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Title: A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil
Author: Swinburne, T. R.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil" ***

[ILLUSTRATION: THE JHELUM AT SRINAGAR]



A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

by T. R. Swinburne
MAJOR (LATE) R.M.A.



“_Over the great windy waters, and over the clear crested summits,
Unto the sea and the sky, and unto the perfecter earth,
Come, let us go_!”

                                          CLOUGH


WITH 24 COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS

1907



I DEDICATE THIS BOOK
TO
“JANE”



Contents

 PREFACE
 CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTORY
 CHAPTER II. THE VOYAGE OUT
 CHAPTER III. KARACHI TO ABBOTABAD
 CHAPTER IV. ABBOTABAD TO SRINAGAR
 CHAPTER V. FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF SRINAGAR
 CHAPTER VI. OUR FIRST CAMP
 CHAPTER VII. BACK TO SRINAGAR
 CHAPTER VIII. THE LOLAB
 CHAPTER IX. SRINAGAR AGAIN
 CHAPTER X. THE LIDAR VALLEY
 CHAPTER XI. GANGABAL
 CHAPTER XII. GULMARG
 CHAPTER XIII. THE FLOOD
 CHAPTER XIV. THE MACHIPURA
 CHAPTER XV. DELHI AND AGRA
 CHAPTER XVI. UDAIPUR



PREFACE


I observe that it is customary to begin a book by an Introduction,
Preface, or Foreword. In the good old days of the eighteenth century
this generally took the form of a burst of grovelling adoration aimed
at some most noble or otherwise highly important person. This fulsome
fawning on the great was later changed into propitiation of the British
public, and unknown authors revelled in excuses for publishing their
earlier efforts.

But now that every one has written a book, or is about to do so, I feel
that my apologies are rather due to the public for not having rushed
into print before. I have really spared it because I had nothing in
particular to write about, and I confess I am somewhat doubtful as to
whether I am even now justified in invoking the kind offices of a
publisher with a view to bringing forth this literary mouse in due
form!

No admiring (if partial) relatives have hung upon my lips as I read
them my journal, imploring me with tears in their eyes to waste not an
instant, but give to a longing world this literary treasure. I have no
illusions as regards my literary powers, and I do not imagine that I
shall depose the gifted author of _Eöthen_ from his pride of place.

I claim, however, the merit of truth. The journal was written day by
day, and the sketches were all done on the spot; and if this
account—bald and inadequate as I know it to be—of a very happy time
spent in rambling among some of the finest scenery of this lovely
earth, may induce any one to betake himself to Kashmir, he will achieve
something worth living for, and I shall not have spilt ink in vain.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

 THE JHELUM AT SRINAGAR (Frontispiece)
 A SOLUTION OF CONTINUITY
 A SRINAGAR BYE-WAY—EARLY SPRING
 ON THE JHELUM—EARLY SPRING
 THE BUND SRINAGAR—EARLY SPRING
 THE DAL
 IN THE NISHAT BAGH
 THE PIR PANJAL FROM ALSU—MORNING
 ON THE DAL—SUNSET
 NATIVE BOATS
 PANDRETTAN
 KOLAHOI
 LIDARWAT
 THE RAMPARTS OF KASHMIR
 GANGABAL
 HARAMOK
 A TARN ABOVE TRONKOL
 ON THE CIRCULAR ROAD, GULMARG
 IN SRINAGAR—TWILIGHT
 SRINAGAR FLOODED
 HARI PARBAT—EVENING
 NANGA PARBAT FROM KITARDAJI
 MIXED BATHING (UDAIPUR)
 UDAIPUR
 MAP OF KASHMIR



A HOLIDAY IN THE HAPPY VALLEY



CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION


A journey to Kashmir now—in these days of cheap and rapid locomotion—is
in nowise serious. It takes time, I grant you, but to any one with a
few months to spare—and there are many in that happy position—there can
be few pleasanter ways of spending a summer holiday.

It would be as well to start from England not later than the middle of
March, as the Red Sea and the Sind Desert begin to warm up
uncomfortably in spring. Srinagar would then be reached fairly early in
April, and the visitor should arrange, if possible, to remain in the
country until the middle of October. We had to leave just as the
gorgeous autumn colouring was beginning to blaze in the woods, and the
first duck were wheeling over the Wular Lake.

The climate of Kashmir is fairly similar to that of many parts of
Southern Europe. There is a good deal of snow in the valley in winter.
Spring is charming, the brilliant days only varied by frequent
thunderstorms—which, however, are almost invariable in keeping their
pyrotechnics till about five in the afternoon. July and August are hot
and steamy in the valley, and it is necessary to seek one of the cool
“Margs” which form ideal camping-grounds on all the lofty mountain
slopes which surround the valley.

Gulmarg is the most frequented and amusing resort in summer of the
English colony and contingent from the broiling plains of the Punjab.
Here the happy fugitive from the sweltering heat of the lower regions
will find a climate as glorious as the scenery. He can enjoy the best
of polo and golf, and, if he be not a misogynist, he will vary the
‘daily round’ with picnics and scrambles on foot or on horseback, in
exploring the endless beauty of the place, coming home to his hut or
tent as the sun sinks behind the great pines that screen the Rampur
Road, to wind up the happy day with a cheery dinner and game of bridge.
But if Gulmarg does not appeal to him, let him go with his camping
outfit to Sonamarg or Pahlgam—he will find neither polo nor golf nor
the gay little society of Gulmarg, but he will find equally charming
scenery and, perhaps, a drier climate—for it must in fairness be
admitted that Gulmarg is a rainy place. Likewise his pocket will
benefit, as his expenses will surely be less, and he will still find
neighbours dotted about in white tents under the pine trees.

Towards the middle of September the exodus from the high ‘Margs’ takes
place—many returning sadly to Pindi and Sealkote—others merely to
Srinagar, while those who yearn after Bara Singh and Bear, decamp
quietly for their selected nullahs, to be in readiness for the opening
of the autumn season.

Thus, from April to October, a more or less perfect climate may be
obtained by watching the mercury in the thermometer, and rising or
descending the mountain slopes in direct ratio with it.

It is quite unnecessary to take out a large and expensive wardrobe.
Thin garments for the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, such as one wears in a
fine English summer, and for Kashmir the same sort of things that one
would take up to Scotland. For men—knickerbockers and flannel
shirts—and for ladies, short tweed skirts and some flannel blouses. The
native tailors in Srinagar are clever and cheap, and will copy an
English shooting suit in fairly good material for about eleven rupees,
or 14s. 8d.! One pair of strong shooting boots (plentifully studded
with aluminium nails) is enough. For all mountain work, the invaluable
but uncomfortable grass shoes must be worn, and both my wife and I
invariably wore the native chaplies for ordinary marching. Foot-gear
for golf, tennis, and general service at Srinagar and Gulmarg must be
laid in, according to the traveller’s fancy, in England.

Underwear to suit both hot and cold weather should be purchased at
home—not on any account omitting cholera belts.

Shirts and collars should be taken freely, as it is well to remember
that the native washerman—the well-abused “Dobie”—has a marvellous
skill in producing a saw-like rim to the starched collar and cuff of
the newest shirt; while the elegant and delicate lace and embroidery,
with which the fair are wont to embellish their underwear, take strange
and unforeseen patterns at the hands of the skilled workmen. It is
surprising what an effect can be obtained by tying up the neck and
sleeves of a garment, inserting a few smooth pebbles from the brook,
and then banging the moist bundle on the bank!

The arrangement of clothing for the voyage is rather complicated, as it
will probably be necessary to wear warm things while crossing Europe,
and possibly even until Egypt is reached. Then an assortment of summer
flannels, sufficient to last as far as India, must be available. We
were unable to get any washing done from the date we left London, on
the 22nd of February, until we reached Rawal Pindi, on the 21st March.
Capacious canvas kit-bags are excellent things for cramming with grist
for the dobie’s mill.

In arranging for luggage, it should be borne in mind that large trunks
and dress boxes are inadmissible. From Pindi to Srinagar everything
must be transported by wheeled conveyance, and, in Kashmir itself, all
luggage must be selected with a view to its adaptability to the backs
of coolies or ponies. In Srinagar one can buy native trunks—or
yakdans—which are cheap, strong, and portable; and the covered creels
or “kiltas” serve admirably for the stowage of kitchen utensils, food,
and oddments.

The following list may prove useful to any one who has not already been
“east of Suez,” and who may therefore not be too proud to profit by
another’s experience:—

1. “Compactum” camp-bed with case, and fitted with sockets to take
mosquito netting.

2. Campaigning bedding-bag in Willesden canvas, with bedding complete.

3. Waterproof sheet.

4. Indiarubber bath.

If shooting in the higher mountains is anticipated, a Wolseley
sleeping-bag should be taken.

5. Small stable-lantern.

6. Rug or plaid—light and warm.

7. Half-a-dozen towels.

8. Deck chair (with name painted on it).

We had also a couple of Roorkhee chairs, and found them most useful.

9. A couple of compressed cane cabin trunks.

9_a_. The “Ranelagh Pack” is a most useful form of “luggage.”

10. Camp kit-bag.

11. Soiled-linen bag, with square mouth, large size. This is an
excellent “general service” bag, and invaluable for holding boots, &c.

12. Large “brief-bag,” most useful for stowing guide-books, flasks,
binoculars, biscuits, and such like, that one wants when travelling,
and never knows where to put. Our “yellow bag” carried even tea things,
and was greatly beloved. Like the leather bottèl in its later stage,
“it served to put hinges and odd things in”!

13. Luncheon basket, fitted according to the number of the party.

The above articles can all be bought at the Army and Navy Stores.

14. A light canvas box, fitted as a dressing-case.

Ours were made, according to our own wishes and possessions, by
Williams, of 41 Bond Street. The innumerable glass bottles, so highly
prized by the makers of dressing-cases, should be strictly limited in
number. They are exceedingly heavy, and, as the dressing-case should be
carried by its owner, the less it weighs the more he (or she) will
esteem it.

15. A set of aluminium cooking-utensils is much to be recommended. They
can easily be sold on leaving Kashmir for, at least, their cost price.

16. Pocket flask. This may be of aluminium also, although personally I
dislike a metal flask.

17. Umbrella—strong, but cheap, as it is sure to be lost or stolen.
There are few things your native loves more than a nice umbrella,
unless it be

18. A knife fitted with corkscrew and screwdriver; therefore take two,
and try to keep one carefully locked up.

19. Pair of good field-glasses.

I took a stalking telescope, but it was useless to my shikari, who
always borrowed my wife’s binoculars until she lost them—or he stole
them!

20. Hats. It is obviously a matter of taste what hats a man should
take. The glossy silk may repose with the frock-coat till its owner
returns to find it hopelessly out of date, its brim being a thought too
curly, or its top impossibly wide; but the “bowler” or Homburg hat will
serve his turn according to his fancy, until, at Aden, he invests in a
hideous, but shady “topee,” for one-third of the price he would pay in
London; and this will be his only wear, before sunset, until he again
reaches a temperate climate. Ladies, who are rightly more particular as
to the appearance of even so unlovely a thing as a sola topee, would do
well, perhaps, to buy theirs before starting. Really becoming pith
helmets seem very scarce in the East!

After sunset, or under awnings, any sort of cap may be worn.

21. Shirts and collars are obviously matters of taste. A good supply of
white shirts and collars must be taken to cope with the destruction and
loss which may be expected at the hands of the dobie. Flannel shirts
can be made easily enough from English models in Srinagar.

22. Under-garments should be of Indian gauze for hot weather, with a
supply of thicker articles for camping in the hills.

Cholera belts should on no account be omitted.

23. Socks, according to taste—very few knickerbocker stockings need be
taken, as putties are cheap and usual in Srinagar.

24. Ties—the white ones of the cheap sort that can be thrown away after
use, with a light heart. Handkerchiefs, and a few pairs of white
gloves.

25. Sleeping-suits, both thick for camp work and light for hot weather,
should be taken.

26. Dress suit and dinner-jacket.

27. Knickerbocker or knee-breeches, which can be copied in Kashmir by
the native tailor.

Riding-breeches are not in the least necessary unless the traveller
contemplates any special riding expedition. Ordinary shooting
continuations do quite well for all the mounted work the tourist is
likely to do. A pair of stohwasser gaiters may be taken, but even they
are not necessary, neither is a saddle.

A lady, however, should take out a short riding-skirt, or habit, and a
side-saddle.

28. A tweed suit of medium warmth for travelling, and a couple of
flannel suits, will bring the wearer to Srinagar, where he can increase
his stock at a ridiculously low price—about 22 rupees or £1, 9s. 4d.
per suit.

