In the travelogue penned by Baron Charles Hugel of his tortuous, circuitous
and labyrinthine route ascending the eclivities and descending the declivities
in a hot and humid and elsewhere extremely cold climate has been poignantly and
painstakingly narrated as follows:
By degrees, my servants found their way to Agnur. About eleven o'clock at night,
I was able to break my day's fast, and at midnight to lie down, The servants
were the greatest sufferers after all; for their work is only beginning when the
baggage arrives, the bearers alone being at liberty to betake themselves to
One of my people shot a rare specimen of the stork on the wing, very like one
which I obtained in Ceylon; but not a native could be found to bring the bird to
Agnur for us, a distance of three kos, until Mirza resorted to the means, common
from Syria to the Himalaya, in such cases-taking off the turban of a countryman,
he endeavoured to compel him to lend his services; but the peasant chose rather
put up with his loss, and consoled himself by repeating that he had another at
home; and I ordered Mirza, therefore, to let him go, and to hang his turban on
the next hedge. While in India, and especially in the Dekhan, I had seen numbers
of men scrambling to be hired, at the rate of a pice per kos; here I found it
necessary to pay eight annas, or thirty-two pice, for the day's work, surely no
proof of poverty in the country. I met with another old acquaintance here, a
black cormorant, of that kind so abundant in the South of India.
Thursday, November 5.-Thermometer, morning 59°, noon 80°, evening 64°.
The inhabitants were unanimous in their information, that the road was quite
level to Rajaor, with the single exception of one ascent near Agnur; and yot I
found the day's journey one of extreme toil and difficulty, The distance was
reckoned nine kos, that is, between twelve and thirteen miles, It took us from
seven in the morning to six in the evening, and their boasted level road led us
over two mountains, comparable with those climbed by the traveller in the
Himalaya, going from Pahar to Subh&too, over smooth rocks, and mountain
torrents. From the bed of the Kotheri, we began our ascent of the first hill;
enormous stones piled one over another, composed the road to the summit; there a
torrent, which has worn its bed deeply into the soil, with sandstone and
limestone in detached masses, somewhat varied the route.
About one-third of the way, we came to the abode of a fakir, near several little
stone buildings, and a spring called Dendrsh, round which a considerable party
of the dwellers of the mountains were spending their hours of rest from work.
Many were carrying to Jammu large bundles of rose-coloured wood of the Deobasa,
which is found about this spot also; but I could not find any of the trees,
though I went out of my way, with one of the collectors, in search of one.
Overcome by the heat, my people lay down by the-spring, from which the fakir
brought them all water, while multitudes of monkeys were leaping from tree to
tree, and flocks of parrots filled the air with their clatter. Gigantic trees,
round which climbed many a parasite, rose in the little plain near the spring.
When the fakir had administered to the wants of all my servants.
I beckoned to him, and he quickly drew near with a vessel filled with water. I
then perceived that he was a very aged man-*" How old are you ?” said I. "
Ninety-two,” replied he. "And how long have you lived at this spring?” "" Since
I grew to manhood.” " And why do you remain here?” "Why!” repeated he, "see you
not that I refresh the weary traveller with water, and send him strengthened on
his way?” " But he would find it without you.” " And when the sand in this
lonely spot chokes the spring, who would find the water then? By serving the
poor J serve God.” " But these same poor feed you, otherwise you could not
exist.” " He who has abundance gives to the needy if he values his own
happiness. I am the rich man here; for the water is mine: and many a great man
travelling this way is bounteous to me, in order that I may live until another
comes, Truly there are such good men in this world; for many are the years that
I have lived without quitting this spring.”
Poor man! Knowing only one small valley, how narrow and confined must God's
beautiful creation appear to thee! To theatres must be a forest, a hill a
division of the world, the spring thine ocean; and yet, who would not give all
his knowledge, every worldly advantage, in exchange for this peaceful mind, this
conscientious assurance that he commands everything that constitutes happiness.
On the hill which we next reached from Dendrah, I had a beautiful view of the
country, conclusive enough to me, that I should soon be in the heart of a
mountainous region. This was the last glimpse I had of the plains of India for
some time: its native inhabitants also, a perfect host of white monkeys, of
peacocks and parrots, as if desirous of taking leave of me, screamed in chorus
over my head.
It is curious to observe here, how quickly a little spring becomes a deep
stream. At the top of a mountain, it is perhaps like a thread of water, and 100
steps further down, we find it two fathoms across. Over a pretty rivulet called
Dalashel, about which are scattered the cottages composing the village of Inghal,
we arrived at an extraordinary formation of sandstone; and by clambering first
over the great blocks scattered along the bed of the stream, and then up a steep
ascent to the second point, and looking back to the first, I became fully alive
to the surprising nature of its form.
From the valley beneath, spring up, in multitudes, detached sharp points of
rocks, while above, the mountain seems to have no end. Until the summit is once
gained, the road to Poni appears to be as steep downwards to the banks of the
river, as that just surmounted; and then there is another great ascent ere one
can reach the town, which is on the opposite side of a river. I lingered on the
summit a few minutes and then commenced the toilsome dangerous descent. Fatigued
as I was, it was necessary to descend on foot; but how the poor animals or the
bearers were ever to reach the bottom, I could not even surmise.
What I might have expected soon occurred; the men would not follow me with the
baggage, because they were accustomed to move as slowly as they chose, and to
rest whenever they could find any shade, which did not suit my desire to end the
day's march as soon as practicable. I had always taken care to send on the small
tent, under the care of the Chaprasi, Khair Singh, that I might find it ready on
my arrival; and now, when I reached the river, I found them on the point of
carrying it over. As the sun went down, I entered the little town on foot,
wearied not a little.
