indicated a dew-point 
of HJr°, or 54^° below the air, and a saturation-point of 
0'146 ; there being only 01 02 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 

into glass. Dr. Royle mentions this curious fact (Essay on the Arts and Manu- 
factures of India, read before the Society of Arts, February 18, 18.52), in illustra- 
tion 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. 


radiation of heat from the latter to the clear sky above. 
Such strata may be observed, crossing the hills in ribbon- 
like 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 sun- 
rise, whereas below, whether at Calcutta, or on the banks of 
the Soane, the sun always rose behind a dense fog-bank. 

At 9-Jr a.m. the black-bulb thermometer rose in the sun 
to 130°. 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-J- p. m. 109°), 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 rare- 
faction 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. 

16 HILLS OF BEHAR. Chap. I. 

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 JBignonia i?idica, now 
leafless, but with immense pods hanging from the branches. 
Acanthacece is the prevalent natural order, consisting of 
gay-flowered Erantliemums, Ruettias, Barlerias, and such 
hothouse favourites.* 

This being the most convenient station whence to ascend 
Paras-nath, we started at 6 a.m. for the village of Maddao- 
bund, 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 
abetter soil, and are surrounded with richer cultivation; 
palms, mangos, and the tamarind, the first and last rare 

* Other plants gathered here, and very typical of the Flora of this dry region, 
were Linum trigynum, Feronia elephantum, uEgle marmelos, Helicteres Asoca, 
Abrus prccatorius, Flemingia ; various Desmodia, Rhynchosice, Glycine, and Grislea 
tomentosa very abundant, Conocarpus latifolius, Loranthus longiflorus, and another 
species ; Phyllanthus Eniblica, various Convolvuli, Cuscuta, and several herbaceous 

Feb. 1818. 


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 Orobanclie 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. 



18 HILLS OF BEHAR. Chap. I. 

The site of Maddaobund, elevated 1230 feet, in a clear- 
ance 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 broad- 
headed 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 appa- 
rently gone, and the principal mass of root steins 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 Bood- 
hists their religion is considered pure, and free from the 
obscenities so conspicuous in Hindoo worship ; whilst, in 

Feb. 1848. JAINS. 19 

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 

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 break- 
fast, 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 


20 HILLS OF BEHAR. Chap. I. 

to the road, leaving Mr. Hadclon 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, &c. 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°, though the 
day was fine, a strong haze obstructing the sun's rays ; at 
6 p.m., 58°; at 9 p.m., 56°, and the grass cooled to 49°. 
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 Urticece. 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 

Feb. 1848. ASCENT OF PARAS-NATH. 21 

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, Thalictriim, and an increased number of 
grasses are seen; with bushes of Verbenacece and Com/posit ce. 
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°. 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 

22 HILLS OF BEHAR. Chap. I. 

which its course is strewn. East and west the several sharp 
ridges of the mountain itself are seen ; the western con- 
siderably 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 epiphy- 
tically ; 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 j a Bolbophyttum grew on the rocks, with a 
small Begonia, and some ferns. There were no birds, 
and very few insects, a beautiful small Poiitia 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°, 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;* and in some respects, as the increased 

* Of plants eminently typical of a moister atmosphere, I may mention the 
genera Bolbophyllum, Begonia, J^ginetia, Disporum, Roxburghia, Panax, Eugenia, 

24 HILLS OF BEHAR. Chap. I, 

proportion of ferns, additional epiphytal orchideous plants, 
Begonias, and other species showed, its top supported a 
more tropical flora than its base. 

Myrsine, Shorea, Millettia, ferns, mosses, and foliaceous lichens; which appeared iu 
strange association with such dry-climate genera as Kalanchoe, Pterospermum, and the 
dwarf-palm, Phoenix. Add to this list the Berberis asiatica, Clematis nutans, Thalic- 
trum glyphocarpum, 27 grasses, Cardamine, &c, 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, Guttiferw, vines, or laurels. 


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, tempera- 
ture of — Limestone — Rotas fort and palace — Nitrate of lime — Change of 
climate — Lime stalagmites, enclosing leaves — Fall of Soane — Spiders, &c. — 
Scenery and natural history of upper Soane valley — Havdwickia binata — 
Bhel fruit — Dust-storm — Alligator — Catechu — Cochlospermum — Leaf -bellows 
— Scorpions — Tortoises — Florican — Limestone spheres — Coles — Tiger-hunt — 

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 Ccesalpinia paniculata, a magnificent climber, festooning 
the trees 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 jEgle marmelos and Feronia elephantum. 
Having rested the tired elephant, we pushed on in the 
evening to the next stage, Baghocla, 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 [Bombaw), a very striking tree 
from its buttressed trunk and gaudy scarlet flowers, 
swarming with birds, which feed from its honeyed 

At 10 a.m. the sun became uncomfortably hot, the ther- 
mometer being 77°, and the black -bulb thermometer 137°. 
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 diver- 
sified 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, Buchawania, &c. 
The rocks are still hornblende-schist and granite, with a 

Feb. 1848. HOT SPRINGS. 27 

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 Phcenico- 
phaus 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, &c. 
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°, 170°, 173°, and 190°; of the cold, 84° at 4 p.m., and 
75° 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 con- 
stantly, 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. 

Confervce 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°, 
and as low as 90°. Of flowering plants, three showed in 
an eminent degree a constitution capable of resisting the 
heat, if not a predilection for it j these were all Cyperaccce, 
a Cyperus and an Eleocharis, having their roots in water of 
100°, and where they are probably exposed to greater heat, 
and a Fimbristylis at 98° ; 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 Noto- 
necta, abounded in water at 112°, with quantities of dead 
shells; frogs were very lively, with live shells, at 90°, and with 
various other water beetles. Having no means of detecting 
the salts of this water, I bottled some for future analysis.* 

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 
Orclddece also occur on the latter, Vanda Moxburghii 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 8 th of February, following 
Mr. Williams' camp. The morning was clear and cold, 
the temperature only 56°. 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 

* For an account of the Conferva?, and of the mineral constituents of the 
waters, &c. see Appendix B. 

Feb. 1848. INDIAN OLIBANUM. 29 

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, &c. We continued to ascend 
to 1360 feet, where I came upon a small forest of the 
Indian Olibanum (Boswellia thirifera), 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 p. 12, appears 
in the alluvium, which I had not elsewhere seen at this 

Descending to the village of Burshoot, we lost sight of 
the Bosivellia, 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 

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, Bomb ax, 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. infec- 
torid) 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 per- 


petuation 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 Zizyplii, 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.* 

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. 

* See Appendix, C. 


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 
si n gularly unhealthy . 

In a geographical point of view the range of hills 
between Burdwan and the Soane 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 ;* 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 Nerbudcla. 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-fossili- 
ferous limestone. Between the latter and the Paras-nath 

* A lofty mountain said to be 7000—8000 feet high. 

Feb. 1848. SOANE PEBBLES. 33 

gneiss, come (in order of superposition) shivered and 
undulating strata of metamorphic quartz, hornstone, horn- 
stone-porphyry, jaspers, &c. 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,* and of all 

* The chief rivers from this, the great water-shed of Western Bengal, flow north- 
west and south-east ; a few comparatively insignificant streams running north to 
VOL. i. d 


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 Goclavery 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 

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, Brahminee, and Mahanuddee 
into the Bay of Bengal. 


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 71J°, that of the air varying from 77^°, 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 allu- 
vium 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° at 10 p.m. ; and on the following morning 71^° in 
the deepest hole, and 70° in the shallower : that of the 
external air varied from 71° at 3 p.m., to 57° at daylight 
on the following morning. At the latter time I took 
the temperature of the earth near the surface, which 


. 53° 

4 inches . 

. . 62° 

1 inch 

. . 57 

7 „ . 

. 64 

2 „ • 

. 58 

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 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° where sheltered from the wind, and 104° 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° 
2J inches, 93 

.m. Surface 51° 
28 inches, 68 & 

Sand at this depth, 78* 

Finding the fresh milky juice of Calotropis to be only 72°, 
I was curious to ascertain at what depth this temperature 
was to be obtained in the sand of the river-bed, where 
the plant grew. 


. 104- 

1 inch. 

. . 102 

2 „ • 

. 94 

n „ 

. . 90 

3£ inches . 85° Compact. 

8 „ . . 73 Wet. 
15 „ . . 72 Ditto. 

The power this plant exercises of maintaining a low 
temperature of 72°, though the main portion which is 
subterraneous is surrounded by a soil heated to between 
90° and 104°, is very remarkable, and no doubt proxi- 
mately due to the rapidity of evaporation from the foliage, 

* The etymology of Eranoboas is undoubtedly Hierrinia Vahic (Sanskrit), the 
golden-armed. Sona 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. 


and consequent activity in the circulation. Its exposed 
leaves maintained a temperature of 80°, nearly 25° cooler 
than the similarly exposed sand and alluvium. On the 
same night the leaves were cooled down to 54°, when 
the sand had cooled to 51°. Before daylight the following 
morning the sand had cooled to 43°, and the leaves 
of the Calotropis to 4 5^°. I omitted to observe the 
temperature of the sap at' the latter time ; but the sand at 
the same depth (1 5 inches) as that at which its temperature 
and that of the plant agreed at mid-day, was 68°. And 
assuming this to be the heat of the plant, we find that 
the leaves are heated by solar radiation during the day 8°, 
and cooled by nocturnal radiation, 22^°. 

Mr. Theobald (my companion in this and many other 
rambles) pulled a lizard from a hole in the bank. Its 
throat was mottled with scales of brown and yellow. 
Three ticks had fastened on it, each of a size covering 
three or four scales : the first was yellow, corresponding 
with the yellow colour of the animal's belly, where it 
lodged, the second brown, from the lizard's head ; but the 
third, which was clinging to the parti-coloured scales 
of the neck, had its body parti-coloured, the hues corre- 
sponding with the individual scales which they covered. 
The adaptation of the two first specimens in colour to the 
parts to which they adhered, is sufficiently remarkable ; 
but the third case was most extraordinary. 

During the night of the 14th of February, I observed 
a beautiful display, apparently of the Aurora borealis, an 
account of which will be found in the Appendix. 

February 15. — Our passage through the Soane sands 
was very tedious, though accomplished in excellent style, the 
elephants pushing forward the heavy waggons of mining 
tools with their foreheads. The wheels were sometimes 


buried to the axles in sand, and the draught bullocks were 
rather in the way than otherwise. 

The body of water over which we ferried, was not above 
80 yards wide. In the rains, when the whole space of 
three miles is one rapid flood, 10 or ]2 feet deep, charged 
with yellow sand, this river must present an imposing 
spectacle. I walked across the dry portion, observing the 
sand-waves, all ranged in one direction, perpendicular to 
that of the prevailing wind, accurately representing the 
undulations of the ocean, as seen from a mast-head or high 
cliff. As the sand was finer or coarser, so did the surface 
resemble a gentle ripple, or an ocean-swell. The progressive 
motion of the waves was curious, and caused by the lighter 
particles being blown over the ridges, and filling up the 
hollows to leeward. There were a few islets in the sand, 
a kind of oases of mud and clay, in laminae no thicker than 
paper, and these were at once denizened by various weeds. 
Some large spots were green with wheat and barley-crops, 
both suffering from smut. 

We encamped close to the western shore, at the village of 
Dearee (alt. 330 feet) ; it marks the termination of the Ky- 
more Hills, along whose S.E. bases our course now lay, as we 
here quitted the grand trunk road for a rarely visited country. 

On the 16th we marched south up the river to Tilotho 
(alt. 395 feet), through a rich and highly cultivated 
country, covered with indigo, cotton, sugar-cane, safflower, 
castor-oil, poppy, and various grains. Dodders {Cuscutd) 
covered even tall trees with a golden web, and the 
Cajpparis acuminata was in full flower along the road side. 
Tilotho, a beautiful village, is situated in a superb grove 
of Mango, Banyan, Peepul, Tamarind, and Bassia. The 
Date or toddy-palm and fan-palm are very abundant 
and tall : each had a pot hung under the crown. The 

Feb. 1848. SCENERY OF THE SOANE. 39 

natives climb these trunks with a hoop or cord round 
the body and both ancles, and a bottle-gourd or other 
vessel hanging round the neck to receive the juice from 
the stock-bottle, in this aerial wine-cellar. These palms 
were so lofty that the climbers, as they paused in their 
ascent to gaze with wonder at our large retinue, resembled 
monkeys rather than men. Both trees yield a toddy, but 
in this district they stated that that from the Phoenix 
(Date) alone ferments, and is distilled; while in other 
parts of India, the B or assies (fan -palm) is chiefly em- 
ployed. I walked to the hills, over a level cultivated 
country interspersed with occasional belts of low wood ; in 
which the pensile nests of the weaver-bird were abundant, 
but generally hanging out of reach, in prickly Acacias. 

The hills here present a straight precipitous wall of 
horizontally stratified sandstone, very like the rocks at the 
Cape of Good Hope, with occasionally a shallow valley, and 
a slope of debris at the base, densely clothed with dry 
jungle. The cliffs are about 1000 feet high, and the plants 
similar to those at the foot of Paras-nath, but stunted : I 
climbed to the top, the latter part by steps or ledges of 
sandstone. The summit was clothed with long grass, trees 
of Diospyros and Terminalia, and here and there the 
Bosivettia. On the precipitous rocks the curious white- 
barked Sterculia foetida " flung its arms abroad," leafless, 
and looking as if blasted by lightning. 

A hole was sunk here again for the thermometers, and, as 
usual, with great labour ; the temperatures obtained were — 

Air. 4 feet 6 inches, under good shade of trees. 

9 p. M. 64i° . . . . 77° 

11 p. m 76° 

5£ a. m. 58£° . . . . 76° 

This is a very great rise (of 4°) above any of those 


previously obtained, and certainly indicates a much higher 
mean temperature of the locality. I can only suppose it 
due to the radiation of heat from the long range of sand- 
stone cliff, exposed to the south, which overlooks the flat 
whereon we were encamped, and which, though four or five 
miles off, forms a very important feature. The differences 
of temperature in the shade taken on this and the other 
side of the river are 2f ° higher on this side. 

On the 17th we marched to Akbarpore (alt. 400 feet), 
a village overhung by the rocky precipice of Rotasghur, 
a spur of the Kymore, standing abruptly forward. 

The range, in proceeding up the Soane valley, gradually 
approaches the river, and beds of non-fossiliferous limestone 
are seen protruding below the sandstone and occasionally 
rising into rounded hills, the paths upon which appear as 
white as do those through the chalk districts of England. 
The overlying beds of sandstone are nearly horizontal, or 
with a dip to the N. W. ; the subjacent ones of limestone 
dip at a greater angle. Passing between the river and a 
detached conical hill of limestone, capped with a flat mass 
of sandstone, the spur of Rotas broke suddenly on the 
view, and very grand it was, quite realising my anticipa- 
tions of the position of these eyrie-like hill-forts of India. 
To the left of the spur winds the valley of the Soane, with 
low-wooded hills on its opposite bank, and a higher range, 
connected with that of Behar, in the distance. To the 
right, the hills sweep round, forming an immense and 
beautifully wooded amphitheatre, about four miles deep, 
bounded with a continuation of the escarpment. At the 
foot of the crowned spur is the village of Akbarpore, 
where we encamped in a Mango tope ; * it occupies some 

* On the 24th of June, 1848, the Soane rose to an unprecedented height, and 
laid this grove of Mangos three feet under water. 

Feb. 1848. BEAUTIFUL OLD WELL. 41 

pretty undulating limestone hills, amongst which several 
streams flow from the amphitheatre to the Soane. 

During onr two days' stay here, I had the advantage of 
the society of Mr. C. E. Davis, who was our guide during 
some rambles in the neighbourhood, and to whose expe- 
rience, founded on the best habits of observation, I am 
indebted for much information. At noon we started to 
ascend to the palace, on the top of the spur. On the way 
we passed a beautiful well, sixty feet deep, and with a fine 
flight of steps to the bottom. Now neglected and over- 
grown with flowering weeds and creepers, it afforded me 
many of the plants I had only previously obtained in a 
withered state ; it was curious to observe there some of 
the species of the hill-tops, whose seeds doubtless are 
scattered abundantly over the surrounding plains, and 
only vegetate where they find a coolness and moisture 
resembling that of the altitude they elsewhere affect. A 
fine fig-tree growing out of the stone-work spread its leafy 
green branches over the well mouth, which was about 
twelve feet square ; its roots assumed a singular form, 
enveloping two sides of the walls with a beautiful net-work, 
which at high-water mark (rainy season), abruptly divides 
into thousands of little brushes, dipping into the water 
which they fringe. It was a pretty cool place to descend 
to, from a temperature of 80° above, to 74° at the bottom, 
where the water was 60°; and most refreshing to look, 
either up the shaft to the green fig shadowing the deep 
profound, or along the sloping steps through a vista of 
flowering herbs and climbing plants, to the blue heaven of 
a burning sky. 

The ascent to Rotas is over the dry hills of limestone, 
covered with a scrubby brushwood, to a crest where are 
the first rude and ruined defences. The limestone is 


succeeded by the sandstone cliff cut into steps, which led 
from ledge to ledge and gap to gap, well guarded with walls 
and an archway of solid masonry. Through this we passed 
on to the flat summit of the Kymore hills, covered with 
grass and forest, intersected by paths in all directions. 
The ascent is about 1200 feet — a long pull in the blazing 
sun of February. The turf consists chiefly of spear-grass 
and Andropogon muricatus, the kus-kus, which yields a 
favourite fragrant oil, used as a medicine in India. The 
trees are of the kinds mentioned before. A pretty octa- 
gonal summer-house, with its roof supported by pillars, 
occupies one of the highest points of the plateau, and com- 
mands a superb view of the scenery before described. 
From this a walk of three miles leads through the woods 
to the palace. The buildings are very extensive, and 
though now ruinous, bear evidence of great beauty in the 
architecture : light galleries, supported by slender columns, 
long cool arcades, screened squares and terraced walks, are 
the principal features. The rooms open out upon flat roofs, 
commanding views of the long endless table-land to the 
west, and a sheer precipice of 1000 feet on the other side, 
with the Soane, the amphitheatre of hills, and the village 
of Akbarpore below. 

This and Beejaghur, higher up the Soane, were amongst 
the most recently reduced forts, and this was further the 
last of those wrested from Baber in 1542. Some of the 
rooms are still habitable, but the greater part are ruinous, 
and covered with climbers, both of wild flowers and of 
the naturalised garden plants of the adjoining shrubbery ; 
the Arbor -tristis, with Hibiscus, Abutilon, &c, and above 
all, the little yellow-flowered Linaria ramosissima, crawling 
over every ruined wall, as we see the walls of our old 
English castles clothed with its congener L. Cymbalaria. 

Feb. 1848. ROTAS PALACE. 43 

In the old dark stables I observed the soil to be covered 
with a copious evanescent efflorescence of nitrate of lime, 
like soap-suds scattered about. 

I made Rotas Palace 1490 feet above the sea, so that 
this table-land is here only fifty feet higher than that I had 
crossed on the grand trunk road, before descending at 
the Dunwah pass. Its mean temperature is of course 
considerably (4°) below that of the valley, but though so 
cool, agues prevail after the rains. The extremes of tem- 
perature are less marked than in the valley, which becomes 
excessively heated, and where hot winds sometimes last for 
a week, blowing in furious gusts. 

The climate of the whole neighbourhood has of late 
changed materially ; and the fall of rain has much dimi- 
nished, consequent on felling the forests ; even within six 
years the hail-storms have been far less frequent and 
violent. The air on the hills is highly electrical, owing, no 
doubt, to the dryness of the atmosphere, and to this the 
frequent recurrence of hail- storms may be due. 

The zoology of these regions is tolerably copious, but 
little is known of the natural history of a great part of the 
plateau ; a native tribe, prone to human sacrifices, is talked 
of. Tigers are common, and bears are numerous ; they 
have, besides, the leopard, panther, viverine cat, and civet ; 
and of the dog tribe the pariah, jackal, fox, and wild dog, 
called Koa. Deer are very numerous, of six or seven 
kinds. A small alligator inhabits the hill streams, said 
to be a very different animal from either of the Soane 

During our descent we examined several instances of 
ripple-mark (fossil waves' footsteps) in the sandstone ; they 
resembled the fluting of the Bigillaria stems, in the coal- 
measures, and occurring as they did here, in sandstone, a 


little above great beds of limestone, had been taken for 
such, and as indications of coal. 

On the following day we visited Rajghat, a steep ghat 
or pass leading up the cliff to Rotas Palace, a little higher 
up the river. We took the elephants to the mouth of the 
glen, where we dismounted, and whence we followed a 
stream abounding in small fish and aquatic insects (Dytisci 
and Gyrini), through a close jungle, to the foot of the cliffs, 
where there are indications of coal. The woods were full 
of monkeys, and amongst other plants I observed Murray a 
exotica, but it w 7 as scarce. Though the jungle was so 
dense, the woods were very dry, containing no Palm, Aroi- 
dece, Peppers, Orchidea or Perns. Here, at the foot of the 
red cliffs, which towered imposingly above, as seen through 
the tree tops, are several small seams of coaly matter in the 
sandstone, with abundance of pyrites, sulphur, and copious 
efflorescences of salts of iron ; but no coal. The springs 
from the cliffs above are charged with lime, of which 
enormous tuff beds are deposited on the sandstone, full of 
impressions of the leaves and stems of the surrounding 
trees, which, however, I found it very difficult to recognize, 
and could not help contrasting this circumstance with the 
fact that geologists, unskilled in botany, see no difficulty in 
referring equally imperfect remains of extinct vegetables to 
existing genera. In some parts of their course the streams 
take up quantities of the efflorescence, which they scatter 
over the sandstones in a singular manner. 

At Akbarpore I had sunk two thermometers, one 4 feet 
6 inches, the other 5 feet 6 inches ; both invariably indi- 
cated 76°, the air varying from 56° to 79^°. Dew had 
formed every night since leaving Dunwah, the grass being 
here cooled 12° below the air. 

On the 19th of February we marched up the Soane to 


Tura, passing some low hills of limestone, between the 
cliffs of the Kymore and the river. On the shaded river- 
banks grew abundance of English genera — Cynoglosmm, 
Veronica, Potentitta, Ranunculus sceleratus, Rumew, several 
herbaceous Composites and LabiatcB ; Tamarix formed a 
small bush in rocky hillocks in the bed of the river, and in 
pools were several aquatic plants, Zannichellia, Ckara, a 
pretty little Vallisneria, and Potamogeton. The Brahminee 
goose was common here, and we usually saw in the 
morning immense flocks of wild geese overhead, migrating 

Here I tried again the effect of solar and nocturnal 
radiation on the sand, at different depths, not being able 
to do so on the alluvium. 

^oon, Temperature 

Daylight of 

of air, 87°. 

following morning. 

Noon. Daylight. 

Surface 110° 

. 52° 

4 inches 84° . . . 67° 

1 inch 102° . 

. . 55° 

8 ditto 77° Sand wet . 73° Wet 

2 ditto 93^° 

. 58° 

16 ditto 76° ditto. . 74° 

From Tura our little army again crossed the Soane, the 
scarped cliffs of the Kymore approaching close to the river 
on the west side. The bed is very sandy, and about one 
mile and a half across. 

The elephants were employed again, as at Baroon, to push 
the cart : one of them had a bump in consequence, as large 
as a child's head, just above the trunk, and bleeding much ; 
but the brave beast disregarded this, when the word of com- 
mand was given by his driver. 

The stream was very narrow, but deep and rapid, 
obstructed with beds of coarse agate, jasper, cornelian and 
chalcedony pebbles. A clumsy boat took us across to the 
village of Soanepore, a wretched collection of hovels. The 
crops were thin and poor, and I saw no palms or good trees. 


Squirrels however abounded, and were busy laying up their 
stores ; descending from the trees they scoured across a 
road to a field of tares, mounted the hedge, took an 
observation, foraged and returned up the tree with their 
booty, quickly descended, and repeated the operation of 
reconnoitering and plundering. 

The bed of the river is here considerably above that 
at Dearee, where the mean of the observations with those 
of Baroon, made it about 300 feet. The mean of those 
taken here and on the opposite side, at Tura, gives about 
400 feet, indicating a fall of 100 feet in only 40 miles. 

Near this the sandy banks of the Soane were full of 
martins' nests, each one containing a pair of eggs. The 
deserted ones were literally crammed full of long-legged 
spiders (Opilio), which could be raked out with a stick, 
when they came pouring down the cliff like corn from a 
sack ; the quantities are quite inconceivable. I did not 
observe the martin feed on them. 

The entomology here resembled that of Europe, more 
than I had expected in a tropical country, where predaceous 
beetles, at least Carabidem and Staphi/linidc<$, are gene- 
rally considered rare. The latter tribes swarmed under 
the clods, of many species but all small, and so singularly 
active that I could not give the time to collect many. In 
the banks again, the round egg-like earthy chrysalis of the 
Spliynoc Atropos (?) and the many-celled nidus of the leaf- 
cutter bee, were very common. 

A large columnar Euphorbia (E. ligulataj is common all 
along the Soane, and I observed it to be used everywhere 
for fencing. I had not remarked the E. neriifolia; and the 
E. tereticaulis had been very rarely seen since leaving 
Calcutta. The Cactus is nowhere found ; it is abundant in 
many parts of Bengal, but certainly not indigenous. 

!^; ; 3K 


From this place onwards up the Soane, there was no 
road of any kind, and we were compelled to be our own 
road engineers. The sameness of the vegetation and late- 
ness of the season made me regret this the less, for I was 
disappointed in my anticipations of finding luxuriance and 
novelty in these wilds. Before us the valley narrowed 
considerably, the forest became denser, the country on the 
south side was broken with rounded hills, and on the north 
the noble cliffs of the Kymore dipped down to the river. 
The villages were smaller, more scattered and poverty- 
stricken, with the Mahowa and Mango as the usual trees ; 
the banyan, peepul, and tamarind being rare. The natives 
are of an aboriginal jungle race ; and are tall, athletic, 
erect, much less indolent and more spirited than the 
listless natives of the plains. 

February 21. — Started at daylight: but so slow and 
difficult was our progress through fields and woods, and 
across deep gorges from the hills, that we only advanced 
five miles in the day ; the elephant's head too was aching 
too badly to let him push, and the cattle would not 
proceed when the draught was not equal. What was 
worse, it was impossible to get them to pull together up 
the inclined planes we cat, except by placing a man at the 
head of each of the six, eight, or ten in a team, and 
simultaneously screwing round their tails ; when one 
tortured animal sometimes capsizes the vehicle. The 
small carts got on better, though it was most nervous to 
see them rushing down the steeps, especially those with 
our fragile instruments, &c. 

Kosdera, where we halted, is a pretty place, elevated 440 
feet, with a broad stream from the hills flowing past it. 
These hills are of limestone, and rounded, resting upon 
others of hornstone and jasper. Following up the stream 


I came to some rapids, where the stream is crossed by 
large beds of hornstone and porphyry rocks, excessively 
hard, and pitched up at right angles, or with a bold dip 
to the north. The number of strata was very great, and 
only a few inches or even lines thick : they presented all 
varieties of jasper, hornstone, and quartz of numerous 
colours, with occasional seams of porphyry or breccia. 
The rocks were elegantly fringed with a fern I had not 
hitherto seen. Polypodium proliferum, which is the only 
species the Soane valley presents at this season. 

Returning over the hills, I found Hardwickia binata, a 
most elegant leguminous tree, tall, erect, with an elongated 
coma, and the branches pendulous. These trees grew in a 
shallow bed of alluvium, enclosing abundance of agate 
pebbles and kunker, the former derived from the quartzy 
strata above noticed. 

On the 23rd and 24th we continued to follow up the 
Soane, first to Panchadurma (alt. 490 feet), and thence 
to Pepura (alt. 587 feet), the country becoming densely 
wooded, very wild, and picturesque, the woods being 
full of monkeys, parrots, peacocks, hornbills, and wild 
animals. Strychnos potatorum, whose berries are used to 
purify water, forms a dense foliaged tree, 30 to 60 feet 
high, some individuals pale yellow, others deep green, 
both in apparent health. Feronia Nepha?itum and JEgle 
marmelos* were very abundant, with Sterculia, and the 
dwarf date-palm. 

One of my carts was here hopelessly broken down j 
advancing on the spokes instead of the tire of the wheels. 
By the banks of a deep gully here the rocks are well 
exposed : they consist of soft clay shales resting on the 

* The Bhel fruit, lately introduced into English medical -practice, as an 
astringent of great effect, in cases of diarrhoea and dysentery. 


limestone, which is nearly horizontal ; and this again, 
unconformably on the quartz and hornstone rocks, which 
are confused, and tilted up at all angles. 

A spur of the Kymore, like that of Rotas, here projects 
to the bed of the river, and was blazing at night with the 
beacon-like fires of the natives, lighted to scare the tigers 
and bears from the spots where they cut wood and bamboo; 
they afforded a splendid spectacle, the flames in some places 
leaping zig-zag from hill to hill in front of us, and looking 
as if a gigantic letter W were written in fire. 

The night was bright and clear, with much lightning, 
the latter attracted to the spur, and darting down as it 
were to mingle its fire with that of the forest ; so many 
flashes appeared to strike on the flames, that it is probable 
the heated air in their neighbourhood attracted them. 
We were awakened between 3 and 4 a.m., by a violent 
dust-storm, which threatened to carry away the tents. 
Our position at the mouth of the gulley formed by the 
opposite hills, no doubt accounted for it. The gusts were 
so furious that it was impossible to observe the barometer, 
which I returned to its case on ascertaining that any 
indications of a rise or fall in the column must have been 
quite trifling. The night had been oppressively hot, with 
many insects flying about ; amongst which I noticed 
earwigs, a genus erroneously supposed rarely to take to the 
wing in Britain. 

At 8^ a.m. it suddenly fell calm, and we proceeded 
to Chanchee (alt. 500 feet), the native carts breaking- 
down in their passage over the projecting beds of flinty 
rocks, or as they hurried down the inclined planes we cut 
through tne precipitous clay banks of the streams. Near 
Chanchee we passed an alligator, just killed by two men, a 
foul beast, about nine feet long, of the mugger kind. More 

E 2 


absorbing than its natural history was the circumstance of 
its having swallowed a child, that was playing in the water 
as its mother was washing her utensils in the river. The 
brute was hardly dead, much distended by the prey, and 
the mother was standing beside it. A very touching group 
was this : the parent with her hands clasped in agony, 
unable to withdraw her eyes from the cursed reptile, which 
still clung to life with that tenacity for which its tribe are 
so conspicuous ; beside these the two athletes leaned on 
the bloody bamboo staffs, with which they had all but 
despatched the animal. 

This poor woman earned a scanty maintenance by 
making catechu : inhabiting a little cottage, and having no 
property but two cattle to bring wood from the hills, and 
a very few household chattels ; and how few of these they 
only know who have seen the meagre furniture of Danga 
hovels. Her husband cut the trees in the forest and 
dragged them to the hut, but at this time he was sick, and 
her only boy, her future stay, it was, whom the beast had 

This province is famous for the quantity of catechu its dry 
forests yield. The plant {Acacia) is a little thorny tree, 
erect, and bearing a rounded head of well remembered 
prickly branches. Its wood is yellow, with a dark brick- 
red heart, most profitable in January and useless in June 
(for yielding the extract). 

The Butea frondosa was abundantly in flower here, and 
a gorgeous sight. In mass the inflorescence resembles 
sheets of flame, and individually the flowers are eminently 
beautiful, the bright orange-red petals contrasting bril- 
liantly against the jet-black velvety calyx. The nest of the 
Megacldle (leaf-cutter bee) was in thousands in the cliffs, 
with Mayflies, Caddis-worms, spiders, and many predaceous 


Soane Valley and Kymor Hills 
Cpchlospermuin sossypium 8c Butea frondosa 
in flower. 

London John Murray Decbrl853. 


beetles. Lamellicorn beetles were very rare, even Jji/wdius, 
and of Cetonice I did not see one. 

We marched on the 28th to Kota, at the junction of the 
river of that name with the Soane, over hills of flinty rock, 
which projected everywhere, to the utter ruin of the ele- 
phants' feet, and then over undulating hills of limestone ; 
on the latter I found trees of CocJdospermum, whose curious 
thick branches spread out somewhat awkwardly, each tipped 
with a cluster of golden yellow flowers, as large as the palm 
of the hand, and very beautiful : it is a tropical Gum-Cistus 
in the appearance and texture of the petals, and their frail 
nature. The bark abounds in a transparent gum, of which 
the white ants seem fond, for they had killed many trees. 
Of the leaves the curious rude leaf-bellows are made, with 
which the natives of these hills smelt iron. Scorpions 
appeared very common here, of a small kind, lJr inch long ; 
several were captured, and one of our party was stung on 
the finger ; the smart was burning for an hour or two, and 
then ceased. 

At Kota we were nearly opposite the cliffs at Beejaghur, 
where coal is reported to exist ; and here we again crossed 
the Soane, and for the last time. The ford is three miles 
up the river, and we marched to it through deep sand. 
The bed of the river is here 500 feet above the sea, and 
about three-quarters of a mile broad, the rapid stream 
being 50 or 60 yards wide, and breast deep. The sand is 
firm and siliceous, with no mica ; nodules of coal are said 
to be washed down thus far from the coal-beds of Burdee, 
a good deal higher up, but we saw none. 

The cliffs come close to the river on the opposite side, 
their bases clothed with woods which teemed with birds. 
The soil is richer, and individual trees, especially of 
BombaWy Terminalia and MaJiowa, very fine ; one tree of 


the Hardwickia, about 120 feet high, was as handsome a 
monarch of the forest as I ever saw, and it is not often 
that one sees trees in the tropics, which for a combination 
of beauty in outline, harmony of colour, and arrangement 
of branches and foliage, would form so striking an addition 
to an English park. 

There is a large break in the Kymore hills here, beyond 
the village of Kunch, through which our route lay to Bee- 
jaghur, and the Ganges at Mirzapore; the cliffs leaving 
the river and trending to the north in a continuous escarp- 
ment flanked with low ranges of rounded hills, and termi- 
nating in an abrupt spur (Mungeesa Peak) whose summit 
was covered with a ragged forest. At Kunch we saw four 
alligators sleeping in the river, looking at a distance like 
logs of wood, all of the short-nosed or mugger kind, dreaded 
by man and beast ; I saw none of the sharp-snouted (or 
garial), so common on the Ganges, where their long bills, 
with a garniture of teeth and prominent eyes peeping out of 
the water, remind one of geological lectures and visions of 
Ichthyosauri. Tortoises were frequent in the river, basking 
on the rocks, and popping into the water when approached. 

On the 1st of March we left the Soane, and struck inland 
over a rough hilly country, covered with forest, fully 
1000 feet below the top of the Kymore table-land, which 
here recedes from the river and surrounds an undulating 
plain, some ten miles either way, facing the south. The 
roads, or rather pathways, were very bad, and quite impas- 
sable for the carts without much engineering, cutting 
through forest, smoothing down the banks of the water- 
courses to be crossed, and clearing away the rocks as we 
best might. We traversed the empty bed of a mountain 
torrent, with perpendicular banks of alluvium 30 feet high, 
and thence plunged into a dense forest. Our course was 

March, 1848. PEACOCKS, FLORICAN, ETC. 55 

directed towards Mungeesa Peak, the remarkable projecting 
spur, between which and a conical hill the path led. 
Whether on the elephants or on foot, the thorny jujubes, 
Acacias, &c. were most troublesome, and all our previous 
scratchings were nothing to this. Peacocks and jungle- 
fowl were very frequent, the squabbling of the former and 
the hooting of the monkeys constantly grating on the ear. 
There were innumerable pigeons and a few Ploricans (a 
kind of bustard — considered the best eating game-bird in 
India). Prom the defile we emerged on an open flat, 
halting at Sulkun, a scattered village (alt. 684 feet), 
peopled by a bold-looking race (Coles)* who habitually 
carry the spear and shield. We had here the pleasure of 
meeting Mr. Pelle, an English gentleman employed in the 
Revenue department; this being one of the roads along 
which the natives transport their salt, sugar, &c, from 
one province to another. 

In the afternoon, I examined the conical hill, which, like 
that near Rotas, is of stratified beds of limestone, capped 
with sandstone. A stream runs round its base, cutting 
through the alluvium to the subjacent rock, which is 
exposed, and contains flattened spheres of limestone. 
These spheres are from the size of a fist to a child's head, 
or even much larger ; they are excessively hard, and neither 
laminated nor formed of concentric layers. At the top of 
the hill the sandstone cap was perpendicular on all sides, 
and its dry top covered with small trees, especially of 
Coc/dospermum. A few larger trees of Fici clung to the 
edge of the rocks, and by forcing their roots into the 
interstices detached enormous masses, affording good dens 

* The Coles, like the Danghas of the Rajmahal and Behar hills, and the 
natives of the mountains of the peninsula, form one of the aboriginal tribes 
of British India, and are widely different people from either the Hindoos or 


for bears and other wild animals. From the top, the view 
of rock, river, forest, and plain, was very fine, the eye 
ranging over a broad flat, girt by precipitous hills ; — West, 
the Kymore or Vindhya range rose again in rugged 
elevations ; — South, flowed the Soane, backed by ranges of 
wooded hills, smoking like volcanos with the fires of the 
natives ; — below, lay the bed of the stream we had left at 
the foot of the hills, cutting its way through the alluvium, 
and following a deep gorge to the Soane, which was there 
hidden by the rugged heights we had crossed, on which 
the greater part of our camp might be seen still straggling 
onwards ; — east, and close above us, the bold spur of 
Mungeesa shot up, terminating a continuous stretch of red 
precipices, clothed with forest along their bases, and over 
their horizontal tops. 

Prom Sulkun the view of the famed fort and palace of 
Beejaghur is very singular, planted on the summit of an 
isolated hill of sandstone, about ten miles off. A large 
tree by the palace marks its site ; for, at this distance, the 
buildings are themselves un distinguishable. 

There are many tigers on these hills ; and as one was 
close by, and had killed several cattle, Mr. Felle kindly 
offered us a chance of slaying him. Bullocks are tethered 
out, over-night, in the places likely to be visited by the 
brute ; he kills one of them, and is from the spot tracked 
to his haunt by natives, who visit the stations early in the 
morning, and report the whereabouts of his lair. The 
sportsman then goes to the attack mounted on an elephant, 
or having a roost fixed in a tree, on the trail of the tiger, 
and he employs some hundred natives to drive the animal 
past the lurking-place. 

On the present occasion, the locale of the tiger was 
doubtful ; but it was thought that by beating over several 

March, 1848. TIGER-HUNT. 57 

miles of country he (or at any rate, some other game) 
might be driven past a certain spot. Thither, accordingly, 
the natives were sent, who built machans (stages) in the 
trees, high out of danger's reach ; Mr. Theobald and 
myself occupied one of these perches in a Hardwickia tree, 
and Mr. Telle another, close by, both on the slope of a 
steep hill, surrounded by jungly valleys. We were also 
well thatched in with leafy boughs, to prevent the wary 
beast from espying the ambush, and had a whole stand of 
small arms ready for his reception. 

When roosted aloft, and duly charged to keep profound 
silence (which I obeyed to the letter, by falling sound 
asleep), the word was passed to the beaters, who surrounded 
our post on the plain-side, extending some miles in line, 
and full two or three distant from us. They entered the 
jungle, beating tom-toms, singing and shouting as they 
advanced, and converging towards our position. In the 
noonday solitude of these vast forests, our situation was 
romantic enough : there was not a breath of wind, an insect 
or bird stirring ; and the wild cries of the men, and the 
hollow sound of the drums broke upon the ear from a 
great distance, gradually swelling and falling, as the natives 
ascended the heights or crossed the valleys. After about 
an hour and a half, the beaters emerged from the jungle 
under our retreat ; one by one, two by two, but preceded by 
no single living thing, either mouse, bird, deer, or bear, and 
much less tiger. The beaters received about a penny a-piece 
for the day's work ; a rich guerdon for these poor wretches, 
whom necessity sometimes drives to feed on rats and offal. 

We were detained three days at Sulkun, from inability 
to get on with the carts ; and as the pass over the Kymore 
to the north (on the way to Mirzapore) was to be still 
worse, I took advantage of Mr. Felle's kind offer of camels 


and elephants to make the best of my way forward, 
accompanying that gentleman, en route, to his residence at 
Shahgunj, on the table-land. 

Both the climate and natural history of this flat on which 
Sulkun stands, are similar to those of the banks of the 
Soane; the crops are wretched. At this season the 
dryness of the atmosphere is excessive : our nails cracked, 
and skins peeled, whilst all articles of wood, tortoiseshell, 
&c, broke on the slightest blow. The air, too, was 
always highly electrical, and the dew-point was frequently 
40° below the temperature of the air. 

The natives are far from honest : they robbed one of the 
tents placed between two others, wherein a light was 
burning. One gentleman in it was awake, and on 
turning saw five men at his bedside, who escaped with 
a bag of booty, in the shape of clothes, and a tempting 
strong brass-bound box, containing private letters. The 
clothes they dropped outside, but the box of letters was 
carried off. There were about a hundred people asleep 
outside the tents, between whose many fires the rogues 
must have passed, eluding also the guard, who were, 
or ought to have been, awake. 


Ek-powa Ghat — Sandstones — Shahgunj — Table-land, elevation, &c. — Gum-arabic 
— Mango — Fair — Aquatic plants — Rujubbund — Storm — False sunset and 
sunrise — Bind hills — Mirzapore — Manufactures, imports, &c. — Climate of — 
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 Setakoond — Alluvium of Ganges — 
Rocks of Sultun-gunj — Bhaugulpore — Temples of Mt. Manden — Coles and 
native tribes — Bhaugulpore rangers — Horticultural gardens. 

On the 3rd of March I bade farewell to Mr. Williams 
and his kind party, and rode over a plain to the village of 
Markunda, at the foot of the Ghat. There the country 
becomes very rocky and wooded, and a stream is crossed, 
which runs over a flat bed of limestone, cracked into the 
appearance of a tesselated pavement. For many miles 
there is no pass over the Kymore range, except this, 
significantly called " Ek-powa-Ghat " (one-foot Ghat). It 
is evidently a fault, or shifting of the rocks, producing so 
broken a cliff as to admit of a path winding over the 
shattered crags. On either side, the precipices are ex- 
tremely steep, of horizontally stratified rocks, continued in 
an unbroken line, and the views across the plain and Soane 
valley, over which the sun was now setting, were superb. 
At the summit we entered on a dead flat plain or table- 
land, with no hills, except along the brim of the broad 
valley we had left, where are some curious broad pyramids, 


formed of slabs of sandstone arranged in steps. By dark 
we reached the village of Roump (alt. 1090 feet), beyond 
the top of the pass. 

On the next day I proceeded on a small, fast, and 
wofully high-trotting elephant, to Shahguirj, where I 
enjoyed Mr. Felle's hospitality for a few days. The 
country here, though elevated, is, from the nature of 
the soil and formation, much more fertile than what I had 
left. Water is abundant, both in tanks and wells, and 
rice-fields, broad and productive, cover the ground; 
while groves of tamarinds and mangos, now loaded with 
blossoms, occur at every village. 

It is very singular that the elevation of this table-land 
(1100 feet at Shahgunj) should coincide with that of the 
granite range of Upper Bengal, where crossed by the grand 
trunk road, though they have no feature but the presence 
of alluvium in common. Scarce a hillock varies the surface 
here, and the agricultural produce of the two is widely 
different. Here the flat ledges of sandstone retain the 
moisture, and give rise to none of those impetuous torrents 
which sweep it off the inclined beds of gneiss, or splintered 
quartz. Nor is there here any of the effloresced salts so 
forbidding to vegetation where they occur. Wherever 
the alluvium is deep on these hills, neither Catechu, 
Olibanum, Batea, Terminally Diospyros, dwarf-palm, or 
any of those plants are to be met with, which abound 
wherever the rock is superficial, and irrespectively of its 
mineral characters. 

The gum-arabic Acacia is abundant here, though not 
seen below, and very rare to the eastward of this meridian, 
for I saw but little of it in Behar. It is a plant partial 
to a dry climate, and rather prefers a good soil. In its 
distribution it in some degree follows the range of the 

March, 1848. CAMEL— MANGO— FAIR. 61 

camel, which is its constant companion over thousands of 
leagues. In the valley of the Ganges I was told that 
neither the animal nor plant flourish east of the Soane, 
where I experienced a marked change in the humidity of 
the atmosphere on my passage down the Ganges. It was 
a circumstance I was interested in, having first met with 
the camel at Teneriffe and the Cape Verd Islands, the 
westernmost limit of its distribution ; imported thither, 
however, as it now is into Australia, where, though there 
is no Acacia Arabica, four hundred other species of the 
genus are known. 

The mango, which is certainly the fruit of India, (as the 
pine-apple is of the Eastern Islands, and the orange 
of the West,) was now blossoming, and a superb sight. 
The young leaves are purplish- green, and form a curious 
contrast to the deep lurid hue of the older foliage ; 
especially when the tree is (which often occurs) dimi- 
diate, one half the green, and the other the red shades of 
colours ; when in full blossom, all forms a mass of yellow, 
diffusing a fragrance rather too strong and peculiar to be 

We passed a village where a large fair was being held, 
and singularly familiar its arrangements were to my early 
associations. The women and children are the prime 
customers ; for the latter whirl-you-go-rounds, toys, and 
sweetmeats were destined; to tempt the former, little 
booths of gay ornaments, patches for the forehead, ear-rings 
of quaint shapes, bugles and beads. Here as at home, I 
remarked that the vendors of these superfluities occupy 
the approaches to this Vanity-Fair. As, throughout the 
East, the trades are congregated into particular quarters of 
the cities, so here the itinerants grouped themselves into 
little bazaars for each class of commodity. Whilst I was 


engaged in purchasing a few articles of native workmanship, 
my elephant made an attack on a sweetmeat stall, demo- 
lishing a magnificent erection of barley-sugar, before his 
proceedings could be put a stop to. 

Mr. Felle's bungalow (whose garden smiled with roses 
in this wilderness) was surrounded by a moat (fed by 
a spring), which was full of aquatic plants, Nymphcea, 
Damasonium, Villarsia cristata, Aponogeton, three species 
of Potamogeton, two of Naias, Chara and Zannichcllia (the 
two latter indifferently, and often together, used in the 
refinement of sugar). In a large tank hard by, wholly fed 
by rain water, I observed only the Villarsia Indica, no 
Aponogeton, Nymphcea, or Damasonium, nor did these occur 
in any of the other tanks I examined, which were otherwise 
well peopled with plants. This may not be owing to the 
quality of the water so much as to its varying quantity in 
the tank. 

All around here, as at Roump, is a dead flat, except 
towards the crest of the ghats which overhang the valley 
of the Soane, and there the sandstone rock rises by steps 
into low hills. During a ride to a natural tank amongst 
these rocky elevations, I passed from the alluvium to 
the sandstone, and at once met with all the prevailing 
plants of the granite, gneiss, limestone and hornstone rocks 
previously examined, and which I have enumerated too 
often to require recapitulation ; a convincing proof that the 
mechanical properties and not the chemical constitution of 
the rocks regulate the distribution of these plants. 

Rujubbund (the pleasant spot), is a small tarn, or 
more properly the expanded bed of a stream, art having 
aided nature in its formation : it is edged by rocks 
and cliffs fringed with the usual trees of the neighbour- 
hood ; it is a wild and pretty spot, not unlike some 


birch-bordered pool in the mountains of Wales or Scotland, 
sequestered and picturesque. It was dark before I got 
back, with heavy clouds and vivid lightning approaching 
from the south-west. The day had been very hot (3 p.m., 
90°), and the evening the same ; but the barometer did 
not foretell the coming tempest, which broke with fury at 
7 p.m., blowing open the doors, and accompanied with 
vivid lightning and heavy thunder, close by and all round, 
though no rain fell. 

In the clear dry mornings of these regions, a curious 
optical phenomena may be observed, of a sunrise in 
the west, and sunset in the east. In either case, bright 
and well-defined beams rise to the zenith, often crossing to 
the opposite horizon. It is a beautiful feature in the fir- 
mament, and equally visible whether the horizon be cloudy 
or clear, the white beams being projected indifferently against 
a dark vapour or the blue serene. The zodiacal light shines 
from an hour or two after sunset till midnight, with 
singular brightness, almost equalling the milky way. 

March 7. — Left Shahgunj for Mirzapore, following 
the road to Goorawal, over a dead alluvial flat without a 
feature to remark. Turning north from that village, 
the country undulates, exposing the rocky nucleus, and 
presenting the usual concomitant vegetation. Occasionally 
park-like views occurred, which, where diversified by the 
rocky valleys, resemble much the noble scenery of the Forest 
of Dean on the borders of Wales ; the Ma/iotva especially 
representing the oak, with its spreading and often gnarled 
branches. Many of the exposed slabs of sandstone 
are beautifully waved on the surface with the ripple-mark 

Amowee, where I arrived at 9 p.m., is on an open 
grassy flat, about fifteen miles from the Ganges, which is 


seen from the neighbourhood, flowing among trees, with 
the white houses, domes, and temples of Mirzapore 
scattered around, and high above which the dust-clouds 
were coursing along the horizon. 

Mr. Money, the magistrate of Mirzapore, kindly sent a 
mounted messenger to meet me here, who had vast trouble 
in getting bearers for my palkee. In it I proceeded the 
next day to Mirzapore, descending a steep ghat of the 
Bind hills by an excellent road, to the level plains of the 
Ganges. Unlike the Dunwah pass, this is wholly barren. 
At the foot the sun was intensely hot, the roads alternately 
rocky and dusty, the villages thronged with a widely 
different looking race from those of the hills, and the whole 
air of the outskirts, on a sultry afternoon, far from 

Mirzapore is a straggling town, said to contain 100,000 
inhabitants. It flanks the river, and is built on an undu- 
lating alluvial bank, full of kunker, elevated 360 feet above 
the sea, and from 50 to 80 above the present level of the 
river. The vicinity of the Ganges and its green bank, and 
the numbers of fine trees around, render it a pleasing, 
though not a fine town. It presents the usual Asiatic 
contrast of squalor and gaudiness ; consisting of large 
squares and broad streets, interspersed with acres of low 
huts and groves of trees. It is celebrated for its manu- 
factory of carpets, which are admirable in appearance, and, 
save in durability, equal to the English. Indigo seed from 
Bundelkund is also a most extensive article of commerce, 
the best coming from the Doab. For cotton, lac, sugar, 
and saltpetre, it is one of the greatest marts in India. The 
articles of native manufacture are brass washing and 
cooking utensils, and stone deities worked out of the 

March, 1848. MIRZAPORE. 65 

There is little native vegetation, the country being 
covered with cultivation and extensive groves of mango, and 
occasionally of guava. English vegetables are abundant 
and excellent, and the strawberries, which ripen in March, 
rival the European fruit in size, but hardly in flavour. 

During the few days spent at Mirzapore with my kind 
friend, Mr. C. Hamilton, I was surprised to find the 
temperature of the day cooler by nearly 4° than that of the 
hills above, or of the upper part of the Soane valley ; while on 
the other hand the nights were decidedly warmer. The dew- 
point again was even lower in proportion, (7-|°) and the 
climate consequently drier. The atmosphere was extremely 
dry and electrical, the hair constantly crackling when 
combed. Further west, where the climate becomes still 
drier, the electricity of the air is even greater. Mr. Griffith 
mentions in his journal that in filling barometer tubes in 
Affghanistan, he constantly experienced a shock. 

Here I had the pleasure of meeting Lieutenant 
Ward, one of the suppressors of Thuggee {Thuggee, in 
Hindostan, signifies a deceiver ; fraud, not open force, 
being employed). This gentleman kindly showed me 
the approvers or king's evidence of his establishment, 
belonging to those three classes of human scourges, the 
Thug, Dakoit, and Poisoner. Of these the first was the 
Thug, a mild-looking man, who had been born and bred to 
the profession : he had committed many murders, saw no 
harm in them, and felt neither shame nor remorse. His 
organs of observation and clestructiveness were large, and 
the cerebellum small. He explained to me how the gang 
waylay the unwary traveller, enter into conversation with 
him, and have him suddenly seized, when the superior 
throws his own linen girdle round the victim's neck and 
strangles him, pressing the knuckles against the spine. 

VOL. I. F 


Taking off his own, he passed it round my arm, and 
showed me the turn as coolly as a sailor once taught me 
the hangman s knot. The Thug is of any caste, and from 
any part of India. The profession have particular stations, 
which they generally select for murder, throwing the body 
of their victim into a well. 

The Dakoit {dahhee, a robber) belongs to a class 
who rob in gangs, but never commit murder — arson and 
housebreaking also forming part of their profession. 
These are all high-class Rajpoots, originally from Guzerat ; 
who, on being conquered, vowed vengeance on man- 
kind. They speak both Hindostanee and the otherwise 
extinct Guzerat language ; this is guttural in the extreme, 
and very singular in sound. They are a very re- 
markable people, found throughout India, and called by 
various names ; their women dress peculiarly, and are 
utterly devoid of modesty. The man I examined was a 
short, square, but far from powerful Nepalese, with high 
arched eyebrows, and no organs of observation. These 
people are great cowards. 

The Poisoners all belong to one caste, of Pasie, or dealers 
in toddy : they go singly or in gangs, haunting the 
travellers' resting-places, where they drop half a rupee 
weight of pounded or whole Datura seeds into his food, 
producing a twenty-hours' intoxication, during which he is 
robbed, and left to recover or sink under the stupifying 
effects of the narcotic. He told me that the Datura seed 
is gathered without ceremony, and at any time, place, or 
age of the plant. He was a dirty, ill-conditioned look- 
ing fellow, with no bumps behind his ears, or promi- 
nence of eyebrow region, but a remarkable cerebellum. 

Though now all but extinct (except in Cuttack), through 
ten or fifteen years of unceasing vigilance on the part of 

March, 1848. THUGS. 67 

Government, and incredible activity and acnteness in the 
officers employed, the Thugs were formerly a wonderfully 
numerous body, who abstained from their vocation solely 
in the immediate neighbourhood of their own villages; 
which, however, were not exempt from the visits of 
other Thugs ; so that, as Major Sleeman says, — " The 
annually returning tide of murder swept unsparingly over 
the whole face of India, from the Sutlej to the sea-coast, 
and from the Himalaya to Cape Comorin. One narrow 
district alone was free, the Concan, beyond the ghats, 
whither they never penetrated." In Bengal, river Thugs 
replace the travelling practitioner. Candeish and Rohilkund 
alone harboured no Thugs as residents, but they were 
nevertheless haunted by the gangs. 

Their origin is uncertain, but supposed to be very 
ancient, soon after the Mahommedan conquest. They 
now claim a divine original, and are supposed to have 
supernatural powers, and to be the emissaries of the 
divinity, like the wolf, the tiger, and the bear. It is only 
lately that they have swarmed so prodigiously, — seven 
original gangs having migrated from Delhi to the Gangetic 
provinces about 200 years ago, and from these all the 
rest have sprung. Many belong to the most amiable, 
intelligent, and respectable classes of the lower and even 
middle ranks : they love their profession, regard murder as 
sport, and are never haunted with dreams, or troubled 
with pangs of conscience during hours of solitude, or 
in the last moments of life. The victim is an acceptable 
sacrifice to the goddess Davee, who by some classes is 
supposed to eat the lifeless body, and thus save her 
votaries the necessity of concealing it. 

They are extremely superstitious, always consulting 
omens, such as the direction in which a hare or jackall 

F 2 


crosses the road ; and even far more trivial circumstances 
will determine the fate of a dozen of people, and perhaps 
of an immense treasure. All worship the pickaxe, which is 
symbolical of their profession, and an oath sworn on it 
binds closer than on the Koran. The consecration of this 
weapon is a most elaborate ceremony, and takes place 
only under certain trees. They rise through various grades : 
the lowest are scouts ; the second, sextons ; the third are 
holders of the victims' hands ; the highest, stranglers. 

Though all agree in never practising cruelty, or robbing 
previous to murder, — never allowing any but infants to 
escape (and these are trained to Thuggee), and never 
leaving a trace of such goods as may be identified, — there 
are several variations in their mode of conducting opera- 
tions ; some tribes spare certain castes, others none : 
murder of woman is against all rules ; but the practice 
crept into certain gangs, and this it is which led to their 
discountenance by the goddess Davee, and the consequent 
downfall of the system. Davee, they say, allowed the 
British to punish them, because a certain gang had mur- 
dered the mothers to obtain their daughters to be sold to 

Major Sleeman has constructed a map demonstrating 
the number of " Bails," or regular stations for committing 
murder, in the kingdom of Oude alone, which is 170 miles 
long by 100 broad, and in which are 274, which are 
regarded by the Thug with as much satisfaction and 
interest as a game preserve is in England : nor are these 
" bails " less numerous in other parts of India. Of twenty 
assassins who were examined, one frankly confessed to 
having been engaged in 931 murders, and the least guilty 
of the number to 24. Sometimes 150 persons collected 
into one gang, and their profits have often been immense, 


the murder of six persons on one occasion yielding 82,000 
rupees ; upwards of 8000/. 

Of the various facilities for keeping up the system, the 
most prominent are, the practice amongst the natives of 
travelling before dawn, of travellers mixing freely together, 
and taking their meals by the way-side instead of in 
villages ; in the very Bails, in fact, to which they are 
inveigled by the Thug in the shape of a fellow-traveller ; 
money remittances are also usually made by disguised 
travellers, whose treasure is exposed at the custom-houses, 
and, worst of all, the bankers will never own to the losses 
they sustain, which, as a visitation of God, would, if 
avenged, lead, they think, to future, and perhaps heavier 
punishment. Had the Thugs destroyed Englishmen, they 
would quickly have been put down ; but the system being 
invariably practised on a class of people acknowledging the 
finger of the Deity in its execution, its glaring enormities 
were long in rousing the attention of the Indian Govern- 

A few examples of the activity exercised by the suppres- 
sors may be interesting. They act wholly through the 
information given by approvers, who are simply king's 
evidences. Of 600 Thugs engaged in the murder of 64 
people, and the plunder of nearly 20,000/., all except seventy 
Avere captured in ten years, though separated into six 
gangs, and their operations continued from 1826 to 1830 : 
the last party was taken in 1836. And again, between the 
years 1826 and 1835, 1562 Thugs were seized, of whom 
382 were hanged, and 909 transported ; so that now it is 
but seldom these wretches are ever heard of. 

To show the extent of their operations I shall quote an 
anecdote from Sleeman's Reports (to which I am indebted 
for most of the above information). He states that he was 


for three years in charge of a district on the Nerbudda, 
and considered himself acquainted with every circumstance 
that occurred in the neighbourhood ; yet, during that time, 
100 people were murdered and buried within less than a 
quarter of a mile of his own residence ! 

Two hundred and fifty boats full of river Thugs, in 
crews of fifteen, infested the Ganges between Benares and 
Calcutta, during five months of every year, under pretence 
of conveying pilgrims. Travellers along the banks were 
tracked, and offered a passage, which if refused in the first 
boat was probably accepted in some other. At a given 
signal the crews rushed in, doubled up the decoyed victim, 
broke his back, and threw him into the river, where floating 
corpses are too numerous to elicit even an exclamation. 

At Mirzapore I engaged a boat to carry me down the 
river to Bhagulpore, whence I was to proceed to the 
Sikkim-Himalaya. The sketch at p. 88 will give some 
idea of this vessel, which, though slow and very shabby, 
had the advantage of being cooler and more commodious 
than the handsomer craft. Its appearance was not 
unlike that of a floating haystack, or thatched cottage : 
its length was forty feet, and breadth fifteen, and it 
drew a foot and a half of water : the deck, on 
which a kind of house, neatly framed of matting, was 
erected, was but a little above the water's edge. My 
portion of this floating residence was lined with a kind of 
reed- work formed of long culms of Saccharum. The crew 
and captain consisted of six naked Hindoos, one of whom 
steered by the huge rudder, sitting on a bamboo-stage 
astern ; the others pulled four oars in the very bows 
opposite my door, or tracked the boat along the river- 

In my room (for cabin I cannot call it) stood my palkee, 

March, 1848. GANGES AT BENARES. 71 

fitted as a bed, with mosquito curtains ; a chair and table. 
On one side were placed all my papers and plants, under 
arrangement to go home ; on the other, my provisions, 
rice, sugar, curry-powder, a preserved ham, and cheese, &c. 
Around hung telescope, botanical box, dark lantern, 
barometer, and thermometer, &c, &c. Our position was 
often ashore, and, Hindoo-like, on the lee-shore, going 
bump, bump, bump, so that I could hardly write. I 
considered myself fortunate in having to take this slow 
conveyance clown, it enabling me to write and arrange all 
day long. 

I left on the 1 5th of March, and in the afternoon of the 
same day passed Chunar.* This is. a tabular mass of 
sandstone, projecting into the river, and the eastern ter- 
mination of the Kymore range. There is not a rock 
between this and the Himalaya, and barely a stone all the 
way down the Ganges, till the granite and gneiss rocks of 
the Behar range are again met with. The current of the 
Ganges is here very strong, and its breadth much lessened : 
the river runs between high banks of alluvium, containing 
much kunker. At Benares it expands into a broad stream, 
with a current which during the rains is said to flow 
eight miles an hour, when the waters rise 43 feet. The 
fall hence is 300 feet to its junction with the Hooghly, 
viz., one foot to every mile. My observations made that 
from Mirzapore to Benares considerably greater. 

Benares is the Athens of India. The variety of buildings 
along the bank is incredible. There are temples of every 
shape in all stages of completion and dilapidation, and at 
all angles of inclination ; for the banks give way so much 
that many of these edifices are fearfully out of the perpen- 

* The first station at which Henry Martyn laboured in India. 

72 BENARES. Chap. III. 

The famed mosque, built by Aurungzebe on the 
site of a Hindoo temple, is remarkable for its two 
octagonal minarets, 232 feet above the Ganges. The 
view from it over the town, especially of the European 
Resident's quarter, is fine ; but the building itself is 
deficient in beauty or ornament : it commands the muddy 
river with its thousands of boats, its waters peopled with 
swimmers and bathers, who spring in from the many 
temples, water-terraces, and ghats on the city side : oppo- 
site is a great sandy plain. The town below looks a mass 
of poor, square, flat-roofed houses, of which 12,000 are 
brick, and 16,000 mud and thatch, through the crowd of 
which, and of small temples, the eye wanders in vain for 
some attractive feature or evidence of the wealth, the 
devotion, the science, or the grandeur of a city celebrated 
throughout the East for all these attributes. Green parrots 
and pigeons people the air. 

The general appearance of an oriental town is always 
more or less ruinous ; and here the eye is fatigued with 
bricks and crumbling edifices, and the ear with prayer- 
bells. The bright meadows and green trees which adorn the 
European Resident's dwelling, some four miles back from 
the river, alone relieve the monotony of the scene. The 
streets are so narrow that it is difficult to ride a horse 
through them ; and the houses are often six stories high, 
with galleries crossing above from house to house. These 
tall, gaunt edifices sometimes give place to clumps of 
cottages, and a mass of dusty ruins, the unsavoury retreats 
of vermin and filth, where the Calotropis arborea generally 
spreads its white branches and glaucous leaves — a dusty 
plant. Here, too, enormous spiders' webs hang from the 
crumbling walls, choked also with dust, and resembling 
curtains of coarse muslin, being often some yards across, 

March, 1848. BENARES CITY. 7:; 

and not arranged in radii and arcs, but spun like weaver's 
woofs. Paintings, remarkable only for their hideous pro- 
portions and want of perspective, are daubed in vermilion, 
ochre, and indigo. The elephant, camel, and porpoise of 
the Ganges, dog, shepherd, peacock, and horse, are espe- 
cially frequent, and so is a running pattern of a hand 
spread open, with a blood-red spot on the palm. A still less 
elegant but frequent object is the fuel, which is composed 
of the manure collected on the roads of the city, moulded 
into flat cakes, and stuck by the women on the walls to 
dry, retaining the sign-manual of the artist in the impressed 
form of her outspread hand. The cognizance of the Rajah, 
two fish chained together, appears over the gates of public 

The hundreds of temples and shrines throughout the city 
are its most remaikable feature : sacred bulls, and lingams 
of all sizes, strewed Avith flowers and grains of rice, meet 
the eye at every turn ; and the city's boast is the possession 
of one million idols, which, of one kind and another, I can 
well believe. The great Hindoo festival of the Holt was 
now celebrating, and the city more than ordinarily crowded ; 
throwing red powder (lac and flour), with rose-water, is 
the great diversion at a festival more childish by far than 
a carnival. 

Through the kindness of Mr. Reade (the Commissioner), 
I obtained admission to the Bishishar-Kumardil, the 
" holiest of holies." It was a small, low, stone building, 
daubed with red inside, and swarming with stone images 
of Brahminee bulls, and various disgusting emblems. A 
fat old Brahmin, naked to the waist, took me in, but 
allowed no followers ; and what with my ignorance of his 
phraseology, the clang of bells and din of voices, I gained 
but little information. Some fine bells from Nepal were 



Chap. III. 

evidently the lion of the temple. I emerged, adorned with 
a chaplet of magnolia flowers, and with my hands full of 
Calotropis and Nydanthes blossoms. It was a horrid place 
for noise, smell, and sights. Thence I went to a holy 
well, rendered sacred because Siva, when stepping from 
the Himalaya to Ceylon, accidentally let a medicine chest 
fall into it. The natives frequent it with little basins or 
baskets of rice, sugar, &c, dropping in a little of each while 
they mutter prayers. 


The observatory at Benares, and those at Delhi, Matra 
on the Jumna, and Oujein, were built by Jey-Sing, Rajah 
of Jayanagar, upwards of 200 years ago; his skill in 

March, 1848. 



mathematical science was so well known, that the Emperor 
Mahommecl Shah employed him to reform the calendar. 
Mr. Hunter, in the " Asiatic Researches/' gives a transla- 
tion of the lucubrations of this really enlightened man, as 
contained in the introduction to his own almanac. 

2. equinoctial sun-dial, 
(length of gnomon, 39 feet; of each quadrant, 9 feet.) 

Of the more important instruments I took sketches ; 
No. 1, is the Naree-wila, or Equatorial dial ; No. 2, the 
Semrat-yunta, or Equinoctial dial ; No. 3, an Equatorial, 



Chap. IIJ. 

probably a Kranti-urit, or Azimuth circle.* Jey-Sing's 
genius and love of science seem, according to Hunter, to 
have descended to some of his family, who died early in 
this century, when " Urania fled before the brazen-fronted 


Mars, and the best of the observatories, that of Oujein, was 
turned into an arsenal and cannon foundry." 

The observatory is still the most interesting object in 

* Hunter, in As Soc. Researches, 177 (Calcutta) ; Sir R. Barker in Phil. Trans., 
lxvii. 008 (1777) ; J. L. Williams, Phil. Trans., Ixxxiii. 45 (1793). 


Benares, though it is now dirty and ruinous, and the great 
stone instruments are rapidly crumbling away. The 
building is square, with a central court and flat roof, round 
which the astrolabes, &c. are arranged. A half naked 
Astronomer-Royal, with a large sore on his stomach, took 
me round — he was a pitiful object, and told me he was 
very hungry. The observatory is nominally supported by 
the Rajah of Jeypore, who doles out a too scanty pittance 
to his scientific corps. 

In the afternoon Mr. Reade drove me to the Sar-nath, a 
singular Boodhist temple, a cylindrical mass of brickwork, 
faced with stone, the scrolls on which were very beautiful, 
and as sharp as if freshly cut : it is surmounted by a tall 
dome, and is altogether about seventy or a hundred feet 
high. Of the Boodh figures only one remains, the others 
having been used by a recent magistrate of Benares in re- 
pairing a bridge over the Goomtee ! Prom this place the 
Boodhist monuments, Hindoo temple, Mussulman mosque, 
and English church, were all embraced in one coup d'ceil. 
On our return, we drove past many enormous mounds of 
earth and brick-work, the vestiges of Old Benares, but 
whether once continued to the present city or not is un- 
known. Remains are abundant, eighteen feet below the 
site of the present city. 

Benares is the Mecca of the Hindoos, and the number of 
pilgrims who visit it is incalculable. Casi (its ancient 
name, signifying splendid), is alleged to be no part of 
this world, which rests on eternity, whereas Benares is 
perched on a prong of Siva's trident, and is hence beyond 
the reach of earthquakes.* Originally built of gold, the 

* Probably an allusion to the infrequency of these phenomena in this 
meridian; they being common both in Eastern Bengal, and in Western India 
beyond the Ganges. 


sins of the inhabitants were punished by its transmutation 
into stone, and latterly into mud and thatch: whoever 
enters it, and especially visits its principal idol (Siva 
fossilised) is secure of heaven. 

On the 18th I left Benares for Ghazepore, a pretty town 
situated on the north bank of the river, celebrated for its 
manufacture of rose-water, the tomb of Lord Cornwallis, 
and a site of the Company's stud. The Rose gardens sur- 
round the town: they are fields, with low bushes of the 
plant grown in rows, red with blossoms in the morning, all 
of which are, however, plucked long before midday. The 
petals are put into clay stills, with twice their weight of 
water, and the produce exposed to the fresh air, for a night, 
in open vessels. The unskimmed water affords the best, 
and it is often twice and even oftener distilled; but the 
fluid deteriorates by too much distillation. The Attar is 
skimmed from the exposed pans, and sells at 1 0/. the rupee 
weight, to make which 20,000 flowers are required. It is 
frequently adulterated with sandal-wood oil. 

Lord Cornwallis' mausoleum is a handsome building, 
modelled by Flaxman after the Sybil's Temple. The 
allegorical designs of Hindoos and sorrowing soldiers with 
reversed arms, which decorate two sides of the enclosed 
tomb, though perhaps as good as can be, are under any 
treatment unclassical and uncouth. The simple laurel and 
oak-leaf chaplets on the alternating faces are far more 
suitable and suggestive. 

March 21. — I left Ghazepore and dropped down the 
Ganges ; the general features of which are soon described. 
A strong current four or five miles broad, of muddy water, 
flows between a precipitous bank of alluvium or sand on 
one side, and a flat shelving one of sand or more rarely 
mud, on the other. Sand-banks are frequent in the river, 


especially where the great affluents debouche ; and there 
generally are formed vast expanses of sand, small "Saharas," 
studded with stalking pillars of sand, raised seventy or 
eighty feet high by gusts of wind, erect, stately, grave- 
looking columns, all shaft, with neither basement nor 
capital, the genii of the "Arabian Nights." The river is 
always dotted with boats of all shapes, mine being perhaps 
of the most common description ; the great square, 
Yankee-like steamers, towing their accommodation-boats 
(as the passengers' floating hotels are called), are the rarest. 
Trees are few on the banks, except near villages, and there 
is hardly a palm to be seen above Patna. Towns are un- 
frequent, such as there are being mere collections of huts, 
with the ghat and boats at the bottom of the bank ; and 
at a respectful distance from the bazaar, stand the neat 
bungalows of the European residents, with their smiling 
gardens, hedgings and fencings, and loitering servants at 
the door. A rotting charpoy (or bedstead) on the banks 
is a common sight, — the " sola reliquia " of some poor 
Hindoo, who departs this life by the side of the stream, to 
which his body is afterwards committed. 

Shoals of small goggled-eyed fish are seen, that spring 
clear out of the water, and are preyed upon by terns and 
other birds ; a few insects skim the surface ; turtle and 
porpoises tumble along, all forming a very busy contrast to 
the lazy alligator, sunning his green and scaly back near 
the shore, with his ichthyosaurian snout raised high above 
the water. Birds are numerous, especially early and late 
in the day. Along the silent shore the hungry Pariah dog 
may be seen tearing his meal from some stranded corpse, 
whilst the adjutant-bird, with his head sunk on his body 
and one leg tucked up, patiently awaits his turn. At 
night the beautiful Brahminee geese alight, one by one, and 


seek total solitude; ever since having disturbed a god 
in his slumbers, these birds are fated to pass the night 
in single blessedness. The gulls and terns, again, roost in 
flocks, as do the wild geese and pelicans, — the latter, how- 
ever, not till after making a hearty and very noisy supper. 
These birds congregate by the sides of pools, and beat the 
water with violence, so as to scare the fish, which thus be- 
come an easy prey; a fact which was, I believe, first in- 
dicated by Pallas, during his residence on the banks of the 
Caspian Sea. Shells are scarce, and consist of a few small 
bivalves ; their comparative absence is probably due to the 
paucity of limestone in the mountains whence the many 
feeders flow. The sand is pure white and small-grained, 
with fragments of hornblende and mica, the latter varying 
in abundance as a feeder is near or far away. Pink sand* 
of garnets is very common, and deposited in layers inter- 
stratified with the white quartz sand. Worm-marks, 
ripple-marks, and the footsteps of alligators, birds and 
beasts, abound in the wet sancl. The vegetation of the 
banks consists of annuals which find no permanent resting- 
place. Along the sandy shores the ever-present plants 
are mostly English, as Dock, a Nasturtium, Ranunculus 
sceleratus, Fumitory, Juncus bufonius, Common Vervain, 
Gnqplialium luteo-album, and very frequently Veronica 
Anagallis. On the alluvium grow the same, mixed with 
Tamarisk, Acacia Arabica, and a few other bushes. 