29. Boots. Here, again, the wayfarer is at full liberty to please
himself. A pair of strong shooting-boots, with plenty of spare laces
and, say, a hundred aluminium nails, is a _sine quâ non_. A pair of
rubbers, or what are known as “gouties” in Swiss winter circles, are
not to be despised. Otherwise, boots, shoes, slippers, and pumps,
according to taste.

30. A large “regulation” waterproof, a rain-coat or Burberry, and a
warm greatcoat will all be required.

It is hard to give definite advice to a lady as to the details of her
outfit. Let her conform in a general way to the instructions given
above, always remembering that both Srinagar and Gulmarg are gay and
festive places, where she will dine and dance, and have ample
opportunity for displaying a well-chosen wardrobe.

Let her also take heed that she leaves the family diamonds at home. The
gentle Kashmiri is an inveterate and skilful thief, and the less
jewellery she can make up her mind to “do with,” the more at ease will
her mind be. But if she must needs copy the lady of whom we read, that

“Rich and rare were the gems she wore,”


then why not line the jewel-case—or rather the secret bag, which she
will sew into some mysterious garment—with the diamonds of Gophir and
the pearls of Rome?

If the intending visitor to Kashmir be a sportsman who has already had
experience in big-game shooting, he will not need any advice from me
(which, indeed, he would utterly disdain) as to the lethal weapons
which should form his battery; but if the wayfarer be a humble
performer who has never slain anything more formidable than a wary old
stag, or more nerve-shattering than a meteoric cock pheasant rising
clamorously from behind a turnip, he may not be too proud to learn that
he will find an ordinary “fowling piece” the most useful weapon which
he can take with him. If his gun is not choked, he should be provided
with a dozen or more ball cartridge for bear.

If the pursuit of markhor and ibex is contemplated, a small-bore rifle
will be required, but a heavy express is wanted to stop a bear. I had a
“Mannlicher” and an ordinary shot-gun, with a few ball cartridges for
the latter.

Duty has to be paid on taking firearms into India, and this may be
refunded on leaving the country. This is not always done, however, as I
found to my cost, my application for a refund being refused on the
quibble that my guns were taken back to England by a friend, although I
was able to prove their identity.

 cartridges out, as it is exceedingly unlikely that the tyro will be
 able to shoot all the beasts allowed him by his game licence.[1]
 Smooth-bore cartridges of fair quality can be bought in Srinagar, and
 I certainly do not consider it worth the trouble and expense to convey
 them out from England.

[1] See Appendix 1.


To the amateur artist I would say: Be well supplied with brushes and
paper—the latter sealed in tin for passage through the Red Sea and
India. Colours, and indeed all materials can he got from Treacher &
Co., Bombay, and also from the branch of the Army and Navy Stores
there.

Paper is, however, difficult to get in good condition, being frequently
spoilt by mildew.

It is almost impossible to get anything satisfactory in the way of
painting materials in Kashmir itself; therefore I say: Be well supplied
before leaving home.

Finally, a small stock of medicines should certainly be taken, not
omitting a copious supply of quinine (best in powder form for this
purpose), and also of strong peppermint or something of the sort, to
give to the native servants and others who are always falling sick of a
fever or complaining of an internal pain, which is generally quite
cured by a dose of peppermint.

Neither Jane nor I love guide-books; we found however, in Kashmir, the
little book written by Dr. Neve an invaluable companion;[2] while
Murray’s _Guide to India_ afforded much useful information when
wandering in that country.

[2] _The Tourist’s Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh, Skardo, &c._, edited by
Arthur Neve, F.R.G.S.


The best book on Kashmir that I know is Sir Walter Lawrence’s _Valley
of Kashmir_.

Any one going out as we did, absolutely ignorant of the language,
should certainly take an elementary phrase-book or something of the
sort to study on the voyage. We forgot to do this, and had infinite
trouble afterwards in getting what we wanted, and lost much time in
acquiring the rudimentary knowledge of Hindustani which enabled us to
worry along with our native servants, &c. No mere “globe-trotter” need
attempt to learn any Kashmiri, as Hindustani is “understanded of the
people” as a rule, and the tradesmen in Srinagar know quite as much
English as is good for them.



CHAPTER II
THE VOYAGE OUT


It seems extraordinary to me that every day throughout the winter,
crowds of people should throng the railway stations whence they can
hurry south in search of warmth and sunshine, and yet London remains
apparently as full as ever! We plunged into a seething mass of
outward-bound humanity at Victoria Station on the 22nd of February,
and, having wrestled our way into the Continental express, were whirled
across the sad and sodden country to Dover amidst hundreds of our
shivering fellow-countrymen.

Truly we are beyond measure conservative in our railway discomforts.
With a bitter easterly wind searching out the chinks of door and
window, we sat shivering in our unwarmed compartment—unwarmed, I say,
in spite of the clumsy tin of quickly-cooled hot water procured by
favour—and a gratuity—from a porter!

The Channel showed even more disagreeable than usual. A grey, cold sky,
with swift-flying clouds from the east hung over a grey, cold sea, the
waves showing their wicked white teeth under the lash of the strong
wind. The patient lightship off the pier was swinging drearily as we
throbbed past into the gust-swept open and set our bows for the unseen
coast of France.

The tumult of passengers was speedily reduced to a limp and inert swarm
of cold, wet, and sea-sick humanity.

The cold and miserable weather clung to us long. In Paris it snowed
heavily, and I was constrained to betake myself in a cab—“chauffé,” it
is needless to remark—to seek out a kindly dentist, the bitter east
wind having sought out and found a weak spot wherein to implant an
abscess.

At Bâle it was freezing, but clear and bright, and a good breakfast and
a breath of clean, fresh air was truly enjoyable after the overheated
sleeping-car in which we had come from Paris.

It may seem unreasonable to grumble at the overheating of the “Sleeper”
after abusing the under-heating of our British railways. Surely,
though, there is a golden mean? I wish neither to be frozen nor boiled,
and there can be no doubt but that the heating of most Continental
trains is excellent, the power of application being left to the
traveller.

The journey by the St. Gotthard was delightful, the day brilliant, and
the frost keen, while we watched the fleeting panorama of icebound
peaks and snow-powdered pines from the cushions of our comfortable
carriage.

The glory of winter left us as we left the Swiss mountains and dropped
down into the fertile flats of Northern Italy, and at Milan all was raw
chilliness and mud.

Nothing can well be more depressing than wet and cheerless weather in a
land obviously intended for sunshine.

We slept at Milan, and the next day set forth in heavy rain towards
Venice. The miserable ranks of distorted and pollarded trees stood
sadly in pools of yellow-stained water, or stuck out of heaps of
half-melted and uncleanly snow.

No colour; no life anywhere, excepting an occasional peasant plodding
along a muddy road, sheltering himself under the characteristic flat
and bony umbrella of the country.

At Peschiera we had promise of better things. The weather cleared
somewhat, revealing ranges of white-clad hills around Garda…. But,
alas! at Verona it rained as hard as ever, and we made our way from the
railway station at Venice, cowering in the coffin-like cabin of a damp
and extremely draughty gondola, while cold flurries of an Alpine-born
wind swept across the Grand Canal.

Sunshine is absolutely necessary to bring out the real beauty of Italy.
This is particularly the case in Venice, where light and life are
required to dispel the feeling of sadness so sure to creep over one
amid the signs of long-past grandeur and decaying magnificence.

On a grey and wintry day one is chiefly impressed by the dank
chilliness of the palaces on the Grand Canal, whose feet lie lapped in
slimy water; the lovely tracery of whose windows shows ragged and
broken, whose stately guest-chambers are in the sordid occupation of
the dealer in false antiques, and whose motto might be “Ichabod,” for
their glory has departed.

It is five-and-twenty years since I was last in Venice, and I can truly
say that it has not improved in that long time. The loss of the great
Campanile of St. Mark is not compensated for by the gain of the penny
steamer which frets and fusses its prosaic way along the Grand Canal,
or blurts its noisome smoke in the very face of the Palace of the
Doges.

Well! A steady downpour is dispiriting at any time, excepting when one
is snugly at home with plenty to do, and it is particularly so to the
unlucky traveller who has to live through half-a-dozen long hours
intervening between arrival at and departure from Venice on a cold,
dull, wintry afternoon.

The sombre gondola writhed its sinuous course and deposited us all
forlorn in the near neighbourhood of the Piazza San Marco. Splashing
our way across, and pushing through the crowd of greedy fat pigeons, we
entered the world-famous church. I know my Ruskin, and I feel that I
should be lost in wonder and admiration—I am not.

The gloom—rich golden gloom if you will—of the interior oppresses me;
it is cavernous. A service is being held in one of the transepts, and
the congregation seems noisier and less devout than I could have
believed possible. My thoughts fly far to where, on its solitary hill,
the noble pile of Chartres soars majestic, its heaven-piercing spires
dominating the wide plain of La Beauce. In fancy I enter by the
splendid north door and find myself in the pillared dimness softly
lighted by the great window in the west. This seems to me to be the
greatest achievement of the Christian architect, noble alike in
conception and in execution.

There is no means of procuring a cold more certain than lingering too
long in a cold and vault-like church or picture gallery, so we
adjourned to the Palazzo Daniele, now a mere hotel, where we browsed on
the literature—chiefly cosmopolitan newspapers—until it was time to
start for Trieste.

The journey is not an attractive one, as we seemed to be perpetually
worried by Custom-house authorities and inquisitive ticket-collectors!
If possible, the wary traveller should so time his sojourn at Venice as
to allow him to go to Trieste by steamer. The Hôtel de la Ville at
Trieste is not quite excellent, but ’twill serve, and we were
remarkably glad to reach it, somewhere about midnight, having left
Milan soon after seven in the morning!

Trieste itself is rather an engaging town; at least so it seemed to us
when we awakened to a fresh, bright morning, a blue-and-white sky
overhead, and a copious allowance of yellow mud under foot!

There were various final purchases to be made. Our deck chairs were
with the heavy luggage, which the passenger by Austrian Lloyd only gets
at Port Saïd, as it is sent from London by sea; so a deck chair had to
be got, also a stock of light literature wherewith to beguile the long
sea hours.

A visit to our ship—the _Marie Valerie_—showed her to be a
comfortable-looking vessel of some 4500 tons. She was busily engaged in
taking in a large cargo, principally for Japan, and she showed no signs
of an early departure. Her nominal hour for starting was 4 P.M., but
the captain told us that he should not sail until next morning. So we
descended to examine our cabin, and found it to be large and airy, but
totally deficient in the matter of drawers or lockers.

Well! we shall have to keep everything in cabin trunks, and “live in
our boxes” for the next three weeks.

There was cabin accommodation for twenty passengers, but at dinner we
mustered but nine. This is, of course, the season when all right-minded
folks are coming home from India, and we never expected to find a
crowd; still, nine individuals scattered abroad over the wide decks
make but a poor show.

The first meal on board a big steamer is always interesting. Every one
is quietly “taking stock” of his, or her, neighbours, and forming
estimates of their social value, which are generally entirely upset by
after experience.

Of our fellow-passengers there were only five whose presence affected
us in any way. A young Austrian, Herr Otto Frantz, with his wife, going
out as first secretary of legation to Tokio; Major Twining, R.E., and
his wife; and Miss Lungley, a cosmopolitan lady, who makes Kashmir her
headquarters and Rome her _annexe_.

We became acquainted with each other sooner than might have been
expected, by reason of an exploit of the stewardess—a gibbering idiot.
The night was cold, so several of the ladies, following an evil custom,
sent forth from their cabins those vile inventions called hot bottles.
Only two came back…, and then the fun began. The stewardess, who speaks
no known tongue, played “hunt the slipper” for the missing bottles
through all the cabins, whence she was shot out by the enraged
inhabitants until she was reduced to absolute imbecility, and the
harassed stewards to gesticular despair.

The missing articles were, I believe, finally discovered and routed out
of an unoccupied bed, where they had been laid and forgotten by the
addle-pated lady, and peace reigned.

We sailed from Trieste early on the morning of the 28th of February,
and steamed leisurely on our way. The Austrian Lloyd’s “unaccelerated”
steamers are not too active in their movements, being wont to travel at
purely “economical speed,” and so we were given an excellent view of
some of the Ionian Islands, steaming through the Ithaca channel, with
the snow-tipped peak of Cephalonia close on our starboard hand.

Then, leaving the far white hills of the Albanian coast to fade into
the blue mists, we sped

“Over the sea past Crete,”


until the tall lighthouse of Port Saïd rose on the horizon, followed by
the spars of much shipping, and the roofs of the houses dotted
apparently over the waters of the Mediterranean. At length the low
mudbanks which represent the two continents of Africa and Asia spread
their dull monotony on either hand, and the good ship sat quietly down
for a happy day’s coaling.