Very few of my people were with me, and the night came on, finding me without
bed or food. I could not help heartily despising the great broad-shouldered
Kashmirians, who carried the Jampan, and let both it and its unlucky tenant fall
no less than four times this day until I began to think my own feet a much safer
mode of transport: I am not sure they did not fall purposely. Late at night,
when the coldness of the air made me long for warmer clothing, I was favoured
with the sight of the Charpdi, my Indian bedstead, a Chepdti, a kind of
unleavened cake made by my huntsmen, and a fire.
Friday, November 6.-The servants and bearers were not ready until nine o'clock,
and then out of humour at the prospect of a fatiguing march, the bearers threw
the bedstead on the ground, breaking two of the feet and the frame. These
Kashmirians I take to be an unwilling, ill-tempered, discontented set; and their
coarse disagreeable manner of speaking is hardly to be endured. Their exterior
is far more pleasing, and some of the old men might have served as models for a
patriarch. At Simla, and indeed until [ arrived at Jama, I had seen but two
classes, the tailors and shawl weavers, and had fancied the whole race
diminutive and insignificant like them. But I knew little of them at that time.
About noon I was informed, that my large tent was brought as far as the hill;
but that ten men at least were necessary to drag it through paths which were
inaccessible to my beasts of burden. Neither fair words nor gold could
congregate, out of this populous place, more than half of that number, nor that
indeed without great difficulty. I decided, therefore, on climbing the lofty
eminence once more, and strengthening the hired force with my eight bearers.
Again my trusty Ghunt took me up this arduous ascent, and I was well repaid for
my toil; for I discovered, by the way, many interesting plants. My Shikarf shot
a black pheasant, and I enjoyed the fine prospect and the sweet coolness of the
Very lovely was that evening, and the view over the valley of Ras Dhan, at the
foot of the Trikota, was magnificent. But I was thoroughly convinced that the
road which from fatigue and long watching I had imagined to be more dangerous
than it was in reality last evening, was sufficiently perilous: the eye shrinks
from the deep yawning chasm below, over which hang grotesque masses of
projecting rock, as the road winds round and round, on the very edge of the
precipice. One spot we came to, where the rocky wall dropped perpendicularly to
a depth of several thousand feet; and, further on, hundreds of steps seem cut
out obliquely, and so dangerously projecting over the abyss, that it is almost
impossible to descend them.
The head swims in passing this fearful place; and as no animal can turn about,
on account of the narrowness of the path, I expected every instant to see one or
the other of them stumble, and fall into the depths below. Many did flounder
about, and nearly lost their footing, trembling meanwhile in every limb; but
seemingly aware of their danger, they walked with the most surprising care, and
arrived at the bottom safely, their loads being taken off, and carried on men's
When I reached my tent again, I found two messengers awaiting me, with a letter
from the Thanadar of Narpoor, who sent me, by command of the Maha Raja, 101
rupees; for which, as I mentioned above, the bill was given at Narpoor without
the money. They now demanded Ranjit's note, which I. had kept as a curiosity. I
desired not to take the money if this could be done without giving offence to
the Maha Raja, and as part of my suite had already quitted Poni, this gave me
the opportunity of declining the money, because the bill of exchange was with my
luggage, and could not be returned. I was obliged to remain at Poni another
night; and a good meal and rest were doubly welcome to me, after a very
uncomfortable night and two fatiguing days, spent almost without sustenance.
Saturday, November 7, thermometer, morning 58°, noon 70°, evening 66°. This
morning had nearly seen the last of my earthly excursions; for, while
breakfasting as usual before my tent, and some of the servants were taking it
down, the rest being seated round me on the grass, it suddenly fell with a
crash, shivering in pieces the table at which I was sitting. Had I' been but
ever so little to the right, the roof of the tent weighing 600 Ibs. and the
poles, 25 feet high, would have descended on my devoted head.
The poor Munshi, who was reading a letter by my side, lay for some time nearly
dead with terror; and when I bade him go on, and think no more of the accident,
he could find no consolation in my coolness for the fright he had received. I
found on inquiry, that the Kalasi had wound up all. the ropes, except the
principal stay ropes, which were not strong enough to bear the weight of the
tent. The pegs were forced out which fastened them to the ground, and the whole
gave way together. My people saw the impending danger, and tried to rouse me by
their cries; but these things are so commonly heard, that I listened without
paying attention to them. The least movement in the direction of the falling
load would have brought me under it.
Poni lies in a narrow deep ravine, and the castle, which, at a distance, looks
grand and well fortified, is, on a nearer approach, very insignificant. Two
roads lead from Poni to Rajaor, the shortest being twenty-four kos, the longest
passing by Bal and Noshera, and both, according to the natives, being over a
plain country. As I was told that the shortest would bring me in four days'
journey to Rajaor, I proposed it on account of the miserable state of my cattle.
I made another discovery here, and not an agreeable one. The fatigues and hunger
and want of sleep I had lately suffered, made me sensible that I could not,
without danger, brave hardships which in younger days I should have laughed at.
The road passes between two rather lofty hills, and up and down through ravines
hollowed out by the streams in the rich soil. At Bethyan, we completely lost our
way, and Mirza asked a man who was working in the field which direction we
should take. He was about to point it out, when they desired him to show it
quickly, upon which he stoutly refused to stir from the spot. The usual snatch
of the turban from his head, brought on a skirmish, in which three field
labourers engaged on his side, and valiantly defended him; one seizing the
silver-tipped stick, the sign of Mirza's authority, and another regaining
possession of the turban.