Withered grass abounds ; and wheat, dhal (Cajanui) 
and gram (Cicer arietinuni), Carthamus, vetches, and rice 
are the staple products of the country. Bushes are few, 
except the universally prevalent Adhatoda and Calotropis. 

* I have seen the same garnet sand covering the bottom of the Himalayan 
torrents, where it is the produce of disintegrated gneiss, and whence it is trans- 
ported to the Ganges. 

March, 1848. PLAGUE OF INSECTS. 81 

Trees, also, are rare, and of stunted growth ; Figs, the 
Artocarpus and some Legumiviosce prevail most. I saw 
but two kinds of palm, the fan-palm, and Phoenix: the 
latter is characteristic of the driest locality. Then, for 
the animal creation, men, women, and children abound, 
both on the banks, and plying up and down the Ganges. 
The humped cow (of which the ox- is used for draught) 
is common. Camels I occasionally observed, and more 
rarely the elephant; poneys, goats, and dogs muster 
strong. Porpoises and alligators infest the river, even 
above Benares. Flies and mosquitos are terrible pests • 
and so are the odious flying-bugs,* which insinuate them- 
selves between one's skin and clothes, diffusing a dreadful 
odour, which is increased by any attempt to touch or 
remove them. In the evening it was impossible to keep 
insects out of the boat, or to hinder their putting the lights 
out ; and of these the most intolerable was the above- 
mentioned flying-bug. Saucy crickets, too, swarm, and 
spring up at one's face, whilst mosquitos maintain a constant 
guerilla warfare, trying to the patience no less than to the 
nerves. Thick webs of the gossamer spider float across the 
river during the heat of the day, as coarse as fine thread, 
and being inhaled keep tickling the nose and lips. 

On the 18th, the morning commenced with a dust- 
storm, the horizon was about 20 yards off, and ashy white 
with clouds of sand ; the trees were scarcely visible, and 
every thing 'in my boat was covered with a fine coat of im- 
palpable powder, collected from the boundless alluvial plains 
through which the Ganges flows. Trees were scarcely 
discernible, and so dry was the wind that drops of water 
vanished like magic. Neither ferns, mosses, nor lichens 
grow along the banks of the Ganges, they cannot survive the 

* Large Hemipterous insects, of the genus Derccteryx. 

VOL. 1 


transition from parching like this to the three months' floods 
at midsummer, when the country is for miles under water. 

March 23. — Passed the mouth of the Soane, a vast 
expanse of sand dotted with droves of camels ; and soon 
after, the wide-spread spits of sand along the north bank 
announced the mouth of the Gogra, one of the vastest 
of the many Himalayan affluents of the Ganges. 

On the 25th of March I reached Dinapore, a large 
military station, sufficiently insalubrious, particularly for 
European troops, the barracks being so misplaced that the 
inmates are suffocated : the buildings run east and west 
instead of north and south, and therefore lose all the 
breeze in the hottest weather. From this place I sent the 
boat down to Patna, and proceeded thither by land to 
the house of Dr. Irvine, an old acquaintance and botanist, 
from whom I received a most kind welcome. On the 
road, Bengal forms of vegetation, to which I had been for 
three months a stranger, reappeared ; likewise groves of 
fan and toddy palms, which are both very rare higher up 
the river ; clumps of large bamboo, orange, Acacia Sissoo, 
Melia, Giiatteria longifolia, Spondias mangifera, Odina, 
Euphorbia pentagona, neriifolia and trigona, were common 
road-side plants. In the gardens, Papaw, Crofon, Jatropha, 
Buddleia, Cookia, Loquat, Litchi, Longan, all kinds of the 
orange tribe, and the cocoa-nut, some from their presence, 
and many from their profusion, indicated a decided change 
of climate, a receding from the desert north-west of India, 
and its dry winds, and an approach to the damper regions 
of the many-mouthed Ganges. 

My main object at Patna being to see the opium Godowns 
(stores), I waited on Dr. Corbett, the Assistant-Agent, who 
kindly explained everything to me, and to whose obliging 
attentions I am much indebted. 


The E. I. Company grant licences for the cultivation of 
the poppy, and contract for all the produce at certain rates, 
varying with the quality. No opium can be grown with- 
out this licence, and an advance equal to about two-thirds 
of the value- of the produce is made to the grower. This 
produce is made over to district collectors, who approx- 
imately fix the worth of the contents of each jar, and 
forward it to Patna, where rewards are given for the best 
samples, and the worst are condemned without payment ; 
but all is turned to some account in the reduction of the 
drug to a state fit for market. 

The poppy flowers in the end of January and beginning 
of February, and the capsules are sliced in February and 
March with a little instrument like a saw, made of three 
iron plates with jagged edges, tied together. The cultiva- 
tion is very carefully conducted, nor are there any very 
apparent means of improving this branch of commerce and 
revenue. During the N. W., or dry winds, the best opium 
is procured, the worst during the moist, or E. and N.E., 
when the drug imbibes moisture, and a watery bad solution 
of opium collects in cavities of its substance, and is called 
Passewa, according to the absence of which the opium is 
generally prized. 

At the end of March the opium jars arrive at the stores 
by water and by land, and continue accumulating for some 
weeks. Every jar is labelled and stowed in a proper 
place, separately tested with extreme accuracy, and valued. 
When the whole quantity has been received, the contents 
of all the jars are thrown into great vats, occupying a very 
large building, whence the mass is distributed, to be made 
up into balls for the markets. This operation is carried on in 
a long paved room, where every man is ticketed, and many 
overseers are stationed to see that the work is properly 



conducted. Each workman sits on a stool, with a double 
stage and a tray before him. On the top stage is a tin basin, 
containing opium sufficient for three balls ; in the lower 
another basin, holding water : in the tray stands a brass 
hemispherical cup, in which the ball is worked. To the 
man's right hand is another tray, with two compartments, 
one containing thin pancakes of poppy petals pressed toge- 
ther, the other a cupful of sticky opium-water, made from 
refuse opium. The man takes the brass cup, and places a 
pancake at the bottom, smears it with opium -water, and with 
many plies of the pancakes makes a coat for the opium. Of 
this he takes about one-third of the mass before him, puts it 
inside the petals, and agglutinates many other coats over it : 
the balls are then again weighed, and reduced or increased 
to a certain weight if necessary. At the day's end, each 
man takes his work to a rack with numbered compart- 
ments, and deposits it in that which answers to his own 
number, thence the balls (each being put in a clay cup) are 
carried to an enormous drying-room, where they are exposed 
in tiers, and constantly examined and turned, to prevent 
their being attacked by weevils, which are very prevalent 
during moist winds, little boys creeping along the racks 
all day long for this purpose. When dry, the balls are 
packed in two layers of six each in chests, with the stalks, 
dried leaves, and capsules of the plant, and sent down to 
Calcutta. A little opium is prepared of very fine quality 
for the Government Hospitals, and some for general sale 
in India ; but the proportion is trifling, and such is 
made up into square cakes. A good workman will pre- 
pare from thirty to fifty balls a day, the total produce 
being 10,000 to 12,000 a clay; during one working 
season 1,353,000 balls are manufactured for the Chinese 
market alone. 

March, 1848. OPIUM MANUFACTURE. 85 

The poppy-petal pancakes, each about a foot radius, are 
made in the fields by women, by the simple operation of 
pressing the fresh petals together. They are brought in 
large baskets, and purchased at the commencement of the 
season. The liquor with which the pancakes are agglu- 
tinated together by the ball-maker, and worked into the 
ball, is merely inspissated opium-water, the opium for 
which is derived from the condemned opium, (Passewa,) 
the washing of the utensils, and of the workmen, every one 
of whom is nightly laved before he leaves the establishment, 
and the water is inspissated. Thus not a particle of opium 
is lost. To encourage the farmers, the refuse stalks, leaves, 
and heads are bought up, to pack the balls with ; but this 
is far from an economical plan, for it is difficult to keep the 
refuse from damp and insects. 

A powerful smell of opium pervaded these vast buildings, 
which Dr. Corbett* assured me did not affect himself or 
the assistants. The men work ten hours a day, becoming 
sleepy in the afternoon ; but this is only natural in the hot 
season : they are rather liable to eruptive diseases, possibly 
engendered by the nature of their occupation. 

Even the best East Indian opium is inferior to the 
Turkish, and owing to peculiarities of climate, will 
probably always be so. It never yields more than five 
per cent, of morphia, whence its inferiority, but is as good 
in other respects, and even richer in narcotine. 

The care and attention devoted to every department of 
collecting, testing, manipulating, and packing, is quite 
extraordinary ; and the result has been an impulse to the 
trade, beyond what was anticipated. The natives have 

* I am greatly indebted to Mr. Oldfield, the Opium Agent, and to Dr. Corbett, 
for a complete set of specimens, implements, and drawings, illustrating the 
cultivation and manufacture of Opium. They are exhibited in the Kew Museum 
of Economic Botany. 


been quick at apprehending and supplying the wants of 
the market, and now there are more demands for licences 
to grow opium than can be granted. All the opium eaten 
in India is given out with a permit to licensed dealers, and 
the drug is so adulterated before it reaches the retailers in 
the bazaars, that it does not contain one-thirtieth part of 
the intoxicating power that it did when pure. 

Patna is the stronghold of Mahommedanism, and from 
its central position, its command of the Ganges, and its 
proximity to Nepal (which latter has been aptly compared 
to a drawn dagger, pointed at the heart of India), it is an 
important place. For this reason there are always a 
European and several Native Regiments stationed there. 
In the neighbourhood there is little to be seen, and the 
highly cultivated flat country is unfavourable to native 

The mudar plant (Calotropis) was abundant here, but I 
found that its properties and nomenclature were far from 
settled points. On the banks of the Ganges, the larger, 
white-flowered, sub-arboreous species prevailed ; in the 
interior, and along my whole previous route, the smaller 
purple-flowered kind only was seen. Mr. Davis, of Rotas, 
was in the habit of using the medicine copiously, and 
vouched for the cure of eighty cases, chiefly of leprosy, 
by the white mudar, gathered on the Ganges, whilst the 
purple of Rotas and the neighbourhood was quite inert : 
Dr. Irvine, again, used the purple only, and found the 
white inert. The European and native doctors, who knew 
the two plants, all gave the preference to the white ; except 
Dr. Irvine, whose experience over various parts of India is 
entitled to great weight. 

March 29. — Dropped down the river, experiencing a 
succession of east and north-east winds during the whole 

April, 1848. MONGHYli. 87 

remainder of the voyage. These winds are very prevalent 
throughout the month of March, and they rendered the 
passage in my sluggish boat sufficiently tedious. In other 
respects I had but little bad weather to complain of : 
onlv one shower of rain occurred, and but few storms of 
thunder and lightning. The stream is very strong, and its 
action on the sand-banks conspicuous. All night I used 
to hear the falling cliffs precipitated with a dull heavy 
splash into the water, — a pretty spectacle in the day-time, 
when the whirling current is seen to carry a cloud of 
white dust, like smoke, along its course. 

The Curruckpore hills, the northern boundary of the 
gneiss and granite range of Paras-nath, are seen first in 
the distance, and then throwing out low loosely timbered 
spurs towards the river ; but no rock or hill comes close to 
the banks till near Monghyr, where two islets of rock rise 
out of the bed of the river. They are of stratified quartz, 
dipping, at a high angle, to the south-east ; and, as far as 
I could observe, quite barren, each crowned with a little 
temple. The swarm of boats from below Patna to this 
place was quite incredible. 

April 1 . — Arrived at Monghyr, by far the prettiest town 
I had seen on the river, backed by a long range of wooded 
hills, — detached outliers of which rise in the very town. 
The banks are steep, and they appear more so owing to the 
fortifications, which are extensive. A number of large, white, 
two-storied houses, some very imposing, and perched on 
rounded or conical hills, give a European aspect to the place. 

Monghyr is celebrated for its iron manufactures, 
especially of muskets, in which respect it is the Birming- 
ham of Bengal. Generally speaking, these weapons are 
poor, though stamped with the first English names. A 
native workman will, however, if time and sufficient reward 



Chap. TIL 

be given, turn out a first rate fowling-piece. The in- 
habitants are reported to be sad drunkards, and the 
abundance of toddy-palms was quite remarkable. The 
latter, (here the Phceniw sylvestris,) I never saw wild, but it 
is considered to be so in N.W. India ; it is still a doubtful 
point whether it is the same as the African species. In the 
morning of the following day I went to the hot springs of 
Seeta-koond (wells of Seeta), a few miles south of the town. 


The hills are hornstone and quartz, stratified and dipping 
southerly with a very high angle; they are very barren, 
and evidently identical with those on the south bank of the 
Soane ; skirting, in both cases, the granite and gneiss 
range of Paras-nath. The alluvium on the banks of the 
Ganges is obviously an aqueous deposit subsequent to the 
elevation of these hills, and is perfectly plane up to their 

April, 1848. HOT SPRINGS. 89 

bases. The river has its course through the alluvium, like 
the Soane. The depth of the former is in many places 
upwards of 100 feet, and the kunker pebbles it contains 
are often disposed in parallel undulating bands. It 
nowhere contains sand pebbles or fossils; concretions of 
lime (kunker) alone interrupting its uniform consistence. 
It attains its greatest thickness in the valleys of the Ganges 
and the Soane, gradually sloping up to the Himalaya and 
Curruckpore hills on either flank. It is, however, well 
developed on the Kymore and Paras-nath hills, 1200 to 
1500 feet above the Ganges valley, and I have no doubt 
was deposited in very deep water, when the relative 
positions of these mountains to the Ganges and Soane 
valleys were the same that they are now. Like every 
other part of the surface of India, it has suffered much 
from denudation, especially on the above-named mountains, 
and around their bases, where various rocks protrude 
through it. Along the Ganges again, its surface is an 
unbroken level between Chunar and the rocks of 
Monghyr. The origin of its component mineral matter 
must be sought in the denudation of the Himalayas within 
a very recent geological period. The contrast between the 
fertility of the alluvium and the sterility of the protruded 
quartzy rocks is very striking, cultivation running up to 
these fields of stones, and suddenly stopping. 

Unlike the Soorujkoond hot-springs, those of Seeta- 
koond rise in a plain, and were once covered by a 
handsome temple. All the water is collected in a tank, 
some yards square, with steps leading down to it. The 
water, which is clear and tasteless (temp. 104°), is so 
pure as to be exported copiously, and the Monghyr 
manufactory of soda-water presents the anomaly of owing 
its purity to Seeta's ablutions. 


On my passage down the river I passed the picturesque 
rocks of Sultangunj ; they are similar to those of Monghyr, 
but very much larger and loftier. One, a round-headed 
mass, stands on the bank, capped with a triple-domed 
Mahommedan tomb, palms, and figs. The other, which 
is far more striking, rises isolated in the bed of the river, 
and is crowned with a Hindoo temple, its pyramidal cone 
surmounted with a curious pile of weathercocks, and two 
little banners. The current of the Ganges is here very 
strong, and runs in deep black eddies between the rocks. 

Though now perhaps eighty or a hundred yards from the 
shore, the islet must have been recently a peninsula, for it 
retains a portion of the once connecting bank of alluvium, in 
the form of a short flat-topped cliff, about thirty feet above 
the water. Some curious looking sculptures on the rocks 
are said to represent Naragur (or Vishnu), Suree and 
Sirooj ; but to me they were quite unintelligible. The 
temple is dedicated to Naragur, and inhabited by Fakirs ; 
it is the most holy on the Ganges. 

April 5. — I arrived at Bhagulpore, and took up my 
quarters with my friend Dr. Grant, till he should arrange 
my dawk for Sikkim. 

The town has been supposed to be the much-sought 
Palibothra, and a dirty stream hard by (the Chundum), the 
Eranoboas ; but Mr. Ravenshaw has now brought all 
existing proofs to bear on Patna and the Soane. It is, like 
most hilly places in India, S. of the Himalaya, the seat of 
much Jain worship; and the temples on Mount Man den,* a 
few miles off, are said to have been 540 in number. At 
the assumed summer-palaces of the kings of Palibothra 
the ground is covered with agates, brought from the 

* For the following information about Bhagulpore and its neighbourhood, I am 
indebted chiefly to Col. Francklin's essay in the Asiatic Researches ; and the late 
Major Napleton and Mr. Pontet. 

April, 1848. BHAGULPORE. 91 

neighbouring hills, which were, in a rough state, let into 
the walls of the buildings. These agates perfectly resemble 
the Soane pebbles, and they assist in the identification of 
these flanking hills with those of the latter river. 

Again, near the hills, the features of interest are very 
numerous. The neighbouring mountains of Curruckpore, 
which are a portion of the Rajmahal and Paras-nath range, 
are peopled by tribes representing the earliest races of India, 
prior to the invasion of young Rama, prince of Oude, who, 
according to the legend, spread Brahminism with his con- 
quests, and won the hand of King Jannuk's daughter, Seeta, 
by bending her father's bow. These people are called Coles, 
a middle-sized, strong, very dark, and black-haired race, 
with thick lips : they have no vocation but collecting iron 
from the soil, which occurs abundantly in nodules. They 
eat flesh, whether that of animals killed by themselves, or 
of those which have died a natural death, and mix with 
Hindoos, but not with Mussulmen. There are other tribes, 
vestiges of the Tamulian race, differing somewhat in their 
rites from these, and approaching, in their habits, more to 
Hindoos ; but all are timorous and retiring. 

The hill-rangers, or Bhagulpore-rangers, are all natives 
of the Rajmahal hills, and form a local corps maintained by 
the Company for the protection of the district. For many 
years these people were engaged in predatory excursions, 
which, owing to the nature of the country, were checked 
with great difficulty. The plan was therefore conceived, 
by an active magistrate in the district, of embodying a 
portion into a military force, for the protection of the 
country from invasions of their own tribes ; and this 
scheme has answered perfectly. 

To me the most interesting object in Bhagulpore was 
the Horticultural Gardens, whose origin and flourishing 


condition are due to the activity and enterprise of the late 
Major Napleton, commander of the hill-rangers. The site 
is good, consisting of fifteen acres, that were, four years 
ago, an indigo field, but form now a smiling garden. 
About fifty men are employed ; and the number of seeds 
and vegetables annually distributed is very great. Of 
trees the most conspicuous are the tamarind, Tecoma 
jasminoides, Erytlirina, Adansonia, Bombax, teak, banyan, 
peepul, Sissoo, Casuarina, Terminalia, Melia, Bauhinia. 
Of introduced species English and Chinese flat peaches 
(pruned to the centre to let the sun in), Mangos of various 
sorts, Eugenia Jambos, various Anonas, Litchi, Loquat and 
Longan, oranges, Sapodilla ; apple, pear, both succeeding 
tolerably ; various Cabool and Persian varieties of fruit- 
trees ; figs, grapes, guava, apricots, and jujube. The grapes 
looked extremely well, but they require great skill and care 
in the management. They form a long covered walk, with 
a row of plantains on the W. side, to diminish the effects 
of the hot winds, but even with this screen, the fruit on 
that side are inferior to that on the opposite trellis. 
Easterly winds, again, being moist, blight these and other 
plants, by favouring the abundant increase of insects, and 
causing the leaves to curl and fall off ; and against this evil 
there is no remedy. With a clear sky the mischief is not 
great ; under a cloudy one the prevalence of such winds is 
fatal to the crop. The white ant sometimes attacks the 
steins, and is best checked by washing the roots with lime- 
water, yellow arsenic, or tobacco-water. Numerous Cerealia, 
and the varieties of cotton, sugar-cane, &c. all thrive ex- 
tremely well; so do many of our English vegetables. 
Cabbages, peas, and beans are much injured by the cater- 
pillars of a Pontia, like our English " White ; " raspberries, 
currants, and gooseberries will not grow at all. 


The seeds were all deposited in bottles, and hung round 
the walls of a large airy apartment ; and for cleanliness and 
excellence of kind they would bear comparison with the 
best seedsman's collection in London. Of English garden 
vegetables, and varieties of the Indian Cerealia, and legu- 
minous plants, Indian corn, millets, rice, &c, the collections 
for distribution were extensive. 

The manufacture of economic products is not neglected. 
Excellent coffee is grown ; and arrow-root, equal to the best 
West Indian, is prepared, at Is. 6d. per bottle of twenty- 
four ounces, — about a fourth of the price of that article in 

In most respects the establishment is a model of what 
such institutions ought to be in India; not only of real 
practical value, in affording a good and cheap supply of the 
best culinary and other vegetables that the climate can pro- 
duce, but as showing to what departments efforts are 
best directed. Such gardens diffuse a taste for the most 
healthy employments, and offer an elegant resource for 
the many unoccupied hours which the Englishman in 
India finds upon his hands. They are also schools of 
gardening ; and a simple inspection of what has been done 
at Bhagulpore is a valuable lesson to any person about to 
establish a private garden of his own. 

I often heard complaints made of the seeds distributed 
from these gardens not vegetating freely in other parts of 
India, and it is not to be expected that they should retain 
their vitality unimpaired through an Indian rainy season ; 
but on the other hand I almost invariably found that the 
planting and tending had been left to the uncontrolled 
management of native gardeners, who with a certain 
amount of skill in handicraft are, from habits and preju- 
dices, singularly unfit for the superintendence of a garden. 


Leave Bhagulpore — Kunker — Col gong — Himalaya, distant view of — Cosi, mouth 
of — Difficult navigation — Sandstorms — Caragola-Ghat — Purnea — Ortolans 
— Mahanuddee, transport of pebbles, &c. — Betel-pepper, cultivation of — 
Titalya — Siligoree — View of outer Himalaya — Terai — Mecbis — Punkabaree 
— Foot of mountains — Ascent to Dorjiling — Cicadas — Leecbes— Animals 
— Kursiong, spring vegetation of — Pacbeem — 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. 

I took as it were, a new departure, on Saturday, April 
the 8th, my dawk being laid on that day from Caragola- 
Ghat, about thirty miles down the river, for the foot of the 
Himalaya range and Dorjiling. 

Passing the pretty villa-like houses of the English resi- 
dents, the river-banks re-assumed their wonted features : 
the hills receded from the shore ; and steep clay cliffs, 
twenty to fifty feet high, on one side, opposed long sandy 
shelves on the other. Kunker was still most abundant, 
especially in the lower bed of the banks, close to the (now 
very low) water. The strata containing it were much un- 
dulated, but not uniformly so j horizontal layers over or 
under-lying the disturbed ones. At Colgong, conical hills 
appear, and two remarkable sister-rocks start out of the 
river, the same in structure with those of Sultangunj. A 
boisterous current swirls round them, strong even at this 
season, and very dangerous in the rains, when the swollen 

April, 1848. COLGONG. 95 

river is from twenty-eight to forty feet deeper than now. 
We landed opposite the rocks, and proceeded to the resi- 
dence of Mr. G. Barnes, prettily situated on one of the 
conical elevations characteristic of the geology of the district. 
The village we passed through had been recently destroyed 
by fire ; and nothing but the clay outer walls and curious- 
looking partition walls remained, often white-washed and 
daubed with figures in red of the palm of the hand, 
elephant, peacock, and tiger, — a sort of rude fresco- 
painting. We did not arrive till past mid-day, and the 
boat, with my palkee and servant, not having been able to 
face the gale, I was detained till the middle of the following 
day. Mr. Barnes and his brother proved most agreeable 
companions, — very luckily for me, for it requires no ordi- 
nary philosophy to bear being storm-stayed on a voyage, 
with the prospect of paying a heavy demurrage for 
detaining the dawk, and the worse one of finding the 
bearers given to another traveller when you arrive at the 
rendezvous. The view from Mr. Barnes' house is very 
fine : it commands the river and its rocks ; the Rajmahal 
hills to the east and south ; broad acres of indigo and 
other crops below ; long lines of palm-trees, and groves 
of mango, banana, tamarind, and other tropical trees, 
scattered close around and in the distance. In the rainy 
season, and immediately after, the snowy Himalaya are 
distinctly seen on the horizon, fully 170 miles ;off. 
Nearly opposite, the Cosi river enters the Ganges, bearing 
(considering its short course) an enormous volume of water, 
comprising the drainage of the whole Himalaya between 
the two giant peaks of Kinchinjunga in Sikkim, and 
Gossain-Than in Nepal. Even at this season, looking from 
Mr. Barnes' eyrie over the bed of the Ganges, the enormous 
expanses of sand, the numerous shifting islets, and the long 


spits of mud betray the proximity of some very restless and 
resistless power. During the rains, the scene must indeed 
be extraordinary, when the Cosi lays many miles of land 
under water, and pours so vast a quantity of detritus into 
the bed of the Ganges that long islets are heaped up and 
swept away in a few hours ; and the latter river becomes 
all but unnavigable. Boats are caught in whirlpools, 
formed without a moment's warning, and sunk ere they 
have spun round thrice in the eddies ; and no part of the 
inland navigation of India is so dreaded or dangerous, as 
the Ganges at its junction with the Cosi. 

Rain generally falls in partial showers at this season, and 
they are essential to the well-being of the spring crops of 
indigo. The stormy appearance of the sky, though it 
proved fallacious, was hailed by my hosts as predicting a 
fall, which was much wanted. The wind however seemed 
but to aggravate the drought, by the great body of sand it 
lifted and swept up the valleys, obscuring the near horizon, 
and especially concealing the whole delta of the Cosi, where 
the clouds were so vast and dense, and ascended so high as 
to resemble another element. 

All night the gale blew on, accompanied with much 
thunder and lightning, and it was not till noon of the 
9th that I descried my palkee-boat toiling down the 
stream. Then I again embarked, taking the lagging boat 
in tow of my own. Passing the mouths of the Cosi, the 
gale and currents were so adverse that we had to bring up 
on the sand, when the quantity which drifted into the boat 
rendered the delay as disagreeable as it was tedious. The 
particles penetrated everywhere, up my nose and down my 
back, drying my eyelids, and gritting between my teeth. 
The craft kept bumping on the banks, and being both 
crazy and leaky, the little comfortless cabin became the 

April, 1848. PURNEA. 97 

refuge of scared rats and cockroaches. In the evening I 
shared a meal with these creatures, on some provisions my 
kind friends had put into the boat, but the food was so 
sandy that I had to bolt my supper ! 

At night the storm lulled a little, and I proceeded to 
Caragola Ghat and took up my dawk, which had been 
twenty-eight hours expecting me, and was waiting, in 
despair of my arrival, for another traveller on the opposite 
bank, who however could not cross the river. 

Having accomplished thirty miles, I halted at 9 a.m. on 
the following morning at Purnea, quitting it at noon for 
Kishengunj. The whole country wore a greener garb than 
I had seen anywhere south of the Ganges : the climate was 
evidently more humid, and had been gradually becoming 
so from Mirzapore. The first decided change was a few 
miles below the Soane mouth, at Dinapore and Patna ; and 
the few hygrometrical observations I took at Bhagulpore 
confirmed the increase of moisture. The proximity to the 
sea and great Delta of the Ganges sufficiently accounts for 
this ; as does the approach to the hills for the still greater 
dampness and brighter verdure of Purnea. I was glad 
to feel myself within the influence of the long-lookecl-for 
Himalaya ; and I narrowly watched every change in the 
character of the vegetation. A fern, growing by the road- 
side, was the first and most tangible evidence of this ; 
together with the rarity or total absence of Butea, Boswcllia, 
Catechu, Grislea, Carissa, and all the companions of my 
former excursion. 

Purnea is a large station, and considered very unhealthy 
during and after the rains. Prom it the road passed 
through some pretty lanes, with groves of planted Guava 
and a rattan palm {Calamus), the first I had seen. Though 
no hills are nearer than the Himalaya, from the constant 


alteration of the river-beds, the road undulates remarkably 
for this part of India, and a jungly vegetation ensues, 
consisting of the above plants, with the yellow-flowered 
Cactus replacing the Euphorbias, which were previously 
much more common. Though still 100 miles distant from 
the hills, mosses appeared on the banks, and more ferns 
were just sprouting above ground. 

The Bamboo was a very different species from any I had 
hitherto met with, forming groves of straight trees fifteen 
to twenty feet high, thin of foliage, and not unlike poplars. 

Thirty-six miles from Purnea brought me to Kishengunj, 
when I found that no arrangements whatever had been 
made for my clawk, and I was fairly stranded. Luckily 
a thoughtful friend had provided me with letters to the 
scattered residents along the road, and I proceeded with 
one to Mr. Perry, the assistant magistrate of the district, — 
a gentleman well known for his urbanity, and the many 
aids he affords to travellers on this neglected line of road. 
Owing to this being some festival or holiday, it was impos- 
sible to get palkee-bearers ; the natives were busy catching 
fish in all the muddy pools around. Some of Mr. Perry's 
own family also were about to proceed to Dorjiling, so that 
I had only to take patience, and be thankful for having to 
exercise it in such pleasant quarters. The Mahanudclee, 
a large stream from the hills, flows near this place, 
strewing the surrounding neighbourhood with sand, and 
from the frequent alterations in its course, causing endless 
disputes amongst the landholders. A kind of lark called an 
Ortolan was abundant : this is not, however, the European 
delicacy of that name, though a migratory bird ; the flocks 
are large, and the birds so fat, that they make excellent 
table game. At this time they were rapidly disappearing ; 
to return from the north in September. 


I had just got into bed at night, when the bearers 
arrived ; so bidding a hurried adieu to my kind host, I 
proceeded onwards. 

April 12. — I awoke at 4 a.m., and found my palkee 
on the ground, and the bearers coolly smoking their 
hookahs under a tree (it was raining hard) : they had 
carried me the length of their stage, twelve miles, and there 
were no others to take me on. I had paid twenty-four 
pounds for my dawk, from Caragola to the hills, to which 
I had been obliged to add a handsome douceur ; so I 
lost all patience. After waiting and entreating during 
several hours, I found the head-man of a neighbouring 
village, and by a further disbursement induced six out 
of the twelve bearers to carry the empty palkee, whilst 
I should walk to the next stage ; or till we should meet 
some others. They agreed, and cutting the thick and 
spongy sheaths of the banana, used them for shoulder- 
pads : they also wrapped them round the palkee-poles, 
to ease their aching clavicles. Walking along I picked 
up a few plants, and fourteen miles further on came again 
to the banks of the Mahanuddee, whose bed was strewn 
with pebbles and small boulders, brought thus far from 
the mountains (about thirty miles distant). Here, again, 
I had to apply to the head-man of a village, and pay for 
bearers to take me to Titalya, the next stage (fourteen 
miles). Some curious long low sheds puzzled me very 
much, and on examining them they proved to be for the 
growth of Pawn or Betel-pepper, another indication of the 
moisture of the climate. These sheds are twenty to fifty yards 
long, eight or twelve or so broad, and scarcely five high; they 
are made of bamboo, wattled all round and over the top. 
Slender rods are placed a few feet apart, inside, up which 
the Pepper Vines climb, and quickly fill the place with their 



deep green glossy foliage. The native enters every morning 
by a little door, and carefully cleans the plants. Constant 
heat, damp, and moisture, shelter from solar beams, from 
scorching heat, and from nocturnal radiation, are thus all pro- 
cured for the plant, which would certainly not live twenty- 
four hours, if exposed to the climate of this treeless district. 
Great attention is paid to the cultivation, which is very 
profitable. Snakes frequently take up their quarters in 
these hot-houses, and cause fatal accidents. 

Titalya was once a military station of some importance, 
and from its proximity to the hills has been selected by 
Dr. Campbell (the Superintendent of Dorjiling) as the site 
for an annual fair, to which the mountain tribes resort, as 
well as the people of the plains. The Calcutta road to 
Dorjiling by Dinajpore meets, near here, that by which I 
had come ; and I found no difficulty in procuring bearers 
to proceed to Siligoree, where I arrived at 6 a.m. on the 
1 3th. Hitherto I had not seen the mountains, so uniformly 
had they been shrouded by dense wreaths of vapour : here, 
however, when within eight miles of their base, I caught a 
first glimpse of the outer range — sombre masses, of far from 
picturesque outline, clothed everywhere with a dusky forest. 

Siligoree stands on the verge of the Terai, that low 
malarious belt which skirts the base of the Himalaya, from 
the Sutlej to Brahma-kooncl in Upper Assam. Every 
feature, botanical, geological, and zoological, is new on 
entering this district. The change is sudden and imme- 
diate : sea and shore are hardly more conspicuously 
different ; nor from the edge of the Terai to the limit of 
perpetual snow is any botanical region more clearly 
marked than this, which is the commencement of Himalayan 
vegetation. A sudden descent leads to the Mahanuddec 
fiver, flowing in a shallow valley, over a pebbly bottom : it 

April, 1848. TERAI. lul 

is a rapid river, even at this season ; its banks are fringed 
with bushes, and it is as clear and sparkling as a trout 
stream in Scotland. Beyond it the road winds through a 
thick brushwood, choked with long grasses, and with but 
few trees, chiefly of Acacia, Dalberaia Sissoo, and a scarlet- 
fruited Sterculia. The soil is a red, friable clay and 
gravel. At this season only a few spring plants were in 
flower, amongst which a very sweet-scented Crinuii/, 
Asphodel, and a small Curcuma, were in the greatest 
profusion. Leaves of terrestrial Orchids appeared, with 
ferns and weeds of hot damp regions. I crossed the 
beds of many small streams ■ some were dry, and all 
very tortuous ; their banks were richly clothed with 
brushwood and climbers of Convolvulus, Vines, Hircea, 
Leea, MenispermecB, Cucurbitacece, and Bignoniacece. 
Their pent-up waters, percolating the gravel beds, and 
partly carried off by evaporation through the stratum of 
ever-increasing vegetable mould, must be one main agent 
in the production of the malarious vapours of this 
pestilential region. Add to this, the detention of the 
same amongst the jungly herbage, the amount of vapour 
in the humid atmosphere above, checking the upward 
passage of that from the soil, the sheltered nature of the 
locality at the immediate base of lofty mountains ; and 
there appear to me to be here all necessary elements, 
which, combined, will produce stagnation and deterioration 
in an atmosphere loaded with vaponr. Fatal as this district 
is, and especially to Europeans, a race inhabit it with 
impunity, who, if not numerous, do not owe their paucity 
to any climatic causes. These are the Mechis, often 
described as a squalid, unhealthy people, typical of the 
region they frequent ; but who are, in reality, more robust 
than the Europeans in India, and whose disagreeably 


sallow complexion is deceptive as indicating a sickly 
constitution. They are a mild, inoffensive people, indus- 
trious for Orientals, living by annually burning the Terai 
jungle and cultivating the cleared spots ; and, though so 
sequestered and isolated, they rather court than avoid 
intercourse with those whites whom they know to be 
kindly disposed. 

After proceeding some six miles along the gradually 
ascending path, I came to a considerable stream, cutting 
its way through stratified gravel, with cliffs on each side 
fifteen to twenty feet high, here and there covered with 
ferns, the little Oxalis sensitive*, and other herbs. The road 
here suddenly ascends a steep gravelly hill, and opens out 
on a short flat, or spur, from which the Himalaya rise 
abruptly, clothed with forest from the base : the little 
bungalow of Punkabaree, my immediate destination, 
nestled in the woods, crowning a lateral knoll, above 
which, to east and west, as far as the eye could reach, 
were range after range of wooded mountains, 6000 to 
8000 feet high. I here met with the India-rubber tree 
(Ficus elasticd) ; it abounds in Assam, but this is its 
western limit. 

From this steppe, the ascent to Punkabaree is sudden 
and steep, and accompanied with a change in soil and 
vegetation. The mica slate and clay slate protrude every- 
where, the former full of garnets. A giant forest replaces 
the stunted and bushy timber of the Terai Proper; of 
which the Buabanga and Terminalias form the prevailing 
trees, with Cedrela and the Gordonia WallichiL Smaller 
timber and shrubs are innumerable ; a succulent character 
pervades the bushes and herbs, occasioned by the 
prevalence of Urticece. Large bamboos rather crest the 
lulls than court the deeper shade, and of the latter there is 


abundance, for the torrents cut a straight, deep, and steep 
course down the hill flanks : the gulleys they traverse are 
choked with vegetation and bridged by fallen trees, whose 
trunks are richly clothed with Dendrobium Pierardi and 
other epiphytical Orchids, with pendulous Lycojpodia and 
many ferns, Jloj/a, Scitaminece, and similar types of the 
hottest and dampest climates. 

The bungalow at Pimkabaree was good — which was 
well, as my luggage-bearers were not come up, and there 
were no signs of them along the Terai road, which I saw 
winding below me. My scanty stock of paper being full 
of plants, I was reduced to the strait of botanising, and 
throwing away my specimens. The forest was truly magni- 
ficent along the steep mountain sides. The apparently large 
proportion of deciduous trees was far more considerable 
than I had expected ; partly, probably, clue to the abun- 
dance of the Dillenia, Cassia, and Sterculia, whose copious 
fruit was all the more conspicuous from the leafless condition 
of the plant. The white or lilac blossoms of the convolvulus- 
like Thmbergia, and other Acant/iacecs,were the predominant 
features of the shrubby vegetation, and very handsome. 

All around, the hills rise steeply five or six thousand 
feet, clothed in a dense deep-green dripping forest. 
Torrents rush down the slopes, their position indicated 
by the dipping of the forest into their beds, or the occa- 
sional cloud of spray rising above some more boisterous 
part of their course. From the road, at and a little above 
Punkabaree, the view is really superb, and very instructive. 
Behind (or north) the Himalaya rise in steep confused 
masses. Below, the hill on which I stood, and the ranges 
as far as the eye can reach east and west, throw spurs on 
to the plains of India. These are very thickly wooded, 
and enclose broad, dead-flat, hot and damp valleys, 


apparently covered with a dense forest. Secondary spurs 
of clay and gravel, like that immediately below Punkabaree, 
rest on the bases of the mountains, and seem to form ail 
intermediate neutral ground between flat and mountainous 
India. The .Terai district forms a very irregular belt, 
scantily clothed, and intersected by innumerable rivulets 
from the hills, which unite and divide again on the flat, till, 
emerging from the region of many trees, they enter the 
plains, following devious courses, which glisten like silver 
threads. The whole horizon is bounded by the sea-like 
expanse of the plains, which stretch away into the region 
of sunshine and fine weather, in one boundless flat. 

In the distance, the courses of the Teesta and Cosi, the 
great drainers of the snowy Himalayas, and the recipients 
of innumerable smaller rills, are with difficulty traced at 
this, the dry season. The ocean-like appearance of this 
southern view is even more conspicuous in the heavens 
than on the land, the clouds arranging themselves after a 
singularly sea-scape fashion. Endless strata run in parallel 
ribbons over the extreme horizon ; above these, scattered 
cumuli, also in horizontal lines, are dotted against a clear 
grey sky, which gradually, as the eye is lifted, passes into 
a deep cloudless blue vault, continuously clear to the 
zenith ; there the cumuli, in white fleecy masses, again 
appear ; till, in the northern celestial hemisphere, they 
thicken and assume the leaden hue of nimbi, discharging 
their moisture on the dark forest-clad hills around. The 
breezes are south-easterly, bringing that vapour from 
the Indian Ocean, which is rarefied and suspended aloft 
over the heated plains, but condensed into a drizzle when 
it strikes the cooler flanks of the hills, and into heavy rain 
when it meets their still colder summits. Upon what a 
gigantic scale docs nature here operate ! Vapours, raised 

April, 1848. INSECTS, LEECHES, Etc. 107 

from an ocean whose nearest shore is more than 400 
miles distant, are safely transported without the loss of one 
drop of water, to support the rank luxuriance of this far 
distant region. This and other offices fulfilled, the waste 
waters are returned, by the Cosi and Teesta, to the ocean, 
and again exhaled, exported, expended, re-collected, and 

The soil and bushes everywhere swarmed with large 
and troublesome ants, and enormous earthworms. In 
the evening, the noise of the great decides in the trees was 
almost deafening. They burst suddenly into full chorus, 
with a voice so harshly croaking, so dissonant, and so un- 
earthly, that in these solitary forests I could not help being 
startled. In general character the note was very similar to 
that of other Cicadce. They ceased as suddenly as they 
commenced. On the following morning my baggage 
arrived, and, leaving my palkee, I mounted a pony kindly 
sent for me by Mr. Hodgson, and commenced a very steep 
ascent of about 3000 feet, winding along the face of a 
steep, richly -wooded valley. The road zigzags extraor- 
dinarily in and out of the innumerable lateral ravines, each 
with its water course, dense jungle, and legion of leeches ; 
the bite of these blood-suckers gives no pain, but is fol- 
lowed by considerable effusion of blood. They puncture 
through thick worsted stockings, and even trousers, and, 
when full, roll in the form of a little soft ball into the 
bottom of the shoe, where their presence is hardly felt in 

Not only are the roadsides rich in plants, but native 
paths, cutting off all the zigzags, run in straight lines up 
the steepest hill-faces, and thus double the available means 
for botanising ; and it is all but impossible to leave the 
paths of one kind or other, except for a yard or two up 


the rocky ravines. Elephants, tigers, and occasionally the 
rhinoceros, inhabit the foot of these hills, with wild boars, 
leopards, &c. ; but none are numerous. The elephant's 
path is an excellent specimen of engineering — the opposite 
of the native track, for it winds judiciously. 

At about 1000 feet above Punkabaree, the vegetation 
is very rich, and appears all the more so from the many 
turnings of the road, affording glorious prospects of the 
foreshortened tropical forests. The prevalent timber is 
gigantic, and scaled by climbing Leguminosce, as Bauldnias 
and Robinias, which sometimes sheath the trunks, or span 
the forest with huge cables, joining tree to tree. Their 
trunks are also clothed with parasitical Orchids, and still 
more beautifully with Pothos (Scindapsus), Peppers, Gnetum, 
Vines, Convolvulus, and Bignonice. The beauty of the 
drapery of the Pothos-1 eaves is pre-eminent, whether for 
the graceful folds the foliage assumes, or for the liveliness 
of its colour. Of the more conspicuous smaller trees, the 
Avild banana is the most abundant, its crown of very 
beautiful foliage contrasting with the smaller-leaved plants 
amongst which it nestles ; next comes a screw-pine 
(Pandanus) with a straight stem and a tuft of leaves, each 
eight or ten feet long, waving on all sides. Araliacece, 
with smooth or armed slender trunks, and Mappa-like 
Eupliorbiacece, spread their long petioles horizontally forth, 
each terminated with an ample leaf some feet in diameter. 
Bamboo abounds everywhere : its dense tufts of culms, 
100 feet and upwards high, are as thick as a man's thigh 
at the base. Twenty or thirty species of ferns (including 
a tree-fern) were luxuriant and handsome. Poliaceous 
lichens and a few mosses appeared at 2000 feet. Such is 
the vegetation of the roads through the tropical forests of 
the Outer-Himalaya. 

Ai'iul, 1848. EUROPEAN FLOWERS, Etc. 100 

At about 4000 feet the roacl crossed a saddle, and ran 
along the narrow crest of a hill, the top of that facing tHe 
plains of India, and over which is the way to the interior 
ranges, amongst which Dorjiling is placed, still twenty-five 
miles off. A little below this a great change had taken 
place in the vegetation, — marked, first, by the appearance 
of a very English-looking bramble, which, however, by way 
of proving its foreign origin, bore a very good yellow fruit, 
called here the " yellow raspberry." Scattered oaks, of a 
noble species, with large lamellated cups and magnificent 
foliage, succeeded ; and along the ridge of the mountain 
to Kursiong (a dawk bungalow at about 4800 feet), the 
change in the flora was complete. 

The spring of this region and elevation most vividly 
recalled that of England. The oak flowering, the birch 
bursting into leaf, the violet, Chrysosjplenium, Stellaria and 
Arum, Vaccinium, wild strawberry, maple, geranium, bramble. 
A colder wind blew here : mosses and lichens carpeted the 
banks and roadsides : the birds and insects were very 
different from those below ; and everything proclaimed the 
marked change in elevation, and not only in this, but in 
season, for I had left the winter of the tropics and here 
encountered the spring of the temperate zone. 

The flowers I have mentioned are so notoriously the 
harbingers of a European spring that their presence carries 
one home at once ; but, as species, they differ from their 
European prototypes, and are. accompanied at this elevation 
(and for 2000 feet higher up) with tree-fern, Pothos, 
bananas, palms, figs, pepper, numbers of epiphytal 
Orchids, and similar genuine tropical genera, The uni- 
form temperature and humidity of the region here favour 
the extension of tropical plants into a temperate region ; 
rxactlv as the same conditions cause similar forms to reach 


higher latitudes in the southern hemisphere (as in New 
Zealand, Tasmania, South Chili, &c.) than they do in the 

Along this ridge I met with the first tree-fern. This 
species seldom reaches the height of forty feet ; the black 
trunk is but three or four in girth, and the feathery 
crown is ragged in comparison with the species of many 
other countries : it is the Alsophila gigantea, and ascends 
nearly to 7000 feet elevation. 

Kursiong bungalow, where I stopped for a few hours, is 
superbly placed, on a narrow mountain ridge. The Avest 
window looks down the valley of the Balasun river, the 
east into that of the Mahanuddee : both of these rise 
from the outer range, and flow in broad, deep, and steep 
valleys (about 4000 feet deep) which give them their re- 
spective names, and are richly wooded from the Terai to 
their tops. Till reaching this spur, I had wound upwards 
along the western slope of the Mahanuddee valley. The 
ascent from the spur at Kursiong, to the top of the moun- 
tain (on the northern face of which Dorjiliiig is situated), is 
along the eastern slope of the Balasun. 

From Kursiong a very steep zigzag leads up the moun- 
tain, through a magnificent forest of chesnut, walnut, oaks, 
and laurels. It is difficult to conceive a grander mass of 
vegetation : — the straight shafts of the timber-trees shooting 
aloft, some naked and clean, with grey, pale, or brown 
bark ; others literally clothed for yards with a continuous 
garment of epiphytes, one mass of blossoms, especially the 
white Orchids Coelogynes, which bloom in a profuse manner, 
whitening their trunks like snow. More bulky trunks were 
masses of interlacing climbers, Araliacece, Leguminosce y 
Vines, and Menispermece, Hydrangea, and Peppers, en- 
closing a hollow, once filled by the now strangled 

April, 1848. PACHEEM. Ill 

supporting tree, which had long ago decayed away. From 
the sides and summit of these, supple branches hung forth, 
either leafy or naked ; the latter resembling cables flung 
from one tree to another, swinging in the breeze, their 
rocking motion increased by the weight of great bunches 
of ferns or Orchids, which were perched aloft in the loops. 
Perpetual moisture nourishes this dripping forest : and 
pendulous mosses and lichens are met with in profusion. 

Two thousand feet higher up, near Mahaldiram (whence 
the last view of the plains is gained), European plants 
appear, — Berberry, Paris, &c. ; but here, night gathered 
round, and I had still ten miles to go to the nearest bun- 
galow, that of Pacheem. The road still led along the 
eastern slope of the Balasun valley, which was exceedingly 
steep, and so cut up by ravines, that it winds in and out 
of gulleys almost narrow enough to be jumped across. 

It was very late before I arrived at Pacheem bungalow, 
the most sinister-looking rest-house I ever saw, stuck on a 
little cleared spur of the mountain, surrounded by dark 
forests, overhanging a profound valley, and enveloped in 
mists and rain, and hideous in architecture, being a miserable 
attempt to unite the Swiss cottage with the suburban 
gothic; — it combined a maximum of discomfort with a 
minimum of good looks or good cheer. I was some time 
in finding the dirty housekeeper, in an outhouse hard by, 
and then in waking him. As he led me up the crazy 
verandah, and into a broad ghostly room, without glass 
in the windows, or fire, or any one comfort, my mind 
recurred to the stories told of the horrors of the Hartz 
forest, and of the benighted traveller's situation therein. 
Cold sluggish beetles hung to the damp walls, — and these 
I immediately secured. After due exertions and perse- 
verance with the damp wood, a fire smoked lustily, and, by 


cajoling the gnome of a housekeeper, I procured the usual 
roast fowl and potatos, with the accustomed sauce of a 
strong smoky and singed flavour.* 

Pacheem stands at an elevation of nearly 7300 feet, and 
as I walked out on the following morning I met with 
English looking plants in abundance, but was too early in 
the season to get aught but the foliage of most. Chryso- 
spleniwn, violet, Lobelia, a small geranium, strawberry, 
rive or six kinds of bramble, Arum, Paris, Convallaria, 
Stellar ia, Riibia, Vaccinium, and various GnajJ Italia. Of 
small bushes, cornels, honeysuckles, and the ivy tribe 
predominated, with Sym^locos and Skimmia, Eurya, bushy 
brambles, having simple or compound green or beautifully 
silky foliage; Hypericum, Berberry, Hydrangea, Wormwood, 
Adamia cyanea, Viburnum, Elder, dwarf bamboo, &c. 

The climbing plants were still Panax or Aralia, Kadsura, 
Saurauja, Hydrangea, Vines, Smilax, Amjjelopsis, Polggona, 
and, most beautiful of all, Stauntonia, with pendulous 
racemes of lilac blossoms. Epiphytes were rarer, still I 
found white and purple Cadogynes, and other Orchids, and 
a most noble white Rhododendron, whose truly enormous 
and delicious lemon -scented blossoms strewed the ground. 
The trees were one half oaks, one quarter Magnolias, 
and nearly another quarter laurels, amongst which grew 
Himalayan kinds of birch, aider, maple, holly, bird-cherry, 
common cherry, and apple. The absence of Leguminosa 
was most remarkable, and the most prominent botanical 
feature in the vegetation of this region : it is too high 
for the tropical tribes of the warmer elevations, too low 
for the Alpines, and probably too moist for those of tempe- 
rate regions ; cool, equable, humid climates being generally 

* Since writing the above a comfortable house has been erected at Senadah, the 
name now given to what was called Pacheem Bungalow. 

April, 1848. VEGETATION OF PACHEEM. 11?, 

unfavourable to that order. Clematis was rare, and other 
Ranunculacece still more so. Cruciferce were absent, and, 
what was still more remarkable, I found very few native 
species of grasses. Both Poa annua and white Dutch 
clover flourished where accidentally disseminated, but only 
in artificially cleared spots. Of ferns I collected about 
sixty species, chiefly of temperate genera. The supremacy 
of this temperate region consists in the infinite number of 
forest trees, in the absence (in the usual proportion, at any 
rate) of such common orders as Composites, Leguminosce, 
Cruciferce, and Ranunculacece, and of .Grasses amongst 
Monocotyledons, and in the predominance of the rarer and 
more local families, as those of Rhododendron, Camellia, 
Magnolia, Ivy, Cornel, Honeysuckle, Hydrangea, Begonia, 
and Epiphytic orchids. 

From Pacheem, the road runs in a northerly direction to 
Dorjiling, still along the Balasun valley, till the saddle of 
the great mountain Sinchul is crossed. This is narrow, 
stretching east and west, and from it a spur projects 
northwards for five or six miles, amongst the many 
mountains still intervening between it and the snows. 
This saddle (alt. 7,400 feet) crossed, one is fairly amongst 
the mountains : the plains behind are cut off by it ; and 
in front, the snows may be seen when the weather is 
propitious. The valleys on this side of the mountain run 
northwards, and discharge their streams into great rivers, 
which, coming from the snow, wind amongst the hills, 
and debouche into the Teesta, to the east, where it divides 
Sikkim from Bhotan. 

Dorjiling station occupies a narrow ridge, which divides 
into two spurs, descending steeply to the bed of the Great 
Rungeet river, up whose course the eye is carried to the 
base of the great snowy mountains. The ridge itself is 

114 DORJILING. Chap. IV. 

very narrow at the top, along which most of the houses 
are perched, while others occupy positions on its flanks, 
where narrow locations on the east, and broader ones on 
the west, are cleared from wood. The valleys on either 
side are at least 6000 feet deep, forest-clad to the bottom, 
with very few and small level spots, and no absolute 
precipice ; from their flanks project innumerable little 
spurs, occupied by native clearings. 

My route lay along the east flank, overhanging the 
valley of the Rungmo river. Looking east, the amphi- 
theatre of hills from the ridge I had crossed was very fine ; 
enclosing an area some four miles across and 4000 feet 
deep, clothed throughout with an impenetrable, dark 
forest : there was not one clear patch except near the very 
bottom, where were some scattered hamlets of two or 
three huts each. The rock is everywhere near the surface, 
and the road has been formed by blasting at very many 
places. A wooded slope descends suddenly from the edge 
of the road, while, on the other hand, a bank rises abruptly 
to the top of the ridge, alternately mossy, rocky, and 
clayey, and presenting a good geological section, all the 
way along, of the nucleus of Dorjiling spur, exposing 
broken masses of gneiss. As I descended, I came upon 
the upper limit of the chesnut, a tree second in abundance 
to the oak ; gigantic, tall, and straight in the trunk. 

1 arrived at Dorjiling on the 16th of April; a showery, 
cold month at this elevation. I was so fortunate as to 
find Mr. Charles Barnes (brother of my friend at 
Colgong), the sole tenant of a long, cottage-like building, 
divided off into pairs of apartments, which are hired by 
visitors. It is usual for Europeans to bring a full 
establishment of servants (with bedding, &c.) to such 
stations, but I had not done so, having been told that 

April, 1848. ORIGIN OF DORJILING. 115 

there was a furnished hotel in Dorjiling ; and I was, 
therefore, not a little indebted to Mr. Barnes for his kind 
invitation to join his mess. As he was an active moun- 
taineer, we enjoyed many excursions together, in the two 
months and a half during which we were companions. 

Dr. Campbell procured me several active native 
(Lepcha) lads as collectors, at wages varying from eight 
to twenty shillings a month ; these either accompanied 
me on my excursions, or went by themselves into the 
jungles to collect plants, which I occupied myself in 
drawing, dissecting, and ticketing : while the preserving of 
them fell to the Lepchas, who, after a little training, 
became, with constant superintendence, good plant-driers. 
Even at this season (four weeks before the setting in of the 
rains) the weather was very uncertain, so that the papers 
had generally to be dried by the fire. 

The hill-station or Sanatarium of Dorjiling owes its 
origin (like Simla, Mussooree, &c.) to the necessity that 
exists in India, of providing places where the health of 
Europeans may be recruited by a more temperate climate. 
Sikkim proved an eligible position for such an establish- 
ment, owing to its proximity to Calcutta, which lies but 
370 miles to the southward ; whereas the north-west 
stations mentioned above are upwards of a thousand 
miles from that city. Dorjiling ridge varies in height 
from 6500 to 7500 feet above the level of the sea; 8000 
feet being the elevation at which the mean temperature 
most nearly coincides with that of London, viz., 50°. 

Sikkim was, further, the only available spot for a 
Sanatarium throughout the whole range of the Himalaya, 
east of the extreme western frontier of Nepal ; being a 
protected state, and owing no allegiance, except to the 
British government ; which, after the Rajah had been driven 

i 2 

116 DORJILING. Chap. IV. 

from the country by the Ghorkas, in 1817, replaced him 
on his throne, and guaranteed him the sovereignty. Our 
main object in doing this was to retain Sikkim as a 
fender between Nepal and Bhotan : and but for this policy, 
the aggressive Nepalese would, long ere this, have 
possessed themselves of Sikkim, Bhotan, and the whole 
Himalaya, eastwards to the borders of Burmah.* 

From 1817 to 1828 no notice was taken of Sikkim, 
till a frontier dispute occurred between the Lepchas and 
Nepalese, which was referred (according to the terms of the 
treaty) to the British Government. During the arrange- 
ment of this, Dorjiling was visited by a gentleman of 
high scientific attainments, Mr. J. W. Grant, who pointed 
out its eligibility as a site for a Sanatarium to Lord 
William Bentinck, then Governor- General ; dwelling espe- 
cially upon its climate, proximity to Calcutta, and 
accessibility ; on its central position between Tibet, 
Bhotan, Nepal, and British India; and on the good 
example a peaceably-conducted and well -governed station 
would be to our turbulent neighbours in that quarter. 
The suggestion was cordially received, and Major 
Herbert (the late eminent Surveyor- General of India) 
and Mr. Grant were employed to report further on the 

The next step taken was that of requesting the Rajah to 
cede a tract of country which should include Dorjiling, for 
an equivalent in money or land. His first demand was 
unreasonable ; but on further consideration he surren- 
dered Dorjiling unconditionally, and a sum of 300/. per 

* Of such being their wish the Nepalese have never made any secret, and they 
are said to have asked permission from the British to march an army across 
Sikkim for the purpose of conquering Bhotan, offering to become more peace- 
able neighbours to us than the Bhotanese are. Such they would doubtless have 
proved, but the Nepal frontier is considered broad enough already. 

April, 1848. SIKKIM KAJAH AND DEWAN. 117 

annum was granted to him as an equivalent for what 
was then a worthless uninhabited mountain. In 184Q_ 
Dr. Campbell was removed from Nepal as superintendent 
of the new station, and was entrusted with the charge of 
the political relations between the British and Sikkini 

Once established, Dorjiling rapidly increased. Allot- 
ments of land were purchased by Europeans for building 
dwelling-houses ; barracks and a bazaar were formed, with 
accommodation for invalid European soldiers ; a few 
official residents, civil and military, formed the nucleus 
of a community, which was increased by retired officers 
and their families, and by temporary visitors in search of 
health, or the luxury of a cool climate and active exercise. 

For the first few years matters went on smoothly with 
the Rajah, whose minister (or Dewan) was upright and 
intelligent : but the latter, on his death, was suc- 
ceeded by the present Dewan, a Tibetan, and a relative 
of the Ranee (or Rajah's wife) ; a man unsurpassed for 
insolence and avarice, whose aim was to monopolise the 
trade of the country, and to enrich himself at its expense. 
Every obstacle was thrown by him in the way of a good 
understanding between Sikkim and the British government. 
British subjects were rigorously excluded from Sikkim ; 
every liberal offer for free trade and intercourse was re- 
jected, generally with insolence ; merchandise was taxed, 
and notorious offenders, refugees from the British territo- 
ries, were harboured ; despatches were detained j and the 
Vakeels, or Rajah's representatives, were chosen for their 
insolence and incapacity. The conduct of the Dewan 
throughout was Indo-Chinese ; assuming, insolent, aggres- 
sive, never perpetrating open violence, but by petty insults 
effectually preventing all good understanding. He was met 

118 DORJILING. Chap. IV. 

by neglect or forbearance on the part of the Calcutta 
government ; and by patience and passive resistance at 
Dorjiling. Our inaction and long-suffering were taken for 
weakness, and our concessions for timidity. Such has 
been our policy in China, Siam, and Burmah, and in each 
instance the result has been the same. Had it been 
insisted that the terms of the treaty should be strictly 
kept, and had the first act of insolence been noticed, we 
should have maintained the best relations with Sikkim, 
whose people and rulers (with the exception of the Dewan 
and his faction) have proved themselves friendly through- 
out, and most anxious for unrestricted communication. 

These political matters have not, however, prevented the 
rapid increase of Dorjiling ; the progress of which, during 
the two years I spent in Sikkim, resembled that of an 
Australian colony, not only in amount of building, but in 
the accession of native families from the surrounding 
countries. There were not a hundred inhabitants under 
British protection when the ground was transferred ; there 
are now four thousand. At the former period there was 
no trade whatever ; there is now a very considerable one, 
in musk, salt, gold-dust, borax, soda, woollen cloths, and 
especially in poneys, of which the Dewan in one year 
brought on his own account upwards of 50 into Dorjiling.* 
The trade has been greatly increased by the annual fair 
which Dr. Campbell has established at the foot of the hills, 
to which many thousands of natives flock from all quarters, 
and which exercises a most beneficial influence throughout 
the neighbouring territories. At this, prizes (in medals, 
money, and kind) are given for agricultural implements 

* The Tibetan pony, though born and bred 10,000 to 14,000 feet above the 
eea, is one of the most active and useful animals in the plains of Bengal, powerful 
and hardy, and when well trained early, docile, although by nature vicious and 

April, 1848. HEALTHINESS OF CLIMATE. llii 

and produce, stock, &c, by the originator and a few 
friends ; a measure attended with eminent success. 

In estimating in a sanitory point of view the value 
of any health-station, little reliance can be placed on 
the general impressions of invalids, or even of residents ; 
the opinion of each varies with the nature and state 
of his complaint, if ill, or with his idiosyncracy and dis- 
position, if well. I have seen prejudiced invalids rapidly 
recovering, in spite of themselves, and all the while 
complaining in unmeasured terms of the climate of 
Dorjiling, and abusing it as killing them. Others are known 
who languish under the heat of the plains at one season, 
and the damp at another; and who, though sickening 
and dying under its influence, yet consistently praise a 
tropical climate to the last. The opinions of those who 
resort to Dorjiling in health, differ equally ; those of active 
minds invariably thoroughly enjoy it, while the mere 
lounger or sportsman mopes. The statistical tables afford 
conclusive proofs of the value of the climate to Europeans 
suffering from acute diseases, and they are corroborated by 
the returns of the medical officer in charge of the station. 
With respect to its suitability to the European constitution 
I feel satisfied, and that much saving of life, health, and 
money would be effected were European troops drafted 
thither on their arrival in Bengal, instead of being 
stationed in Calcutta, exposed to disease, and temptation 
to those vices which prove fatal to so many hundreds. 
This, I have been given to understand, was the view 
originally taken by the Court of Directors, but it has 
never been carried out. 

I believe that children's faces afford as good an index 
as any to the healthfullness of a climate, and in no part of 
the world is there a more active, rosy, and bright young 

120 DORJILING. Chap. IV. 

community, than at Dorjiling. It is incredible what a 
few weeks of that mountain air does for the India-born 
children of European parents : they are taken there sickly, 
pallid or yellow, soft and flabby, to become transformed 
into models of rude health and activity. 

There are, however, disorders to which the climate (in 
common with all damp ones) is not at all suited ; such are 
especially dysentery, bowel complaints, and liver com- 
plaints of long standing ; which are not benefited by a 
residence on these hills, though how much worse they 
might have become in the plains is not shown. I cannot 
hear that the climate aggravates, but it certainly does not 
remove them. Whoever is suffering from the debilitating 
effects of any of the multifarious acute maladies of the 
plains, finds instant relief, and acquires a stock of health 
that enables him to resist fresh attacks, under circumstances 
similar to those which before engendered them. 

Natives of the low country, and especially Bengalees, are 
far from enjoying the climate as Europeans do, being liable 
to sharp attacks of fever and ague, from which the poorly 
clad natives are not exempt. It is, however, difficult to 
estimate the effects of exposure upon the Bengalees, who 
sleep on the bare and often damp ground, and adhere, 
with characteristic prejudice, to the attire of a torrid 
climate, and to a vegetable diet, under skies to which these 
are least of all adapted. 

It must not be supposed that Europeans who have 
resided in the plains can, on their first arrival, expose 
themselves with impunity to the cold of these elevations ; 
this was shown in the winter of 1848 and 1849, when 
troops brought up to Dorjiling were cantoned in newly- 
built dwellings, on a high exposed ridge 8000 feet above 
the sea, and lay, insufficiently protected, on a floor of 


loosely laid planks, exposed to the cold wind, when the 
ground without was covered with snow. Rheumatisms, 
sharp febrile attacks, and dysenteries ensued, which were 
attributed in the public prints to the unhealthy nature of 
the climate of Dorjiling. 

The following summary of hospital admissions affords 
the best test of the healthiness of the climate, embracing, 
as the period does, the three most fatal months to European 
troops in India. Out of a detachment (105 strong) of 
H. M. 80th Regiment stationed at Dorjiling, in the seven 
months from January to July inclusive, there were sixty- 
four admissions to the hospital, or, on the average, 4^ per 
cent, per month ; and only two deaths, both of dysentery. 
Many of these men had suffered frequently in the plains 
from acute dysentery and hepatic affections, and many 
others had aggravated these complaints by excessive 
drinking, and two were cases of delirium tremens. 
During the same period, the number of entries at Calcutta 
or Dinapore would probably have more than trebled this. 


View from Mr. Hodgson's of range of snowy mountains — Their extent and eleva- 
tion — Delusive appearance of elevation — Sinchul, view from and vegetation 
of — Chumulari — Magnolias, white and purple — Rhododendron Dalhousise, 
arboreum and argenteum — Natives of Dorjiling — Lepchas, origin, tradition 
of flood, morals, dress, arms, ornaments, diet — cups, origin and value — 
Marriages — Diseases — Burial — Worship and religion — Bijooas — KanipaRong, 
or Arratt — Limboos, origin, habits, language, &c. — Moormis — Magras — Mechis 
— Comparison of customs with those of the natives of Assam, Khasia, &c. 

The summer, or rainy season of 1848, was passed at or 
near Dorjiling, during Avhich period I chiefly occupied 
myself in forming collections, and in taking meteorological 
observations. I resided at Mr Hodgson's for the greater 
part of the time, in consequence of his having given me a 
hospitable invitation to consider his house my home. The 
view from his windows is one quite unparalleled for the 
scenery it embraces, commanding confessedly the grandest 
known landscape of snowy mountains in the Himalaya, 
and hence in the world.* Kinchinjunga (forty-five miles 
distant) is the prominent object, rising 21,000 feet above the 
level of the observer out of a sea of intervening wooded 
hills ; whilst, on a line with its snows, the eye descends 
below the horizon, to a narrow gulf 7000 feet deep in the 
mountains, where the Great Rungeet, white with foam, 
threads a tropical forest with a silver line. 

* For an account of the geography of these regions, and the relation of the 
Sikkim Himalaya to Tibet, &c, see Appendix. 

April, 1848. VIEW OF SNOWY MOUNTAINS. 123 

To the north-west towards Nepal, the snowy peaks of 
Kubra and Junnoo (respectively 24,005 feet and 25,312 
feet) rise over the shoulder of Singalelah ; whilst eastward 
the snowy mountains appear to form an unbroken range, 
trending north-east to the great mass of Donkia (23,176 
feet) and thence south-east by the fingered peaks of 
Tunkola and the silver cone of Chola, (17,320 feet) 
gradually sinking into the Bhotan mountains at Gipmoochi 
(14,509 feet). 

The most eloquent descriptions I have read fail to 
convey to my mind's eye the forms and colours of snowy 
mountains, or to my imagination the sensations and im- 
pressions that rivet my attention to these sublime pheno- 
mena when they are present in reality ; and I shall not 
therefore obtrude any attempt of the kind upon my reader. 
The latter has probably seen the Swiss Alps, which, though 
barely possessing half the sublimity, extent, or height of 
the Himalaya, are yet far more beautiful. In either case 
he is struck with the precision and sharpness of their 
outlines, and still more with the wonderful play of colours 
on their snowy flanks, from the glowing hues reflected in 
orange, gold and ruby, from clouds illumined by the sinking 
or rising sun, to the ghastly pallor that succeeds with 
twilight, when the red seems to give place to its comple- 
mentary colour green. Such dissolving-views elude all 
attempts at description, they are far too aerial to be chained 
to the memory, and fade from it so fast as to be gazed 
upon day after day, with undiminished admiration and 
pleasure, long after the mountains themselves have lost 
their sublimity and apparent height. 

The actual extent of the snowy range seen from Mr. 
Hodgson's windows is comprised within an arc of 80° 
(from north 30° west to north 50° east), or nearly a quarter 

124 DORJILING. Chap. V. 

of the horizon, along which the perpetual snow forms an 
unbroken girdle or crest of frosted silver ; and in winter, 
when the mountains are covered down to 8000 feet, this 
white ridge stretches uninterruptedly for more than 160°. 
No known view is to be compared with this in extent, 
when the proximity and height of the mountains are con- 
sidered; for within the 80° above mentioned more than 
twelve peaks rise above 20,000 feet, and there are none 
below 15,000 feet, while Kinchin is 28,178, and seven 
others above 22,000. The nearest perpetual snow is on 
Nursing, a beautifully sharp conical peak 19,139 feet high, 
and thirty-two miles distant; the most remote mountain 
seen is Donkia, 23,176 feet high, and seventy-three miles 
distant ; whilst Kinchin, which forms the principal mass 
both for height and bulk, is exactly forty-five miles 

On first viewing this glorious panorama, the impression 
produced on the imagination by their prodigious elevation 
is, that the peaks tower in the air and pierce the clouds, 
and such are the terms generally used in descriptions of 
similar alpine scenery; but the observer, if he look again, 
will find that even the most stupendous occupy a very low 
position on the horizon, the top of Kinchin itself measuring 
only 4° 31' above the level of the observer ! Donkia again, 
which is 23,176 feet above the sea, or about 15,700 above 
Mr. Hodgson's, rises only 1° 55' above the horizon ; an 
angle which is quite inappreciable to the eye, when unaided 
by instruments.* 

This view may be extended a little by ascending Sinchul, 
which rises a thousand feet above the elevation of Mr. 
Hodgson's house, and is a few miles south-east of 

* These are the apparent angles which I took from Mr. Hodgson's house (alt. 
7300 feet) with an excellent theodolite, no deduction being made for refraction. 


Dorjiling : from its summit Chumulari (23,929 feet) is 
seen to the north -east, at eighty -four miles distance, 
rearing its head as a great rounded mass over the snowy 
Chola range, out of which it appears to rise, although in 
reality lying forty miles beyond ; — so deceptive is the 
perspective of snowy mountains. To the north-west again, 
at upwards of 100 miles distance, a beautiful group of 
snowy mountains rises above the black Singalelah range, 
the chief being, perhaps, as high as Kinchinjunga, from 
which it is fully eighty miles distant to the westward ; 
and between them no mountain of considerable altitude 
intervenes ; the Nepalese Himalaya in that direction sinking 
remarkably towards the Arun river, which there enters 
Nepal from Tibet. 

The top of Sinchul is a favourite excursion from Dorjiling, 
being very easy of access, and the path abounding in rare 
and beautiful plants, and passing through magnificent 
forests of oak, magnolia, and rhododendron ; while the 
summit, besides embracing this splendid view of the snowy 
range over the Dorjiling spur in the foreground, commands 
also the plains of India, with the courses of the Teesta, 
Mahanuddee, Balasun and Mechi rivers. In the months of 
April and May, when the magnolias and rhododendrons are 
in blossom, the gorgeous vegetation is, in some respects, not 
to be surpassed by anything in the tropics ; but the effect is 
much marred by the prevailing gloom of the weather. The 
white-flowered magnolia {M. excelsa, Wall,) forms a pre- 
dominant tree at 7000 to 8000 feet; and in 1848 it 
blossomed so profusely, that the forests on the broad flanks 
of Sinchul, and other mountains of that elevation, appeared 
as if sprinkled with snow. The purple-flowered kind again 
{M. Campbellii) hardly occurs below 8000 feet, and forms 
an immense, but very ugly, black-barked, sparingly branched 

126 DORJILING. Chap. V. 

tree, leafless in winter and also during the flowering season, 
when it puts forth from the ends of its branches great rose- 
purple cup-shaped flowers, whose fleshy petals strew the 
ground. On its branches, and on those of oaks and laurels, 
Rhododendron Dalhousice grows epiphytically, a slender 
shrub, bearing from three to six white lemon-scented bells, 
four and a half inches long and as many broad, at the end 
of each branch. In the same woods the scarlet rhododen- 
dron (B. ardor •eum) is very scarce, and is outvied by the 
great B. argenteum, which grows as a tree forty feet high, 
with magnificent leaves twelve to fifteen inches long, 
deep green, wrinkled above and silvery below, while the 
flowers are as large as those of R. Dalhousice, and grow 
more in a cluster. I know nothing of the kind that exceeds 
in beauty the flowering branch of B. argenteum, with its 
wide spreading foliage and glorious mass of flowers. 

Oaks, laurels, maples, birch, chesnut, hydrangea, a 
species of fig (which is found on the very summit), and 
three Chinese and Japanese genera, are the principal 
features of the forest ; the common bushes being Aucuba, 
S/cimmia, and the curious Helwingia, which bears little 
clusters of flowers on the centre of the leaf, like butcher's- 
broom. In spring immense broad-leaved arums spring 
up, with green or purple-striped hoods, that end in 
tail -like threads, eighteen inches long, which lie along the 
ground ; and there are various kinds of Convallaria, Paris, 
Begonia, and other beautiful flowering herbs. Nearly 
thirty ferns may be gathered on this excursion, including 
many of great beauty and rarity, but the tree-fern does 
not ascend so high. Grasses are very rare in these woods, 
excepting the dwarf bamboo, now cultivated in the open 
air in England. 

Before proceeding to narrate my different expeditions into 


Sikkim and Nepal from Dorjiling, I shall give a sketch of 
the different peoples and races composing the heterogeneous 
population of Sikkim and the neighbouring mountains. 