Port Saïd has grown out of all knowledge since I first made its
acquaintance in 1877. It was then a cluster of evil-looking shanties,
the abode of the scum of the Levant, who waxed fat by the profits of
the gambling hells and the sale of pornographic photographs. It has now
donned the outwardly respectable look of middle age; it has laid itself
out in streets; the gambling dens have disappeared, and the robbers
have betaken themselves to the sale of the worst class of Japanese and
Indian “curios,” ostrich feathers from East Africa, and tobacco in all
its forms.

Port Saïd has undoubtedly improved, but still it is not a nice place,
and we were unfeignedly glad to repair on board the _Marie Valerie_ as
soon as we noted the cessation of the black coaly cloud, through the
murkiness of which a chattering stream of gnome-like figures passed
their burthens of “Cardiff” into the bowels of the ship.

Port Saïd was cold, and Suez was cold, and we started down the Red Sea
followed by a strong north wind, which kept us clad in greatcoats for a
day or two, and, as we got down into wider waters, obliged us to keep
our ports closed.

An object-lesson on the subject of closed ports was given in our cabin,
where the fair chatelaine was reclining in her berth reading, fanned by
the genial air which floated in at the open port,—a truculent Red Sea
billow, meeting a slight roll of the ship, entered the cabin in an
unbroken fall on the lady’s head. A damp tigress flew out through the
door, wildly demanding the steward, a set of dry bedding, and the
instant execution of the captain, the officer of the watch, and the man
at the wheel!

How dull we should be without these little incidents!

A hoopoe took deck, or rather rigging, passage for a while, and evoked
the greatest interest. Stalking glasses and binoculars were levelled at
the unconcerned fowl, who sat by the “cathead” with perfect composure,
and preened himself after his long flight.

The striking of “four bells” just under his beak unnerved him somewhat,
and he departed in a great fuss and pother.

Our roomy decks afford many quiet corners in which to read or doze, and
now that the weather is rapidly warming up we spend many hours in these
peaceful pastimes, varied by an occasional constitutional—none of your
fisherman’s walks, “three steps and overboard”—but a good, clear tramp,
unimpeded by the innumerable deck-chairs, protruding feet, and
ubiquitous children which cover all free space on board a P. & O.

Then comes dinner, followed by a rubber of bridge, and so to bed.

On Saturday the 11th we passed the group of islands commonly known as
the Twelve Apostles.

First, a tiny rock, rising lonely from the blue—brilliantly blue—waves;
then a yellow crag of sandstone, looking like a haystack; and then a
whole group of wild and fantastic islands, evidently of volcanic
origin, and varying in rough peaks and abrupt cliffs of the strangest
colours—brick-red, purple-black, grey, and yellow—utterly bare and
desolate:

“Nor tree, nor shrub, nor plant, nor flower,
Nor aught of vegetative power,
The weary eye may ken,”


save only the white lighthouse, which, perched on its arid hill, serves
to emphasise the desolation of earth and sky.

The Red Sea is remarkably well supplied with lighthouses; and,
considering the narrowness of the channel in parts, the strong and
variable currents, and the innumerable islands and shoals, the supply
does no more than equal the demand.

I cannot imagine a more grievous death in life than the existence of a
lighthouse-keeper in the Red Sea!

_Sunday, 12th_.—We passed through the Gate of Tears this morning—the
dismal, flat, and unprofitable island of Perim being scanned by me from
the bathroom port, while exchanging an atmosphere of sticky salt air
for an unrefreshing dip in sticky salt water.

The hoopoe is again with us; in fact I do not think he really left the
ship, but simply sought a secluded perch, secure from prying
observation. He reappeared upon the port stay, and proceeded to preen
himself and observe the ship’s course. He is evidently bound for Aden,
casting glances of quiet unconcern on Perim and the coast of Araby the
blest.

Towards sunset we passed the fantastic peaks of little Aden, and,
drawing up to Steamer Point, cast anchor under the “Barren Rocks of
Aden.”

_Monday, 13th_.—We had a shocking time last night. All ports closed for
coaling left us gasping, whilst a fiendish din arose from the bowels of
the ship, whence cargo was being extracted. The stifling air, reeking
with damp, developed in the early morning a steady rain, which dripped
mournfully on the grimy decks. Rain in Aden! We are told on the best
authority that this is most unusual.

Aden, to the passing stranger, shows few attractions. We went on shore
when the rain showed signs of ceasing, and after buying a few odds and
ends, such as a pith hat and some cigarettes, we betook ourselves to
the principal hotel, where an excessively bad breakfast was served to
us, after which we were not sorry to shake the mud of Aden off our
feet, so we chartered a shore boat amid a fearful clamour for extra pay
and backshish, and set forth to rejoin our ship, now swept and
garnished, and showing little trace of the coal she had swallowed.

_Monday, 20th_.—We reached Karachi yesterday morning after a quiet,
calm, and utterly uneventful passage across the Indian Ocean.

It was never hot—merely calm, grey, and even showery, our only
excitements being an occasional school of porpoises or the sight of a
passing tramp steamer.

Some time before leaving England I had written to my old friend General
Woon, commanding the troops at Abbotabad, asking him to provide me with
a servant capable of dry-nursing a pair of Babes in the Wood throughout
their sojourn in a strange land. The General promised to supply us with
such an one, who, he said, would rob us to a certain extent himself,
but would take good care that nobody else did so!

Immediately, then, upon our arrival in Karachi roads, a dark and
swarthy person, with a black beard and gleaming white teeth, appeared
on board, and reported himself as Sabz Ali, our servant and our master!

His knowledge of English “as she is spoke” was scanty and of strange
quality, but his masterful methods of dealing with the boatmen and
Custom-house subordinates inspired us with awe and a blind confidence
that he could—and would—pull us through.

There was no difficulty at the Custom-house until it transpired that I
wanted to take three firearms into the country. This appeared to be a
most unusual and reprehensible desire, and my statement that one weapon
was a rifle which I was taking charge of for a friend did not improve
the situation. It being Sunday, the principal authorities were sunning
themselves in their back parlours, and the thing in charge (called a
Baboo, I understand) became exceedingly fussy, and desired that the
guns should be unpacked and exhibited lest they should be of service
pattern. This was simple, as far as my battery was concerned, and I
promptly laid bare the beauties of my Mannlicher and ancient 12-bore;
but, alas! Mrs. Smithson’s rifle was soldered like a sardine into a
strong tin case, and no cold-chisel or screwdriver was forthcoming.

Messengers were sent forth to seek the needful instruments, while I
proceeded to cut another Gordian knot…. An acquaintance of mine,
hearing that I was coming to India, suggested that I should take charge
of a parcel for a friend of hers, who wanted to send it to her fiancé
in Bombay. As all the heavy baggage was sent from London to join us at
Port Saïd, I had not seen the “parcel,” and, finding no case or box
addressed to any one but myself, I had to select one that seemed most
likely to be right, and forward that.

At last the needful appliances were got and the rifle unpacked; but,
although it proved to be (as I had said) a large-bore Express, the
Baboo refused, like a very Pharaoh, to let it go, and I, after a
two-hour vexatious delay, paid the duty on my own guns, and, leaving a
note for the chief Customs official, explaining the case and begging
him to send the rifle on forthwith, packed myself—hot, hungry, and
angry—into a “gharri,” and set forth to the Devon Place Hotel, whither
the rest of the party had preceded me.

I have gone into this little episode somewhat at length in order to
impress upon the voyager to India the necessity for limiting the number
of firearms or getting a friend to father the extra ones through the
Customs—a perfectly simple matter had one foreseen the difficulty. Also
the danger of taking parcels for friends—of which more anon![1]

[1] A big deal case which we unpacked at Srinagar proved to contain a
“life-sized” work-table. The package holding our camp beds and bedding,
having a humbler aspect, had been sent to Bombay and cost as a world of
worry and expense to recover!


The Devon Place Hotel may be the best in Karachi, but it is pretty
bad…. I am told that all Indian hotels are bad—still, the breakfast was
a considerable improvement on the _Marie Valerie_, and we sallied forth
as giants refreshed to have a look at Karachi and do a little shopping.
It being Sunday, the banks were closed, but a kindly shopman cashed me
a cheque for twenty pounds in the most confiding manner, and enabled us
to get the few odds and ends we wanted before going up country—among
them a couple of “resais” or quilted cotton wraps and a sola topee for
Jane.

Karachi did not strike us as being a particularly interesting town, but
that may be to a great extent because we did not see the best part of
it. On landing at Kiamari we had only driven along a hot and glaring
mole, bordered by swamps and slimy-looking flats for some two miles.
Then, on reaching the city proper, a dusty road, bordered by somewhat
suburban-looking houses, brought us to the Devon Place Hotel, near the
Frere station. After breakfast we merely drove into the bazaars to shop
before betaking ourselves to the station, in good time for the 6.30
train.

Passengers—at least first-class passengers—were not numerous, and Major
Twining and I had no difficulty in securing two compartments—one for
our wives and one for ourselves.

An Indian first-class carriage is roomy, but bare, being arranged with
a view to heat rather than cold Two long seats run “fore and aft” on
either side, and upon them your servant makes your bed at night. Two
upper berths can be let down in case of a crowd. At the end of each
compartment is a small toilet-room.

It was unexpectedly chilly at night, and Twining and I were glad to
roll ourselves up in as many rugs and “resais” as we could persuade the
ladies to leave to us.



CHAPTER III
KARACHI TO ABBOTABAD


This morning we awoke to find ourselves rattling and shaking our way
through the Sind Desert—an interminable waste of sand, barren and
thirsty-looking, covered with a patchy scrub of yellowish and
grey-purple bushes.

I can well imagine how hatefully hot it can be here, but to-day it has
been merely pleasantly warm.

Jane and I were deeply interested in the novel scenes we passed
through, which, while new and strange to us, were yet made familiar by
what we had read and heard. The quiet-eyed cattle, with their queer
humps, were just what we expected to see in the dusty landscape. The
chattering crowds in the wayside stations, their bright-coloured
garments flaunting in the white sunlight—the fruit-sellers, the
water-carriers, were all as though they had stepped out of the pages of
_Kim_—that most excellent of Indian stories.

And so all day we rattled and shook through the Sind Desert in the hot
sunlight till the dust lay thick upon us, and our eyes grew tired of
watching the flying landscape.

In the afternoon we reached Samasata junction, where the Twinings
parted company with us, being bound for Faridkot.

Sorry were we to lose such charming companions, especially as now
indeed we become as Babes in the Wood, knowing nothing of the land, its
customs, or its language!

Henceforward, Sabz Ali shall be our sheet-anchor, and I think he will
not fail us. His English is truly remarkable, so much so that I regret
to say I have more than once supposed him to be talking Hindustani when
he was discoursing in my own mother-tongue. But he certainly is
extraordinarily sharp in taking up what I and the “Mem-sahib” say.

He presented to me to-day a remarkable letter, of which the following
is an exact copy. I presume it is a sort of statement as to his general
duties:—

“_To the_ MAGER SAHIB.


“Sir,—I beg to say that General ’Oon Sahib send me to you. He order me
that the arrangement of Mager Sahib do.

“To give pice to porter kuli this is my work. This is usefull to you.

“You give him many pice.

“Your work is order and to do it my work. You give me Rupee at once.
Then I will write it on my book, from which you will see it is right or
wrong. Now I am going to Cashmir with you and Cashmiree are thief.

“If you will give me one man other it will usefull to you. I ask one
cloth. All Sahib give cloth to Servant on going to Cashmir.

“If will give cloth then all men say that this Sahib is good. I am fear
from General ’Oon Sahib. It is order to give cloth.

“I can do all work of cook and bearer. I wish that you will happy on
me, also your lady, and say to General ’Oon Sahib that this man is good
and honest man.

“I have servant to many Sahib.

“I have more certificate.

“You are rich man and king. I am poor man. I will take two annas
allowance per day in Cashmir, you will do who you wish.

“I wish that you and lady will happy on me. This is begging you will.—I
remain, Sir, your most obedient Servant,

“SABAZ ALI, _Bearer_.”


_Wednesday, March_ 22.—We slept again in the train on Monday night, and
arrived in Lahore about 6 o’clock yesterday morning.

We had been advised to tub and dress in the waiting-rooms at the
station, as we had a break of some six hours before going on to Pindi;
but, upon investigation, Jane found her waiting-room already fully
occupied by an uninviting company of Chi-chis (Eurasians), and several
men—their husbands and brothers presumably—were sleeping the sleep of
the just in mine, so we left all our luggage stacked on the platform
under the eye of Sabz Ali, and hurried off to Nedou’s Hotel. Ye gods!
What a cold drive it was, and how bitterly we regretted that we had not
brought our wraps from their bundle.