It was with much difficulty that the stick was wrested from his grasp. During
this contest the cowardly bearers had set me down and runoff, so that I found
myself in the midst of the combatants, quite unprepared to interfere were it
necessary, although I looked carefully after my kukeri or knife. My men being
provided with sabres, and the peasants carrying mattocks, I expected that blood
would be shed; particularly, when at a loud shout from our four enemies, I saw
people rushing out of the village: fortunately the Kotwal was among them, and
Mirza laying hold of him without any ceremony, obliged him to guide us to Moghul,
the next station. Moghul consists of a few houses only and has no bazar. It is
distant from Poni five kos, or between eight and nine miles, which took us five
hours to reach.
Sunday, Nov. 8.-Thermometer 49°, 84°, 68°. The difference of climate was more
perceptible from day today, and I dreaded to think what I should do with my
Indians when we reached the Pir Panjal, on which, doubtless, the snow was then
lying, for they were hard to be driven forth this morning on account -of the
cold. The road was uninteresting and bad; the country is intersected in every
direction by ranges of hills, and the people seemed very poor, the villages
being paltry and built-in valleys, or scattered in small patches about the
hills; the vegetation is still tropical, and the Mango, Banana, Parrots, and
Maina, abundant as ever. The Nerium Oleander abounds in the river beds, and the
stunted Phoenix farinifera or date palm, on the rocks. We were seven hours going
eight kos, or fourteen miles, to Dharmsala, a larger station, which has a bazar.
Near it, we fell in with a company of Banjaris, or corn merchants, with 100 or
150 oxen laden with grain, J was forced to pass the evening in the little
morning tent, having vainly waited for the larger one.
Monday, Nov. 9, Thermometer 46°, 74°, 66% A very cold morning. There was no
getting my people up before 7 o'clock, and the day's route was over steep hills
and very rugged paths. Here the houses are built close together for security;
each, as in Syria, resembling a little castle. The owner enters his dwelling by
a ladder, which he draws up after him, a proof of the fear entertained of the
Sikh and Mohammedan troops, and of the few means of defence possessed by the
inhabitants, since a day would suffice to pull down every house in the
On leaving Dharmsala we had a fine view of the Pir Panjal, covered with snow to
a considerable extent; many streams of cold and clear water descended towards us
from the mountain; of these, the Naritari, dashing over immense stones in its
progress, is the most considerable.
In order to ford it, we were forced to jump from stone to stone, a feat by no
means agreeable or easy, on account of their slipperiness and the depth at which
they lie. The vegetation still continues tropical. The Barberry and Pine, which
commence here and seem to confer their character on this region, are both
abundant. The harvest was just over. The day's journey was six kos, which
occupied us five hours.
Tuesday, Nov. 10.-Thermometer, 42°, 72°, 64°. From yesterday's station, I had
dispatched a letter to the Raja of Rajawar, requesting that six horses might be
sent to convey my tent to that place. The night was bitterly cold, and my tent
was pitched on the heights of Safedar, in a very unprotected situation, where
the wind had full liberty to pierce every cranny. In the morning it was covered
with a white hoar frost. From a rising ground, by the way, we had a fine view of
the Bimber valley which we were soon to descend.
We were met by the horses which I had applied for, and their leader informed me
that the Raja himself: was only four miles off. By Moradpoor we came to that
ancient road by which the Emperors of Dehli went from Lahore to Kashmir, and of
which Bernier gives so entertaining a description. Moradpoor was ono of the
resting-places on the route, and under the Moghul rule was a place of some note,
but the Serai is now a very unpicturesque ruin, its narrow rooms are converted
into stables, and a fine clump of trees is all that remains of the garden. It is
five miles from Rajawar. I had just quitted the village when a party of men rode
up to me and requested that I would there await the Raja's arrival.
The idea of standing still at this spot, under a hot sun, was not very
agreeable, but politeness demanded the sacrifice of comfort; so, taking my
glass, I soon espied a gaily accoutred cavalcade engaged in sporting; as soon as
the partridges were on the wing, they threw after them their large
sparrow-hawks, but in such a direction that they could hardly have shot the game
without wounding their hawks likewise; the gun is, therefore, rarely used: they
did not take more than half-a-dozen.
The Raja of Rajawar is an extremely prepossessing and honest-looking man.
Surrounded by his little court, he received me standing, and I, having alighted
also, took his hand. On declining the offer of his horse or elephant, we took
our way together to the town, he on his horse, I in my own favourite conveyance.
My new friend was evidently very well informed and had a good and fitting answer
to give to every question. Originally a Sikh, he had now gone over to the
Mohammedan creed and had acquired Rajawar since the expulsion and imprisonment
of the restless Raja Agur Khan, who has seized by Gulab Singh, during the second
and fortunate expedition of Ranjit Singh into Kashmir in May 1320. For this
service he received Jami as a jaghir,
The present Raja Sultan Khan was formerly Raja of Bimber, and in 1812, Joined
the other Mohammedan princes against Ranjit, but they were subdued, and he spent
seven years in captivity at Lahore. Ranjit Singh thought that his acquaintance
with Kashmir might be useful to his army on his second march, and Sultan Khan
being set at liberty, performed services which gained for him, on the return of
the expedition, the jaghir or fief of Rajdwar.
The Raja led me into the once beautiful, but now ruined garden, where the
Emperors used to rest on their progress. Its chief ornaments pow are the plane
trees, two of which measure between five and six feet in diameter near the
ground. There is a fine view from one of the ruined aqueducts over the river and
the town, which is protected by walls and towers and surrounded on all sides
The Raja pointed out to my notice, with great pride, a high point, which is
distant about five kos, called Azimgurh, as a very strong fort. After leaving me
alone for half-an-hour, which he spent in the garden, he returned to my little
tent, where there was but one chair, which he would not accept. After a mutual
series of complimentary apologies, we concluded by starting forth again and
seating ourselves on 8 stone balustrade overlooking the Tohi, I informed him,
through the Munshi, that I proposed to return his visit, but he replied, that if
I came to his Durbar he should make me a present in money, and that, as to be
had been informed of my refusal to accept such gifts, he preferred rather to
decline to receive me than to endure the affront of seeing his offering
rejected. He stayed the whole day in the garden and ordered his servants to
bring me flowers, fish, and fruit: a sheep and several fowls were, moreover,
liberally furnished for the wants of my followers. In the evening he came again,
and I assured him that, on my return from Kashmir, must disregard his wishes,
and pay him a long visit, at all hazards.