The Lepcha is the aboriginal inhabitant of Sikkim, and 
the prominent character in Dorjiling, where he undertakes 
all sorts of out-door employment. The race to which he 
belongs is a very singular one ; markedly Mongolian in 
features, and a good deal too, by imitation, in habit ; still 
he differs from his Tibetan prototype, though not so 
decidedly as from the Nepalese and Bhotanese, between 
whom he is hemmed into a narrow tract of mountain 
country, barely 60 miles in breadth. The Lepchas possess 
a tradition of the flood, during which a couple escaped to 
the top of a mountain (Tendon g) near Dorjiling. The 
earliest traditions which they have of their history date 
no further back than some three hundred years, when they 
describe themselves as having been long-haired, half-clad 
savages. At about that period they were visited by 
Tibetans, who introduced Boodh worship, the platting of 
their hair into pig-tails, and very many of their own 
customs. Their physiognomy is however so Tibetan in its 
character, that it cannot be supposed that this was their 
earliest intercourse with the trans-nivean races : whether 
they may have wandered from beyond the snows before the 
spread of Boodhism and its civilisation, or whether they 
are a cross between the Tamulian of India and the 
Tibetan, has not been decided. Their language, though 
radically identical with Tibetan, diners from it in many 
important particulars. They, or at least some of their 
tribes, call themselves Rong, and Arratt, and their country 
Dijong : they once possessed a great part of East Nepal, 
as far west as the Tambur river, and at a still earlier 
period they penetrated as far west as the Arun river. 

128 DORJILING. Chap. V. 

An attentive examination of the Lepcha in one respect 
entirely contradicts our preconceived notions of a moun- 
taineer, as he is timid, peaceful, and no brawler ; qualities 
which are all the more remarkable from contrasting so 
strongly with those of his neighbours to the east and west: 
of whom the Ghorkas are brave and warlike to a proverb, 
and the Bhotanese quarrelsome, cowardly, and cruel. A 
group of Lepchas is exceedingly picturesque. They are of 
short stature — four feet eight inches to five feet — rather 
broad in the chest, and with muscular arms, but small 
hands and slender wrists.* The face is broad, flat, and of 
eminently Tartar character, flat-nosed and oblique-eyed, with 
no beard, and little moustache ; the complexion is sallow, or 
often a clear olive ; the hair is collected into an immense 
tail, plaited flat or round. The lower limbs are powerfully 
developed, befitting genuine mountaineers : the feet are 
small. Though never really handsome, and very womanish 
in the cast of countenance, they have invariably a mild, 
frank, and even engaging expression, which I have in vain 
sought to analyse, and which is perhaps due more to the 
absence of anything unpleasing, than to the presence of direct 
grace or beauty. In like manner, the girls are often very 
engaging to look upon, though without one good feature • 
they are all smiles and good-nature ; and the children are 
frank, lively, laughing urchins. The old women are 
thorough hags. Indolence, when left to themselves, is 
their besetting sin ; they detest any fixed employment, 
and their foulness of person and garments renders them 
disagreeable inmates : in this rainy climate they are 
supportable out of doors. Though fond of bathing when 

* I have seldom been able to insert my own wrist (which is smaller than the 
average) into the wooden guard which the Lepcha wears on his left, as a protection 
against the bow-string : it is a curved ring of wood with an opening at one side, 
through which, by a little stretching, the wrist is inserted. 

Aitul, 1848. 



they come to a stream in hot weather, and expert, even 
admirable swimmers, these people never take to the water 
for the purpose of ablution. In disposition they are 


amiable and obliging, frank, humorous, and polite, without 
the servility of the Hindoos ; and their address is free and 
unrestrained. Their intercourse with one another and 
with Europeans is scrupulously honest ; a present is 
divided equally amongst many, without a syllable of 
discontent or grudging look or word :' each, on receiving 

130 DORJILING. Chap. V. 

his share, coining up and giving the donor a brusque bow 
and thanks. They have learnt to overcharge already, and 
use extortion in dealing, as is the custom with the people 
of the plains ; but it is clumsily done, and never accom- 
panied with the grasping air and insufferable whine of the 
latter. They are constantly armed with a long, heavy, 
straight knife,* but never draw it on one another : family 
and political feuds are alike unheard of amongst them. 

The Lepcha is in morals far superior to his Tibet and 
Bhotan neighbours, polyandry being unknown, and poly- 
gamy rare. This is no doubt greatly due to the conventual 
system not being carried to such an excess as in Bhotan, 
where the ties of relationship even are disregarded. 

Like the New Zealander, Tasmanian, Fuegian, and 
natives of other climates, which, though cold, are moist 
and equable, the Lepcha's dress is very scanty, and when 
we are wearing woollen under-garments and hose, he is 
content with one cotton vesture, which is loosely thrown 
round the body, leaving one or both arms free ; it reaches 
to the knee, and is gathered round the waist : its fabric is 
close, the ground colour white, ornamented with longi- 
tudinal blue stripes, two or three fingers broad, prettily 
worked with red and white. When new and clean, this 
garb is remarkably handsome and gay, but not showy. In 
cold weather an upper garment with loose sleeves is added. 
A long knife, with a common wooden handle, hangs by 
the side, stuck in a sheath ; he has often also a quiver of 
poisoned arrows and a bamboo f bow across his back. 
On his right wrist is a curious wooden guard for the 

* It is called " Ban," and serves equally for plough, toothpick, table-knife, 
hatchet, hammer, and sword. 

t The bamboo, of which the quiver is made, is thin and light: it is brought 
from Assam, and called Tulda, or Dulwa, by the Bengalees. 


bowstring ; and a little pouch, containing aconite poison 
and a few common implements, is suspended to his girdle. 
A hat he seldom wears, and when he does, it is often 
extravagantly broad and flat-brimmed, with a small 
hemispherical crown. It is made of leaves of Scitami7iece i 
between two thin plates of bamboo-work, clumsy and 
heavy ; this is generally used in the rainy weather, while 
in the dry a conical one is worn, also of platted slips of 
bamboo, with broad flakes of talc between the layers, and 
a peacock's feather at the side. The umbrella consists of 
a large hood, much like the ancient boat called a coracle, 
which being placed over the head reaches to the thighs 
behind. It is made of platted bamboo, enclosing broad 
leaves of Phrynium. A group of Lepchas with these on, 
running along in the pelting rain, are very droll figures ; 
they look like snails with their shells on their backs. All 
the Lepchas are fond of ornaments, wearing silver hoops 
in their ears, necklaces made of cornelian, amber, and 
turquoise, brought from Tibet, and pearls and corals from 
the south, with curious silver and golden charm-boxes or 
amulets attached to their necks or arms. These are of 
Tibetan workmanship, and often of great value : they 
contain little idols, charms and written prayers, or the 
bones, hair, or nail-parings of a Lama : some are of great 
beauty, and highly ornamented. In these decorations, and 
in their hair, they take some pride, the ladies frequently 
dressing the latter for the gentlemen : thus one may often 
see, the last thing at night, a damsel of discreet port, 
demurely go behind a young man, unplait his pig-tail, 
teaze the hair, thin it of some of its lively inmates, braid 
it up for him, and retire. The women always wear 
two braided pig-tails, and it is by this they are 
most readily distinguished from their effeminate-looking 

K 2 

132 DORJILING. Chap. V. 

partners, who wear only one.* When in full dress, the 
woman's costume is extremely ornamental and picturesque ; 
besides the shirt and petticoat she wears a small sleeveless 
woollen cloak, of gay pattern, usually covered with crosses, 
and fastened in front by a girdle of silver chains. Her 
neck is loaded with silver chains, amber necklaces, &c, and 
her head adorned with a coronet of scarlet cloth, studded 
with seed-pearls, jewels, glass beads, &c. The common 
dress is a long robe of indi, a cloth of coarse silk, spun 
from the cocoon of a large caterpillar that is found wild at 
the foot of the hills, and is also cultivated ; it feeds on 
many different leaves, Sal (S/wrea), castor-oil, &c. 

In diet, they are gross feeders ; f rice, however, forming 
their chief sustenance ; it is grown without irrigation, and 
produces a large, flat, coarse grain, which becomes gelati- 
nous, and often pink, when cooked. Pork is a staple 
dish : and they also eat elephant, and all kinds of animal 
food. When travelling, they live on whatever they can 
find, whether animal or vegetable. Fern-tops, roots of 
Scitaminece, and their flower-buds, various leaves (it is 
difficult to say what not), and fungi, are chopped up, fried 
with a little oil, and eaten. Their cooking is coarse and 
dirty. Salt is costly, but prized ; pawn (Betel pepper) is 
never eaten. Tobacco they are too poor to buy, and too 
indolent to grow and cure. Spices, oil, &c. are relished. 

They drink out of little wooden cups, turned from knots 
of maple, or other woods ; these are very curious on several 
accounts ; they are very pretty, often polished, and mounted 
with silver. Some are supposed to be antidotes against 

* Ermann (Travels in Siberia, ii. p. 204) mentions the Buraet women as 
wearing two tails, and fillets with jewels, and the men as having one queue only. 

t Dr. Campbell's definition of the Lepcha's Flora clbaria, is, that he eats, or 
must have eaten, everything soft enough to chew ; for, as he knows whatever is 
poisonous, he must have tried all ; his knowledge being wholly empirical. 


poison, and hence fetch an enormous price ; they are of a 
peculiar wood, rarer and paler-coloured. I have paid a 
guinea for one such, hardly different from the common 
sort, which cost but 4r/. or 6d. MM. Hue and Gabet 
graphically allude to this circumstance, when wishing to 
purchase cups at Lhassa, where their price is higher, as 
they are all imported from the Himalaya. The knots from 
which they are formed, are produced on the roots of oaks, 
maples, and other mountain forest trees, by a parasitical 
plant, known to botanists as Batanophora. 

Their intoxicating drink, which seems more to excite 
than to debauch the mind, is partially fermented Murwa 
grain {Eleusine Coracana). Spirits are rather too strong 
to be relished raw, and when a glass of wine is given to 
one of a party, he sips it, and hands it round to all the 
rest. A long bamboo flute, with four or six burnt holes 
far below the mouth-hole, is the only musical instrument 
I have seen in use among them. When travelling, and the 
fatigues of the day are over, the Lepchas will sit for hours 
chatting, telling stories, singing in a monotonous tone, 
or blowing this flute. I have often listened with real 
pleasure to the simple music of this rude instrument ; its 
low and sweet tones are singularly iEolian, as are the 
airs usually played, which fall by octaves : it seems to 
harmonize with the solitude of their primaeval forests, and 
he must have a dull ear who cannot draw from it the 
indication of a contented mind, whether he may relish its 
soft musical notes or not. Though always equipped for 
the chase, I fancy the Lepcha is no great sportsman ; 
there is little to be pursued in this region, and he is not 
driven by necessity to follow what there is. 

Their marriages are contracted in childhood, and the 
wife purchased by money, or by service rendered to the 

134 DOKJILING. Chap. V. 

future father-in-law, the parties being often united before 
the woman leaves her parents' roof, in cases where the 
payment is not forthcoming, and the bridegroom prefers 
giving his and his wife's labour to the father for a stated 
period in lieu. On the time of service expiring, or the 
money being paid up, the marriage is publicly celebrated 
by feasting and riot. The females are generally chaste, 
and the marriage-tie is strictly kept, its violation being 
heavily punished by divorce, beating, slavery, &c. In cases 
of intermarriage with foreigners, the children belong to the 
father's country. All the labours of the house, the field, 
and march, devolve on the women and children, or slaves 
if they have them. 

Small-pox is dreaded, and infected persons often cruelly 
shunned : a suspicion of this or of cholera frequently 
emptying a village or town in a night. Vaccination has been 
introduced by Dr. Pearson, and it is much practised by 
Dr. Campbell; it being eagerly sought. Cholera is scarcely 
known at Dorjiling, and when it has been imported thither 
has never spread. Disease is very rare amongst the 
Lepchas ; and ophthalmia, elephantiasis, and leprosy, the 
scourges of hot climates, are rarely known. Goitre prevails,* 
though not so conspicuously as amongst Bhoteeas, 

* May not the use of the head instead of the shoulder-strap in carrying loads 
be a predisposing cause of goitre, by inducing congestion of the laryngeal vessels ? 
The Lepcha is certainly far more free from this disease than any of the tribes of 
E. Nepal I have mixed with, and he is both more idle and less addicted to the 
head-strap as a porter. I have seen it to be almost universal in some villages of 
Bhoteeas, where the head -strap alone is used in carrying in both summer and winter 
crops ; as also amongst the salt-traders, or rather those families who carry the 
salt from the passes to the Nepalese villages, and who very frequently have no 
shoulder-straps, but invariably head-bands. I am far from attributing all goitre, 
even in the mountains, to this practice, but I think it is proved, that the disease 
is most prevalent in the mountainous regions of both the old and new world, and 
that in these the practice of supporting enormous loads by the cervical muscles 
is frequent. It is also found in the Himalayan sheep and goats which accompany 
the salt-traders, and whose loads are supported in ascending, by a band passing 
under the throat. 

April, 1848. LEPCHAS, RELIGION 135 

Bhotanese, and others. Rheumatism is frequent, and inter- 
mittent fevers, with ague ; also violent and often fatal 
remittents, almost invariably induced by sleeping in the 
hot valleys, especially at the beginning and end of the 
rains. The European complaints of liver and bowel disease 
are all but unknown. Death is regarded with horror. The 
dead are burnt or buried, sometimes both; much depending 
on custom and position. Omens are sought in the entrails 
of fowls, &c, and other vestiges of their savage origin are 
still preserved, though now gradually disappearing. 

The Lepchas profess no religion, though acknowledging 
the existence of good and bad spirits. To the good they 
pay no heed; "Why should we?" they say, "the good 
spirits do us no harm ; the evil spirits, who dwell in every 
rock, grove, and mountain, are constantly at mischief, 
and to them we must pray, for they hurt us." Every 
tribe has a priest-doctor; he neither knows nor attempts 
to practise the healing art, but is a pure exorcist ; all 
bodily ailments being deemed the operations of devils, 
who are cast out by prayers and invocations. Still they 
acknowledge the Lamas to be very holy men, and were the 
latter only moderately active, they would soon convert 
all the Lepchas. Their priests are called " Bijooas ; " 
they profess mendicancy, and seem intermediate between 
the begging friars of Tibet, whose dress and attributes they 
assume, and the exorcists of the aboriginal Lepchas : they 
sing, dance (masked and draped like harlequins), beg, 
bless, curse, and are merry mountebanks ; those that affect 
more of the Lama Boodhist carry the "Mani," or revolving- 
praying machine, and wear rosaries and amulets ; others 
again are all tatters and rags. They are often employed 
to carry messages, and to transact little knaveries. The 
natives stand in some awe of them, and being besides of a 

136 DORJJLING. * Chap. V. 

generous disposition, keep the wallet of the Bijooa always 

Such are some of the prominent features of this people, 
who inhabit the sub-Himalayas, between the Nepalese 
and Bhotan frontiers, at elevations of 3000 to 6000 feet. 
In their relations with us, they are conspicuous for their 
honesty, their power as carriers and mountaineers, and their 
skill as woodsmen ; for they build a waterproof house with 
a thatch of banana leaves in the lower, or of bamboo in the 
elevated regions, and equip it with a table and bedsteads 
for three persons, in an hour, using no implement but their 
heavy knife. Kindness and good humour soon attach them 
to your person and service. A gloomy-tempered or morose 
master they avoid, an unkind one they flee. If they serve 
a good hills-man like themselves, they will follow him with 
alacrity, sleep on the cold, bleak mountain exposed to the 
pitiless rain, without a murmur, lay down the heavy burden 
to carry their master over a stream, or give him a helping 
hand up a rock or precipice — do anything, in short, but 
encounter a foe, for I believe the Lepcha to be a veritable 
coward.* It is well, perhaps, he is so : for if a race, nume- 
rically so weak, were to embroil itself by resenting the 
injuries of the warlike Ghorkas, or dark Bhotanese, the 
folly would soon lead to destruction. 

Before leaving the Lepchas, it may be worth mentioning 
that the northern parts of the country, towards the Tibet 
frontier, are inhabited by Sikkim Bhoteeas f (or Kumpas), 

* Yet, dui-ing the Ghorka war, they displayed many instances of courage : when 
so hard pressed, however, that there was little choice of evils. 

t Bhote is the general name for Tibet (not Bhotan), and Kumpa is a large 
province, or district, in that country. The Bhotanese, natives of Bhotan, or of 
the Dhurma country, are called Dhurma people, in allusion to their spiritual 
chief, the Dhurma Rajah. They are a darker and more powerful race, rude, tur- 
bulent, and Tibetan in language and religion, with the worst features of those 
people exaggerated. The various races of Nepal are too numerous to be alluded 

April, 1848. LTMB00S, ORIGIN AND CUSTOMS. ]:>,7 

a mixed race calling themselves Kumpa Rong, or Kumpa 
Lepchas ; but they are emigrants from Tibet, having come 
with the first rajah of Sikkim. These people are more 
turbulent and bolder than the Lepchas, and retain much of 
their Tibetan character, and even of that of the very pro- 
vince from which they came ; which is north-east of Lhassa, 
and inhabited by robbers. All the accounts I have received 
of it agree with those given by MM. Hue and Gabet. 

Next to the Lepchas, the most numerous tribe in Sikkim 
is that of the Limboos (called " Chung " by the Lepchas) ; 
they abound also in East Nepal, which they once ruled, 
inhabiting elevations from 2000 feet to 5000 feet. They 
are Boodhists, and though not divided into castes, belong 
to several tribes. All consider themselves as the earliest 
inhabitants of the Tambur Valley, though they have a tradi- 
tion of having originally emigrated from Tibet, which their 
Tartar countenance confirms. They are more slender and 
sinewy than the Lepchas, and neither plait their hair nor 
wear ornaments ; instead of the ban they use the Nepal 
carved knife, called " cookree," while for the striped kirtle 
of the Lepcha are substituted loose cotton trousers and a 
tight jacket ; a sash is worn round the middle, and on the 
head a small cotton cap. When they ruled over East 
Nepal, their system was feudal ; and on their uniting 
against the Nepalese, they were with difficulty dislodged 
from their strongholds. They are said to be equally brave 
and cruel in battle, putting the old and weak to the sword, 

to here : they are all described in various papers by Mr. Hodgson, in the " Journal of 
the Asiatic Society of Bengal." The Dhurma people are numerous at Dorjiling ; 
they are often runaways, but invariably prove more industrious settlers than the 
Lepchas. In the Himalaya the name Bhotan is unknown amongst the Tibetans ; 
it signifies literally (according to Mr. Hodgson) the end of Bhote, or Tibet, beiDg 
the eastern extreme of that country. The Lepchas designate Bhotan as Ayeu, or 
Aieu, as do often the Bhotanese themselves. Sikkim, again, is called Lhop, or Lho', 
by the Lepchas and Bhotanese. 

138 DORJILING. Chap. V. 

carrying the younger to slavery, and killing on the march 
such captives as are unable to proceed. Many enlist at 
Dorjiling, which the Lepchas never do ; and the rajah of 
Nepal employs them in his army, where, however, they 
seldom obtain promotion, this being reserved for soldiers 
of Hindoo tribes. Latterly Jung Bahadur levied a force of 
6000. of them, who were cantoned at Katmandoo, where 
the cholera breaking out, carried off some hundreds, causing 
many families who dreaded conscription to flock to 
Dorjiling. Their habits are so similar to those of the 
Lepchas, that they constantly intermarry. They mourn, 
burn, and bury their dead, raising a mound over the corpse, 
erecting a headstone, and surrounding the grave with a 
little paling of sticks ; they then scatter eggs and pebbles 
over the ground. In these offices the Bijooa of the Lepchas 
is employed, but the Limboo has also priests of his own, 
called " Phedangbos," who belong to rather a higher order 
than the Bijooas. They officiate at marriages, when a cock 
is put into the bridegroom's hands, and a hen into those of 
the bride ; the Phedangbo then cuts off the birds' heads, 
when the blood is caught on a plantain leaf, and runs into 
pools from which omens are drawn. At death, guns are 
fired, to announce to the gods the departure of the spirit ; 
of these there are many, having one supreme head, and to 
them offerings and sacrifices are made. They do not 
believe in metempsychosis. 

The Limboo language is totally different from the Lepcha, 
with less of the z in it, and more labials and palatals, 
hence more pleasing. Its affinities I do not know ; it has 
no peculiar written character, the Lepcha or Nagri being 
used. Dr. Campbell, from whom I have derived most 
of my information respecting these people, was informed,* 

* See " Dorjiling Guide," p. 89. Calcutta, 1845. 

April, 1848. MOORMIS. MAGMAS. 139 

on good authority, that they had once a written language, 
now lost ; and that it was compounded from many others 
by a sage of antiquity. The same authority stated that their 
Lepcha name " Chung "is a corruption of that of their 
place of residence ; possibly the " Tsang " province of Tibet. 

The Moormis are the only other native tribe remaining 
in any numbers in Sikkim, except the Tibetans of the loftier 
mountains (whom I shall mention at a future period), and 
the Mechis of the pestilential Terai, the forests of which 
they never leave. The Moormis are a scattered people, 
respecting whom I have no information, except from the 
authority quoted above. They are of Tibetan origin, and 
called " Nishung," from being composed of two branches, 
respectively from the districts of Nimo and Shung, both 
on the road between Sikkim and Lhassa. They are now 
most frequent in central and eastern Nepal, and are a 
pastoral and agricultural people, inhabiting elevations of 
4000 to 6000 feet, and living in stone houses, thatched 
with grass. They are a large, powerful, and active race, 
grave, very plain in features, with little hair on the face. 
Both their language and religion are purely Tibetan. 

The Magras, a tribe now confined to Nepal west of the 
Arun, are aborigines of Sikkim, whence they were driven 
by the Lepchas westward into the country of the Limboos, 
and by these latter further west still. They are said to have 
been savages, and not of Tibetan origin, and are now con- 
verted to Hindooism. A somewhat mythical account of a 
wild people still inhabiting the Sikkim mountains, will be 
alluded to elsewhere. 

It is curious to observe that these mountains do not 
appear to have afforded refuge to the Tamulian * aborigines 

* The Tamuliaus are the Coles, Dangas, &c., of the mountains of Central India 
and the peninsula, who retired to mountain fastnesses, on the invasion of their 

140 DORJ1LTNG. Chap. V. 

of India proper ; all the Himalayan tribes of Sikkini being 
markedly Mongolian in origin. It does not, hoAvever, 
follow that they are all of Tibetan extraction; perhaps, 
indeed, none but the Moormis are so. The Mechi of the 
Terai is decidedly Indo-Chinese, and of the same stock as 
the savage races of Assam, the north-east and east frontier 
of Bengal, Arracan, Burmah, &c. Both Lepchas and 
Limboos had, before the introduction of Lama Boodhism 
from Tibet, many features in common with the natives of 
Arracan, especially in their creed, sacrifices, faith in omens, 
worship of many spirits, absence of idols, and of the doctrine 
of metempsychosis. Some of their customs, too, are the 
same ; the form of their houses and of some of their imple- 
ments, their striped garments, their constant and dexterous 
use of the bamboo for all utensils, their practice of night- 
attacks in war, of using poisoned arrows only in the chase, 
and that of planting " crow-feet " of sharp bamboo stakes 
along the paths an enemy is expected to follow. Such are 
but a few out of many points of resemblance, most of which 
struck me when reading Lieutenant Phayre's account of 
Arracan,* and when travelling in the districts of Khasia 
and Cachar. 

The laws affecting the distribution of plants, and the 
lower animals, materially influence the migrations of man 
also ; and as the botany, zoology, and climate of the Malayan 
and Siamese peninsula advance far westwards into India, 
along the foot of the Himalaya, so do also the varieties of 
the human race. These features are most conspicuously 
displayed in the natives of Assam, on both sides of the 
Burrampooter, as far as the great bend of that river, 
beyond which they gradually disappear ; and none of the 

country by the Indo- Germanic conquerors, who are now represented by the 

* "Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal." 

April, 1818. SIKKIM, TRIBES IN. 141 

Himalayan tribes east of that point practise the bloody and 
brutal rites in Avar that prevail amongst the Looties, 
Khasias, Garrows, and other Indo-Chinese tribes of the 
mountain forests of Assam, Eastern Bengal, and the Malay 

I have not alluded to that evidence of the extraction 
of the Sikkim races, which is to be derived from their 
languages, and from which we may hope for a clue to their 
origin ; the subject is at present under discussion, and 
involved in much obscurity. 

That six or seven different tribes, without any feudal 
system or coercive head, with different languages and cus- 
toms, should dwell in close proximity and in peace and 
unity, within the confined territory of Sikkim, even for a 
limited period, is an anomaly ; the more especially when 
it is considered that except for a tincture of the Boodhist 
religion among some few of the people, they are all but 
savages, as low in the scale of intellect as the New Zealander 
or the Tahitian, and beneath those races in ingenuity and 
skill as craftsmen. Wars have been waged amongst them, but 
they were neither sanguinary nor destructive, and the fact 
remains no less remarkable, that at the period of our occu- 
pying Dorjiling, friendship and unanimity existed amongst 
all these tribes ; from the Tibetan at 14,000 feet, to the 
Mechi of the plains ; under a sovereign whose temporal 
power was wholly unsupported by even the semblance of 
arms, and whose spiritual supremacy was acknowledged by 
very few. 


Excursion from Dorjiling to Great Rungeet — Zones of vegetation — Tree-ferns — 
Palms, upper limit of — Leebong, tea plantations — Gang — 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 — Tempe- 
rature 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, culti- 
vation at — European fruits at Dorjiling — Plains of India. 

A very favourite and interesting excursion from Dorjiling 
is to the cane bridge over the Great Rungeet river, 
6000 feet below the station. To this an excellent road has 
been cut, by which the whole descent of six miles, as the 
crow flies, is easily performed on pony -back ; the road dis- 
tance being only eleven miles. The scenery is, of course, 
of a totally different description from that of Sinchul, 
or even of the foot of the hills, being that of a deep 
mountain-valley. I several times made this trip ; on the 
excursion about to be described, and in which I was 
accompanied by Mr. Barnes, I followed the Great Rungeet 
to the Teesta, into which it flows. 

In descending from Dorjiling, the zones of vegetation 
are well marked between 6000 and 7000 feet by — 1. The 
oak, chesnut, and Magnolias, the main features from 7000 
to 10,000 feet. — 2. Immediately below 6,500 feet, the tree- 
fern appears {Alsophila gigantea, Wall.), a widely-distributed 

May, 1848. ZONES OF VEGETATION. 143 

plant, common to the Himalaya, from Nepal eastward to 
the Malayan peninsula, Java, and Ceylon. — 3. Of palms, a 
species of Calamus, and Plectocomia, the " Rhenoul " of 
the Lepchas. The latter, though not a very large plant, 
climbs lofty trees, and extends about 40 yards through the 
forest ; 6,500 feet is the upper limit of palms in the Sikkim 
Himalaya, the Rhenoul alone attaining this elevation.* — 
4. The fourth striking feature is a wild plantain, which 
ascends to nearly the same elevation (" Lukhlo," Lepcha). 
This is replaced by another, and rather larger species, at 
lower elevations ; both ripen austere and small fruits, which 
are full of seeds, and quite uneatable ; that commonly 
grown in Sikkim is an introduced stock (nor have the wild 
species ever been cultivated) ; it is very large, but poor in 
flavour, and does not bear seeds. The zones of these con- 
spicuous plants are very clearly defined, and especially if 
the traveller, standing on one of the innumerable spurs 
which project from the Dorjiling ridge, cast his eyes up the 
gorges of green on either hand. 

At 1000 feet below Dorjiling a fine wooded spur projects, 
called Leebong. This beautiful spot is fully ten degrees 
warmer than Mr. Hodgson's house, and enjoys considerably 
more sunshine; peaches and English fruit-trees flourish 
extremely well, but do not ripen fruit. The tea-plant 

* Four other Calami range between 1000 and 6000 feet on the outer hills, 
some of them being found forty miles distant from the plains of India. The other 
palms of Sikkim are, " Simong" (Caryota urens) ; it is rare, and ascends to nearly 
5000 feet. Phoenix (probably P. acaulis, Buch.), a small, stemless species, which 
grows on the driest soil in the deep valleys ; it is the " Schaap " of the Lepchas, 
who eat the young seeds, and use the feathery fronds as screens in hunting. 
Wallichia oblongifolia, the " Ooh " of the Lepchas, who make no use of it ; 
Dr. Campbell and myself, however, found that it is an admirable fodder for 
horses, who prefer it to any other green food to be had in these mountains. 
Areca gracilis and Licuala peltata are the only other palms in Sikkim; but 
Cycas pectinata, with the India-rubber fig, occurs in the deepest and hottest 
valleys — the western limit of both these interesting plants. Of Pandanus there 
is a graceful species at elevations of 1000 to 4000 feet (" Borr," Lepcha). 


succeeds here admirably, and might be cultivated to great 
profit, and be of advantage in furthering a trade with Tibet. 
It has been tried on a large scale by Dr. Campbell at his 
residence (alt. 7000 feet), but the frosts and snow of that 
height injure it, as do the hailstorms in spring. 

Below Leebong is the village of Ging, surrounded by 
steeps, cultivated with maize, rice, and millet. It is ren- 
dered very picturesque by a long row of tall poles, each 
bearing a narrow, vertically elongated banner, covered with 
Boodhist inscriptions, and surmounted by coronet-like 
ornaments, or spear-heads, rudely cut out of wood, or 
formed of basket-work, and adorned with cotton fringe. 
Ging is peopled by Bhotan emigrants, and when one dies, 
if his relations can afford to pay for them, two additional 
poles and flags are set up by the Lamas in honour of his 
memory, and that of Sunga, the third member of the 
Boodhist Trinity. 

Below this the Gordon la commences, with Cedrela 
toona, and various tropical genera, such as abound near 
Punkabaree. The heat and hardness of the rocks cause 
the streams to dry up on these abrupt hills, especially on 
the eastern slope, and the water is therefore conveyed along 
the sides of the path, in conduits ingeniously made of 
bamboo, either split in half, or, what is better, whole, 
except at the septum, which is removed through a lateral 
hole. The oak and chesnut of this level (3000 feet), are 
both different from those which grow above, as are the 
brambles. The Arums are replaced by Ccdadiums. Tree- 
ferns cease below 4000 feet, and the large bamboo abounds. 

At about 2000 feet, and ten miles distant from Dorjiling, 
we arrived at a low, long spur, dipping down to the bed of 
the Rungeet, at its junction with the Rungino. This is 
close to the boundary of the British ground, and there is a 


guard-house, and a sepoy or two at it ; here we halted. It 
took the Lepchas about twenty minutes to construct a table 
and two bedsteads within our tent ; each was made of four 
forked sticks, stuck in the ground, supporting as many 
side-pieces, across which were laid flat split pieces of 
bamboo, bound tightly together by strips of rattan palm- 
stem. The beds were afterwards softened by many layers 
of bamboo-leaf, and if not very downy, they were dry, and 
as firm as if put together with screws and joints. 

This spur rises out of a deep valley, quite surrounded 
by lofty mountains ; it is narrow, and covered with red 
clay, which the natives chew as a cure for goitre. North, 
it looks down into a gully, at the bottom of which the 
Rungeet's foamy stream winds through a dense forest. In 
the opposite direction, the Rungmo comes tearing down 
from the top of Sinchul, 7000 feet above ; and though its 
roar is heard, and its course is visible throughout its length, 
the stream itself is nowhere seen, so deep does it cut its 
channel. Except on this, and a few similarly hard rocky 
hills around, the vegetation is a mass of wood and jungle. 
At this spot it is rather scanty and dry, with abundance 
of the Pinus longifolia and Sal. The dwarf date-palm 
(Phoenix acaidis) also, was very abundant. 

The descent to the river was exceedingly steep, the banks 
presenting an impenetrable jungle. The pines on the arid 
crests of the hills around formed a remarkable feature : they 
grow like the Scotch fir, the tall, red trunks springing from 
the steep and dry slopes. But little resin exudes from the 
stem, which, like that of most pines, is singularly free 
from lichens and mosses ; its wood is excellent, and the 
charcoal of the burnt leaves is used as a pigment. Being 
confined to dry soil, this pine is local in Sikkim, and the 
elevation it attains here is not above 3000 feet. In Bhotan, 


where there is more dry country, its range is about the same, 
and in the north-west Himalaya, from 2,500 to 7000 feet. 

The Lepcha never inhabits one spot for more than three 
successive years, after which an increased rent is demanded 
by the Rajah. He therefore squats in any place which he 
can render profitable for that period, and then moves to 
another. His first operation, after selecting a site, is to 
burn the jungle ; then he clears away the trees, and culti- 
vates between the stumps. At this season, firing the 
jungle is a frequent practice, and the effect by night is 
exceedingly fine j a forest, so dry and full of bamboo, 
and extending over such steep hills, affording grand blazing 
spectacles. Heavy clouds canopy the mountains above, 
and, stretching across the valleys, shut out the firmament ; 
the air is a dead calm, as usual in these deep gorges, and 
the fires, invisible by day, are seen raging all around, 
appearing to an inexperienced eye in all but dangerous 
proximity. The voices of birds and insects being hushed, 
nothing is audible but the harsh roar of the rivers, and 
occasionally, rising far above it, that of the forest fires. At 
night we were literally surrounded by them ; some smoul- 
dering, like the shale-heaps at a colliery, others fitfully 
bursting forth, whilst others again stalked along with a 
steadily increasing and enlarging flame, shooting out great 
tongues of fire, which spared nothing as they advanced with 
irresistible might. Their triumph is in reaching a great 
bamboo clump, when the noise of the flames drowns that 
of the torrents, and as the great stem-joints burst, from 
the expansion of the confined air, the report is as that of a 
salvo from a park of artillery. At Dorjiling the blaze is 
visible, and the deadened reports of the bamboos bursting 
is heard throughout the night ; but in the valley, and 
within a mile of the scene of destruction, the effect is the 

May, 1848. BOODHIST EMBLEMS. 147 

most grand, being heightened by the glare reflected from 
the masses of mist which hover above. 

On the following morning we pursued a path to the bed 
of the river ; passing a rude Booddhist monument, a pile of 
slate-rocks, with an attempt at the mystical hemisphere at 
top. A few flags or banners, and slabs of slate, were 
inscribed with " Om Mani Padmi om." Placed on a 
jutting angle of the spur, backed with the pine-clad hills, 
and flanked by a torrent on either hand, the spot was 
wild and picturesque ; and I could not but gaze with a 
feeling of deep interest on these emblems of a religion 
which perhaps numbers more votaries than any other 
on the face of the globe. Booddhism in some form is 
the predominating creed, from Siberia and Kamschatka to 
CeyloD, from the Caspian steppes to Japan, throughout 
China, Burmah, Ava, and a part of the Malayan Archi- 
pelago. Its associations enter into every book of travels 
over these vast regions, with Booddha, Dhurma, Sunga, 
Jos, Fo, and praying- wheels. The mind is arrested by the 
names, the imagination captivated by the symbols ; and 
though I could not worship in the grove, it was impossible 
to deny to the inscribed stones such a tribute as is com- 
manded by the first glimpse of objects which have long been 
familiar to our minds, but not previously offered to our 
senses. My head Lepcha went further : to a due observance 
of demon-worship he united a deep reverence for the Lamas, 
and he venerated their symbols rather as theirs than as those 
of their religion. He walked round the pile of stones 
three times from left to right repeating his " Om Mani," 
&c, then stood before it with his head hung down and his 
long queue streaming behind, and concluded by a votive 
offering of three pine-cones. When done, he looked round 
at me, nodded, smirked, elevated the angles of his little 




Chap. VI. 

turned-up eyes, and seemed to think we were safe from all 
perils in the valleys yet to be explored. 

In the gorge of the Rungeet the heat was intolerable, 
though the thermometer did not rise above 95°. The 


mountains leave but a narrow gorge between them, here and 
there bordered by a belt of strong soil, supporting a towering 
crop of long cane-like grasses and tall trees. The troubled 
river, about eighty yards across, rages along over a 

May, 1848. CANE BRIDGE. 149 

gravelly bed. Crossing the Rungmo, where it falls into 
the Rungeet, we came upon a group of natives drinking 
fermented Murwa liquor, under a rock ; I had a good 
deal of difficulty in getting my people past, and more in 
inducing one of the topers to take the place of a Ghorka 
(Nepalese) of our party who was ill with fever. Soon 
afterwards, at a most wild and beautiful spot, I saw, for 
the first time, one of the most characteristic of Himalayan 
objects of art, a cane bridge. All the spurs, round the 
bases of which the river flowed, were steep and rocky, 
their flanks clothed with the richest tropical forest, their 
crests tipped with pines. On the river's edge, the Banana, 
Pandanns, and Bauhinia, were frequent, and Figs prevailed. 
One of the latter (of an exceedingly beautiful species) pro- 
jected over the stream, growing out of a mass of rock, its 
roots interlaced and grasping at every available support, 
while its branches, loaded with deep glossy foliage, hung over 
the water. This tree formed one pier for the canes ; that 
on the opposite bank was constructed of strong piles, 
propped with large stones ; and between them swung the 

bridge,* about eighty yards long, ever rocking over the 
torrent (forty feet below). The lightness and extreme 
simplicity of its structure were very remarkable. Two 
parallel canes, on the same horizontal plane, were stretched 
across the stream; from them others hung in loops, and along 

* A sketch of one of these bridges will be found in Vol. ii. 


the loops were laid one or two bamboo stems for flooring ; 
cross pieces below this flooring, hung from the two upper 
canes, which they thus served to keep apart. The traveller 
grasps one of the canes in either hand, and walks along the 
loose bamboos laid on the swinging loops : the motion is 
great, and the rattling of the loose dry bamboos is neither 
a musical sound, nor one calculated to inspire confidence ; 
the whole structure seeming as if about to break down. 
With shoes it is not easy to walk ; and even with bare feet 
it is often difficult, there being frequently but one bamboo, 
which, if the fastening is loose, tilts up, leaving the 
pedestrian suspended over the torrent by the slender canes. 
When properly and strongly made, with good fastenings, 
and a floor of bamboos laid transversely y these bridges are 
easy to cross. The canes are procured from a species of 
Calamus ; they are as thick as the finger, and twenty or 
thirty yards long, knotted together ; and the other pieces 
are fastened to them by strips of the same plant. A 
Lepcha, carrying one hundred and forty pounds on his 
back, crosses without hesitation, slowly but steadily, and 
with perfect confidence. 

A deep broad pool below the bridge was made available 
for a ferry : the boat was a triangular raft of bamboo 
stems, with a stage on the top, and it was secured on the 
opposite side of the stream, having a cane reaching across 
to that on which we were. A stout Lepcha leapt into the 
boiling flood, and boldly swam across, holding on by the 
cane, without which he would have been carried away. 
He unfastened the raft, and we drew it over by the cane, 
and, seated on the stage, up to our knees in water, we 
were pulled across; the raft bobbing up and down over 
the rippling stream. 

We were beyond British ground, on the opposite bank, 


where any one guiding Europeans is threatened with 
punishment : we had expected a guide to follow us, 
but his non-appearance caused us to delay for some 
hours ; four roads, or rather forest paths, meeting here, 
all of which were difficult to find. After a while, part 
of a marriage-procession came up, headed by the bride- 
groom, a handsome young Lepcha, leading a cow for 
the marriage feast ; and after talking to him a little, 
he volunteered to show us the path. On the flats 
by the stream grew the Sago palm (Cycas pectinata), with 
a stem ten feet high, and a beautiful crown of foliage ; the 
contrast between this and the Scotch-looking pine (both 
growing with oaks and palms) was curious. Much of the 
forest had been burnt, and we traversed large blackened 
patches, where the heat was intense, and increased by the 
burning trunks of prostrate trees, which smoulder for 
months, and leave a heap of white ashes. The larger 
timber being hollow in the centre, a current of air is 
produced, which causes the interior to burn rapidly, till 
the sides fall in, and all is consumed. I was often startled, 
when walking in the forest, by the hot blast proceeding 
from such, which I had approached without a suspicion of 
their being other than cold dead trunks. 

Leaving the forest, the path led along the river bank, 
and over the great masses of rock which strewed its course. 
The beautiful India-rubber fig was common, as was Bassia 
butyracea, the " Yel Pote " of the Lepchas, from the seeds 
of which they express a concrete oil, which is received and 
hardens in bamboo vessels. On the forest-skirts, Hoy a, para- 
sitical Orc/iidecs, and Eerns, abounded ; the Chaulmoogra, 
whose fruit is used to intoxicate fish, was very common ; as 
was an immense mulberry tree, that yields a milky juice and 
produces a long green sweet fruit. Large fish, chiefly 


Cyprinoid, were abundant in the beautifully clear water of 
the river. But by far the most striking feature consisted 
in the amazing quantity of superb butterflies, large tropical 
swallow-tails, black, with scarlet or yellow eyes on their 
wings. They were seen everywhere, sailing majestically 
through the still hot air, or fluttering from one scorching rock 
to another, and especially loving to settle on the damp sand 
of the river-edge ; where they sat by thousands, with erect 
wings, balancing themselves with a rocking motion, as 
their heavy sails inclined them to one side or the other ; 
resembling a crowded fleet of yachts on a calm day. Such 
an entomological display cannot be surpassed. CicindelcE 
were very numerous, and incredibly active, as were Grylli ; 
and the great Cicadece were everywhere lighting on the 
ground, when they uttered a short sharp creaking sound, and 
anon disappeared, as if by magic. Beautiful whip-snakes 
were gleaming in the sun : they hold on by a few coils of 
the tail round a twig, the greater part of their body 
stretched out horizontally, occasionally retracting, and 
darting an unerring aim at some insect. The narrowness of 
the gorge, and the excessive steepness of the bounding hills, 
prevented any view, except of the opposite mountain face, 
which was one dense forest, in which the wild Banana 
was conspicuous. 

Towards evening we arrived at another cane-bridge, still 
more dilapidated than the former, but similar in structure. 
For a few hundred yards before reaching it, we lost the 
path, and followed the precipitous face of slate-rocks 
overhanging the stream, which dashed with great 
violence below. Though we could not walk comfortably, 
even with our shoes off, the Lepchas, bearing their 
enormous loads, proceeded with perfect indifference. 

Anxious to avoid sleeping at the bottom of the valley, 

Mat, 1848. CAMP. TEMPERATURE. 153 

we crawled, very much fatigued, through burnt dry forest, 
up a very sharp ridge, so narrow that the tent sate astride 
on it, the ropes being fastened to the tops of small trees 
on either slope. The ground swarmed with black ants, 
which got into our tea, sugar, &c, while it was so covered 
with charcoal, that we were soon begrimed. Our Lepchas 
preferred remaining on the river-bank, whence they had to 
bring up water to us, in great bamboo " chungis," as they 
are called. The great dryness of this face is owing to its 
southern exposure : the opposite mountains, equally high 
and steep, being clothed in a rich green forest. 

At nine the next morning, the temperature was 78°, but 
a fine cool easterly wind blew. Descending to the bed of 
the river, the temperature was 84°. The difference in 
humidity of the two stations (with about 300 feet difference 
in height) was more remarkable ; at the upper, the wet 
bulb thermometer was 67^°, and consequently the satura- 
tion point, 0*713; at the lower, the wet bulb was 68°, 
and saturation, 0*599. The temperature of the river was, 
at all hours of the preceding day, and this morning, 

Our course down the river was by so rugged a path, 
that, giddy and footsore with leaping from rock to rock, 
we at last attempted the jungle, but it proved utterly 
impervious. On turning a bend of the stream, the 
mountains of Bhotan suddenly presented themselves, with 
the Teesta flowing at their base • and we emerged at the 
angle formed by the junction of the Rungeet, which we 

* At this hour, the probable temperature at Dorjiling (6000 feet above this) 
would be 56°, with a temperature of wet bulb 55°, and the atmosphere loaded with 
vapour. At Calcutta, again, the temperature was at the observatory 91*3°, wet 
bulb, 81'8°, and saturation = 0*737. The dryness of the air, in the damper- 
looking and luxuriant river-bed, was owing to the heated rocks of its channel ; while 
the humidity of the atmosphere over the drier-looking hill where we encamped, 
was due to the moisture of the wind then blowing. 


had followed from the west, of the Teesta, coming from 
the north, and of their united streams flowing south. 

We were not long before enjoying the water, when I 
was surprised to find that of the Teesta singularly cold ; 
its temperature being 7° below that of the Rungeet.* 
At the salient angle (a rocky peninsula) of their junction, 
we could almost place one foot in the cold stream and 
the other in the warmer. There is a no less marked 
difference in the colour of the two rivers ; the Teesta 
being sea-green and muddy, the Great Rungeet dark 
green and very clear; and the waters, like those of 
the Arve and Rhone at Geneva, preserve their colours 
for some hundred yards ; the line separating the two 
being most distinctly drawn. The Teesta, or main stream, 
is much the broadest (about 80 or 100 yards wide at this 
season), the most rapid and deep. The rocks which skirt 
its bank were covered with a silt or mud deposit, which I 
nowhere observed along the Great Rungeet, and which, as 
well as its colour and coldness, was owing to the vast number 
of then melting glaciers drained by this river. The Run- 
geet, on the other hand, though it rises amongst the glaciers 
of Kinchinjunga and its sister peaks, is chiefly supplied by 
the rainfall of the outer ranges of Sinchul and Singalelah, 
and hence its waters are clear, except during the height of 
the rains. 

Prom this place we returned to Dorjiling, arriving on the 
afternoon of the following day. 

The most interesting trip to be made from Dorjiling, is 
that to the summit of Tonglo, a mountain on the Singalelah 

* This is, no doubt, due partly to the Teesta flowing south, and thu3 having 
less of the sun, and partly to its draining snowy mountains throughout a much 
longer portion of its course. The temperature of the one was 674°, and that of 
the other 60£°. 

May, 1848. EXCURSION TO TONGLO. 155 

range, 10,079 feet high, due west of the station, and twelve 
miles in a straight line, but fully thirty by the path.* 

Leaving the station by a native path, the latter plunges 
at once into a forest, and descends very rapidly, occasionally 
emerging on cleared spurs, where are fine crops of various 
millets, with much maize and rice. Of the latter grain as 
many as eight or ten varieties are cultivated, but seldom 
irrigated, which, owing to the dampness of the climate, is 
not necessary: the produce is often eighty-fold, but the grain 
is large, coarse, reddish, and rather gelatinous when boiled. 
After burning the timber, the top soil is very fertile for 
several seasons, abounding in humus, below which is a 
stratum of stiff clay, often of great thickness, produced by 
the disintegration of the rocks ; f the clay makes excellent 
bricks, and often contains nearly 30 per cent, of alumina. 

At about 4000 feet the great bamboo (" Pao " Lepcha) 
abounds ; it flowers every year, which is not the case with 
all others of this genus, most of which flower profusely over 
large tracts of country, once in a great many years, and 
then die away ; their place being supplied by seedlings, 
which grow with immense rapidity. This well-known fact 
is not due, as some suppose, to the life of the species being 
of such a duration, but to favourable circumstances in the 
season. The Pao attains a height of 40 to 60 feet, and the 
culms average in thickness the human thigh ; it is used for 
large water-vessels, and its leaves form admirable thatch, in 
universal use for European houses at Dorjiling. Besides 
this, the Lepchas are acquainted with nearly a dozen kinds 
of bamboo; these occur at various elevations below 12,000 

* A full account of the botanical features noticed on this excursion (which I 
made in May, 1848, with Mr. Barnes) has appeared in the "London Journal of 
Botany," and the " Horticultural Society's Journal," and I shall, therefore, recapi- 
tulate its leading incidents only. 

t An analysis of the soil will be found in the Appendix. 



Chap. VI. 

feet, forming, even in the pine-woods, and above their zone, 
in the skirts of the Rhododendron scrub, a small and some- 
times almost impervious jungle. In an economical point of 
view they may be classed as those which split readily, and 


those which do not. The young shoots of several are eaten, 
and the seeds of one are made into a fermented drink, and 
into bread in times of scarcity; but it would take many pages 
to describe the numerous purposes to which the various 
species are put. 


Gordonia is their most common tree (G. WattieKii), much 
prized for ploughshares and other purposes requiring a hard 
wood : it is the " Sing-bran g-kun " of the Lepchas, and 
ascends to 4000 feet. Oaks at this elevation occur as 
solitary trees, of species different from those of Dorjiling. 
There are three or four with a cup- shaped involucre, and 
three with spinous involucres enclosing an eatable sweet 
nut ; these generally grow on a dry clayey soil. 

Some low steep spurs were well cultivated, though the 
angle of the field was upwards of 25°; the crops, chiefly maize, 
were just sprouting. This plant is occasionally hermaphro- 
dite in Sikkim, the flowers forming a large drooping panicle 
and ripening small grains ; it is, however, a rare occurrence, 
and the specimens are highly valued by the people. 

The general prevalence of figs,* and their allies, the 
nettles, f is a remarkable feature in the botany of the 
Sikkim Himalaya, up to nearly 10,000 feet. Of the former 
there were here five species, some bearing eatable and very 
palatable fruit of enormous size, others with the fruit small 
and borne on prostrate, leafless branches, which spring from 
the root and creep along the ground. 

A troublesome, dipterous insect (the " Peepsa," a species 
of Siamidium) swarms on the banks of the streams ; it is 
very small and black, floating like a speck before the eye ; 
its bite leaves a spot of extravasated blood under the cuticle, 
very irritating if not opened. 

Crossing the Little Rungeet river, we camped on the 
base of Tonglo. The night was calm and clear, with faint 

* One species of this very tropical genus ascends almost to 9000 feet on the 
outer ranges of Sikkim. 

f Of two of these cloth is made, and of a third, cordage. The tops of two are 
eaten, as are several species of Procris. The " Poa " belongs to this order, yielding 
that kind of grass cloth fibre, now abundantly imported into England from the 
Malay Islands, and used extensively for shirting. 

158 T0NGL0. Chap. VI. 

cirrus, but no dew. A thermometer sunk two feet in rich 
vegetable mould stood at 78° two hours after it was lowered, 
and the same on the following morning. This probably 
indicates the mean temperature of the month at that spot, 
where, however, the dark colour of the exposed loose soil 
must raise the temperature considerably. 

May 20tk. — The temperature at sunrise was 67° ; the 
morning bright, and clear over head, but the mountains 
looked threatening. Dorjiling, perched on a ridge 5000 
feet above us, had a singular appearance. We ascended 
the Simonbong spur of Tonglo, so called from a small vil- 
lage and Lama temple of that name on its summit ; where 
we arrived at noon, and passing some chaits* gained the 
Lama's residence. 

Two species of bamboo, the " Payong " and " Praong " of 
the Lepchas, here replace the Pao of the lower regions. The 
former was flowering abundantly, the whole of the culms 
(which were 20 feet high) being a diffuse panicle of inflores- 
cence. The " Praong " bears a round head of flowers at 
the ends of the leafy branches. Wild strawberry, violet, 
geranium, &c, announced our approach to the temperate 
zone. Around the temple were potato crops and peach- 
trees, rice, millet, yam, brinjal (egg-apple), fennel, hemp 
(for smoking its narcotic leaves), and cummin, &c. The 
potato thrives extremely well as a summer crop, at 7000 
feet, in Sikkim, though I think the root (from the Dorjiling 
stock) cultivated as a winter crop in the plains, is superior 
both in size and flavour. Peaches never ripen in this part 
of Sikkim, apparently from the want of sun ; the tree 

* The chait of Sikkim, borrowed from Tibet, is a square pedestal, surmounted 
with a hemisphere, the convex end downwards, and on it is placed a cone, with a 
crescent on the top. These are erected as tombs to Lamas, and as monuments to 
illustrious persons, and are venerated accordingly, the people always passing them 
from left to right, often repeating the invocation, " Om Mani Padmi om." 


grows well at from 3000 to 7000 feet elevation, and flowers 
abundantly ; the fruit making the nearest approach to 
maturity (according to the elevation) from July to October. 
At Dorjiling it follows the English seasons, flowering in 
March and fruiting in September, when the scarce reddened 
and still hard fruit falls from the tree. In the plains of 
India, both this and the plum ripen in May, but the fruits 
are very acid. 

It is curious that throughout this temperate region, there 
is hardly an eatable fruit except the native walnut, and 
some brambles, of which the " yellow " and " ground 
raspberry " are the best, some insipid figs, and a very 
austere crab-apple. The European apple will scarcely 
ripen,* and the pear not at all. Currants and gooseberries 
show no disposition to thrive, and strawberries are the only 
fruits that ripen at all, which they do in the greatest 
abundance. Vines, figs, pomegranates, plums, apricots, &c, 
will not succeed even as trees. European vegetables again 
grow, and thrive remarkably well throughout the summer 
of Dorjiling, and the produce is very fair, sweet and good, 
but inferior in flavour to the English. 

Of tropical fruits cultivated below 4000 feet, oranges 
and indifferent bananas alone are frequent, with lemons 
of various kinds. The season for these is, however, very 
short ; though that of the plantain might with care be 
prolonged ; oranges abound in winter, and are excellent, 
but neither so large nor free of white pulp as those of the 
Khasia hills, the West Indies, or the west coast of Africa. 
Mangos are brought from the plains, for though wild 
in Sikkim, the cultivated kinds do not thrive ; I have 

* This fruit, and several others, ripen at Katmandoo, in Nepal (alt. 4000 
feet), which place enjoys more sunshine than Sikkim. I have, however, received 
very different accounts of the produce, which, on the whole, appears to be 

160 TONGLO. Chap. VI. 

seen the pine-apple plant, but I never met with good 
fruit on it. 

A singular and almost total absence of the light, and of 
the direct rays of the sun in the ripening season, is the 
cause of this dearth of fruit. Both the farmer and 
orchard gardener in England know full well the value of a 
bright sky as well as of a warm autumnal atmosphere. 
Without this corn does not ripen, and fruit-trees are 
blighted. The winter of the plains of India being more 
analogous in its distribution of moisture and heat to a 
European summer, such fruits as the peach, vine, and even 
plum, fig, strawberry, &c., may be brought to bear well 
in March, April, and May, if they are only carefully 
tended through the previous hot and damp season, which 
is, in respect to the functions of flowering and fruiting, 
their winter. 

Hence it appears that, though some English fruits will 
turn the winter solstice of Bengal (November to May) into 
summer, and then flower and fruit, neither these nor others 
will thrive in the summer of 7000 feet on the Sikkhn 
Himalaya, (though its temperature so nearly approaches 
that of England,) on account of its rain and fogs. Further, 
they are often exposed to a winter's cold equal to the 
average of that of London, the snow lying for a week on 
the ground, and the thermometer descending to 25°. It is 
true that in no case is the extreme of cold so great here as 
in England, but it is sufficient to check vegetation, and to 
prevent fruit-trees from flowering till they are fruiting in 
the plains. There is in this respect a great difference 
between the climate of the central and eastern and western 
Himalaya, at equal elevations. In the western (Kumaon, 
&c.) the winters are colder than in Sikkim — the summers 
warmer and less humid. The rainy season is shorter, and 

May, 1848. FRUITS IN INDIA. 161 

the sun shines so much more frequently between the heavy- 
showers, that the apple and other fruits are brought to a 
much better state. It is true that the rain-gauge may show 
as great a fall there, but this is no measure of the humidity 
of the atmosphere, and still less so of the amount of the sun's 
direct light and heat intercepted by aqueous vapour, for it 
takes no account of the quantity of moisture suspended in 
the air, nor of the depositions from fogs, which are far more 
fatal to the perfecting of fruits than the heaviest brief showers. 
The Indian climate, which is marked by one season of 
excessive humidity and the other of excessive drought, 
can never be favourable to the production either of good 
European or tropical fruits. Hence there is not one of 
the latter peculiar to the country, and perhaps but one 
which arrives at full perfection ; namely, the mango. The 
plantains, oranges, and pine-apples are less abundant, 
of inferior kinds, and remain a shorter season in perfection 
than they do in South America, the West Indies, or 
Western Africa. 



Continue the ascent of Tonglo — Trees — Lepcha construction of hut— Simsibong 
— Climbing-trees— Frogs — Magnolias, &c. — 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, &c. 
— Descent — Simonbong temple — Furniture therein — Praying-cylinder — 
Thigh-bone trumpet — Morning orisons— Present of Murwa beer, &c. 

Continuing the ascent of Tonglo, we left cultivation 
and the poor groves of peaches at 4000 to 5000 feet (and 
this on the eastern exposure, which is by far the sunniest), 
the average height which agriculture reaches in Sikkim. 

Above Simonbong, the path up Tonglo is little 
frequented : it is one of the many routes between Nepal and 
Sikkim, which cross the Singalelah spur of Kinchinjunga 
at various elevations between 7000 and 15,000 feet. As 
usual, the track runs along ridges, wherever these are to be 
found, very steep, and narrow at the top, through deep 
humid forests of oaks and Magnolias, many laurels, both 
Tetranthera and Cinnamomum, one species of the latter 
ascending to 8,500 feet, and one of Tetranthera to 9000. 
Chesnut and walnut here appeared, with some leguminous 
trees, which however did not ascend to 6000 feet. Scarlet 
flowers of Vaccinium serpens, an epiphytical species, were 
strewed about, and the great blossoms of Rhododendron 
Dalhousice and of a Magnolia [Talauma Hodgsoni) lay 
together on the ground. The latter forms a large tree, 


with very dense foliage, and deep shining green leaves, a 
foot to eighteen inches long. Most of its flowers drop 
nnexpanded from the tree, and diffuse a very aromatic 
smell; they are nearly as large as the fist, the outer 
petals purple, the inner pure white. 

Heavy rain came on at 3 p.m., obliging us to take 
insufficient shelter under the trees, and finally to seek the 
nearest camping-ground. For this purpose we ascended to 
a spring, called Simsibong, at an elevation of 6000 feet. 
The narrowness of the ridge prevented our pitching the 
tent, small as it was ; but the Lepchas rapidly constructed 
a house, and thatched it with bamboo and the broad leaves 
of the wild plantain. A table was then raised in the 
middle, of four posts and as many cross pieces of wood, 
lashed with strips of bamboo. Across these, pieces of bamboo 
were laid, ingeniously flattened, by selecting cylinders, 
crimping them all round, and then slitting each down one 
side, so that it opens into a flat slab. Similar but longer 
and lower erections, one on each side the table, formed bed 
or chair ; and in one hour, half a dozen men, with only 
long knives and active hands, had provided us with a 
tolerably water-tight furnished house. A thick flooring 
of bamboo leaves kept the feet dry, and a screen of that 
and other foliage all round rendered the habitation 
tolerably warm. 

At this elevation we found great scandent trees twisting 
around the trunks of others, and strangling them : the 
latter gradually decay, leaving the sheath of climbers as 
one of the most remarkable vegetable phenomena of these 
mountains. These climbers belong to several orders, and 
may be roughly classified in two groups. — (1.) Those whose 
stems merely twine, and by constricting certain parts of 
their support, induce death. — (2.) Those which form a net- 

y 2 



Chap. VII. 

work round the trunk, by the coalescence of their lateral 
branches and aerial roots, &c. : these wholly envelop 
and often conceal the tree they enclose, whose branches 


appear rising far above those of its destroyer. To the first 
of these groups belong many natural orders, of which the 
most prominent are — Leguminosce, ivies, hydrangea, vines, 
Pothos, &c. The inosculating ones are almost all figs and 


Wightia : the latter is the most remarkable, and I add a cut 
of its grasping roots, sketched at our encampment. 

Except for the occasional hooting of an owl, the night 
was profoundly still during several hours after dark — the 
cicadas at this season not ascending so high on the moun- 
tain. A dense mist shrouded every thing, and the rain 
pattered on the leaves of our hut. At midnight a tree- 
frog (" Simook," Lepcha) broke the silence with his 
curious metallic clack, and others quickly joined the 
chorus, keeping up their strange music till morning. 
Like many Batrachians, this has a voice singularly unlike 
that of any other organised creature. The cries of beasts, 
birds, and insects are all explicable to our senses, and we 
can recognise most of them as belonging to such or such 
an order of animal ; but the voices of many frogs are like 
nothing else, and allied species utter totally dissimilar 
noises. In some, as this, the sound is like the con- 
cussion of metals ; in others, of the vibration of wires or 
cords ; anything but the natural effects of lungs, larynx, 
and muscles.* 

May 21. — Early this morning we proceeded upwards, 
our prospect more gloomy than ever. The path, which still 
lay up steep ridges, Avas very slippery, owing to the rain 
upon the clayey soil, and was only passable from the hold 
afforded by interlacing roots of trees. At 8000 feet, some 
enormous detached masses of micaceous gneiss rose 
abruptly from the ridge, they were covered with mosses 
and ferns, and from their summit, 7000 feet, a good view 
of the surrounding vegetation is obtained. The mass of 
the forest is formed of: — (1) Three species of oak, of which 
Q. annulata ? with immense lamellated acorns, and leaves 

* A very common Tasmanian species utters a sound that appears to ring in an 
underground vaulted chamber, beneath the feet. 

166 TONGLO. Chap. VII. 

sixteen inches long, is the tallest and the most abundant. 
— (2) Chesnut. — (3) Laurinem of several species, all 
beautiful forest -trees, straight-boled, and umbrageous above. 
— (4) Magnolias.* — (5) Arborescent rhododendrons, which 
commence here with the R. arbor earn,. At 8000 and 9000 
feet, a considerable change is found in the vegetation ; the 
gigantic purple Magnolia Cawpbellii replacing the white ; 
chesnut disappears, and several laurels : other kinds of 
maple are seen, with Rhododendron argent eum, and Staun- 
tonia, a handsome climber, which has beautiful pendent 
clusters of lilac blossoms. 

At 9000 feet we arrived on a long flat covered with 
lofty trees, chiefly purple magnolias, with a few oaks, 
great Pgri and two rhododendrons, thirty to forty feet high 
(R. barbatum, and R. arboreum, var. roseum): Skimmia and 
Sgmplocos were the common shrubs. A beautiful orchid 
with purple flowers {Codogyne WallicMi) grew on the 
trunks of all the great trees, attaining a higher elevation 
than mosfc other epiphytical species, for I have seen it at 
10,000 feet. 

A large tick infests the small bamboo, and a more hateful 
insect I never encountered. The traveller cannot avoid these 
insects coming on his person (sometimes in great numbers) 
as he brushes through the forest ; they get inside his dress, 
and insert the proboscis deeply without pain. Buried head 
and shoulders, and retained by a barbed lancet, the tick is 
only to be extracted by force, which is very painful. I 

* Other trees were Pyrus, Saurauja (both an erect and climbing species), Olea, 
cherry, birch, alder, several maples, Hydrangea, one species of fig, holly, and 
several Araliaceous trees. Many species of Magnoliaceaz (including the genera 
Magnolia, Michelia, and Talauma) are found in Sikkim : Magnolia Campbellii, 
of 10,000 feet, is the most superb species known. In books on botanical 
geography, the magnolias are considered as most abounding in North America, 
east of the Rocky Mountains ; but this is a great mistake, the Indian mountains 
and islands being the centre of this natural order. 

Mat, 184a RHODODENDRONS, &c. 1«7 

have devised many tortures, mechanical and chemical, to 
induce these disgusting intruders to withdraw the proboscis, 
but in vain. Leeches* also swarm below 7000 feet ; a 
small black species above 3000 feet, and a large yellow- 
brown solitary one below that elevation. 

Our ascent to the summit was by the bed of a water- 
course, now a roaring torrent, from the heavy and incessant 
rain. A small Anar/aUis (like teneHa), and a beautiful 
purple primrose, grew by its bank. The top of the moun- 
tain is another flat ridge, with depressions and broad pools. 
The number of additional species of plants found here was 
great, and all betokened a rapid approach to the alpine re- 
gion of the Himalaya. In order of prevalence the trees 
were, — the scarlet JR//oc/odendro/j arboreum and barbatutn, 
as large bushy trees, both loaded with beautiful flowers and 
luxuriant foliage ; B. Falconeri, in point of foliage the most 
superb of all the Himalayan species, with trunks thirty feet 
high, and branches bearing at their ends only leaves 
eighteen inches long : these are deep green above, and 
covered beneath with a rich brown down. Xext in abun- 
dance to these were shrubs of Skim ruin Laureola^ Symplocos, 
and Hydrangea ; and there were still a few purple magnolias, 
very large Pyri, like mountain ash, and the common English 

* I cannot but think that the extraordinary abundance of these Andidesm 
Sikkim may cause the death of many animals. Some marked murrains have 
followed very wet seasons, when the leeches appear in incredible numbers ; and 
the disease in the cattle, described to me by the Lepchas as in the stomach, in no 
way differs from what leeches would produce. It is a well-known fact, that these 
creatures have lived for days in the fauces, nares, and stomachs of the human 
subject, causing dreadful sufferings, and death. I have seen the cattle feeding in 
places where the leeches so abounded, that fifty or sixty were frequently together 
on my ankles : and ponies are almost maddened by their biting the fetlocks. 

t This plant has been lately introduced into English gardens, from the north- 
west Himalaya, and is greatly admired for its aromatic, evergreen foliage, and 
clusters of scarlet berries. It is a curious fact, that this plant never bears scarlet 
berries in Sikkim, apparently owing to the want of sun : the fruit ripens, but is of 
a greenish-red or purplish colour. 

168 TONGLO. Chap. VII. 

yew, eighteen feet in circumference, the red bark of which 
is used as a dye, and for staining the foreheads of Brahmins 
in Nepal. An erect white-flowered rose (E. sericea, the 
only species occurring in Southern Sikkim) was very abun- 
dant : its numerous inodorous flowers are pendent, appa- 
rent as a protection from the rain ■ and it is remarkable as 
being the only species having four petals instead of five. 

A currant was common, always growing epiphytically on 
the trunks of large trees. Two or three species of Berberry, 
a cherry, Andromeda, Daphne, and maple, nearly complete, 
I think, the list of woody plants. Amongst the herbs were 
many of great interest, as a rhubarb, and Aconitum palmatum, 
which yields one of the celebrated " Bikh" poisons.* Of 
European genera I found Thalictrum, Anemone, Fumaria, 
violets, Stellaria, Hypericum, two geraniums, balsams, 
Fpilobium, Potentilla, Paris and Convallarice, one of the 
latter has verticillate leaves, and its root also called "bikh," 
is considered a very virulent poison. 

Still, the absence or rarity at this elevation of several very 
large natural families,! which have* numerous representa- 
tives at and much below the same level in the inner ranges, 
and on the outer of the Western Himalaya, indicate a certain 
peculiarity in Sikkim. On the other hand, certain tropical 
genera are more abundant in the temperate zone of the Sik- 
kim mountains, and ascend much higher there than in the 
Western Himalaya : of this fact I have cited conspicuous 
examples in the palms, plantains, and tree-ferns. This 

* "Bikh" is yielded by vaxious Aconita. All the Sikkim kinds are called 
" gniong " by Lepchas and Bhoteeas, who do not distinguish them. The 
A. Napellus is abundant in the north-west Himalaya, and is perhaps as virulent 
a Bikh as any species. 

f Ranunculacece, Fumarice, Cruciferce, Alsinece, Geraniece, Legumiuosce, Potentilla, 
Epilobium, Crassulacece, Saxifragece, Umbelliferce, Lonicera, Vulerianece, Dipsacece, 
various genera of Composite, Campanulacece, Lobeliacece, Gent'ianece, Boraginece, 
Srcophularinece, Primulacece, Grarninece. 

May, 1848. CAMP. HEAVY RAIN. 168 

ascent and prevalence of tropical species is due to the 
humidity and equability of the climate in this temperate 
zone, and is, perhaps, the direct consequence of these con- 
ditions. An application of the same laws accounts for the 
extension of similar features far beyond the tropical limit 
in the Southern Ocean, where various natural orders, which 
do not cross the 30th and 40th parallels of N. latitude, 
are extended to the 55th of S. latitude, and found in 
Tasmania, New Zealand, the so-called Antarctic Islands 
south of that group, and at Cape Horn itself. 

The rarity of Pines is perhaps the most curious feature 
in the botany of Tonglo, and on the outer ranges of Sikkim ; 
for, between the level of 2,500 feet (the upper limit of 
P. longifolid) and 10,000 feet (that of the Taxus), there is no 
coniferous tree whatever in Southern Sikkim. 

We encamped amongst Rhododendrons, on a spongy soil 
of black vegetable matter, so oozy, that it was difficult to 
keep the feet dry. The rain poured in torrents all the 
evening, and with the calm, and the wetness of the wood, 
prevented our enjoying a fire. Except a transient view 
into Nepal, a few miles west of us, nothing was to be seen, 
the whole mountain being wrapped in dense masses of 
vapour. Gusts of wind, not felt in the forest, whistled 
through the gnarled and naked tree-tops ; and though the 
temperature was 50°, this wind produced cold to the 
feelings. Our poor Lepchas were miserably off, but always 
happy : under four posts and a bamboo- leaf thatch, with no 
covering but a single thin cotton garment, they crouched 
on the sodden turf, joking with the Hindoos of our party, 
who, though supplied with good clothing and shelter, 
were doleful companions. 

I made a shed for my instruments under a tree ; 
Mr. Barnes, ever active and ready, floored the tent with logs 

170 TONGLO. Chap. VII. 

of wood, and I laid a " corduroy road " of the same to my 
little observatory. 

During the night the rain did not abate ; and the tent- 
roof leaked in such torrents, that we had to throw pieces of 
wax-cloth over our shoulders as we lay in bed. There was 
no improvement whatever in the weather on the following 
morning. Two of the Hindoos had crawled into the tent 
during the night, attacked with fever and ague.* The 
tent being too sodden to be carried, we had to remain 
where we were, and with abundance of novelty in the 
botany around, I found no difficulty in getting through 
the day. Observing the track of sheep, we sent two 
Lepchas to follow them, who returned at night from some 
miles west in Nepal, bringing two. The shepherds were 
Geroongs of Nepal, who were grazing their flocks on a 
grassy mountain top, from which the woods had been 
cleared, probably by fire. The mutton was a great boon 
to the Lepchas, but the Hindoos would not touch it, 
and several more sickening during the day, we had the 
tent most uncomfortably full. 

During the whole of the 22nd, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., 
the thermometer never varied 6^ degrees, ranging from 
47^ in the morning to 54°, its maximum, at 1 p.m., 
and 5 Of at night. At seven the following morning it was 
the same. One, sunk two feet six inches in mould and 
clay, stood constantly at 5 Of . The dew-point was always 
below the temperature, at which I was surprised, for more 
drenching weather could not well be. The mean dew-point 
was 50 J, and consequent humidity, 0973. 

* It is a remarkable fact, that both the natives of the plains, under many cir- 
cumstances, and the Lepchas when suffering from protracted cold and wet, take 
fever and ague in sharp attacks. The disease is wholly unknown amongst 
Europeans residing above 4000 feet, similar exposure in whom brings on rheiimatism 
and cold. 


These observations, and those of the barometer, were 
taken 60 feet below the summit, to which I moved the 
instruments on the morning of the 23rd. At a much 
more exposed spot the results would no doubt have been 
different, for a thermometer, there sunk to the same depth 
as that below, stood at 49f (or one degree colder than 60 
feet lower down). My barometrical observations, taken 
simultaneously with those of Calcutta, give the height of 
Tonglo, 10,078'3 feet; Colonel Waugh's, by trigonometry, 
10,07 9 4 feet, — a remarkable and unusual coincidence. 

May 23. — We spent a few hours of alternate fog and 
sunshine on the top of the mountain, vainly hoping for 
the most modest view ; our inability to obtain it was 
extremely disappointing, for the mountain commands a 
superb prospect, which I enjoyed fully in the following 
November, from a spot a few miles further west. The air, 
which was always foggy, was alternately cooled and heated, 
as it blew over the trees, or the open space we occupied ; 
sometimes varying 5° and 6° in a quarter of an hour. 

Having partially dried the tent in the wind, we com- 
menced the descent, which owing to the late torrents of 
rain, was most fatiguing and slippery ; it again commenced 
to drizzle at noon, nor was it till we had descended to 
6000 feet that we emerged from the region of clouds. 
By dark we arrived at Simonbong, having descended 
5000 feet, at the rate of 1000 feet an hour; and were 
kindly received by the Lama, who gave us his temple 
for the accommodation of the whole party. We were 
surprised at this, both because the Sikkim authorities had 
represented the Lamas as very averse to Europeans, and 
because he might well have hesitated before admitting 
a promiscuous horde of thirty people into a sacred 
building, where the little valuables on the altar, &c, were 



Chap. VII. 

quite at our disposal. A better tribute could not well 
have been paid to the honesty of my Lepcha followers. 
Our host only begged us not to disturb his people, nor to 
allow the Hindoos of our party to smoke inside. 