I was fearfully afraid that Jane would get a chill—an evil always to be
specially guarded against in a tropical climate, but a very hot tub and
a good breakfast averted all calamity, and we set forth in a funny
little trap to inspect Lahore.

This is the first large and thoroughly Indian city that we have
seen—Karachi being merely a thriving modern seaport and garrison
town—and we set to work to see what we could in the limited time at our
disposal. We whisked along a road—bumpy withal in parts, and somewhat
dusty, but broad. On either hand rose substantial stone mansions, half
hidden by trees and flowering shrubs. Many of these fine-looking
buildings were shops. I was impressed by their importance, for they
were quite what would be described by an auctioneer or agent as “most
desirable family mansions, approached by a carriage drive … standing
within their own beautifully wooded and secluded grounds in an
excellent residential neighbourhood,” &c. &c.

Anon we whirled round a corner, and plunged into the seething life of
the native city. The road was crammed with an apparently impenetrable
crowd of men and beasts, the latter—water-buffaloes, humpy cattle, and
donkeys—strolling about and getting in everybody’s way with perfect
nonchalance, while men in strange raiment of gaudy hue pursued their
lawful occupations with much clamour. The variety of smells—all bad—was
quite remarkable.

We could only go at a walk, as the streets were very narrow and the
inhabitants thereof—particularly the cows—seemed very deaf and
difficult to arouse to a sense of the need for making room, though our
good driver yelled himself hoarse and employed language which I feel
sure was highly flavoured. Our progress was a succession of marvellous
escapes for human toes and bovine shoulders, but our “helmsman steered
us through,” and we emerged from the kaleidoscopic labyrinth into the
open space before the Fort of Lahore, whose pinkish brick walls and
ponderous bastions rose above us.

The last thing I would desire would be to usurp in any way the
functions of grave Mr. Murray or well-informed Herr Baedeker, but there
are certain points to which I will draw attention, and which it seems
to me very necessary to keep in mind.

To the ordinary traveller in the Punjab and Northern India no buildings
are more attractive, no ruins more interesting, than those of the Mogul
dynasty, and the rule of the Mogul princes marks the high-water limit
of Indian magnificence. It was but for a short time, too, that the
highest level of grandeur was maintained.

For generations the Moguls had poured in intermittent hordes into
Northern India, but it was only in 1556 that Akbar, by defeating the
Pathans at Panipat, laid India at his feet. Following up his success he
overthrew the Rajputs, and extended his dominion from Afghanistan to
Benares. Having conquered the country as a great warrior, he proceeded
to rule it as a noble statesman, being “one of the few sovereigns
entitled to the appellation both of Great and Good, and the only one of
Mohammedan race whose mind appears to have arisen so far above all the
illiberal prejudices of that fanatical religion in which he was
educated, as to be capable of forming a plan worthy of a monarch who
loved his people and was solicitous to render them happy.”[1] This
“plan” was to study the religion, laws, and institutions of his Hindu
subjects in order that he might govern as far as possible in conformity
with Hindu usage. The Emperor Akbar was the first of the Mogul monarchs
who was a great architect. The city of Fattepur Sikri being raised by
him as a stately dwelling-place until want of water and the
unhealthiness of the locality caused him to move into Agra, leaving the
whole city of Fattepur Sikri to the owls and jackals, and later to the
admiration of the Sahib logue.

[1] Robertson’s _India_, Appendix.


A palace in Lahore, the fort at Allahabad, and much lovely work in the
city of Agra testify to the creative genius of that contemporary of our
own Good Queen Bess, the first “Great” Mogul. Jehangir, his son and
successor, has left few buildings of note, but his grandson, Shah
Jehan, was undoubtedly the most splendid builder of the Mogul
Mohammedan period. To him Delhi owes its stately palace and vast
mosque—the Jama Masjid—and Agra would be famous for its wonderful
palace of dark red stone and fretted marble, even without that
masterpiece of Mohammedan inspiration, the world-famed Taj Mahal. The
brief period of supreme magnificence came to an end with the last of
the “Great” Moguls—Aurungzeb, died in 1707—having only blazed in
fullest glory for some century and a half, but leaving behind it some
of the noblest works of man.

It seemed somehow very curious, as we drove up through the stately
entrance of the Hathi Paon, or Elephant Gate of the fort, to be saluted
with a “present arms” by British Tommies clad in unobtrusive khaki, and
to reflect that we are the inheritors of the fallen grandeur of the
Mogul Emperors; that we in our turn, on many a hard-fought field,
asserted our power to conquer; and that since then we have (I trust) so
far followed the sound principles of Akbar as to keep by justice and
wise rule the broad lands with their teeming millions in a state of
peace and security unknown before in India.

Opposite the entrance rise the walls of the Palace of Akbar, curiously
decorated with brilliant blue mosaics of animals and arabesques.

We visited the armoury—a remarkably fine collection of weapons—not the
least interesting being those taken from the Sikhs and French in the
earlier part of the last century. Opposite the armoury, and across a
small beautifully-paved court, were the private apartments of Shah
Jehan. They reminded me very much of the Alhambra, only, instead of the
honeycomb vaulted ceilings, and arches decorated in stucco by the
Moors, the Eastern architect inlaid his ceilings with an extraordinary
incrustation of glass, usually silvered on the back, but also
frequently coloured, and giving a strange effect of mother-o’-pearl
inlay, bordering on tawdriness when examined in detail.

It is possible that this coloured glass actually had its intended
effect of inlaid jewels, and that the gem-encrusted walls, so
enthusiastically described by Tavernier and others, as almost matching
the peacock throne itself, may have been but imitation.

Many of the pilasters were, however, very beautiful—of white marble
inlaid with flower patterns of coloured stones—while the arched window
openings were filled in with creamy tracery of fair white marble.

Leaving the fort after an all too short visit, we crossed to the great
mosque built by Aurungzeb. Ascending—from a garden bright with flowers
and blossoming trees—a flight of broad steps, we found ourselves at the
end of a rectangular enclosure, at each corner of which stood a red
column not altogether unlike a factory chimney. In the centre was a
circular basin, very wide, and full of clear water, while in front,
three white marble domes rose like great pearls gleaming against the
cloudless blue. The mosque itself is built of red—dark red—sandstone,
decorated with floral designs in white marble.

We climbed one of the minarets, and had a view of the city at our feet,
and the green and fertile plains stretching dim into the shimmering
haze beyond the Ravee River.

Then back to the hotel through the teeming alleys and down to the
station—the road, that we had found so bitterly cold in the early
morning, now a blaze of sunlight, where the dust stirred up by the
shuffling feet of the wayfarers quivered in the heat, and the shadows
of men and beasts lay short and black beneath them.

We were not sorry to seek coolness in the bare railway carriage, and
let the fresh wind fan us as we sat by the open window and watched the
flat, monotonous landscape sliding past.

The journey from Lahore to Rawal Pindi is not a very long one—only
about 170 miles, or less than the distance from London to York; but an
Indian train being more leisurely in its movement than the Great
Northern Express, gave us ample time to contemplate the frequent little
villages—all very much alike—all provided with a noisy population,
among which dogs and children were extremely prevalent; the level
plains, broken here and there by clumps of unfamiliar trees, and
inhabited by scattered herds of water buffaloes, cattle, and
under-sized sheep, all busily engaged in picking up a precarious
livelihood, chiefly roast straw, as far as one could see!

We had grown so accustomed to the monotony of the plains, that when we
suddenly became aware of a faint blue line of mountains paling to snow,
where they melted into the sky, the Himalayas came upon us almost with
a shock of surprise.

As we drew nearer, the rampart of mountains that guards India on the
north, took form and substance, until at Jhelum we fairly left the
plain and began to ascend the lower foothills.

Between Jhelum and Rawal Pindi the line runs through a country that can
best be described by that much abused word “weird.” Originally a
succession of clayey plateaux, the erosion of water has worn and
honeycombed a tortuous maze of abrupt clefts and ravines, leaving in
many cases mere shafts and pinnacles, whose fantastic tops stand level
with the surrounding country. The sun set while we were still winding
through a labyrinth of peaks and pits, and the effect of the
contrasting red gold lights and purple shadows in this strange confused
landscape was a thing to be remembered.

We rolled and bumped into Pindi at 8 P.M., having travelled nearly 1000
miles during our two days and nights in the train.

Our friends the Smithsons were on the platform waiting to receive us
and welcome us as strangers and pilgrims in an unknown land. They have
only remained here to meet us, and they proceed to Kashmir to-morrow,
sleeping in a carriage in the quiet backwater of a siding, to save
themselves the worry of a desperately early start to-morrow morning.

The direct route into Kashmir by Murree is impassable, the snow being
still deep owing to a very late spring following a severe winter. This
will oblige us to go round by Abbotabad, so I wired to my friend
General Woon to warn him that we propose to invade his peaceful home.

_Sunday, March 26._—We stayed a couple of days at Pindi, in order to
make arrangements for transporting ourselves and our luggage into
Kashmir. The journey can be made _viâ_ Murree in about a couple of days
by mail tonga, but it is a joyless and horribly wearing mode of travel.
The tonga, a two-wheeled cart covered by an arched canvas hood and
drawn by two half-broken horses, holds a couple of passengers
comfortably, who sit behind and stare at the flying white ribbon of
road for long, long hours, while the driver urges his wild career. The
horses are changed every ten miles or so, and horrible and
blood-curdling tales are extant of the villainy and wrong-headedness of
some of these tonga ponies, how they jib for sheer pleasure, and leap
over the low parapet that guards them from the precipice merely to vex
the helpless traveller. When we suggested that to sit facing the past
might be conducive to a sort of sea-sickness and certainly to headache,
and that a total absence of view was to be deprecated, it was impressed
upon us that if the horses darted over the “khud,” we could slip out
suddenly and easily, leaving the driver and the ponies to be dashed to
pieces by themselves! This appeared sound, but, upon inquiry I could
not hear that any accident had ever happened to any traveller going
into Kashmir by tonga.

Besides the tonga, there are other modes of going into Kashmir. For
instance, the sluggish bullock-cart—safe, deliberate, and affording
ample leisure for admiring the scenery; the light native cart, or ekka,
consisting of a somewhat small body screened by a wide white hood, and
capable of holding far more luggage than would at first sight seem
possible, and drawn by a scraggy-looking but much enduring little horse
tied up by a wild and complicated system of harness (chiefly consisting
of bits of old rope) between a pair of odd V-shaped shafts.

Finally, there is the landau—a civilised and luxurious method of
conveyance which greatly appealed to us. We decided upon chartering a
landau for ourselves and servant, and two ekkas to carry the heavy
baggage.

Mr. de Mars, the landlord of the hotel, was most obliging in helping us
to arrange for our journey, promising to provide us with carriage and
ekkas for a sum which did not seem to me to be at all exorbitant.

I soon found, however, that the worthy Sabz Ali did not at all approve
of the arrangement. It was extremely hard to find out by means of his
scant English what he proposed to do; but I decided that here was an
excellent opportunity of finding out what he was good for, so we
determined to give him his head, and let him make his own arrangements.

A smile broke over his swarthy face for a moment, and he disappeared,
coming back shortly afterwards just as the already ordered ekkas made
their appearance.

These he promptly dismissed—much to the vexation of Mr. de Mars; but I
explained to him that I intended to see if my man was really to be
depended upon as an organiser, and that I should allow him to work upon
his own lines.

We had arranged to sleep in a carriage drawn into a siding at the
station, to avoid a very early start next morning. So after dinner we
strolled down towards our bedroom to find our henchman on the platform,
full of zeal and energy. I found out (with difficulty) that he proposed
to go on to Hassan Abdal with the luggage that night by goods train;
that we should find him there next morning, and that all would be
right. So he departed, and we rolled ourselves up in our “resais,” and
wondered how it would all turn out.

On Friday morning we rattled out of Rawal Pindi about seven, and slowly
wound through a rather stony and uninteresting country, until we
arrived at the end of our railway journey about ten o’clock, and
scrambled out at the little roadside station.

Our excellent factotum, Sabz Ali, awaited us with a capacious landau,
and informed us that the heavy baggage had gone on in the ekkas. So we
set forth at once on our 42-mile drive to Abbotabad without “reposing
for a time in the rich valley of Hussun Abdaul, which had always been a
favourite resting-place of the Emperors in their annual migrations to
Cashmere” (_Lalla Rookh_).

The landau, though roomy and comfortable, was, like Una’s lion, a “most
unhasty beast,” and we rolled quite slowly and deliberately over a
distinctly uninteresting plain for about twenty miles, until we came to
Haripur, a pretty village enclosed in a perfect mass of fruit trees in
full bloom.

Here we changed horses, and lunched at the dâk bungalow—a first and
favourable experience of that useful institution. The dâk bungalow
generally consists of a simple wooden building containing a dining-room
and several bedrooms opening on to a verandah, which usually runs round
three sides of the house. The furniture is strong and simple,
consisting of tables, bedsteads, and some long chairs. A khansamah or
cook provides food and liquor at a fixed and reasonable rate.