About Rajawar tropical plants are still seen, as, the Cotton and Banana, but the
climate is much changed. Snow storms are frequent in January, and the snow often
lies two whole days on the ground. The country is generally flat and
uninteresting, but there is a torment for every traveller, whether on foot or
horseback, or other conveyance: the Zixiphus or Jujube thorn, tears everything
to pieces, and renders the journey to Rajawar extremely troublesome and tedious.
The thorns of the plant are so curved that when they catch hold of anything it
is no easy matter to get clear of them, the damage they occasion both to clothes
and skin is by no means trifling.
I travelled this day about seven kos in five hours. Unluckily, I found my cook
one of the most quarrelsome fellows that I had met with; notwithstanding the
softness of his name, Gulab Khan, or rose-water lord, none of the Musselmans
could agree with him, and there was no end to his disputes and quarrels with the
Hindus. After I had heard him vociferating loudly for some time, he came and
complained that he had not time to prepare my curry and that he was over-worked,
his labour consisting of the preparation of my dinner, for the khidmatg4r always
got the breakfast and tea ready. I soon turned him out of the tent, with an
order never to let me see his face or hear his voice again.
By the time I had forgotten all about this, Jwali, the most active and useful of
my chaprasis, ran in, took off his badge of office, laid it on the table, and
declared that he had been too much insulted to feel justified in bearing such a
mark of my confidence any longer. I then perceived that his hand was bleeding,
and it turned out that in a sore fight, the cook, Gulab Singh, had bitten the
hand of the Chaprési, Jwali Singh, who, on this occasion, had not maintained the
honour of his name of the fiery lion. I was, therefore, obliged to send the
former about his business forthwith, and took on myself the office of doctor to
the injured Jwali, whose wound, however, was of no material importance.
Wednesday, Nov. 11.-Thermometer, 48°. 70°, 59°. Before my departure I took
another view of the garden, and admired anew the large Plane trees, a Plum and
Magnolia Champaka, before which were lying, in this Mohammedan garden, some
Hindu images; large rosebushes, bearing the rosa-semperflorens; Indian
crysanthemums, white and yellow, and a number of white jonquils with yellow
cups, filled the whole garden with their sweet perfume.
The road lay along the Tohi, which rushes over rocks and stones, to Thana, a
place about twelve miles off. The valley of the Tohi, to judge from its
situation, ought to be very delightful; as it opens to the mountains on the
south, and seemingly cultivated; yet it is not so, the hills, to a great height,
are cut into terraces and converted into rice fields, but wherever irrigation is
impracticable, the whole country is overrun with briars and wild shrubs. Two of
these last, and a very remarkable creeping plant were new to me, the others were
all natives of the Himalaya.
I am indebted to this day's journey for a large collection of seeds. It is
curious to observe the gradual change from the vegetation of the tropics to that
of the north, as we approach in that direction. At Berode, the son of the Raja
of Rajawar was waiting to receive me, under a group of splendid lime and chesnut
trees. The small distance between Rajawar and Berode made so great a difference
in climate, that these trees, belonging to a northern region, were now
substituted for the Magnolia and the Banana. The son was shooting also, and I
thought it probable, with the view of having a present to offer me, in the shape
of the game.
To meet a person with a gift is the highest courtesy an Indian can show, and
both father and son availed themselves of the pretext of shooting, to do me this
honour, without in the least derogating from their own dignity. Falcons were the
destroyers employed. Curious to follow the tactics of these little birds of
prey, I accompanied the party on their way. They sat as tamely as possible on
the sportsman's hand, their feet being fastened together, as in our country,
with a silken lace which was held tight, and on each foot was a little bell
which betrayed its presence, if the sportsman was not alert in taking it off as
he slipped his bird. The falcon usually catches the prey instantly and seats
himself on the ground with it, but a fine black partridge baffled its pursuer
for a long time. At length "it was brought to me alive and little injured. I
reached Thana before nightfall. The ruined Serai is tenanted by a little colony
Thursday, Nov. 12.-Thermometer, 44°, 60°, 49°.
I have traduced nature in this part. As we journeyed northwards to-day she
assumed again a richer attire. The majestic form of the mighty trees, tinged
with the most splendid tints of autumn, reminded me forcibly of the forests of
my own country, with their garb varying from the golden yellow to the dark deep
brown. Between Thana and Perhamgals we scaled the Ratan Panjal, a mountain more
than 9000 feet high, following the banks of the Tohito its source. The road is
not invariably precipitous. From the summit of the Ratan Panjal, the view js
splendid, stretching over seven mountain ranges, to the great plains of the
As we ascended, the vegetation around reminded me of Simla and its
neighbourhood. I discovered a stunted Vaccinium, a well-known native of the
Himalaya, and in the course of the day observed two of the Rhododendron
arboretum. But these grow on the south side of the Ratan Panjal, and on the
north side of the Himalaya. There is hardly a foot's breadth of level ground
near the summit of this mountain, and Ratan Shahi, not forty feet below its
highest peak, js a resting place, consisting of three houses and a tower.
A party of soldiers belonging to the Maha Raja are stationed in the pass
throughout the year. Shaded by the finest oaks, limes and chesnuts, unlike those
found in European forests, we descended the northern side, taking our downward
course over a hard stony path. The larger pinesclothe the highest ridge, and
blocks of ice, which the noonday's sun had not to power to melt, were lying
about. The thermometer at this time marked 60°, but the wind blew keenly, and
the cold was very piercing.