Simonbong is one of the smallest and poorest Gumpas, 
or temples, in Sikkim : unlike the better class, it is built of 


wood only. It consisted of one large room, with small 
sliding shutter windows, raised on a stone foundation, and 
roofed with shingles of wood ; opposite the door a wooden 
altar was placed, rudely chequered with black, white, and 
red ; to the right and left were shelves, with a few Tibetan 
books, wrapped in silk ; a model of Symbonath temple in 
Nepal, a praying-cylinder,* and some implements for com- 
mon purposes, bags of juniper, English wine-bottles and 

* It consisted of a leathern cylinder placed upright in a frame ; a projecting 
piece of iron strikes a little bell at each revolution, the revolution being caused 
by an elbowed axle and string. Within the cylinder are deposited written 

May, 1848. TEMPLE OF SIMONBONG. 173 

glasses, with tufts of Abies Webbiana, rhododendron flowers, 
and peacock's feathers, besides various trifles, clay orna- 
ments and offerings, and little Hindoo idols. On the altar 
were ranged seven little brass cups, full of water ; a large 
conch shell, carved with the sacred lotus ; a brass jug from 
Lhassa, of beautiful design, and a human thigh-bone, 
hollow, and perforated through both condyles.* 

Facing the altar was a bench and a chair, and on one 
side a huge tambourine, with two curved iron drum-sticks. 
The bench was covered with bells, handsomely carved with 


idols, and censers with juniper-ashes ; and on it lay the 
don/e, or double-headed thunderbolt, which the Lama 
holds in his hand during service. Of all these articles, the 
human thigh-bone is by much the most curious ; it is 
very often that of a Lama, and is valuable in proportion to 
its length. f As, however, the Sikkim Lamas are burned, 
the relics are generally procured from Tibet, where the 

prayers, and whoever pulls the string properly is considered to have repeated his 
prayers as often as the bell rings. Representations of these implements will be 
found in other parts of these volumes. 

* To these are often added a double-headed rattle, or small drum, formed of 
two crowns of human skulls, cemented back to back ; each face is then covered 
with parchment, and encloses some pebbles. Sometimes this instrument is pro- 
vided with a handle. 

t It is reported at Dorjiling, that one of the first Europeans buried at this 
station, being a tall man, was disinterred by the resurrectionist Bhoteeas for his 

174 TONGLO. Chap. VII. 

corpses are cut in pieces and thrown to the kites, or into 
the water. 

Two boys usually reside in the temple, and their beds 
were given up to us, which being only rough planks laid on 
the floor, proved clean in one sense, but contrasted badly 
with the springy couch of bamboo the Lepcha makes, 
which renders carrying a mattress or aught but blankets 

May 24. — We were awakened at daylight by the 
discordant orisons of the Lama ; these commenced by the 
boys beating the great tambourine, then blowing the conch- 
shells, and finally the trumpets and thigh-bone. Shortly 
the Lama entered, clad in scarlet, shorn and barefooted, 
wearing a small red silk mitre, a loose gown girt round 
the middle, and an under-garment of questionable colour, 
possibly once purple. He walked along, slowly muttering 
his prayers, to the end of the apartment, whence he took 
a brass bell and dorge, and, sitting down cross-legged, 
commenced matins, counting his beads, or ringing the bell, 
and uttering most dismal prayers. After various disposals 
of the cups, a larger bell was violently rung for some 
minutes, himself snapping his fingers and uttering most 
unearthly sounds. Finally, incense was brought, of 
charcoal with juniper-sprigs ; it was swung about, and 
concluded the morning service to our great relief, for 
the noises were quite intolerable. Fervid as the devotions 
appeared, to judge by their intonation, I fear the Lama felt 
more curious about us than was proper under the circum- 
stances ; and when I tried to sketch him, his excitement 
knew no bounds ; he fairly turned round on the settee, and, 
continuing his prayers and bell-accompaniment, appeared 
to be exorcising me, or some spirit within me. 

After breakfast the Lama came to visit us, bringing rice, 


a few vegetables, and a large bamboo-work bowl, thickly 
varnished with india-rubber, and waterproof, containing 
half-fermented millet. This mixture, called Murwa, is 
invariably offered to the traveller, either in the state of 
fermented grain, or more commonly in a bamboo jug, filled 
quite up with warm water ; when the fluid, sucked through 
a reed, affords a refreshing drink. He gratefully accepted 
a few rupees and trifles which we had to spare. 

Leaving Simonbong, we descended to the Little Run- 
geet, where the heat of the valley was very great ; 80° at 
noon, and that of the stream 69° ; the latter was an agreeable 
temperature for the coolies, who plunged, teeming with 
perspiration, into the water, catching fish with their hands. 
We reached Dorjiling late in the evening, again drenched 
with rain ; our people, Hindoo and Lepcha, imprudently 
remaining for the night in the valley. Owing probably as 
much to the great exposure they had lately gone through, 
as to the sudden transition from a mean temperature of 50° 
in a bracing wind, to a hot close jungly valley at 75°, no 
less than seven were laid up with fever and ague. 

Few excursions can afford a better idea of the general 
features and rich luxuriance of the Sikkim Himalaya than 
that to Tonglo. It is always interesting to roam with an 
aboriginal, and especially a mountain people, through 
their thinly inhabited valleys, over their grand mountains, 
and to dwell alone with them in their gloomy and for- 
bidding forests, and no thinking man can do so without 
learning much, however slender be the means at his 
command for communion. A more interesting and at- 
tractive companion than the Lepcha I never lived with : 
cheerful, kind, and patient with a master to whom he is 
attached ; rude but not savage, ignorant and yet intelligent ; 
with the simple resource of a plain knife he makes his 



Chap. VII. 

house and furnishes yours, with a speed, alacrity, and inge- 
nuity that wile away that well-known long hour when the 
weary pilgrim frets for his couch. In all my dealings with 
these people, they proved scrupulously honest. Except for 
drunkenness and carelessness, I never had to complain of 
any of the merry troop ; some of whom, bareheaded and 
barelegged, possessing little or nothing save a cotton 
garment and a long knife, followed me for many months 
on subsequent occasions, from the scorching plains to 
the everlasting snows. Ever foremost in the forest or 
on the bleak mountain, and ever ready to help, to carry, to 
encamp, collect, or cook, they cheer on the traveller by 
their unostentatious zeal in his service, and are spurs to 
his progress. 



Difficulty ill 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 — Ham — Sikkim massacre — Culti- 
vation — Nettles — Camp at Nanki on Tonglo — Bhotan coolies run away — View 
of Chumulari — Nepal peaks to west — Sakkiazung — Buceros — Road to 
Wallanchoon — Oaks — Scarcity of water — Singular view of mountain-valleys 
— Encampment — My tent and its furniture — Evening occupations — Dunkotah 
— Crossridge of Sakkiazung — 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, &c. — Chingtam village, view from — Mywa river and 
Guola — House — Boulders — Chain -bridge — Meepo, arrival of — Fevers. 

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of our relations with 
the Sikkim authorities, to which I have elsewhere alluded, 
my endeavours to procure leave to penetrate further beyond 
the Dorjiling territory than Tonglo, were attended with 
some trouble and delay. 

In the autumn of 1848, the Governor- General commu- 
nicated with the Rajah, desiring him to grant me honourable 
and safe escort through his dominions ; but this was at 
once met by a decided refusal, apparently admitting of no 
compromise. Pending further negociations, which Dr. 
Campbell felt sure would terminate satisfactorily, though 
perhaps too late for my purpose, he applied to the Nepal 
Rajah for permission for me to visit the Tibetan passes, 
west of Kinchinjunga ; proposing in the meanwhile to 

178 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

arrange for my return through Sikkim. Through the 
kindness of Col. Thoresby, the Resident at that Court, and 
the influence of Jung Bahadoor, this request was promptly 
acceded to, and a guard of six Nepalese soldiers and two 
officers was sent to Dorjiling to conduct me to any part of 
the eastern districts of Nepal which I might select. I 
decided upon following up the Tambur, a branch of the Arun 
river, and exploring the two easternmost of the Nepalese 
passes into Tibet (Wallanchoon and Kanglachem), which 
would bring me as near to the central mass and loftiest 
part of the eastern flank of Kinchinjunga as possible. 

For this expedition (which occupied three months), all 
the arrangements^were undertaken for me by Dr. Campbell, 
who afforded me every facility which in his government 
position he could command, besides personally superin- 
tending the equipment and provisioning of my party. 
Taking horses or loaded animals of any kind was not 
expedient : the whole journey was to be performed on foot, 
and everything carried on men's backs. As we were to 
march through wholly unexplored countries, where food 
was only procurable at uncertain intervals, it was necessary 
to engage a large body of porters, some of whom should 
carry bags of rice for the coolies and themselves too. The 
difficulty of selecting these carriers, of whom thirty were 
required, was very great. The Lepchas, the best and most 
tractable, and over whom Dr. Campbell had the most direct 
influence, disliked employment out of Sikkim, especially in 
so warlike a country as Nepal : and they were besides 
thought unfit for the snowy regions. The Nepalese, of 
whom there were many residing as British subjects in 
Dorjiling, were mostly run-aways from their own country, 
and afraid of being claimed, should they return to it, 
by the lords of the soil. To employ Limboos, Moormis, 

Oct. 1848. ARRANGEMENT OF PARTY. 17-0 

Hindoos, or other natives of low elevations, was out of the 
question ; and no course appeared advisable but to engage 
some of the Bhotan run-aways domiciled in Dorjiling, who 
are accustomed to travel at all elevations, and fear nothing 
but a return to the country which they have abandoned 
as slaves, or as culprits : they are immensely powerful, and 
though intractable to the last degree, are generally glad to 
work and behave well for money. The choice, as will 
hereafter be seen, was unfortunate, though at the time 
unanimously approved. 

My party mustered fifty-six persons. These consisted 
of myself, and one personal servant, a Portuguese half- 
caste, who undertook all offices, and spared me the usual 
train of Hindoo and Mahometan servants. My tent and 
equipments (for which I was greatly indebted to Mr. 
Hodgson), instruments, bed, box of clothes, books and 
papers, required a man for each. Seven more carried my 
papers for drying plants, and other scientific stores. The 
Nepalese guard had two coolies of their own. My inter- 
preter, the coolie Sirdar (or headman), and my chief plant 
collector (a Lepcha), had a man each. Mr. Hodgson's 
bird and animal shooter, collector, and stuffer, with their 
ammunition and indispensables, had four more ; there were 
besides, three Lepcha lads to climb trees and change the 
plant-papers, who had long been in my service in that 
capacity ; and the party was completed by fourteen Bhotan 
coolies laden with food, consisting chiefly of rice with ghee, 
oil, capsicums, salt, and flour. 

I carried myself a small barometer, a large knife and 
digger for plants, note-book, telescope, compass, and other 
instruments ; whilst two or three Lepcha lads who accom- 
panied me as satellites, carried a botanising box, ther- 
mometers, sextant and artificial horizon, measuring-tape, 

N 2 

180 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

azimuth compass and stand, geological hammer, bottles 
and boxes for insects, sketch-book, &c, arranged in com- 
partments of strong canvass bags. The Nepal officer (of 
the rank of Serjeant, I believe) always kept near me with 
one of his men, rendering innumerable little services. 
Other sepoys were distributed amongst the remainder of 
the party ; one went ahead to prepare camping-ground, and 
one brought up the rear. 

The course generally pursued by Himalayan travellers is 
to march early in the morning, and arrive at the camping- 
ground before or by noon, breakfasting before starting, or 
en route. I never followed this plan, because it sacrificed 
the mornings, which were otherwise profitably spent in 
collecting about camp ; whereas, if I set off early, I was 
generally too tired with the day's march to employ in any 
active pursuit the rest of the daylight, which in November 
only lasted till 6 p.m. The men breakfasted early in the 
morning, I somewhat later, and all had started by 10 a.m., 
arriving between 4 and 6 p.m. at the next camping-ground. 
My tent was formed of blankets, spread over cross pieces 
of wood and a ridge-pole, enclosing an area of 6 to 8 feet 
by 4 to 6 feet. The bedstead, table, and chair were always 
made by my Lepchas, as described in the Tonglo excursion. 
The evenings I employed in writing up notes and journals, 
plotting maps, and ticketing the plants collected during 
the day's march. 

I left Dorjiling at noon, on the 27th October, accom- 
panied by Dr. Campbell, who saw me fairly off, the coolies 
having preceded me. Our direct route would have been 
over Tonglo, but the threats of the Sikkim authorities 
rendered it advisable to make for Nepal at once ; we there- 
fore kept west along the Goong ridge, a western prolonga- 
tion of Sinchul. 


On overtaking the coolies, I proceeded for six or seven 
miles along a zig-zag road, at about 7,500 feet elevation, 
through dense forests, and halted at a little hut within 
sight of Dorjiling. Rain and mist came on at nightfall, 
and though several parties of my servants arrived, none 
of the Bhotan coolies made their appearance, and I spent 
the night without food or bed, the weather being much too 
fogorv and dark to send back to meet the missing men. 
They joined me late on the following day, complaining 
unreasonably of their loads, and without their Sirdar, who, 
after starting his crew, had returned to take leave of his 
wife and family. On the following day he appeared, and 
after due admonishment we started, but four miles further 
on were again obliged to halt for the Bhotan coolies, who 
were equally deaf to threats and entreaties. As they did 
not come up till dusk, we were obliged to encamp here, 
(alt. 7,400 feet) at the common source of the Balasun, 
which flows to the plains, and the Little Rungeet, whose 
course is north. 

The contrast between the conduct of the Bhotan men 
and that of the Lepchas and Nepalese was so marked, that 
I seriously debated in my own mind the propriety of 
sending the former back to Dorjiling, but yielded to the 
remonstrances of their Sirdar and the Nepal guard, who 
represented the great difficulty we should have in replacing 
them, and above all, the loss of time, at this season a 
matter of great importance. We accordingly started again 
the following morning, and still keeping in a western 
direction, crossed the posts in the forest dividing Sikkim 
from Nepal, and descended into the Myong valley of the 
latter country, through which flows the river of that name, 
a tributary of the Tambur. The Myong valley is remark- 
ably fine : it rims south-west from Tonglo, and its open 

182 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

character and general fertility contrast strongly with the 
bareness of the lower mountain spurs which flank it, and 
with the dense, gloomy, steep, and forest-clad gorges of 
Sikkim, At its lower end, about twenty miles from the 
frontier, is the military fort of Ham, a celebrated stockaded 
post and cantonment of the Ghorkas : its position is 
marked by a conspicuous conical hill. The inhabitants 
are chiefly Brahmins, but there are also some Moormis, and 
a few Lepchas who escaped from Sikkim during the 
general massacre in 1825. Among these is a man who 
had formerly much influence in Sikkim ; he still retains 
his title of Kazee,* and has had large lands assigned to him 
by the Nepalese Government : he sent the usual present of 
a kid, fowls, and eggs, and begged me to express to 
Dr. Campbell his desire to return to his native country, 
and settle at Dorjiling. 

The scenery of this valley is the most beautiful I know 
of in the lower Himalaya, and the Cheer Pine (P. longi- 
folia) is abundant, cresting the hills, which are loosely 
clothed with clumps of oaks and other trees, bamboos, 
and bracken (Pteris). The slopes are covered with red 
clay, and separate little ravines luxuriantly clothed with 
tropical vegetation, amongst which flow pebbly streams of 
transparent cool water. The villages, which are merely 
scattered collections of huts, are surrounded with fields of 
rice, buckwheat, and Indian corn, which latter the natives 
were now storing in little granaries, mounted on four 
posts, men, women, and children being all equally busy. 
The quantity of gigantic nettles ( Urtica heterophylld) on the 
skirts of these maize fields is quite wonderful : their long 
white stings look most formidable, but though they sting 

* This Mahometan title, by which the officers of state are known in Sikkim, is 
there generally pronounced Kajee. 

Nov. 1848. CAMP ON TONGLO. 183 

virulently, the pain only lasts half an hour or so. These, 
however, with leeches, mosquitos, peepsas, and ticks, 
sometimes keep the traveller in a constant state of 

However civilised the Hindoo may be in comparison 
with the Lepcha, he presents a far less attractive picture to 
the casual observer ; he comes to your camping- ground, 
sits down, and stares with all his might, but offers no 
assistance; if he bring a present at all, he expects a 
return on the spot, and goes on begging till satisfied. I 
was amused by the cool way in which my Ghorka guard 
treated the village lads, when they wanted help in my 
service, taking them by the shoulder, pulling out their 
knives for them, placing them in their hands, and setting 
them to cut down a tree, or to chop firewood, which they 
seldom refused to do, when a little such douce violence was 

My object being to reach the Tambur, north of the great 
east and west mountain ridge of Sakkiazung, without 
crossing the innumerable feeders of the Myong and their 
dividing spurs, we ascended the north flank of the valley 
to a long spur from Tonglo, intending to follow winding 
ridges of that mountain to the sources of the Pemmi at the 
Phulloot mountains, and thence descend. 

On the 3rd November I encamped on the flank of 
Tonglo (called Nanki in Nepal), at 9,300 feet, about 
700 feet below the western summit, which is rocky, and 
connected by a long flat ridge with that which I had 
visited in the previous May. The Bhotan coolies behaved 
worse than ever ; their conduct being in all respects 
typical of the turbulent, mulish race to which they belong. 
They had been plundering my provisions as they went 
along, and neither their Sirdar nor the Ghorka soldiers 


had the smallest authority over them. I had hired some 
Ghorka coolies to assist and eventually to replace them, 
and had made up my mind to send back the worst from 
the more populous banks of the Tambur, when I was 
relieved by their making off of their own accord. The 
dilemma was however awkward, as it was impossible to 
procure men on the top of a mountain 10,000 feet high, or 
to proceed towards Phulloot. No course remained but to 
send to Dorjiling for others, or to return to the Myong 
valley, and take a more circuitous route over the west end 
of Sakkiazung, which led through villages from which I 
could procure coolies day by day. I preferred the latter 
plan, and sent one of the soldiers to the nearest village 
for assistance to bring the loads down, halting a day for 
that purpose. 

From the summit of Tonglo I enjoyed the view I had so 
long desired of the Snowy Himalaya, from north T east to 
north-west ; Sikkim being on the right, Nepal on the left, 
and the plains of India to the southward ; and I procured 
a set of compass bearings, of the greatest use in mapping 
the country. In the early morning the transparency of the 
atmosphere renders this view one of astonishing grandeur. 
Kinchinjunga bore nearly due north, a dazzling mass of 
snowy peaks, intersected by blue glaciers, which gleamed 
in the slanting rays of the rising sun, like aquamarines 
set in frosted silver. From this the sweep of snowed 
mountains to the eastward was almost continuous as far 
as Chola (bearing east-north-east), following a curve of 150 
miles, and enclosing the whole of the northern part of 
Sikkim, which appeared a billowy mass of forest-clad 
mountains. On the north-east horizon rose the Donkia 
mountain (23,176 feet), and Chumulari (23,929). Though 
both were much more distant than the snowy ranges, 

Nov. 1848. VIEW FROM TONGLO. 185 

being respectively eighty and ninety miles off, they raised 
their gigantic heads above, seeming what they really were, 
by far the loftiest peaks next to Kinchinjunga ; and the 
perspective of snow is so deceptive, that though 40 to 60 
miles beyond, they appeared as though almost in the same 
line with the ridges they overtopped. Of these mountains, 
Chumulari presents many attractions to the geographer, 
from its long disputed position, its sacred character, and the 
interest attached to it since Turner's mission to Tibet in 
1783. It was seen and recognised by Dr. Campbell, and 
measured by Colonel Waugh, from Sinchul, and also from 
Tonglo, and was a conspicuous object in my subsequent 
journey to Tibet. Beyond Junnoo, one of the western peaks 
of Kinchinjunga, there was no continuous snowy chain ; 
the Himalaya seemed suddenly to decline into black and 
rugged peaks, till in the far north-west it rose again in a 
white mountain mass of stupendous elevation at 80 miles 
distance, called, by my Nepal people, " Tsungau." * 
From the bearings I took of it from several positions, it is 
in about lat. 27° 49' and long. 86° 24', and is probably 
on the west flank of the Arun valley and river, which 
latter, in its course from Tibet to the plains of India, 
receives the waters from the west flank of Kinchinjunga, 
and from the east flank of the mountain in question. It 
is perhaps one which has been seen and measured from 
the Tirhoot district by some of Colonel Waugh's party, 
and which has been reported to be upwards of 28,000 feet 
in elevation ; and it is the only mountain of the first class 
in magnitude between Gosainthan (north-east of Kat- 
mandoo) and Kinchinjunga. 

* This is probably the easternmost and loftiest peak seen from Katmandoo, 
distant 78 miles, and estimated elevation 20,117 feet by Col. Crawford's obser- 
vations. See "Hamilton's Nepal," p. 346, and plate 1. 

186 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

To the west, the black ridge of Sakkiazung, bristling 
with pines, {Abies Webbiana) cut off the view of Nepal ; 
but south-west, the Myong valley could be traced to its 
junction with the Tambur about thirty miles off : beyond 
which to the south-west and south, low hills belonging to 
the outer ranges of Nepal rose on the distant horizon, seventy 
or eighty miles off; and of these the most conspicuous 
were the Mahavarati which skirt the Nepal Terai. South 
and south-east, Sinchul and the Goong range of Sikkirn 
intercepted the view of the plains of India, of which I had a 
distant peep to the south-west only. 

The west top of Tonglo is very open and grassy, with 
occasional masses of gneiss of enormous size, but probably 
not in situ. The whole of this flank, and for 1000 feet 
down the spur to the south-west, had been cleared by fire 
for pasturage, and flocks of black-faced sheep were grazing. 
During my stay on the mountain, except in the early 
morning, the weather was bleak, gloomy, and very cold, 
with a high south-west wind. The mean temperature was 
41°, extremes ~\ the nights were very clear, with sharp 
hoar-frost ; the radiating thermometer sank to 21°, the 
temperature at 3^ feet depth was 51°' 5. 

A few of the Bhotan coolies having voluntarily returned, 
I left Tonglo on the 5th, and descended its west flank to 
the Mai, a feeder of the Myong. The descent was as 
abrupt as that on the east face, but through less dense 
forest ; the Sikkim side (that facing the east) being much 
the dampest. I encamped at dark by a small village, 
(Jummanoo) at 4,360 feet, having descended 5000 feet 
in five hours. Hence we marched eastward to the village 
of Sakkiazung, which we reached on the third day, 
crossing en route several spurs 4000 to 6000 feet high, 
from the same riclge, and as many rivers, which all fall 

Nov. 1848. CAMP ON SAKRIAZUNG. 187 

into the Myong, and whose beds are elevated from 2,500 
to 3000 feet. 

Though rich and fertile, the country is scantily popu- 
lated, and coolies were procured with difficulty : I therefore 
sent back to Dorjiling all but absolute indispensables, and 
on the 9th of November started up the ridge in a northerly 
direction, taking the road from Ham to Wallanchoon. The 
ascent was gradual, through a fine forest, full of horn-bills 
(Buceros), a bird resembling the Toucan (" Dhunass " 
Lepcha) ; at 700 feet an oak (Quercus semecarpifolid), 
" Khasrou " of the Nepalese, commences, a tree which 
is common as far west as Kashmir, but which I never 
found in Sikkim, though it appears again in Bhotan.* 
It forms a broad-headed tree, and has a very handsome 
appearance ; its favourite locality is on grassy open 
shoulders of the mountains. It was accompanied by an 
Astragalus, Geranium, and several other plants of the 
drier interior parts of Sikkim. Water is very scarce along 
the ridge ; we walked fully eight miles without finding any, 
and were at length obliged to encamp at 8,350 feet by the 
only spring that we should be able to reach. With respect 
to drought, this ridge differs materially from Sikkim, where 
water abounds at all elevations ; and the cause is obviously 
its position to the westward of the great ridge of Singa- 
lelah (including Tonglo) by which the S.W. currents are 
drained of their moisture. Here again, the east flank was 
much the dampest and most luxuriantly wooded. 

While my men encamped on a very narrow ridge, I 
ascended a rocky summit, composed of great blocks of 
gneiss, from which I obtained a superb view to the west- 
ward. Immediately below a fearfully sudden decsent, ran 

* This oak ascends in the N. W. Himalaya to the highest limit of forest 
(12,000 feet). No oak in Sikkim attains a greater elevation than 10,000. 

188 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

the Daomy River, bounded on the opposite side by another 
parallel ridge of Sakkiazung, enclosing, with that on which 
I stood, a gulf from 6000 to 7000 feet deep, of wooded 
ridges, which, as it were, radiated outwards as they 
ascended upwards in rocky spurs to the pine-clad peaks 
around. To the south-west, in the extreme distance, were the 
boundless plains of India, upwards of 100 miles off, with 
the Cosi meandering through them like a silver thread. 

The firmament appeared of a pale steel blue, and a broad 
low arch spanned the horizon, bounded by a line of little 
fleecy clouds (moutons) ; below this the sky was of a golden 
yellow, while in successively deeper strata, many belts or 
ribbons of vapour appeared to press upon the plains, the 
lowest of which was of a dark leaden hue, the upper more 
purple, and vanishing into the pale yellow above. Though 
well defined, there was no abrupt division between the 
belts, and the lowest mingled imperceptibly with the hazy 
horizon. Gradually the golden lines grew dim, and the 
blues and purples gained depth of colour ; till the sun set 
behind the dark-blue peaked mountains in a flood of crim- 
son and purple, sending broad beams of grey shade and 
purple light up to the zenith, and all around. As evening 
advanced, a sudden chill succeeded, and mists rapidly 
formed immediately below me in little isolated clouds, 
which coalesced and spread out like a heaving and rolling 
sea, leaving nothing above their surface but the ridges and 
spurs of the adjacent mountains. These rose like capes, 
promontories, and islands, of the darkest leaden hue, 
bristling with pines, and advancing boldly into the snowy 
white ocean, or starting from its bed in the strongest 
relief. As darkness came on, and the stars arose, a light 
fog gathered round me, and I quitted with reluctance one 
of the most impressive and magic scenes I ever beheld. 


Returning to my tent, I was interested in observing how 
well my followers had accommodated themselves to their 
narrow circumstances. Their fires gleamed everywhere 
amongst the trees, and the people, broken up into groups 
of five, presented an interesting picture of native, savage, 
and half-civilised life. I wandered amongst them in the 
darkness, and watched unseen their operations ; some were 
cooking, with their rude bronzed faces lighted up by the 
ruddy glow, as they peered into the pot, stirring the 
boiling rice with one hand, while with the other they 
held back their long tangled hair. Others were bringing 
water from the spring below, some gathering sprigs of 
fragrant Artemisia and other shrubs to form couches — some 
lopping branches of larger trees to screen them from noc- 
turnal radiation ; their only protection from the dew being 
such branches stuck in the ground, and slanting over 
their procumbent forms. The Bhotanese were rude and 
boisterous in their pursuits, constantly complaining to the 
Sirdars, and wrangling over their meals. The Ghorkas 
were sprightly, combing their raven hair, telling inter- 
minably long stories, of which money was the burthen, 
or singing Hindoo songs through their noses in chorus ; and 
being neater and better dressed, and having a servant to 
cook their food, they seemed quite the gentlemen of the 
party. Still the Lepcha was the most attractive, the least 
restrained, and the most natural in all his actions, the 
simplest in his wants and appliances, with a bamboo as his 
water-jug, an earthen-pot as his kettle, and all manner of 
herbs collected during the day's inarch to flavour his food. 

My tent was made of a blanket thrown over the limb of 
a tree; to this others were attached, and the whole was 
supported on a frame like a house. One half was occupied 
by my bedstead, beneath which was stowed my box of 

190 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIIT. 

clothes, while my books and writing materials were placed 
under the table. The barometer hung in the most out-of- 
the-way corner, and my other instruments all around. A 
small candle was burning in a glass shade, to keep the 
draught and insects from the light, and I had the comfort 
of seeing the knife, fork, and spoon laid on a white napkin, 
as I entered my snug little house, and flung myself on the 
elastic couch to ruminate on the proceedings of the day, and 
speculate on those of the morrow, while waiting for my meal, 
which usually consisted of stewed meat and rice, with bis- 
cuits and tea. My thermometers (wet and dry bulb, and 
minimum) hung under a temporary canopy made of thickly 
plaited bamboo and leaves close to the tent, and the cooking 
was performed by my servant under a tree. 

After dinner my occupations were to ticket and put away 
the plants collected during the day, write up journals, plot- 
maps, and take observations till 10 p.m. As soon as I was 
in bed, one of the Nepal soldiers was accustomed to enter, 
spread his blanket on the ground, and sleep there as my 
guard. In the morning the collectors were set to change 
the plant-papers, while I explored the neighbourhood, and 
having taken observations and breakfasted, we were ready 
to start at 10 a.m. 

Following the same ridge, after a few miles of ascent over 
much broken gneiss rock, the Ghorkas led me aside to 
the top of a knoll, 9,300 feet high, covered with stunted 
bushes, and commanding a splendid view to the west, of the 
broad, low, well cultivated valley of the Tambur, and the 
extensive town of Dunkotah on its banks, about twenty-five 
miles off ; the capital of this part of Nepal, and famous for 
its manufactory of paper from the bark of the Daphne. 
Hence too I gained a fine view of the plains of India, in- 
cluding the course of the Cosi river, which, receiving the 


Aran and Tambur, debouches into the Ganges opposite 
Colgongl (see p. 95). 

A little further on we crossed the main ridge of Sakkia- 
zung, a long flexuous chain stretching for miles to the 
westward from Phulloot on Singalelah, and forming the 
most elevated and conspicuous transverse range in this 
part of Nepal : its streams flow south to the Myong, and 
north to feeders of the Tambur. Silver firs {Abies Web- 
bianci) are found on all the summits; but to my regret none 
occurred in our path, which led just below their limit (10,000 
feet), on the southern Himalayan ranges. There were, 
however, a few yews, exactly like the English. The view 
that opened on cresting this range was again magnificent, 
of Kinchinjunga, the western snows of Nepal, and the 
valley of the Tambur winding amongst wooded and culti- 
vated hills to a long line of black-peaked, rugged mountains, 
sparingly snowed, which intervene between Kinchinjunga 
and the great Nepal mountain before mentioned. The 
extremely varied colouring on the infinite number of hill- 
slopes that everywhere intersected the Tambur valley was 
very pleasing. For fully forty miles to the northward there 
were no lofty forest-clad mountains, nor any apparently above 
4000 to 5000 feet : villages and hamlets appeared every- 
where, with crops of golden mustard and purple buckwheat in 
full flower; yellow rice and maize, green hemp, pulse, radishes, 
and barley, and brown millet. Here and there deep groves 
of oranges, the broad-leafed banana, and sugar-cane, skirted 
the bottoms of the valleys, through which the streams were 
occasionally seen, rushing in white foam over their rocky 
beds. It was a goodly sight to one who had for his only 
standard of comparison the view from Sinchul, of the gloomy 
forest-clad ranges of 6000 to 10,000 feet, that intervene 
between that mountain and the snowy girdle of Sikkini ; 

192 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

though I question whether a traveller from more favoured 
climes would see more in this, than a thinly inhabited country, 
with irregular patches of poor cultivation, a vast amount of 
ragged forest on low hills of rather uniform height and 
contour, relieved by a dismal back-ground of frowning 
black mountains, sprinkled with snow ! Kinchinjunga was 
again the most prominent object to the north-east, with its 
sister peaks of Kubra (24,005 feet), and Junnoo (25,312feet). 
All these presented bare cliffs for several thousand feet below 
their summits, composed of white rock with a faint pink 
tint : — on the other hand the lofty Nepal mountain in the 
far west presented cliffs of black rocks. Prom the summit 
two routes to the Tambur presented themselves ; one, the 
main road, led west and south along the ridge, and then 
turned north, descending to the river; the other was shorter, 
leading abruptly down to the Pemmi river, and thence along 
its banks, west to the Tambur. I chose the latter. 

The descent was very abrupt on the first day, from 
9,500 feet to 5000 feet, and on that following to the bed 
of the Pemmi, at 2000 feet ; and the road was infamously 
bad, generally consisting of a narrow, winding, rocky path 
among tangled shrubs and large boulders, brambles, nettles, 
and thorny bushes, often in the bed of the torrent, or 
crossing spurs covered with forest, round whose bases it 
flowed. A little cultivation was occasionally met with on 
the narrow flat pebbly terraces which fringed the stream, 
usually of rice, and sometimes of the small-leaved variety of 
hemp [Cannabis), grown as a narcotic. 

The rocks above 5000 feet were gneiss ; below this, 
cliffs of very micaceous schist were met with, having a 
north-west strike, and being often vertical ; the boulders 
again were always of gneiss. The streams seemed rather 
to occupy faults, than to have eroded courses for themselves ; 

Nov. 1848. TAMBUR RIVER. 193 

their beds were invariably rocky or pebbly, and the 
waters white and muddy from the quantity of alumina. 
In one little rocky dell the water gushed through a hole in 
a soft stratum in the gneiss ; a trifling circumstance which 
was not lost upon the crafty Brahmins, who had cut a 
series of regular holes for the water, ornamented the rocks 
with red paint, and a row of little iron tridents of Siva, 
and dedicated the whole to Mahadeo. 

In some spots the vegetation was exceedingly fine, and 
several large trees occurred: I measured a Toon {Cedrela) 
thirty feet in girth at five feet above the ground. The skirts 
of the forest were adorned with numerous jungle flowers, 
rice crops, blue AcantJtacece and Pavetfa, wild cherry-trees 
covered with scarlet blossoms, and trees of the purple and 
lilac Bauhinia ; while Thunbergia, Convolvulus, and other 
climbers, hung in graceful festoons from the boughs, and 
on the dry micaceous rocks the Luculia gratissima, one of 
our common hot-house ornaments, grew in profusion, 
its gorgeous heads of blossoms scenting the air. 

At the junction of the Pern mi and Khawa rivers, there 
are high rocks of mica-slate, and broad river-terraces of 
stratified sand and pebbles, apparently alternating with 
deposits of shingle. On this hot, open expanse, elevated 
2250 feet, appeared many trees and plants of the Terai and 
plains, as pomegranate, peepul, and sal; with extensive 
fields of cotton, indigo, and irrigated rice. 

We followed the north bank of the Khawa, which runs 
westerly through a gorge, between high cliffs of chlorite, 
containing thick beds of stratified quartz. At the angles 
of the river broad terraces are formed, fifteen to thirty feet 
above its bed, similar to those just mentioned, and planted 
with rows of Acacia Serissa, or laid out in rice fields, 
or sugar plantations. 

104 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

I reached the east bank of the Tambur, on the 13th 
of November, at its junction with the Khawa, in a deep 
gorge. It formed a grand stream, larger than the Teesta, 
of a pale, sea-green, muddy colour, and flowed rapidly with 
a strong ripple, but no foam ; it rises six feet in the rains, 
but ice never descends nearly so low ; its breadth was sixty 
to eighty yards, its temperature 55° to 58°. The breadth 
of the foaming Khawa was twelve to fifteen yards, and 
its temperature 56^°. The surrounding vegetation was 
entirely tropical, consisting of scrubby sal trees, acacia, 
Grislea, Eiiiblica, Hibiscus, &c. ; the elevation being but 
1300 feet, though the spot was twenty -five miles in a 
straight line from the plains. I camped at the fork of the 
rivers, on a fine terrace fifty feet above the water, about 
seventy yards long, and one hundred broad, quite flat- 
topped, and composed of shingle, gravel, &c, with enormous 
boulders of gneiss, quartz, and hornstone, much water- 
worn ; it was girt by another broken terrace, twelve feet or 
so above the water, and covered with long grass and bushes. 

The main road from Ham to Wallanchoon, which I 
quitted on Sakkiazung, descends steeply on the opposite 
bank of the river, which T crossed in a canoe formed of a 
hollow trunk (of Toon), thirty feet long. There is considerable 
traffic along this road ; and I was visited by numbers of 
natives, all Hindoos, who coolly squatted before my tent- 
door, and stared with their large black, vacant, lustrous 
eyes : they appear singularly indolent, and great beggars. 

The land seems highly favoured by nature, and the 
population, though so scattered, is in reality considerable, 
the varied elevation giving a large surface ; but the natives 
care for no more than will satisfy their immediate wants. 
The river swarms with fish, but they are too lazy to catch 
them, and they have seldom anything better to give or sell 


than sticks of sugar-cane, which when peeled form a 
refreshing morsel in these scorching marches. They have 
few and poor oranges, citrons, and lemons, very bad plan- 
tains, and but little else ; — eggs, fowls, and milk are all 
scarce. Horned cattle are of course never killed by Hindoos, 
and it was but seldom that I could replenish my larder Avith a 
kid. Potatos are unknown, but my Sepoys often brought 
me large coarse radishes and legumes. 

From the junction of the rivers the road led up theTambur 
to Mywa Guola ; about sixteen miles by the river, but fully 
thirty -five, as we wound, ascended, and descended, during 
three days' marches. We were ferried across the stream in a 
canoe much ruder than that of the New Zealander. I 
watched my party crossing by boat-loads of fifteen each ; the 
Bhotan men hung little scraps of rags on the bushes before 
embarking, — the votive offerings of a Booddhist throughout 
central Asia; — the Lepcha, less civilised, scooped up a little 
water in the palm of his hand, and scattered it about, 
invoking the river god of his simple creed. 

We always encamped upon gravelly terraces a few feet 
above the river, which flows in a deep gorge ; its banks are 
very steep for GOO feet above the stream, though the 
mountains which flank it do not exceed 4000 to 5000 feet : 
this is a constant phenomenon in the Himalaya, and 
the roads, when low and within a few hundred feet of 
the river, are in consequence excessively steep and 
difficult; it would have been impossible to have taken 
ponies along that we followed, which was often not a 
foot broad, running along very steep cliffs, at a dizzy height 
above the river, and engineered Avith much trouble and 
ingenuity : often the bank was abandoned altogether, and 
we ascended several thousand feet to descend again. 
Owing to the steepness of these banks, and the reflected 

196 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

heat, the valley, even at this season, was excessively hot and 
close during the day, even when the temperature was below 
70°, and tempered by a brisk breeze which rushes upwards 
from sunrise to sunset. The sun at this season does not, in 
many places, reach the bottom of these valleys until 10 a.m., 
and is off again by 3 p.m.; and the radiation to a clear sky 
is so powerful that dew frequently forms in the shade, 
throughout the day, and it is common at 10 a.m. to find 
the thermometer sink from 70° in a sheltered spot, dried by 
the sun, to 40° in the shade close by, where the sun has 
not yet penetrated. Snow never falls. 

The rocks throughout this part of the river-course are 
mica-schists (strike north-west, dip south-west 70°, but 
very variable in inclination and direction) ; they are dry 
and grassy, and the vegetation wholly tropical, as is 
the entomology, which consists chiefly of large butter- 
flies, Mantis and Diptera. Snowy mountains are rarely 
seen, and the beauty of the scenery is confined to the 
wooded banks of the main stream, which flows at an ave- 
rage inclination of fifty feet to the mile. Otters are found 
in the stream, and my party shot two, but could not 
procure them. 

In one place the road ascended for 2000 feet above the 
river, to the village of Chingtam, situated on a lofty spur of 
the west bank, whence I obtained a grand view of the upper 
course of the river, flowing in a tremendous chasm, flanked 
by well-cultivated hills, and emerging fifteen miles to the 
northward, from black mountains of savage grandeur, whose 
rugged, precipitous faces were streaked with snow, and the 
tops of the lower ones crowned with the tabular-branched 
silver-fir, contrasting strongly with the tropical luxuriance 
around. Chingtam is an extensive village, covering an 
area of two miles, and surrounded with abundant culti- 


John Murray Albemarle Street, 18M- 




vation ; the houses, which are built in clusters, are of wood, 
or wattle and mud, with grass thatch. The villagers, 
though an indolent, staring race, are quiet and respectable; 
the men are handsome, the women, though less so, often 
good-looking. They have fine cattle, and excellent crops. 

Immediately above Chingtam, the Tambur is joined by a 
large affluent from the west, the Mywa, which is crossed by 
an excellent iron bridge, formed of loops hanging from two 
parallel chains, along which is laid a plank of sal timber. 
Passing through the village, we camped on a broad ter- 
race, from sixty to seventy feet above the junction of the 
rivers, whose beds are 2100 feet above the sea. 

Mywa Guola (or bazaar) is a large village and mart, 
frequented by Nepalese and Tibetans, who bring salt, 
wool, gold, musk, and blankets, to exchange for rice, coral, 
and other commodities ; and a custom-house officer is 
stationed there, Avith a few soldiers. The houses are of 
wood, and well built : the public ones are large, with 
verandahs, and galleries of carved wood ; the workmanship 
is of Chinese character, and inferior to that of Katmandoo ; 
but in the same style, and quite unlike anything I had 
previously seen. 

The river-terrace is in all respects similar to that at the 
junction of the Tambur and Khawa, but very extensive : 
the stones it contained were of all sizes, from a nut to 
huge boulders upwards of fifteen feet long, of which 
many strewed the surface, while others were in the bed of 
the river : all were of gneiss, quartz, and granite, and had 
doubtless been transported from great elevations, as the 
rocks in situ — both here and for several thousand feet 
higher up the river — w r ere micaceous schists, dipping in 
various directions, and at all angles, with, however, a general 
strike to the north-west. 

198 EAST NEPAL. Chap. VIII. 

I was here overtaken by a messenger with letters 
from Dr. Campbell, announcing that the Sikkim Rajah 
had disavowed the refusal to the Governor- General's 
letter, and authorising me to return through any 
part of Sikkim I thought proper. The bearer was a 
Lepcha attached to the court : his dress was that of 
a superior person, being a scarlet jacket over a white 
cotton dress, the breadth of the blue stripes of which gene- 
rally denotes wealth ; he was accompanied by a sort of 
attache, who wore a magnificent pearl and gold ear-ring, 
and carried his master's bow, as well as a basket on his 
back • while an attendant coolie bore their utensils and food. 
Meepo, or Teshoo (in Tibetan, Mr.), Meepo, as he was 
usually called, soon attached himself to me, and proved an 
active, useful, and intelligent companion, guide, and often 
collector, during many months afterwards. 

The vegetation round Mywa Guola is still thoroughly 
tropical : the banyan is planted, and thrives tolerably, the 
heat being great during the day. Like the whole of the 
Tambur valley below 4000 feet, and especially on these 
flats, the climate is very malarious before and after the 
rains ; and I was repeatedly applied to by natives suffering 
under attacks of fever. During the two days I halted, 
the mean temperature was 60° (extremes, ££), that of the 
Tambur, 53°, and of the Mywa, 56°; each varying a 
few degrees (the smaller stream the most) between sunrise 
and 4 p.m. : the sunk thermometer was 72°. 

As we should not easily be able to procure food further 
on, I laid in a full stock here, and distributed blankets, &c, 
sufficient for temporary use for all the people, dividing them 
into groups or messes. 


Leave My wa — 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 — Jhatamansi — Obstacles to proceeding — 
Climate and weather — Proceed — Rhododendrons, &c. — Lichens — Poa annua 
and Shepherd's purse — Tibet camp — Tuquoroma — Scenery of pass— Glaciers 
and snow — Summit — Plants, woolly, &c. 

On the 18th November, we left Mywa Guola, and con- 
tinued up the river to the village of Wallanchoon or 
Walloong, which was reached in six marches. The snowy 
peak of Junnoo (alt. 25,312 feet) forms a magnificent 
feature from this point, seen up the narrow gorge of the 
river, bearing N.N.E. about thirty miles. I crossed 
the Mewa, an affluent from the north, by another 
excellent suspension bridge. In these bridges, the principal 
chains are clamped to rocks on either shore, and the sus- 
pended loops occur at intervals of eight to ten feet ; the 
single sal-plank laid on these loops swings terrifically, and 
the handrails not being four feet high, the sense of insecurity 
is very great. 

The Wallanchoon road follows the west bank, but the 
bridge above having been carried away, we crossed by a 

200 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

plank, and proceeded along very steep banks of decomposed 
chlorite schist, much contorted, and very soapy, affording 
an insecure footing, especially where great landslips had 
occurred, which were numerous, exposing acres of a reddish 
and white soil of felspathic clay, sloping at an angle 
of 30°. Where the angle was less than 15°, rice was 
cultivated, and partially irrigated. The lateral streams (of 
a muddy opal green) had cut beds 200 feet deep in 
the soft earth, and were very troublesome to cross, from 
the crumbling cliffs on either side, and their broad swampy 

Five or six miles above Mywa, the valley contracts much, 
and the Tambur (whose bed is elevated about 3000 feet) 
becomes a turbulent river, shooting along its course with 
immense velocity, torn into foam as it lashes the spurs of rock 
that flank it, and the enormous boulders with which its bed 
is strewn.* From this elevation to 9000 feet, its sinuous 
track extends about thirty miles, which gives the mean fall 
of 200 feet to the mile, quadruple of what it is for the 
lower part of its course. So long as its bed is below 
5000 feet, a tropical vegetation prevails in the gorge, and 
along the terraces, consisting of tall bamboo, Bauliinia, 
Acacia, Melastoma, &c. ; but the steep mountain sides above 
are either bare and grassy, or cliffs with scattered shrubs 
and trees, and their summits are of splintered slaty gneiss, 
bristling with pines : those faces exposed to the south and 
east are invariably the driest and most grassy ; while the 
opposite are well wooded. Rhododendron arbor eum becomes 
plentiful at 5000 to 6000 feet, forming a large tree on dry 
clayey slopes ; it is accompanied by Indigofera, Andromeda, 

* In some places torrents of stone were carried down by landslips, obstructing 
the rivers ; when in the beds of streams, they were often cemented by felspathic 
clay into a hard breccia of angular quartz, gneiss, and felspar nodules. 


pa, shrubby Conqtosita, and very many plants absent 
at similar elevations on the wet outer Dorjiling ranges. 

In the contracted parts of the valley, the mountains often 
dip to the river-bed, in precipices of gneiss., under the ledges 
of which wild bees build pendulous nests., looking like huge 
bats suspended by their wings : they are two or three feet 
long, and as broad at the top, whence they taper down- 
wards: the honey is much sought for, except in spring, when 
it is said to be poisoned by Rhododendron flowers, just as 
that, eaten by the soldiers in the retreat of the 
Thousand, was by the flowers of the R. jxmficum. 

Above these gorges are enormous accumulations of rocks, 
especially at the confluence of lateral valleys, where they 
rest upon little flats, like the river-terraees of Mywa, but 
wholly formed of angular shingle, flanked with beds of 
river-formed gravel : some of these boulders were thirty or 
forty yards across, and split as if they had fallen from a 
height ; the path passing between the fragments." At first 
I imagined that they had been precipitated from the 
mountains around ; and I referred the shingle to land- 
shoots, which during the rains descend several thousand feet 
in devastating avalanches, damming up the rivers, and 
destroying houses, cattle, and cultivation ; but though I 
still refer the materials of many such terraces to this cause, 
I consider those at the mouths of valleys to be due to 
ancient glacial action, especially when laden with such 
enormous blocks as are probably ice-transported. 

A change in the population accompanies that in the 
natural features of the country. Tibetans replacing the 

* The split fragments I was wholly unable to account for, till my attention 

?cted by Mr. Darwin to the observations of Charpentier and Agassiz, who 

refer s imilar ones met with in the Alps, to rocks which have fallen through 

crevasses in glaciers. — See '• Darwin on Glaciers and Transported Boulders in 

Xorth Wales." London, " PhiL Mag/" xxi. p. ISO. 

202 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

Limboos and Khass-tribes of Nepal, who inhabit the 
lower region. We daily passed parties of ten or a 
dozen Tibetans, on their way to Mywa Guola, laden with 
salt ; several families of these wild, black, and uncouth - 
looking people generally travelling together. The men are 
middle-sized, often tall, very square-built and muscular ; 
they have no beard, moustache, or whiskers, the few hairs 
on their faces being carefully removed with tweezers. They 
are dressed in loose blanket robes, girt about the waist 
with a leather belt, in which they place their iron or brass 
pipes, and from which they suspend their long knives, chop- 
sticks, tobacco-pouch, tweezers, tinder-box, &c. The robe, 
boots, and cap are grey, or striped with bright colours, and 
they wear skull-caps, and the hair plaited into a pig-tail. 

The women are dressed in long flannel petticoats and 
spencer, over which is thrown a sleeveless, short, striped 
cloak, drawn round the waist by a girdle of broad brass or 
silver links, to which hang their knives, scissors, needle- 
cases, &c, and with which they often strap their children 
to their backs ; the hair is plaited in two tails, and 
the neck loaded with strings of coral and glass beads, and 
great lumps of amber, glass, and agate. Both sexes wear 
silver rings and ear-rings, set with turquoises, and square 
amulets upon their necks and arms, which are boxes of 
gold or silver, containing small idols, or the nail-parings, 
teeth, or other reliques of some sainted Lama, accompanied 
with musk, written prayers, and other charms. All are 
good-humoured and amiable-looking people, very square 
and Mongolian in countenance, with broad mouths, high 
cheek-bones, narrow, upturned eyes, broad, flat noses, and 
low foreheads. White is their natural colour, and rosy 
cheeks are common amongst the younger women and 
children, but all are begrimed with filth and smoke j added 

Nov. 1848. PARTIES OF TIBETANS. 203 

to which, they become so weather-worn from exposure to 
the most rigorous climate in the world, that their natural 
hues are rarely to be recognised. Their customary mode of 
saluting one another is to hold out the tongue, grin, nod, and 
scratch their ear ; but this method entails so much ridicule 
in the low countries, that they do not practise it to Nepalese 
or strangers ; most of them when meeting me, on the 
contrary, raised their hands to their eyes, threw them- 
selves on the ground, and kotowed most decorously, 
bumping their foreheads three times on the ground ; even 
the women did this on several occasions. On rising, they 
begged for a bucksheesh, which I gave in tobacco or snuff, 
of which they are immoderately fond. Both men and 
women constantly spin wool as they travel. 

These motley groups of Tibetans are singularly pic- 
turesque, from the variety in their parti-coloured dresses, 
and their odd appearance. First comes a middle-aged 


man or woman, driving a little silky black yak, grunting 
under his load of 260 lb. of salt, besides pots, pans, and 

204 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

kettles, stools, churn, and bamboo vessels, keeping up a 
constant rattle, and perhaps, buried amongst all, a rosy- 
cheeked and lipped baby, sucking a lump of cheese-curd. 
The main body follow in due order, and you are soon 
entangled amidst sheep and goats, each with its two little 
bags of salt : beside these, stalks the huge, grave, bull- 
headed mastiff, loaded like the rest, his glorious bushy tail 
thrown over his back in a majestic sweep, and a thick collar 
of scarlet wool round his neck and shoulders, setting off 
his long silky coat to the best advantage ; he is decidedly 
the noblest-looking of the party, especially if a fine and 
pure black one, for they are often very ragged, dun-coloured, 
sorry beasts. He seems rather out of place, neither guard- 
ing nor keeping the party together, but he knows that 
neither yaks, sheep, nor goats, require his attention ; all 
are perfectly tame, so he takes his share of work as salt- 
carrier by day, and watches by night as well. The children 
bring up the rear, laughing and chatting together; they, too, 
have their loads, even to the youngest that can walk alone. 

The last village of the Limboos, Taptiatok, is large, and 
occupies a remarkable amphitheatre, apparently a lake-bed, 
in the course of the Tambur. After proceeding some way 
through a narrow gorge, along which the river foamed and 
roared, the sudden opening out of this broad, oval 
expanse, more than a mile long, was very striking : the 
mountains rose bare and steep, the west flank terminating 
in shivered masses of rock, while that on the right was 
more undulating, dry, and grassy : the surface was a flat 
gravel-bed, through which meandered the rippling stream, 
fringed with alder. It was a beautiful spot, the clear, 
cool, murmuring river, with its rapids and shallows, forcibly 
reminding me of trout-streams in the highlands of Scotland. 

Beyond Taptiatok we again crossed the river, and 

Nov. 1848. BHOTEEAS. 205 

ascended over dry, grassy, or rocky spurs to Lelyp, the first 
Bhoteea village ; it stands on a hill fully 1000 feet above 
the river, and commands a splendid view up the Yalloong 
and Kambachen valleys, which open immediately to the 
east, and appear as stupendous chasms in the mountains 
leading to the perpetual snows of Kinchin-junga. There 
were about fifty houses in the village, of wood and thatch, 
neatly fenced in with wattle, the ground between being 
carefully cultivated with radishes, buckwheat, wheat, and 
millet. I was surprised to find in one enclosure a fine 
healthy plant of Ojmntia, in flower, at this latitude and 
elevation. A Lama, who is the head man of the place, 
came out to greet us, with his family and a whole troop of 
villagers ; they were the same class of people as I have else- 
where described as Cis-nivean Tibetans, or Bhoteeas ; 
none had ever before seen an Englishman, and I fear they 
formed no flattering opinion from the specimen now pre- 
sented to them, as they seemed infinitely amused at my 
appearance, and one jolly dame clapped her hands to her 
sides, and laughed at my spectacles, till the hills echoed. 

ffloeaynus was common here, with Edgewortliia Gardneri* 
a beautiful shrub, with globes of waxy, cowslip -coloured, 
deliciously scented flowers ; also a wild apple, which bears 
a small austere fruit, like the Siberian crab. In the bed 
of the river rice was still cultivated by Limboos, and sub- 
tropical plants continued. I saw, too, a chameleon and a 
porcupine, indicating much warmth, and seeming quite 
foreign to the heart of these stupendous mountains. 
From 6000 to 7000 feet, plants of the temperate regions 
blend with the tropical ; such as rhododendron, oak, ivy, 

* A plant allied to Daphne, from whose bark the Nepal paper is manufactured. 
It was named after the eminent Indian botanist, brother of the late Miss 
Edge worth. 

206 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

geranium, berberry, clematis, and shrubby Vaccinia, which 
all made their appearance at Loongtoong, another Bhoteea 
village. Here, too, I first saw a praying machine, turned 
by water ; it was enclosed in a little wooden house, and 
consisted of an upright cylinder containing a prayer, and 
with the words, " Om mani padmi om," (Hail to him of 
the Lotus and Jewel) painted on the circumference : it was 
placed over a stream, and made to rotate on its axis by a 
spindle which passed through the floor of the building 
into the water, and was terminated by a wheel. 

Above this the road followed the west bank of the river ; 
the latter was a furious torrent, flowing through a gorge, 
fringed with a sombre vegetation, damp, and dripping with 
moisture, and covered with long TJsnea and pendulous 
mosses. The road was very rocky and difficult, sometimes 
leading along bluff faces of cliffs by wooden steps and 
single rotten planks. At 8000 feet I met with pines, 
whose trunks I had seen strewing the river for some miles 
lower down : the first that occurred was Abies Brunoniana, 
a beautiful species, which forms a stately blunt pyramid, 
with branches spreading like the cedar, but not so stiff, 
and drooping gracefully on all sides. It is unknown on the 
outer ranges of Sikkim, and in the interior occupies a belt 
about 1000 feet lower than the silver fir {A. Webbiana). 
Many sub-alpine plants occur here, as Leycesteria, Tha- 
lictrum, rose, thistles, alder, birch, ferns, berberry, holly, 
anemone, strawberry, raspberry, Gnaphalium, the alpine 
bamboo, and oaks. The scenery is as grand as any 
pictured by Salvator Rosa ; a river roaring in sheets of 
foam, sombre woods, crags of gneiss, and tier upon tier of 
lofty mountains flanked and crested with groves of black 
firs, terminating in snow-sprinkled rocky peaks. 

I now found the temperature getting rapidly cooler, 



both that of the air, which here at 8,066 feet fell to 32° in 
the night, and that of the river, which was always below 
40°. It was in these narrow valleys only, that I observed 
the return cold current rushing down the river-courses 
during the nights, which were usually brilliant and very 
cold, with copious dew : so powerful, indeed, was the 
radiation, that the upper blanket of my bed became coated 
with moisture, from the rapid abstraction of heat by the 
frozen tarpaulin of my tent. 

The rivers here are often fringed by flats of shingle, on 
which grow magnificent yews and pines ; some of the latter 
were from 120 to 150 feet high, and had been blown 
down, owing to their scanty hold on the soil. I measured 
one, Abies Brunoniana, twenty feet in girth. Many alpine 
rhododendrons occur at 9000 feet, with Astragalus and 
creeping Tamarisk. Three miles below Wallanchoon the 
river forks, being met by the Yangma from the north-east ; 
they are impetuous torrents of about equal volume ; the 
Tambur especially (here called the Walloong) is often broken 
into cascades, and cuts a deep gorge-like channel. 

I arrived at the village of Wallanchoon on the 23rd of 
November. It is elevated 10,385 feet, and situated in a fine 
open part of the Tambur valley, differing from any part 
lower down in all its natural features ; being broad, with a 
rapid but not turbulent stream, very grassy, and both the 
base and sides of the flanking mountains covered with 
luxuriant dense bushes of rhododendron, rose, berberry and 
juniper. Red-legged crows, hawks, wild pigeons, and 
finches, abounded. There was but little snow on the 
mountains around, which are bare and craggy above, but 
sloping below. Bleak and forbidding as the situation 
oi any Himalayan village at 10,000 feet elevation must 
be, that of Wallanchoon is rendered the more so from the 



Chap. IX. 

comparatively few trees; for though the silver fir and 
juniper are both abundant higher up the valley, they have 
been felled here for building materials, fuel, and export to 
Tibet. Prom the naked limbs and tall gaunt black trunks of 
those that remain, stringy masses of bleached lichen (Usnea) 


many feet long, stream in the wind. Both men and women 
seemed fond of decorating their hair with wreaths of this 
lichen, which they dye yellow with leaves of Symplocos. 


The village is very large, and occupies a flat on the east 
bank of the river, covered with huge boulders : the ascent to 
it is extremely steep, probably over an ancient moraine, 
though I did not recognise it as such at the time. Cresting 
this, the valley at once opens, and I was almost startled 
with the sudden change from a gloomy gorge to a broad 
flat and a populous village of large and good painted 
wooden houses, ornamented with hundreds of long poles 
and vertical flags, looking like the fleet of some foreign 
port ; while a swarm of good-natured, intolerably dirty 
Tibetans, were kotowing to me as I advanced. 

The houses crept up the base of the mountain, on the 
flank of which was a very large, long convent ; two-storied, 
and painted scarlet, with a low black roof, and backed 
by a grove of dark junipers ; while the hill-sides around 
were thickly studded with bushes of deep green rhododen- 
dron, scarlet berberry, and withered yellow rose. The 
village contained about one hundred houses, irregularly 
crowded together, from twenty to forty feet high, and 
forty to eighty feet long ; each accommodating several 
families. All were built of upright strong pine-planks, 
the interstices of which were filled with yak-dung ; and they 
sometimes rest on a low foundation wall : the door was 
generally at the gable end ; it opened with a latch and string, 
and turned on a wooden pivot ; the only window was a slit 
closed by a shutter ; and the roofs were very low-pitched, 
covered with shingles kept down by stones. The paths were 
narrow and filthy ; and the only public buildings besides the 
convents were Manis and Mendongs ; of these the former are 
square-roofed temples, containing rows of praying-cylinders 
placed close together, from four to six feet high, and gaudily 
painted ; some are turned by hand, and others by water ■ the 

latter are walls ornamented with slabs of clay and mica slate, 

p 2 

212 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

with " Om Mani Padmi om " well carved on them in two 
characters, and repeated ad infinitum. 

A Tibetan household is very slovenly ; the family live 
higgledy-piggledy in two or more apartments, the largest 
of which has an open fire on the earth, or on a stone if 
the floor be of wood. The pots and tea-pot are earthen and 
copper ; and these, with the bamboo churn for the brick 
tea, some wooden and metal spoons, bowls, and platters, 
comprise all the kitchen utensils. 

Every one carries in the breast of his robe a little wooden 
cup for daily use ; neatly turned from the knotted roots of 
maple (see p. 133). The Tibetan chiefly consumes barley, 
wheat, or buckwheat meal — the latter is confined to the 
poorer classes — with milk, butter, curd, and parched wheat ; 
fowls, eggs, pork, and yak flesh when he can afford it, and 
radishes, a few potatos, legumes, and turnips in their short 
season. His drink is a sort of soup made from brick tea, 
of which a handful of leaves is churned up with salt, butter, 
and soda, then boiled and transferred to the tea-pot, whence 
it is poured scalding hot into each cup, which the good 
woman of the house keeps incessantly replenishing, and 
urging you to drain. Sometimes, but more rarely, the 
Tibetans make a drink by pouring boiling water over 
malt, as the Lepchas do over millet. A pipe of yellow 
mild Chinese tobacco generally follows the meal ; more 
often, however, their tobacco is brought from the plains of 
India, when it is of a very inferior description. The 
pipe, carried in the girdle, is of brass or iron, often with 
an agate, amber, or bamboo mouth-piece. 

Many herds of fine yaks were grazing about Wallanchoon : 
there were a few ponies, sheep, goats, fowls, and pigs, but 
very little cultivation except turnips, radishes, and potatos. 
The yak is a very tame, domestic animal, often handsome, 


and a true bison in appearance ; it is invaluable to these 
mountaineers from its strength and hardiness, accomplish- 
ing, at a slow pace, twenty miles a day, bearing either 
two bags of salt or rice, or four to six planks of pine- 
wood slung in pairs along either flank. Their ears are 
generally pierced, and ornamented with a tuft of scarlet 
worsted ; they have large and beautiful eyes, spreading 
horns, long silky black hair, and grand bushy tails : black 
is their prevailing colour, but red, dun, parti-coloured, and 
white are common. In winter, the flocks graze below 
8000 feet, on account of the great quantity of snow 
above that height ; in summer they find pasturage as 
high as 17,000 feet, consisting of grass and small tufted 
Carices, on which they browse with avidity. 

The zobo, or cross between the yak and hill cow (much 
resembling the English cow), is but rarely seen in these 
mountains, though common in the North West Him- 
alaya. The yak is used as a beast of burden ; and 
much of the wealth of the people consists in its rich 
milk and curd, eaten either fresh or dried, or powdered 
into a kind of meal. The hair is spun into ropes, and woven 
into a covering for their tents, which is quite pervious to 
wind and rain ; * from the same material are made the gauze 
shades for the eyes used in crossing snowy passes. The 
bushy tail forms the well-known " chowry " or fly-flapper 
of the plains of India ; the bones and dung serve for fuel. 
The female drops one calf in April ; and the young yaks 
are very full of gambols, tearing up and down the steep 
grassy and rocky slopes : their flesh is delicious, much 
richer and more juicy than common veal ; that of the old 
yak is sliced and dried in the sun, forming jerked meat, 
which is eaten raw, the scanty proportion of fat preventing 

* The latter in, however, of little consequence in the dry climate of Tibet. 

214 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

its becoming very rancid, so that I found it palatable food : it 
is called scJiat-tcheu (dried meat). I never observed the yak 
to be annoyed by any insects ; indeed at the elevation it 
inhabits, there are no large diptera, bots, or gadflies to infest 
it. It loves steep places, delighting to scramble among 
rocks, and to sun its black hide perched on the glacial 
boulders which strew the Wallanchoon flat, and on which 
these beasts always sleep. Their average value is from two 
to three pounds, but the price varies with the season. In 
autumn, when her calf is killed for food, the mother 
will yield no milk, unless the herdsman gives it the calf s 
foot to lick, or lays a stuffed skin before it, to fondle, which 
it does with eagerness, expressing its satisfaction by short 
grunts, exactly like those of a pig, a sound which replaces 
the low uttered by ordinary cattle. The yak, though 
indifferent to ice and snow and to changes of tempe- 
rature, cannot endure hunger so long as the sheep, 
nor pick its way so well upon stony ground. Neither 
can it bear damp heat, for which reason it will not live in 
summer below 7000 feet, where liver disease carries it off 
after a very few years.* Lastly, the yak is ridden, especially 
by the fat Lamas, who find its shaggy coat warm, and its 
paces easy ; under these circumstances it is always led. 
The wild yak or bison (D'hong) of central Asia, the superb 
progenitor of this animal, is the largest native animal of Tibet, 

* Nevertheless, the yak seems to have survived the voyage to England. I find 
in Turner's "Tibet" (p. 189), that a bull sent by that traveller to Mr. Hastings, 
reached England alive, and after suffering from languor, so far recovered its health 
and vigour as to become the father of many calves. Turner does not state by 
what mother these calves were born, an important omission, as he adds that all 
these died but one cow, which bore a calf by an Indian bull. A painting of the 
yak (copied into Turner's book) by Stubbs, the animal painter, may be seen in the 
Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London. The artist is probably a 
little indebted to description for the appearance of its hair in a native state, for 
it is represented much too even in length, and reaching to too uniform a depth 
from the flanks. 


in various parts of which country it is found ; and the 
Tibetans say, in reference to its size, that the liver is a load 
for a tame yak. The Sikkini Dewan gave Dr. Campbell 
and myself an animated account of the chase of this animal, 
which is hunted by large dogs, and shot with a blunderbuss : 
it is untameable and horridly fierce, falling upon you 
with horns and chest, and if he rasps you with his tongue, 
it is so rough as to scrape the flesh from the bones. 
The horn is used as a drinking-cup in marriage feasts, and 
on other grand occasions. My readers are probably familiar 
with Messrs. Hue and Gabet's account of a herd of these 
animals being frozen fast in the head-waters of the Yang- 
tsekiang river. There is a noble specimen in the British 
Museum not yet set up, and another is preparing for 
exhibition in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. 

The inhabitants of these frontier districts belong to two 
very different tribes, but all are alike called Bhoteeas (from 
Bhote, the proper name of Tibet), and have for many 
centuries been located in what is — in climate and natural 
features — a neutral ground between dry Tibet Proper, and 
the wet Himalayan gorges. They inhabit a climate too 
cold for either the Lepcha or Nepalese, migrating between 
6000 and 15,000 feet with the seasons, always accompanied 
by their herds. In all respects of appearance, religion, 
manners, customs, and language, they are Tibetans and 
Lama Booddhists, but they pay tax to the Nepal and 
Sikkim Rajahs, to whom they render immense service 
by keeping up and facilitating the trade in salt, wool, 
musk, &c, which could hardly be conducted without their 
co-operation. They levy a small tax on all imports, and trade 
a little on their own account, but are generally poor and 
very indolent. In their alpine summer quarters they grow 
scanty crops of wheat, bailey, turnips, and radishes ; and 

216 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

at their winter quarters, as at Loongtoong, the better classes 
cultivate fine crops of buck-wheat, .millet, spinach, &c.; 
though seldom enough for their support, as in spring 
they are obliged to buy rice from the inhabitants of the 
lower regions. Equally dependent on Nepal and Tibet, they 
very naturally hold themselves independent of both ; and I 
found that my roving commission from the Nepal Rajah was 
not respected, and the guard of Ghorkas held very cheap. 

On my arrival at Wallanchoon, I was conducted to 
two tents, each about eight feet long, of yak's hair, 
striped blue and white, which had been pitched close to 
the village for my accommodation. Though the best 
that could be provided, and larger than my own, they 
were wretched in the extreme, being of so loose a texture 
that the wind blew through them : each was formed of two 
cloths with a long slit between them, that ran across the 
top, giving egress to the smoke, and ingress to the weather : 
they were supported on two short poles, kept to the ground 
by large stones, and fastened by yak's hair ropes. A fire 
was smoking vigorously in the centre of one, and some 
planks were laid at the end for my bed. A crowd of 
people soon came to stare and loll out their tongues at me, 
my party, and travelling equipage ; though very civil, and 
only offensive in smell, they were troublesome, from their 
eager curiosity to see and handle everything j so that I had 
to place a circle of stones round the tents, whilst a soldier 
stood by, on the alert to keep them off. A more idle 
people are not to be found, except with regard to spinning, 
which is their constant occupation, every man and woman 
carrying a bundle of wool in the breast of their garments, 
which is spun by hand with a spindle, and wound off on 
two cross-pieces at its lower end. Spinning, smoking, and 
tea-drinking are their chief pursuits ; and the women take 


all the active duties of the dairy and house. They live 
very happily together, fighting being almost unknown. 

Soon after my arrival 1 was waited on by the Guobah (or 
head-man), a tall, good-looking person, dressed in a purple 
woollen robe, with good pearl and coral ear and finger- 
rings, and a broad ivory ring over the left thumb,* as a guard 
when using the bow ; he wore a neat thick white felt cap, 
with the border turned up, and a silk tassel on the top ; 
this he removed with both hands and held before him, 
bowing three times on entering. He was followed by a 
crowd, some of whom were his own people, and brought a 
present of a kid, fowls, rice, and eggs, and some spikenard 
roots (Nardostachys Jatamansi, a species of valerian 
smelling strongly of patchouli), which is a very favourite 
perfume. After paying some compliments, he showed me 
round the village. During my walk, I found that I had a 
good many objections to overrule before I could proceed 
to the Wallanchoon pass, nearly two days' journey to 
the northward. In the first place, the Guobah disputed 
the Nepal rajah's authority to pass me through his 
dominions ; and besides the natural jealousy of these people 
when intruded upon, they have very good reasons for con- 
cealing the amount of revenue they raise from their position, 
and for keeping up the delusion that they alone can endure 
the excessive climate of these regions, or undergo the 
hardships and toil of the salt trade. My passport said 
nothing about the passes ; my people, and especially the 
Ghorkas, detested the keen, cold, and cutting wind ; at 
My wa Guola, I had been persuaded by the Havildar to put 
off providing snow-boots and blankets, on the assurance 
that I should easily get them at Walloong, which I now 

* A broad ring of this material, agate, or chalcedony, is a mark of rank here, as 
amongst the Man-choos, and throughout Central Asia. 

218 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

found all but impossible, owing to there being no bazaar. 
My provisions were running short, and for the same reason 
I had no present hope of replenishing them. All my party 
had, I found, reckoned with certainty that I should have 
had enough of this elevation and weather by the time I 
reached Walloong. Some of them fell sick; the Guobah 
swore that the passes were full of snow, and had been 
impracticable since October ; and the Ghorka Havildar 
respectfully deposed that he had no orders relative to the 
pass. Prompt measures were requisite, so I told all my 
people that I should stop the next day at Walloong, and 
proceed on the following on a three days' journey to the 
pass, with or without the Guobah's permission. To the 
Ghorka soldiers I said that the present they would 
receive, and the character they would take to their com- 
mandant, depended on their carrying out this point, which 
had been fully explained before starting. My servants I told 
that their pay and reward also depended on their implicit 
obedience. I took the Guobah aside and showed him troops 
of yaks (tethered by halters and toggles to a long rope 
stretched between two rocks), which had that morning 
arrived laden with salt from the north ; I told him it was 
vain to try and deceive me ; that my passport was ample, 
and that I should expect a guide, provisions, and snow- 
boots the next day ; and that every impediment and every 
facility should be reported to the rajah. 

During my two days' stay at Walloong, the weather was 
bitterly cold: as heretofore, the nights and mornings were 
cloudless, but by noon the whole sky became murky, the 
highest temperature (50°) occurring at 10 a.m. At this 
season the prospect from this elevation (10,385 feet), was 
dreary in the extreme ; and the quantity of snow on the 
mountains, which was continually increasing, held out a 


dismal promise for my chance of exploring lofty unin- 
habited regions. All annual and deciduous vegetation had 
long past, and the lofty Himalayas are very poor in 
mosses and lichens, as compared with the European Alps, 
and arctic regions in general. The temperature fluctuated 
from 22° at sunrise, to 50° at 10 a.m. ; the mean being 
35°;* one night it fell to 6J°. Throughout the clay, a 
south wind blew strong and cold up the valley, and at 
sunset was replaced by a keen north blast, searching 
every corner, and piercing through tent and blankets. 
Though the sun's rays were hot for an hour or two in 
the morning, its genial influence was never felt in the 
wind. The air was never very dry, the wet-bulb ther- 
mometer standing during the day 3f ° below the dry, thus 
giving a mean dew-point of 30J°. A thermometer sunk 
two feet stood at 44°, fully 9° above the mean temperature 
of the air ; one exposed to the clear sky, stood, during 
the day, several degrees below the air in shade, and at 
night, from 9° to 14f° lower. The black-bulb ther- 
mometer, in the sun, rose to 65f° above the air, indicating 
upwards of 90° difference at nearly the warmest part of the 
day, between contiguous shaded and sunny exposures. The 
sky, when cloudless, was generally a cold blue or steel-grey 
colour, but at night the stars were large, and twinkled 
gloriously. The black-glass photometer indicated 10' 521 
inchesf as the maximum intensity of sunlight; the tempe- 
rature of the river close by fell to 32° during the night, 
and rose to 37° in the day. In my tent, the temperature 

* This gives 1° Fahr. for every 309 feet of elevation, using contemporaneous 
observations at Calcutta, and correcting for latitude, &c. 

f On three mornings the maxima occurred at between 9 and 10 a.m. They 
were, Nov. 24th, 10-509, Nov. 25th, 10'521. On the 25th, at Tuquoroma, I 
recorded 10-510. The maximum effect observed at Dorjiling (7340 feet) was 10'328, 
and on the plains of India 10350. The maximum I ever recorded was in Yaugma 
valley (15,186 feet), 10-572 at 1 p.m. 

220 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

fluctuated with the state of the fire, from 26° at night to 
58° when the sun beat on it ; but the only choice was 
between cold and suffocating smoke. 