Travellers are only permitted to remain for twenty-four hours if the
rooms are wanted, each person paying one rupee (1s. 4d.) for a night,
or half that amount for a mere day halt.

The khansamah would appear to be the only functionary in residence
until the hour of departure draws near, when a whole party of
underlings—chowkidars, bheesties, and sweepers—appear from nowhere in
particular; and the lordly traveller, having presented them with about
twopence apiece, rolls off along the dusty white road, leaving the
khansamah and his myrmidons salaaming on the verandah.

We made the mistake of over-tipping at first in India, not realising
that a couple of annas out here go as far as a shilling at home; but it
is a mistake which should be rectified as soon as possible, for you get
no credit for lavishness, but are merely regarded as a first-class
idiot. No sane man would ever expend two annas where one would do!

On leaving Haripur the road began to ascend a little, and at the
village of Sultanpur we entered a valley, through which a shrunken
stream ran, and which we crossed more than once.

Then a long ascent of about eleven miles brought us near our
destination.

It had been threatening rain all the afternoon, and now the weather
made its threat good, and the rain fell in earnest. It grew dark, too;
and, finally, not having had any reply to my telegram to General Woon,
we did not know whether we were expected or not.

Sabz Ali, however, had no doubts on the matter. We were approaching his
own particular country, and whether “Gen’l ’Oon Sahib” was there to
entertain us or not, _he_ was; and so it was “alright.”

Our poor horses were done to a turn, a heavy landau with five people in
it, as well as a fair amount of luggage, being no trifle to drag up so
long and steep a hill. So we had to walk up the last rise to the
General’s house in the dark and rain, mildly cheered, however, by
finding the two ekkas just arrived with the baggage.

A most hearty greeting from my old friend and his charming wife awaited
us, and after a hasty toilet and an excellent dinner we felt at peace
with all the world.

Both yesterday (Saturday) and to-day it has been cold and disagreeable.
The past winter, I am told, has been a very severe one, and the
melancholy brown skeletons of all the eucalyptus trees in the place
show the dismal results of the frost.

This forenoon the day darkened, and a very severe thunderstorm broke.
So dark was it at lunch that candles had to be lighted in haste, and
even now (4 P.M.) I can barely see to write.

_Thursday, March_ 30.—Monday was showery, and Tuesday decidedly wet;
but, in spite of the hospitable blandishments of our kind hosts, we
were most anxious to get on, as, having arranged with the Smithsons to
go into the Astor district to shoot, it was most important to reach
Srinagar before the first of April—the day upon which the shooting
passes were to be issued to sportsmen in rotation of application.
Knowing that only ten passes were to be given for Astor, and that
several men were ahead of me, I felt that we were running it somewhat
fine to leave only three days for the journey.

General Woon, who knew Kashmir well, did his very best to dissuade us
from attempting the passes into Astor, reading to us gloomy extracts
from his journal, and pointing out that it was no fit country for a
lady in early spring.

He did much to shake our enthusiasm, but still I felt we must do our
best to “keep tryst” with the Smithsons. So, on Tuesday, we sent on the
heavy luggage in two ekkas which Sabz Ali had procured, the two others
being only hired from Hassan Abdal to Abbotabad.

Sabz Ali had pointed out that, although he himself was a wonderful man,
and could do almost, if not quite, everything, a second servant would
be greatly to our (and his) advantage. So, acting on my permission, he
engaged one Ayata—a gentle person of a sheep-like disposition, who did
everything he was told, and nothing that he was told not to, during our
sojourn in Kashmir.



CHAPTER IV
ABBOTABAD TO SRINAGAR


Dismal tidings came in of floods and storms on the Hassan Abdal road.
The river had swollen, and both men and beasts had been swept away
while trying to cross. Undeterred, however, by such news, even when
backed by warnings and persuasions from our friends, we set forth in
the rain yesterday morning. The prospect was not cheerful—a grey veil
of cloud lay over all the surrounding hills, here and there deepening
into dark and angry thunder-clouds. The road was desperately heavy, but
the General had most kindly sent on a pair of mules ahead, and, with
another pair in the shafts, our own nags took a holiday as far as
Manserah.

The weather grew worse. It rained very heavily and thundered with great
vigour, and as we straggled up the deeply-muddied slope to the dâk
bungalow at Manserah we felt somewhat low; but we did not in the least
realise what was before us!

Our road had lain through fairly level plains, with low cuttings here
and there, where the saturated soil was already beginning to give way
and fall upon the road in untidy heaps; but this did not foreshadow
what might occur later.

At Manserah we met Hill and Hunt, two young gunners, _en route_ for
Astor. They left in a tonga soon after we arrived, and we did not
expect to see their speedier outfit again.

Being pressed for time, we only had a cup of cocoa, and then hastened
on our dismal career.

The road grew steeper, winding over some low hills, but we could not
see very much, as the whirling cloud masses blotted out all the view.
By-and-by it bent towards a pine-clad hill, and began to ascend
steeply. By this time we were very wet, as we had to walk up the hills
to ease the horses. The scene was extraordinary, as the great
thunder-clouds boiled up and over us—tawny yellow, and even orange in
the lights, and dull and solid lead colour in the depths. The distance
was invisible, but gleams now and again revealed, through the drifts of
rain, wide stretches of cultivated land lying below us, and a ragged
forest of pines piercing the mist above.

Dripping, we walked by our wet horses up to the top of the pass, hoping
for a swift and easy descent on the farther side to Ghari Habibullah,
where we intended to sleep, as we had given up all idea of being able
to get on to Domel.

Presently the horses were pulled up sharply as a ton or two of rock and
earth came crashing upon the road in front of us.

More fallen masses encumbering the way farther on made us feel rather
anxious, until, on rounding a corner, we found the whole road barred by
a huge mass of rock and soil.

It was blowing hard, the stormy wind striking chill and bleak through
the bending pines; it was raining in torrents; it was 5 P.M., and we
were still some six miles from the haven where we would be; so, after a
short and utterly ineffectual attempt to get the carriage past the
obstacle, Jane and I set off to walk down the hill and seek help.

It was exciting, as we had to dodge the rock-falls and run past the
shaky-looking places! At a turn of the road we came upon the gunners’
tonga, embedded in a mud-slide. The occupants had had an escape from
total wreck, as one of the ponies had swerved over the khud, but the
other saved the situation by lying down in the mud! Hunt had gone off
into the landscape to try for a village and help, while Hill remained
to wrestle with the tonga, which, however, remained obstinately
immovable. We could do nothing to mend matters, so we fled on, meeting
Hunt, with a few natives and a shovel, on his way back to the scene of
action.

After an hour and a half of very anxious work, we emerged at dusk from
the wood, hoping our troubles were over. We could dimly see, and hear,
through the mist a stream below us; but, alas! no bridge was visible. I
commandeered a man from the first hut we came to, and tried by signs to
make him understand that he was to carry the lady across the river;
but, luckily, just as we reached the bank of what was a very
nasty-looking stream in full spate, the liberated tonga overtook us,
and Jane was bundled into it, while we three men waded. The stream was
strong and up to our knees, and level with the tonga floor, and the
horses getting frightened began to jib. Hill seized one by the head,
and Jane was safely drawn to shore and sent on her way under guidance
of the driver, while we tramped on in the dark until a second torrent
barred our way. Here, in the gloom, we made out the tonga empty, and
stuck fast against the far bank. It was all right though, for Jane had
crawled out at the front and wandered on in search of the dâk bungalow,
leaving the driver squatting helplessly beside the water.

It was so dark that she missed the bungalow, which stands a little
above the road, and struggled on till she came to a small cluster of
native huts. One of the inhabitants, on being boldly accosted, was good
enough to point out the way, and so the re-united party—tired, wet, and
with no prospect of dry clothing—took possession of the
cheerless-looking dâk bungalow. Things now began to improve. To our joy
we found our ekkas with their contents drawn up in the yard. And while
a fire was being encouraged into a blaze, and the lean fowl was being
captured and slain on the back premises, we obtained dry garments—of
sorts—from the baggage.

Madame’s dinner costume consisted of a blue flannel garment—nocturnal
by design—delicately covered by a quilted dressing-gown, and the rest
of us were _en suite_, a great lack of detail as to collars and
foot-wear being apparent! Nevertheless, the fire blazed royally, and we
ate up all the old hen and called for more, and prepared to make a
night of it until, about ten o’clock, our bearer Sabz Ali appeared,
with a train of coolies carrying our bedding and the other contents of
the derelict carriage.

This morning the two young gunners departed on foot, leaving their
tonga, as the road to Domel is reported to be quite impassable. They
intend to walk by a short cut over the hills, and get on as best they
may, the race for Astor being a keen one.

We decided to remain here, the weather being still gloomy and
unsettled, and the road being impossible for a lady.

At noon the landau was brought in, minus a step and very dirty, but
otherwise “unwounded from the dreadful close.”

Ghari Habibullah is not at all a cheerful spot, as it appears, the
centre of a grey haze, with dense mist low down on the surrounding
mountains. Sabz Ali, too, complains of fever, which is not surprising
after the wetting and exposure of yesterday; and when a native gets
“fever” he curls up and is fit for nothing, and won’t try.

The dâk bungalow stands on a little plateau overlooking the road and a
swift river, whose tawny waves were loaded with mud washed from the
hills by recent storms. On a slope opposite, the queer, flat-roofed
native village perched, and above it swirled a misty pall which hid all
but the bases of the hills. To this village we strolled, but it was not
interesting; the inhabitants did not seem wildly friendly, and the mud
and dirt and dogs were discouraging. So we roamed along the Domel road
till we came to a high cliff of conglomerate, which had recently been
shedding boulders over the track to an alarming extent; so, deciding
that it would be merely silly to risk getting our heads cracked, we
turned back, and, re-crossing the river, clambered up a steep path
above the right bank. Here we soon found great rents and rifts where
falling rocks had come bounding down the steeps from above, so once
more we turned tail, and, giving up the idea of any more country walks
in that region, betook ourselves to the gloomy and chilly bungalow. The
only really delightful things we saw during our doleful excursion were
a lovely clump of big, rose-coloured primula, drooping from the clefts
of a steep rock, and a pair of large and handsome kingfishers,[1]
pursuing their graceful avocations by a roadside pool—their white
breasts, ruddy flanks, and gleaming blue backs giving a welcome note of
colour to the sedate and misty grey of the landscape.

[1] _N. Smyrnensis_ (?).


_Tuesday, April_ 4.—Thirty-six hours of Ghari Habibullah give ample
time for the loneliest recluse to pant for the bustle of a livelier
world. We were so bored on Thursday that we determined to push on,
_coûte que coûte_, on Friday morning, although a note sent back by one
of the gunners from Domel, by a coolie, informed us that the road about
a mile short of that place was completely blocked by a fallen mass of
some hundreds of tons.

Our henchman having somewhat recovered of his fever, thanks to a
generous exhibition of quinine, we gave the order to pack and start,
hoping to achieve the twelve miles which separated us from Domel, even
though the last bit had to be done on foot. About two miles from Ghari
Habibullah we came to the Kashmir custom-house, presided over by a
polite gentleman, whose brilliant purple beard was a joy to look upon.

Most of the elderly natives dye their beards with, I think, henna,
producing a fine orange effect, but purple…!

_Bottom_. What beard were I best to play it in?

_Quince_. Why, what you will.

_Bottom_. I will discharge it in either your straw-coloured beard, your
orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your
French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow

_Midsummer Night’s Dream_,
Act I. Sc. 2.


“What _coloured beard_ comes next by the window?”

“A black man’s, I think.”

“I think a _red_: for that is most in fashion.”

RAM ALLY.


Truly, until I beheld that tax-gatherer of the Orient, I had no idea
that the “purple-in-grain” beard existed outside a poet’s fancy!

The road took us along the left bank of the river, whose soil-stained
waters churned their way through a wild and rocky gorge. On our left
the mountain rose bare and steep, fringed with a few straggling bushes,
and here and there a clinging patch of rose-coloured primula. Part of
the conglomerate cliff had come down and obliterated the road, but a
party of coolies was busily at work, and, after about an hour’s delay,
we triumphantly bumped our way past.

The road now led steadily upward, leaving an ever-increasing slope (or
khud) between it and the river, until it attained a height of over a
thousand feet, when, turning to the left, it swung over the watershed,
and began to descend into the valley of the Kishenganga. Through the
haze we could make out Domel, our goal, lying far below, and then the
old Sikh fort of Musafferabad.

The road was so encumbered with rock-falls that we walked the greater
part of it, until we came to the new bridge over the Kishenganga, whose
dark red waters rush into the Jhelum about a mile below.