The unmelted piece of ice was a better thermometer, in fact than the
quicksilver, a phenomenon to be attributed to the extreme rarity and dryness of
the air. The Perhamgala on which the little town is built consists of two small
streams, over which a bridge is thrown. The principal stream is a clear rapid
mountain torrent, which has its source fifteen miles from the town, in the Pir
Panjal, where there are a tank and place of pilgrimage; the Damdam flowing
thence to Kashmir, and the Perhamgala taking a southward course.
My tent was pitched about a mile up the stream, close by the ruined Serai; the
road was singularly romantic, the mountains closely hemmed together, and
towering aloft towards the sky, scarcely admit one beam of sunlight to pierce
the deep and narrow dell below. A beautiful water-fall on the right would have
attracted many a traveller in Europe' from a great distance to admire this so
magnificent a scene.
Friday, November 13, thermometer 40°, 58°, 50°. The Thanadar made his appearance
this "morning and demanded my Perwana, or permission to travel, which I had
received from the Maha Raja found that the man was only doing his duty, and
therefore referred him to my Munshi, that the Perwana might be produced. It was
in the possession of the Chobdar's servant, and he was still snugly lodged in a
house, whence, however, he was quickly summoned.
When he did come forth, I ordered him to take care in future that he produced
the Maha Raja's permit whenever it was necessary, that I might not be importuned
by such inquiries; and the man assured me that he had done so the preceding day.
The Thanadar then came in for his share, and he was asked what he meant by such
impertinence. He could only answer that he was entitled to ask a certain sum
from anyone who went by this mountain pass and that he hoped I would not refuse
to give the accustomed toll. I desired him to be told that he had chosen a wrong
method of asking for a present and that he might turn his back on my tent: as
soon as possible.
The snow, which often lies to the depth of a hundred feet at Perhamgala,
occasions the place to be entirely abandoned during winter. The road continued
to wind down to the valley, which is still closely hemmed in by vast overhanging
mountains and is so low that the presence of daylight is in some places almost
unknown. Strange to say, the south side of this valley is everywhere wild and
dreary, while fine trees grow up to the very summit of the mountain on the north
The reason may possibly be found in the fact, that, on the south side, the
repeated action of alternate freezing and thawing destroys every kind of
vegetation, except a few grasses. Wherever a little open space is seen in the
valley, itis crowded with chesnut trees of enormous size in which troops of
large white monkeys with black faces have taken up their abode; these live on
the fruits as they ripen.
The chesnut, oak and holly, the pine and the fir, are the only natives of this
region, The trunk of the first, which is very unlike the European tree,
sometimes measures as much as six or seven feet in diameter. When the tree is
old, the bark peels off in a remarkable way, and stands away from the trunk, in
pieces, at a distance of two feet; the outer shell of the fruit has no
excrescence. On one spot I saw a tuft of the gigantic lily and robbed it of as
many seeds and bulbs as I could get possession of from the step rock in which it
One stalk measured nine feet and had six seed capsules. The Shikari was by far
the most active of my attendants in climbing the declivities; and as this lily
grew on a slippery soil, which gave way under the feet, there was some little
difficulty in obtaining it. When he had succeeded, the next feat was to slit off
a part of the stem in an oblique direction, which he then formed into a musical
instrument, on which he played after the manner of the shepherds of Switzerland
and the Tyrol.
This rustic pipe is much in fashion among the Himalayan shepherds also. Early
recollections made the sound of this wild music so charming to me, that my
attendants imagined they could do no better than providing themselves with each
with a similar instrument; but the discord that ensued was so terrible, that I
was obliged at length to put a stop to their trials, not one of them
understanding how to draw one proper sound from the reed except the Shikari.
The pretty village of Dobran is three kos distant from Perhamgala. The women,
according to the custom of these mountains, were all on the flat roofs of their
cottages and greeted my arrival with songs. In the valley, I was visited by a
man, whom I took for a common beggar. I asked him the name of the place; but
misunderstanding me, he told me his own, adding, that he was the Sirdar or lord
of the " whole. I made him a present of a rupee, which he thankfully accepted.
My next visitors were a large party of monkeys. Two of immense size began
fighting together, without taking the slightest notice of us; and when, I tried:
to separate them, by throwing stones, they took my mediation very il, and
springing to a rock hard by, amused themselves and us by making the most hideous
Two miles from Dobran, a steep road continued up to the hill on which is the
ruined Serai of Poshyan. It is inhabited during the summer by traders in
provisions, & c., who betake themselves in the winter to Rajawar. The whole
range from Ratan Panjab to Pir Panjal belongs to Gulab Singh. I found my tent
spread on the roofs of several houses, the only level place to be found on the
mountain, which as far as the eye can reach, is without tree or bush. I arrived
at noon, but the sun gave no warmth, and a chilly west wind which at sunset
veered round to the east, and blew direct from the snowy mountains, made the air
Saturday, Nov. 14.-It was late when the servants crept out of the houses, and I
was obliged to have a fire lighted to dispel the chill which I also suffered.
The thermometer, in a southern aspect, was 50°, at 7 o'clock; at one it fell to
45° in the mountains, The day's march, however, was of much interest; at every
step, the vegetation seemed to dwindle, until we attained the region of
perpetual snow when it disappeared altogether.
This was on the north side of the mountain; on the south flank immense naked
rocks towered one above the other, in whose deep clefts the snow was piled up.
The gradual transition from the vegetation of South Germany, the chesnut, lime,
ilex, elm, and alder, to that of Norway, with its stunted firs and birches, as
all we met with here, differing however in form from the productions of Europe,
gave room to much and most interesting observation and reflection.