After a good many conferences with the Guobah, some 
bullying, douce violence, persuasions, and the prescribing 
of pills, prayers, and charms in the shape of warm water, 
for the sick of the village, whereby I gained some favour, 
I was, on the 25th Nov., grudgingly prepared for the trip 
to Wallanchoon, with a guide, and some snow-boots for 
those of my party whom I took with me. 

The path lay north-west up the valley, which became 
thickly wooded with silver-fir and juniper ; we gradually 
ascended, crossing many streams from lateral gulleys, and 
huge masses of boulders. Evergreen rhododendrons soon 
replaced the firs, growing in inconceivable profusion, 
especially on the slopes facing the south-east, and with no 
other shrubs or tree-vegetation, but scattered bushes of rose, 
Spiraa, dwarf juniper, stunted birch, willow, honey-suckle, 
berberry, and a mountain-ash [Pyrus). What surprised 
me more than the prevalence of rhododendron bushes, was 
the number of species of this genus, easily recognised by 
the shape of their capsules, the form and woolly covering 
of the leaves ; none were in flower, but I reaped a rich 
harvest of seed. At 12,000 feet the valley was wild, open, 
and broad, with sloping mountains clothed for 1000 feet 
with dark-green rhododendron bushes ; the river ran 
rapidly, and was broken into falls here and there. Huge 
angular and detached masses of rock were scattered about, 
and to the right and left snowy peaks towered over the 
surrounding mountains, while amongst the latter narrow 
gulleys led up to blue patches of glacial ice, with trickling 
streams and shoots of stones. Dwarf rhododendrons with 
strongly-scented leaves (11. anthopogon and setosum), and 

Nov. 1848. EUROPEAN PLANTS. 221 

abundance of a little Andromeda, exactly like ling, with 
woody stems and tufted branches, gave a heathery appear- 
ance to the hill-sides. The prevalence of lichens, common 
to this country and to Scotland (especially L. geographicus), 
which coloured the rocks, added an additional feature to the 
resemblance to Scotch Highland scenery. Along the narrow 
path I found the two commonest of all British weeds, a 
grass (Poa annua), and the shepherd's purse ! They had 
evidently been imported by man and yaks, and as they do 
not occur in India, I could not but regard these little wan- 
derers from the north with the deepest interest. 

Such incidents as these give rise to trains of reflection 
in the mind of the naturalist traveller ; and the farther he 
may be from home and friends, the more wild and desolate 
the country he is exploring, the greater the difficulties 
and dangers under which he encounters these subjects of his 
earliest studies in science ; so much keener is the delight 
with which he recognises them, and the more lasting is the 
impression which they leave. At this moment these common 
weeds more vividly recal to me that wild scene than does 
all my journal, and remind me how I went on my way, 
taxing my memory for all it ever knew of the geographical 
distribution of the shepherd's purse, and musing on the 
probability of the plant having found its way thither over 
all Central Asia, and the ages that may have been occupied 
in its march. 

On reaching 13,000 feet, the ground was everywhere 
hard and frozen, and I experienced the first symptoms of 
lassitude, headache, and giddiness ; which however, were 
but slight, and only came on with severe exertion. 

We encountered a group of Tibetans, encamped to lee- 
ward of an immense boulder of gneiss, against which they 
had raised a shelter with their salt-bags, removed from their 

222 EAST NEPAL. Chai\ IX. 

herd of yaks, which were grazing close by. They looked 
miserably cold and haggard, and their little upturned eyes, 
much inflamed and bloodshot, testified to the hardships they 
had endured in their march from the salt regions : they 
were crouched round a small fire of juniper wood, smoking 
iron pipes with agate mouthpieces. A resting-house was 
in sight across the stream — a loose stone hut, to which we 
repaired. I wondered why these Tibetans had not taken 
possession of it, not being aware of the value they attach to a 
rock, on account of the great warmth which it imbibes from 
the sun's rays during the day, and retains at night. This 
invaluable property of otherwise inhospitable gneiss and 
granite I had afterwards many opportunities of proving ; and 
when driven for a night's shelter to such as rude nature 
might afford on the bleak mountain, I have had my blankets 
laid beneath "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." 
The name of Dhamersala is applied, in the mountains as 
in the plains of India, to a house provided for the accom- 
modation of travellers, whether it be one of the beautiful 
caravanserais built to gratify the piety, ostentation, or 
benevolence of a rajah, or such a miserable shieling of 
rough stone and plank as that of Tuquoroma, in which we 
took up our quarters, at 13,000 feet elevation. A cheerful 
fire soon blazed on the earthen floor, filling the room with 
the pungent odour of juniper, which made our eyes smart 
and water. The Ghorkas withdrew to one corner, and my 
Lepchas to a second, while one end was screened off for 
my couch ; unluckily, the wall faced the north-east, and in 
that direction there was a gulley in the snowy mountains, 
down which the wind swept with violence, penetrating to 
my bed. I had calculated upon a good night's rest here, 
which I much needed, having been worried and unwell at 
Wallanchoon, owing to the Guobah's obstinacy. I had not 

Nov. 1848. WALLANCHOON PASS. 223 

then learnt how to treat such conduct, and just before 
retiring to rest had further been informed by the Havildar 
that the Guobah declared we should find no food on our 
return. To remain in these mountains without a supply 
was impossible, and the delay of sending to Mywa 
Guola would not have answered ; so I long lay awake, 
occupied in arranging measures. The night was clear and 
very cold ; the thermometer falling to 19° at 9 p. m., and to 
12° in the night, and that by my bedside to 20°. 

On the following morning (Nov. 26th) I started with a 
small party to visit the pass, continuing up the broad, 
grassy valley ; much snow lay on the ground at 13,500 feet, 
which had fallen the previous month ; and several glaciers 
were seen in lateral ravines at about the same elevation. 
After a couple of miles, we left the broad valley, which con- 
tinued north-west, and struck northward up a narrow, stony, 
and steep gorge, crossing an immense ancient moraine at 
its mouth. This path, which we followed for seven or 
eight miles, led up to the pass, winding considerably, and 
keeping along the south-east exposures, which, being the 
most sunny, are the freest from snow. The morning was 
splendid, the atmosphere over the dry rocks and earth, at 
14,000 feet, vibrating from the power of the sun's rays, 
whilst vast masses of blue glacier and fields of snow 
choked every gulley, and were spread over all shady places. 
Although, owing to the steepness and narrowness of the 
gorge, no view was obtained, the scenery was wild and very 
grand. Just below where perpetual snow descends to the 
path, an ugly carved head of a demon, with blood-stained 
cheeks and goggle-eyes, was placed in a niche of rock, and 
protected by a glass. 

At 15,000 feet, the snow closed in on the path from all 
sides, whether perpetual, glacial, or only the October fall, 

224 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

I could not tell ; the guide declared it to be perpetual 
henceforward, though now deepened by the very heavy 
October fall ; the path was cut some three feet through it. 
Enormous boulders of gneiss cumbered the bottom of the 
gorge, which gradually widened as we approached its 
summit ; and rugged masses of black and red gneiss and 
mica schist pierced the snow, and stood out in dismal relief. 
For four miles continuously we proceeded over snow ; which 
was much honey-combed on the surface, and treacherous 
from the icy streams it covered, into which we every now 
and then stumbled; there was scarcely a trace of vegetation, 
and the cold was excessive, except in the sun. 

Towards the summit of the pass the snow lay very deep, 
and we followed the course of a small stream which cut 
through it, the walls of snow being breast-high on each side ; 
the path was still frequented by yaks, of which we overtook 
a small party going to Tibet, laden with planks. All the 
party appeared alike overcome by lassitude, shortness and 
difficulty of breathing, a sense of weight on the stomach, 
giddiness and headache, with tightness across the temples. 

Just below the summit was a complete bay of snow, 
girdled with two sharp peaks of red baked schists and 
gneiss, strangely contorted, and thrown up at all angles 
with no prevalent dip or strike, and permeated with veins 
of granite. The top itself, or boundary between Nepal 
and Tibet, is a low saddle between two rugged ridges of 
rock, with a cairn built on it, adorned with bits of stick 
and rag covered with Tibetan inscriptions. The view into 
Tibet was not at all distant, and was entirely of snowy 
mountains, piled ridge over ridge ; three of these spurs 
must, it is said, be crossed before any descent can be 
made to the Chomachoo river (as the Arun is called in 
Tibet), on which is the frontier fort of the Tibetans, and 


which is reached in two or three days. There is no plain or 
level ground of any kind before reaching that river, of which 
the valley is said to be wide and flat. 

Starting at 10 a.m., we did not reach the top till 
3^ p.m. ; we had halted nowhere, but the last few 
miles had been most laborious, and the three of us 
who gained the summit were utterly knocked up. For- 
tunately I carried my own barometer ; it indicated 
16-206 inches, giving by comparative observations with 
Calcutta 16,764 feet, and with Dorjiling, 16,748 feet, as the 
height of the pass. The thermometer stood at 18°, and the 
sun being now hidden behind rocks, the south-east wind was 
bitterly cold. Hitherto the sun had appeared as a clearly 
defined sparkling globe, against a dark-blue sky • but the 
depth of the azure blue was not so striking as I had 
been led to suppose, by the accounts of previous travellers, 
in very lofty regions. The plants gathered near the top of 
the pass were species of Composite, grass, and Arenaria ; 
the most curious was Saussurea gossypina, which forms 
great clubs of the softest white wool, six inches to a 
foot high, its flowers and leaves seeming uniformly 
clothed with the warmest fur that nature can devise. 
Generally speaking, the alpine plants of the Himalaya are 
quite unprovided with any special protection of this kind ; 
it is the prevalence and conspicuous nature of the exceptions 
that mislead, and induce the careless observer to gene- 
ralise hastily from solitary instances; for the prevailing alpine 
genera of the Himalaya, Arenarias, primroses, saxifrages, 
fumitories, Ranunculi, gentians, grasses, sedges, &c, have 
almost uniformly naked foliage. 

We descended to the foot of the pass in about two hours, 
darkness overtaking us by the way ; the twilight, however, 
being prolonged by the glare of the snow. Fearing the 

226 EAST NEPAL. Chap. IX. 

distance to Tuquoroma might be too great to permit 
of our returning thither the same night, I had had a few 
things brought hither during the day, and finding they 
had arrived, we encamped under the shelter of some 
enormous boulders (at 13,500 feet), part of an ancient 
moraine, which extended some distance along the bed of 
the narrow valley. Except an excruciating headache, I 
felt no ill effects from my ascent ; and after a supper of tea 
and biscuit, I slept soundly. 

On the following morning the temperature was 28° at 
6 '30' a.m., and rose to 30° when the sun appeared 
over the mountains at 8'1 5', at which time the black 
bulb thermometer suddenly mounted to 112°, upwards of 
80° above the temperature of the air. The sky was 
brilliantly clear, with a very dry, cold, north wind blowing 
down the snowy valley of the pass. 



Return from Wallanchoon pass — Procure a bazaar at village — Dance of Lamas — 
Blacking 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, &c. — Geological causes of phenomena in valley — 
Scenery of valley on descent. 

I returned to the village of Wallanchoon, after collecting 
all the plants I could around my camp ; amongst them 
a common-looking dock abounded in the spots which the 
yaks had frequented. 

The ground was covered, as with heather, with abundance 
of creeping dwarf juniper, Andromeda, and dwarf rhodo- 
dendron. On arriving at the village, I refused to receive 
the Guobah, unless he opened a bazaar at daylight on the 
following morning, where my people might purchase food ; 
and threatened to bring charges against him before his Rajah. 
At the same time I arranged for sending the main body of 
my party down the Tambur, and so back to Sikkim, 
whilst I should, with as few as possible, visit the Kangla- 
chem (Tibetan) pass in the adjacent valley to the 

q 2 

228 EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

eastward, and then, crossing the Nango, Kambachen and 
Kanglanamo passes, reach Jongri in Sikkim, on the sonth 
flank of Kinchinjunga. 

Strolling out in the afternoon I saw a dance of Lamas ; 
they were disfigured with black paint * and covered with 
rags, feathers, and scarlet cloth, and they carried long 
poles with bells and banners attached ; thus equipped, they 
marched through the village, every now and then halting, 
when they danced and gesticulated to the rude music of 
cymbals and horns, the bystanders applauding with shouts, 
crackers, and alms. 

I walked up to the convents, which were long ugly build- 
ings, several stories high, built of wood, and daubed with 
red and grey paint. The priests were nowhere to be found, 
and an old withered nun, whom I disturbed husking millet 
in a large wooden mortar, fled at my approach. The temple 
stood close by the convent, and had a broad low architrave : 
the walls sloped inwards, as did the lintels : the doors 
were black, and almost covered with a gigantic and dis- 
proportioned painting of a head, with bloody cheeks and 
huge teeth ; it was surrounded by myriads of goggle eyes, 
which seemed to follow one about everywhere ; and though 
in every respect rude, the effect was somewhat imposing. 
The similarly proportioned gloomy portals of Egyptian fanes 
naturally invite comparison ; but the Tibetan temples lack 
the sublimity of these ; and the uncomfortable creeping 
sensation produced by the many sleepless eyes of Boodh's 
numerous incarnations is very different from the awe with 
which we contemplate the outspread wings of the Egyptian 
symbol, and feel as in the presence of the God who 

* I shall elsewhere have to refer to the Tibetan custom of daubing the face with 
black pigment to protect the skin from the excessive cold and dryness of these 
lofty regions ; and to the ludicrous imposition that was passed on the credulity of 
MM. Hue and Gabet. 


says," I am Osiris the Great : no man hath dared to lift 
my veil." 

I had ascended behind the village, but returned down 
the " via sacra," a steep paved path flanked by mendongs or 
low stone dykes, into which were let rows of stone slabs, 
inscribed with the sacred " Om Mani Padmi om." — " Hail 
to him of the lotus and jewel ; " an invocation of Sakkya, 
who is usually represented holding a lotus flower with 
a jewel in it. 

On the following morning, a scanty supply of very dirty 
rice was produced, at a very high price. I had, however, 
so divided my party as not to require a great amount of 
food, intending to send most of the people back by the 
Tambur to Dorjiling. I kept nineteen persons in all, 
selecting the most willing, as it was evident the journey 
at this season would be one of great hardship : we took 
seven days' food, which was as much as they could carry. 
At noon, I left Wallanchoon, and mustered my party at 
the junction of the Tambur and Yangma, whence I dis- 
missed the party for Dorjiling, with my collections of plants, 
minerals, &c, and proceeded with the chosen ones to 
ascend the Yangma river. The scenery was wild and very 
grand, our path lying through a narrow gorge, choked 
with pine trees, down which the river roared in a furious 
torrent ; while the mountains on each side were crested 
with castellated masses of rock, and sprinkled with 
snow. The road was very bad, often up ladders, and 
along planks lashed to the faces of precipices, and over- 
hanging the torrent, which it crossed several times by 
plank bridges. By dark we arrived at Yangma Guola, 
a collection of empty wood huts buried in the rocky 
forest-clad valley, and took possession of a couple. They 
were well built, raised on posts, with a stage and ladder 

230 EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

at the gable end, and consisted of one good-sized 
apartment. Around was abundance of dock, together with 
three common English plants.* 

The night was calm, misty, and warm Q^ f° a 5 ') for the 
elevation (9,300 feet). During the night, I was startled 
out of my sleep by a blaze of light, and jumping up, found 
myself in presence of a party of most sinister-looking, 
black, ragged Tibetans, armed with huge torches of pine, 
that filled the room with flame and pitchy smoke. I 
remembered their arriving just before dark, and their 
weapons dispelled my fears, for they came armed with 
bamboo jugs of Murwa beer, and were very drunk and 
very amiable : they grinned, nodded, kotowed, lolled 
out their tongues, and scratched their ears in the most 
seductive manner, then held out their jugs, and besought 
me by words and gestures to drink and be happy too. I 
awoke my servant (always a work of difficulty), and with 
some trouble ejected the visitors, happily without setting 
the house on fire. I heard them toppling head over heels 
down the stair, which I afterwards had drawn up to prevent 
further intrusion, and in spite of their drunken orgies, was 
soon lulled to sleep again by the music of the roaring river. 

On the 29th November, I continued my course north up 
the Yangma valley, which after five miles opened con- 
siderably, the trees disappearing, and the river flowing more 
tranquilly, and through a broader valley, when above 
11,000 feet elevation. The Guobah of Wallanchoon over- 
took us on the road ; on his way, he said, to collect the 
revenues at Yangma village, but in reality to see what I 
was about. He owns five considerable villages, and is 
said to pay a tax of 6000 rupees (600/.) to the Rajah of 
Nepal : this is no doubt a great exaggeration, but the 

* Cardamine hirsuta, Limosella aqtiatica, and Jancus bufonius. 


revenues of such a position, near a pass frequented almost 
throughout the year, must be considerable. Every yak 
going and coming is said to pay Is., and every horse 4s. ; 
cattle, sheep, ponies, land, and wool are all taxed; he 
exports also quantities of timber to Tibet, and various 
articles from the plains of India. He joined my party and 
halted where I did, had his little Chinese rug spread, and 
squatted cross-legged on it, whilst his servant prepared his 
brick tea with salt, butter, and soda, of which he partook, 
snuffed, smoked, rose up, had all his traps repacked, and 
was off again. 

We encamped at a most remarkable place : the valley 
was broad, with little vegetation but stunted tree-junipers : 
rocky snow-topped mountains rose on either side, bleak, 
bare, and rugged ; and in front, close above my tent, was 
a gigantic wall of rocks, piled — as if by the Titans — com- 
pletely across the valley, for about three-quarters of a mile. 
This striking phenomenon had excited all my curiosity on 
first obtaining a view of it. The path, I found, led over it, 
close under its west end, and wound amongst the enor- 
mous detached fragments of which it was formed, and 
which were often eighty feet square : all were of gneiss and 
schist, with abundance of granite in blocks and veins. A 
superb view opened from the top, revealing its nature to be 
a vast moraine, far below the influence of any existing 
glaciers, but which at some antecedent period had been 
thrown across by a glacier descending to 10,000 feet, from 
a lateral valley on the east flank. Standing on the top, and 
looking south, was the Yangma valley (up which I had 
come), gradually contracting to a defile, girdled by snow- 
tipped mountains, whose rocky flanks mingled with the 
black pine forest below. Eastward the moraine stretched 
south of the lateral valley, above which towered the snowy 

232 EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

peak of Nango, tinged rosy red, and sparkling in the rays 
of the setting sun : blue glaciers peeped from every gulley 
on its side, but these were 2000 to 3000 feet above this 
moraine ; they were small too, and their moraines were 
mere gravel, compared with this. Many smaller consecu- 
tive moraines, also, were evident along the bottom of that 
lateral valley, from this great one up to the existing glaciers. 
Looking up the Yangma was a flat grassy plain, hemmed in 
by mountains, and covered with other stupendous moraines, 
which rose ridge behind ridge, and cut off the view of all 
but the mountain tops to the north. The river meandered 
through the grassy plain (which appeared a mile and a half 
broad at the utmost, and perhaps as long), and cut 
through the great moraine on its eastern side, just below 
the junction of the stream from the glacial valley, which, 
at the lower part of its course, flowed over a broad steep 
shingle bed. 

I descended to my camp, full of anxious anticipations for 
the morrow ; while the novelty of the scene, and its striking 
character, the complexity of the phenomena, the lake-bed, the 
stupendous ice-deposited moraine, and its remoteness from 
any existing ice, the broad valley and open character of the 
country, were all marked out as so many problems suddenly 
conjured up for my unaided solution, and kept me 
awake for many hours. I had never seen a glacier or moraine 
on land before, but being familiar with sea ice and berg trans- 
port, from voyaging in the South Polar regions, I was 
strongly inclined to attribute the formation of this moraine 
to a period when a glacial ocean stood high on the 
Himalaya, made fiords of the valleys, and floated bergs 
laden with blocks from the lateral gulleys, which the winds 
and currents would deposit along certain lines. On the 
following morning I carried a barometer to the top of the 






Nov. 1848. ANCIENT MORAINES. 233 

moraine, which proved to be upwards of 700 feet above 
the floor of the valley, and 400 above the dry lake-bed 
which it bounded, and to which we descended on our 
route up the valley. The latter was grassy and pebbly, 
perfectly level, and quite barren, except a very few pines at 
the bases of the encircling mountains, and abundance of 
rhododendrons, Andromeda and juniper on the moraines. 
Isolated moraines occurred along both flanks of the valley, 
some higher than that I have described, and a very long 
one was thrown nearly across from the upper end of 
another lateral gulley on the east side, also leading up to 
the glaciers of Nango. This second moraine commenced 
a mile and a half above the first, and abutting on the east 
flank of the valley, stretched nearly across, and then 
curving round, ran down it, parallel to and near the west 
flank, from which it was separated by the Yangma river : 
it was abruptly terminated by a conical hill of boulders, 
round whose base the river flowed, entering the dry lake- 
bed from the west, and crossing it in a south-easterly direc- 
tion to the western extremity of the great moraine. 

The road, on its ascent to the second moraine, passed 
over an immense accumulation of glacial detritus at the 
mouth of the second lateral valley, entirely formed of 
angular fragments of gneiss and granite, loosely bound 
together by felspathic sand. The whole was disposed in 
concentric ridges radiating from the mouth of the valley, 
and descending to the flat ; these were moraines in 
petto, formed by the action of winter snow and ice upon 
the loose debris. A stream flowed over this debris, dividing 
into many branches before reaching the lake-bed, where 
its waters were collected, and whence it meandered south- 
ward to fall into the Yangma. 

Prom the top of the second moraine, a very curious 



Chap. X. 


scene opened up the valley, of 
another but more stony and 
desolate level lake-bed, through 
which the Yangma (here very 
rapid) rushed, cutting a channel 
about sixty feet deep; the flanks 
of this second lake-bed were cut 
most distinctly into two principal 
terraces, which were again sub- 
divided into others, so that the 
general appearance was that of 
many raised beaches, but each so 
broken up, that, with the excep- 
tion of one on the banks of the 
river, none were continuous for 
any distance. We descended 200 
feet, and crossed the valley and 
river obliquely in a north-west 
direction, to a small temple and 
convent which stood on a broad flat 
terrace under the black, precipitous, 
west flank : this gave me a good 
opportunity of examining the 
structure of this part of the 
valley, which was filled with an 
accumulation, probably 200 feet 
thick at the deepest part, of angular 
gravel and enormous boulders, both 
imbedded in the gravel, and strewed 
on the flat surfaces of the terraces. 
The latter were always broadest 
opposite to the lateral valleys, 
perfectly horizontal for the short 

Nov. 1848. YANGMA CONVENTS. 235 

distance that they were continuous, and very barren ; 
there were no traces of fossils, nor could I assure myself 
of stratification. The accumulation was wholly glacial ; 
and probably a lake had supervened on the melting 
of the great glacier and its recedence, which lake, con- 
fined by a frozen moraine, would periodically lose its 
waters by sudden accessions of heat melting the ice of the 
latter. Stratified silt, no doubt, once covered the lake 
bottom, and the terraces have, in succession, been denuded 
of it by rain and snow. These causes are now in opera- 
tion amongst the stupendous glaciers of north-east Sikkim, 
where valleys, dammed up by moraines, exhibit lakes 
hemmed in between these, the base of the glacier, and the 
flanks of the valleys. 

Yangma convents stood at the mouth of a gorge which 
opened upon the uppermost terrace ; and the surface of the 
latter, here well covered with grass, was furrowed into con- 
centric radiating ridges, which were very conspicuous from 
a distance. The buildings consisted of a wretched collection 
of stone huts, painted red, enclosed by loose stone dykes. 
Two shockingly dirty Lamas received me and conducted 
me to the temple, which had very thick walls, but was 
undistinguishable from the other buildings. A small door 
opened upon an apartment piled full of old battered 
gongs, drums, scraps of silk hangings, red cloth, broken 
praying-machines — relics much resembling those in the 
lumber-room of a theatre. A ladder led from this dismal 
hole to the upper story, which was entered by a handsomely 
carved and gilded door : within, all was dark, except from 
a little lattice-window covered with oil-paper. On one 
side was the library, a carved case, with a hundred gilded 
pigeon-holes, each holding a real or sham book, and each 
closed by a little square door, on which hung a bag full 

236 EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

of amulets. In the centre of the book-case was a recess, 
containing a genuine Jos or Fo, graced with his Chinese 
attribute of very long pendulous moustaches and beard, 
and totally wanting that air of contemplative repose 
which the Tibetan Lamas give to their idols. Banners 
were suspended around, with paintings of Lhassa, 
Teshoo Loombo, and various incarnations of Boodh. 
The books were of the usual Tibetan form, oblong 
squares of separate block-printed leaves of paper, made 
in Nepal or Bhotan from the bark of a Daphne, bound 
together by silk cords, and placed between ornamented 
wooden boards. On our way up the valley, we had passed 
some mendongs and chaits, the latter very pretty stone 
structures, consisting of a cube, pyramid, hemisphere, and 
cone placed on the top of one another, forming together 
the tasteful combination which appears on the cover of 
these volumes. 

Beyond the convents the valley again contracted, and on 
crossing a third, but much lower, moraine, a lake opened 
to view, surrounded by flat terraces, and a broad gravelly 
shore, part of the lake being dry. To the west, the cliffs were 
high, black and steep : to the east a large lateral valley, 
filled at about 1500 feet up with blue glaciers, led (as 
did the other lateral valleys) to the gleaming snows of Nango; 
the moraine, too, here abutted on the east flank of the 
Yangma valley, below the mouth of the lateral one. Much 
snow (from the October fall) lay on the ground, and the 
cold was pinching in the shade ; still I could not help 
attempting to sketch this wonderfully grand scene, especially 
as lakes in the Himalaya are extremely rare : the present 
one was about a mile long, very shallow, but broad, and as 
smooth as glass : it reminded me of the tarn in Glencoe. 
The reflected lofty peak of Nango appeared as if frozen 

Dec. 1848. 



deep down in its glassy bed, every snowy crest and ridge 
being rendered with perfect precision. 

Nango is about 18,000 feet high; it is the next lofty 
mountain of the Kinchinjunga group to the west of Junnoo, 
and I doubt if any equally high peak occurs again for some 
distance further west in Nepal. Facing the Yangma valley, 
it presents a beautiful range of precipices of black rock, 
capped with a thick crust of snow : below the cliffs the snow 
again appears continuously and very steep, for 2000 to 
3000 feet downwards, where it terminates in glaciers that 
descend to 14,000 feet. The steepest snow-beds appear 


cut into vertical ridges, whence the whole snowy face is — ■ 
as it were — crimped in perpendicular, closely-set, zig- 
zag lines, doubtless caused by the melting process, 

238 EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

which furrows the surface of the snow into channels by 
which the water is carried off : the effect is very beautiful, 
but impossible to represent on paper, from the extreme 
delicacy of the shadows, and at the same time the perfect 
definition and precision of the outlines. 

Towards the head of the lake, its bed was quite dry and 
gravelly, and the river formed a broad delta over it s 
the terraces here were perhaps 100 feet above its level, 
those at the lower end not nearly so much. Beyond the 
lake, the river became again a violent torrent, rushing in a 
deep chasm, till we arrived at the fork of the valley, where 
we once more met with numerous dry lake-beds, with 
terraces high up on the mountain sides. 

In the afternoon we reached the village of Yangma, a 
miserable collection of 200 to 300 stone huts, nestling under 
the steep south-east flank of a lofty, flat-topped terrace, 
laden with gigantic glacial boulders, and projecting south- 
ward from a snowy mountain which divides the valley. We 
encamped on the flat under the village, amongst some stone 
dykes, enclosing cultivated fields. One arm of the valley runs 
hence N. N. E. amongst snowy mountains, and appeared 
quite full of moraines ; the other, or continuation of the 
Yangma, runs W.N. W., and leads to the Kanglachem pass. 

Near our camp (of which the elevation was 13,500 feet), 
radishes, barley, wheat, potatos, and turnips, were cultivated 
as summer crops, and we even saw some on the top of the 
terrace, 400 feet above our camp, or nearly 14,000 feet 
above the sea ; these were grown in small fields cleared of 
stones, and protected by dykes. 

The scenery, though dismal, (no juniper even attaining 
this elevation,) was full of interest and grandeur, from the 
number and variety of snowy peaks and glaciers all around 
the elevated horizon, the ancient lake-beds, now green or 

Dec. 1848. YANGMA VILLAGE. 239 

brown with scanty vegetation, the vast moraines, the 
ridges of glacial debris, the flat terraces, marking, as it 
were with parallel roads, the bluff sides of the mountains, 
the enormous boulders perched upon them, and strewed 
everywhere around, the little Boodhist monuments of 
quaint, picturesque shapes, decorated with poles and 
banners, the many-coloured dresses of the people, the 
brilliant blue of the cloudless heaven by day, the depth of 
its blackness by night, heightened by the light of the stars, 
that blaze and twinkle with a lustre unknown in less 
lofty regions : all these were subjects for contemplation, 
rendered more impressive by the stillness of the atmosphere, 
and the silence that reigned around. The village seemed 
buried in repose throughout the day : the inhabitants 
had already hybernated, their crops were stored, the curd 
made and dried, the passes closed, the soil frozen, the 
winter's stock of fuel housed, and the people had retired 
into the caverns of their half subterranean houses, to 
sleep, spin wool, and think of Boodh, if of anything at all, 
the dead, long winter through. The yaks alone can find 
anything to do : so long as any vegetation remains they 
roam and eat it, still vieldino; milk, which the women take 
morning and evening, when their shrill whistle and cries 
are heard for a feAV minutes, as they call the grunting 
animals. No other sounds, save the harsh roar and hollow 
echo of the falling rock, glacier, or snow-bed, disturbed the 
perfect silence of the day or night.* 

I had taken three days' food to Yangma, and stayed there 
as long as it lasted : the rest of my provisions I had left 
below the first moraine, where a lateral valley leads east 
over the Xango pass to the Kambachen valley, which lay 
on the route back to Sikkim. 

* Snow cover* the ground at Yangma from December till April,, and the falls 
are said to be very heavy, at times amounting to 12 feet in depth. 

240 EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

I was premature in complaining of my Wallanchoon 
tents, those provided for me at Yangma being infinitely 
worse, mere rags, around which I piled sods as a defence 
from the insidious piercing night-wind that descended 
from the northern glaciers in calm, but most keen, 
breezes. There was no food to be procured in the village, 
except a little watery milk, and a few small watery potatos. 
The latter have only very recently been introduced 
amongst the Tibetans, from the English garden at the 
Nepalese capital, I believe, and their culture has not 
spread in these regions further east than Kin chin - 
junga, but they will very soon penetrate into Tibet from 
Dorjiling, or eastward from Nepal. My private stock of 
provisions — consisting chiefly of preserved meats from my 
kind friend Mr. Hodgson — had fallen very low ; and I 
here found to my dismay that of four remaining two-pound 
cases, provided as meat, three contained prunes, and one 
" dindon aux truffes /" Never did luxuries come more 
inopportunely ; however the greasy French viand served for 
many a future meal as sauce to help me to bolt my rice, and 
according to the theory of chemists, to supply animal heat 
in these frigid regions. As for my people, they were 
not accustomed to much animal food ; two pounds of 
rice, with ghee and chilis, forming their common diet 
under cold and fatigue. The poorer Tibetans, especially, 
who undergo great privation and toil, live almost wholly 
on barley-meal, with tea, and a very little butter and salt : 
this is not only the case with those amongst whom I 
mixed so much, but is also mentioned by MM. Hue and 
Gabet, as having been observed by them in other parts 
of Tibet. 

On the 1st of December I visited the village and 
terrace, and proceeded to the head of the Yangma valley, 

Dec. 1848. VILLAGE OF YANGMA. 241 

in order to ascend the Kanglachem pass as far as practicable. 
The houses are low, built of stone, of no particular 
shape, and are clustered in groups against the steep 
face of the terrace ; filthy lanes wind amongst them, 
so narrow, that if you are not too tall, you look into 
the slits of windows on either hand, by turning your 
head, and feel the noisome warm air in whiffs against your 
face. Glacial boulders lie scattered throughout the village, 
around and beneath the clusters of houses, from which it 
is sometimes difficult to distinguish the native rock. I 
entered one house by a narrow low door through walls 
four feet thick, and found myself in an apartment full of 
wool, juniper-wood, and dried dung for fuel : no one lived 
in the lower story, which was quite dark, and as I stood 
in it my head was in the upper, to which I ascended 
by a notched pole (like that in the picture of a Kamschatk 
house in Cook's voyage), and went into a small low room. 
The inmates looked half asleep, they were intolerably indolent 
and filthy, and were employed in spinning wool and 
smoking. A bole in the Avail of the upper apartment led 
me on to the stone roof of the neighbouring house, from 
which I passed to the top of a glacial boulder, descending 
thence by rude steps to the narrow alley. Wishing to see 
as much as I could, I was led on a winding course through, 
in and out, and over the tops of the houses of the village, 
which alternately reminded me of a stone quarry or gravel 
pit, and gipsies living in old lime-kilns ; and of all 
sorts of odd places that are turned to account as human 

From tlie village I ascended to the top of the terrace, 
which is a perfectly level, sandy, triangular plain, pointing 
down the valley at the fork of the latter, and abutting 
against the flank of a steep, rocky, snow-topped mountain 

VOL. I. H 



Chap. X. 

to the northward. Its 
length is probably half 
a mile from north to 
south, but it runs for 
two miles westward up 
the valley, gradually 
contracting. The sur- 
face, though level, is 
very uneven, being 
worn into hollows, 
and presenting ridges 
and hillocks of blown 
sand and gravel, with 
small black tufts of 
rhododendron. Enor- 
mous boulders of gneiss 
and granite were scat- 
tered over the surface ; 
one of the ordinary 
size, which I measured, 
was seventy feet in 
girth, and fifteen feet 
above the ground, into 
which it had partly 
sunk. Prom the south- 
ern pointed end I took 
sketches of the opposite 
flanks of the valleys east 
and west. The river 
was about 400 feet 
below me, and flowed 
in a little flat lake-bed ; 
other terraces skirted it, 


cut out, as it were, from the side of that I was on. 
On the opposite flank of the valley were several super- 
imposed terraces, of which the highest appeared to tally 
with the level I occupied, and the lowest was raised 
very little above the river; none were continuous for 
any distance, but the upper one in particular, could 
be most conspicuously traced up and down the main 
valley, whilst, on looking across to the eastern valley, a 
much higher, but less distinctly marked one appeared on it. 
The road to the pass lay west-north-west up the north bank 
of the Yangma river, on the great terrace ; for two miles it 
was nearly level along the gradually narrowing shelf, 
at times dipping into the steep gulleys formed by lateral 
torrents from the mountains; and as the terrace disappeared, 
or melted, as it were, into the rising floor of the valley, the 
path descended upon the lower and smaller shelf. 

We came suddenly upon a flock of gigantic wild sheep, 
feeding on scanty tufts of dried sedge and grass; there were 
twenty-five of these enormous animals, of whose dimensions 
the term sheep gives no idea : they are very long-legged, 
stand as high as a calf, and have immense horns, so 
large that the fox is said to take up his abode in their 
hollows, when detached and bleaching, on the barren 
mountains of Tibet. Though very wild, 1 am sure I 
could easily have killed a couple had I had my gun, but I 
had found it necessary to reduce my party so uncom- 
promisingly, that I could not aflbrd a man both for my gun 
and instruments, and had sent the former back to Dorjiling, 
with Mr. Hodgson's bird-stuffers, who had broken one of 
theirs. Travelling without fire-arms sounds strange in 
India, but in these regions animal life is very rare, game is 
only procured with much hunting and trouble, and to come 
within shot of a flock of wild sheep was a contingency I 

■2ii EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

never contemplated. Considering how very short we were 
of any food, and quite out of animal diet, I could not but 
bitterly regret the want of a gnu, but consoled myself by 
reflecting that the instruments were still more urgently 
required to enable me to survey this extremely interesting 
valley. As it was, the great beasts trotted off, and turned to 
tantalise me by grazing within an easy stalking distance. 
We saw several other flocks, of thirty to forty, during 
the day, but never, either on this or any future occa- 
sion, within shot. The Ovis Amnion of Pallas stands 
from four to five feet high, and measures seven feet from 
nose to tail ; it is quite a Tibetan animal, and is seldom seen 
.below 14,000 feet, except when driven lower by snow; and 
I have seen it as high as 18,000 feet. The same animal, I 
believe, is found in Siberia, and is allied to the Big-horn of 
North America. 

Soon after descending to the bed of the valley, which 
is broad and open, we came on a second dry lake-bed, a 
mile long, with shelving banks all round, heavily snowed 
on the shaded side ; the river was divided into many arms, 
and meandered over it, and a fine glacier-bound valley 
opened into it from the south. There were no boulders on 
its surface, which was pebbly, with tufts of grass and 
creeping tamarisk. On the banks I observed much granite, 
with large mica crystals, hornstone, tourmaline, and stratified 
quartz, with granite veins parallel to the foliation or 

A rather steep ascent of a mile, through a contracted part 
of the valley, led to another and smaller lake-bed, a quarter 
of a mile long and 100 yards broad, covered with patches of 
snow, and having no lateral valley opening into it : it faced 
the now stupendous masses of snow and ice which filled the 
upper part of the Yangma valley. This lake-bed (elevation, 

Dec. 1848. 



15,186 feet) was strewed with enormous boulders ; a rude 
stone hut stood near it, where we halted for a few minutes at 
1 p.m., when the temperature was 42*2°, while the dew- 
point was only 20*7°.* At the same time, the black bulb 
thermometer, fully exposed on the snow, rose 54° above the 
air, and the photometer gave 10572. Though the sun's 
power was so great, there was, however, no appearance of 
the snow melting, evaporation proceeding with too great 

Enormous piles of gravel and sand had descended upon 
the upper end of this lake-bed, forming shelves, terraces, 


and curving ridges, apparently consolidated by ice, and 
covered in many places with snow. Following the 

* This indicates a very dry state of the ahythe saturation-point being 0-133"; 
whereas, at the same hour at Calcutta it was 0-559°. 

246 EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

stream, we soon came to an immense moraine, which 
blocked up the valley, formed of angular boulders, some of 
which were fifty feet high. Respiration had been difficult 
for some time, and the guide we had taken from the village 
said we were some hours from the top of the pass, and 
could get but a little way further ; we however proceeded, 
plunging through the snow, till on cresting the moraine a 
stupendous scene presented itself. A gulf of moraines, 
and enormous ridges of debris, lay at our feet, girdled by 
an amphitheatre of towering, snow -clad peaks, rising to 
17,000 and 18,000 feet all around. Black scarped 
precipices rose on every side ; deep snow-beds and blue 
glaciers rolled down every gulley, converging in the hollow 
below, and from each transporting its own materials, there 
ensued a complication of moraines, that presented no order 
to the eye. In spite of their mutual interference, however, 
each had raised a ridge of debris or moraine parallel to itself. 

We descended with great difficulty through the soft 
snow that covered the moraine, to the bed of this gulf 
of snow and glaciers ; and halted by an enormous 
stone, above the bed of a little lake, which was snowed all 
over, but surrounded by two superimposed level terraces, 
with sharply defined edges. The moraine formed a barrier 
to its now frozen waters, and it appeared to receive the 
drainage of many glaciers, which filtered through their 
gravelly ridges and moraines. 

We could make no further progress ; the pass lay at the 
distance of several hours' march, up a valley to the north, 
down which the glacier must have rolled that had deposited 
this great moraine ; the pass had been closed since October, 
it being very lofty, and the head of this valley was far more 
snowy than that at Wallanchoon. We halted in the snow 
from 3 to 4 v. m., during which time I again took angles 

Dec. 1848. ORIGIN OF TERRACES. 247 

and observations ; the height of this spot, called Pabuk, is 
16,038 feet, whence the pass is probably considerably over 
17,000 feet, for there was a steep ascent beyond our 
position. The sun sank at 3 p.m., and the thermometer 
immediately fell from 35° to 30f.* 

After fixing in my note and sketch books the principal 
features of this sublime scene, we returned down the valley : 
the distance to our camp being fully eight miles, night 
overtook us before we got half-way, but a two days' old 
moon guided us perfectly, a remarkable instance of the 
clearness of the atmosphere at these great elevations. Las- 
situde, giddiness, and headache came on as our exertions 
increased, and took away the pleasure I should otherwise 
have felt in contemplating by moonlight the varied pheno- 
mena, which seemed to crowd upon the restless imagination, 
in the different forms of mountain, glacier, moraine, lake, 
boulder and terrace. Happily I had noted everything on 
my way up, and left nothing intentionally to be done on 
returning. In making such excursions as this, it is above 
all things desirable to seize and book every object worth 
noticing on the way out : I always carried my note-book 
and pencil tied to my jacket pocket, and generally walked 
with them in my hand. It is impossible to begin observing 
too soon, or to observe too much : if the excursion is long, 
little is ever done on the way home; the bodily powers being 
mechanically exerted, the mind seeks repose, and being 
fevered through over-exertion, it can endure no train of 
thought, or be brought to bear on a subject. 

During my stay at Yangma, the thermometer never rose 
to 50°, it fell to 14f° at night ; the ground was frozen for 
several inches below the surface, but at two feet depth its 

* At 4 o'clock, to 29°'5, the average dew-point was 16°-3, and dryness 055 ; 
weight of vapour in a cubic foot, 133 grains. 

248 EAST NEPAL. Chap. X. 

temperature was 37^°. The black bulb thermometer rose 
on one occasion 84° above the surrounding air. Before 
leaving, I measured by angles and a base-line the elevations 
of the great village-terrace above the river, and that of a 
loftier one, on the west flank of the main valley ; the 
former was about 400 and the latter 700 feet. 

Considering this latter as the upper terrace, and con- 
cluding that it marks a water level, it is not very difficult 
to account for its origin. There is every reason to suppose 
that the flanks of the valley were once covered to the ele- 
vation of the upper terrace, with an enormous accumulation 
of debris ; though it does not follow that the whole valley 
was filled by ice-action to the same depth ; the effect 
of glaciers being to deposit moraines between them- 
selves and the sides of the valley they fill; as also to 
push forward similar accumulations. Glaciers from each 
valley, meeting at the fork, where their depth would be 
700 feet of ice, would both deposit the necessary accumu- 
lation along the flanks of the great valley, and also throw 
a barrier across it. The melting waters of such glaciers 
would accumulate in lakes, confined by the frozen earth, 
between the moraines and mountains. Such lakes, though 
on a small scale, are found at the terminations and sides of 
existing glaciers, and are surrounded by terraces of shingle 
and debris ; these terraces being laid bare by the sudden 
drainage of the lakes during seasons of unusual warmth. 
To explain the phenomena of the Yangma valley, it may be 
necessary to demand larger lakes and deeper accumulations 
of debris than are now familiar to us, but the proofs of 
glaciers having once descended to from 8,000 to 10,000 
feet in every Sikkim and east Nepal valley communicating 
with mountains above 16,000 feet elevation, are over- 
whelming, and the glaciers must, in some cases, have been 

Dec. 184; 



fully forty miles long, and 500 feet in depth. The absence 
of any remains of a moraine, or of blocks of rock in the 
valley below the fork, is I believe, the only apparent objection 
to this theory ; but, as I shall elsewhere have occasion to 
observe, the magnitude of the moraines bears no fixed pro- 
portion to that of the glacier, and at Pabuk, the steep 
ridges of debris, which were heaped up 200 feet high, were 
far more striking than the more usual form of moraine. 

On my way up to Yangma I had rudely plotted the valley, 
and selected prominent positions for improving my plan on 
my return : these I noAv made use of, taking bearings 
with the azimuth compass, and angles by means of a pocket 
sextant. The result of my running-survey of the whole 
valley, from 10,000 to 16,000 feet, I have given along 
with a sketch-map of my routes in India, which accom- 
panies this volume. 



Ascend to Nango mountain — Moraines — Glaciers — Vegetation — Rhododendron 
Hodgsoni — Eocks — 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 — Kocks 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. 

We passed the night a few miles below the great moraine, 
in a pine-wood (alt. 11,000 feet) opposite the gorge which 
leads to the Kambachen or Nango pass, over the south 
shoulder of the mountain of that name : it is situated on a 
ridge dividing the Yangma river from that of Kambachen, 
which latter falls into the Tambur opposite Lelyp. 

The road crosses the Yangma (which is about fifteen 
feet wide), and immediately ascends steeply to the south- 
east, over a rocky moraine, clothed with a dense thicket 
of rhododendrons, mountain-ash, maples, pine, birch, 
juniper, &c. The ground was covered with silvery flakes 
of birch bark, and that of Rhododendron Hodgsoni, which is 
as delicate as tissue-paper, and of a pale flesh-colour. I 
had never before met with this species, and was astonished 
at the beauty of its foliage, which was of a beautiful bright 
green, with leaves sixteen inches long. 





Beyond the region of trees and large shrubs the alpine 
rhododendrons filled the broken surface of the valley, 
growing with PotentiUa, Honeysuckle, Polygonum, and 
dwarf juniper. The peak of Nango seemed to tower 
over the gorge, rising behind some black, splintered, rocky 
cliffs, sprinkled with snow ; narrow defiles opened up 
through these cliffs to blue glaciers, and their mouths were 
invariably closed by beds of shingly moraines, curving 
outwards from either flank in concentric ridges. 

Towards the base of the peak, at about 14,000 feet, the 
scenery is very grand ; a great moraine rises suddenly to 
the north-west, under the principal mass of snow and ice, 
and barren slopes of gravel descend from it ; on either side 
are rugged precipices ; the ground is bare and stony, with 
patches of brown grass : and, on looking back, the valley 
ppears very steep to the first shrubby vegetation, of dark 
green rhododendrons, bristling with ugly stunted pines. 

We followed a valley to the south-east, so as to tarn the 
flank of the peak ; the path lying over beds of October 
snow at 14,000 feet, and over plashy ground, from its 
melting. Sometimes our way lay close to the black 
precipices on our right, under w r hich the snow was deep ; 
and we dragged ourselves along, grasping every prominence 
of the rock with our numbed fingers. Granite appeared in 
large veins in the crumpled gneiss at a great elevation, in 
its most beautiful and loosely-crystallised form, of pearly 
white prisms of felspar, glassy quartz, and milk-white flat 
plates of mica, with occasionally large crystals of tour- 
maline. Garnets were very frequent in the gneiss near 
the granite veins. Small rushes, grasses, and sedges 
formed the remaining vegetation, amongst which were the 
withered stalks of gentians, Seclum, Arenaria, Silene, and 
many Composite plants. 

252 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XI. 

At a little below 15,000 feet, we reached enormous flat 
beds of snow, which were said to be perpetual, but covered 
deeply with the October fall. They were continuous, and 
like all the snow I saw at this season, the surface was 
honeycombed into thin plates, dipping north at a high 
angle ; the intervening fissures were about six inches deep. 
A thick mist here overtook us, and this, with the great 
difficulty of picking our way, rendered the ascent very 
fatiguing. Being sanguine about obtaining a good view, I 
found it almost impossible to keep my temper under the 
aggravations of pain in the forehead, lassitude, oppression 
of breathing, a dense drizzling fog, a keen cold wind, a 
slippery footing, where I was stumbling at every few steps, 
and icy-cold wet feet, hands, and eyelids ; the latter, odd 
as it sounds, I found a very disagreeable accompaniment of 
continued raw cold wind. 

After an hour and a half's toilsome ascent, during which 
we made but little progress, we reached the crest, crossing 
a broad shelf of snow between two rocky eminences ; the 
ridge was unsnowed a little way down the east flank ; this 
was, in a great measure, due to the eastern exposure being 
the more sunny, to the prevalence of the warm and melting 
south-east winds that bloAv up the deep Kambachen 
valley, and to the fact that the great snow-beds on the 
west side are drifted accumulations.* The mist cleared 

* Such enormous beds of snow in depressions, or on gentle slopes, are gene- 
rally adopted as indicating the lower limit of perpetual snow. They are, however, 
winter accumulations, due mainly to eddies of wind, of far more snow than can 
be melted in the following summer, being hence perennial in the ordinary sense 
of the word. They pass into the state of glacier ice, and, obeying the laws that 
govern the motions of a viscous fluid, so admirably elucidated by Forbes (" Travels 
in the Alps"), they flow downwards. A careful examination of those great beds 
of snow in the Alps, from whose position the mean lower level of perpetual 
snow, in that latitude, is deduced, has convinced me that these are mainly due 
to accumulations of this kind, and that the true limit of perpetual snow, or that 
point where all that falls melts, is much higher than it is usually supposed to be. 

Dec. 1848. KAMBACHEN PASS. 253 

off, and I had a partial, though limited, view. To the 
north the blue ice-clad peak of Nango was still 2000 
feet above us, its snowy mantle falling in great sweeps 
and curves into glacier-bound valleys, over which the 
ice streamed out of sight, bounded by black aiguilles 
of gneiss. The Yangma valley was quite hidden, but to 
the eastward the view across the stupendous gorge of the 
Kambachen, 5000 feet below, to the waste of snow, ice, 
and rock, piled in confusion along the top of the range 
of Junnoo and Choonjerma, parallel to this but higher, 
was very grand indeed : this we were to cross in two 
days, and its appearance was such, that our guide doubted 
the possibility of our doing it. A third and fourth moun- 
tain mass (unseen) lay beyond this, between us and Sikkim, 
divided by valleys as deep as those of Yangma and 

Having hung up my instruments, I ascended a few 
hundred feet to some naked rocks, to the northward j they 
were of much-crumpled and dislocated gneiss, thrown up 
at a very high angle, and striking north-west. Chlorite, 
schist, and quartz, in thin beds, alternated with the gneiss, 
and veins of granite and quartz were injected through 

It fell calm ; when the distance to which the voice was 
carried was very remarkable ; I could distinctly hear every 
word spoken 300 to 400 yards off, and did not raise 
my voice when I asked one of the men to bring me a 

The few plants about were generally small tufted Are- 
narias and woolly Composite, with a thick-rooted Umbellifer 
that spread its short, fleshy leaves and branches flat on the 
ground ; the root was very aromatic, but wedged close in 
the rock. The temperature at 4 p.m. was 23°, and bitterly 

254 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XI. 

cold; the elevation, 15,770 feet; dew-point, 16°. The air 
was not very dry; saturation -point, 670°, whereas at 
Calcutta it was 0.498° at the same hour. 

The descent was to a broad, open valley, into which the 
flank of Nango dipped in tremendous precipices, which 
reared their heads in splintered snowy peaks. At their 
bases were shoots of debris fully 700 feet high, sloping at 
a steep angle. Enormous masses of rock, detached by the 
action of the frost and ice from the crags, were scattered 
over the bottom of the valley ; they had been precipi- 
tated from above, and gaining impetus in their descent, 
had been hurled to almost inconceivable distances from the 
parent cliff. All were of a very white, fine-grained crystal- 
lised granite, full of small veins of the same rock still more 
finely crystallised. The weathered surface of each block 
was black, and covered with moss and lichens ; the others 
beautifully white, with clean, sharp-fractured edges. The 
material of which they were composed was so hard that I 
found it difficult to detach a specimen. 

Darkness had already come on, and the coolies being far 
behind, we encamped by the light of the moon, shining 
through a thin fog, where we first found dwarf-juniper for 
fuel, at 13,500 feet. A little sleet fell during the night, 
which was tolerably fine, and not very cold ; the minimum 
thermometer indicating 14^°. 

Having no tent-poles, I had some difficulty in getting 
my blankets arranged as a shelter, which was done by 
making them slant from the side of a boulder, on the top 
of which one end was kept by heavy stones ; under this 
roof I laid my bed, on a mass of rhododendron and juniper- 
twigs. The men did the same against other boulders, and 
lighting a huge fire opposite the mouth of my ground-nest, 
I sat cross-legged on the bed to eat my supper ; my face 

Dec. 1848. GRANITE BLOCKS. 255 

scorching, and my back freezing. Rice, boiled with a few- 
ounces of greasy dindon aux truffes was now my daily 
dinner, with chili-vinegar and tea, and I used to relish it 
keenly : this finished, I smoked a cigar, and wrote up my 
journal (in short intervals between warming myself) by the 
light of the fire ; took observations by means of a dark- 
lantern ; and when all this was accomplished, I went to 

December 5. — On looking out this morning, it was with 
a feeling of awe that I gazed at the stupendous ice-crowned 
precipices that shot up to the summit of Nango, their flanks 
spotted white at the places whence the gigantic masses 
with which I was surrounded had fallen ; thence my eye 
wandered down their black faces to the slope of debris at 
the bottom, thus tracing the course which had probably 
been taken by that rock under whose shelter I had passed 
the previous night. 

Meepo, the Lepcha sent by the rajah, had snared a 
couple of beautiful pheasants, one of which I skinned, and 
eat for breakfast ; it is a small bird, common above 12,000 
feet, but very wild ; the male has two to five spurs on 
each of its legs, according to its age ; the general colour 
is greenish, with a broad scarlet patch surrounding the eye ; 
the Nepalese name is " Khalidge." The crop was distended 
with juniper berries, of which the flesh tasted strongly, and 
it was the very hardest, toughest bird I ever did eat. 

We descended at first through rhododendron and 
juniper, then through black silver-fir {Abies Webbiana), and 
below that, near the river, we came to the Himalayan larch ; 
a tree quite unknown, except from a notice in the journals 
of Mr. Griffith, who found it in Bhotan. It is a small tree, 
twenty to forty feet high, perfectly similar in general 
characters to a European larch, but with larger cones, 

256 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XI. 

which are erect upon the very long, pensile, whip-like 
branches ; its leaves, — now red— were falling, and covering 
the rocky ground on which it grew, scattered amongst 
other trees. It is called " Saar " by the Lepchas and 
Cis-himalayan Tibetans, and " Boarga-sella " by the 
Nepalese, who say it is found as far west as the heads of 
the Cosi river : it does not inhabit Central or West Nepal, 
nor the North-west Himalaya. The distribution of the 
Himalayan pines is very remarkable. The Deodar has not 
been seen east of Nepal, nor the Pinus Gerardiana, 
Cupressus torulosa, or Juniper us communis. On the other 
hand, Podocarpus is confined to the east of Katmandoo. 
Abies Brunoniana does not occur west of the Gogra, nor the 
larch west of the Cosi, nor funereal cypress (an introduced 
plant, however) west of the Teesta (in Sikkim). Of the 
twelve * Sikkim and Bhotan Coniferm (including yew, 
junipers, and Podocarpus) eight are common to the North- 
west Himalaya (west of Nepal), and fourf are not : of the 
thirteen natives of the north-west provinces, again, only 
five % are not found in Sikkim, and I have given their 
names below, because they show how European the absent 
ones are, either specifically or in affinity. I have stated 
that the Deodar is possibly a variety of the Cedar of 
Lebanon. This is now a prevalent opinion, which is 
strengthened by the fact that so many more Himalayan 
plants are now ascertained to be European than had been 
supposed before they were compared with European 
specimens ; such are the yew, Juniperus communis, Berberis 
vulgaris, Quercus Ballota, Populus alba and Eujjhratica, &c. 

* Juniper, 3; yew, Abies Webbiana, Brunoniana, and Smithiana: Larch, Pinus 
cxcelsa, and longifolia, and Podocarpus neriifolia. 

f Larch, Cupressus funebris, Podocarpus neriifolia, Abies Brunoniana. 

.t A juniper (the European communis), Deodar (possibly only a variety of the 
Cedar of Lebanon and of Mount Atlas), Pinus Gerardiana, P. excelsa, and 
Cupressus tortdosa. 


The cones of the Deodar are identical with those of the 
Cedar of Lebanon : the Deodar has, generally longer and 
more pale bluish leaves and weeping branches,* but 
these characters seem to be unusually developed in our 
gardens ; for several gentlemen, well acquainted with the 
Deodar at Simla, when asked to point it out in the Kew 
Gardens, have indicated the Cedar of Lebanon, and when 
shown the Deodar, declare that they never saw that plant 
in the Himalaya ! 

At the bottom of the valley we turned up the stream, 
and passing the Tassichooding convents f and temple, 
crossed the river — which was a furious torrent, about twelve 
yards wide — to the village of Kambachen, on a flat terrace 
a few feet above the stream. There were about a dozen 
houses of wood, plastered with mud and dung, scattered 
over a grassy plain of a few acres, fenced in, as were also a 
few fields, with stone dykes. The only cultivation consists 
of radishes, potatos, and barley : no wheat is grown, the 
climate being said to be too cold for it, by which is pro- 
bably meant that it is foggy, — the elevation (11,380 feet) 

* Since writing the above, I have seen, in the magnificent Pinetum at Dropmore, 
noble cedars, with the length and hue of leaf, and the pensile branches of the 
Deodar, and far more beautiful than that is, and as unlike the common 
Lebanon Cedar as possible. When it is considered from how very few wild trees 
(and these said to be exactly alike) the many dissimilar varieties of the C. Libani 
have been derived ; the probability of this, the Cedar of Algiers, and of the 
Himalayas (Deodar) being all forms of one species, is greatly increased. We 
cannot presume to judge from the few cedars which still remain, what the 
habit and appearance of the tree may have been, when it covered the slopes of 
Libanus, and seeing how very variable Coniferce are in habit, we may assume 
that its surviving specimens give us no information on this head. Should all 
three prove one, it will materially enlarge our ideas of the distribution and 
variation of species. The botanist will insist that the typical form of cedar is 
that which retains its characters best over the greatest area, namely, the Deodar; 
in which case the prejudice of the ignorant, and the preconceived ideas of the 
naturalist, must yield to the fact that the old familiar Cedar of Lebanon is an 
unusual variety of the Himalayan Deodar. 

t These were built by the Sikkim people, when the eastern valleys of Nepal 
belonged to the Sikkim rajah. 

258 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XI. 

being 2000 feet less than that of Yangma village, and the 
temperature therefore 6° to 7° warmer; but of all the 
mountain gorges I have ever visited, this is by far the 
wildest, grandest, and most gloomy ; and that man should 
hybernate here is indeed extraordinary, for there is no route 
up the valley, and all communication with Lelyp,* two 
marches down the river, is cut off in winter, when the houses 
are buried in snow, and drifts fifteen feet deep are said to be 
common. Standing on the little flat of Kambachen, pre- 
cipices, with inaccessible patches of pine wood, appeared to 
the west, towering over head; while across the narrow valley 
wilder and less wooded crags rose in broken ridges to the 
glaciers of Nan go. Up the valley, the view was cut off by 
bluff cliffs; whilst down it, the scene was most remarkable : 
enormous black, round-backed moraines, rose, tier above 
tier, from a flat lake-bed, apparently hemming in the river 
between the lofty precipices on the east flank of the valley. 
These had all been deposited at the mouth of a lateral 
valley, opening just below the village, and descending from 
Junnoo, a mountain of 25,312 feet elevation, and one of 
the grandest of the Kinchinjunga group, whose top — 
though only five miles distant in a straight line — rises 
13,932 feetf above the village. Few facts show more 
decidedly the extraordinary steepness and depth of the 
Kambachen valley near the village, wdiich, though nearly 
11,400 feet above the sea, lies between two mountains only 
eight miles apart, the one 25,312 feet high, the other 
(Nango), 19,000 feet. 

The villagers received us very kindly, and furnished us 

* Which I passed, on the Tambur, on the 21st Nov. See page 204. 

i This is one of the most sudden slopes in this part of the Himalaya, the angle 
between the top of Junnoo and Kambachen being 2786 feet per mile, or 1 in 1*8. 
The slope from the top of Mont Blanc to the Chamouni valley is 2464 feet per 
mile, or 1 in 2-1. That from Monte Rosa top to Macugnaga greatly exceeds either. 


with a guide for the Choonjerma pass, leading to the 
Yalloong valley, the most easterly in Nepal ; but he recom- 
mended our not attempting any part of the ascent till the 
morrow, as it was past 1 p.m., and we should find no 
camping-ground for half the way up. The villagers gave us 
the leg of a musk deer, and some red potatos, about as big 
as walnuts — all they could spare from their winter-stock. 
With this scanty addition to our stores we started down the 
valley, for a few miles alternately along flat lake-beds and 
over moraines, till we crossed the stream from the lateral 
valley, and ascending a little, camped on its bank, at 11,400 
feet elevation. 

In the afternoon I botanized amongst the moraines, which 
were very numerous, and had been thrown down at right- 
angles to the main valley, which latter being here very 
narrow, and bounded by lofty precipices, must have stopped 
the parent glaciers, and effected the heaping of some of 
these moraines to at least 1000 feet above the river. The 
general features were modifications of those seen in the 
Yangma valley, but contracted into a much smaller 

The moraines were all accumulated in a sort of delta, 
through which the lateral river debouched into the 
Kambachen, and were all deposited more or less parallel 
to the course of the lateral valley, but curving outwards 
from its mouth. The village-flat, or terrace, continued 
level to the first moraine, which had been thrown down on 
the upper or north side of the lateral valley, on whose 
steep flanks it abutted, and curving outwards seemed to 
encircle the village-flat on the south and west; where it 
dipped into the river. This was crossed at the height of 
about 100 feet, by a stony path, leading to the bed of 
the rapid torrent flowing through shingle and boulders, 



Chap. XT. 

beyond which was another moraine, 250 feet high, and 
parallel to it a third gigantic one. 

Ascending the great moraine at a place where it over- 
hung the main river, I had a good coup-ami of the whole. 
The view south-east up the glacial valley— (represented in 
the accompanying cut)— to the snowy peaks south of 
Junnoo, was particularly grand, and most interesting from 


the precision with which one great distant existing glacier 
was marked by two waving parallel lines of lateral 
moraines, which formed, as it were, a vast raised gutter, or 
channel, ascending from perhaps 1G,000 feet elevation, till 
it was hidden behind a spur in the valley. With a telescope 
I could descry many similar smaller glaciers, with huge 
accumulations of shingle at their terminations ; but this 
great one was beautifully seen by the naked eye, and 
formed a very curious feature in the landscape. 


Between the moraines, near my tent, the soil was 
perfectly level, and consisted of little lake-beds strewn 
with gigantic boulders, and covered with hard turf of 
grass and sedge, and little bushes of dwarf rhododen- 
dron and prostrate juniper, as trim as if they had been 
clipped. Altogether these formed the most picturesque 
little nooks it was possible to conceive ; and they exhi- 
bited the withered remains of so many kinds of primrose, 
gentian, anemone, potentilla, orchis, saxifrage, parnassia, 
campanula, and pedicularis, that in summer they must 
be perfect gardens of wild flowers. Around each plot 
of a few acres was the grand ice-transported girdle of 
stupendous rocks, many from 50 to 100 feet long, crested 
with black tabular-branched silver firs, conical deep green 
tree-junipers, and feathery larches ; whilst amongst the 
blocks grew a profusion of round masses of evergreen 
rhododendron bushes. Beyond were stupendous frowning 
cliffs, beneath which the river roared like thunder; and 
looking up the glacial valley, the setting sun was bathing 
the expanse of snow in the most delicate changing tints, 
pink, amber, and gold. 

The boulders forming the moraine were so enormous 
and angular, that I had great difficulty in ascending it. 
I saw some pheasants feeding on the black berries of the 
juniper, bat where the large rhododendrons grew amongst 
the rocks I found it impossible to penetrate. The 
largest of the moraines is piled to upwards of 1000 
feet against the south flank of the lateral valley, and 
stretched far up it beyond my camp, which was in a 
grove of silver firs. A large flock of sheep and goats, 
laden with salt, overtook us here on their route from 
Wallanchoon to Yalloong. The sheep I observed to 
feed on the Bhododendron Thomson and campylocarpum. 

262 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XL 

On the roots of one of the latter species a parasitical 
Broom-rape (Orobanche) grew abundantly ; and about 
the moraines were more mosses, lichens, &c, than I 
have elsewhere seen in the loftier Himalaya, encouraged 
no doubt by the dampness of this grand mountain gorge, 
which is so hemmed in that the sun never reaches it 
until four or five hours after it has gilded the overhanging 

December 5. — The morning was bright and clear, and 
we left early for the Choonjerma pass. I had hoped the 
route would be up the magnificent glacier-girdled valley in 
which we had encamped ; but it lay up another, con- 
siderably south of it, and to which we crossed, ascending 
the rocky moraine, in the clefts of which grew abundance 
of a common Scotch fern, Cryptogramma crispa ! 

The clouds early commenced gathering, and it was 
curious to watch their rapid formation in coalescing streaks, 
which became first cirrhi, and then stratus, being apparently 
continually added to from below by the moisture-bringing 
southerly wind. Ascending a lofty spur, 1000 feet 
above the valley, against which the moraine was banked, 
I found it to be a distinct anticlinal axis. The pass, 
bearing north-west, and the valley we had descended 
on the previous day, rose immediately over the curved 
strata of quartz, topped by the glacier-crowned moun- 
tain of Nango, with four glaciers descending from its 
perpetual snows. The stupendous cliffs on its flanks, 
under which I had camped on the previous night, were 
very grand, but not more so than those which dipped into 
the chasm of the Kambachen below, Looking up the 
valley of the latter, was another wilderness of ice full of 
enormous moraines, round the bases of which the river 

Dec. 184a TIBETAN CAMP. 203 

Ascending, we reached an open grassy valley, and over- 
took the Tibetans who had preceded ns, and who had halted 
here to feed their sheep. A good-looking girl of the party 
came to ask me for medicine for her husband's eyes, 
which had suffered from snow-blindness : she brought me 
a present of snuff, and carried a little child, stark naked, yet 
warm from the powerful rays of the sun, at nearly 14,000 
feet elevation, in December ! I prescribed for the man, 
and gave the mother a bright farthing to hang round the 
child's neck, which delighted the party. My watch was 
only wondered at ; but a little spring measuring-tape 
that rolled itself up, struck them dumb, and when I 
threw it on the ground with the tape out, the mother 
shrieked and ran away, while the little savage howled 
after her. 

Above, the path up the ascent was blocked with siioav- 
beds, and for several miles we alternately scrambled 
among rocks and over slippery slopes, to the top of the 
first ridge, there being two to cross. The first consisted of 
a ridge of rocks running east and west from a superb 
sweep of snowy mountains to the north-west, which pre- 
sented a chaotic scene of blue glacial ice and white snow, 
through which splintered rocks and beetling crags thrust 
their black heads. The view into the Kambachen gorge 
was magnificeut, though it did not reveal the very bottom 
of the valley and its moraines : the black precipices of its 
opposite flank seemed to rise to the glaciers of Nango, 
fore-shortened into snow-capped precipices 5000 feet high, 
amongst which lay the Kambachen pass, bearing north-west 
by north. Lower down the valley, appeared a broad flat, 
called Jubla, a halting-place one stage below the village of 
Kambachen, on the road to Lelyp on the Tambur : it must 
be a remarkable ojeolo^ical as well as natural feature, for it 

264 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XI. 

appeared to jut abruptly and quite horizontally from the 
black cliffs of the valley. 

Looking north, the conical head of Junnoo was just 
scattering the mists from its snowy shoulders, and standing 
forth to view, the most magnificent spectacle I ever beheld. 
It was quite close to me, bearing north-east by east, and 
subtending an angle of 12° 23, and is much the steepest 
and most conical of all the peaks of these regions. Prom 
whichever side it is viewed, it rises 9000 feet above the 
general mountain mass of 16,000 feet elevation, towering 
like a blunt cone, with a short saddle on one side, that dips 
in a steep cliff : it appeared as if uniformly snowed, from 
its rocks above 20,000 feet (like those of Kinchinjunga) 
being of white granite, and not contrasting with the snow. 
Whether the top is stratified or not, I cannot tell, but 
waving parallel lines are very conspicuous near it, as shown 
in the accompanying view.* 

Looking south as evening drew on, another wonderful 
spectacle presented itself, similar to that which I described 
at Sakkiazung, but displayed here on an inconceivably 
grander scale, with all the effects exaggerated. I saw a sea 
of mist floating 3000 feet beneath me, just below the upper 
level of the black pines ; the magnificent spurs of the snowy 
range which I had crossed rising out of it in rugged gran- 
deur as promontories and peninsulas, between which the 
misty ocean seemed to finger up like the fiords of Norway, 

* The appearance of Mont Cervin, from the Rlffelberg, much reminded me of 
that of Junnoo, from the Chounjerma pass, the former bearing the same relation 
to Monte Rosa that the latter does to Kinchinjunga. Junnoo, though incompa- 
rably the more stupendous mass, not only rising 10,000 feet higher above the sea, 
but towering 4000 feet higher above the ridge on which it is supported, is not 
nearly so remarkable in outline, so sharp, or so peaked as is Mount Cervin : it is a 
very much grander, but far less picturesque object. The whiteness of the sides 
of Junnoo adds also greatly to its apparent altitude ; while the strong relief in 
which the black cliffs of Mont Cervin protrude through its snowy mantle greatly 
diminish both its apparent height and distance. 










or the salt-water lochs of the west of Scotland ; whilst 
islets tailed off from the promontories, rising here and 
there out of the deceptive elements. I was so high above 
this mist, that it had not the billowy appearance I saw 
before, but was a calm unruffled ocean, boundless to 
the south and west, where the horizon over-arched it. A 
little to the north of west I discerned the most lofty 
group of mountains in Nepal* (mentioned at p. 185), 
beyond Kinchinjunga, which I believe are on the west 
flank of the great valley through which the Arun 
river enters Nepal from Tibet : they were very distant, 
and subtended so small an angle, that I could not 
measure them with the sextant and artificial horizon : 
their height, judging from the quantity of snow, must be 

From 4 to 5 p.m. the temperature was 24°, with a very 
cold wind ; the elevation by the barometer was 15,260 feet, 
and the dew-point 10-3r°, giving the humidity 0*610, and 
the amount of vapour 1*09 grains in a cubic foot of air; 
the same elements at Calcutta, at the same hour, being 
thermometer 66^°, dew-point 60^°, humidity 0'840, and 
weight of vapour 5*9 grains. 

I waited for an hour, examining the rocks about the pass, 
till the coolies should come up, but saw nothing worthy of 
remark, the natural history and geology being identical 
with those of Kambachen pass : I then bade adieu to the 
sublime and majestic peak of Junnoo. Thence we con- 
tinued at nearly the same level for about four miles, dipping 
into the broad head of a snowy valley, and ascending to the 
second pass, which lay to the south-east. 

On the left I passed a very curious isolated pillar of rock, 

* Called Tsungau by the Bhoteeas. Junnoo is called Kuniuo Kurma by the 
Hill-men of Nepal. 

266 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XL 

amongst the wild crags to the north-east, whose bases we 
skirted : it resembles the Capuchin on the shoulder of Mont 
Blanc, as seen from the Jardin. Evening overtook us 
while still on the snow near the last ascent. As the sun 
declined, the snow at our feet reflected the most exquisitely 
delicate peach-bloom hue ; and looking west from the top 
of the pass, the scenery was gorgeous beyond descrip- 
tion, for the sun was just plunging into a sea of mist, 
amongst some cirrhi and stratus, all in a blaze of 
the ruddiest coppery hue. As it sank, the Nepal 
peaks to the right assumed more definite, darker, and 
gigantic forms, and floods of light shot across the misty 
ocean, bathing the landscape around me in the most 
wonderful and indescribable changing tints. As the 
luminary was vanishing, the whole horizon glowed like 
copper run from a smelting furnace, and when it had 
quite disappeared, the little inequalities of the ragged edges 
of the mist were lighted up and shone like a row of 
volcanos in the far distance. I have never before or 
since seen anything, which for sublimity, beauty, and 
marvellous effects, could compare with what I gazed on 
that evening from Choonjerma pass. In some of Turner's 
pictures I have recognized similar effects, caught and fixed 
by a marvellous effort of genius ; such are the fleeting hues 
over the ice, in his "Whalers," and the ruddy fire in 
his " Wind, Steam, and Rain," which one almost fears to 
touch. Dissolving views give some idea of the magic 
creation and dispersion of the effects, but any combination 
of science and art can no more recal the scene, than 
it can the feelings . of awe that crept over me, during 
the hour I spent in solitude amongst these stupendous 

The moon guided us on our descent, which was to the 

Dec. 1848. MOUNTAIN TARN. CAMP. 267 

south, obliquely into the Yalloong valley. I was very 
uneasy about the coolies, who were far behind, and some of 
them had been frost-bitten in crossing the Kambachen pass. 
Still I thought the best thing was to push on, and light 
large fires at the first juniper we should reach. The change, 
on passing from off the snow to the dark earth and rock, 
was so bewildering, that I had great difficulty in picking 
my way. Suddenly we came on a flat with a small 
tarn, whose waters gleamed illusively in the pale moon- 
light : the opposite flanks of the valley were so well 
reflected on its gloomy surface, that we were at once 
brought to a stand-still on its banks : it looked like a 
chasm, and whether to jump across it, or go down it, or 
along it, was the question, so deceptive was the spectral 
landscape. Its true nature was, however, soon discovered, 
and we proceeded round it, descending. Of course there 
was no path, and after some perplexity amongst rocks 
and ravines, we reached the upper limit of wood, and 
halted by some bleached juniper-trees, which were soon 
converted into blazing fires. 