Here was Musafferabad, the whole place a confused jumble of wheeled
traffic caught up by the big landslip in front. Passing, amid the
chatter and clamour of men and beasts, through the medley of
bullock-carts and ekkas that crowded every available space, we hauled
the carriage through the bed of a watercourse whose bridge was broken.
Up over the prostrate trunk of a fallen tree we regained the road, to
find ourselves in front of the big landslip of which we had been
warned. It consisted of some thousands of tons of dark red mud and
loose boulders, and it blocked the road for fully a couple of hundred
yards.

A large and energetic swarm of coolies was busily engaged in “tidying
up.” This was apparently to be achieved by means of shovels, each
little shovel worked by two men—one to shovel, and the other to assist
in raising it when full by means of a little rope round the head. This
labour had to be lubricated by much conversation.

It seemed upon the whole unlikely that a path could be made for a
considerable time, so we lunched peacefully in the carriage, a pair of
extremely friendly crows assisting at the feast, and then, leaving our
landau to follow as best it might, we walked into Domel, crossing the
Jhelum by a fine bridge.

The dâk bungalow, prettily placed in a clump of trees, seemed the abode
of luxury to us after the discomfort of Ghari Habibullah, and we fondly
hoped that, being now upon the main road which runs from Rawal Pindi to
Srinagar, our troubles were over.

Saturday was the 1st of April, the day upon which I should have applied
for my pass for Astor. Wiring to Srinagar to explain that I was in
Kashmir territory (which I subsequently found was enough to entitle me
to a pass), and also to Smithson to say that we were making the best of
our way to join him, we “took the road” after breakfast.

The carriage and the two ekkas had come in early, having been unloaded
and then carried bodily over the “slide.”

A broad and smooth road, whose gentle gradient of ascent was merely
sufficient to keep us level with the river bank, opened up an alluring
prospect of ease and comfort. We lay back on our comfortable cushions
and watched the clouds as they swept over the mountains, hiding all but
occasional glimpses of snow-streaked slopes and steep and barren
ridges.

The valley of the Jhelum between Domel and Ghari is not
beautiful—merely wide and desolate, with steep hills rising from the
river, their lower slopes sparsely clad with leafless scrub, their
shoulders merging into the dull mist which hangs around their invisible
summits.

Alas! it soon became apparent that our troubles were not over. The
cliffs above us became steeper, and the familiar boulder reappeared
upon the road. Small landslips gave us a good deal of trouble, although
we had no serious difficulty before reaching Ghari. Here we were told
that a complete “solution of continuity” in the road at Mile 46 would
prevent our reaching Chakhoti, so we reluctantly decided to remain
where we were for the night. Although a cold and dull spring afternoon
is not exciting at Ghari, where distractions are decidedly scanty, we
found interest in the discovery of the Smithsons’ heavy luggage, which
had been sent on from Rawal Pindi ages ago. Here it lay in the peaceful
backwater of a native caravansary, piled high on a bullock-cart, whose
placid team lay near pensively chewing the “cud of sweet and bitter
fancy,” and apparently quite innocent of any intention of moving for a
week or two!

We extracted the charioteers from a neighbouring hut, and gave them to
understand, by means of Sabz Ali, that hanging was the least annoyance
they would suffer if they didn’t get under way “ek dam” at once. They
promptly promised that their oxen—like Pegasus—should fly on the wings
of the wind, and, having seen us safely round a corner, departed
peacefully to eat another lotus.

The luggage arrived in Srinagar towards the end of the month.

Sunday morning saw us again battling with a perfect coruscation of
landslips; so “jumpy” was it in many places that we sat with the
carriage doors ajar, in hopes that a timely dart out might enable us to
evade a falling rock. At Mile 46 we were held up for an hour until a
ramp was made over a bad slide, and the carriage and ekkas were
unloaded and got across. The landau looked for all the world like a
great dead beetle surrounded by ants, as, man-handled by a swarm of
coolies, it was hauled, step by step, over the improvised track. A
landau is not at all a suitable or convenient carriage for this sort of
work, and had we guessed what was before us we should most certainly
have employed the handier tonga.

The road to-day, cut as it was out of the steep flank of the mountain,
was magnificent, but, in its present condition, nerve-shattering.
Fallen boulders and innumerable mud-slides constantly forced us to get
out and walk, while the sturdy little horses tugged the carriage
through places where the near wheels were frequently within a few
inches of the broken edge of the road, while far below Jhelum roared
hungrily as he foamed by the foot of a sheer precipice.

Reaching Chakhoti about four o’clock, we decided to remain there for
the night, as it was growing late and the weather looked gloomy and
threatening. Although we had only achieved a short stage of twenty-one
miles, there was no suitable place for a night’s halt until Uri,
distant some thirteen miles and all uphill.

About half a mile above Chakhoti there is a rope bridge over the
Jhelum, and after tea we set forth to inspect it.

The river is here about 150 yards wide and extremely swift, and I
confess the means of crossing it, although practised with perfect
confidence by the natives, did not appeal to me.

From two great uprights, formed from solid tree-trunks, three strong
ropes were stretched—the upper two parallel, and the third, about four
feet lower, was equidistant from each.

These three ropes were kept in their relative positions by wooden
stretchers—something like great merrythoughts, lashed at intervals of a
few yards—

“And up and down the people go,”


stepping delicately upon the lower rope, and holding on to the upper
ones with their hands. The uncomfortable part seemed to the unpractised
European to be where the graceful sweep of the long ropes brought the
traveller to within a painfully close distance of the hurrying, hungry
water, before he began to slither circumspectly up the farther slope!

We stood for some little time watching the natives going to and fro,
passing one another with perfect ease by means of a dexterous squirm,
and carrying loads on their backs, or live fowls under their arms, with
the utmost unconcern.

We left Chakhoti early this morning—Tuesday—with the intention of
getting right through to Baramula. The road was of course extremely
bad, and the long ascent to Uri very hard upon our willing little nags.
Of course they have had a remarkably easy time of it lately, as we have
been limited to very short stages, and they are in excellent hard
condition, so that we felt it no great hardship to ask them to do
forty-two miles: albeit to drag a heavy landau containing five people
and a good deal of luggage for that distance, with a rise of over 2000
feet, is a heavy demand upon a single pair of horses!

The scenery was very fine as we toiled up the gorge, in which Uri
stands on a plateau over the river and guards the pass into Kashmir
valley.

The ruins of an ancient fort rose on the near edge of the little plain.
The Jhelum tore through a rocky gorge far below, and a dark semi-circle
of mountains stood steeply up, their cloud-hidden summits giving
fleeting glimpses of snow and precipice and pine-clad corries as the
sun now and again shot through the clinging vapours.

The dâk bungalow of Uri, white and clean, was most attractive, and I
should imagine the place to be charming in summer, but as yet the short
crisp turf is still brown from recent snow, and although hot in the
sun, which now began to shine steadily, it was extremely cold in the
shade, while lunch (or should I say “tiffin”?) was being got ready. I
strolled over to the post-office to find—as usual—another urgent wire
from Smithson several days old, beseeching me to secure my pass for
Astor at once. Directly after lunch we set forward, and as the road on
leaving Uri takes a long bend of some miles to the right to a point
where the Haji Pir River is crossed, and then sweeps back along its
right hank to a spot almost opposite the dâk bungalow, we thought that
a short cut down to the water, which from our height seemed quite
insignificant, and thence up to the road on the other side, would be a
desirable stroll. As we walked down the steep path into the nullah a
brace of red-legged partridges (chikor) rose in a great fuss, and
sailed gaily across the river, whose roaring gained ominously in volume
as we drew near. It soon became plain to us that everything is on a
very big scale in this country, and that the clearness of the
atmosphere helps to delude the unwary stranger. The little stream that
seemed to require but an occasional stepping-stone to enable us to pass
over dry-shod, proved in the first place to be much farther off than we
had supposed, and when, after a hot scramble, we found ourselves on the
bank, the stepping-stones were no more, but only here and there we saw
the shoulders of huge rocks which doggedly threw aside the flying foam
of a fair-sized river. It was obviously impossible to cross except by
deep wading, but, being unwilling to own defeat, I yelled to a brown
native on the far bank, and made signs that he should come and do beast
of burthen. He, however, stolidly shook his head, pointed to the water,
and then to his chest, and finally we sadly and wrathfully toiled back
to the road we had so lightly left, and expended all our energies on
attracting the notice of the carriage, which, having crossed the
bridge, was crawling along the opposite face of the nullah, and when,
after a hot three miles, we once more embedded ourselves amongst the
cushions with a sigh of relief, we swore off short cuts for the future.

We had been warned at Uri that there was a “bad place” at Mile 73, and
sure enough, on rounding a bend, we came upon the familiar mass of
semi-liquid red earth and a pile of boulders heaped across the road,
the khud side of which had entirely given way. The usual crowd of
coolies was busily engaged in trying to clear the obstruction by means
of toothpicks and teaspoons.

We quitted the carriage with a celerity engendered of much practice,
and, having crossed the obstacle on foot, sat down to await the coming
of our conveyance.

It seemed perfectly marvellous that the heavy vehicle could be safely
got over a jagged avalanche of earth and rock piled some eight or ten
feet above the roadway, and having an almost sheer drop to the river
entirely unguarded for some hundred yards, where the retaining parapet
and even some of the road itself had gone.

Amid much apparent confusion and tremendous chattering, a sort of rough
ramp was engineered up the slip, and presently the horseless landau
appeared borne in triumph by a mob of coolies superintended by our
priceless Sabz Ali.

For a minute we held our breath as one of the near wheels lipped the
edge of the chasm, but the thing was judged to an inch, and in due time
the sturdy chestnuts, the two ekkas, and all the luggage were assembled
on the right side of what proved to be the last of the really bad
slips.

The road engineer, who arrived in great state on a motor cycle while we
were executing the portage, told us that there were no more
difficulties, but an officer who was going out, and whose tonga was
checked also at the big slip, informed us that about a mile farther
were two great boulders on the road, lying so that although a short
vehicle such as a tonga or motor cycle could wriggle round, yet a long
four-wheeled landau could not possibly execute the serpentine curve
required.

We therefore requisitioned a few coolies with crowbars, and set forward
to attack the boulders. Sure enough there were two beauties, placed so
that we could not possibly get by, until a large slice was chipped from
the inner side of each.

This done, our most excellent and skilful driver piloted his ponies
through the narrow strait, and we felt that, at last, our troubles were
over, and that we could breathe freely and admire at leisure the snowy
peaks of the Kaj-nag beyond the Jhelum, and the rough wooded heights
that frowned upon our right.

I confess the relief was great, as we had endured six days of incessant
strain on our nerves, never knowing when a turn of the road might bring
us to an impassable break, or when the conglomerate cliffs beetling
above might shed a boulder or two upon us!

Passing the somewhat uninviting little village of Rampur, we crossed a
torrent pouring out of a dark pine-clad gorge, and halted for tea by
the curious ruined temple of Bhanyar. The building consists of a
rectangular wall, cloistered on two sides of the interior and
surrounding a small temple approached by a dilapidated flight of stone
steps. I regret to be obliged to own that I know but a mere smattering
of architecture. I do not feel competent therefore to discuss this, the
first Kashmiri temple I have seen, upon its architectural merits. I
only know that it struck me as being extremely small, and principally
interesting from its magnificent background of shaggy forest and
snow-capped mountain.

Tea on a short smooth sward, starred with yellow colchicum, while the
carriage, travel-stained and with one step lacking, stood on the road
hard by, and the horses nibbled invigorating lumps of “gram” and
molasses. Then the etna was returned to the “allo bagh” (yellow bag)
and the tea things to the tiffin basket, and away we went along the now
smooth and level road with only fifteen easy miles between us and
Baramula.

The vegetation had gradually grown much richer. The sparse and
storm-buffeted pines and the rough scrub merged into a tangled mass of
undergrowth and forest, where silver firs and deodars rose conspicuous.
The little streams that rushed down the hillsides were fringed with
maidenhair fern, lighted up here and there with a bunch of pink primula
or a tiny cluster of dog violets.

Jhelum had ceased from roaring, pursuing his placid path unwitting of
the rush and fury that would befall him lower down, and by-and-by we
emerged from the dark and forest-covered gorge into a wide basin where
the river, now smooth and oily, reflected tall poplars and the red
shoots of young dogwood.

Through a village, round a sweep to the left, over a tract said to be
much frequented by serpents, and then in the deepening and chilly dusk
we made out Baramula, lying engirdled by a belt of poplars about a mile
away.

Glad were we, and probably gladder still our weary horses, to draw up
before the uninviting-looking dâk bungalow, knowing that only
thirty-five miles of level and open road lay now between us and
Srinagar.