My company of followers were often forced to quit the straight road and follow
the devious paths in every direction, that I might satisfy my strong desire to
possess some plant, insect, or stone. My booty in new plants and seeds exceeded
my expectation, and the autumn had even spared a few rare flowers. Among the
firs on the north side of the mountain I espied a Daphne, at least so I judge
from the bud, and a little further on, a Vaccinium, much resembling our own;
and, still onwards, on the other side of a ravine amid some birches, a new shrub
like the Rhododendron, whose branches were mostly bent earthwards by the snow.
Its hardy appearance, however, convinces me that it would flourish in our cold
climates. With infinite fatigue and trouble, I reached a clump, but could find
neither bud nor seed, and returned quite exhausted to the road.
Later in the day, I perceived a second and larger group, growing on a steep
place on, the opposite side of the ravine, and I promised to give a couple of
rupees to the man who first brought me some of the seeds. In an instant they
were all rushing down the precipice, without heed or precaution, springing from
rock to rock, until I trembled to look after them; the steep bank was goon
gained. My glass showed me that they were breaking off all the branches at
hazard, but they were gone too far for my voice to reach them, and I could only
hope that by good luck they might bring me one slip, at least, on which fruit
might be found. On their return, a small wood was laid before me, but not what I
wished, and I retained the rupees, thinking we might be more fortunate
With the Rhododendron was intermingled the Elm, and a species of the Evonymus,
or spindle tree, both with trunks lying along with the earth, and sometimes
reaching to a length of forty feet. The Juniper is the highest bush found on the
north flank of the mountain; the Barberry and Currant on the south. The snow,
which had been falling for a fortnight, prevented me from searching for anything
higher. Clay and mica schist is found on the west side of the Pir Panjab up to
its summit, and single pieces of hornblende are lying about, as though some
way-worn traveller had cast them down, unable to endure the trouble of bearing
The ascent is dreadfully steep. With a volume of Bernier in my hand, I gazed
around and recalled in imagination the time when the gorgeous suite of the
Emperor of Dehli clambered up these perilous and difficult paths. In many parts
the soil is so loose and crumbling, as to afford no safe footing; and large
masses falling from above, block up the usual road, and force the traveller to
find out a new one as he best can.
It seems to me impossible that elephants could ever tread such a pass, not so
much on account of their unwieldy size, for they climb steep places with
incredible facility; but that their weight is so enormous, and I find in Bernier
an account of a number of elephants which were precipitated into the depths
below, as they proceeded with the Zenana on their backs. A small tower is built
on the highest point, where a party of the Maha Raja's troops are stationed
throughout the year; and hard by is the grave of a Mohammedan fakir, named Pir
Panjal, from whom the mountain takes its name.
There is a fine prospect in the direction of the Panjab, and the eye stretching
over unnumbered ranges of hills loses all further view in the dimmer and warmer
atmosphere of the south. A little further on, we passed into a gorge of the
mountain, On the north, or right side was a vast wall of snow above us. The
south was a naked rock; in vain I essayed to catch one glimpse of the
long-looked-for valley, the limits of my wanderings in Asia in this direction.
Towards the east stretched a barren plain, through which flows the Damdam, a
river now partly frozen; and in many spots were deep holes, evidently dug by
bears; I saw none of these animals, but their traces were very perceptible. One
creature we saw climbing up the naked rock, which I imagine must have been a
leopard: it was nearly white, with a long tail, and of large size.
Finally, after another hour of toilsome way, my anxious eye descried the huge
mountain masses of Tibet, beyond the valley of Kashmir, their highest. peaks,
Mer and Ser being plainly visible. I saw them but for an instant, a turn of the
road again hid them from my view but never rose any more proudly than they, with
their two pyramids, the one black, the other white, close to one another, and
apparently of the same altitude. The valley itself could not be seen from any
It seems natural to all nations to experience more or less of fear in passing
over these wild mountains. After my Indians and Kashmirians had all prayed at
the tomb of Pir Panjal the devotee, they sacrificed some cowries and muscle
shells to his namesake the mountain; these represent the smallest Indian money:
the bearers also asked me for "gore Tittle present, as a thank-offering for my
safe conveyance through the dangerous mountain pass. Allahabad Serai, or, as it
is usually called, Padshahi Serai, is completely hemmedén on every side by high
snowy mountains and is the only abode kept up for the reception of travellers in
The desolate tract between Rajawar and Kashmir is so thinly inhabited that, if
it were not for this station, which is occupied by a corporal and a few sepoys,
who are not relieved until they have passed several years in this wilderness,
travellers would, indeed, be sadly off. In October, they lay in their winter
stock of provisions, wood, & c.; at the end of November the snowstorms begin,
and from that time the men do not even venture into the yard, where the snow
remains piled up for months. My little tent was pitched in the middle of this
yard, and the cold was certainly most piercing. I wrote and amused myself with
my map until my benumbed fingers refused to serve me any longer. At six in the
evening, the thermometer fell to 39°.
Sunday, Nov. 15.-Thermometer 48°, 52°, 46°. The night was dreadful. My poor
Indians kept up a chorus of coughs, and some of the stoutest, instead of
sleeping, sat up all night around a large fire and tried to while away the cold
by singing. In vain I courted sleep under my thick coverlets. In spite of the
fatigues I had undergone, I could not close my eyes, and that painful feeling
that generally accompanies want of sleep, brought before me, sad and sweet
recollections as if from a past world, of all that I had felt and endured in
this. How wearisome such nights appear! With the dawn my mind became more
tranquillized; images of the future, and hopes all full of home, dispelled the
troubles and fancies brought on by cold and fatigue.