I wandered away from my party to listen for the voices 
of the men who had lingered behind, about whom I was 
still more anxious, from the very great difficulty they would 
encounter if, as we did, they should get off the path. The 
moon was shining clearly in the black heavens ; and its 
bright light, with the pale glare of the surrounding snow, 
obscured the milky way, and all the smaller stars ; whilst 
the planets appeared to glow with broader orbs than 
elsewhere, and the great stars flashed steadily and 

Deep black chasms seemed to yawn below, and cliffs rose 
on all sides, except down the valley, where looking across 
the Yalloong river, a steep range of mountains rose, seamed 

268 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XI. 

with torrents that were just visible like threads of silver 
coursing down broad landslips. It was a dead calm, and 
nothing broke the awful silence but the low hoarse 
murmur of many torrents, whose mingled voices rose 
and fell as if with the pulsations of the atmosphere ; the 
undulations of which appeared thus to be marked by 
the ear alone. Sometimes it was the faintest possible 
murmur, and then it rose swelling and filling the air 
with sound : the effect was that of being raised from 
the earth's surface, and again lowered to it ; or that of 
waters advancing and retiring. In such scenes and with 
such accompaniments, the mind wanders from the real 
to the ideal, the larger and brighter lamps of heaven lead 
us to imagine that we have risen from the surface of our 
globe and are floating through the regions of space, and 
that the ceaseless murmur of the waters is the Music of 
the Spheres. 

Contemplation amid such soothing sounds and impressive 
scenes is very seductive, and withal very dangerous, for the 
temperature was at freezing-point, my feet and legs were 
wet through, and it was well that I was soon roused from 
my reveries by the monosyllabic exclamations of my 
coolies. They were quite knocked up, and came along 
grunting, and halting every minute to rest, by supporting 
their loads, still hanging to their backs, on their stout 
staves. I had still one bottle of brandy left, with 
which to splice the main brace. It had been repeatedly 
begged for in vain, and being no longer expected, was 
received with unfeigned joy. Fortunately with these 
people a little spirits goes a long way, and I kept half for 
future emergencies. 

We camped at 13,290 feet, the air was calm and mild 
to the feeling, though the temperature fell to 22f°. On 

Dec. 1848. MUSK-DEER, OR KOSTURAH. 269 

the following morning we saw two musk-deer,* called 
" Kosturah" by the mountaineers. The musk, which hangs 
in a pouch near the navel of the male, is the well-known 
object of traffic with Bengal. This creature ranges between 
8000 and 13,000 feet, on the Himalaya, often scenting 
the air for many hundred yards. It is a pretty grey 
animal, the size of a roebuck, and something resembling it, 
with coarse fur, short horns, and two projecting teeth 
from the upper jaw, said to be used in rooting up the 
aromatic herbs from which the Bhoteeas believe that it 
derives the odour of musk. This I much doubt, because 
the animal never frequents those very lofty regions where 
the herbs supposed to provide the scent are found, nor 
have I ever seen signs of any having been so rooted up. 
The Delphinium glaciale smells strongly and disagreeably 
of musk, but it is one of the most alpine plants in the 
world, growing at an elevation of 17,000 feet, far above 
the limits of the Kosturah. The female and young male 
are very good eating, much better than any Indian venison 
I ever tasted, being sweet and tender. Mr. Hodgson 
once kept a female alive, but it was very wild, and continued 
so as long as I knew it. Two of my Lepchas gave chase 
to these animals, and fired many arrows in vain after them: 
these people are fond of carrying a bow, but are very 
poor shots. 

We descended 3000 feet to the deep valley of the 
alloong river which runs west-by-south to the Tambur, 
from between Junnoo and Kubra : the path was very bad, 
over quartz, granite, and gneiss, which cut the shoes and 
feet severely. The bottom of the valley, which is elevated 
10,450 feet, was filled with an immense accumulation of 

* Tli eve are two species of musk-deer in the Himalaya, besides the Tibctim 
kind, which appears identical with the Siberian animal originally described by 



Cha^. XI. 

angular gravel and debris of the above rocks, forming on 
both sides of the river a terrace 400 feet above the 
stream, which flowed in a furious torrent. The path led 
over this deposit for a good many miles, and varied 
exceedingly in height, in some places being evidently 
increased by landslips, and at others apparently by 




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 — View — Descent — 
Yew — Vegetation — Misty weather — Tongdam village — Khabang — Tropical 
vegetation — Sidingbah Mountain — View of Kinchinjunga — Yangyading village 
— Slopes of bills, 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 — Keception 
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 Ccdamus — Long Mendong — Burning of dead — Superstitions — 
Cross Great Rungeet — Boulders, origin of — Purchase of a dog — Marshes — 
Lamas — Dismiss Ghorkhas — Bhoteea house — Murwa beer. 

On arriving at the bottom we found a party who were 
travelling with sheep laden with salt ; they told us that 
the Yalloong village, which lay up the valley on the route 
to the Kanglanamo pass (leading over the south shoulder 
of Kubra into Sikkim) was deserted, the inhabitants 
having retired after the October fall of snow to Yankutang, 
two marches down ; also that the Kanglanamo pass was 
impracticable, being always blocked up by the October fall. 
I was, therefore, reluctantly obliged to abandon the plan of 
pursuing that route to Sikkim, and to go south, following 
the west flank of Singalelah to the first of the many passes 
over it which I might find open. 

These people were very civil, and gave me a handful of 
the root of one of the many bitter herbs called in Bengal 

272 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XII. 

" Teeta," and used as a febrifuge : the present was that 
of Picrorhiza, a plant allied to Speedwell, which grows at 
from 12,000 to 15,000 feet elevation, and is a powerful 
bitter, called " Hoonling" by the Tibetans. They had 
with them above 100 sheep, of a tall, long-legged, Roman- 
nosed breed. Each carried upwards of forty pounds of salt, 
done up in two leather bags, slung on either side, and 
secured by a band going over the chest, and another round 
the loins, so that they cannot slip off, when going up or 
down hill. These sheep are very tame, patient creatures, 
travelling twelve miles a day with great ease, and being 
indifferent to rocky or steep ground. 

Looking east I had a splendid view of the broad snowy 
mass of Kubra, blocking up, as it were, the head of the 
valley with a white screen. Descending to about 10,000 
feet, the Abies Brunoniana appeared, with fine trees of 
Rhododendron Falconeri forty feet high, and with leaves 
nineteen inches long ! while the upper part of the valley 
was full of Abies Webbiana. 

At the elevation of 9000 feet, we crossed to the east 
bank, and passed the junction of the gneiss and mica slate : 
the latter crossed the river, striking north-west, and the 
stream cut a dark chasm-like channel through it, foaming 
and dashing the spray over the splintered ridges, and 
the broad water- worn hog-backed masses that projected 
from its bed. Immense veins of granite permeated the 
rocks, which were crumpled in the strangest manner : 
isolated angular blocks of schist had been taken up by the 
granite in a fluid state, and remained imbedded in it. 

The road made great ascents to avoid landslips, and to 
surmount the enormous piles of debris which encumber 
this valley more than any other. We encamped at 
10,050 feet, on a little flat 1000 feet above the bed of the 

Dec. 1848. THE YALL00NG RIDGE. 273 

river, and on its east flank. A Hydrangea was the 
common small wood, but Abies Webbiana formed the 
forest, with great Rhododendrons. The weather was 
foggy, whence I judged that we were in the sea of mist I 
saw beneath me from the passes ; the temperature, con- 
sidering the elevation, was mild, 37° and 38°, which was 
partly due to the evolution of heat that accompanies the 
condensation of these vapours, the atmosphere being loaded 
with moisture. The thermometer fell to 28° during the 
night, and in the morning the ground was thickly covered 
with hoar-frost. 

December 7. — We ascended the Yalloong ridge to a 
saddle 11,000 feet elevation, whence the road dips south 
to the gloomy gorges of the eastern feeders of the 
Tambur. Here we bade adieu to the grand alpine scenery, 
and for several days our course lay in Nepal in a southerly 
direction, parallel to Singalelah, and crossing every spur 
and river sent off by that mighty range. The latter flow 
towards the Tambur, and their beds for forty or fifty 
miles are elevated about 3000 or 4000 feet. Pew of the 
spurs are ascended above 5000 feet, but all of them rise to 
12,000 or 14,000 feet to the westward, where they join 
the Singalelah range. 

I clambered to the top of a lofty hummock, through a 
dense thicket of interwoven Rhododendron bushes, the 
clayey soil under which was slippery from the quantity of 
dead leaves. I had hoped for a view of the top of 
Kinchinjunga, which bore north-east, but it was enveloped 
in clouds, as were all the snows in that direction ; to the 
north-west, however, I obtained bearings of the principal 
peaks, &c, of the Yangma and Kambachen valleys. To 
the south and south-east, lofty, rugged and pine-clad 
mountains rose in confused masses, and white sheets of 

VOL. I. T 

274 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XII. 

mist came driving up, clinging to the mountain-tops, and 
shrouding the landscape with extreme rapidity. The 
remarkable mountain of Sidingbah bore south-south-east, 
raising its rounded head above the clouds. I could, 
however, procure no other good bearing. 

The descent from the Yalloong ridge to the Khabili 
feeders of the Tambur was very steep, and in some places 
almost precipitous, first through dense woods of silver fir, 
with Rhod. Falconeri and Hodgsoni, then through Abies 
Brunoniana, with yew (now covered with red berries) to 
the region of Magnolias and Bhod. arbor emu and barbatum. 
One bush of the former was in flower, making a gorgeous 
show. Here also appeared the great oak with lamellated 
acorns, which I had not seen in the drier valleys to the 
westward ; with many other Dorjiling trees and shrubs. 
A heavy mist clung to the rank luxuriant foliage, tanta- 
lizing from its obscuring all the view. Mica schist replaced 
the gneiss, and a thick slippery stratum of clay rendered 
it very difficult to keep one's footing. After so many days 
of bright sunshine and dry weather, I found this quiet, 
damp, foggy atmosphere to have a most depressing effect ; 
there was little to interest in the meteorology, the atmo- 
spheric fluctuations being far too small ; geographical 
discovery was at an end, and we groped our way along 
devious paths in wooded valleys, or ascended spurs and 
ridges, always clouded before noon, and clothed with heavy 

At 6000 feet we emerged from the mist, and found 
ourselves clambering down a deep gully, hemmed in by 
frightful rocky steeps, which exposed a fine and tolerably 
continuous section of schistose rocks, striking north-west, 
and dipping north-east, at a very high angle. 

At the bottom three furious torrents met : we descended 

Dec. 1848. TONGHEM. KHABANG. 275 

the course of one of theui, over slanting precipices, or trees 
lashed to the rocks, and after a most winding course our 
path conducted us to the village of Tarbu, high above a 
feeder of the Khabili river, which flows west, joining the 
Tambur three days' march lower down. Having no food, 
we had made a very long and difficult march to this place, 
but finding none here, proceeded on to Tonghem village on 
the Khabili, descending through thickets of JRhod. arboreum 
to the elevation of 5,560. 

This village, or spur, called " Tonghem " by the Limboos, 
and " Yankutang " by the Bhoteeas, is the winter resort of 
the inhabitants of the upper Yalloong valley : they received 
us very kindly, sold us two fowls, and rice enough to last 
for one or two days, which was all they could spare, and 
gave me a good deal of information. I found that the 
Kanglanamo pass had been disused since the Xepal war, 
that it was very lofty, and always closed in October. 

The night was fine, clear, and warm, but the radiation 
so powerful that the grass was coated with ice the following 
morning, though the thermometer did not fall below 33°. 
The next day the sun rose with great power, and the vege- 
tation reeked and steamed with the heat. Crossing the 
river, we first made a considerable descent, and then 
ascended a ridge to 5,750 feet, through a thick jungle of 
Camellia, Enri/a, and small oak : from the top I obtained 
bearings of Yalloong and Choonjerma pass, and had also 
glimpses of the Kinchin range through a tantalizing jungle ; 
after which a very winding and fatiguing up-and-down 
march southwards brought us to the village of Khabang, in 
the magnificent valley of the Tawa, about 800 feet above 
the river, and 5,500 feet above the sea. 

I halted here for a day, to refresh the people, and if pos- 
sible to obtain some food. I hoped, too, to find a pass 

276 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XII. 

into Sikkim, east over Singalelah, but was disappointed : if 
there had ever been one, it had been closed since the Nepal 
war ; and there was none, for several marches further south, 
which would conduct us to the Iwa branch of the Khabili. 

Khabang is a village of Geroongs, or shepherds, who 
pasture their flocks on the hills and higher valleys during 
summer, and bring them down to this elevation in winter : 
the ground was consequently infested with a tick, equal in 
size to that so common in the bushes, and quite as trouble- 
some, but of a different species. 

The temperature rose to 72°, and the black -bulb thermo- 
meter to 140°. Magnolias and various almost tropical trees 
were common, and the herbaceous vegetation was that of 
low elevations. Large sugar-cane (Saccharum), palm (Wal- 
UcJria), and wild plantains grew near the river, and Rhod. 
arboreum was very common on dry slopes of mica-slate 
rocks, with the gorgeous and sweet-scented Luculia gra- 

Up the valley of the Tawa the view was very grand of a 
magnificent rocky mountain called Sidingbah, bearing south- 
east by south, on a spur of the Singalelah range that runs 
westerly, and forms the south flank of the Tawa, and the 
north of the Khabili valleys. This mountain is fully 12,000 
feet high, crested with rock and ragged black forest, which, 
on the north flank, extends to its base : to the eastward, 
the bare ridges of Singalelah were patched with snow, 
below which they too were clothed with black pines. 

From the opposite side of the Tawa to Khabang 
(alt. 6,020 feet), I was, during our march southwards, 
most fortunate in obtaining a splendid view of Kinchin- 
junga (bearing north-east by north), with its associates, 
rising over the dark mass of Singalelah, its flanks showing 
like tier above tier of green glaciers : its distance was fully 

Dec. 1848. VALLEY OF THE KHABILI. 277 

twenty-five miles, and as only about 7000 feet or 8000 feet 
from its summit were visible, and Kubra was foreshortened 
against it, its appearance was not grand ; added to which, 
its top was round and hummocky, not broken into peaks, 
as when seen from the south and east. Villages and 
cultivation became more frequent as we proceeded south- 
ward, and our daily marches were up ridges, and down 
into deep valleys, with feeders from the flanks of Sidingbah 
to the Tambur. We passed through the village of 
Tchonboong, and camped at Yangyading (4,100 feet), 
sighted Yamroop, a large village and military post to tlie 
west of our route, crossed the Pangwa river, and reached 
the valley of the Khabili. During this part of the journey, 
I did not once see the Tambur river, though I was day 
after day marching only seven to ten miles distant from 
it, so uneven is the country. The mountains around 
Taptiatok, Mywa Guola, and Chingtam, were pointed out 
to me, but they presented no recognizable feature. 

I often looked for some slope, or strike of the slopes of 
the spurs, in any one valley, or that should prevail through 
several, but could seldom trace any, except on one or two 
occasions, at low elevations. Looking here across the 
valleys, there was a tendency in the gentle slopes of the 
spurs to have plane faces dipping north-east, and to be 
bounded by a line of cliffs striking north-west, and facing 
the south-east. In such arrangements, the upheaved cliffs 
may be supposed to represent parallel lines of faults, dislo- 
cation, or rupture, but I could never trace any secondary 
valleys at right angles to these. There is no such uniformity 
of strike as to give to the rivers a zig-zag course of any 
regularity, or one having any apparent dependence on a 
prevailing arrangement of the rocks ; for, though the strike 
of the chlorite and clay-slate at elevations below 0000 fvct 

278 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XII. 

along its course, is certainly north-west, with a dip to north- 
east, the flexures of the river, as projected on the map, 
deviate very widely from these directions. 

The valley of the Khabili is very grand, broad, open, and 
intersected by many streams and cultivated spurs : the road 
from Yamroop to Sikkim, once well frequented, runs up its 
north flank, and though it was long closed we determined 
to follow and clear it. 

On the 11th of December we camped near the village of 
Sablakoo (4,680 feet), and procured five days' food, to last 
us as far as the first Sikkim village. Thence we proceeded 
eastward up the valley, but descending to the Iwa, an 
affluent of the Khabili, through a tropical vegetation of 
Pinus longifolia, PhyllantJius Emblica, dwarf date-palm, &c. 

Gneiss was here the prevailing rock, uniformly dipping 
north-east 20°, and striking north-west. The same rock 
no doubt forms the mass Sidingbah, which reared its head 
8000 feet above the Iwa river, by whose bed we camped at 
3,780 feet. Sand-flies abounded, and were most trouble- 
some: troops of large monkeys were skipping about, and the 
whole scene was thoroughly tropical ; still, the thermometer 
fell to 38° in the night, with heavy dew. 

Though we passed numerous villages, 1 found unusual 
difficulty in getting provision, and received none of the 
presents so uniformly brought by the villagers to a stranger. 
I was not long in discovering; to my great mortification, that 
these were appropriated by the Ghorkha Havildar, who 
seemed to have profited by our many days of short allow- 
ance, and diverted the current of hospitality from me to 
himself. His coolies I saw groaning under heavy burdens, 
when those of my people were light ; and the truth only 
came out when he had the impudence to attempt to impose 
a part of his coolies' loads on mine, to enable the former to 


carry more food, whilst he was pretending that he used every 
exertion to procure me a scanty supply of rice with my 
limited stock of money. I had treated this man and his 
soldiers with the utmost kindness, even nursing them and 
clothing them from my own stock of flannels, when sick and 
shivering amongst the snows. Though a high caste Hindoo, 
and one who assumed Brahmin rank, he had, I found, no 
objection to eat forbidden things in secret ; and now that 
we were travelling amongst Hindoos, his caste obtained 
him everything, while money alone availed me. I took 
him roundly to task for his treachery, which caused him 
secretly to throw away a leg of mutton he had concealed • I 
also threatened to expose the humbug of his pretension to 
caste, but it was then too late to procure more food. 
Having hitherto much liked this man, and fully trusted 
him, I was greatly pained by his conduct. 

We proceeded east for three days, up the valley, through 
gloomy forests of tropical trees below 5000 feet ; and 
ascended to oaks and magnolias at 6000 feet. The path 
was soon obstructed, and we had to tear and cut our 
way, from 6000 to 10,000 feet, which took two days' 
very hard work. Ticks swarmed in the small bamboo 
jungle, and my body was covered with these loathsome 
insects, which got into my bed and hair, and even attached 
themselves to my eyelids during the night, when the 
constant annoyance and irritation completely banished sleep. 
In the daytime they penetrated my trousers, piercing to my 
body in many places, so that I repeatedly took off as many 
as twelve at one time. It is indeed marvellous how so large 
an insect can painlessly insert a stout barbed proboscis, 
which requires great force to extract it, and causes severe 
smarting in the operation. What the ticks feed upon in 
these humid forests is a perfect mystery to me, for from 

280 EAST NEPAL. Chap. XII. 

6000 to 9000 feet they literally swarmed, where there was 
neither path nor animal life. They were, however, more 
tolerable than a commoner species of parasite, which I found 
it impossible to escape from, all classes of mountaineers 
being infested with it. 

On the 14th, after an arduous ascent through the path- 
less jungle, we camped at 9,300 feet on a narrow spur, in 
a dense forest, amongst immense loose blocks of gneiss. 
The weather was foggy and rainy, and the wind cold. I 
ate the last supply of animal food, a miserable starved 
pullet, with rice and Chili vinegar ; my tea, sugar, and all 
other superfluities having been long before exhausted. 

On the following morning, we crossed the Islumbo pass 
over Singalelah into Sikkim, the elevation being 11,000 
feet. Above our camp the trees were few and stunted, and 
we quickly emerged from the forest on a rocky and grassy 
ridge, covered with withered Saxifrages, Umbelliferce, 
Parnassia, Hypericum, 8fc. There were no pines on either 
side of the pass ; a very remarkable peculiarity of the 
damp mountains of Sikkim, which I have elsewhere had 
occasion to notice : we had left Pinus longi folia (a far from 
common tree in these valleys) at 3000 feet in the Tawa 
three days before, and ascended to 11,000 feet without 
passing a coniferous "tree of any kind, except a few yews, 
at 9000 feet, covered with red berries. 

The top of the pass was broad, grassy, and bushy with 
dwarf Bamboo, Rose, and Berberry, in great abundance, 
covered with mosses and lichens : it had been raining hard 
all the morning, and the vegetation was coated with ice : a 
dense fog obscured everything, and a violent south-east 
wind blew over the pass in our teeth. I collected 
some very curious and beautiful mosses, putting these 
frozen treasures into my box, in the form of exqui- 

Dec. 1848. KULHAIT VALLEY. 281 

sitely beautiful glass ornaments, or mosses frosted with 

A few stones marked the boundary between Nepal and 
Sikkim, where I halted for half an hour, and hung up my 
instruments : the temperature was 32°. 

We descended rapidly, proceeding eastward down the 
broad valley of the Kulhait river, an affluent of the Great 
Rungeet ; and as it had begun to sleet and snow hard, we 
continued until we reached 6,400 feet before camping. 

On the following day we proceeded down the valley, and 
reached habitations at 4000 feet : passing many villages 
and much cultivation, we crossed the river, and ascended 
by 7 p.m., to the village of Lingcham, just below the con- 
vent of Changachelling, very tired and hungry. Bad 
weather had set in, and it was pitch dark and raining hard 
when we arrived ; but the Kajee, or head man, had sent out 
a party with torches to conduct us, and he gave us a most 
hospitable reception, honoured us with a salute of musketry, 
and brought abundance of milk, eggs, fowls, plantains, and 
Murwa beer. Plenty of news was awaiting me here, and 
a messenger with letters was three marches further north, 
at Yoksun, waiting my expected return over the Kangla- 
namo pass. Dr. Campbell, I was told, had left Dorjiling, 
and was en route to meet the Rajah at Bhomsong on the 
Teesta river, where no European had ever yet been ; and 
as the Sikkim authorities had for sixteen years steadily 
rejected every overture for a friendly interview, and 
even refused to allow the agent of the Govern or- General 
to enter their dominions, it was evident that grave doings 
were pending. I knew that ©r. Campbell had long 
used every exertion to bring the Sikkim Rajah to a 
friendly conference, without having to force his way into 
the country for the purpose, but in vain. It will hardly 


be believed that though this chiefs dominions were 
redeemed by us from the Nepalese and given back to 
him ; though we had bound ourselves by a treaty to sup- 
port him on his throne, and to defend him against the 
Nepalese on the west, the Bhotan people on the east, and 
the Tibetans on the north ; and though the terms of the 
treaty stipulated for free intercourse, mutual protection, 
and friendship ; the Sikkim authorities had hitherto been 
allowed to obstruct all intercourse, and in every way to 
treat the Governor- General's agent and the East India 
Company with contempt. An affectation of timidity, mis- 
trust, and ignorance was assumed for the purpose of 
deception, and as a cloak for every insult and resistance 
to the terms of our treaty, and it was quoted by the 
Government in answer to every remonstrance on the part 
of their resident agent at Dorjiling. 

On the following morning the Kajee waited on me with 
a magnificent present of a calf, a kid, fowls, eggs, rice, 
oranges, plantains, egg-apples, Indian corn, yams, onions, 
tomatos, parsley, fennel, turmeric, rancid butter, milk, 
and, lastly, a coolie-load of fermenting millet-seeds, where- 
with to make the favourite Murwa beer. In the evening 
two lads arrived from Dorjiling, who had been sent a 
week beforehand by my kind and thoughtful friend, 
Mr. Hodgson, with provisions and money. 

The valley of the Kulhait is one of the finest in Sikkim, 
and it is accordingly the site of two of the oldest and richest 
conventual establishments. Its length is sixteen miles, 
from the Islumbo pass to the Great Rungeet, for ten of 
which it is inhabited, the villages being invariably on long 
meridional spurs that project north and south from either 
flank ; they are about 2000 feet above the river, and from 
4,500 to 5000 feet above the sea. Except where these 


spurs project, the flanks of the valley are very steep, the 
mountains rising to 7000 or 8000 feet. 

Looking from any spur, up or down the valley, five or 
six others might be seen on each side of the river, at very 
nearly the same average level, all presenting great uniformity 
of contour, namely, a gentle slope towards the centre of 
the valley, and then an abrupt descent to the river. They 
were about a quarter of a mile broad at the widest, and 
often narrower, and a mile or so long } some parts of their 
surfaces and sides were quite flat, and occasionally occupied 
by marshes or ponds. Cultivation is almost confined to 
these spurs, and is carried on both on their summits and 
steep flanks ; between every two is a very steep gulley 
and water-course. The timber has long since been either 
wholly or partially cleared from the tops, but, to a great 
extent, still clothes their flanks and the intervening gorges. 
I have been particular in describing these spurs, because 
it is impossible to survey them without ascribing their com- 
parative uniformity of level to the action of water. Similar 
ones are characteristic features of the valleys of Sikkim 
between 2000 and 8000 feet, and are rendered conspicuous 
by being always sites for villages and cultivation : the soil 
is a vegetable mould, over a deep stratum of red clay. 

I am far from supposing that any geologically recent 
action of the sea has levelled these spurs ; but as the great 
chain of the Himalaya has risen from the ocean, and as 
every part of it has been subjected to sea-action, it is quite 
conceivable that intervals of rest during the periods of 
elevation or submergence would effect their levelling. In 
a mountain mass so tumbled as is that of Sikkim, any level 
surface, or approach to it, demands study ; and when, as 
in the Kulhait valley, we find several similar spurs with 
comparatively flat tops, to occupy about the same level, it 


is necessary to look for some levelling cause. The action 
of denudation is still progressing with astonishing rapidity, 
under an annual fall of from 100 to 150 inches of rain ; 
but its tendency is to obliterate all such phenomena, and 
to give sharp, rugged outlines to these spurs, in spite of the 
conservative effects of vegetation. 

The weather at Lingcham was gloomy, cold, and damp, 
with much rain and fog, and the mean temperature (45J°) 
was cold for the elevation (4,860 feet) : 52^° was the 
highest temperature observed, and 39° the lowest. 

A letter from Dr. Campbell reached me three days 
after my arrival, begging me to cross the country to 
the Teesta river, and meet him at Bhomsong, on its 
west bank, where he was awaiting my arrival. I 
therefore left on the 20th of December, accompanied by 
my friend the Kajee, who was going to pay his respects 
to the Rajah. He was constantly followed by a lad, 
carrying a bamboo of Murwa beer slung round his neck, 
with which he kept himself always groggy. His dress 
was thoroughly Lepcha, and highly picturesque, consisting 
of a very broad-brimmed round-crowned bamboo-platted 
hat, scarlet jacket, and blue-striped cloth shirt, bare feet, 
long knife, bow and quiver, rings and earrings, and a long 
pigtail. He spoke no Hindoostanee, but was very com- 
municative through my interpreters. 

Leaving the Lingcham spur, we passed steep cliffs of 
mica and schist, covered with brushwood and long grass, 
about 1000 feet above which the Changachelling convent is 
perched. Crossing a torrent, we came to the next village, 
on the spur of Kurziuk, where I was met by a deputation 
of women, sent by the Lamas of Changachelling, bearing 
enormous loads of oranges, rice, milk, butter, ghee, and the 
everflowing Murwa beer. 


The villagers had erected a shady bower for me to rest 
under, of leaves and branches, and had fitted up a little 
bamboo stage, on which to squat cross-legged as they do, or 
to hang my legs from, if I preferred : after conducting me to 
this, the parties advanced and piled their cumbrous presents 
on the ground, bowed, and retired ; they were succeeded by 
the beer-carrier, who plunged a clean drinking-tube to the 
bottom of the steaming bamboo jug (described at p. 175), 
and held it to my mouth, then placing it by my side, he 
bowed and withdrew. Nothing can be more fascinating 
than the simple manners of these kind people, who really 
love hospitality for its own sake, and make the stranger 
feel himself welcome. Just now too, the Durbar had 
ordered every attention to be paid me; and I hardly 
passed a village, however small, without receiving a pre- 
sent, or a cottage, where beer was not offered. This I 
found a most grateful beverage ; and of the occasional 
rests under leafy screens during a hot day's march, and sips 
at the bamboo jug, I shall ever retain a grateful remem- 
brance. Happily the liquor is very weak, and except by 
swilling, as my friend the Kajee did, it would be impossible 
to get fuddled by it. 

At Kurziuk I was met by a most respectable Lepcha, 
who, as a sort of compliment, sent his son to escort us to 
the next village and spur of Pemiongchi, to reach which 
we crossed another gorge, of which the situation and features 
were quite similar to those of Kurziuk and Lingcham. 

The Pemiongchi and Changachelling convents and 
temples stand a few miles apart, on the ridge forming the 
north flank of the Kulhait valley ; and as they will be 
described hereafter, I now only allude to the village, which 
is fully 1000 feet below the convent, and large and populous. 

At Pemiongchi a superior Lama met me with another 



Chap. XII. 

overwhelming present : he was a most jolly fat monk, shaven 
and girdled, and' dressed in a scarlet gown : my Lepchas 
kotowed to him, and he blessed them by the laying on of 

There is a marsh on this spur, full of the common 
English Acorns Calamus, or sweet-flag, whose roots being 


very aromatic, are used in griping disorders of men and 
cattle. Hence we descended suddenly to the Great Rungeet, 
which we reached at its junction with the Kulhait : the path 
was very steep and slippery, owing to micaceous rocks, and 
led along the side of an enormous Mendong,* which ran 

* This remarkable structure, called the Kaysing Mendong, is 200 yards long, 
10 feet high, and 6 or 8 feet broad : it is built of flat, slaty stones, and both 

Dec. 1848. THE KAYSING MEND0NG. 287 

clown the hill for several hundred yards, and had a large 
chait at each end, with several smaller ones at intervals. 
Throughout its length were innumerable inscriptions of 
" Om Mani Padmi om," with well carved figures of Boodh 
in his many incarnations, besides Lamas, &c. At the 
lower end was a great flat area, on which are burnt the 
bodies of Sikkim people of consequence i the poorer people 
are buried, the richer burned, and their ashes scattered or 
interred, but not in graves proper, of which there are none. 
Nor are there any signs of Lepcha interment throughout 
Sikkim ; though chaits are erected to the memory of the 
departed, they have no necessary connection with the 
remains, and generally none at all. Corpses in Sikkim 
are never cut to pieces and thrown into lakes, or exposed 
on hills for the kites and crows to devour, as is the case 
in Tibet. 

We passed some curious masses of crumpled chlorite 
slate, presenting deep canals or furrows, along which 
a demon once drained all the water from the Pemiongchi 
spur, to the great annoyance of the villagers : the Lamas, 
however, on choosing this as a site for their temples, easily 
confounded the machinations of the evil spirit, who, in the 
eyes of the simple Lepchas, was answerable for all the 

I crossed the Great Rungeet at 1840 feet above the 
sea, where its bed was twenty yards in width ; a rude 
bridge, composed of two culms of bamboo and a hand- 
rail, conducted me to the other side, where we camped 
(on the east bank) in a thick tropical jungle. In the evening 

faces are covered with inscribed slates, of which there are upwards of 700, and 
the inscriptions, chiefly " Om Mani," &c, are in both the Uchen and Lencha 
Ranja characters of Tibet. A tall stone, nine feet high, covered also with 
inscriptions, terminates it at the lower end. 


I walked down the banks of the river, which flowed in a 
deep gorge, cumbered with enormous boulders of granite, 
clay-slate, and mica-slate ; the rocks in situ were all of 
the latter description, highly inclined, and much dislocated. 
Some of the boulders were fully ten feet in diameter, per- 
meated and altered very much by granite veins which had 
evidently been injected when molten, and had taken up 
angular masses of the chlorite which remained, as it were, 
suspended in the veins. 

It is not so easy to account for the present position of these 
blocks of granite, a rock not common at elevations below 
10,000 feet. They have been transported from a consi- 
derable distance in the interior of the lofty valley to the 
north, and have descended not less than 8000 feet, and 
travelled fully fifteen miles in a straight line, or perhaps 
forty along the river bed. It may be supposed that 
moraines have transported them to 8000 feet (the lowest 
limit of apparent moraines), and the power of river water 
carried them further ; if so, the rivers must have been of 
much greater volume formerly than they are now. 

Our camp was on a gravel flat, like those of the Nepal 
valleys, about sixty feet above the river ; its temperature was 
52°, which felt cool when bathing. 

From the river we proceeded west, following a steep 
and clayey ascent up the end of a very long spur, from the 
lofty mountain range called Mungbreu, dividing the Great 
Rungeet from the Teesta. We ascended by a narrow path, 
accomplishing 2,500 feet in an hour and a quarter, walking 
slowly but steadily, without resting ; this I always found a 
heavy pull in a hot climate. 

At about 4000 feet above the sea, the spur became more 
open and flat, like those of the Kulhait valley, with alter- 
nate slopes and comparative flats : from this elevation the 


view north, south, and west, was very fine ; below us flowed 
the river, and a few miles up it was the conical wooded hill 
of Tassiding, rising abruptly from a fork of the deep river 
gorge, crowned with its curious temples and men don gs, 
and bristling with chaits : on it is the oldest monastery in 
Sikkim, occupying a singularly picturesque and prominent 
position. North of this spur, and similar to it, lay that of 
Raklang, with the temple and monastery of the same name, 
at about this elevation. In front, looking west, across 
the Great Rungeet, were the monasteries of Changa- 
chelling and Pemiongchi, perched aloft ; and south of these 
were the flat-topped spurs of the Kulhait valley, with their 
villages, and the great mendong which I had passed on the 
previous day, running like a white line down the spur. 
To the north, beyond Tassiding, were two other monaste- 
ries, Doobdee and Sunnook, both apparently placed on the 
lower wooded flanks of Kinchinjunga ; whilst close by was 
Dholing, the seventh religious establishment now in sight. 

We halted at a good wooden house to refresh ourselves 
with Murwa beer, where I saw a woman with cancer in the 
face, an uncommon complaint in this country. I here bought 
a little black puppy, to be my future companion in Sikkim : 
he was of a breed between the famous Tibet mastiff and 
the common Sikkim hunting- dog, which is a variety of the 
sorry race called Pariah in the plains. Being only a few 
weeks old, he looked a mere bundle of black fur; and I 
carried him off, for he could not walk. 

We camped at the village of Lingdam (alt. 5,550 feet), 
occupying a flat, and surrounded by extensive pools of 
water (for this country) containing Acorus, Potamogeton, 
and duckweed. Such ponds I have often met with on these 
terraces, and they are very remarkable, not being dammed 
in by any conspicuous barrier, but simply occupying 

VOL. I. U 


depressions in the surface, from which, as I have repeatedly 
observed, the land clips rapidly to the valleys below. 

This being the high-road from Tumloong or Sikkim 
Durbar (the capital, and Rajah's residence) to the numerous 
monasteries which I had seen, we passed many Lamas 
and monks on their way home from Tumloong, where 
they had gone to be present at the marriage of the 
Tupgain Lama, the eldest son of the Rajah. A dispensation 
having previously been procured from Lhassa, this marriage 
had been effected by the Lamas, in order to counteract the 
efforts of the Dewan, who sought to exercise an undue 
influence over the Rajah and his family. The Tupgain 
Lama having only spiritual authority, and being bound to 
celibacy, the temporal authority devolved on the second son, 
who was heir apparent of Sikkim ; he, however, having 
died, an illegitimate son of the Rajah was favoured by 
the Dewan as heir apparent. The bride was brought 
from Tibet, and the marriage party were feasted for eighteen 
days at the Rajah's expense. All the Lamas whom I met 
were clad in red robes, with girdles, and were shaven, with 
bare feet and heads, or mitred ; they wore rosaries of onyx, 
turquoise, quartz, lapis lazuli, coral, glass, amber, or wood, 
especially yellow berberry and sandal-wood : some had 
staves, and one a trident like an eel-fork, on a long staff, 
an emblem of the Hindoo Trinity, called Trisool Mahadeo, 
which represents Brahma, Siva, and Vishnu, in Hindoo; 
and Boodh, Dhurma, and Sunga, in Boodhist theology. 
All were on foot, indeed ponies are seldom used in this 
country ; the Lamas, however, walked with becoming 
gravity and indifference to all around them. 

The Kajee waited upon me in the evening, full of import- 
ance, having just received a letter from his Rajah, which he 
wished to communicate to me in private ; so I accompanied 
him to a house close by, where he was a guest, when the 

Dec. 1848. 



secret came out, that his highness was dreadfully alarmed 
at my coming with the two Ghorka Sepoys, whom I 
accordingly dismissed. 

The house was of the usual Bhoteea form, of wood, well 
built on posts, one-storied, containing a single apartment 
hung round with bows, quivers, shields, baskets of rice, and 
cornucopias of Indian corn, the handsomest and most 
generous looking of all the Cerealia. The whole party 
were deep in a carouse on Murwa beer, and I saw the 
operation of making it. The millet-seed is moistened, 
and ferments for two clays : sufficient for a day's allowance 
is then put into a vessel of wicker-work, lined with India- 
rubber to make it water-tight ; and boiling water is poured 
on it with a ladle of gourd, from a huge iron cauldron 
that stands all day over the fire. The fluid, when quite 
fresh, tastes like negus of Cape sherry, rather sour. At 
this season the whole population are swilling, whether at 
home or travelling, and heaps of the red-brown husks are 
seen by the side of all the paths. 



Raklang pass — Uses of nettles — Edible plants — Lepclia war — Do-mani stone — 
Neongong — Teesta valley — Pony, saddle, &c. — 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, &c. 
— Geology — Vapours — Sunset effect — Elevation — Temperature, &c. — Lamas 
of Neongong — Temples — Religious festival — Bamboo, flowering — Recross pass 
of Raklang — Numerous temples, villages, &c. — Domestic animals — Descent 
to Great Run gee t. 

On the following morning, after receiving the usual presents 
from the Lamas of Dholing, and from a large posse of 
women belonging to the village of Barphiung, close by, 
we ascended the Raklang pass, which crosses the range 
dividing the waters of the Teesta from those of the Great 
Rungeet. The Kajee still kept beside me, and proved a 
lively companion : seeing me continually plucking and 
noting plants, he gave me much local information about 
them. He told me the uses made of the fibres of the 
various nettles; some being twisted for bowstrings, others as 
thread for sewing and weaving ; while many are eaten raw 
and in soups, especially the numerous little succulent species. 
The great yellow-flowered Begonia was abundant, and he cut 
its juicy stalks to make sauce (as we do apple-sauce) for 
some pork which he expected to get at Bhomsong ; the taste 

Dec. 1848. RAKLANG PASS. 293 

is acid and very pleasant. The large succulent fern, called 
Botrychium* grew here plentifully ; it is boiled and eaten, 
both here and in New Zealand. Ferns are more commonly 
used for food than is supposed. In Calcutta the Hindoos 
boil young tops of a Polypodium with their shrimp curries ; 
and both in Sikkim and Nepal the watery tubers of an 
Jspidium are abundantly eaten. So also the pulp of one 
tree-fern affords food, but only in times of scarcity, as does 
that of another species in New Zealand {Cyathea meduttaris): 
the pith of all is composed of a coarse sago, that is to say, 
of cellular tissue with starch granules. 

A thick forest of Dorjiling vegetation covers the summit, 
which is only 6,800 feet above the sea : it is a saddle, 
connecting the lofty mountain of Mainom (alt. 11,000 feet) 
to the North, with Tendong (alt. 8,663 feet) to the south. 
Both these mountains are on a range which is con- 
tinuous with Kinchinjunga, projecting from it down into 
the very heart of Sikkim. A considerable stand was made 
here by the Lepchas during the Nepal war in 1787 ; they 
defended the pass with their arrows for some hours, and 
then retired towards the Teesta, making a second stand 
lower down, at a place pointed out to me, where rocks on 
either side gave them the same advantages. The Nepalese, 
however, advanced to the Teesta, and then retired with 
little loss. 

Unfortunately a thick mist and heavy rain cut off all 
view of the Teesta valley, and the mountains of Chola to 
the eastward ; which I much regretted. 

Descending by a very steep, slippery path, we came to a 

* Botrychium Virginicum, Linn. This fern is eaten abundantly by the New 
Zealanders : its distribution is most remarkable, being found very rarely indeed 
in Europe, and in Norway only. It abounds in many parts of the Southern 
United States, the Andes of Mexico, &c., in the Himalaya mountains, Australia. 
and New Zealand. 



Chap. XIII. 

fine mass of slaty gneiss, thirty feet long and thirteen feet 
high ; not in situ, bnt lying on the mountain side : on its 
sloping face was carved in enormous characters, " Om Mani 
Padmi om ; " of which letters the top-strokes afford an 
uncertain footing to the enthusiast who is willing to pur- 
chase a good metempsychosis by walking along the slope, 
with his heels or toes in their cavities. A small inscription 
in one corner is said to imply that this was the work of a 
pious monk of Raklang ; and the stone is called " Do-mani," 
literally, " stone of prayer." 


The rocks and peaks of Mainom are said to overhang the 
descent here with grandeur ; but the continued rain hid 
everything but a curious shivered peak, apparently of chlorite 
schist, which was close by, and reflected a green colour : 
it is of course reported to be of turquoise, and inaccessible. 


Descending, the rocks became more micaceous, with broad 
seams of pipe-clay, originating in decomposed beds of 
felspathic gneiss : the natives used this to whitewash and 
mortar their temples. 

I passed the monastery of Neongong, the monks of 
which were building a new temple ; and came to bring 
me a large present. Below it is a pretty little lake, about 
100 yards across, fringed with brushwood. We camped 
at the village of Nampok, 4,370 feet above the sea ; all 
thoroughly sodden with rain. 

During the night much snow had fallen at and above 
9000 feet, but the weather cleared on the following 
morning, and disclosed the top of Mainom, rising close 
above my camp, in a series of rugged shivered peaks, crested 
with pines, which looked like statues of snow : to all 
other quarters this mountain presents a very gently sloping 
outline. Up the Teesta valley there was a pretty peep of 
snowy mountains, bearing north 35° east, of no great 

I was met by a messenger from Dr. Campbell, who told 
me he was waiting breakfast ; so I left my party, and, 
accompanied by the Kajee and Meepo, hurried down to the 
valley of the Kungoon (which flows east to the Teesta), 
through a fine forest of tropical trees ; passing the villages 
of Broom * and Lingo, to the spur of that name ; where I 
was met by a servant of the Sikkim Dewan's, with a pony 
for my use. I stared at the animal, and felt inclined to 
ask what he had to do here, where it was difficult enough 

* On the top of the ridge above Broom, a tall stone is erected by the side of the 
path, covered, with private marks, indicating the height of various individuals 
who are accustomed, to measure themselves thus ; there was but one mark above 
5 feet 7 inches, and that was 6 inches higher. It turned out to be Campbell's, 
who had passed a few days before, and was thus proved to top the natives of 
Sikkim by a long way. 


to walk up and down slippery slopes, amongst boulders of 
rock, heavy forest, and foaming torrents ; but I was little 
aware of what these beasts could accomplish. The Tartar 
saddle was imported from Tibet, and certainly a curiosity ; 
once — but a long time ago — it must have been very hand- 
some; it was high -peaked, covered with shagreen and silvered 
ornaments, wretchedly girthed, and with great stirrups 
attached to short leathers. The bridle and head-gear were 
much too complicated for description ; there were good 
leather, raw hide, hair-rope, and scarlet worsted all brought 
into use ; the bit was the ordinary Asiatic one, jointed, 
and with two rings. I mounted on one side, and at once 
rolled over, saddle and all, to the other ; the pony standing 
quite still. I preferred walking ; but Dr. Campbell had 
begged of me to use the pony, as the Dewan had procured 
and sent it at great trouble : I, however, had it led till I 
was close to Bhomsong, when I was hoisted into the 
saddle and balanced on it, with my toes in the stirrups 
and my knees up to my breast ; twice, on the steep 
descent to the river, my saddle and I were thrown on the 
pony's neck ; in these awkward emergencies I was assisted 
by a man on each side, who supported my weight on my 
elbows : they seemed well accustomed to easing mounted 
ponies down hill without giving the rider the trouble of 
dismounting. Thus I entered Dr. Campbell's camp at 
Bhomsong, to the pride and delight of my attendants ; and 
received a hearty welcome from my old friend, who covered 
me with congratulations on the successful issue of a 
journey which, at this season, and under such difficulties 
and discouragements, he had hardly thought feasible. 

Dr. Campbell's tent was pitched in an orange-grove, 
occupying a flat on the west bank of the Teesta, close to a 
small enclosure" of pine-apples, with a pomegranate tree in 


the middle. The valley is very narrow, and the vegetation 
wholly tropical, consisting of two species of oak, several 
palms, rattan-cane (screw-pine), Pandanus, tall grasses, 
and all the natives of dense hot jungles. The river is a 
grand feature, broad, rocky, deep, swift, and broken by 
enormous boulders of rock ; its waters were of a pale opal 
green, probably from the materials of the soft micaceous 
rocks through which it flows. 

A cane bridge crosses it,* but had been cut away (in 
feigned distrust of us), and the long canes were streaming 
from their attachments on either shore down the stream, 
and a triangular raft of bamboo was plying instead, drawn 
to and fro by means of a strong cane. 

Soon after arriving I received a present from the Rajah, 
consisting of a brick of Tibet tea, eighty pounds of rancid 
yak butter, in large squares, done up in yak-hair cloth, 
three loads of rice, and one of Murwa for beer ; rolls of 
bread, f fowls, eggs, dried plums, apricots, jujubes, 
currants, and Sultana raisins, the latter fruits purchased 
at Lhassa, but imported thither from western Tibet ; 
also some trays of coarse milk-white crystallised salt, as 
dug in Tibet. 

In the evening we were visited by the Dewan, the head 
and front of all our Sikkim difficulties, whose influence was 
paramount with the Rajah, owing to the age and infirmities 
of the latter, and his devotion to religion, which absorbed 
all his time and thoughts. The Dewan was a good-looking 
Tibetan, very robust, fair, muscular and well fleshed ; he 
had a very broad Tartar face, quite free of hair ; a small and 
beautifully formed mouth and chin, very broad cheekbones, 

* Whence the name of Bhomsong Samdong, the latter word meaning bridge. 

t These rolls, or rather, sticks of bread, are made in Tibet, of fine wheaten 
flour, and keep for a long time : they are sweet and good, but very dirtily 


and a low, contracted forehead : his manners were courteous 
and polite, but evidently affected, in assumption of better 
breeding than he could in reality lay claim to. The Rajah 
himself was a Tibetan of just respectable extraction, a native 
of the Sokpo province, north of Lhassa : his Dewan was 
related to one of his wives, and I believe a Lhassan by 
birth as well as extraction, having probably also Kashmir 
blood in him.* Though minister, he was neither financier 
nor politician, but a mere plunderer of Sikkim, introducing 
his relations, and those whom he calls so, into the best estates 
in the country, and trading in great and small wares, from a 
Tibet pony to a tobacco pipe, wholesale and retail. Neither 
he nor the Rajah are considered worthy of notice by the 
best Tibet families or priests, or by the Chinese commis- 
sioners settled in Lhassa and Jigatzi. The latter regard 
Sikkim as virtually English, and are contented with knowing 
that its ruler has no army, and with believing that its pro- 
tectors, the English, could not march an army across the 
Himalaya if they would. 

The Dewan, trading in wares which we could supply 
better and cheaper, naturally regarded us with repugnance, 
and did everything in his power to thwart Dr. Campbell's 
attempts to open a friendly communication between the 
Sikkim and English governments. The Rajah owed every- 
thing to us, and was, I believe, really grateful ; but he was 
a mere cipher in the hands of his minister. The priests 
again, while rejoicing in our proximity, were apathetic, and 
dreaded the more active Dewan ; and the people had long 
given evidence of their confidence in the English. Under 
these circumstances it was in the hope of gaining the 
Rajah's own ear, and representing to him the advantages 

* The Tibetans court promiscuous intercourse between their families and the 
Kashmir merchants who traverse their country. 


of promoting an intercourse with us, and the danger of con- 
tinuing to violate the terms of our treaty, that Dr. Campbell 
had been authorised by government to seek an interview 
with His Highness. At present our relations were singu- 
larly infelicitous. There was no agent on the Sikkim 
Rajah's part to conduct business at Dorjiling, and the 
Dewan insisted on sending a creature of his own, who had 
before been dismissed for insolence. Malefactors who 
escaped into Sikkim were protected, and our police inter- 
rupted in the discharge of their duties ; slavery was prac- 
tised ; and government communications were detained for 
weeks and months under false pretences. 

In his interviews with us the Dewan appeared to advan- 
tage : he was fond of horses and shooting, and prided him- 
self on his hospitality. We gained much information from 
many conversations with him, during which politics were 
never touched upon. Our queries naturally referred to 
Tibet and its geography, especially its great feature the 
Yarou Tsampoo river ; this he assured us was the Burram- 
pooter of Assam, and that no one doubted it in that country. 
Lhassa he described as a city in the bottom of a flat-floored 
valley, surrounded by lofty snowy mountains: neither grapes, 
tea, silk, or cotton are produced near it, but in the Tartchi 
province of Tibet, one month's journey east of Lhassa, rice, 
and a coarse kind of tea are both grown. Two months' 
journey north-east of Lhassa is Siling, the well-known great 
commercial entrepot* in west China ; and there coarse silk 
is produced. All Tibet he described as mountainous, and 
an inconceivably poor country : there are no plains, save flats 
in the bottoms of the valleys, and the paths lead over lofty 
mountains. Sometimes, when the inhabitants are obliged 
from famine to change their habitations in winter, the old 

* The entrepot is now removed to Tang-Keou-Eul. — See Hue and Gabet. 


and feeble are frozen to death, standing and resting their 
chins on their staves ; remaining as pillars of ice, to fall 
only when the thaw of the ensuing spring commences. 

We remained several days at Bhomsong, awaiting an 
interview with the Rajah, whose movements the Dew an 
kept shrouded in mystery. On Dr. Campbell's arrival 
at this river a week before, he found messengers waiting 
to inform him that the Rajah would meet him here ; 
this being half way between Dorjiling and Tumloong. 
Thenceforward every subterfuge was resorted to by the 
Dewan to frustrate the meeting ; and even after the 
arrival of the Rajah on the east bank, the Dewan com- 
municated with Dr. Campbell by shooting across the 
river arrows to which were attached letters, containing 
every possible argument to induce him to return to 
Dorjiling ; such as that the Rajah was sick at Tumloong, 
that he was gone to Tibet, that he had a religious fast and 
rites to perform, &c. &c. 

One day we walked up the Teesta to the Rumphiup 
river, a torrent from Mainom mountain to the west ; the 
path led amongst thick jungle of WallicMa palm, prickly 
rattan canes, and the Pandanns, or screw-pine, called 
" Borr," which has a straight, often forked, palm-like trunk, 
and an immense crown of grassy saw-edged leaves four 
feet long : it bears clusters of uneatable fruit as large as a 
man's fist, and their similarity to the pine-apple has 
suggested the name of " Borr " for the latter fruit also, 
which has for many years been cultivated in Sikkim, and 
yields indifferent produce. Beautiful pink balsams covered 
the ground, but at this season few other showy plants 
were in flower : the rocks were chlorite, very soft and 
silvery, and so curiously crumpled and contorted as to 
appear as though formed of scales of mica crushed together, 

Dec. 1848. AUDIENCE WITH RAJAH. 301 

and confusedly arranged in layers : the strike was north- 
west, and dip north-east from 60° to 70°. 

Messengers from the Dewan overtook us at the river to 
announce that the Rajah was prepared and waiting to give 
us a reception ; so we returned, and I borrowed a coat 
from Dr. Campbell instead of my tattered shooting-jacket ; 
and we crossed the river on the bamboo-raft. As it is the 
custom on these occasions to exchange presents, I was 
officially supplied with some red cloth and beads : these, as 
well as Dr. Campbell's present, should only have been 
delivered during or after the audience ; but our wily friend 
the Dewan here played us a very shabby trick ; for he 
managed that our presents should be stealthily brought in 
before our appearance, thus giving to the by-standers the 
impression of our being tributaries to his Highness ! 

The audience chamber was a mere roofed shed of neat 
bamboo wattle, about twenty feet long : two Bhoteeas in 
scarlet jackets, and with bows in their hands, stood on 
each side of the door, and our own chairs were carried 
before us for our accommodation. Within was a square 
wicker throne, six feet high, covered with purple silk, 
brocaded with dragons in white and gold, and overhung 
by a canopy of tattered blue silk, with which material part 
of the walls also was covered. An oblong box (containing 
papers) with gilded dragons on it, was placed on the stage or 
throne, and behind it was perched cross-legged, an odd, 
black, insignificant looking old man, with twinkling upturned 
eyes : he was swathed in yellow silk, and wore on his head 
a pink silk hat with a flat broad crown, from all sides of 
which hung floss silk. This was the Rajah, a genuine 
Tibetan, about seventy years old. On some steps close by, 
and ranged down the apartment, were his relations, all in 
brocaded silk robes reaching from the throat to the ground, 


and girded about the waist ; and wearing caps similar to 
that of the Rajah. Kajees, counsellors, and shaven mitred 
Lamas were there, to the number of twenty, all planted 
with their backs to the wall, mute and motionless as 
statues. A few spectators were huddled together at the 
lower end of the room, and a monk waved about an incense 
pot containing burning juniper and other odoriferous 
plants. Altogether the scene was solemn and impressive : 
as Campbell well expressed it, the genius of Lamaism 
reigned supreme. 

We saluted, but received no complimentary return ; our 
chairs were then placed, and we seated ourselves, when the 
Dewan came in, clad in a superb purple silk robe, worked 
with circular gold figures, and formally presented us. The 
Dewan then stood ; and as the Rajah did not understand 
Hincloostanee, our conversation was carried on through the 
medium of a little bare-headed rosy-cheeked Lama, named 
" Tchebu," clad in a scarlet gown, who acted as interpreter. 
The conversation was short and constrained : Tchebu was 
known as a devoted servant of the Rajah and of the heir 
apparent ; and in common with all the Lamas he hates the 
Dewan, and desires a friendly intercourse between Sikkim 
and Dorjiling. He is, further, the only servant of the 
Rajah capable of conversing both in Hindoo and Tibetan, 
and the uneasy distrustful look of the Dewan, who under- 
stands the latter language only, was very evident. He was 
as anxious to hurry over the interview, as Dr. Campbell and 
Tchebu were to protract it ; it was clear, therefore, that 
nothing satisfactory could be done under such auspices. 

As a signal for departure white silk scarfs were thrown 
over our shoulders, according to the established custom 
in Tibet, Sikkim, and Bhotan \ and presents were made 
to us of China silks, bricks of tea, woollen cloths, 

Dec. 1848. SIKKDI RAJAH. 803 

yaks, ponies, and salt, with worked silk purses and fans 
for Mrs. Campbell ; after which we left. The whole 
scene was novel and very curious. We had had no 
previous idea of the extreme poverty of the Rajah, of 
his utter ignorance of the usages of Oriental life, and 
of his not having any one near to instruct him. The 
neglect of our salutation, and the conversion of our presents 
into tribute, did not arise from any ill-will : it was owing to 
the craft of the Dewan in taking advantage of the Rajah's 
ignorance of his own position and of good manners. 
Miserably poor, without any retinue, taking no interest in 
what passes in his own kingdom, subsisting on the plainest 
and coarsest food, passing his time in effectually abstracting 
his mind from the consideration of earthly things, and wrapt 
in contemplation, 'the Sikkim Rajah has arrived at great 
sanctity, and is all but prepared for that absorption into 
the essence of Boodh, which is the end and aim of all good 
Boodhists. The mute conduct of his Court, who looked 
like attendants at an inquisition, and the profound venera- 
tion expressed in every word and gesture of those who did 
move and speak, recalled a Pekin reception. His attend- 
ants treated him as a being of a very different nature from 
themselves ; and well might they do so, since they believe 
that he will never die, but retire from the world only to 
re-appear under some equally sainted form. 

Though productive of no immediate good, our interview 
had a very favourable effect on the Lamas and people, who 
had long wished it ; and the congratulations we received 
thereon during the remainder of our stay in Sikkim were 
many and sincere. The Lamas Ave found universally in 
high spirits ; they having just effected the marriage of the 
heir apparent, himself a Lama, said to possess much ability 
and prudence, and hence being very obnoxious to the 


Dewan, who vehemently opposed the marriage. As, how- 
ever, the minister had established his influence over the 
youngest, and estranged the Rajah from his eldest son, and 
was moreover in a fair way for ruling Sikkim himself, the 
Church rose in a body, procured a dispensation from Lhassa 
for the marriage of a priest, and thus hoped to undermine 
the influence of the violent and greedy stranger. 

In the evening, we paid a farewell visit to the Dewan, 
whom we found in a bamboo wicker-work hut, neatly hung 
with bows, arrows, and round Lepcha shields of cane, each 
with a scarlet tuft of yak-hair in the middle ; there were 
also muskets, Tibetan arms, and much horse gear ; and at 
one end was a little altar, with cups, bells, pastiles, and 
images. He was robed in a fawn-coloured silk gown, lined 
with the softest of wool, that taken from unborn lambs : 
like most Tibetans, he extracts all his beard with tweezers ; 
an operation he civilly recommended to me, accompanying 
the advice with the present of a neat pair of steel forceps. 
He aspires to be considered a man of taste, and plays the 
Tibetan guitar, on which he performed some airs for our 
amusement : the instrument is round-bodied and long- 
armed, with six strings placed in pairs, and probably comes 
from Kashmir : the Tibetan airs were simple and quite 
pretty, with the time well marked. 

During our stay at Bhomsong, the weather was cool, con- 
sidering the low elevation (1,500 feet), and very steady ; 
the mean temperature was 52^°, the maximum 71-^°, the 
minimum 42f°. The sun set behind the lofty mountains 
at 3 p.m., and in the morning a thick, wet, white, dripping 
fog settled in the bottom of the valley, and extended to 
800 or 1000 feet above the river-bed; this was probably 
caused by the descent of cold currents into the humid 
gorge : it was dissipated soon after sunrise, but formed 


again at sunset for a few minutes, giving place to clear 
starlight nights. 

A thermometer sunk two feet seven inches, stood at 
64°. The temperature of the water was pretty constant 
at 51° : from here to the plains of India the river has a 
nearly uniform fall of 1000 feet in sixty -nine miles, or 
sixteen feet to a mile : were its course straight for the 
same distance, the fall would be 1000 feet in forty miles, 
or twenty -five feet to a mile. 

Dr. Campbell's object being accomplished, he was 
anxious to make the best use of the few days that remained 
before his return to Dorjiling, and we therefore arranged to 
ascend Mainom, and visit the principal convents in Sikkim 
together, after which he was to return south, whilst I 
should proceed north to explore the south flank of Kinchin - 
junga. For the first day our route was that by which 
I had arrived. We left on Christmas-day, accompanied 
by two of the Rajah's, or rather Dewan's officers, of the 
ranks of Dingpun and Soupun, answering to those of 
captain and lieutenant ; the titles were, however, nominal, 
the Rajah having no soldiers, and these men being pro- 
foundly ignorant of the mysteries of war or drill. They 
were splendid specimens of Sikkim Bhoteeas {i.e. Tibetans, 
born in Sikkim, sometimes called Arrhats), tall, powerful, 
and well built, but insolent and bullying : the Dingpun 
wore the Lepcha knife, ornamented with turquoises, 
together with Chinese chopsticks. Near Bhomsong, 
Campbell pointed out a hot bath to me, which he had 
seen employed : it consisted of a hollowed prostrate tree 
trunk, the water in which was heated by throwing in hot 
stones with bamboo tongs. The temperature is thus raised 
to 114°, to which the patient submits at repeated intervals 
for several days, never leaving till wholly exhausted. 


These baths are called " Sa-choo," literally " hot-water," in 

We stopped to measure some splendid trees in the 
valley, and found the trunk of one to be forty-five feet 
round the buttresses, and thirty feet above them, a large 
size for the Himalaya : they were a species of Terminalia 
{Pent apt era), and called by the Lepchas " Sillok-Kun," 
" Kun" meaning tree. 

We slept at Nampok, and the following morning 
commenced the ascent. On the way we passed the temple 
and lake of Neongong ; the latter is about 400 yards 
round, and has no outlet. It contained two English plants, 
the common duckweed (Lemna minor), and Potamogeton 
natans : some coots were swimming in it, and having 
flushed a woodcock, I sent for my gun, but the Lamas 
implored us not to shoot, it being contrary to their creed 
to take life wantonly. 

We left a great part of our baggage at Neongong, as we 
intended to return there ; and took up with us bedding, 
food, &c, for two days. A path hence up the mountain 
is frequented once a year by the Lamas, who make a 
pilgrimage to the top for worship. The ascent was very 
gradual for 4000 feet. We met with snow at the level of 
Dorjiling (7000 feet), indicating a colder climate than at 
that station, where none had fallen ; the vegetation was, 
however, similar, but not so rich, and at 8000 feet trees 
common also to the top of Sinchul appeared, with B. 
Hodgsoni, and the beautiful little winter-flowering primrose, 
P.petiolaris, whose stemless flowers spread like broad purple 
stars on the deep green foliage. Above, the path runs 
along the ridge of the precipices facing the south-east, and 
here we caught a glimpse of the great valley of the Ryott, 
beyond the Teesta, with Tumloong, the Rajah's residence, 

Dec. 1848. CAMP ON MAINOM. 307 

on its north flank, and the superb snowy peak of Choi a 
at its head. 

One of our coolies, loaded with crockery and various 
indispensables, had here a severe fall, and was much 
bruised ; he however recovered himself, but not our goods. 

The rocks were all of chlorite slate, which is not usual at 
this elevation ; the strike was north-west, and dip north- 
east. At 9000 feet various shrubby rhododendrons pre- 
vailed, with mountain-ash, birch, and dwarf-bamboo ; also 
B, Falcon eri, which grew from forty to fifty feet high. 
The snow was deep and troublesome, so we encamped 
at 9,800 feet, or 800 feet below the top, in a wood of 
Pgrus, Magnolia, Bhododendron, and bamboo. As the 
ground was deeply covered with snow, we laid our beds 
on a thick layer of rhododendron twigs, bamboo, and 
masses of a pendent moss. 

We passed a very cold night, chiefly owing to damp, the 
temperature falling to 24°. On the following morning we 
scrambled through the snow, reaching the summit after 
an hour's very laborious ascent, and took up our quarters 
in a large wooden barn-like temple (goompa), built on 
a stone platform. The summit was very broad, but 
the depth of the snow prevented our exploring much, 
and the silver firs {Abies Webbiana) were so tall, that no 
view could be obtained, except from the temple. The 
great peak of Kinchinjunga is in part hidden by those of 
Pundim and Nursing, but the panorama of snowy moun- 
tains is very grand indeed. The effect is quite deceptive ; 
the mountains assuming the appearance of a con tinned 
chain, the distant snowy peaks being seemingly at little 
further distance than the nearer ones. The whole range 
(about twenty-two miles nearer than at Dorjiling) ap- 
peared to rise uniformly and steeply out of black pine 

x 2 


forests, which were succeeded by the russet-brown of the 
rhododendron shrubs, and that again by tremendous pre- 
cipices and gulleys, into which descended mighty glaciers 
and perpetual snows. This excessive steepness is however 
only apparent, being due to foreshortening. 

The upper 10,000 feet of Kinchin, and the tops of 
Pundim, Kubra, and Junnoo, are evidently of granite, 
and are rounded in outline : the lower peaks again, as 
those of Nursing, &c, present rugged pinnacles of black 
and red stratified rocks, in many cases resting on white 
granite, to which they present a remarkable contrast. The 
general appearance was as if Kinchin and the whole mass 
of mountains clustered around it, had been up-heaved by 
white granite, which still forms the loftiest summits, and 
has raised the black stratified rocks in some places to 
20,000 feet in numerous peaks and ridges. One range 
presented on every summit a cap of black stratified rocks 
of uniform inclination and dip, striking north-west, with 
precipitous faces to the south-west : this was clear to the 
naked eye, and more evident with the telescope, the 
range in question being only fifteen miles distant, running 
between Pundim and Nursing. The fact of the granite 
forming the greatest elevation must not be hastily attributed 
to that igneous rock having burst through the stratified, 
and been protruded beyond the latter : it is much more 
probable that the upheaval of the granite took place at a 
vast depth, and beneath an enormous pressure of stratified 
rocks and perhaps of the ocean ; since which period the 
elevation of the whole mountain chain, and the denudation 
of the stratified rocks, has been slowly proceeding. 

To what extent denudation has thus lowered the peaks 
we dare scarcely form a conjecture ; but considering the 
number and variety of the beds which in some places 


overlie the gneiss and granite, we may reasonably con- 
clude that many thousand feet have been removed. 

It is further assumable that the stratified rocks originally 
took the forms of great domes, or arches. The prevailing 
north-west strike throughout the Himalaya vaguely in- 
dicates a general primary arrangement of the curves into 
waves, whose crests run north-west and south-east ; an 
arrangement which no minor or posterior forces have 
wholly disturbed, though they have produced endless 
dislocations, and especially a want of uniformity in the 
amount and direction of the dip. Whether the loftiest 
waves were the result of one great convulsion, or of a long- 
continued succession of small ones, the effect w r ould be the 
same, namely, that the strata over those points at which 
the granite penetrated the highest, would be the most dis- 
located, and the most exposed to wear during denudation. 

We enjoyed the view of this superb scenery till noon, 
when the clouds which had obscured Dorjiling since 
morning were borne towards us by the southerly wind, 
rapidly closing in the landscape on all sides. At sunset 
they again broke, retreating from the northward, and 
rising from Sinchul and Dorjiling last of all, whilst a line 
of vapour, thrown by perspective into one narrow band, 
se'emed to belt the Singalelah range with a white girdle, 
darkened to black where it crossed the snowy mountains ; 
and it was difficult to believe that this belt did not really 
hang upon the ranges from twenty to thirty miles off, 
against which it was projected ; or that its true position was 
comparatively close to the mountain on which we were 
standing, and was due to condensation around its cool, 
broad, flat summit. 

As usual from such elevations, sunset produced many 
beautiful effects. The zenith was a deep blue, darkening 


opposite the setting sun, and paling over it into a peach 
colour, and that again near the horizon passing into a 
glowing orange-red, crossed by coppery streaks of cirrhus. 
Broad beams of pale light shot from the sun to the 
meridian, crossing the moon and the planet Venus. Far 
south, through gaps in the mountains, the position of the 
plains of India, 10,000 feet below us, was indicated by a 
deep leaden haze, fading upwards in gradually paler bands 
(of which I counted fifteen) to the clear yellow of the sunset 
sky. As darkness came on, the mists collected around the 
top of Mainom, accumulating on the windward side, and 
thrown off in ragged masses from the opposite. 

The second night we passed here was fine, and not very 
cold (the mean temperature being 27°), and we kept our- 
selves quite warm by pine- wood fires. On the following 
morning the sun tinged the sky of -a lurid yellow-red: to 
the south-west, over the plains, the belts of leaden vapour 
were fewer (twelve being distinguishable) and much lower 
than on the previous evening, appearing as if depressed on 
the visible horizon. Heavy masses of clouds nestled into 
all the valleys, and filled up the larger ones, the mountain 
tops rising above them like islands. 

The height of our position I calculated to be 10,613 
feet. Colonel Waugh had determined that of the summit 
by trigonometry to be 10,702 feet, which probably includes 
the trees which cover it, or some rocky peaks on the 
broad and comparatively level surface. 

The mean temperature of the twenty -four hours was 
32° 7 ( ™ x " 2r2 ), mean dew-point 29*7, and saturation 0'82. 
The mercury suddenly fell below the freezing point at 
sunset ; and from early morning the radiation was so 
powerful, that a thermometer exposed on snow sank to 
21° 2, and stood at 25° 5, at 10 a.m. The black bulb 

Dec. 1848. DESCEND TO NE0NG0NG. 311 

thermometer rose to 132°, at 9 a.m. on the 27th, or 94° 2 
above the temperature of the air in the shade. I did not 
then observe that of radiation from snow ; but if, as we 
may assume, it was not less than on the following morning 
(21° 2), we shall have a difference of 148° 6 Fahr., in 
contiguous spots ; the one exposed to the full effects of the 
sun, the other to that of radiation through a rarefied medium 
to a cloudless sky. On the 28th the black bulb thermo- 
meter, freely suspended over the snow and exposed to the 
sun, rose to 108°, or 78° above that of the air in the shade 
(32°) ; the radiating surface of the same snow in the shade 
being 21° 2, or 86° 8 colder. 

Having taken a complete set of angles and panoramic 
sketches from the top of Mainom, with seventeen hourly 
observations, and collected much information from our 
guides, we returned on the 28th to our tents pitched by 
the temples at Neongong ; descending 7000 feet, a very 
severe shake along Lepcha paths. In the evening the 
Lamas visited us, with presents of rice, fowls, eggs, &c, 
and begged subscriptions for their temple which was then 
building, reminding Dr. Campbell that he and the 
Governor- General had an ample share of their prayers, and 
benefited in proportion. As for me, they said, I was 
bound to give alms, as I surely needed praying for, seeing 
how I exposed myself ; besides my having been the first 
Englishman who had visited the snows of Kinchinjunga, 
the holiest spot in Sikkim. 

On the following morning we visited the unfinished 
temple. The outer walls were of slabs of stone neatly 
chiselled, but badly mortared with felspathic clay and 
pounded slate, instead of lime ; the partition walls were of 
clay, shaped in moulds of wood ; parallel planks, four feet 
asunder, being placed in the intended position of the 


walls, and left open above, the composition was placed in 
these boxes, a little at a time, and rammed down by the 
feet of many men, who walked round and round the 
narrow enclosure, singing, and also using rammers of heavy 
wood. The outer work was of good hard timber, of Magnolia 
("Pendre-kun" of the Lepchas) and oak (" Sokka"). The 
common " Ban," or Lepcha knife, supplied the place 
of axe, saw, adze, and plane \ and the graving work was 
executed with small tools, chiefly on Toon (Cedrela), a 
very soft wood (the " Simal-kun" of the Lepchas). 

This being a festival day, when the natives were bringing 
offerings to the altar, we also visited the old temple, a 
small wooden building. Besides more substantial offerings, 
there were little cones of rice with a round wafer of butter 
at the top, ranged on the altar in order.* Six Lamas were at 
prayer, psalms, and contemplation, sitting cross-legged on 
two small benches that ran down the building : one was 
reading, with his hand and fore-finger elevated, whilst the 
others listened ; anon they all sang hymns, repeated sacred 
or silly precepts to the bystanders, or joined in a chorus 
with boys, who struck brass cymbals, and blew straight 
copper trumpets six feet long, and conch-shells mounted 
with broad silver wings, elegantly carved with dragons. 
There were besides manis, or praying-cylinders, drums, 
gongs, books, and trumpets made of human thigh-bones, 
plain or mounted in silver. 

* The worshippers, on entering, walk straight up to the altar, and before, or 
after, having deposited 'their gifts, they lift both hands to the forehead, fall on 
their knees, and touch the ground three times with both head and hands, raising 
the body a little between each prostration. They then advance to the head Larua, 
kotow similarly to him, and he blesses them, laying both hands on their heads and 
repeating a short formula. Sometimes the dorje is used in blessing, as the cross 
is in Europe, and when a mass of people request a benediction, the Lama pro- 
nounces it from the door of the temple with outstretched arms, the people all 
being prostrate, with their foreheads touching the ground. 


Throughout Sikkim, we were roused each morning at 
daybreak by this wild music, the convents being so nu- 
merous that we were always within hearing of it. To me it 
was always deeply impressive, sounding so foreign, and 
awakening me so effectually to the strangeness of the wild 
land in which I was wandering, and of the many new and 
striking objects it contained. After sleep, too, during 
which the mind has either been at rest, or carried away to 
more familiar subjects, the feelings of loneliness and some- 
times even of despondency, conjured up by this solemn 
music, were often almost oppressive. 

Ascending from Neongong, we reached that pass from the 
Teesta to the Great Rungeet, which I had crossed on the 
22nd ; and this time we had a splendid view, down both the 
valleys, of the rivers, and the many spurs from the ridge 
communicating between Tendong and Mainom, with many 
scattered villages and patches of cultivation. Near the top 
I found a plant of " Praong," (a small bamboo), in full 
seed; this sends up many flowering branches from the 
root, and but few leaf-bearing ones ; and after maturing its 
seed, and giving off suckers from the root, the parent 
plant dies. The "fruit is a dark, long grain, like rice ; it is 
boiled and made into cakes, or into beer, like Murwa. 

Looking west from the summit, no fewer than ten 
monastic establishments with their temples, villages and 
cultivation, were at once visible, in the valley of the Great 
Rungeet, and in those of its tributaries ; namely, Changa- 
chelling, Raklang, Dholi, Molli, Catsuperri, Dhoobdi, 
Sunnook, Powhungri, Pemiongchi and Tassiding, all of con- 
siderable size, and more or less remarkable in their sites, 
being perched on spurs or peaks at elevations varying from 
3000 to 7000 feet, and commanding splendid prospects. 

