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few cedars overshadow the temples, which are not remarkable. Water boils at 208°, or with correction of thermometer, at 2074°, giving about 4700 feet as the elevation. The pretty white Barleria dichotoma, the Photinia dubia; a shrub which I took for Ligustrum Nepalense ; and Kadsura propinqua, “Sindrain,” are common on the banks of the Takoola.
The mountain of Gunnamath, near this, is said to be very beautiful; the Ghoorkas had a stockade there; and on the advance of our troops toward Almorah in 1815, they were attacked from this point by a body of men under the command of Hustee Dhul; he was killed by a random shot, his men retreated, and the fate of Kumaoon was decided. This chief was uncle to the rajah of Nepal, and had been employed in the unsuccessful attempt on Kot Kangra. The contrast of our speedy capture of that celebrated fortress, is to this moment very unpalatable in Nepal; and the story goes that fakeers and other travellers are warned under penalty of a severe beating, to conceal or deny the fact of Lahore being now a British Garrison
Along the borders of the fields here, as at Almorah, the Perilla ocimoides—“Bhungera,” is extensively cultivated for the sake of the oil expressed from the seeds: it is now in flower, and will be ripe in October and November.
September 11th.--To Bagesur, 12 miles; at one and half miles, up a pretty valley, by an easy ascent, but over a rocky road, we reached the crest of a ridge, called the Kurngal ka Cheena, which separates the affluents of the Kosilla from those of the Surjoo. It may be about 5,500 feet high, and like all the hills in the neighbourhood, is well clothed with Pines, (Pinus longifolia,) as the north side is with Rhododendron, Cornus, &c.—The Quercus annulata, “Fumiyat,” (the “Banee” of Simlah,) is a common tree on the ascent, and is large and abundant on the Surjoo above Bagesur, mixed with trees which one scarce expects to find with an oak. From the Kurngal Pass, a steep descent through shady woods, brought us to the beautiful valley of Chonna Biloree, watered by a large brook, the Jynghun, which flows round the north side of Binsur to the Surjoo. Biloree, a pretty hamlet, with a small temple amidst a clump of firs, on a conical knoll, much resembling an Irish Rath, lies to the right of the road, and a short distance above, to the left, is Chouma, another village, near which is a group of the Cheoorra tree—Bassia butyracea, which does not appear to extend more to the north-west. It is common at about 4000 feet elevation, near Bheemtal, and on the Surjoo near Ramesur; and I have even found it on the low outer range of hills to the north-west of Kaleedoonghee : the seeds furnish the so called butter, or Phoolel, of Almorah. Near Biloree several large specimens of the Castanea tribuloides—“Kutonj" or Chestnut, were in full flower; this tree is another instance of the approximation of the vegetation of Kumaoon to that of Nepal; it occurs sparingly in the glens of Binsur, and becomes abundant east of the Surjoo, but is unknown I believe in Gurhwal, &c. At Chonna Biloree the soil and rocks are deeply colored with red oxyde of iron : here the road quits the Jynghun, and turning to the left, soon reaches the base of the “Ladder Hill,” so called from a good, but long and steep flight of steps constructed nearly to the summit, by Toolaram, the Treasurer of Almorah. The total ascent is about 800 feet, 150 or 200 short of which we halted to breakfast, at a spring called the Bhoomka Panee. This pass is known as the Palree or Kurrei Cheema, and may be about 5,500 feet in height; on the left the ridge rises many hundred feet higher in a bold rocky bluff, on which is a temple to the Mychoola Debee. Close above to the east is the rounded “Nynee” summit. With the exception of a little clay-slate, the whole range is of limestone, and stretches far down to the southeast, crossing the Surjoo near the Seera Bridge, and every where presenting to the south-west successive tiers of cliffs. This limestone forms the glen of the Surjoo up to the Sooring, where as at Landour, it is capped by a granular quartz. The view of the Himalaya from the top of the Ladder Hill is considered one of the finest in Kumaoon; but was entirely eclipsed to-day by dense clouds, which bestowed some sharp showers on us while at breakfast. An easy descent of three miles hence brought us to the Dhurmsala of Mehulee, near the village Patulee, erected by one Debee Sah, the bráhman in charge, being endowed with a monthly salary of less than three rupees;–this he ekes out by the cultivation of a garden, which he entertained a not ill-founded fear would be plundered by our followers should he accompany me to the Soap-stone quarries about a mile distant; this difficulty overcome, we started, and after a slippery walk from one terrace to another, reached one of the five or six quarries in this vicinity. So far as I could
observe, the rock lies in large detached masses, but the mine had been apparently neglected for several years, and was choked up with rubbish. The steatite is called “Khurree;” and at Almorah is turned into a variety of cups, &c. less durable and useful than if of wood. From the Dhurmsalá to the Surjoo, the descent is very long and steep, through woods of superb pine; the soil is a red clay, which with the fallen pine leaves, we found so slippery as with great difficulty to keep our feet. At the base the Cheer Gungá, a rattling stream, flows to the Surjoo, along the right bank of which lies the rest of the route, about 2% or 3 miles, to Bagesur. The Surjoo is here a large and rapid river, the water of a whitish tinge, and perfectly impassable except on rafts supported by gourds. Wilson gives us the etymology of the name from ori, to go: Gunga, from gum, to go, to gang ; and Pindur, probably from Pud, pundute, of the same import; so strongly must the primoeval Hindus have been struck by the extreme impetuosity of these rivers.” The elevation of the valley here is between 2,500 and 3,000 feet; it is narrow, with here and there a partial expansion, carefully cultivated with rice. The scenery is exceedingly diversified and verdant. In such a valley to the north-west, as that of the Sutluj, we should have little but arid rock; here all is grass, wood, and swelling hills of the deepest green and most beautiful outline. As a drawback, the climate is considered very unhealthy at this season, and in the months of May and June the winds are said to be nearly as hot as in the plains. The vegetation is nearly that of the Tarai and Dehra Dhoom. Robinia macrophylla, (Gonjh,) Rottlera tinctoria, (Rolee,) Phyllanthus emblica, (Amla,) Pavetta tomentosa, (Pudera,) Murlea begonifolia, (Toombre,)SaPindus acuminata, (Reetha,) Mucuna atropurpurea, (Buldaka,)Zizyphus, (Bair.) Sponia, Toddalia aculeata, (Khuseroo,) and a species of Adelia, are common as trees, with the Photinia dubia, called Gur-mehul or Soond, which is also found north-west of Kumaoon; where it occupies a wome reaching from 3,000 up to 7,500 feet. Among lesser plants I observed Centranthera hispida, Ipomoea muricata and pes-tigridis, the Lygodium or climbing fern (abundant in all the valleys of Kumaoon),
* The word Pindur also denotes a feeder; while Pindul is a bridge, a causeway, * passage over a river or ravine, &c. and might refer in this sense to some early *ructure at Kurnprag to facilitate the passage of pilgrims to Budureenath.