From this military post to Hirpoor, the distance is ten long kos, over the steep
side of the Pir Panjal. The road first took us through a deep ravine; and then,
just as I expected to get at last a glimpse of the valley, came another hill,
and another. We skirted, for some time, a wall of rock, which was built as a
safeguard, by order of Shah Jehan. The superstitious inhabitants of these parts
have a tale concerning Ali Merdan Khan, the builder of this wall, and of all the
Serais between Lahore and Kashmir. According to this fable, as the architect
marshalled his workmen along the road, he came suddenly to a tower, which they
one and all refused to pass because a man-eater called Lal Gulam dwelt there,
who was accustomed from the tower to seize upon the passengers, as they stole
one by one along the narrow path, and hurl them down the precipice when he
devoured them at leisure.
The brave Ali Merdan Khan went into the tower first, but Lal Gdlam had just
quitted it. He found his son there, however, whom he instantly hurled down the
precipice. Since that time, nothing more has been heard of Lal Gulam, and the
remembrance of the murders he committed is gradually dying away, but the tower
still bears his name and was certainly a fit place for the dwelling of a robber.
That the Pir Panjal has ever been dangerous enough, without the needless
addition of cannibals, is shown by the countless skeletons of horses and oxen,
and the whitened human bones, which remain, melancholy evidences of the fate
which has overtaken many a wanderer in these terrific passes.
The sudden transition from great heat to excessive cold, had brought a fever on
many of my servants; and as there was no better physician at hand, and I had
often seen the beneficial effects of calomel in similar cases, I gave them doses
of twelve to fifteen grains on this occasion. Poor fellows! it was with the
utmost difficulty that they could pursue their way, laden as they necessarily
were; they were forced to lie down for a while at the top of every level spot,
from sheer exhaustion. I would gladly have thrown away a part of my baggage if
that would have availed them; but they had loaded themselves very absurdly with
a weight, on their own account, at least twice as great as what they carried for
Four kos from the Padshahi Serai, we arrived at the picturesque fortress of
Inganali Kilah; two branches of the Damdam river unite here, and the mountain
sinking abruptly to a hill, discloses also two detached towers defending the
entrance of the mountain, which towards the north, from the right bank of the
stream, might be easily mastered. At all other points, it may safely be deemed
impregnable. The Serai pow in a ruined state, from the frequent f-"ing masses,
which have destroyed the former approaches, lies at the base of the mountain,
and near the river.
From this ruin, we again directed our steps to the highest of the towers we had
previously observed, which is perched 1000 feet above it.
The valley of the Damdam was on the route, enriched with beautiful firs, pines,
& c., and giving somewhat the appearance of a park to the various points where
these little forests have long grown and flourished, far from all human
dwellings. Here nature seems to have reigned perfectly free and uncontrolled by
the ingenuity of man, since its first creation, I strolled into the forest for
some time; and, lost in the interest of such a scene, gazed untired on the
myriads of strange birds which were flying about in this oasis; and the large
squirrels, which were merrily bounding from branch to branch. How much of life,
of happy life too, was there in this lonely spot!
Hirpoor was a miserable place, over which towers the snowy head of the Pir
Papjal. The Thanadar came to see me; but I could procure nothing for my
servants, although I tried, by every means, to restore their wasted strength by
more generous nourishment, and diligently, though in vain, enquired for a sheep.
Hirpoor lies in the mountains, and in an elevated situation; but from no point
is Kashmir discernible, and amid the continued and devious hill ranges, one can
only now and then distinguish the outline of the high chain of Tibet.
In the course. of the evening, a fakir, almost naked, crawled to my tent door
and began tosing. "The weather had become so bitterly cold, that, wrapped up in
vests and shawls as I was, I could not hold a pen in my fingers. Compassionating
his wretched appearance, I ordered the servants to give him a rupee, and to bid
him shelter himself where he liked, or at least to take as a gift one of my
blankets; but no, his vow bound him to add nothing to his present scanty garb.
His voice was remarkably fine; and in his song, which was all in praise and
honour of God, were mingled wishes for my happiness and peace.
He kept me awake till the night was far gone; and when I awoke in the morning,
there was the singer still, his voice only hoarser than before. If I had pitied
the poor fakir yesterday, how could I help to admire, at the same time, the firm
devotedness, the deep conviction, however mistaken, that he was expiating
worldly sins, by this endurance of pain and destitution?
Monday, November 16, thermometer 20°, 48°, 52°. I had erroneously anticipated
that, on turning my back on Pir Panjal, I had passed the limit of extremest
cold. I suffered much from it this morning, and my uneasiness increased, when I
considered that as Hirpoor could not be more than 500 feet higher than Kashmir,
the cold there must also have robbed nature of her loveliest charms. At sunrise,
the fakir ceased, and my people began a chorus of complaints.
The water-bearer did not know what he should do, his leathern sack was turned
into stone, and not a drop of water could he squeeze out; the khidmatgar brought
me a broken bottle, in which the water had frozen hard, as something which he
thought as new and strange to me, as it was to him; and: the bearer who attended
to my toilet, after he had got water from the river, did not understand what use
he could make of it, everything being hard as iron; gradually, however, the
novelty of the sight diverted their minds from these grievances, and a sparkling
fire helped to cheer them still more.
The cold of northern Europe had never swollen my face and lips as now; and that
we might all have as much rest and as little travelling as possible, I limited
the day's journey to Chupayan, which is not more than seven miles further, Our
route was over another hill, to the narrow valley of the Damdam. Everywhere I
was reminded of the great difference between the poverty of a warm climate, and
of a cold one. Where the heaven is cloudless, and the temperature high or
moderate, the very first want of life, warmth, renders misery, if painful, at
least endurable; but when a man cannot protect himself against the pitiless
climate he inhabits, and wants, at the same time, every proper necessary of
life, then indeed is poverty terrible.