We encamped at Lingcham, where I had halted on 



Chap. XIII. 

the 21st, and the weather being fine, I took bearings of all 
the convents and mountains around. There is much 
cultivation here, and many comparatively rich villages, all 
occupying flat-shouldered spurs from Mainom. The houses 
are large, and the yards are full of animals familiar to the 
eye but not to the ear. The cows of Sikkim, though 
generally resembling the English in stature, form, and 
colour, have humps, and grunt rather than low j and the 
cocks wake the morning with a prolonged howling screech, 
instead of the shrill crow of chanticleer. 

Hence we descended north-west to the Great Rungeet, 
opposite Tassiding; which is one of the oldest monastic 
establishments in Sikkim, and one we were very anxious to 
visit. The descent lay through a forest of tropical trees, 
where small palms, vines, peppers, Pa?idanus i wild plantain, 
and Pothos, were interlaced in an impenetrable jungle, and 
air-plants clothed the trees. 


Praying cylinder in stand (see p. 175); another to be carried in the hand; cymbals ; bell; brass 
cup ; three trumpets ; conch ; dorje. 


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 
Pemiongchi — Relation of river-beds to strike of rocks — Slopes of ravines — 
Pemiongchi, view of — Vegetation — Elevation — Temple, decorations, &c. — 
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, &c. — Toys. 

Tassiding hill is the steep conical termination of a long- 
spur from a pine-clad shoulder of Kinchinjunga, called 
Powhungri : it divides the Great Rungeet from its main 
feeder, the Ratong, which rises from the south face of 
Kinchin. We crossed the former by a bridge formed of 
two bamboo stems, slung by canes from two parallel arches 
of stout branches lashed together. 

The ascent for 2,800 feet was up a very steep, dry, 
zigzag path, amongst mica slate rocks (strike north-east), 
on which grew many tropical plants, especially the " Tukla," 
(Rottlera tinctoria), a plant which yields a brown dye. 
The top was a flat, curving north-west and south-east, 
covered with temples, chaits, and mendongs of the most 
picturesque forms and in elegant groups, and fringed with 
brushwood, wild plantains, small palms, and apple-trees. 
Here I saw for the first time the funereal cypress, of which 
some very old trees spread their weeping limbs and pensile 



Chap. XIV. 

branchlets over the buildings.* It is not wild in Sikkim, 
but imported there and into Bhotan from Tibet : it does 
not thrive well above 6000 feet elevation. It is called 
" Tchenden " by the Lepchas, Bhoteeas, and Tibetans, and 
its fragrant red wood is burnt in the temples. 


The Lamas met us on the top of the hill, bringing a 
noble present of fowls, vegetables and oranges, the latter 
most acceptable after our long and hot march. The site is 
admirably chosen, in the very heart of Sikkim, commanding 
a fine view, and having a considerable river on either side, 

* I was not then aware of this tree having been introduced into England by the 
intrepid Mr. Fortune from China ; and as I was unable to procure seeds, which 
are said not to ripen in Sikkim, it was a great and unexpected pleasure, on my 
return home, to find it alive and flourishing at Kew. 


with the power of retreating behind to the convents of 
Sunnook and Powhungri, which are higher up on the same 
spur, and surrounded by forest enough to conceal an army. 
Considering the turbulent and warlike character of their 
neighbours, it is not wonderful that the monks should have 
chosen commanding spots, and good shelter for their indo- 
lent lives: for the same reason these monasteries secured 
views of one another : thus from Tassiding the great temple 
of Pemiongchi was seen towering 3000 feet over head, 
whilst to the north-west, up the course of the river, the 
lull-sides seemed sprinkled with monasteries. 

We camped on a saddle near the village of Sunnook, at 
4000 feet above the sea ; and on the last day of the year 
we visited this most interesting monastic establishment : 
ascending from our camp along the ridge by a narrow path, 
cut here and there into steps, and passing many rocks 
covered with inscriptions, broken walls of mendongs, and 
other remains of the via sacra between the village and 
temple. At one spot we found a fissure emitting hot 
vapour of the temperature of 65° 5, that of the air being 
about 50°. It was simply a hole amongst the rocks ; and 
near the Rungeet a similar one is said to occur, whose tempe- 
rature fluctuates considerably with the season. It is very 
remarkable that such an isolated spring should exist on the 
top of a sharp ridge, 2,800 feet above the bottom of this 
deep valley. 

The general arrangement on the summit was, first the 
Lamas' houses with small gardens, then three large temples 
raised on rudely paved platforms, and beyond these, a square 
walled enclosure facing the south, full of chaits and men- 
dongs, looking like a crowded cemetery, and planted with 
fun ereal cypress ( Cupressiis fun eh i is) . 

The house of the principal Lama was an oblong square. 


the lower story of stone, and the upper of wood : we ascended 
a ladder to the upper room, which was 24 feet by 8 
wattled all round, with prettily latticed windows opening 
upon a bamboo balcony used for drying grain, under the 
eaves of the broad thatched roof. The ceiling (of neat 
bamboo work) was hung with glorious bunches of maize, 
yellow, red, and brown ; an altar and closed wicker cage at 
one end of the room held the Penates, and a few implements 
of worship. Chinese carpets were laid on the floor for us, 
and the cans of Murwa brought round. 

The Lama, though one of the red sect, was dressed 
in a yellow flowered silk robe, but his mitre was red : he 
gave us much information relative to the introduction of 
Boodhism into Sikkim. 

The three temples stand about fifty yards apart, but are 
not parallel to one another, although their general direction 
is east and west.* Each is oblong, and narrowed upwards, 
with the door at one end ; the middle (and smallest) faces 
the west, the others the east : the doorways are all broad, 
low and deep, protected by a projecting carved portico. The 
walls are immensely thick, of well-masoned slaty stones ; the 
outer surface of each slopes upwards and inwards, the inner 
is perpendicular. The roofs are low and thickly thatched, 
and project from eight to ten feet all round, to keep off the 
rain, being sometimes supported by long poles. There is 
a very low upper story, inhabited by the attendant monks 
and servants, accessible by a ladder at one end of the 
building. The main body of the temple is one large 
apartment, entered through a small transverse vestibule, 
the breadth of the temple, in which are tall cylindrical 

* Timkowski, in his travels through Mongolia (i. p. 193), says, "According to 
the rules of Tibetan architecture, temples should face the south :" this is cer- 
tainly not the rule in Sikkim, nor, so far as I could learn, in Tibet either. 

Dec. 1848. 



praying-machines. The carving round the doors is very 
beautiful, and they are gaudily painted and gilded. The 

northern temple is quite plain : the middle one is simply 
painted red, and encircled with a row of black heads, with 
goggle eyes and numerous teeth, on a white ground ; it is 
said to have been originally dedicated to the evil spirits of 
the Lepcha creed. The southern, which contains the 
library, is the largest and best, and is of an irregular 
square shape. The inside walls and floors are plastered 
with clay, and painted with allegorical representations of 
Boodh, &c. From the vestibule the principal apartment 
is entered by broad folding-doors, studded with circular 
copper bosses, and turning on iron hinges. It is lighted 
by latticed windows, sometimes protected outside by a 
bamboo screen. Owing to the great thickness of the walls 



Chap. XIV. 

(three to four feet), a very feeble light is admitted. In 
the principal temple, called " Dugang," six hexagonal 
wooden columns, narrowed above, with peculiar broad 


transverse capitals, exquisitely gilded and painted, support 
the cross-beams of the roof, which are likewise beautifully 
ornamented. Sometimes a curly-maned gilt lion is placed 
over a column, and it is always furnished with a black bushy 
tail : squares, diamonds, dragons, and groups of flowers, 
vermilion, green, gold, azure, and white, are dispersed with 
great artistic taste over all the beams ; the heavier masses 
of colour being separated by fine white lines. 

The altars and idols are placed at the opposite end ; and 
two long parallel benches, like cathedral stalls, run down 
the centre of the building : on these the monks sit at 

Deo. 1848. 



prayer and contemplation, the head Lama occupying a 
stall (often of very tasteful design) near the altar. 


The principal Boodh, or image, is placed behind the altar 
under a canopy, or behind a silk screen : lesser gods, and 
gaily dressed and painted effigies of sainted male or 
female persons are ranged on either side, or placed in 
niches around the apartment, sometimes with separate 
altars before them ; whilst the walls are more or less 
covered with paintings of monks in prayer or contempla- 
tion. The principal Boodh (Sakya Sing) sits cross-legged, 
with the left heel up: his left-hand always rests on his 
thigh, and holds the padmi or lotus and jewel, which is 
often a mere cup ; the right-hand is either raised, with the 
two forefingers up, or holds the dorje, or rests on the 



Chap. XIV. 

calf of the upturned leg. Sakya has generally curled 
hair, Lamas have mitres, females various head-dresses; 
most wear immense ear-rings, and some rosaries. All are 
placed on rude pediments, so painted as to convey the 
idea of their rising out of the petals of the pink, purple, 
or white lotus. None are in any way disagreeable ; on the 



Central figure Akshobya, the first of the Pancha Boodha. 

contrary most have a calm and pleasing expression, 
suggestive of contemplation. 

The great or south temple contained a side altar of very 
elegant shape, placed before an image encircled by a glory. 
Flowers, juniper, peacock's feathers, pastiles, and rows of 
brass cups of water were the chief ornaments of the altars, 

Dec. 1848. 



besides the instruments I have elsewhere enumerated. 
In this temple was the library, containing several hundred 
books, in pigeon-holes, placed in recesses.* 


C Q c OOP c 






/ \ 



a. entrance : b. four praying cylinders ; c. altar, with seven brass cups of water ; 
d. four columns; e. and f. images ; o. library. 

The effect on entering these cold and gloomy temples is 
very impressive ; the Dugang in particular is exquisitely 
ornamented and painted, and the vista from the vestibule 
to the principal idol, of carved and coloured pillars and 
beams, is very picturesque. Within, the general arrange- 
ment of the colours and gilding is felt to be harmonious 
and pleasing, especially from the introduction of slender 
white streaks between the contrasting masses of colour, 

* For a particular account of the images and decorations of these temples, see 
Dr. Campbell's paper in "Bengal Asiatic Society's Trans.," May, 1849. The 
principal object of veneration amongst the Ningma or red sect of Boodhists in 
Sikkim and Bhotan is Gorucknath, who is always represented sitting cross-legged, 
holding the dorje in one baud, which is raised ; whilst the left rests in the lap and 
holds a cup with a jewel in it. The left arm supports a trident, whose staff pierces 
three sculls (a symbol of Shiva), a rosary hongs round his neck, and he wears a 
red mitre with a lunar crescent and sun in front. 


as adopted in the Great Exhibition building of 1851. 
It is also well worthy of remark that the brightest colours 
are often used in broad masses, and when so, are always 
arranged chromatically, in the sequence of the rainbow's 
hues, and are hence never displeasing to the eye. The 
hues, though bright, are subdued by the imperfect light : 
the countenances of the images are all calm, and their 
expression solemn. Whichever way you turn, the eye is 
met by some beautiful specimen of colouring or carving, 
or some object of veneration. The effect is much height- 
ened by the incense of juniper and sweet-smelling herbs 
which the priests burn on entering, by their grave and 
decorous conduct, and by the feeling of respect that is 
demanded by a religion which theoretically inculcates and 
adores virtue in the abstract, and those only amongst men 
who practise virtue. To the idol itself the Boodhist 
attaches no real importance ; it is an object of reverence, 
not of worship, and no virtue or attribute belong to it 
per se ; it is a symbol of the creed, and the adoration is 
paid to the holy man whom it represents. 

Beyond the temples are the chaits and mendongs, 
scattered without much order ; and I counted nearly 
twenty-five chaits of the same form,* between eight and 
thirty feet high. The largest is consecrated to the memory 
of the Rajah's eldest son, who, however, is not buried here. 
A group of these structures is, as I have often remarked, 
extremely picturesque, and those at Tassiding, from their 

* In Sikkim the form of the cube alone is always strictly preserved ; that of the 
pyramid and hemisphere being often much modified. The cube stands on a flight 
of usually three steps, and is surmounted by a low pyramid of five steps ; on this 
is placed a swelling, urn-shaped body, which represents the hemisphere, and is 
surmounted by another cube. On the latter is a slender, round or angled spire 
(represented by a pyramid in Burma), crowned with a crescent and disc, or sun, in 
moon. Generally, the whole is of stone, with the exception of the spire, which is 
of wood, painted red. 


number, variety, and size, their commanding and romantic 
position, and their being interspersed with weeping 
cypresses, are particularly so. 

The Tassiding temples and convents were founded 
upwards of 300 years ago, by the Lamas who accom- 
panied the first Rajah to Sikkim ; and they have been 
continuously served by Lamas of great sanctity, many of 
whom have been educated at Lhassa. They were formerly 
very wealthy, but during the Nepal war they were plun- 
dered of all their treasures, their silver gongs and bells, 
their best idols, dorjes, and manis, and stripped of their 
ornaments ; since which time Pemiongchi has been more 
popular. In proof of their antiquity, it was pointed out 
that most of the symbols and decorations were those of 
pure Lama Boodhism, as practised in Tibet. 

Although the elevation is but 4,840 feet, the weather 
was cold and raw, with rain at noon, followed by thunder 
and lightning. These electrical disturbances are frequent 
about midsummer and midwinter, prevailing over many 
parts of India. 

January 1st, 1849. — The morning of the new year was 
bright and beautiful, though much snow had fallen on the 
mountains ; and we left Sunnook for Pemiongchi, situated 
on the summit of a lofty spur on the opposite side of the 
Ratong. We descended very steeply to the bed of the river 
(alt. 2,480 feet) which joins the Great Rungeet below the 
convents. The rocks were micaceous, dipping west and 
north-west 45°, and striking north and north-east, which 
direction prevailed for 1000 feet or so up the opposite 
spur. I had observed the same dip and stroke on the east 
flank of the Tassiding spur ; but both the Ratong on its 
west side, and the Great Rungeet on the east, flow in 
channels that show no relation to either the dip or strike 


I have generally remarked in Sikkim that the channels of 
the rivers when cutting through or flowing at the base of 
bluff cliffs, are neither parallel to nor at right angles to 
the strike of the rocks forming the cliffs. I do not hence 
conclude that there is no original connection between the 
directions of the rivers, and the lines of fracture ; but 
whatever may have once subsisted between the direction 
of the fissures and that of the strike, it is in the Sikkim 
Himalaya now wholly masked by shiftings, which accom- 
panied subequent elevations and depressions. 

Mr. Hopkins has mathematically demonstrated that the 
continued exertion of a force in raising superimposed 
strata would tend to produce two classes of fractures in 
those strata ; those of the first order at right angles to the 
direction of the wave or ridge (or line of strike) ; those of 
the second order parallel to the strike. Supposing the force 
to be withdrawn after the formation of the two fractures, the 
resnlt would be a ridge, or mountain chain, with diverging 
fissures from the summit, crossed by concentric fissures ; 
and the courses which the rivers would take in flowing 
clown the ridge, would successively be at right angles and 
parallel to the strike of the strata. Now, in the Himalaya, 
a prevalent strike to the north-west has been recognised in 
all parts of the chain, but it is everywhere interfered with 
by mountains presenting every other direction of strike, 
and by their dip never remaining constant either in amount 
or direction. Consequently, as might be expected, the 
directions of the river channels bear no apparent relation 
to the general strike of the rocks. 

We crossed the Raton g (twenty yards broad) by a 
cane bridge, suspended between two 'rocks of green 
chlorite, full of veins of granite. Ascending, we passed 
the village of Kameti on a spur, on the face of which 

Jan. 1849. TEMPLE AT PEMIONGCIir. 327 

were strewed some enormous detached blocks of white 
and pink stratified quartz : the rocks in situ were all 
chlorite schist. 

Looking across the valley to the flank of Mainom, the 
disposition of the ridges and ravines on its sides was very 
evident ; many of the latter, throughout their westerly 
course, from their commencement at 10,000 feet, to their 
debouchure in the Great Rungeet at 2000, had a bluff, 
cliffy, northern flank, and a sloping southern one. The 
dip of the surfaces is, therefore, north-west, the exposure 
consequently of the villages which occupy terraces on the 
south flanks of the lateral valleys. The Tassiding spur 
presented exactly the same arrangement of its ravines, and 
the dip of the rocks being north-west, it follows that 
the planes of the sloping surfaces coincide in direction 
(though not in amount of inclination) with that of the 
dip of the subjacent strata, which is anything but a 
usual phenomenon in Sikkim. 

The ascent to Pemiongchi continued very steep, 
through woods of oaks, chesnuts, and magnolias, but no 
tree-fern, palms, Pothos, or plantain, which abound at this 
elevation on the moister outer ranges of Sikkim. The 
temple (elev. 7,083 feet) is large, eighty feet long, and in 
excellent order, built upon the lofty terminal point of the 
great east and west spur that divides the Kulhait from the 
Ratong and Rungbee rivers ; and the great Changa- 
chelling temple and monastery stand on another eminence 
of the same ridge, two miles further west. 

The view of the snowy range from this temple is one of 
the finest in Sikkim ; the eye surveying at one glance the 
vegetation of the Tropics and the Poles. Deep in the 
valleys the river-beds are but 3000 feet above the sea, 
and are choked with fig-trees, plantains, and palms ; to 


these succeed laurels and magnolias, and higher up still, 
oaks, chesnuts, birches, &c. ; there is, however, no marked 
line between the limits of these two last forests, which 
form the prevailing arboreous vegetation between 4000 
and 10,000 feet, and give a lurid hue to the moun- 
tains. Pine forests succeed for 2000 feet higher, when 
they give place to a skirting of rhododendron and 
berberry. Among these appear black naked rocks, rising 
up in cliffs, between which are gulleys, down which the 
snow now (on the 1st January) descended to 12,000 feet. 
The mountain flanks are much more steep and rocky than 
those at similar heights on the outer ranges, and cataracts 
are very numerous, and of considerable height, though 
small in volume. 

Pemiongchi is at the same elevation as Dorjiling, and the 
contrast between the shoulders of 8000 to 10,000 feet on 
Kinchin junga, and those of equal height on Tendon g and 
Tonglo, is very remarkable : looking at the latter mountains 
from Dorjiling, the observer sees no rock, waterfall, or pine, 
throughout their whole height ; whereas the equally wooded 
flanks of these inner ranges are rocky, streaked with thread- 
like waterfalls, and bristling with silver firs. 

This temple, the most ancient in Sikkim, is said to be 
400 years old; it stands on a paved platform, and is of the 
same form and general character as those of Tassiding. 
Inside, it is most beautifully decorated, especially the 
beams, columns, capitals and architraves, but the designs 
are coarser than those of Tassiding.* The square end of 
every beam in the roof is ornamented either with a lotus 
flower or with a Tibetan character, in endless diversity 

* Mr. Hodgson informed me that many of the figures and emblems in this 
temple are those of Tantrica Boodhism, including Shiva, Devi, and other deities 
usually called Brahminical ; Kakotak, or the snake king, a figure terminating 
below in a snake, is also seen ; with the tiger, elephant, and curly-maned lion. 


of colour and form, and the walls are completely covered 
with allegorical paintings of Lamas and saints expounding 
or in contemplation, with glories round their heads, mitred, 
and holding the dorje and jewel. 

The principal image is a large and hideous figure of 
Sakya-thoba, in a recess under a blue silk canopy, con- 
trasting with a calm figure of the late Rajah, wearing a 
cap and coronet. 

Pemiongchi was once the capital of Sikkim, and called the 
Sikkim Durbar : the Rajah's residence was on a curious flat 
to the south of the temple, and a few hundred feet below it, 
where are the remains of (for this country) extensive walls 
and buildings. During the Nepal war, the Rajah was 
driven west across the Teesta, whilst the Ghorkas plundered 
Tassiding, Pemiongchi, Changachelling, and all the temples 
and convents to the east of that river. It was then that 
the famous history of Sikkim,* compiled by the Lamas of 
Pemiongchi, and kept at this temple, was destroyed, with 
the exception of a few sheets, with one of which Dr. Campbell 
and myself were each presented. We were told that the 
monks of Changachelling and those of this establishment 
had copied what remained, and were busy compiling from 
oral information, &c. : whatever value the original may have 
possessed, however, is irretrievably lost. A magnificent 
copy of the Boodhist Scriptures was destroyed at the same 
time ; it consisted of 400 volumes, each containing several 
hundred sheets of Daphne paper. 

The ground about the temple was snowed ; and we 
descended a few hundred feet, to encamp in a most 
picturesque grove, among chaits and inscribed stones, with 

* This remarkable and beautiful manuscript was written on thick oblong sheets 
of Tibet paper, painted black to resist decay, and the letters were yellow and gold. 
The Nepalese soldiers wantonly employed the sheets to l'oof the theds they erected, 
as a protection from the weather. 


a peep of the temples above. Nightingales warbled deliei- 
ously night and morning, which rather surprised us, as the 
minimum thermometer fell to 27*8°, and the ground next 
day was covered with hoar-frost ; the elevation being 6,580 
feet. These birds migrate hither in October and November, 
lingering in the Himalayan valleys till the cold of early 
spring drives them further south, to the plains of India, 
whence they return north in March and April. 

On the 2nd of January I parted from my friend, who 
was obliged to hurry to the great annual fair at Titalya. 
I regretted much being unable to accompany Dr. Campbell 
to this scene of his disinterested labours, especially as the 
Nawab of Moorshedabad was to be present, one of the few 
wealthy native princes of Bengal who still keep a court 
worth seeing ; but I was more anxious to continue my explo- 
rations northward till the latest moment : I however accom- 
panied him for a short distance on his way towards 
Dorjiling. We passed the old Durbar, called Phieungoong 
("Bamboo-hill," so named from the abundance of a small 
bamboo, " Phieung.") The buildings, now in ruins, occupy 
a little marshy flat, hemmed in by slate rocks, and covered 
with brambles and Andromeda bushes. A wall, a bastion, 
and an arched gateway, are the only traces of fortifications ; 
they are clothed with mosses, lichens, and ferns. 

A steep zigzag path, descending amongst long grass and 
scarlet rhododendrons, leads to the Kay sing Mendong.* 
Here I bade adieu to Dr. Campbell, and toiled up the hill, 
feeling very lonely. The zest with which he had entered 
into all my pursuits, and the aid he had afforded me, 
together with the charm that always attends companionship 
with one who enjoys every incident of travel, had so attracted 
me to him that I found it difficult to recover my spirits. 

* Described at page 287. 

Jan. 1849. CAMP ON RATONG. 


It is quite impossible for any one who cannot from experi- 
ence realise the solitary wandering life I had been leading 
for months, to appreciate the desolate feeling that follows 
the parting from one who has heightened every enjoyment, 
and taken far more than his share of every annoyance and 
discomfort : the few days we had spent together appeared 
then, and still, as months. 

On my return to Pemiongchi I spent the remainder of 
the day sketching in the great temple, gossiping with the 
Lamas, and drinking salted and buttered tea-soup, which I 
had begun to like, when the butter was not rancid. 

My route hence was to be along, the south flank of 
Kinchinjunga, north to Jongri, which lay about four or five 
marches off, on the road to the long deserted pass of 
Kanglanamo, by which I had intended entering Sikkim 
from Nepal, when I found the route up the Yalloong valley 
impracticable. The village and ruined convents of Yoksun 
lay near the route, and the temples of Doobdi, Catsuperri 
and Molli, on the Ratong river. 

I descended to the village of Tchonpong (alt. 4,980 
feet), where I was detained a day to obtain rice, of 
which I required ten days' supply for twenty -five people. 
On the way I passed groves of the paper-yielding Edge- 
worthia Gardneri: it bears round heads of fragrant, beautiful, 
yellow flowers, and would be a valuable acquisition to an 
English conservatory. 

From Tchonpong we descended to the bed of the 
Rungbee (alt. 3,160 feet), an affluent of the Ratong, flowing 
in a deep gulley with precipitous sides of mica schist 
full of garnets, dipping west and north-west 45° : it was 
spanned by a bridge of two loose bamboo culms, about 
fifteen yards long, laid across without handrails ; after wet 
sand had been thrown on it the bare-footed coolies crossed 


easily enough, but I, having shoes on, required a hand to 
steady me. From this point we crossed a lofty spur to the 
Ratong (alt. 3000 feet), where we encamped, the coolies 
being unable to proceed further on such very bad roads. 
This river descends from the snows of Kinchin, and conse- 
quently retains the low temperature 42°, being fully 7° 
colder than the Rungbee, which at an elevation of but 
3000 feet appears very remarkable : it must however be 
observed that scarcely anywhere does the sun penetrate to 
the bottom of its valley. 

We encamped on a gravelly flat, fifty feet above the 
river, strewn with .water- worn boulders, and so densely 
covered with tall Artemisice, gigantic grasses, bamboo, 
plantain, fern, and acacia, that we had to clear a space in 
the jungle, which exhaled a rank heavy smell. 

Hoar-frost formed copiously in the night, and though 
above the sun's rays were very powerful, they did not 
reach this spot till 7 '30 a.m., the frost remaining in the 
shade till nearly 9 a.m. ; and this on plantains, and other 
inhabitants of hot-houses in England. 

Hence I ascended to Yoksun, one of the most curious 
and picturesque spots in Sikkim, and the last inhabited 
place towards Kinchinjunga. The path was excessively 
steep and rocky for the first mile or two, and then 
alternately steep and flat. Mixed with many tropical 
trees, were walnuts of the common English variety ; a 
tree, which, though planted here, is wild near Dorjiling, 
where it bears a full-sized fruit, as hard as a hickory-nut : 
those I gathered in this place were similar, whereas in 
Bhotan the cultivated nut is larger, thin-shelled, and the 
kernel is easily removed. We ascended one slope, of an 
angle of 36° 30', which was covered with light black mould, 
and had been recently cleared by fire : we found millet 


now cultivated on it. From the top the view of the 
Ratong valley was very fine : to the north lay Yoksun, 
appearing from this height to occupy a flat, two miles long 
and one broad, girdled by steep mountains to the north 
and east, dipping very suddenly 2,200 feet to the Ratong 
on the west. To the right was a lofty hill, crowned with 
the large temple and convents of Doobdi, shadowed by 
beautiful weeping cypresses, and backed by lofty pine-clad 
mountains. Northward, the gorge of the Ratong opened 
as a gloomy defile, above which rose partially snowed moun- 
tains, which shut out Kinchinjunga. To the west, massive 
pine-clad mountains rose steeply ; while the little hamlet of 
Lathiang occupied a remarkable shelf overhanging the 
river, appearing inaccessible except by ropes from above. 
South-west, the long spurs of Molli and Catsuperri, each 
crowned with convents or temples, descended from Singal- 
elah ; and parallel to them on the south, but much longer 
and more lofty, was the great mountain range north of the 
Kulhait, with the temples and convents of Pemiongchi, 
and Changachelling, towering in the air. The latter 
range dips suddenly to the Great Rungeet, where 
Tassiding, with its chaits and cypresses, closed the view. 
The clay was half cloud, half sunshine ; and the various 
effects of light and shade, now bringing out one or other 
of the villages and temples, now casting the deep valleys 
into darker gloom, was wonderfully fine. 

Yoksun was the earliest civilised corner of Sikkim, and 
derived its name (which signifies in Lepcha " three chiefs") 
from having been the residence of three Lamas of great 
influence, who were the means of introducing the first 
Tibetan sovereign into the country. At present it boasts of 
but little cultivation, and a scattered population, inhabiting 
a few hamlets, 5,500 feet above the sea : beautiful lanes 


and paths wind everywhere over the gentle slopes, and 
through the copsewoocl that has replaced the timber- 
trees of a former period. Mendongs and chaits are 
very numerous, some of great size ; and there are 
also the ruins of two very large temples, near which are 
some magnificent weeping cypresses, eighty feet high. 
These fine trees are landmarks from all parts of the fiat ; 
they form irregular cones of pale bright green, with 
naked gnarled tops, the branches weep gracefully, but not 
like the picture in Macartney's Embassy to China, whence 
originated the famous willow-pattern of our crockery. 
The ultimate branchlets are very slender and pendulous ; my 
Lepcha boys used to make elegant chaplets of them, 
binding the withes with scarlet worsted. The trunk is 
quite erect, smooth, cylindrical, and pine-like ; it harbours 
no moss, but air-plants, Orchids, and ferns, nestle on the 
limbs, and pendulous lichens, like our beard-moss, wave 
from the branches. 

In the evening I ascended to Doobdi. The path was 
broad, and skilfully conducted up a very steep slope 
covered with forest : the top, which is 6,470 feet above 
the sea, and nearly 1000 above Yoksun, is a broad 
partially paved platform, on which stand two temples, 
surrounded by beautiful cypresses : one of these trees 
(perhaps the oldest in Sikkim) measured sixteen and a 
half feet in girth, at five feet from the ground, and was 
apparently ninety feet high : it was not pyramidal, the top 
branches being dead and broken, and the lower limbs 
spreading ; they were loaded with masses of white- 
flowered Ccelogynes, and Vacciniums. The younger trees 
were pyramidal. 

I was received by a monk of low degree, who made 
many apologies for the absence of his superior, who had 

Jan. 18Ji». 



been ordered an eight years' penance and seclusion from 
the world, of which only three had passed. On inquiry, 


I learnt the reason for this; the holy father having 
found himself surrounded by a family, to which there 
would have been no objection, had he previously obtained 
a dispensation. As, however, he had omitted this pre- 
liminary, and was able to atone by prayer and payment, 
he had been condemned to do penance ; probably at 
his own suggestion, as the seclusion will give him sanctity, 
and eventually lead to his promotion, when his error shall 
have been forgotten. 

Both temples are remarkable for their heavily ornamented, 

•two-storied porticos, which occupy nearly the whole of 

one end. The interior decorations are in a ruinous 


condition, and evidently very old j they have no Hindoo 

The head Lama sent me a present of dried peaches, with 
a bag of walnuts, called " Koal-kun " by the Lepchas, and 
" Taga-sching " by the Bhoteeas ; the two terminations alike 
signifying " tree." 

The view of Yoksun from this height was very singular : 
it had the appearance of an enormous deposit banked up 
against a spur to the south, and mountains to the east, and 
apparently levelled by the action of water : this deposit 
seemed as though, having once completely filled the valley 
of the Ratong, that river had cut a gorge 2000 feet deep 
between it and the opposite mountain. 

Although the elevation is so low, snow falls abundantly 
at Doobdi in winter; I was assured that it has been known 
of the depth of five feet, a statement I consider doubtful ; 
the quantity is, however, certainly greater than at equal 
heights about Dorjiling, no doubt owing to its proximity 
to Kinchinjunga. 

I was amused here by watching a child playing with a 
popgun, made of bamboo, similar to that of quill, with 
which most English children are familiar, which propels 
pellets by means of a spring-trigger made of the upper 
part of the quill. It is easy to conclude such resemblances 
between the familiar toys of different countries to be 
accidental, but I question their being really so. On the 
plains of India, men may often be seen for hours to- 
gether, flying what with us are children's kites ; and I 
procured a jews'-harp from Tibet. These are not the 
toys of savages, but the amusements of people more 
than half-civilised, and with whom we have had indirect 
communication from the earliest ages. The Lepchas play . 
at quoits, using slate for the purpose, and at the Highland 


games of " putting the stone" and " drawing the stone." 
Chess, dice, draughts, Punch, hockey, and battledore and 
shuttlecock, are all Indo-Chinese or Tartarian ; and no one 
familiar with the wonderful instances of similarity between 
the monasteries, ritual, ceremonies, attributes, vestments, 
and other paraphernalia of the eastern and western churches, 
can fail to acknowledge the importance of recording even 
the most trifling analogies or similarities between the man- 
ners and customs of the young as well as of the old. 



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 — Pundim 
cliff — Nursing — Vegetation of Himalaya — Coup d'ceil 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. 

I left Yoksun on an expedition to Kinchinjunga on the 
7th of January. It was evident that at this season I could 
not attain any height ; but I was most anxious to reach the 
lower limit of that mass of perpetual snow which descends 
in one continuous sweep from 28,000 to 15,000 feet, and. 
radiates from the summit of Kinchin, along every spur and 
shoulder for ten to fifteen miles, towards each point of the 

The route lay for the first mile over the Yoksun flat, and 
then wound along the almost precipitous east flank of the 
Ratong, 1000 feet above its bed, leading through thick 
forest. It was often difficult, crossing torrents by culms 
of bamboo, and leading up precipices by notched poles and 
roots of trees. I wondered what could have induced' the 
frequenting of such a route to Nepal, when there were so 
many better ones over Singalelah, till I found from my 
guide that he had habitually smuggled salt over this pass 
to avoid the oppressive duty levelled by the Dewan on all 
imports from Tibet by the eastern passes : he further told 

Jan. 1849. SALT-SMUGGLING. 341 

me that it took five days to reach Yalloong in Nepal from 
Yoksun, on the third of which the Kanglanamo pass is 
crossed, which is open from April to November, but is 
always heavily snowed. Owing to this duty, and the 
remoteness of the eastern passes, the people on the west 
side of the Great Rungeet were compelled to pay an 
enormous sum for salt ; and the Lamas of Changachelling 
and Pemiongchi petitioned Dr. Campbell to use his influence 
with the Nepal Court to have the Kanglanamo pass 
re-opened, and the power of trading with the Tibetans of 
Wallanchoon, Yangma, and Kambachen, restored to them : 
the pass having been closed since the Nepalese war, to 
prevent the Sikkim people from kidnapping children and 
slaves, as was alleged to be their custom.* 

We passed some immense landslips, which had swept the 
forest into the torrent, and exposed white banks of angular 
detritus of gneiss and granite : we crossed one 200 yards 
long, by a narrow treacherous path, on a slope of 35° : the 
subjacent gneiss was nearly vertical, striking north-east. 
We camped at 6,670 feet, amongst a vegetation I little 
expected to find so close to the snows of Kinchin ; it con- 
sisted of oak, maple, birch, laurel; rhododendron, white 
Daphne, jessamine, Arum, Begonia, Cyrtandracece, pepper, 
fig, Menispermum, wild cinnamon, Scitaminecs, several 
epiphytic orchids, vines, and ferns in great abundance. 

On the following day, I proceeded north-west up the 
Ratong river, here a furious torrent; which we crossed, 

* An accusation in which there was probably some truth; for the Sikkim 
Dingpun, who guided Dr. Campbell and myself to Mainom, Tassiding, &c, since 
kidnapped, or caused to be abducted, a girl of Brahmin parents, from the Mai 
valley of Nepal, a transaction which cost him some 300 rupees. The Nepal 
Durbar was naturally furious, the more so as the Dingpun had no caste, and 
was therefore abhorred by all Brahmins. Kestitution was demanded through 
Dr. Campbell, who caused the incensed Dingpun to give up his paramour and her 
jewels. He vowed vengeance against Dr. Campbell, and found means to gratify 
it, as I shall hereafter show. 


and then ascended a very steep mountain called " Mon 
Lepcha." Immense detached masses of gneiss, full of coarse 
garnets, lay on the slope, some of which were curiously marked 
with a series of deep holes, large enough to put one's fist 
in, and said to be the footprints of the sacred cow. They 
appeared to me to have been caused by the roots of trees, 
which spread over the rocks in these humid regions, and 
wear channels in the hardest material, especially when 
they follow the direction of its lamination or stratification. 

I encamped at a place called Buckeem (alt. 8,650 ft.), 
in a forest of Abies Brunoniana and Webbiana, yew, 
oak, various rhododendrons, and small bamboo. Snow 
lay in patches at 8000 feet, and the night was cold and 
clear. On the following morning I continued the ascent, 
alternately up steeps and along perfectly level shelves, on 
which were occasionally frozen pools, surrounded with dwarf 
juniper and rhododendrons. Across one I observed the 
track of a yak in the snow; it presented two ridges, 
probably from the long hair of this animal, which trails 
on the ground, sweeping the snow from the centre of its 
path. At 11,000 feet the snow lay deep and soft in the 
woods of silver fir, and the coolies waded through it with 

Enormous fractured boulders of gneiss were frequent 
over the whole of Mon Lepcha, from 7000 to 11,000 feet : 
they were of the same material as the rock in situ, and as 
unaccountable in their origin as the loose blocks on Dor- 
jiling and Sinchul spurs at similar elevations, often cresting 
narrow ridges. I measured one angular detached block, 
forty feet high, resting on a steep narrow shoulder of the 
spur, in a position to which it was impossible it could have 
rolled ; and it is equally difficult to suppose that glacial 
ice deposited it 4000 feet above the bottom of the gorge, 

Jan. 1849. NIGHT ON MON LEPCHA. 343 

except we conclude the valley to have been filled with ice 
to that depth. A glance at the map will show that 
Mon Lepcha is remarkably situated, opposite the face of 
Kinchin-junga, and at the great bend of the Ratong. Had 
that valley ever been filled with water during a glacial 
period, Mon Lepcha would have formed a promontory, 
and many floating bergs from Kinchin would have been 
stranded on its flank : but I nowhere observed these rocks to 
be of so fine a granite as I believe the upper rocks of Kin- 
chin to be, and I consequently cannot advance even that 
far-fetched solution with much plausibility. 

As I ascended, the rocks became more granitic, with 
large crystals of mica. The summit was another broad 
bare flat, elevated 13,080 feet, and fringed by a copse of 
rose, berberry, and very alpine rhododendrons : the Hima- 
layan heather {Andromeda fastigiata) grew abundantly here, 
affording us good fuel. 

The toilsome ascent through the soft snow and brush- 
wood delayed the coolies, who scarcely accomplished five 
miles in the day. Some of them having come up by dark, 
I prepared to camp on the mountain-top, strewing thick 
masses of Andromeda and moss (which latter hung in 
great tufts from the bushes) on the snow ; my blankets had 
not arrived, but there was no prospect of a snow-storm. 

The sun was powerful when I reached the summit, and 
I was so warm that I walked about barefoot on the frozen 
snow without inconvenience, preferring it to continuing in 
wet stockings : the temperature at the time was 29-^°, with 
a brisk south-east moist wind, and the dew point 22° 8. 

The night was magnificent, brilliant starlight, with a 
pale mist over the mountains : the thermometer fell to 
15^° at 1\ p.m., and one laid upon wood with its bulb 
freely exposed, sank to 1\° : the snow sparkled with broad 


flakes of hoar-frost in the full moon, which was so bright, 
that I recorded my observations by its light. Owing to 
the extreme cold of radiation, I passed a very uncomfort- 
able night. The minimum thermometer fell to 1° in 
shade.* The sky was clear ; and every rock, leaf, twig, 
blade of grass, and the snow itself, were covered with broad 
rhomboidal plates of hoar-frost, nearly one-third of an inch 
across : while the metal scale of the thermometer instan- 
taneously blistered my tongue. As the sun rose, the light 
reflected from these myriads of facets had a splendid effect. 

Before sunrise the atmosphere was still, and all but 
cloudless. To the south-east were visible the plains of 
India, at least 140 miles distant ; where, as usual, horizontal 
layers of leaden purple vapour obscured the horizon : 
behind these the sun rose majestically, instantly dispersing 
them, while a thin haze spread over all the intervening 
mountains, from its slanting beams reaching me through 
otherwise imperceptible vapours : these, as the sun 
mounted higher, again became invisible, though still 
giving that transparency to the atmosphere and brilliant 
definition of the distances, so characteristic of a damp, yet 
clear day. 

Mon Lepcha commands a most extensive view of Sikkiin, 
southward to Dorjiling. At my feet lay the great and 
profound valley of the Ratoug, a dark gulf of vegetation. 
Looking northward, the eye followed that river to the 
summit of Kinchinjunga (distant eighteen miles), which 
fronts the beholder as Mont Blanc does when seen from 
the mountains on the opposite side of the valley of 
Chamouni. To the east are the immense precipices and 

* At sunrise the temperature was 11£° ; that of grass, cleared on the previous 
day from snow, and exposed to the sky, 6£° ; that on wool, 2° 2 ; and that on 
the surface of the si:ow, 0° 7. 

Jan. 1849. VIEW FROM MON LEPCHA. 845 

glaciers of Pundim, and on the west those of Kubra, 
forming great supporters to the stupendous mountain 
between them. Mon Lepcha itself is a spur running 
south-east from the Kubra shoulder : it is very open, and 
covered with rounded hills for several miles further north, 
terminating in a conspicuous conical black hummock * 
called Gubroo, of 15,000 feet elevation, which presents a 
black cliff to the south. 

Kinchin junga rises in three heads, of nearly equal height,! 
which form a line running north-west. It exposes many 
white or grey rocks, bare of snow, and disposed in 
strata j sloping to the west; the colour of all which above 
20,000 feet, and the rounded knobbed form of the summit, 
suggest a granitic formation. Lofty snowed ridges project 
from Kubra into the Ratong valley, presenting black pre- 
cipices of stratified rocks to the southward. Pundim has a 
very grand appearance ; being eight miles distant, and 
nearly 9000 feet above Mon Lepcha, it subtends an 
angle of 12°; while Kinchin top, though 15,000 feet 
higher than Mon Lepcha, being eighteen miles dis- 
tant, rises only 9° 30' above the true horizon : these 
angular heights are too small to give much grandeur and 

* This I have been told is the true Kubra ; and the great snowy mountain 
behind it, which I here, in conformity with the Dorjiling nomenclature, call 
Kubra, has no name, being considered a part of Kinchin. 

f The eastern and western tops are respectively 27,826 and 28,177 feet above 
the level of the sea. 

X I am aware that the word strata is inappropriate here ; the appearance of 
stratification or bedding, if it indicate any structure of the rock, being, I cannot 
doubt, due to that action which gives parallel cleavage planes to granite in many 
parts of the world, and to which the so-called lamination or foliation of slate and 
gneiss is supposed by many geologists to be due. It is not usual to find this 
structure so uniformly and conspicuously developed through large masses of 
granite, as it appeared to me to be on the sides of Kinchinjunga and on the top 
of Junnoo, as seen from the Choonjerma pass (p. 264, plate) ; but it is sometimes 
very conspicuous, and nowhere more than in the descent of the Grimsel towards 
Meyringen, where the granite on the east flank of that magnificent gorge seems 
cleft into parallel nearly vertical strata. 



Chap. XV. 

apparent elevation to mountains, however lofty ; nor would 
they do so in this case, were it not that the Ratong valley 
which intervenes, is seen to be several thousand feet lower, 
and many degrees below the real horizon. 


Pundim has a tremendous precipice to the south, 
which, to judge from its bareness of snow, must be nearly 
perpendicular ; and it presented a superb geological section. 
The height of this precipice I found by angles with a 
pocket sextant to be upwards of 3,400 feet, and that of 
its top to be 21,300 above the sea, and consequently only 
715 feet less than that of the summit of Pundim itself 
(which is 22,015 feet). This cliff is of black stratified 
rocks, sloping to the west, and probably striking north- 
west ; permeated from top to bottom by veins of white 
granite, disposed in zigzag lines, which produce a con- 
tortion of the gneiss, and give it a marbled appearance. 
The same structure may be seen in miniature on the 
transported blocks which abound in the Sikkim rivers ; 
where veins of finely grained granite are forced in 

Jan. 1849. FUNDIM CLIFF. NURSING. 347 

all directions through the gneiss, and form parallel 
seams or beds between the laminae of that rock, united by 
transverse seams, and crumpling up the gneiss itself, like 
the crushed leaves of a book. The summit of Pundiin 
itself is all of white rock, rounded in shape, and forming a 
cap to the gneiss, which weathers into precipices. 

A succession of ridges, 14,000 to 18,000 feet high, 
presented a line of precipices running south from Pundim 
for several miles : immense granite veins are exposed on 
their surfaces, and they are capped by stratified rocks, 
sloping to the east, and apparently striking to the north- 
west, which, being black, contrast strongly with the white 
granite beneath them : these ridges, instead of being round- 
topped, are broken into splintered crags, behind which rises 
the beautiful conical peak of Nursing, 19,139 feet above 
the sea, eight miles distant, and subtending an angle 
of 8° 30'. 

At the foot of these precipices was a very conspicuous 
series of lofty moraines, round whose bases the Ratong 
wound; these appeared of much the same height, rising 
several hundred feet above the valley : they were compa- 
ratively level-topped, and had steep shelving rounded sides. 

I have been thus particular in describing the upper 
Ratong valley, because it drains the south face of the 
loftiest mountain on the globe ; and I have introduced 
angular heights, and been precise in my details, because 
the vagueness with which all terms are usually applied 
to the apparent altitude and steepness of mountains 
and precipices, is apt to give false impressions. It is 
essential to attend to such points where scenery of real 
interest and importance is to be described. It is customary 
to speak of peaks as towering in the air, which yet subtend 
an angle of very few degrees ; of almost precipitous ascents, 


which, when measured, are found to be slopes of 18° or 
20°; and of cliffs as steep and stupendous, which are 
inclined at a very moderate angle. 

The effect of perspective is as often to deceive in details as 
to give truth to general impressions ; and those accessories 
are sometimes wanting in nature, which, when supplied by 
art, give truth to the landscape. Thus, a streak of clouds 
adds height to a peak which should appear lofty, but 
which scarcely rises above the true horizon ; and a belt of 
mist will sunder two snowy mountains which, though at 
very different distances, for want of a play of light and 
shade on their dazzling surfaces, and from the extreme 
transparency of the air in lofty regions, appear to be at the 
same distance from the observer. 

The view to the southward from Mon Lepcha, including the 
country between the sea-like plains of India and the loftiest 
mountain on the globe, is very grand, and neither wanting 
in variety nor in beauty. From the deep valleys choked 
with tropical luxuriance to the scanty yak pasturage on the 
heights above, seems but a step at the first coup-d 'ceil, 
but resolves itself on a closer inspection into five belts : 
1, palm and plantain; 2, oak and laurel; 3, pine; 
4, rhododendron and grass ; and 5, rock and snow. 
From the bed of the Ratong, in which grow palms with 
screw-pine and plantain, it is only seven miles in a direct 
line to the perpetual ice. From the plains of India, or 
outer Himalaya, one may behold snowy peaks rise in the 
distance behind a foreground of tropical forest; here, 
on the contrary, all the intermediate phases of vegetation 
are seen at a glance. Except in the Himalaya this is no 
common phenomenon, and is owing to the very remark- 
able depth of the river-beds. That part of the valley of 
the Ratong where tropical vegetation ceases, is but 4000 


feet above the sea, and though fully fifty miles as the crow 
flies (and perhaps 200 by the windings of the river) from 
the plains of India, is only eight in a straight line (and forty 
by the windings) from the snows which feed that river. 
In other words, the descent is so rapid, that in eight miles 
the Ratong waters every variety of vegetation, from the 
lichen of the poles to the palm of the tropics ; whilst 
throughout the remainder of its mountain course, it falls 
from 4000 to 300 feet, flowing amongst tropical scenery, 
through a valley whose flanks rise from 5000 to 12,000 
feet above its bed. 

From Mon Lepcha we proceeded north-west towards 
Jongri, along a very open rounded bare mountain, covered 
with enormous boulders of gneiss, of which the subjacent 
rock is also composed. The soil is a thick clay full of 
angular stones, everywhere scooped out into little depres- 
sions which are the dry beds of pools, and are often 
strewed with a thin layer of pebbles. Black tufts of 
alpine aromatic rhododendrons of two kinds (R. anthopogon 
and setosum), with dwarf juniper, comprised all the con- 
spicuous vegetation at this season. 

After a two hours' walk, keeping at 13,000 feet 
elevation, we sighted Jongri.* There were two stone 
huts on the bleak face of the spur, scarcely distinguishable 
at the distance of half a mile from the great blocks around 

* I am assured by Capt. Sherwill, who, in 1852, proceeded along and surveyed 
the Nepal frontier beyond this point to Gubroo, that this is not Jongri, but 
Yangpoong. The difficulty of getting precise information, especially as to the 
names of seldom-visited spots, is very great. I was often deceived myself, unde- 
signedly, I am sure, on the part of my informants ; but in this case I have Dr. 
Campbell's assurance, who has kindly investigated the subject, that there is no 
mistake on my part. Captain Sherwill has also kindly communicated to me a 
map of the head waters of the Rungbee, Yungya, and Yalloong rivers, of which, 
being more correct than my own, I have gladly availed myself for my map. 
Gubroo, he informs me, is 15,000 feet in altitude, and dips in a precipice 1000 feet 
high, facing Kubra, which prevented his exploring further north. 


them. To the north Gubroo rose in dismal grandeur, 
backed by the dazzling snows of Kubra, which now 
seemed quite near, its lofty top (alt. 24,005 feet) being 
only eight miles distant. Much snow lay on the ground 
in patches, and there were few remains of herbaceous 
vegetation ; those I recognised were chiefly of poppy, 
Potentitta, gentian, geranium, fritillary, Umbellifera, grass, 
and sedges. 

On our arrival at the huts the weather was still fine, 
with a strong north-west wind, which meeting the warm 
moist current from the Ratong valley, caused much pre- 
cipitation of vapour. As T hoped to be able to visit the 
surrounding glaciers from this spot, I made arrangements 
for a stay of some days: giving up the only habitable hut to 
my people, I spread my blankets in a slope from its roof to 
the ground, building a little stone dyke round the skirts of 
my dwelling, and a fire-place in front. 

Hence to Yalloong in Nepal, by the Kanglanamo pass, 
is two days' march : the route crosses the Singalelah range 
at an elevation of about 15,000 feet, south of Kubra, and 
north of a mountain that forms a conspicuous feature 
south-west from Jongri, as a crest of black fingered peaks, 
tipped with snow. 

It is difficult to conceive the amount of labour expended 
upon every pound of salt imported into this part of Sikkim 
from Tibet, and as an enumeration of the chief features of 
the routes it must follow, will give some idea of what the 
circuit of the loftiest mountain in the globe involves, I 
shall briefly allude to them ; premising that the circuit of 
Mont Blanc may be easily accomplished in four days. 
The shortest route to Yoksun (the first village south of 
Kinchin) from the nearest Tibetan village north of that 
mountain, involves a detour of one-third of the circum- 

Jan. 1849. ROUTE OF SALT-TRADERS. 351 

ference of Kinchin. It is evident that the most direct 
way must be that nearest the mountain-top, and therefore 
that which reaches the highest accessible elevation on its 
shoulders, and which, at the same time, dips into the 
shallowest valleys between those shoulders. The actual 
distance in a straight line is about fifty miles, from 
Yoksun to the mart at or near Tashirukpa. 
The marches between them are as follows : — 
1. To Yalloong two days; crossing Kanglanamo pass, 
15,000 feet high. 

3. To foot of Choonjerma pass, descending to 10,000 feet. 

4. Cross Choonjerma pass, 15,260 feet, and proceed to 
Kambachen, 11,400 feet. 

5. Cross Nango pass, 15,770, and camp on Yangma 
river, 11,000 feet. 

6. Ascend to foot of Kanglachem pass, and camp at 
15,000 feet. 

7. Cross Kanglachem pass, probably 16,500 feet; and 

8 — 10. It is said to be three marches hence to the 
Tibetan custom-house, and that two more snowy passes 
are crossed. 

This allows no day of rest, and gives only five miles — as 
the crow flies — to be accomplished each day, but I assume 
fully fourteen of road distance ; the labour spent in which 
would accomplish fully thirty over good roads. Four 
snowed passes at least are crossed, all above 15,000 feet, 
and after the first day the path does not descend below 
10.000 feet. By this route about one-third of the circuit of 
Kinchinjunga is accomplished. Supposing the circuit were 
to be completed by the shortest practicable route, that is, 
keeping as near the summit as possible, the average time 
required for a man with his load would be upwards of a 


To reach Tashimkpa by the eastern route from Yoksun, 
being a journey of about twenty-five days, requires a long 
detour to the southward and eastward, and afterwards the 
ascent of the Teesta valley, to Kongra Lama, and so north 
to the Tibetan Aran. 

My first operation after encamping and arranging my 
instruments, was to sink the ground 'thermometer ; but 
the earth being frozen for sixteen inches, it took four men 
several hours' work with hammer and chisel, to penetrate 
so deep. There was much vegetable matter for the first 
eight or ten inches, and below that a fine red clay. I 
spent the afternoon, which was fine, in botanising. When 
the sun shone, the smell of the two rhododendrons was 
oppressive, especially as a little exertion at this eleva- 
tion brings on headache. There were few mosses ; but 
crustaceous lichens were numerous, and nearly all of them 
of Scotch, Alpine, European, and Arctic kinds. The 
names of these, given by the classical Linnaeus and 
Wahlenberg, tell in some cases of their birth-places, in 
others of their hardihood, their lurid colours and weather- 
beaten aspects ; such as tristis, r/elida, glacialis, arctica, 
alpina, sascatilis, polaris, frigida, and numerous others 
equally familiar to the Scotch botanist. I recognised many 
as natives of the wild mountains of Cape Horn, and the 
rocks of the stormy Antarctic ocean ; since visiting which 
regions I had not gathered them. The lichen called 
geogrcqildcus was most abundant, and is found to indicate 
a certain degree of cold in every latitude ; descending to 
the level of the sea in latitude 52° north, and 50° south, but 
in lower latitudes only to be seen on mountains. It 
flourishes at 10,000 feet on the Himalaya, ascending 
thence to 18,000 feet. Its name, however, was not 
intended to indicate its wide range, but the curious 


maplike patterns which its yellow crust forms on the 

Of the blocks of gneiss scattered over the Jongri spur, 
many are twenty feet in diameter. The ridge slopes 
gently south-west to the Choroong river, and more steeply 
north-east to the Ratong, facing Kinchin : it rises so very 
gradually to a peaked mountain between Jongri and 
Kubra, that it is not possible to account for the transport 
and deposit of these boulders by glaciers of the ordinary 
form, viz., by a stream of ice following the course of a 
valley ; and we are forced to speculate upon the possibility 
of ice having capped the whole spur, and moved down- 
wards, transporting blocks from the prominences on various 
parts of the spur. 

The cutting up of the whole surface of this rounded 
mountain into little pools, now dry, of all sizes, from 
ten to about one hundred yards in circumference, is a 
very striking phenomenon. The streams flow in shallow 
transverse valleys, each passing through a succession of 
such pools, accompanying a step -like character of the 
general surface. The beds are stony, becoming more so 
where they enter the pools, upon several of the larger of 
which I observed curving ridges of large stones, radiating 
outwards on to their beds from either margin of the 
entering stream : more generally large stones were deposited 
opposite every embouchure. 

This superficial sculpturing must have been a very 
recent operation ; and the transport of the heavy stones 
opposite the entrance of the streams has been effected by 
ice, and perhaps by snow ; just as the arctic ice strews the 
shores of the Polar ocean with rocks. 

The weather had been threatening all day, northern and 
westerly currents contending aloft with the south-east 

VOL. T. A A 


trade-wind of Sikkim, and meeting in strife over the great 
upper valley of the Ratong. Stately masses of white 
cumuli wheeled round that gulf of glaciers, partially 
dissipating in an occasional snow-storm, but on the whole 
gradually accumulatiu g . 

On my arrival the thermometer was 32°, with a powerful 
sun shining, and it fell to 28° at 4 p.m., when the north 
wind set in. At sunset the moon rose through angry 
masses of woolly cirrus; its broad full orb threw a flood of 
yellow light over the serried tops south of Pundim ; thence 
advancing obliquely towards Nursing, " it stood tip-toe " 
for a few minutes on that beautiful pyramid of snow, 
whence it seemed to take flight and mount majestically 
into mid-air, illuminating Kinchin, Pundim, and Kubra. 

I sat at the entrance of my gipsy-like hut, anxiously 
watching the weather, and absorbed in admiration of the 
moonrise, from which my thoughts were soon diverted by 
its fading light as it entered a dense mass of mare's-tail 
cirrus. It was very cold, and the stillness was oppressive. 
I had been urged not to attempt such an ascent in 
January, my provisions were scanty, firewood only to be 
obtained from some distance, the open undulating surface 
of Jongri was particularly exposed to heavy snow-drifts, 
and the path was, at the best, a scarcely perceptible track. 
I followed every change of the wind, every fluctuation of 
the barometer and thermometer, each accession of humidity, 
and the courses of the clouds aloft. At 7 p.m., the wind 
suddenly shifted to the west, and the thermometer instantly 
rose from 20° to 30°. After 8 p.m., the temperature fell 
again, and the wind drew round from west by south to 
north-east, when the fog cleared off. The barometer rose 
no more than it usually does towards 10 p.m., and though 
it clouded again, with the temperature at 17°, the wind 


seemed steady, and I went to bed with a relieved 

Jan. 10. — During the night the temperature fell to 11° 2, 
and at 6 a.m. was 19° 8, falling again to 17° soon after. 
Though clouds were rapidly coming up from the west and 
south-west, the wind remained northerly till 8 a.m., when 
it shifted to south-west, and the temperature rose to 25°. 
As it continued fine, with the barometer high, I ventured 
on a walk towards Gubroo, carefully taking bearings of 
my position. I found a good many plants in a rocky 
valley close to that mountain, which I in vain attempted to 
ascend. The air was 30°, with a strong and damp south- 
west wind, and the cold was so piercing, that two lads 
who were with me, although walking fast, became benumbed, 
and could not return without assistance. At 11 a.m., a 
thick fog obliged us to retrace our steps : it was followed 
by snow in soft round pellets like sago, that swept across 
the hard ground. During the afternoon it snowed unceas- 
ingly, the wind repeatedly veering round the compass, 
always from west to east by south, and so by north to 
west again. The flakes were large, soft, and moist with 
the south wind, and small, hard, and dry with the north. 
Glimpses of blue sky were constantly seen to the south, 
under the gloomy canopy above, but they augured no 
change. As darkness came on, the temperature fell to 15°, 
and it snowed very hard ; at 6 p.m., it was 11°, but rose 
afterwards to 18°. 

The night was very cold and wintry : I sat for some 
hours behind a blanket screen (which had to be shifted 
every few minutes) at my tent-door, keeping up a sulky fire, 
and peering through the snow for signs of improvement, 
but in vain. The clouds were not dense, for the moon's 
light was distinct, shining on the glittering snow-flakes 

A A 2 


that fell relentlessly : my anxiety was great, and I could 
not help censuring myself severely for exposing a party to 
so great danger at such a season. I found comfort in the 
belief that no idle curiosity had prompted me, and that 
with a good motive and a strong prestige of success, one 
can surmount a host of difficulties. Still the snow fell; 
and my heart sank, as my fire declined, and the flakes 
sputtered on the blackening embers ; my little puppy, who 
had gambolled all day amongst the drifting white pellets, 
now whined, and crouched under my thick woollen cloak ; 
the inconstant searching wind drifted the snow into the 
tent, whose roof so bagged in with the accumulation that 
I had to support it with sticks, and dreaded being smoth- 
ered, if the weight should cause it to sink upon my bed 
during my sleep. The increasing cold drove me, how- 
ever, to my blankets, and taking' the precaution of stretching 
a tripod stand over my head, so as to leave a breathing 
hole, by supporting the roof if it fell in, I slept soundly, 
with my dog at my feet. 

At sunrise the following morning the sky was clear, with 
a light north wind ; about two feet of snow had fallen, the 
drifts were deep, and all trace of the path obliterated. The 
minimum thermometer had fallen to 3° 7, the temperature 
rose to 27° at 9 a.m., after which the wind fell, and with 
it the thermometer to 18°. Soon, however, southerly 
breezes set in, bringing up heavy masses of clouds. 

My light-hearted companions cheerfully prepared to leave 
the ground; they took their appointed loads without a 
murmur, and sought protection for their eyes from the glare 
of the newly fallen snow, some with as much of my crape 
veil as I could spare, others with shades of brown paper, or 
of hair from the yaks' tails, whilst a few had spectacle- 
shades of woven hair; and the Lepchas loosened their 

Jan. 1849. ARRIVAL AT BUCKEEM. 357 

pigtails, and combed their long hair over their eyes and faces. 
It is from fresh-fallen snow alone that much inconvenience 
is felt ; owing, I suppose, to the light reflected from the 
myriads of facets which the crystals of snow present. I have 
never suffered inconvenience in crossing beds of old snow, 
or glaciers with weathered surfaces, which absorb a great 
deal of light, and reflect comparatively little, and that little 
coloured green or blue. 

The descent was very laborious, especially through the 
several miles of bush and rock which lie below the summit: 
so that, although we started at 10 a. m., it was dark by the 
time we reached Buckeem, where we found two lame coolies, 
whom we had left on our way up, and who were keeping 
up a glorious fire for our reception. 



Ratong river below Mon Lepcha — Ferns — Vegetation of Yoksun, tropical — 
Araliacece, fodder for cattle — Rice-paper plant — Geology of Yoksun — Lake — 
Old temples — Funereal cypresses — Gigantic chait — 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. 

On the following day we marched to Yoksun : the wea- 
ther was fair, though it was evidently snowing on the 
mountains above. I halted at the Ratong river, at the foot 
of Mon Lepcha, where I found its elevation to be 7,150 feet; 
its edges were frozen, and the temperature of the water 36°; 
it is here a furious torrent flowing between gneiss rocks 
which dip south-south-east, and is flanked by flat-topped 
beds of boulders, gravel and sand, twelve to fourteen feet 
thick. Its vegetation resembles that of Dorjiling, but is more 
alpine, owing no doubt to the proximity of Kinchinjunga. 
The magnificent Rhododendron argenteum was growing on its 
banks. On the other hand, I was surprised to see a beautiful 
fern (a Trichomanes, very like the Irish one) which is not 
found at Dorjiling. The same day, at about the same 
elevation, I gathered sixty species of fern, many of very 
tropical forms.* No doubt the range of such genera is 
extended in proportion to the extreme damp and equable 

* They consisted of the above-mentioned Trlchomanes, three ffymenophyllce, 
Vittaria, Pleopcttis, and Mamttia, together with several Selagvnellas. 


climate, here, as about Dorjiling. Tree-ferns are however 
absent, and neither plantains, epiphytical Orchideee, nor 
palms, are so abundant, or ascend so high as on the outer 
ranges. About Yoksun itself, which occupies a very warm 
sheltered flat, many tropical genera occur, such as tall bam- 
boos of two kinds, grasses allied to the sugar-cane, scarlet 
Erythrina, and various AraliacecB, amongst which was one 
species whose pith was of so curious a structure,that I had 
no hesitation in considering the then unknown Chinese sub- 
stance called rice-paper to belong to a closely allied plant.* 

The natives collect the leaves of many Aralias as fodder for 
cattle, for which purpose they are of the greatest service in 
a country where grass for pasture is so scarce ; this is the 
more remarkable, since they belong to the natural family of 
ivy, which is usually poisonous ; the use of this food, how- 
ever, gives a peculiar taste to the butter. In other parts 
of Sikkim, fig-leaves are used for the same purpose, and 
branches of a bird-cherry (Prunus), a plant also of a very 
poisonous family, abounding in prussic acid. 

We were received with great kindness by the villagers 
of Yoksun, who had awaited our return with some anxiety, 
and on hearing of our approach had collected large supplies 
of food ; amongst other things were tares (called by the 
Lepchas " Kullai "), yams (" Book "), and a bread made by 
bruising together damp maize and rice into tough thin cakes 
("Katch-ung tapha"). The Lamas of Doobdi were especially 
civil, having a favour to ask, which was that I would intercede 
with Dr. Campbell to procure the permission of the Nepalese 

* The Chinese rice-paper has long been known to be cut from cylinders of pith 
which has always a central hollow chamber, divided into compartments by septa 
or excessively thin plates. It is only within the last few montbs that my suppo- 
sition has been confirmed, by my father's receiving from China, after many years 
of correspondence, specimens of the rice-paper plant itself, which very closely 
resemble, in botanical characters, as well as in outward appearance of size aud 
habit, the Sikkim plant. 


to reopen the Kanglanamo pass, and thus give some occu- 
pation to their herds of yaks, which were now wandering 
idly about. 

I botanized for two days on the Yoksun flat, searching 
for evidence of lacustrine strata or moraines, being more 
than ever convinced by the views I had obtained of this 
place from Mon Lepcha, that its uniformity of surface was 
due to water action. It is certainly the most level area of 
its size that I know of in Sikkim, though situated in one 
of the deepest valleys, and surrounded on almost all sides 
by very steep mountains ; and it is far above the flat gravel 
terraces of the present river-beds. I searched the surface 
of the flat for gravel beds in vain, for though it 
abounds in depressions that must have formerly been 
lake-beds, and are now marshes in the rainy season, these 
were all floored with clay. Along the western edge, where 
the descent is very steep for 1800 feet to the Ratong, I 
found no traces of stratified deposits, though the spurs which 
projected from it were often flattened at top. The only 
existing lake has sloping clay banks, covered with spongy 
vegetable mould ; it has no permanent affluent or outlet, its 
present drainage being subterranean, or more probably by 
evaporation ; but there is an old water-channel several feet 
above its level. It is eighty to a hundred yards across, and 
nearly circular ; its depth three or four feet, increased to 
fifteen or sixteen in the rains ; like all similar pools in 
Sikkim, it contains little or no animal life at this season, and 
I searched in vain for shells, insects, or frogs. All around 
were great blocks of gneiss, some fully twelve feet square. 

The situation of this lake is very romantic, buried in a 
tall forest of oaks and laurels, and fringed by wild camellia 
shrubs ; the latter are not the leafy, deep green, large-blos- 
somed plants of our greenhouses, but twiggy bushes with 

Jan. 1849. 



small scattered leaves, and little yellowish flowers like those 
of the tea-plant. The massive walls of a ruined temple 
rise close to the water, which looks like the still moat of a 
castle : beside it are some grand old funereal cypresses, with 
ragged scattered branches below, where they struggle for 
light in the dense forest, but raising their heads aloft as 
bright green pyramids. 

After some difficulty I found the remains of a broad path 
that divided into two ; one of them led to a second ruined 
temple, fully a mile off, and the other I followed to a 
grove, in which was a gigantic chait ; it was a beautiful lane 
throughout, bordered with bamboo, brambles, gay-flowered 

H4 ' Cr 


Melastomacece like hedge-roses, and scarlet Erythrina : 
there were many old mendongs and chaits on the way, 


which I was always careful to leave on the right hand in 
passing, such being the rule among Boodhists, the same 
which ordains that the praying-cylinder or " Mani " be 
made to revolve in a direction against the sun's motion. 

This great chait is the largest in Sikkim ; it is called 
" Nirbogong," and appears to be fully forty feet high ; 
facing it is a stone altar about fifteen feet long and four 
broad, and behind this again is a very curious erection 
called "Song-boom," used for burning juniper as incense ; it 
resembles a small smelting furnace, and consists of an elon- 
gated conical stone building eight feet high, raised on a 
single block ; it is hollow, and divided into three stories 
or chambers ; in the lower of which is a door, by which fuel 
is placed inside, and the smoke ascending through holes 
in the upper slabs, escapes by lateral openings from the top 
compartment. These structures are said to be common in 
Tibet, but I saw no other in Sikkim. 

During my stay at Yoksun, the weather was very cold, 
especially at night, considering the elevation (5,600 feet) : 
the mean temperature was 39°, the extremes being 19° 2 
and 60° ; and even at 8 a.m. the thermometer, laid on the 
frosty grass, stood at 20° ; temperatures which are rare at 
Dorjiling, 1500 feet higher, I could not but regard with 
surprise such half tropical genera as perennial-leaved vines, 
Saccharum,IJri/thrina,\2ix%p bamboos, Osbeckia and cultivated 
millet, resisting such low temperatures.* 

On the 14th January I left Yoksun for the lake and 
temples of Catsuperri, the former of which is by much the 
largest in Sikkim. After a steep descent of 1800 feet, we 
reached the Ratong, where its bed is only 3,790 feet above 

* This is no doubt due to the temperature of the soil being always high : I did 
not sink a thermometer at Yoksun, but from observations taken at similar eleva- 
tions, the temperature of the earth, at three feet depth, may be assumed to be 55°. 

Jan. 1849. CATSUPERRI LAKE. 363 

the sea ; it is here a turbulent stream, twelve yards across, 
with the usual features of gravel terraces, huge boulders of 
gneiss and some of the same rock in situ, striking north-east. 
Some idea of its velocity may be formed from the descent it 
makes from the foot of Mon Lepcha, where the elevation of its 
bed was 7,1 50 feet, giving a fall of 3,350 feet in only ten miles. 

Hence I ascended a very steep spur, through tropical 
vegetation, now become so familiar to me that I used to 
count the number of species belonging to the different large 
natural orders, as 1 went along. I gathered only thirty-five 
ferns at these low elevations, in the same space as produces 
from fifty to sixty in the more equable and humid regions 
of 6000 feet ; grasses on the other hand were much more 
numerous. The view of the flat of Yoksun from Lung- 
schung village, opposite to it, and on about the same level, is 
curious; as is that of the hamlet of Lathiang on the same side, 
which I have before noticed as being placed on a very singular 
flat shelf above the Ratong, and is overhung by rocks. 

Ascending very steeply for several thousand feet, we 
reached a hollow on the Catsuperri spur, beyond which the 
lake lies buried in a deep forest. A Lama from the adjacent 
temple accompanied us, and I found my people affecting 
great solemnity as they approached its sacred bounds ; 
they incessantly muttered " Om mani," &c, kotowed to 
trees and stones, and hung bits of rag on the bushes. A 
pretence of opposing our progress was made by the priest, 
who of course wanted money ; this I did not appear to 
notice, and after a steep descent, we were soon on the shores 
of what is, for Sikkim, a grand sheet of water, (6,040 feet 
above the sea), without any apparent outlet : it may be from 
three to five hundred yards across in the rains, but was 
much less now, and was bordered by a broad marsh of bog 
moss (Sphagnum), in which were abundance of AzoUa, 


colouring the waters red, and sedges. Along the banks were 
bushes of 'Rhododendron barbatum nndBerberis insignis* but 
the mass of the vegetation was similar to that of Dorjiling. 

We crossed the marsh to the edge of the lake by a rude 
paved way of decaying logs, through which we often plunged 
up to our knees. The Lama had come provided with a 
piece of bark, shaped like a boat, some juniper incense and 
a match-box, with which he made a fire, and put it in 
the boat, which he then launched on the lake as a 
votive offering to the presiding deity. It was a dead calm, 
but the impetus he gave to the bark shot it far across the 
lake, whose surface was soon covered with a thick cloud of 
white smoke. Taking a rupee from me, the priest then waved 
his arm aloft, and pretended to throw the money into the 
water, singing snatches of prayers in Tibetan, and at times 
shrieking at the top of his voice to the Dryad who claims 
these woods and waters as his own. There was neither 
bird, beast, nor insect to be seen, and the scenery was as 
impressive to me, as the effect of the simple service was 
upon my people, who prayed with redoubled fervour, and 
hung more rags on the bushes. 

I need hardly say that this invocation of the gods of the 
woods and waters forms no part of Lama worship ; but the 
Lepchas are but half Boodhists ; in their hearts they dread 
the demons of the grove, the lake, the snowy mountain 
and the torrent, and the crafty Lama takes advantage of 
this, modifies his practices to suit their requirements, and is 
content with the formal recognition of the spiritual supre- 
macy of the church. This is most remarkably shown in 
their acknowledgment of the day on which offerings had 
been made from time immemorial by the pagan Lepchas to 

* This magnificent new species has not been introduced into England ; it forms a 
large bush, with deep-green leaves seven inches long, and bunches of yellow flowers. 


the genius of Kinchinjunga, by holding it as a festival of 
the church throughout Sikkim.* 

The two Catsuperri temples occupy a spur 445 feet above 
the lake, and 6,485 feet above the sea; they are poor, 
and only remarkable for a miserable weeping-willow tree 
planted near them, said to have been brought from Lhassa. 
The monks were very civil to me, and offered amongst 
other things a present of excellent honey. One was an 
intelligent man, and gave me much information : he told 
me that there were upwards of twenty religious establish- 
ments in Sikkim, containing more than 1000 priests. These 
have various claims upon the devout: thus, Tassiding, 
Doobdi, Changachelling, and Pemiongchi, are celebrated for 
their antiquity, and the latter also for being the residence of 
the head Lama ; Catsuperri for its lake ; Raklang for its size, 
&c. All are under one spiritual head, who is the Tupgain 
Lama, or eldest son of the Rajah ; and who resides at the 
Phadong convent, near Tumloong : the Lama of Pemiongchi 
is, however, the most highly respected, on account of his age, 
position, and sanctity. Advancement in the hierarchy is 
dependent chiefly on interest, but indirectly on works also ; 
pilgrimages to Lhassa and Teshoo Loombo are the highest of 

* On that occasion an invocation to the mountain is chanted by priests and 
people in chorus. Like the Lama's address to the genius of Catsuperri lake, its 
meaning, if it ever had any, is not now apparent. It runs thus : — 
" Kan chin -jinga, Pemi Kadup 

Gnetche Tangla, Dursha tember 

Zu jinga Pemsum Serkiem 

Dischze Kubra Kanchin tong." 
This was written for me by Dr. Campbell, who, like myself, has vainly sought its 
solution ; it is probably a mixture of Tibetan and Lepcha, both as much corrupted 
as the celebrated " Om mani padmi hoom," which is universally pronounced by 
Lepchas " Menny pemmy hoom." This reminds me that I never got a solution of 
this sentence from a Lama, of whatever rank or learning ; and it was only 
after incessant inquiry, during a residence of many years in Nepal, that Mr. 
Hodgson at last procured the interpretation, or rather paraphrase: "Hail to 
him°(Sakya) of the lotus and the jewel," which is very much the same as 
M. Klaproth and other atithorities have given. 


these, and it is clearly the interest of the supreme pontiffs of 
those ecclesiastical capitals to encourage such, and to intimate 
to the Sikkim authorities, the claims those who perform them 
have for preferment. Dispensations for petty offences are 
granted to Lamas of low degree and monks, by those of 
higher station, but crimes against the church are invariably 
referred to Tibet, and decided there. 