The dâk bungalow of Baramula is, upon the whole, the worst we have yet
sampled. No fire seemed able to impart any cheerfulness to the gloomy
den we were shown into, and the dinner finally produced by the
khansamah-kitmaghar-chowkidar (for a single tawny-bearded ruffian
represented all these functionaries when the morning tip fell due) was
not of an exhilarating nature. Strolling out to have a look at the town
of Baramula, I shivered to see a heap of snow piled up against the
wall. It snowed here, heavily, three days ago, I am told.

We have not been, so far, altogether lucky in the weather. Bitter cold
in Europe, cold at Port Saïd and Suez, chilly in the Red Sea, and wet
at Aden! Distinctly chilly in India, excepting during the day; we seem
to have hit off the most backward spring known here for many years. The
Murree route, which was closed to us by snow, should have been clear a
month earlier, and spring here seems not yet to have begun.

_April_ 5.—We crept shivering to our beds last night, to be awakened at
6 A.M. by an earthquake!

I had just realised what the untoward commotion meant when I heard Jane
from under her “resai” ask, “What _is_ the matter—is it an earthquake?”
Almost before I could reply, she was up and away, in a fearful hurry
and very little else, towards the open country.

I followed, but finding hoar-frost on the ground and a nipping
eagerness in the air, I went back for a “resai.” The feeling was that
of going into one’s cabin in a breeze of wind, and the door was
flapping about. Seizing the wrap in some haste, as I was afraid of the
door jamming, I rejoined Jane in the open, to watch the poplars swaying
like drunken men and the solid earth bulging unpleasantly. The shock
lasted for three minutes, and when it seemed quite over we retired to
our beds to try to get warm again.

The morning at breakfast-time was perfectly beautiful. Baramula lay
serenely mirrored in the silver waters of the Jhelum, its picturesque
brown wooden houses clustering on both banks, and joining hands by
means of a long brown wooden bridge. No signs of any unusual
disturbance could be seen among the chattering crews of the snaky
little boats and deep-laden “doungas” that lined the banks or furrowed
the waters of the shining river.

We left Baramula in high spirits to accomplish the five-and-thirty
miles which still stretched between us and Srinagar. The scenery was
quite different from anything we had yet known, for now we were in the
broad flat valley of Kashmir, which stretches for some eighty miles
from beyond Islamabad, on the N.E., to Baramula, planted at the neck
where the Jhelum River, after spreading itself abroad through the
fertile plain, concentrates to pour its many waters through the
mountain barrier until it joins the Indus far away in Sind.

A broad and level road stretched straight and white between a double
row of stark poplars, reminding one of the poplar-guarded ways of
Picardy; also (as in France) not only were the miles marked, but also
the thirty-two subdivisions thereof. On the right hand the ground
sloped slowly up in a succession of wooded heights, the foothills of
the Pir Panjal, whose snow-crowned peaks enclose the Kashmir valley on
the south. Opposite, through a maze of leafless trees, one caught
occasional gleams of water where the winding reaches of the river
flowed gently from the turquoise haze where lay the Wular Lake, and
beyond—clear and pale in the clear, crisp air—shone a glorious range of
snow mountains, stretching away past where we knew Srinagar must lie,
to be lost in the distant haze where sky and mountain merged in the
north-east.

By the roadside we passed many small lakes, or “jheels,” full of duck,
but as there was never any cover by the sides I could not see how the
duck were to be approached.

We lunched at the fascinating little bungalow at Patan (pronounced
“Puttun”), about half-way between Baramula and Srinagar. The Rest House
stands back from an apparently extremely populous and thriving village,
the inhabitants whereof were all engaged in conversation of a highly
animated kind! In the compound stood a fine group of chenar trees
(_Platanus orientalis_) whose noble trunks and graceful branches showed
in striking contrast to the slender stems of the poplars. The
guide-book informed us that an ancient temple lay in ruins near by, but
we trusted to a later visit and determined to push on. By-and-by a
fort-crowned hill rose above the tree-tops. This we took to be Hari
Parbat, the ancient citadel of Srinagar, and presently, through the
poplars and the willows queer wooden huts or châlets began to appear,
and the increasing number of men and beasts upon the road showed the
proximity of the city.

Ekkas, white-hooded, with jingling bells hung round the scraggy necks
of their lean ponies; brown men clad in sort of night-shirts composed
of mud-coloured rags; brown dogs, humpy cattle, and children
innumerable, swarmed upon the causeway in ever-increasing density until
we drew up at the custom-house, and the usual jabber took place among
Sabz Ali, the driver, and the officials.

All appeared satisfactory, however, and we were presented with bits of
brown paper scrawled over with hieroglyphics which we took to be
passes, and drove on, leaving the native town apparently on our left
and making a détour through level fields and between rows of poplars,
until we swung round and crossed the river by a fine bridge. Here we
first got some idea of the city of Srinagar, which lay spread around
us, bisected by the broad, but apparently far from sluggish river,
which seems here to be about the width of the Thames at Westminster at
high water.

Tier upon tier, the rickety wooden houses crowded either bank, the
prevailing brown being oddly lighted up by the roofs, which were
frequently covered with deep green turf. Here and there the steep and
peculiar dome of a Hindu temple flashed like polished silver in the
keen sunlight, while around and beyond all rose the ring of the
everlasting hills, their peaks clear, yet soft, against a background of
cloudless blue.

Close below us stood a remarkably picturesque pile of buildings, of a
mixed style of architecture, yet harmonising well enough as a whole
with its surroundings. Over it flew a great “banner with a strange
device,” and we assumed (and rightly) that we looked upon the palace of
His Highness Sir Pratab Singh, Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir.

Crossing the river, we dived into a bit of the native town, and were
much struck by the want of colour as compared with an Indian street.
Everything seemed steeped in the same neutral brown—houses, boats,
people, and dogs! Emerging from the native street, with its open
shop-fronts and teeming life, we drove for some little way along a
straight level road, flanked, as usual, on either side by poplars of
great size which ran through a brown, flat field, showing traces of
recent snow, and finally finished our two-hundred-mile drive in front
of the one and only hotel in all Kashmir.

Our two little chestnuts, which had brought us right through from
Chakhoti to Srinagar—a distance of about seventy-eight miles—in two
days, were as lively and fit as possible, and playfully nibbled at each
other’s noses as they were walked off to their well-earned rest.

The ekka horses, too, had brought our heavy luggage all the way from
Abbotabad over a shocking road in the most admirable manner, and we had
every reason to congratulate ourselves on having entrusted the
arrangement of the whole business—the “bandobast” in native parlance—to
our henchman Sabz Ali, who had thus proved himself an energetic and
trustworthy organiser, and saving financier to the extent of some
twenty rupees.

I may emphasise here the importance of keeping one’s heavy baggage in
sight, herding on the ekkas in front, if possible, and keeping a wary
eye and a firm hand on the drivers at all halts. The Smithsons, who had
sent on their gear from Rawal Pindi some days before we got there, did
not receive it in Srinagar until the 22nd of April. It took about five
weeks to do the journey, and the rifle which I was obliged to leave in
Karachi on the 19th of March finally turned up in Srinagar, after an
infuriating and vain expenditure of telegrams, on the 1st of May!

Of course, part of the delay was due, and all was attributed, to the
unusually bad state of the roads. The heavy storms and floods which, by
wrecking the road, had delayed us so much, naturally checked the heavy
transport still more; and severe congestion of bullock-carts resulted
at all the halting-places along the route. Still, the main cause of
delay lies in the fact that the monopoly of transport has been granted
by the Maharajah to one Danjibhoy, who charges what he pleases, and
takes such time over his arrangements as suits his Oriental mind.

The motto over the Transport Office door might well be “_Ohne Hast—mit
Rast_!”

The other (much-cherished) monopoly in this favoured land is that
enjoyed by Mr. Nedou, the owner of THE HOTEL in Kashmir.

We were advised when at Lahore to approach Mr. Nedou (who winters in
his branch there) with many salaams and much “kow-towing,” in order to
make a certainty of being received into his select circle in Kashmir.
The great man was quite kind, and promised that he would do his best
for us; and he was as good as his word, as we were immediately welcomed
and permitted to add two to the four persons already inhabiting the
hostelry. I confess that, even after a dâk bungalow of the most
inferior quality—such as that at Ghari Habibullah or Baramula—Mr.
Nedou’s hotel fails to impress one with an undue sense of luxury. In
fact, it presented an even desolate and forlorn appearance with its
gloomy and chilly passages and cheerless bed-vaults.



CHAPTER V
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF SRINAGAR


We learnt that the earthquake of this morning was far more than the
ordinary affair that we had taken it to be. The hotel showed signs of a
struggle for existence. Large cracks in the plaster, spanned by strips
of paper gummed across to show if they widened, and little heaps of
crumbled mortar on the floors, betrayed that the grip of mother earth
had been no feeble one.

Telegrams from Lahore inquired if the rumour was true that Srinagar had
been much damaged, and reported an awful destruction and loss of life
at Dharmsala. I think if we had fully known what an earthquake really
meant, we should not have so calmly gone back to bed again!

The advent of Mrs. Smithson upon the scene relieved a certain anxiety
which we had felt as to immediate plans. The idea of rushing into Astor
had been given up, we found—not so much on account of our tardy
arrival, permits being still obtainable, but on account of the
impossibility—at any rate for ladies—of forcing the high passes which
the late season has kept safely sealed.

Walter, having pawed the ground in feverish impatience for some days,
had gone off into a region said to be full of bara singh; so we decided
to possess our souls in patience for a little time, and remain quietly
in Srinagar. Accordingly, instead of unpacking our “detonating
musquetoons,” we exhumed our evening clothes, and began life in
Srinagar with a cheerful dinner at the Residency.

_Friday, April 7th_.—We are evidently somewhat premature here as far as
climate goes. The weather since our arrival has become cold and grey,
and we have seemed on the verge of another snowfall. However, the clerk
of the weather has refrained from such an insult, contenting himself
with sending a breeze down upon us fresh from the “Roof of the World,”
and laden with the chilly moisture of the snows. We have consumed great
quantities of wood, vainly endeavouring to warm up the den which Mr.
Nedou has let to us as a sitting-room. Fires are not the fashion in the
public rooms—probably because the only “public” besides ourselves
consist of one or two enterprising sportsmen, who doubtless are
acclimatising themselves to camp life amid the snows, and have implored
the proprietor to save his fuel and keep the outer doors open.

Yesterday, we went on a shopping excursion down the river, our “hansom”
being a long narrow sort of canoe, propelled and dexterously steered by
four or five paddlers, whose mode of _digging_ along by means of their
heart-shaped blades reminded me not a little of the Kroo boys paddling
a fish-canoe off Elmina on the Gold Coast.

We embarked close to the back of the hotel, at the Chenar Bagh, and
went gaily enough down the strong current of what we took to be an
affluent of the Jhelum. As a matter of fact, the European quarter forms
an island, low and perfectly flat, the banks of which are heaped into a
high dyke or “bund,” washed on one side (the south) by the main river,
and on the other by the Sunt-i-kul Canal, down which we have been
paddling.

The river life was most fascinating—crowds of heavy doungas lay moored
along the banks—their long, low bodies covered in by matting, and their
extremities sloping up into long peaked platforms for the crew.
These—many of them women and children—were all clothed in
neutral-tinted gowns, the only bit of colour being an occasional note
of red or white in the puggaree of the men or skull-cap of the
children. The married women invariably wore whity-brown veils over the
head. The wooden houses that lined the banks were all in the general
low scheme of colour, but a peculiar charm was added by the roofs
covered in thick, green turf.

Srinagar has been called the “Venice of the East,” and, inasmuch as
waterways form the main thoroughfares in both, there is a certain
resemblance. Shikaras (the Kashmiri canoes) are first-cousins to
gondolas—rather poor relations perhaps; both are dingy and clumsy in
appearance, and both are managed with an extraordinary dexterity by
their navigators.

Both cities are “smelly,” though Venice, even at its worst, stands many
degrees above the incredible filth of Srinagar.

Finally—both cities are within sight of snowy ranges; although it seems
hardly fair to place in comparison the majestic range that overhangs
Srinagar and the somewhat distant and sketchy view of the Alps as seen
from Venice.

Here, I think, all resemblance ceases. The charm of Venice lies in its
architecture, its art treasures, its historical memories, and its
interesting people.

Srinagar has no architecture in particular, being but a picturesque
chaos of tumble-down wooden shanties. It has no history worth speaking
of, and its inhabitants are—and apparently have always been—a poor lot.

Shopping in Srinagar is not pure and unadulterated joy. Down the river,
spanned by its seven bridges, amidst a network of foul-smelling alleys,
you are dragged to the emporiums of the native merchants whose
advertisements flare upon the river banks, and who, armed with cards,
and possessed of a wonderful supply of the English language, swarm
around the victim at every landing-place, and almost tear one another
in pieces while striving to obtain your custom.