Costus speciosus, Zingiber capitatum, Curcuma angustifolia, and most abundant in the meadows the “beautifully blue” Exacum tetragonum, “Teeta-khana.” We found the heat in the valley oppressive, and were enjoying the idea of shelter in one of the deserted houses of Bagesur, now at hand, when to our dismay, we reached the right bank of the Gaomutee Gunga, which here joins the Surjoo from Byjnath, and was so swollen and rapid from late heavy rains as to be perfectly unfordable. While crouching under some thickets to avoid the sun, and most sincerely desiring that the original Pontifices maximi, Sin and Death, who built the first bridge, according to Milton, had exercised their “Art pontifical” at Bagesur, we perceived certain naked savages appear on the opposite bank, armed with a multitude of gourds, (toombas,) which they forthwith commenced fastening in rows about their waists, and then committed themselves to the deep, as buoyant as so many corks. A sufficient number being attached to our charpaees, we were ferried over in security, but not very pleasantly; our very unsailor-like rafts sink so deep that it became necessary to strip. The process of crossing is a simple, but very tedious one, and above two hours elapsed before our scanty baggage was passed over. We afterwards saw the men plunge with perfect indifference into the “angry flood” of the Surjoo itself, and “stemming it aside with hearts of controversy,” reach the opposite shore with ease, but with great loss of distance. They even promised to convey us over, an offer which was declined. Falstaff justly abhorred a watery death, even in the placid Thames. The town of Bagesur stands immediately beyond the Gaomutee, on the right bank of the Surjoo, in a very confined spot, being closely backed by a precipitous hill. It consists of two or three irregular lines of houses, one of them now washed by the river, and about 200 yards in length, some of the houses are very respectable, adorned with tastefully carved wood work; but the place is a mere depôt, where in the cold season the Almorah merchants, who chiefly own the houses, resort to traffic with the Bhoteeahs, who meet them for this purpose. This, rather than any particular insalubrity, seems the cause of the town being deserted at other seasons; it has no other resources. True, we Europeans found the temperature disagreeably warm, but the site did not seem. malarious, and there was little sever amongst the few inhabitants. The
cases however were more numerous on our return, and it is certain the mountaineers look on a residence here with dread. At the junction of the two rivers are a couple of stone temples of Mahadeo, where Bruhma also is adored sub invocatione Bagesur, Sanscrit Wageeswur, the Lord of Speech, and gives his name to the town. There is an inscribed slab at one of these temples, in a character not seemingly very ancient; the import I understand is given in one of the Journals of the Society. The brahmuns have a legend that the Surjoo could not find its way through the mountains till the present channel, a devious one enough, was opened by a Rishi; ever since which time bathing here is justly considered nearly as efficacious in removing sin as the pilgrimage to Budreenarain itself.” “Bagesur” was perhaps in the first instance indebted for this title to the Tigers which abound in the valley; the brahmuns give both etymologies; these brutes (the tigers), roam up as high as Sooring, but from numerous enquiries I am induced to believe that Bishop Heber was misinformed when he was told that they habitually frequent the snows. They are extremely destructive in the district of Gungolee, along the Surjoo, S. E. of this, where during the present autumn and winter, 25 persons are said to have been destroyed; this with an equal number of victims in the Bhumouree Pass, leading from the plains to Almorah, forms a serious item in the Kumaoon bills of mortality, and goes to prove that the Mosaic penalty of blood for blood is no longer in force; indeed a celebrated writer observes that “the lions, the tigers, and the house of Judah” scarce ever observed this covenant. The mountaineers are firmly persuaded that the worst tigers are men, who transform themselves into this shape by means of the black art, the better to indulge their malice, envy, and love of a flesh diet. The superstition reminds one of the lycanthropy of the old Greeks, and the Louf-garon of the French in modern days. * It is an extraordinary instance of an attempted fusion of the creeds of Brahma and Muhammed, that the brahmuns of Bagesur in relating this legend, identified Muhadeo with “Baba Adam,” and his wife Parvutee with “Mauna Hnuwa,” or Mother Eve. They were probably indebted for this curious association to the circumstance of “Adim” denoting “first” in Sanscrit, so that “Baba Adam” is “First Father.” Had they selected Brahma, who as Viraj, divided himself into
male and female for the production of mankind, the parallel would have been still closer.