Just before reaching Chupayan, we passed two houses belonging to Pirs,
Mohammedan saints, which are surrounded by large plane trees, and decorated with
the beautiful iris. I was curious to find in this part the forms of many of our
European plants, without recognising anywhere the same exact species. Except for
the red clover, the blue chicory and the sweet-scented violet, I could gather
nothing which grows in Germany. Apples were plentiful, and of many sorts, but
neither were they what we cultivate. Grafting or improving their trees in any
way seems unpractised among them, probably unknown; hence propagation by layers
or offsets is their only means of increasing the species. Two small villages
preceded the larger one, which cannot be said to lie in the plain, although the
declivity is very slight.
I sent to the Thanadar for a sheep, which he provided, with an entreaty that I
would not allow it to be killed.on this day, which was holy; as it was for my
attendants I suffered them to do as they pleased with it; and they obeyed the
request, depriving themselves of the animal food they really stood in need of.
Leprosy, which I had seen continually in the Himalaya mountains, and on my route
hither, seemed to disappear in the valleys. The wind was so piercing, that. we
were forced to quicken our pace, to keep ourselves from suffering dreadfully
from its effects. The sky was clear, with the exception of one little cloud,
which seemed to take its stand, seemingly to hide the sun from us until the
afternoon, when it had sunk too low to afford us any warmth.
In the evening, a change of weather came on; clouds obscured the sky, and the
cold abated. Tuesday, 17th, thermometer 36°, 52°,47°. The bed of the Damdam at
this place is not much less than a mile in width; but at the present season is a
shallow stream, certainly not more than a foot deep, and flows in the middle of
the channel. Large stones fill up the bed of the watercourse, on which the
drought of last season has favoured the growth of Juxuriant vegetation. It was
my wish to reach Kanakpoor to-day, and though rain in the morning had somewhat
retarded our journey, there was still plenty of time before us; but, at the
distance of a few miles, I was met by the Thanadar of Rami. Our road traversed a
beautiful country; two fine mosques, now in ruins indicated its former
prosperity. His welcome consisted of two delicious pears, and a few rupees, the
first of which I accepted most willingly, the latter I declined. He confidently
assured me I should do well to spend the night at Rama, where I should find all
that I could require, instead of proceeding to Kanakpoor, where I might solicit
in vain, even for water.
I took his advice accordingly. Rami is situated at the foot of a hill, whence
they told me that the city of Kashmir or Srinagar, the first being the
Mohammedan, the last the ancient Hindu name, was plainly discernible. In anxious
expectancy to catch a glimpse of the goal of my long journey, I climbed to the
top but saw nothing but smoke and dust. In the evening I was visited by Mirza
Abdul Rahim from Kashmir, a native of Tdarkestan, who, as my Mdnshf informed me,
had been a teacher in the Gymnasium at Agra. His glitter. ing dress and green
turban designated a descendant of the prophet, and his first act was to offer me
half a dozen rupees, which I touched, ac. cording to custom, and then returned.
He next gave me a letter written by Mr Vigne, an Englishman, who had extended
his Asiatic travels as far as Kashmir, to certify that he was an agent of the
East India Company.
I was surprised that Captain Wade should neither have spoken nor written to me
about him but doubted not Mr Vigne's authority, and accordingly treated him with
great distinction, that is, I allowed him to take a chair. As he intended to
spend the night here and accompany me to Kashmir on the morrow, made
arrangements that he should share my smaller tent with the Mdanshi. Meanwhile,
no less a personage than the K4zi, or Mohammedan judge, made his appearance, to
salute me in the Viceroy's name; but ere he uttered a syllable, forth came a
handful of rupees, which, on my declining, he distributed among my people. I was
much pleased with his manners, although I did not think fit to take his advice,
which was, that f should divide the ten kos which lay between me and the
capital, into two days' journey.
My bearers, who were all well lodged and provided for by the Thanadar, at first
refused to go all the way to Srinagar in one day; but they, who in the heart of
desolate mountains might have laid down the law with impunity, when they reach
well-peopled regions, are forced to yield their will to their master's, unless
they wish to quit his service. Wednesday, November 18.-For two miles our path
led over gentle hills, whence there was a lovely view of the valley beneath,
about five or six miles across and beyond it, to the mountains of Tibet. We
passed the ruins of the Serai of Kénakpoor; and thence, winding over another
hill, we came to the banks of the Dudh Ganga, ornamented with villages and rice
fields, amid which grew the plane and poplar tree, with many others, bearing
rich fruits. All round, and as far as the eye could reach, the land appeared
highly cultivated and populous, A little way further, a body of soldiers was
sent to escort me; these, with my own suite, and that of the Kazi, formed a
considerable, and to moe, a most incommodious party, for the dust, they raised
in the loose soil was perfectly suffocating.
There is nothing in the approach to Kashmir to remind the traveller of the
vicinity of a place of note; the Takht-i-Suliman and fort being the most
prominent features. We followed the windings of the Dudh Ganga and were in
Kashmir before we were aware of it. Fine avenues of plane and poplar are the
first signs of the former beauty of this favourite and the lovely abode of the
splendid Moghul emperors; and then comes the square, where the soldiers of
Ranjit Singh practised those European tactics which gained him possession of his
large dominions. Two of his regiments, disciplined by Europeans, are stationed
here; their uniform consisted of a red jacket, with yellow facings, and blue
trousers and turban, blue being the favourite Sikh colour. The subalterns wear
white turbans. The whole would have had an excellent effect, the men being
evidently carefully selected for height and carriage if their fine dresses had
not been in so ragged a condition. The muskets are made after the English
fashion and manufactured in Lahore.
- Navin Kumar Jaggi
- Gurmeet Singh Jaggi