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Narrative of a Journey from Soobathoo to Shipke, in Chinese Tartary. By Lieut. A. Gbeahd, Bengal Native Infantry, in 1818.
From Soobathoo, in latitude 30° 58' and longitude 77° 2*, situate ibout twenty miles from the plains, and 4,260 feet above the level )f the sea, I marched to Mumleeg nine miles, three and a half miles Tom Soobathoo, crossed the Gumbur, an inconsiderable stream, but it ad swollen so much from late rain, that its passage was effected rith great difficulty. The road was a descent to the Gumbur, from thich it slightly ascended.
22d September.—Marched to Simla thirteen and half miles. The oad for the first eight and half miles was almost plain, then there was a teep ascent of one and half mile, and the last three were excellent, windag near the top of a range 7,000 feet high, and lying through a noble rood of many varieties of oak and pine.
23d September.—Marched to Bunee eleven miles. The road was level, ;ading amongst deep forests of pine, at the height of 8,000 and 9,000 set above the sea. Thus far the path, which is practicable upon orseback, has been made by a company of Pioneers, for the facility of ommunication with the cantonment of Kotgoor, thirty-four miles irther to the north-east.
24th September.—Marched to Pulana ten miles. Left the made-road ix miles from last camp, and descended by an indifferent and slippery Mtpath to the village, which belongs to the Hana of Theog. No. 125. New Serums, No. 41. c
25/A September.—Marched to the Kotkhaee eleven miles. The road lay along the hank of the Giree, one of the branches of the Jumna, and was often rocky and dangerous, the footpath being frequently overgrown with grass, and seldom half a foot in breadth.
Kotkhaee is the residence of the Kotgoor Rana, a hill chief under the protection of the British Government. It is situate on a most romantic spot, upon the point below which, two streams unite to form the Giree; on one side the rock is 182 feet perpendicular, and on the other there is a long flight of stone steps; neither of the streams, which are only twenty feet broad, are fordable, so by destroying the bridges, the place might be well defended against musketry. The Rana's residence is three stories high, and has a most imposing appearance; each story projects beyond the one beneath, and the top is crowned by a couple of handsome Chinese turrets, beautifully adorned with finely carved wooden work.
2G/A September.—Marched to Gujyndee eight miles. The road at first lay up the bed of one of the branches of the Giree, and there was a very steep and tiresome ascent of 2,400 feet to Deouree Pass, 8,885 feet high, from whence there was a descent to camp.
Gujyndee is in Nawur, a small district of Busahir, famed for its numerous iron mines; there are few spots here fit for cultivation, and the inhabitants, who are miners, live chiefly by their trade in iron. They work the mines only about three months in the year, and commence digging them in March, after the snow has sufficiently melted; at other times, they say, the earth falls in, and it is unsafe to work.
11th September.—Proceeded to Rooroo, a fatiguing march of thirteen miles, crossing a high range of mountains. Here we first came upon the Pabur, one of the feeders of the Tonse, which falls into the Jumna, and is a stream of considerable size. Barometrical observations give the extreme height of its bed 5,100 feet.
Rooroo is situate in Choara, one of the large divisions of Busahir, and the most populous and best cultivated spot I have seen in the hills; the dell is broad, and the ground is well adapted for rice fields, being watered by many canals cut from the river which winds through it.
Three marches more, or twenty-six miles, brought me to Jangleee. the last and highest village in the valley of the Pabur, elevated 9,20) feet above the sea. The road latterly was extremely rugged and dangerous, at one time many hundred feet above the river, with a horrid precipice on the right, at another dipping down to the stream which rushes with violence over the rocks interspersed in its channel; as you advance, the dell in which the Pabur flows becomes gradually more contracted, the mountains assume a more naked and abrupt appearance, and the rapidity and turbulence of the river increases. From Jangleeg proceeded ten miles to a halting place called Moondoor, within two miles of the Brooang Pass over the great snowy range. The road was good, and lay in a broad grassy glen, between two spurs of the Himalayas, with the Pabur running through it. The soil of this valley is composed of black vegetable mould, which produces endless varieties of Alpine plants to the height of 13,000 feet. Belts of birch and pine reach nearly the same elevation, beyond which, scarcely any thing is seen but patches of brown grass.
The height of my camp, which was pitched beneath an immense projecting granitic rock, was 12,807 feet. We left the last cluster of birch trees 3 miles behind us, so had to send back that distance for firewood. The thermometer was 38° at night, and water froze hard.
Next day, 2d October, we pitched our tent on the crest of the pass, 15,095 feet above the level of the sea; the road was of the worst description, crossing the Pabur, which has its source near this, by an arch of snow of some extent, and then leading over huge detached masses of granite, hurled from the peaks above, and piled upon one another in the utmost disorder, with here and there some snow. The ascent was steep the whole way, and almost the only vegetation we noticed was grass in small tufts, which grew more scanty as we advanced to the pass, where it almost disappeared; above it was still seen thinly scattered, and interspersed with a few mosses.
Here I met my brother, who had left Soobathoo some time before me and travelled by a much more circuitous route.
We sent most of our servants down about five miles to a more genial climate, where wood was procurable, and remained ourselves at the top. The peaks immediately on either side of us were not more than 1,000 feet above us, but there were several not very far distant, which we could not then see, 18,000 feet high. We were lucky in getting the altitudes and bearings of the principal mountains across the Sutlej, which rear their white heads to the height of 20,000 feet and upwards.
The thermometer in a tent got up so high as 50° during the day, but at 4 p. M. it fell to the freezing point, and at 7 p. it. was 8° below it. We sat up till past 10 for the purpose of making astronomical observations, which in such a temperature was rather an uncomfortable occupation ; our situation indeed in other respects was none of the most agreeable, we had but a scanty supply of firewood, which when kindled in the middle of the tent involved us in smoke, and we were somewhat incommoded by having to share our accommodation, such as it was, with our servants, whilst every now and then we were alarmed by the crash of rocks split asunder by the frost.
We had all severe headaches during the night, owing probably to the rarefaction of the air, but attributed by the natives to a poisonous plant said to grow most abundantly at the greatest elevations.
This pass is situate in latitude 31° 23' and longitude 78° 12', it separates Choara from Koonawur, another of the grand divisions of Busahir, which lies on both banks of the Sutlej, extending from latitude 31° 30' to 32°, and from longitude 77° 53' to 78° 46'. It is s secluded, rugged and barren country, seldom exceeding eight miles in breadth. It is terminated on the north and N. W. by a lofty chain of mountains covered with perpetual snow, upwards of 20,000 feet high, which separates it from Ludak; a similar range of the Himalayas bound it to the southward; on the east a pass almost 14,000 feet high divides it from Chinese Tartary; and on the west lies another of the principal divisions of Busahir.
The villages, which are elevated from 8,000 to 12,000 feet above the sea, are very thinly scattered, not more than two or three occur in a stage, and sometimes none at all for several days. In the summer season, from the reverberation of the solar rays, the heat in the bed of the Sutlej, and other large streams is oppressive, and quite sufficient to bring to maturity grapes of a delicious flavour, of which raisins and a spiritous liquor called Rakh are made. The inhabitants wear a frock of white blanket, often two-fold, reaching down to the knees, and having sleeves, a pair of trowsers and girdle of the same, a cap of black blanket like a bonnet, and shoes of which the upper part is woollen, and the sole alone leather. The people are very dark and extremely dirty, but they seem to enjoy a much greater degree of comfort in their habitations than any of the other mountaineers we have seen. The villages