The election to the Sikkim Lamaseries is generally con- 
ducted on the principle of self-government, but Pemiongchi 
and some others are often served by Lamas appointed from 
Tibet, or ordained there, at some of the great convents. I 
never heard of an instance of any Sikkim Lama arriving at 
such sanctity as to be considered immortal, and to reappear 
after death in another individual, nor is there any election of 
infants. All are of the Ningma, Dookpa, or Shammar sect, 
and are distinguished by their red mitres ; they were once 
dominant throughout Tibet, but after many wars * with the 
yellow-caps, they were driven from that country, and took 
refuge principally in the Himalaya. The Bhotan or Dhurma f 

* The following account of the early war between the red and the yellow- 
mitred Lamas was given me by Tchebu Lama : — For twenty-five generations the 
red-caps (Dookpa or Nmgma) prevailed in Tibet, when they split into two sects, who 
contended for supreme power ; the Lama of Phado, who headed the dissenters, and 
adopted a yellow mitre, being favoured by the Emperor of China, to whom reference 
was made. A persecution of the red Lamas followed, who were caught by the 
yellow-caps, and their mitres plunged into dyeing vats kept always ready at the 
Lamaseries. The Dookpa, however, still held Teshoo Loombo, and applied to the 
Sokpo (North Tibet) Lamas for aid, who bringing horses and camels, easily pre- 
vailed over the Gelookpa or yellow sect, but afterwards treacherously went over 
to them, and joined them in an attack on Teshoo Loombo, which was plundered 
and occupied by the Gelookpas. The Dookpa thereafter took refuge in Sikkim and 
Bhotan, whence the Bhotan Rajah became their spiritual chief under the name of 
Dhurma Rajah, and is now the representative of that creed. Goorucknath is still the 
Dookpa's favourite spiritual deity of the older creed, which is, however, no longer in 
the ascendant. The Dalai Lama of Teshoo Loombo is a Gelookpa, as is the Rim- 
bochay Lama, and the Potala Lama of Lhassa, according to Tchebu Lama, but 
Turner (" Travels in Tibet," p. 315) says the contrary; the Gelookpa consider 
Sakya Thoba (or Tsongkaba) alias Mahamouni, as their great avatar. 

t Bhotan is generally known as the Dhurma country. See page 136, in note. 


Rajah became the spiritual head of this sect, and, as is well 
known, disputes the temporal government also of his country 
with the DevaRajah,who is the hereditary temporal monarch, 
and never claims spiritual jurisdiction. I am indebted to Dr. 
Campbell for a copy and translation of the Dhurma Rajah's 
great seal, containing the attributes of his spirituality, a 
copy of which I have appended to the end of this chapter. 

The internal organisation of the different monastic 
establishments is very simple. The head or Teshoo Lama * 
rules supreme ; then come the monks and various orders of 
priests, and then those who are candidates for orders, and 
dependents, both lay-brothers and slaves : there are a few 
nunneries in Sikkim, and the nuns are all relatives or connec- 
tions of the Rajah, his sister is amongst them. During the 
greater part of the year, all lead a more or less idle life ; the 
dependents being the most occupied in carrying wood and 
water, cultivating the land, &c. 

The lay-brothers are often skilful workmen, and are some- 
times lent or hired out as labourers, especially as house- 
builders and decorators. No tax of any kind is levied on 
the church, which is frequently very rich in land, flocks, 
and herds, and in contributions from the people : land is 
sometimes granted by the Rajah, but is oftener purchased 
by the priests, or willed, or given by the proprietor. The 
services, to which I have already alluded, are very irregularly 
performed ; in most temples only on festival clays, which 
correspond to the Tibetan ones so admirably described in 
MM. Hue and Gabet's narrative ; in a few, however, ser- 
vice is performed daily, especially in such as stand near 
frequented roads, and hence reap the richest harvest. 

* I have been informed by letters from Dr. Campbell that the Pcmioivjchi 
Lama is about to remove the religious capital of Sikkim to Dorjiling, and build 
there a grand temple and monastery: this will be attractive to visitors, and 
afford the means of extending our knowledge of East Tibet. 


Like all the natives of Tibet and Sikkim, the priests are 
intolerably filthy; in some cases so far carrying out their doc- 
trines as not even to kill the vermin with which they swarm. 
All are nominally bound to chastity, but exemptions in favour 
of Lamas of wealth, rank, or power, are granted by the 
supreme pontiffs, both in Tibet and Sikkim. I constantly 
found swarms of children about the Lamaseries, who were 
invariably called nephews and nieces. 

Descending from the Catsuperri temples, I encamped at 
the village of Tengling (elevation 5,257 feet), where I was 
waited upon by a bevy of forty women, Lepchas and 
Sikkim Bhoteeas, accompanied by their children, and 
bringing presents of fowls, rice and vegetables, and apolo- 
gising for the absence of their male relatives, who were 
gone to carry tribute to the Rajah. Thence I marched to 
Changachelling, first descending to the Tengling river, 
which divides the Catsuperri from the Molli ridge, and 
which I crossed. 

Tree-ferns here advance further north than in any other 
part of Sikkim. I did not visit the Molli temples, but 
crossed the spur of that name, to the Rungbee river, whose 
bed is 3,300 feet above the sea; thence I ascended upwards 
of 3,500 feet to the Changachelling temples, passing Tchong- 
pong village. The ridge on which both Pemiongchi and 
Changachelling are built, is excessively narrow at top ; it is 
traversed by a "via sacra," connecting these two establish- 
ments; this is a pretty wooded walk, passing mendongsand 
chaits hoary with lichens and mosses ; to the north the 
snows of Kinchinjunga are seen glimmering between the 
trunks of oaks, laurels, and rhododendrons, while to the 
south the Sinchul and Dorjiling spurs shut out the view of 
the plains of India. 

Changachelling temples and chaits crown a beautiful 


rocky eminence on the ridge, their roofs, cones and spires 
peeping through groves of bamboo, rhododendrons, and 
arbutus ; the ascent is by broad flights of steps cut in the 
mica-slate rocks, up which shaven and girdled monks, with 
rosaries and long red gowns, were dragging loads of bamboo 
stems, that produced a curious rattling noise. At the 
summit there is a fine temple, with the ruins of several 
others, and of many houses : the greater part of the prin- 
cipal temple, which is two-storied and divided into several 
compartments, is occupied by families. The monks were 
busy repairing the part devoted to worship, which consists 
of a large chamber and vestibule of the usual form ■ the 
outside walls are daubed red, with a pigment of burnt 
felspathic clay, which is dug hard by. Some were painting 
the vestibule with colours brought from Lhassa, where they 
had been trained to the art. Amongst other figures was one 
playing on a guitar, a very common symbol in the vestibules 
of Sikkim temples : I also saw an angel playing on the 
flute, and a snake-king offering fruit to a figure in the water, 
who was grasping a serpent. Amongst the figures I was 
struck by that of an Englishman, whom, to my amusement, 
and the limner's great delight, I recognised as myself. I 
was depicted in a flowered silk coat instead of a tartan 
shooting jacket, my shoes were turned up at the toes, and 
I had on spectacles and a tartar cap, and was writing 
notes in a book. On one side a snake-king was politely 
handing me fruit, and on the other a horrible demon was 

A crowd had collected to see whether I should recognise 
myself, and when I did so, the merriment was extreme. 
They begged me to send them a supply of vermilion, gold- 
leaf, and brushes ; our so called camel's-hair pencils being 
much superior to theirs, which are made of marmot's hair. 


I was then conducted to a house, where I found salted 
and buttered tea and Murwa beer smoking in hospitable 
preparation. As usual, the house was of wood, and the 
inhabited apartments above the low basement story were 
approached by an outside ladder, like a Swiss cottage : 
within were two rooms floored with earth ; the inner was 
small, and opened on a verandah that faced Kinchinjunga, 
whence the keen wind whistled through the apartment. 

The head Lama, my jolly fat friend of the 20th of 
December, came to breakfast with me, followed by several 
children, nephews and nieces he said ; but they were 
uncommonly like him for such a distant relationship, and 
he seemed extremely fond of them, and much pleased when 
I stuffed them with sugar. 

Changachelling hill is remarkable for having on its sum- 
mit an immense tabular mass of chlorite slate, resting 
apparently horizontally on variously inclined rocks of the 
same : it is quite flat-topped, ten to twelve yards each way, 
and the sides are squared by art ; the country people attri- 
bute its presence here to a miracle. 

The view of the Kinchin range from this spot being one 
of the finest in Sikkim, and the place itself being visible 
from Dorjiling, I took a very careful series of bearings, 
which, with those obtained at Pemiongchi, were of the 
utmost use in improving my map, which was gradually 
progressing. To my disappointment I found that neither 
priest nor people knew the name of a single snowy moun- 
tain. I also asked in vain for some interpretation of the 
lines I have quoted at p. 365 ; they said they were Lepcha 
worship, and that they only used them for the gratification of 
the people, on the day of the great festival of Kinchinjunga. 

Hence I descended to the Kulhait river, on my route 
back to Dorjiling, visiting my very hospitable tippling friend, 

Jan. 1849. RETURN TO DORJILTNG. 371 

the Kajee of Lingcham, on the way down: he humbly begged 
me to get him a pair of spectacles, for no other object than 
to look wise, as he had the eyes of a hawk ; he told me that 
mine drew down universal respect in Sikkim, and that I had 
been drawn with them on, in the temple at Changachelling ; 
and that a pair would not only wonderfully become him, 
but afford him the most pleasing recollections of myself. 
Happily I had the means of gratifying him, and have since 
been told that he wears them on state occasions. 

I encamped by the river, 3,160 feet above the sea, 
amongst figs and plantains, on a broad terrace of pebbles, 
boulders and sand, ten feet above the stream ; the rocks in 
the latter were covered with a red conferva. The sand 
on the banks was disposed in layers, alternately white and 
red, the white being quartz, and the red pulverised garnets. 
The arranging of these sand-bands by the water must be due 
to the different specific gravities of the garnet and quartz; the 
former being lighter, is lifted by the current on to the surface 
of the quartz, and left there when the waters retire. 

On the next day I ascended Hee hill, crossed it at an 
elevation of 7,290 feet, and camped on the opposite side at 
6,680 feet, in a dense forest. The next march was still 
southward to the little Rungeet guard-house, below Dorjiling 
spur, which I reached after a fatiguing walk amidst torrents 
of rain. The banks of the little Rungeet river, which is only 
1,670 feet above the sea, are very flat and low, with broad 
terraces of pebbles and shingle, upon which are huge gneiss 
boulders, fully 200 feet above the stream. 

On the 19th of January, I ascended the Tukvor spur to 
Dorjiling, and received a most hospitable welcome from my 
friend Mr. Muller, now almost the only European inhabitant 
of the place ; Mr. Hodgson having gone down on a shooting 
excursion in the Terai, and Dr. Campbell being on duty 



Chap. XVI. 

on the Bhotan frontier. The place looked what it really was 
— wholly deserted. The rain I had experienced in the valley, 
had here been snow, and the appearance of the broad snowed 
patches clear of trees, and of the many houses without 
smoke or inhabitant, and the tall scattered trees with black 
bark and all but naked branches, was dismal in the extreme. 
The effect was heightened by an occasional Hindoo, who 
flitted here and there along the road, crouching and 
shivering, with white cotton garments and bare legs. 

The delight of my Lepcha attendants at finding them- 
selves safely at home again, knew no bounds ; and their 
parents waited on me with presents, and other tokens of 
their goodwill and gratitude. I had no lack of volunteers 
for a similar excursion in the following season, though with 
their usual fickleness, more than half failed me, long before 
the time arrived for putting their zeal to the proof. 

I am indebted to Dr. Campbell for the accompanying impression and description 
of the seal of the Dhurma Rajah, or sovereign pontiff of Bhotan, and spiritual head 
of the whole sect of the Dookpa, or red-mitred Lama Boodhists. The translations 
were made by Aden Tchebu Lama, who accompanied us into Sikkim in 1849, and 
I believe they are quite correct. The Tibetan characters run from left to right. 

The seal of the Dhurma Rajah is divided into a centre portion and sixteen rays. 
In the centre is the word Dookyin, which means " The Dookpa Creed ; " around 
the " Dookyin " are sixteen similar letters, meaning " I," or " I am." The sixteen 
radial compartments contain his titles and attributes, thus, commencing from the 
centre erect one, and passing round from left to right : — 

1 . I am the Spiritual and Temporal Chief of 

the Realm. 

2. The Defender of the Faith. 

3. Equal to Saruswati in learning. 

4. Chief of all the Boodhs. 

5. Head expounder of the Shasters. 

6. Caster out of devils. 

7. The most learned in the Holy Laws. 

8. An Avatar of God (or, by God's will). 

9. Absolver of sins. 

10. I am above all the Lamas of the Dookpa 


11. I am of the best of all Religions— the 


12. The punisher of unbelievers. 

13. Unequalled in expounding the Shasters. 

14. Unequalled in holiness and wisdom. 

15. The head (or fountain) of all Religious 


16. The Enemy of all false Avatars. 



Dispatch collections — Acorns — Heat — Punkabaree — Bees — Vegetation — Haze — 
Titalya— Earthquake — Proceed to Nepal frontier — Terai, geology of — Phy- 
sical features of Himalayan valleys — Elephants, purchase of, &c. — River-beds 
— Mechi river — Return to Titalya — Leave for Teesta — Climate of plains — 
Jeelpigoree — Cooches — Alteration in the appearance of country by fires, &c. — 
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 Khersiong — To Dorjiling — Vegetation — Geology — Folded quartz- 
beds — Spheres of feldspar — Lime deposits. 

Having arranged the collections (amounting to eighty 
loads) made during 1848, they were conveyed by coolies 
to the foot of the hills, where carts were provided to carry 
them five days' journey to the Mahanuddy river, which 
flows into the Ganges, whence they were transported by 
water to Calcutta. 

On the 27th of February, I left Dorjiling to join 
Mr. Hodgson, at Titalya on the plains. The weather was 
raw, cold, and threatening : snow lay here and there at 7000 
feet, and all vegetation was very backward, and wore a 
wintry garb. The laurels, maples, and deciduous-leaved 
oaks, hydrangea and cherry, were leafless, but the abundance 
of chesnuts and evergreen oaks, rhododendrons, Aucuba, 
Zimonia, and other shrubs, kept the forest well clothed. 
The oaks had borne a very unusual number of acorns during 

374 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

the last season, which were now falling, and strewing the 
road in some places so abundantly, that it was hardly safe 
to ride down hill. 

The plains of Bengal were all but obscured by a dense 
haze, partly owing to a peculiar state of the atmosphere 
that prevails in the dry months, and partly to the fires 
raging in the Terai forest, from which white wreaths of 
smoke ascended, stretching obliquely for miles to the east- 
ward, and filling the air with black particles of grass- 
stems, carried 4000 feet aloft by the heated ascending- 
currents that impinge against the flanks of the mountains. 

In the tropical region the air was scented with the white 
blossoms of the Vitew Agnns-castus, which grew in profusion 
by the road- side ; but the forest, which had looked so 
gigantic on my arrival at the mountains the previous year, 
appeared small after the far more lofty and bulky oaks and 
pines of the upper regions of the Himalaya. 

The evening was sultry and close, the heated surface of 
the earth seemed to load the surrounding atmosphere with 
warm vapours, and the sensation, as compared with the cool 
pure air of Dorjiling, was that of entering a confined 
tropical harbour after a long sea-voyage. 

I slept in the little bungalow of Punkabaree, and was 
wakened next morning by sounds to which I had long- 
been a stranger, the voices of innumerable birds, and the 
humming of great bees that bore large holes for their 
dwellings in the beams and rafters of houses : never before 
had I been so forcibly struck with the absence of animal 
life in the regions of the upper Himalaya. 

Breakfasting early, I pursued my way in the so-called 
cool of the morning, but this was neither bright nor fresh ; 
the night having been hazy, there had been no terrestrial 
radiation, and the earth was dusty and parched ; while the 


sun rose through a murky yellowish atmosphere with ill- 
defined orb. Thick clouds of smoke pressed upon the 
plains, and the faint easterly wind wafted large flakes of 
grass charcoal sluggishly through the air. 

Vegetation was in great beauty, though past its winter 
prime. The tropical forest of India has two flowering 
seasons ; one in summer, of the majority of plants ; and 
the other in winter, of Acantliacece, Bauhinia, Dillenia, 
Bombax, &c. Of these the former are abundant, and 
render the jungle gay with large and delicate white, red, 
and purple blossoms. Coarse, ill-favoured vultures wheeled 
through the air, languid Bengalees had replaced the active 
mountaineers, jackal-like curs of low degree teemed at 
every village, and ran howling away from the onslaught of 
my mountain dog ; and the tropics, with all their beauty 
of flower and genial warmth, looked as forbidding and 
unwholesome as they felt oppressive to a frame that had so 
long breathed the fresh mountain air. 

Mounted on a stout pony, I enjoyed my scamper of 
sixteen miles over the wooded plains and undulating 
gravelly slopes of the Terai, intervening between the foot 
of the mountains and Siligoree bungalow, where I rested 
for an hour. In the afternoon I rode on leisurely to Titalya, 
sixteen miles further, along the banks of the Mahanuddy, 
the atmosphere being so densely hazy, that objects a few 
miles off were invisible, and the sun quite concealed, 
though its light was so powerful that no part of the sky 
could be steadily gazed upon. This state of the air is very 
curious, and has met with various attempts at explanation,* 

* Dr. M'Lelland (" Calcutta Journal of Natural History," vol. i., p. 52), attributes 
the haze of the atmosphere during the north-west winds of this season, wholly to 
suspended earthy particles. But the haze is present even in the calmest weather, 
and extreme dryness is in all parts of the world usually accompanied by an obscure 
horizon. Captain Campbell (" Calcutta Journal of Natural History," vol. ii., p. 44. ) 

376 TERAJ. Chap. XV11. 

all unsatisfactory to me : it accompanies great heat, 
dryness, and elasticity of the suspended vapours, and is 
not affected by wind. During the afternoon the latter 
blew with violence, but being hot and dry, brought no 
relief to my still unacclimated frame. My pony alone 
enjoyed the freedom of the boundless plains, and the gallop 
or trot being fatiguing in the heat, I tried in vain to keep 
him at a walk ; his spirits did not last long, however, for 
he flagged after a few days' tropical heat. My little dog 
had run thirty miles the day before, exclusive of all the 
detours he had made for his own enjoyment, and he flagged 
so much after twenty more this day, that I had to take 
him on my saddle-bow, where, after licking his hot swollen 
feet, he fell fast asleep, in spite of the motion. 

After leaving the wooded Terai at Siligoree, trees became 
scarce, and clumps of bamboos were the prevalent features ; 
these, with an occasional banyan, peepul, or betel-nut 
palm near the villages, were the only breaks on the distant 
horizon. A powerfully scented Clerodendron, and anOsdecha 
gay with blossoms like dog-roses, were abundant; the former 
especially under trees, where the seeds are dropped by birds. 

At Titalya bungalow, I received a hearty welcome from 
Mr. Hodgson, and congratulations on the success of my Nepal 
journey, which afforded a theme for many conversations. 

In the evening we had three sharp jerking shocks of an 
earthquake in quick succession, at 9'8 p.m., appearing to 
come up from the southward : they were accompanied by a 
hollow rumbling sound like that of a waggon passing over 
a wooden bridge. The shock was felt strongly at Dorjiling, 
and registered by Mr. Muller at 9" 10 p.m. : we had 

also objects to Dr. M'Clelland's theory, citing those parts of Southern India which 
are least likely to be visited by dust-storms, as possessing an equally hazy atmo- 
sphere ; and further denies its being influenced by the hygrometrio state of the 


accurately adjusted our watches (chronometers) the previous 
morning, and the motion may therefore fairly be assumed to 
have been transmitted northwards through the intervening 
distance of forty miles, in two minutes. Both Mr. Muller 
and Mr. Hodgson had noted a much more severe shock at 
010 p.m. the previous evening, which I, who was walking 
down the mountain, did not experience ; this caused a good 
deal of damage at Dorjiling, in cracking well-built walls. 
Earthquakes are frequent all along the Himalaya, and are 
felt far in Tibet ; they are, however, most common towards 
the eastern and western extremities of India ; owing in the 
former case to the proximity of the volcanic forces in the 
bay of Bengal. Cutch and Scinde, as is well known, have 
suffered severely on many occasions, and in several of them 
the motion has been propagated through Afghanistan and 
Little Tibet, to the heart of Central Asia.* 

On the morning of the 1st of March, Dr. Campbell arrived 
at the bungalow, from his tour of inspection along the fron- 
tier of Bhotan and the Rungpore district; and we accompa- 
nied him hence along the British and Sikkim frontier, as far 
west as the Mechi river, which bounds Nepal on the east. 

Terai is a name loosely applied to a tract of country at the 
very foot of the Himalaya : it is Persian, and signifies damp. 
Politically, the Terai generally belongs to the hill-states 
beyond it ; geographically, it should appertain to the plains 
of India ; and geologically, it is a sort of neutral country, 
being composed neither of the alluvium of the plains, nor 
of the rocks of the hills, but for the most part of alter- 
nating beds of sand, gravel, and boulders brought from the 
mountains. Botanically it is readily defined as the region 
of forest-trees ; amongst which the Sal, the most valuable 

* See " Wood's Travels to the Oxus." 

378 TERAL Chap. XVII. 

of Indian timber, is conspicuous in most parts, though not 
now in Sikkim, where it has been destroyed. The Terai 
soil is generally light, dry, and gravelly (such as the Sal 
always prefers), and varies in breadth, from ten miles along 
the Sikkim frontier, to thirty and more on the Nepalese. 
In the latter country it is called the Morung, and supplies 
Sal and Sissoo timber for the Calcutta market, the logs being 
floated down the Konki and Cosi rivers to the Ganges. 
The gravel-beds extend uninterruptedly upon the plains 
for fully twenty miles south of the Sikkim mountains, the 
gravel becoming smaller as the distance increases, and 
large blocks of stone not being found beyond a few miles 
from the rocks of the Himalaya itself, even in the beds of 
rivers, however large and rapid. Throughout its breadth 
this formation is conspicuously cut into flat-topped ter- 
races, flanking the spurs of the mountains, at elevations 
varying from 250 to nearly 1000 feet above the sea. These 
terraces are of various breadth and length, the smallest 
lying uppermost, and the broadest flanking the rivers below. 
The isolated hills beyond are also flat-topped and terraced. 
This deposit contains no fossils ; and its general appearance 
and mineral constituents are the only evidence of its origin, 
which is no doubt dne to a retiring ocean that washed the 
base of the Sikkim Himalaya, received the contents of its 
rivers, and, wearing away its bluff spurs, spread a talus 
upwards of 1000 feet thick along its shores. It is not at 
first sight evident whether the terracing is due to periodic 
retirements of the ocean, or to the levelling effects of rivers 
that have cut channels through the deposit. In many 
places, especially along the banks of the great streams, 
the gravel is smaller, obscurely interstratified with sand, 
and the flattened pebbles over-lap rudely, in a manner 
characteristic of the effects of running water ; but such is 

March, 1849. GEOLOGY OF THE TEKAI. 379 

not the case with the main body of the deposit, which is 
un stratified, and much coarser. 

The alluvium of the Gangetic valley is both interstrati- 
fied with the gravel, and passes into it, and was no doubt 
deposited in deep water, whilst the coarser matter * was 
accumulating at the foot of the mountains. 

This view is self-evident, and has occurred, I believe, 
to almost every observer, at whatever part of the base of 
the Himalaya he may have studied this deposit. Its position, 
above the sandstones of the Sewalik range in the north- 
west Himalaya, and those of Sikkim, which appear to be 
modern fossiliferous rocks, indicates its being geologically 
of recent formation \ but it still remains a subject of the 
utmost importance to discover the extent and nature of the 
ocean to whose agency it is referred. I have elsewhere 
remarked that the alluvium of the Gangetic valley may 
to a great degree be the measure of the denudation which 
the Himalaya has suffered along its Indian watershed. It 
was, no doubt, during the gradual rise of that chain from 
the ocean, that the gravel and alluvium were deposited ; 
and in the terraces and alternation of these, there is 
evidence that there have been many subsidences and 
elevations of the coast-line, during which the gravel has 
suffered greatly from denudation. 

I have never looked at the Sikkim Himalaya from the 
plains without comparing its bold spurs enclosing sinuous 
river gorges, to the weather-beaten front of a mountainous 
coast ; and in following any of its great rivers, the scenery 

* This, too, is non-fossiliferous, and is of unknown depth, except at Calcutta, 
where the sand and clay beds have been bored through, to the depth of 120 
feet, below which the first pebbles were met with. Whence these pebbles were 
derived is a curious problem. The great Himalayan rivers convey pebbles but 
a very few miles from the mountains on to the plains of India ; and there is no 
rock in situ above the surface, within many miles of Calcutta, in any direction. 

380 TERA.I. Chap. XVII. 

of its deep valleys no less strikingly resembles that of such 
narrow arms of the sea (or fiords) as characterize every 
mountainous coast, of whatever geological formation : such 
as the west coast of Scotland and Norway, of South Chili 
and Fuegia, of New Zealand and Tasmania. There are 
too in these Himalayan valleys, at all elevations below 6000 
feet, terraced pebble-beds, rising in some cases eighty feet 
above the rivers, which I believe could only have been 
deposited by them when they debouched into deep water ; 
and both these, and the beds of the rivers, are strewed, 
down to 1000 feet, with masses of rock. Such accumula- 
tions and transported blocks are seen on the raised beaches of 
our narrow Scottish salt water lochs, exposed by the rising 
of the land, and they are yet forming of immense thickness 
on many coasts by the joint action of tides and streams. 

I have described meeting with ancient moraines in every 
Himalayan valley I ascended, at or about 7000 or 8000 
feet elevation, proving, that at one period, the glaciers 
descended fully so much below the position they now 
occupy: this can only be explained by a change of climate,* 
or by a depression of the mountain mass equal to 8000 
feet, since the formation of these moraines. 

The country about Titalya looks desert, from that want 
of trees and cultivation, so characteristic of the upper level 
throughout this part of the plains, which is covered with 

* Such a change of temperature, without any depression or elevation of the 
mountains, has been thought by Capt. R. Strachey (" Journal of Geological 
Society"), an able Himalayan observer, to be the necessary consequence of an 
ocean at the foot of these mountains ; for the amount of perpetual snow, and con- 
sequent descent of the glaciers, increasing indirectly in proportion to the 
humidity of the climate, and the snow-fall, he conjectured that the proximity of 
the ocean would prodigiously increase such a deposition of snow. — To me, this 
argument appears inconclusive ; for the first effect of such a vast body of 
water would be to raise the temperature of winter; and as it is the rain, rather 
than the sun of summer, which removes the Sikkim snow, so would an increase of 
this rain elevate, rather than depress, the level of perpetual snow. 

March, 1849. THE STKKIM FRONTIER. 381 

short, poor pasture-grass. The bungalow stands close to 
the Mahanuddy, on a low hill, cut into an escarpment 
twenty feet high, which exposes a section of river-laid sand 
and gravel, alternating with thick beds of rounded pebbles. 

Shortly after Dr. Campbell's arrival, the meadows about 
the bungalow presented a singular appearance, being 
dotted over with elephants, brought for purchase by 
Government. It was curious to watch the arrival of these 
enormous animals, which were visible nearly two miles 
across the flat plains ; nor less interesting was it to observe 
the wonderful docility of these giants of the animal 
kingdom, often only guided by naked boys, perched on 
their necks, scolding, swearing, and enforcing their orders 
with the iron goad. There appeared as many tricks in 
elephant-dealers as in horse-jockeys, and of many animals 
brought, but few were purchased. Government limits the 
price to about 75/., and the height to the shoulder must not 
be under seven feet, which, incredible as it appears, may 
be estimated within a fraction as being three times the 
circumference of the forefoot. The pedigree is closely 
inquired into, the hoofs are examined for cracks, the teeth 
for age, and many other points attended to. 

The Sikkim frontier, from the Mahanuddy westward to 
the Mechi, is marked out by a row of tall posts. The 
country is undulating ; and though fully 400 miles from 
the ocean, and not sixty from the top of the loftiest 
mountain on the globe, its average level is not 300 feet 
above that of the sea. The upper levels are gravelly, and 
loosely covered with scattered thorny jujube bushes, 
occasionally tenanted by the Florican, which scours these 
downs like a bustard. Sometimes a solitary fig, or a 
thorny acacia, breaks the horizon, and there are a few 
gnarled trees of the scarlet Butea frondosa. 

382 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

On our route I had a good opportunity of examining 
the line of junction between the alluvial plains that stretch 
south to the Ganges, and the gravel deposit flanking the 
hills. The rivers always cut broad channels with scarped 
terraced sides, and their low banks are very fertile, from 
the mud annually spread by the ever-shifting streams that 
meander within their limits ; there are, however, few shrubs 
and no trees. The houses, which are very few and scattered, 
are built on the gravelly soil above, the lower level being 
very malarious. 

Thirty miles south of the mountains, numerous isolated 
flat-topped hills, formed of stratified gravel and sand with 
large water-worn pebbles, rise from 80 to 200 feet above 
the mean level, which is about 250 feet above the sea; 
these, too, have always scarped sides, and the channels of 
small streams completely encircle them. 

At this season few insects but grasshoppers are to be 
seen, even mosquitos being rare. Birds, however, abound, 
and we noticed the common sparrow, hoopoe, water- 
wagtail, skylark, osprey, and several egrets. 

We arrived on the third day at the Mechi river, to the 
west of which the Nepal Terai (or Morung) begins, whose belt 
of Sal forest loomed on the horizon, so raised by refraction 
as to be visible as a dark line, from the distance of many 
miles. It is, however, very poor, all the large trees having 
been removed. We rode for several miles into it, and 
found the soil dry and hard, but supporting a prodi- 
gious undergrowth of gigantic harsh grasses that reached 
to our heads, though we were mounted on elephants. 
Besides Sal there was abundance of Butea, Diospgros, 
Terminalia, and Sywplocos, with the dwarf Phoenix palm, 
and occasionally Cycas. Tigers, wild elephants, and the 
rhinoceros, are said to be found here ; but we saw none. 


The old and new Mechi rivers are several miles apart, 
but flow in the same depression, a low swamp many 
miles broad, which is grazed at this season, and cultivated 
during the rains. The grass is very rich, partly owing 
to the moisture of the climate, and partly to the retiring 
waters of the rivers ; both circumstances being the effects 
of proximity to the Himalaya. Hence cattle (buffalos 
and the common humped cow of India) are driven from 
the banks of the Ganges 300 miles to these feeding 
grounds, for the use of which a trifling tax is levied on 
each animal. The cattle are very carelessly herded, and 
many are carried off by tigers. 

Having returned to Titalya, Mr. Hodgson and I set off 
in an eastern direction for the Teesta river, whose embou- 
chure from the mountains to the plains I was anxious to 
visit. Though the weather is hot, and oppressively so in 
the middle of the day, there are few climates more delicious 
than that of these grassy savannahs from December to March. 
We always started soon after daybreak on ponies, and enjoyed 
a twelve to sixteen miles' gallop in the cool of the morning 
before breakfast, which we found prepared on our arrival 
at a tent sent on ahead the night before. The road led 
across an open country, or followed paths through inter- 
minable rice -fields, now dry and dusty. On poor soil a 
white-flowered Leucas monopolized the space, like our 
charlock and poppy : it was apparently a pest to the 
agriculturist, covering the surface in some places like a 
sprinkling of snow. Sometimes the river-beds exposed 
fourteen feet of pure stratified sand, with only an inch of 
vegetable soil above. 

At this season the mornings are very hazy, with the 
thermometer at sunrise 60°; one laid on grass during 
the night falling 7° below that temperature : dew forms. 

384 TERAI. Chap. XVIT. 

but never copiously: by 10 a.m. the temperature has 
risen to 75°, and the faint easterly morning breezes die 
away ; the haze thickens, and covers the sky with a 
white veil, the thermometer rising to 82° at noon, and the 
west wind succeeding in parching tornados and furious 
gusts, increasing with the temperature, which attains its 
maximum in the afternoon, and falling again with its 
decline at sunset. The evenings are calm ; but the earth is 
so heated, that the thermometer stands at 10 p.m. at 66°, 
and the minimum at night is not below 55° : great drought 
accompanies the heat at this season, but not to such a 
degree as in North-west India, or other parts of this 
meridian further removed from the hills. In the month of 
March, and during the prevalence of west winds, the 
mean temperature was 79°, and the dew-point 22° lower, 
indicating great drought. The temperature at Calcutta 
was 7° warmer, and the atmosphere very much damper. 

On the second clay we arrived at Jeelpigoree, a large 
straggling village near the banks of the Teesta, a good way 
south of the forest : here we were detained for several days, 
waiting for elephants with which to proceed northwards. 
The natives are Cooches, a Mogul (Mongolian) race, who 
inhabit the open country of this district, replacing the 
Mechis of the Terai forest. They are a fine athletic people, 
not very dark, and formed the once-powerful house of 
Cooch Behar. Latterly the upper classes have adopted 
the religion of the Brahmins, and have had caste con- 
ferred upon them ; while the lower orders have turned 
Mahomed ans : these, chiefly agriculturists, are a timid, 
oppressed class, who everywhere fled before us, and were 
with difficulty prevailed upon even to direct us along our 
road. A rude police is established by the British Govern- 
ment all over the country, and to it the traveller applies 



for guides and assistance ; but the Cooches were so shy and 
difficult to deal with, that we were generally left to our 
own resources. 

Grass is the prevailing feature of the country, as there 
are few shrubs, and still fewer trees. Goats and the 
common Indian cow are plentiful; but it is not swampy 
enough for the buffalo ; and sheep are scarce, on account of 
the heat of the climate. This uniformity of feature over so 
immense an area is, however, due to the agency of man, 
and is of recent introduction ; as all concur in affirming, 
that within the last hundred years the face of the country 
was covered with the same long jungle-grasses which 
abound in the Terai forest ; and the troops cantoned at 
Titalya (a central position in these plains) from 1816 to 
1828, confirm this statement as far as their immediate 
neighbourhood is concerned. 

These gigantic Graminece seem to be destroyed by 
fire with remarkable facility at one season of the year ; and 
it is well that this is the case ; for, whether as a retainer of 
miasma, a shelter for wild beasts, both carnivorous and 
herbivorous, alike dangerous to man, or from their liability 
to ignite, and spread destruction far and wide, the grass- 
jungles are most serious obstacles to civilization. Next 
to the rapidity with which it can be cleared, the adapta- 
tion of a great part of the soil to irrigation during the 
rains, has greatly aided the bringing of it under culti- 

By far the greater proportion of this universal short 
turf grass is formed of Andropogon acicularis, Cj/nodon 
Dactylon* and in sandy places, Imperata cylindrica ; 

* Called " Dhob." This is tbe best pasture grass in the plains of India, and the 
only one to be found over many thousands of square miles. 

\,~T T C 



where the soil is wetter, Ameletia Indica is abundant, 
giving a heather-like colour to the turf, with its pale purple 
flowers : wherever there is standing water, its surface is 
reddened by the Azolla, and Salvinia is also common. 

At Jeelpigoree we were waited upon by the Dewan, who 
governs the district for the Rajah, a boy about ten years 
old, whose estates are locked up during the trial of an 
interminable suit for the succession, that has been instituted 
against him by a natural son of the late Rajah : we found 
the Dewan to be a man of intelligence, who promised 
us elephants as soon as the great Hooli festival, now 
commenced, should be over. 

The large village, at the time of our visit, was gay with 
holiday dresses. It is surrounded by trees, chiefly of 
banyan, jack, mango, peepul, and tamarind : interminable 
rice-fields extend on all sides, and except bananas, slender 
betel-nut palms, and sometimes pawn, or betel-pepper, 
there is little other extensive cultivation. The rose-apple, 
orange, and pine-apple are rare, as are cocoa-nuts : there 
are few date or fan-palms, and only occasionally poor crops 
of castor-oil and sugar-cane. In the gardens I noticed 
jasmine, Jiisticia Adhatoda, Hibiscus, and others of the 
very commonest Indian ornamental plants ; while for 
food were cultivated Chenopodium, yams, sweet potatos, 
and more rarely peas, beans, and gourds. Bamboos were 
planted round the little properties and smaller clusters of 
houses, in oblong squares, the ridge on which the plants 
grew being usually bounded by a shallow ditch. The 
species selected was not the most graceful of its family ; 
the stems, or culms, being densely crowded, erect, as 
thick at the base as the arm, copiously branching, and 
very feathery throughout their whole length of sixty feet. 
A gay-flowered Osbeckia was common along the road- 


sides, and, with a Clerodendron* whose strong, sweet 
odour was borne far through the air, formed a low under- 
shrub beneath every tree, generally intermixed with three 
ferns (a Polgpodium, Pteris, and Goniopteris) . 

The cottages are remarkable, and have a very neat 
appearance, presenting nothing but a low white-washed 
platform of clay, and an enormous high, narrow, black, 
neatly thatched roof, so arched along the ridge, that its 
eaves nearly touch the ground at each gable; and looking at 
a distance like a gigantic round-backed elephant. The 
walls are of neatly- platted bamboo : each window (of which 
there are two) is crossed by slips of bamboo, and wants 
only glass to make it look European ; they have besides 
shutters of wattle, that open upwards, projecting during 
the day like the port-hatches of a ship, and let down 
at night. Within, the rooms are airy and clean : one 
end contains the machans (bedsteads), the others some 
raised clay benches, the fire, frequently an enormous 
Hookah, round wattled stools, and various implements. 
The inhabitants appeared more than ordinarily well-dressed ; 
the men in loose flowing robes of fine cotton or muslin, the 
women in the usual garb of a simple thick cotton cloth, 
drawn tight immediately above the breast, and thence falling 
perpendicularly to the knee ; the colour of this is a bright 
blue in stripes, bordered above and below with red. 

I anticipated some novelty from a visit to a Durbar 
(court) so distant from European influence as that of the 
Rajah of Jeelpigoree. All Eastern courts, subject to the 
Company, are, however, now shorn of much of their glory ; 

* Clerodendron leaves, bruised, are used to kill vermin, fly-blows, &c., in cattle; 
and tbe twigs form toothpicks. The flowers are presented to Mahadeo, as a 
god of peace ; milk, honey, flowers, fruit, amrit (ambrosia), &c, being offered to 
the pacific gods, as Vishnu, Krishna, &c. ; while Mudar (Asclepias), Bhang {Canna- 
bis sativa), Datura, flesh, blood, aud spirituous liquors, are offered to Siva, Dooi'ga, 
Kali, and other demoniacal deities. 

C C 2 

388 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

and the condition of the upper classes is greatly changed. 
Under the Mogul rule, the country was farmed out to 
Zemindars, some of whom assumed the title of Rajah : 
they collected the revenue for the Sovereign, retaining by 
law ten per cent, on all that was realized : there was no 
intermediate class, the peasant paying directly to the 
Zemindar, and he into the royal treasury. Latterly the 
Zemindars have become farmers under the Company's 
rule ; and in the adjudication of their claims, Lord 
Cornwallis (then Governor- General) made great sacrifices 
in their favour, levying only a small tribute in proportion 
to their often great revenues, in the hope that they would 
be induced to devote their energies, and some of their 
means, to the improvement of the condition of the 
peasantry. This expectation was not realized : the 
younger Zemindars especially, subject to no restraint 
(except from aggressions on their neighbours), fell into 
slothful habits, and the collecting of the revenue became a 
trading speculation, entrusted to " middle men." The 
Zemindar selects a number, who again are at liberty to 
collect through the medium of several sub-renting classes. 
Hence the peasant suffers, and except a generally futile 
appeal to the Rajah, he has no redress. The law secures 
him tenure as long as he can pay his rent, and to do this 
he has recourse to the usurer ; borrowing in spring (at 
50, and oftener 100 per cent.) the seed, plough, and 
bullocks : he reaps in autumn, and what is then not 
required for his own use, is sold to pay off part of his 
original debt, the rest standing over till the next season ; 
and thus it continues to accumulate, till, overwhelmed with 
difficulties, he is ejected, or flees to a neighbouring dis- 
trict. The Zemindar enjoys the same right of tenure as 
the peasant : the amount of impost laid on his property 


was fixed for perpetuity; whatever his revenue be, he 
must pay so much to the Company, or he forfeits his estates, 
and they are put up for auction. 

One evening we visited the young Rajah at his residence, 
which has rather a good appearance at a distance, its 
white walls gleaming through a dark tope of mango, betel, 
and cocoa-nut. A short rude avenue leads to the entrance 
gate, under the trees of which a large bazaar was being held; 
stocked with cloths, simple utensils, ornaments, sweetmeats, 
five species of fish from the Teesta, and the betel-nut. 

We entered through a guard-house, where were some 
of the Rajah's Sepoys in the European costume, and 
a few of the Company's troops, lent to the Rajah as 
a security against some of the turbulent pretenders to 
his title. Within was a large court-yard, flanked by a 
range of buildings, some of good stone-work, some of 
wattle, in all stages of disrepair. A great crowd of people 
occupied one end of the court, and at the other we were 
received by the Dewan, and seated on chairs under a 
canopy supported by slender silvered columns. Some 
slovenly Natch-girls were dancing before us, kicking up 
clouds of dust, and singing or rather bawling through their . 
noses, the usual indelicate hymns in honour of the Hooli 
festival ; there were also fiddlers, cutting uncouth capers in 
rhythm with the dancers. Anything more deplorable than 
the music, dancing, and accompaniments, cannot well be 
imagined ; yet the people seemed vastly pleased, and 
extolled the performers. 

The arrival of the Rajah and his brothers was announced 
by a crash of tom-toms and trumpets, while over their 
heads were carried great gilt canopies. With them came a 
troop of relations, of all ages ; and amongst them a poor 
little black girl, dressed in honour of us in an old-fashioned 

390 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

English chintz frock and muslin cap, in which she cut the 
drollest figure imaginable ; she was carried about for our 
admiration, like a huge Dutch doll, crying lustily all the time. 

The festivities of the evening commenced by handing 
round trays full of pith-balls, the size of a nutmeg, filled 
with a mixture of flour, sand, and red lac-powder ; with 
these each pelted his neighbour, the thin covering bursting 
as it struck any object, and powdering it copiously with 
red dust. A more childish and disagreeable sport cannot 
well be conceived ; and when the balls were expended, the 
dust itself was resorted to, not only fresh, but that which 
had already been used was gathered up, with whatever dirt 
it might have become mixed. One rude fellow, with his 
hand full, sought to entrap his victims into talking, when 
he would stuff the nasty mixture into their mouths. 

At the end attar of roses was brought, into which 
little pieces of cotton, fixed on slips of bamboo, were dipped, 
and given to each person. The heat, dust, stench of the 
unwashed multitude, noise, and increasing familiarity of 
the lower orders, warned us to retire, and we effected our 
retreat with precipitancy. 

The Rajah and his brother were very fine boys, lively, 
frank, unaffected, and well disposed : they have evidently 
a good guide in the old Dewan ; but it is melancholy to 
think how surely, should they grow up in possession of 
their present rank, they will lapse into slothful habits, and 
take their place amongst the imbeciles who now represent 
the once powerful Rajahs of Bengal. 

We rode back to our tents by a bright moonlight, very 
dusty and tired, and heartily glad to breathe the cool fresh 
air, after the stifling ordeal we had undergone. 

On the following evening the elephants were again in 
waiting to conduct us to the Rajah. He and his relations 

March, 1849. HOOLI FESTIVAL. 391 

were assembled outside the gates, mounted upon elephants, 
amid a vast concourse of people. The children and Dewan 
were seated in a sort of cradle ; the rest were some in 
howdahs, and some astride on elephants' backs, six or eight 
together. All the idols were paraded before them, and 
powdered with red dust ; the people howling, shouting, and 
sometimes quarrelling. Our elephants took their places 
amongst those of the Rajah ; and when the mob had suffi- 
ciently pelted one another with balls and dirty red powder, 
a torchlight procession was formed, the idols leading the 
way, to a very large tank, bounded by a high rampart, 
within which was a broad esplanade round the Avater. 

The effect of the whole was very striking, the glittering- 
cars and barbaric gaud of the idols showing best by torch- 
light ; while the white robes and turbans of the undulating 
sea of people, and the great black elephants picking their 
way with matchless care and consideration, contrasted 
strongly with the quiet moonbeams sleeping on the still 
broad waters of the tank. 

Thence the procession moved to a field, Avhere the idols 
were placed on the ground, and all dismounted : the Dewan 
then took the children by the hand, and each worshipped 
his tutelary deity in a short prayer dictated by the attendant 
Brahmin, and threw a handful of red dust in its face. After 
another ordeal of powder, singing, dancing, and suffocation, 
our share in the Hooli ended ; and having been promised ele- 
phants for the following morning, we bade a cordial farewell 
to our engaging little hosts and their staid old governor. 

On the 10th of March we were awakened at an early 
hour by a heavy thunder-storm from the south-west. The 
sunrise was very fine, through an arch 10° high of bright 
blue sky, above which the whole firmament was mottled 
with cirrus. It continued cloudy, with light winds. 

392 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

throughout the day, but clear on the horizon. From this 
time such storms became frequent, ushering in the equinox ; 
and the less hazy sky and rising hygrometer predicted an 
accession of moisture in the atmosphere. 

We left for Rangamally, a village eight miles distant 
in a northerly direction, our course lying along the west 
bank of the Teesta. 

The river is here navigated by canoes, thirty to forty feet 
long, some being rudely cut out of a solid log of Sal, 
while others are built, the planks, of which there are but 
few, being sewed together, or clamped with iron, and the 
seams caulked with the fibres of the root of Dhak {Butea 
frondosa), and afterwards smeared with the gluten of Dios- 
pyros embryopteris. The bed of the river is here three- 
quarters of a mile across, of which the stream does not 
occupy one-third ; its banks are sand-clifTs, fourteen feet in 
height. A few small fish and water-snakes swarm in the 

The whole country improved in fertility as we advanced 
towards the mountains : the grass became greener, and 
more trees, shrubs, herbs, and birds appeared. In front, 
the dark boundary-line of the Sal forest loomed on the 
horizon, and to the east rose the low hills of Bhotan, both 
backed by the outer ranges of the Himalaya. 

Flocks of cranes were abundant over-head, flying in 
wedges, or breaking up into " open order," preparing for 
their migration northwards, which takes place in April, 
their return occurring in October ; a small quail was also 
common on the ground. Tamarisk (" Jhow ") grew in 
the sandy bed of the river ; its flexible young branches 
are used in various parts of India for wattling and basket- 

In the evening we walked to the skirts of the Sal forest. 

March, 1849. RANGAMALLY. SAL FOREST. 393 

The great trunks of the trees were often scored by tigers' 
claws, this animal indulging in the cat-like propensity of 
rising and stretching itself against such objects. Two 
species of Billenia were common in the forest, with long 
grass, Symplocos, Emblica, and Cassia Fistula, now covered 
with long pods. Several parasitical air-plants grew on the 
dry trees, as Oberonia, Vanda, and JErides. 

At Ran gam ally, the height of the sandy banks of the 
Teesta varies from fifteen to twenty feet. The bed is 
a mile across, and all sand ; * the current much divided, 
and opaque green, from the glacial origin of most of its 
head-streams. The west bank was covered with a small 
Sal forest, mixed with Acacia CatecJm, and brushwood, 
growing in a poor vegetable loam, over very dry sand. 

The opposite (or Bhotan) bank is much lower, and 
always flooded during the rains, which is not the case on 
the western side, where the water rises to ten feet below the 
top of the bank, or from seven to ten feet above its 
height in the dry season, and it then fills its whole bed. 
This information we had from a police Jemadar, who has 
resided many years on this unhealthy spot, and annually 
suffers from fever. The Sal forest has been encroached 
upon from the south, for many miles, within the memory of 
man, by clearing in patches, and by indiscriminate felling. 

About ten miles north of Rangamally, we came to an 
extensive flat, occupying a recess in the high west bank, 
the site of the old capital (Bai-kant-pore) of the Jeelpigoree 
Rajah. Hemmed in as it is on three sides by a dense 
forest, and on all by many miles of malarious Terai, it 
appears sufficiently secure from ordinary enemies, during a 
great part of the year. The soil is sandy, overlying gravel, 

* Now covered with Anthistivia grass, fifteen feet high, n little Sissoo, and 

394 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

and covered with a thick stratum of fine mud or silt, which 
is only deposited on these low flats ; on it grew many 
naturalized plants, as hemp, tobacco, jack, mango, plantain, 
and orange. 

About eight miles on, we left the river-bed, and struck 
westerly through a dense forest, to a swampy clearance 
occupied by the village of Rummai, which appeared tho- 
roughly malarious : and we pitched the tent on a narrow, 
low ridge, above the level of the plain. 

It was now cool and pleasant, partly due, no doubt, to a 
difference in the vegetation, and the proximity of swamp 
and forest, and partly also to a change in the weather, 
which was cloudy and threatening ; much rain, too, had 
fallen here on the preceding day. 

Brahmins and priests of all kinds are few in this 
miserable country : near the villages, and under the large 
trees, are, every here and there, a few miniature thatched 
cottages, four to six feet high, in which the tutelary deities 
of the place are kept ; they are idols of the very rudest 
description, of Vishnu as an ascetic (Bai-kant Nath), a 
wooden doll, gilt and painted, standing, with the hands 
raised as if in exhortation, and one leg crossed over the 
other. Again, Kartik, the god of war, is represented sitting 
astride on a peacock, with the right hand elevated and 
holding a small flat cup. 

Some fine muscular Cooches were here brought for 
Mr. Hodgson's examination, but we found them unable or 
unwilling to converse in the Cooch tongue, which appears 
to be fast giving place to Bengalee. 

We walked to a stream, which flows at the base of the 
retiring sand-cliffs, and nourishes a dense and richly-varied 
jungle, producing many plants, as beautiful Acanthacece, 
Indian horse-chesnut, loaded with white racemes of flowers, 

March 1849. VEGETATION. 395 

gay Convolvuli, laurels, terrestrial and parasitic OrcAidea, 
Dillenia, casting its enormous flowers as big as two 
fists, pepper, figs, and, in strange association with these, a 
hawthorn, and the yellow-flowered Indian strawberry, which 
ascends 7,500 feet on the mountains, and Hodgsonia, a new 
Cucurbitaceous genus, clinging in profusion to the trees, and 
also found 5000 feet high on the mountains. 

In the evening we rode into the forest (which was dry 
and very unproductive), and thence along the river-banks, 
through Acacia Catechu, belted by Slssoo, which often 
fringes the stream, always occupying the lowest flats. The 
foliage at this season is brilliantly green ; and as the even- 
ing advanced, a yellow convolvulus burst into flower like 
magic, adorning the bushes over which it climbed. 

It rained on the following morning ; after which we left 
for the exit of the Teesta, proceeding northwards, some- 
times through a dense forest of Sal timber, sometimes 
dipping into marshy depressions, or riding through grassy 
savannahs, breast-high. The coolness of the atmosphere 
was delicious, and the beauty of the jungle seemed to 
increase the further we penetrated these primaeval forests. 

Eight miles from Rummai we came on a small river from 
the mountains, with a Cooch village close by, inhabited 
during the dry season by timber-cutters from Jeelpigoree : 
it is situated upon a very rich black soil, covered with 
Saccharum and various gigantic grasses, but no bamboo. 
These long grasses replace the Sal, of which we did not see 
one good tree. 

We here mounted the elephants, and proceeded several 
miles through the prairie, till we again struck upon the 
high Sal forest-bank, continuous with that of Rummai and 
Rangamally, but much loftier : it formed one of many 
terraces which stretch along the foot of the hills, from 

396 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

Punkabaree to the Teesta, but of Avhich none are said to 
occur for eight miles eastwards along the Bhotan Dooars : 
if true, this is probably clue in part to the alteration of the 
course of the Teesta, which is gradually working to the 
westward, and cutting away these lofty banks. 

The elephant- drivers appeared to have taken us by 
mistake to the exit of the Chawa, a small stream which 
joins the Teesta further to the eastward. The descent to 
the bed of this rivulet, round the first spur of rock we met 
with, was fully eighty feet, through a very irregular 
depression, probably the old bed of the stream ; it runs 
southwards from the hills, and was covered from top to 
bottom with slate-pebbles. We followed the river to its 
junction with the Teesta, along a flat, broad gulley, bounded 
by densely-wooded, steep banks of clay-slate on the north, 
and the lofty bank on the south : between these the bed 
was strewed with great boulders of gneiss and other rocks, 
luxuriantly clothed with long grass, and trees of wild 
plantain, Erytlirina and Bauhinia, the latter gorgeously 
in flower. 

The Sal bank formed a very fine object : it was quite 
perpendicular, and beautifully stratified with various 
coloured sands and gravel : it tailed off abruptly at the 
junction of the rivers, and then trended away south-west, 
forming the west bank of the Teesta. The latter river is at 
its outlet a broad and rapid, but hardly impetuous stream, 
now fifty yards across, gushing from between two low, 
forest-clad spurs : it appeared about five feet deep, and was 
beautifully fringed on both sides with green Sissoo. 

Some canoes were here w T aiting for us, formed of hol- 
lowed trunks of trees, thirty feet long : two were lashed 
together with bamboos, and the boatmen sat one at the 
head and one at the stern of each : we lay along the 

March, 1849. DESCEND TEESTA RIVER. 397 

bottom of the vessels, and in a second we were darting 
down the river, at the rate of at least ten or fifteen miles 
an hour, the bright waters leaping np on all sides, and 
bounding in jets-d'eau between prows and sterns of the 
coupled vessels. Sometimes we glided along without per- 
ceptible motion, and at others jolted down bubbling rapids, 
the steersmen straining every nerve to keep their bark's 
head to the current, as she impatiently swerved from side 
to side in the eddies. To our jaded and parched frames, 
after the hot forenoon's ride on the elephants, the effect 
was delicious : the fresh breeze blew on our heated fore- 
heads and down our open throats and chests ; we dipped 
our hands into the clear, cool stream, and there was " music 
in the waters " to our ears. Fresh verdure on the banks, 
clear pebbles, soft sand, long English river-reaches, forest 
glades, and deep jungles, followed in rapid succession ; and 
as often as we rounded a bend or shot a rapid, the scene 
changed from bright to brighter still ; so continuing until 
dusk, when we were slowly paddling along the then torpid 
current opposite Rangamally.* 

The absence of large stones or boulders of rock in the 
bed of the Teesta is very remarkable, considering the great 
volume and rapidity of the current, and that it shoots 
directly from the rocky hills to the gravelly plains. At the 

* The following temperatures of the waters of the Teesta were taken at intervals 

during our passage from its exit to 

Rangamally, a 

distance of fifteen linear miles, 

and thirty miles following the bends : — 



Exit 2h. 

30m. p.m. 



62° 2 




63° 2 







05° 4 

72° 5 opposite Rummai. 






71° 7 opposite Baikant. 

398 TERAT. Chat. XVII. 

embouchure there are boulders as big as the head, and in 
the stream, four miles below the exit, the" boatmen pointed 
out a stone as large as the body as quite a marvel. 

They assured us that the average rise at the mouth of 
the river, in the rains, was not more than five feet : the 
mean breadth of the stream is from seventy to ninety 
yards. From the point where it leaves the mountains, to 
its junction with the Megna, is at this season thirteen 
days' voyage, the return occupying from twenty to twenty- 
five days, with the boats unladen. The name " Teesta " 
signifies " quiet," this river being so in comparison with 
other Himalayan torrents further west, the Cosi, Konki, &c, 
which are devastators of all that bounds their course. 

We passed but two crossing-places : at one the river is 
divided by an island, covered with the rude chaits and 
flags of the Boodhists. We also saw some Cooch fisher- 
men, who throw the net much as we do : a fine " Mahaser" 
(a very large carp) was the best fish they had. Of culti- 
vation there was very little, and the only habitations were 
a few grass-huts of the boatmen or buffalo herdsmen, a 
rare Cooch village of Catechu and Sal cutters, or the shelter 
of timber-floaters, who seem to pass the night in nests of 
long dry grass. 

Our servants not having returned with the elephants 
from Rummai, we spent the following day at Rangamally 
shooting and botanizing. I collected about 100 species in 
a couple of hours, and observed perhaps twice that 
number : the more common I have repeatedly alluded 
to, and excepting some small terrestrial Orchids, I added 
nothing of particular interest to my collection.* 

* The following is a list of the principal genera, most of which are English : — 
Polygonum, Quercus, Sonchus, Gnaplialium, Crataegus, Lobelia, Lactioca, Hydrocotyle, 
Saponaria, Campanula, Bidcns, Rubus, Oxalis, Artemisia, Fragaria, Clematis, 
Dioscorea, Potamogeton, Chara, Veronica, Viola, Smilax. 

March, 184!). PROCEED TO STLTGOREE. :;«... 

On the 14th of March we proceeded west to Siligoree, 

along the skirts of the ragged Sal forest. Birds are 
certainly the most conspicuous branch of the natural 
history of this country, and we saw many species, 
interesting either from their habits, beauty, or extensive 
distribution. We noticed no less than sixteen kinds of 
swimming birds, several of which are migratory and 
English. The Shoveller, white-eyed and common wild 
ducks ; Merganser, Brahminee, and Indian goose (Anser 
Tndicci) ; common and Gargany teal ; two kinds of gull ; 
one of Shearwater (TLhynchojps ablacus) ; three of tern, and 
one of cormorant. Besides these there were three egrets, 
the large crane, stork, green heron, and the demoiselle ; 
the English sand-martin, kingfisher, peregrine-falcon, 
sparrow-hawk, kestrel, and the European vulture : the 
wild peacock, and jungle-fowl. There were at least 100 
peculiarly Indian birds in addition, of which the more 
remarkable were several kinds of mina, of starling, vulture, 
kingfisher, magpie, quail, and lapwing. 

The country gradually became quite beautiful, much 
undulated and diversified by bright green meadows, sloping 
lawns, and deeply wooded nullahs, which lead from the 
Sal forest and meander through this varied landscape. 
More beautiful sites for fine mansions could not well be, 
and it is difficult to suppose so lovely a country should be 
so malarious as it is before and after the rains, excessive 
heat probably diffusing widely the miasma from small 
stagnant surfaces. We noticed a wild hog, absolutely the 
first wild beast of any size I saw on the plains, except 
the hispid hare [Lepus hispidus) and the barking deer 
(Stt/locerus red no). The hare we found to be the best 
game of this part of India, except the teal. The pheasants 
of Dorjiling are poor, the deer all but uneatable, and tin- 

400 TERM. Chap. XVN. 

florican, however dressed, I considered a far from excellent 

A good many plants grow along the streams, the sandy 
beds of which are everywhere covered with the marks of 
tigers' feet. The only safe way of botanizing is by pushing 
through the jungle on elephants ; an uncomfortable 
method, from the quantity of ants and insects which drop 
from the foliage above, and from the risk of disturbing 
pendulous bees' and ants' nests. 

A peculiar species of willow [Balix tetrasperma) is 
common here ; which is a singular fact, as the genus is 
characteristic of cold and arctic latitudes, and no species is 
found below 8000 feet elevation on the Sikkim mountains, 
where it grows on the inner Himalaya only, some kinds 
ascending to 16,000 feet. 

East of Siligoree the plains are unvaried by tree or 
shrub, and are barren wastes of short turf or sterile sand, 
with the dwarf-palm (Phmnix acaulis), a sure sign of a 
most hungry soil. 

The latter part of the journey I performed on elephants 
during the heat of the day, and a more uncomfortable 
mode of conveyance surely never was adopted ; the camel's 
pace is more fatiguing, but that of the elephant is extremely 
trying after a few miles, and is so injurious to the human 
frame that the Mahouts (drivers) never reach an advanced 
age, and often succumb young to spine-diseases, brought 
on by the incessant motion of the vertebral column. The 
broiling heat of the elephant's black back, and the odour of 
its oily driver, are disagreeable accompaniments, as are its 
habits of snorting water from its trunk over its parched 
skin, and the consequences of the great bulk of green food 
which it consumes. 

From Siligoree I made a careful examination of the 

March, 1849. GEOLOGY. VEGETATION. 401 

gravel beds that occur on the road north to the foot of the 
hills, and thence over the tertiary sandstone to Punkabaree. 
At the Rukti river, which flows south-west, the road 
suddenly rises, and crosses the first considerable hill, 
about two miles south of any rock in situ. This river cuts 
a cliff from 60 to 100 feet high, composed of stratified 
sand and water-worn gravel : further south, the spur 
declines into the plains, its course marked by the Sal that 
thrives on * its gravelly soil. The road then runs north- 
west over a plain to an isolated hill about 200 feet high, 
also formed of sand and gravel. We ascended to the top 
of this, and found it covered with blocks of gneiss, and 
much angular detritus. Hence the road gradually ascends, 
and becomes clayey. Argillaceous rocks, and a little 
ochreous sandstone appeared in highly-inclined strata, 
dipping north, and covered with great water-worn blocks 
of gneiss. Above, a flat terrace, flanked to the eastward 
by a low wooded hill, and another rise of sandstone, lead 
on to the great Baisarbatti terrace. 

Bombax, Erythrina, and Buabanga (Lagcerstrccmia 
grandiflora), were in full flower, and with the profusion 
of Bau/rinia, rendered the tree-jungle gay : the two former 
are leafless when flowering. The Duabanga is the pride 
of these forests. Its trunk, from eight to fifteen feet in 
girth, is generally forked from the base, and the long 
pendulous branches which clothe the trunk for 100 feet, 
are thickly leafy, and terminated by racemes of immense 
white flowers, which, especially when in bud, smell most 
disagreeably of assafoetida. The magnificent Apocyneous 
climber, Beaumontia, was in full bloom, ascending the loftiest 
trees, and clothing their trunks with its splendid foliage 
and festoons of enormous funnel-shaped white flowers. 

The report of a bed of iron-stone eight or ten miles west 

402 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

of Punkabaree determined our visiting the spot ; and the 
locality being in a dense jungle, the elephants were sent 
on ahead. 

We descended to the terraces flanking the Balasun river, 
and struck west along jungle-paths to a loosely- timbered 
flat. A sudden descent of 150 feet landed us on a second 
terrace. Further on, a third dip of about twenty feet (in 
some places obliterated) flanks the bed of the Balasun ; the 
river itself being split into many channels at this season. 
The west bank, which is forty feet high, is of stratified 
sand and gravel, with vast slightly-worn blocks of gneiss : 
from the top of this we proceeded south-west for three 
miles to some Mechi villages, the inhabitants of which 
flocked to meet us, bringing milk and refreshments. 

The Lohar-ghur, or "iron hill," lies in a dense dry 
forest. Its plain-ward flanks are very steep, and covered 
with scattered weather-worn masses of ochreous and black 
iron-stone, many of which are several yards long : it frac- 
tures with faint metallic lustre, and is very earthy in parts : 
it does not affect the compass. There are no pebbles of 
iron-stone, nor water- worn rocks of any kind found with it. 
The sandstones, close by, cropped out in thick beds 
(dip north 70°) : they are very soft, and beds of laminated 
clay, and of a slaty rock, are intercalated with them, also 
an excessively tough conglomerate, formed of an indurated 
blue or grey paste, with nodules of harder clay. There 
are no traces of metal in the rock, and the lumps of ore 
are wholly superficial. 

Below Punkabaree the Baisarbatti stream cuts through 
banks of gravel overlying the sandstone (dip north 65°). 
The sandstone is gritty and micaceous, intercalated with 
beds of indurated shale and clay; in which I found the 
shaft (apparently) of a bone ; there were also beds of the 

March, 1849. GEOLOGY. 403 

same clay conglomerate which I had seen at Lohar-ghur, 
and thin seams of brown lignite, with a rhomboidal 
cleavage. In the bed of the stream were carbonaceous 
shales, with obscure impressions of fern leaves, of Trizygia, 
and Vertebraria : both fossils characteristic of the Burdwan 
coal-fields (see p. 8), but too imperfect to justify any 
conclusion as to the relation between these formations.* 

Ascending the stream, these shales are seen in situ, 
overlain by the metamorphic clay-slate of the mountains, and 
dipping inwards (northwards) like them. This is at the foot 
of the Punkabaree spur, and close to the bungalow, where 
a stream and land-slip expose good sections. The carbo- 
naceous beds dip north 60° and 70°, and run east and west ; 
much quartz rock is intercalated with them, and soft white 
and pink micaceous sandstones. The coal-seams are few 
in number, six to twelve inches thick, very confused and 
distorted, and full of elliptic nodules, or spheroids of quart zy 
slate, covered with concentric scaly layers of coal : they 
overlie the sandstones mentioned above. These scanty 
notices of superposition being collected in a country clothed 
with the densest tropical forest, where a geologist pursues his 
fatiguing investigations under disadvantages that can hardly 
be realized in England, will I fear long remain unconfirmed. 

* These traces of fossils are not sufficient to ideutify the formation with that of 
the Sewalik hills of North-west India ; but its contents, together with its strike, dip, 
and position relatively to the mountains, and its mineralogical character, incline 
me to suppose it may be similar. Its appearance in such small quantities in 
Sikkim (where it rises but a few hundred feet above the level of the sea, whereas 
in Kumaon it reaches 4000 feet), may be attributed to the greater amount of 
wearing which it must have undergone ; the plains from which it rises being 1000 
feet lower than those of Kumaon, and the sea having consequently retired later, 
exposing the Sikkim sandstone to the effects of denudation for a much longer 
period. Hitherto no traces of this rock, or of any belonging to a similar geological 
epoch, have been found in the valleys of Sikkim ; but when the narrowness of 
these is considered, it will not appear strange that such may have been removed 
from their surfaces : first, by the action of a tidal ocean ; and afterwards, by tha< 
of tropical rains. 



Chap. XVII. 

I may mention, however, that the appearance of inversion 
of the strata at the foot of great mountain-masses has been 
observed in the Alleghany chain, and I believe in the Alps.* 


A poor Mech was fishing in the stream, with a basket 
curiously formed of a cylinder of bamboo, cleft all round 
in innumerable strips, held together by the joints above and 
below ; these strips being stretched out as a balloon in the 

* Dr. M'Lelland informs me that hi the Curruckpore hills, south of the Ganges, 
the clay-slates are overlain by beds of mica-slate, gneiss, and granite, which pass 
into one another. 


middle, and kept apart by a hoop : a small hole is cut in 
the cage, and a mouse-trap entrance formed : the cage is 
placed in the current with the open end upwards, where the 
fish get in, and though little bigger than minnows, cannot 
find their way out. 

On the 20th we had a change in the weather : a violent 
storm from the south-west occurred at noon, with hail of a 
strange form, the stones being sections of hollow spheres, 
half an inch across and upwards, formed of cones with 
truncated apices and convex bases ; these cones were aggre- 
gated together with their bases outwards. The large masses 
were followed by a shower of the separate conical pieces, 
and that by heavy rain. On the mountains this storm was 
most severe : the stones lay at Dorjiling for seven days, con- 
gealed into masses of ice several feet long and a foot thick 
in sheltered places : at Purneah, fifty miles south, stones 
one and two inches across fell, probably as whole spheres. 

Ascending to Khersiong, I found the vegetation very 
backward by the road-sides. The rain had cleared the 
atmosphere, and the view over the plains was brilliant. On 
the top of the Khersiong spur a tremendous gale set in 
with a cold west wind : the storm cleared off at night, which 
at 10 p.m. was beautiful, with forked and sheet lightning 
over the plains far below us. The equinoctial gales had 
now fairly set in, with violent south-east gales, heavy thunder, 
lightning, and rain. 

Whilst at Khersiong I took advantage of the very fair 
section afforded by the road from Punkabaree, to examine 
the structure of the spur, which seems to be composed of 
very highly inclined contorted beds (dip north) of metamor- 
phic rocks, gneiss, mica-slate, clay-slate, and quartz ; the 
foliation of which beds is parallel to the dip of the strata. 
Over all reposes a bed of clay, capped with a layer of vegc- 

406 TERAI. Chap. XVII. 

table mould, nowhere so thick and rich as in the more humid 
regions of 7000 feet elevation. The rocks appeared in the 
following succession in descending. Along the top are 
found great blocks of very compact gneiss buried in clay. 
Half a mile lower the same rock appears, dipping north- 
north-east 50°. Below this, beds of saccharine quartz, with 
seams of mica, dip north-north-west 20°. Some of these 
quartz beds are folded on themselves, and look like flattened 
trunks of trees, being composed^of concentric layers, each 
from two to four inches thick : we exposed twenty-seven feet 
of one fold running along the side of the road, which was cut 
parallel to the strike. Each layer of quartz was separated 
from its fellows, by one of mica scales, and was broken up 
into cubical fragments, whose surfaces are no doubt cleavage 
and jointing planes. I had previously seen, but not under- 
stood, such flexures produced by metamorphic action on 
masses of quartz when in a pasty state, in the Falkland 
Islands, where they have been perfectly well described by 
Mr. Darwin ; * in whose views of the formation of these 
rocks I entirely concur. 

The flexures of the gneiss are incomparably more irregular 
and confused than those of the quartz, and often contain 
flattened spheres of highly crystalline felspar, that cleave 
perpendicularly to the shorter axis. These spheres are dis- 
posed in layers parallel to the foliation of the gneiss : and are 
the result of a metamorphic action of great intensity, effect- 
ing a complete rearrangement and crystallization of the 
quartz and mica in parallel planes, whilst the felspar is aggre- 
gated in spheres ; just as in the rearrangement of the mineral 
constituents of mica-schists, the alumina is crystallized in 
the garnets, and in the clay-slates the iron into pyrites. 

* Journal of Geological Society for 1846, p. 267, and " Voyage of the Beagle." 

March, 1849. GEOLOGY OF PUNKABAREE. 407 

The quartz below this dips north-north-west 45° to 50°, 
and alternates with a very hard slaty schist, dipping north-west 
45°, and still lower is a blue-grey clay-slate, dipping north- 
north-west 30°. These rest on beds of slate, folded like the 
quartz mentioned above, but with cleavage-planes, forming 
lines radiating from the axis of each flexure, and running 
through all the concentric folds. Below this are the plum- 
bago and clay slates of Punkabaree, which alternate witli 
beds of mica-schist with garnets, and appear to repose 
immediately upon the carboniferous strata and sandstone ; 
but there is much disturbance at the junction. 

On re-ascending from Punkabaree, the rocks gradually 
appear more and more dislocated, the clay-slate less so than 
the quartz and mica-schist, and that again far less than the 
gneiss, which is so shattered and bent, that it is impossible 
to say what is in sit/', and what not. Vast blocks lie super- 
ficially on the ridges; and the tops of all the outer mountains, 
as of Khersiong spur, of Tonglo, Sinchul, and Dorjiling, 
appear a pile of such masses. Injected veins of quartz are 
rare in the lower beds of schist and clay-slate, whilst the 
gneiss is often full of them ; and on the inner and loftier 
ranges, these quartz veins are replaced by granite with 

Lime is only known as a stalactitic deposit from various 
streams, at elevations from 1000 to 7000 feet; one such 
stream occurs above Punkabaree, which I have not seen ; 
another within the Sinchul range, on the great Rungeet 
river, above the exit of the Rummai ; a third wholly in the 
great central Himalayan range, flowing into the Lachen 
river. The total absence of any calcareous rock in Sikkim, 
and the appearance of the deposit in isolated streams at 
such distant localities, probably indicates a very remote 
origin of the lime-charged waters. 



Chap. XVII. 

From Khersiong to Dorjiling, gneiss is the only rock, 
and is often decomposed into clay -beds, 20 feet deep, in 
which the narrow, often zigzag folia of qnartz remain quite 
entire and undisturbed, whilst every trace of the foliation 
of the softer mineral is lost. 

At Pacheem, Dorjiling weather, with fog and drizzle, 
commenced, and continued for two days : we reached 
Dorjiling on the 24th of March, and found that the hail 
which had fallen on the 20th was still lying in great masses 
of crumbling ice in sheltered spots. The fall had done 
great damage to the gardens, and Dr. Campbell's tea-plants 
were cut to pieces. 




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