Samad Shall, in a conspicuous hoarding, announces that he can—and
will—supply you with anything you may desire, including money—for he
proclaims himself to be a banker.

Ganymede, in his own opinion, is the only wood-carver worth attention.

Suffering Moses is the prince of workers in lacquer, according to his
own showing.

The nose of the boat grates up against the slimy step of the
landing-place, and you plunge forthwith into Babel.

“Will you come to my shop?”

“No—you are going somewhere else.”

“After?”

“Perhaps!”

“To-day, master?”

“No—no time to-day.”

“To-morrow, then—I got very naice kyriasity [curiosity]—to-morrow,
master—what time?”

“Oh! get out! and leave me alone.”

“I send boat for you—ten o’clock to-morrow?”

“No.”

“Twelve o’clock?” &c. &c.

After a short experience of Kashmiri pertinacity and business methods,
you cease from politeness and curtly threaten the river.

Certainly the Kashmiri are exceedingly clever and excellent workers in
many ways. Their modern embroideries (the old shawl manufacture is
totally extinct) are beautiful and artistic. Their wood-carving, almost
always executed in rich brown walnut, is excellent; and their _old_
papier-mâché lacquer is very good. The tendency, however, is
unfortunately to abandon their own admirable designs, and assimilate or
copy Western ideas as conveyed in very doubtful taste by English
visitors.

The embroidery has perhaps kept its individuality the best, although
the trail of the serpent as revealed in “quaint” Liberty or South
Kensington designs is sometimes only too apparent. Certain
plants—Lotus, Iris, Chenar leaf, and so-called Dal Lake leaves, as well
as various designs taken from the old Kashmir shawls, give scope to the
nimble brains and fingers of the embroiderers, who, by-the-bye, are all
male.

Their colours, almost invariably obtained from native dyes, are
excellent, and they rarely make a mistake in taste.

The coarser work in wool on cushions, curtains, and thick white numdahs
is most effective and cheap.

Curiously enough, the best of these numdahs (which make capital rugs or
bath blankets) are made in Yarkand; and Stein, in his _Sand-Buried
Cities of Kotan_, found in ancient documents, of the third century or
so, “the earliest mention of the felt-rugs or ‘numdahs’ so familiar to
Anglo-Indian use, which to this day form a special product of Kotan
home industry, and of which large consignments are annually exported to
Ladak and Kashmir.”

The manufacture of carpets is receiving attention, and Messrs. Mitchell
own a large carpet factory. Designs and colours are good, but the
prices are not low enough to enable them to compete with the cheap
Indian makes; nor, I make bold to say, is the quality such as to
justify high prices. The shop of Mohamed Jan is well worth a visit, for
three good reasons—first, because his Oriental carpets from Penjdeh and
Khiva are of the best; second, because his house is one of the first
specimens of a high-class native dwelling existing; and third, because
he never worries his customers nor touts for orders—but, then, he is a
Persian, and not a Kashmiri!

The famous shawls which fetched such prices in England in early
Victorian days are no longer valued, having suffered an eclipse similar
to that undergone by the pictures of certain early Victorian Royal
Academicians, and the loss of the shawl trade was a severe blow to
Kashmir. With the exception of occasional specimens of these shawls,
which, however, can be bought cheaper at sales in London, there are no
_old_ embroideries to be got.

The wood-carving industry, too, is quite modern; but, although of great
excellence and ingenuity in manipulation, it does not appeal to me,
being too florid and copious in its application of design. A restless
confusion of dragons from Leh, lotus from the Dal Lake, and the
ever-present chenar leaf, hobnob together with British—very
British—crests and monograms on the tops of tables and the seats of
chairs—portions of the furniture that should be left severely plain.

British taste is usually bad, and to it, and not to Kashmiri
initiative, must be ascribed the production of such exotic works as
bellows embellished with chaste designs of lotus-buds, and afternoon
tea-tables flaunting coats-of-arms (doubtless dating from the
Conquest), beautifully carved in high relief just where the tray—the
bottom of which is probably ornamented with a flowing design of raised
flowers—should rest!

The lacquered papier-maché work—often extremely pretty when left to its
own proper Cabul pattern or other native design—aims too often at
attracting the eye of the mighty hunter by introducing an inappropriate
markhor’s head. The old lacquer-work is difficult to get, and, when
obtained, is high in price; but comparison between the old and the new
shows the gulf that lies between the loving and skilful labour of the
artist and the stupid and generally “scamped” achievement of him who
merely “knocks off” candlesticks and tobacco-boxes by the score, to
sell to the English visitor—papier-maché being superseded by wood, and
lacquer by paint.

The workers in silver, copper, and brass are many, but their
productions are usually rough and inartistic. Genuine old beaten
metal-work is almost unobtainable, although occasionally desirable
specimens from Leh do find their way into the Srinagar shops.

Chinese porcelain is to be got, usually in the form of small bowls; but
it is not of remarkably good quality, and the prices asked for it are
higher than in London.

The jewellers’ work is very far behind that of India. Amethysts of pale
colour and yellow topaz are cheap. Fine turquoise do not come into
Kashmir, but plenty of the rough stones (as well as imitations) are to
be found, which, owing to a transitory fashion, are priced far above
their intrinsic value. They come from Thibet.

A great deal of a somewhat soft and ugly-coloured jade is sent from
Yarkand, also agates and carnelian; beads of these are strung into
rather uncouth necklets, which may be bought for half the sum first
asked.

Bargaining is an invariable necessity in all shopping in Kashmir, as
everywhere else in the East, where the market value of an article is
not what it costs to produce, but what can be squeezed for it out of
the purse of the—usually—ignorant purchaser.

Three things are essential to the successful prosecution of shopping in
Srinagar:—

(1) Unlimited time.

(2) A command of emphatic language, sufficient to impress the native
mind with the need for keeping to the point.

(3) A liver in such thorough working order as to insure an
extraordinary supply of good temper.

Without all these attributes the acquisition of objects of “bigotry and
vertue” in Srinagar is attended with pain and tribulation.

The descent of the river is accomplished with ease and rapidity, but
_revocare gradum_ involves much hard paddling, with many pants and
grunts; and it was both cold and dark when we again lay alongside the
bank of the Chenar Bagh, and scurried up the slippery bund to the
hotel, with scarcely time to dress for dinner.

_Sunday, 9th April_.—Friday was a horrible day—rainy, dull, and cold;
but a thrill of excitement was sent through us by the news that Walter
has shot two fine bara singh! Charlotte (who is nothing if not a keen
sportswoman) was filled with zeal and the spirit of emulation, so we
resolved to dash off down the river to Bandipur, join Walter—who has
now presumably joined the ranks of the unemployed, being only permitted
by the Game Laws to kill two stags—and take our pick of the remaining
“Royals,” which, in our vivid imaginations, roamed in dense flocks
through the nullahs beyond Bandipur!

All Friday and yesterday, therefore, were devoted to preparation. I had
already, through the kindness of Major Wigram, secured a shikari, who
immediately demonstrated his zeal and efficiency by purchasing a couple
of bloodthirsty knives and a huge bottle of Rangoon oil at my expense.
I pointed out that one “skian-dhu” seemed to me sufficient for
“gralloching” purposes, but he said two were better for bears. My
acquaintance with bears being hitherto confined to Regent’s Park, I
bowed to his superior knowledge and forethought.

A visit to Cockburn’s agency resulted in the hire of the “boarded
dounga” _Cruiser_, which the helpful Mr. Cockburn procured for us, in
which to go down the river; also a couple of tents for ourselves with
tent furniture, one for the servants, and a cooking tent.

The local bootmaker or “chaplie-wallah” appeared, as by magic, on the
scene, and chaplies were ordered. These consist of a sort of leather
sandal strapped over soft leather boots or moccasins. They are
extremely comfortable for walking on ordinary ground, but perfectly
useless for hill work, even when the soles are studded with nails. The
hideous but necessary grass shoe is then your only wear. The grass
shoe, which is made as required by the native, is an intricate
contrivance of rice straw, kept in position by a straw twist which is
hauled taut between the big and next toe, and the end expended round
some of the side webbing. The cleft sock and woollen boot worn
underneath keep the feet warm, but do not always prevent discomfort and
even much pain if the cords are not properly adjusted. However, the
remedy is simple. Tear off the shoe, using such language as may seem
appropriate to the occasion, throw it at the shikari’s head, and order
another pair to be made “ek dam”! Jane and I each purchased a yakdan, a
sort of roughly-made leather box or trunk, strong, and of suitable size
for either pony or coolie transport. Our wardrobe was stowed in these
and secured by padlocks, and the cooking gear, together with a certain
amount of stores in the shape of grocery, bread, and a couple of
bottles of whisky were safely housed in a pair of large covered creels
or “kiltas.”

Each of the party provided him or herself with a khudstick, consisting
of a strong and tough shaft about five feet long, tapering slightly
towards the base, where it is shod with a chisel-shaped iron end.

Our staff of retainers had now been brought up to five—the shikari,
Ahmed Bot, having procured a satellite, known as the chota shikari, a
youth of not unprepossessing appearance, but whose necessity in our
scheme of existence I had not quite determined. Ahmed Bot, however, was
of opinion that all sahibs who wanted sport required two shikaris, so I
imagined that while I was to be engaged with one in pursuit of bara
singh, the other would employ himself in “rounding up” a few tigers for
the next day’s sport in another direction. Ahmed Bot agreed with me in
the main, but did not feel at all sure about the tigers—he proposed
ibex.

The fifth wheel to our coach was a strikingly ugly person, like a
hippopotamus, whose plainness was not diminished by a pair of enormous
goggles; this was the harmless necessary sweeper, that pariah among
domestics, whose usefulness is undreamed of out of India.

After dinner last night we left the hotel, truly thankful to shake the
dust of its gloomy precincts from our feet, and sought our boats, which
were moored in the Chenar Bagh. How snug and bright the “ship” seemed
after the murky corridors of Nedou! And yet the _Cruiser_ was not much
to boast of, really, in the way of luxury.

Let me describe a typical boarded dounga. Upon a long, low,
flat-bottomed hull, which tapered to a sharp point at bow and stern,
was raised a light wooden superstructure with a flat roof, upon which
the passengers could sit. The interior was divided off into some
half-a-dozen compartments, a vestibule or outer cabin held boxes, &c.,
and through it one passed into the dining or parlour cabin, which
opened again to two little bedrooms and a couple of bathrooms. There
was no furniture to speak of, but we had hired from Cockburn all that
we required for the trip.

The servants, as well as the crew of the dounga, were all stowed in a
“tender” known as the cook boat—no one, except for navigating duties,
having any business on board the “flagship.”

Charlotte Smithson had a smaller ship than ours—a light wooden frame,
which supported movable matting screens or curtains, taking the place
of our wooden cabins. The matted dounga looked as though it might be
chilly, particularly if a strong wind came to play among the rather
draughty-looking mats which were all that our poor friend had between
her and a cold world!



CHAPTER VI
OUR FIRST CAMP


The fleet, consisting of four sail (I use this word in its purely
conventional sense, a dounga having no more sails than a battleship),
got under way about 5 A.M., while it was yet but barely daylight, and
so we were well clear of Srinagar when we emerged from our cosy cabins
into a world of clean air and brilliant colour.

The broad smooth current of the Jhelum flowed steadily and calmly
through a level plain, bearing us along at a comfortable four miles an
hour, the crew doing little more than keep steerage-way with pole and
paddle.

Beyond the green, tree-studded levels to the south, the range of the
Pir Panjal spread wide its array of dazzling peaks, while on the right
towered the mountains which enclose the Sind Valley, culminating in the
square-headed mass of Haramok. In the clear air the snows seemed quite
close, although we knew that the snow-line was really some three
thousand feet above the level of the valley.

A day like this, as we sit on the little roof of our floating home
watching the silent river unfold its shining curves, goes far to
obliterate the memory of the fuss and worry inseparable from the exodus
from Srinagar. After lunch we tied up for a while, and I took my gun on
shore to try and pick up a few of the duck that dotted the waters of
the little lakes or jheels which lay flashing amid the hillocks beyond
the river banks. The shores of these being perfectly bare and open, it
was obviously impossible to escape the keenly observant eyes of the
duck, which appeared, unlike all other birds in Kashmir, to retain
their customary wariness.

Crouching low amid the furrows of a newly-ploughed field, I sent the
shikari with a knot of natives to the far side of the water, whence
they advanced in open line, splashing and shouting.

Presently, with much fuss and indignant quacking, a cloud of duck rose,
and, circling after their fashion, as though reluctant to quit their
resting-place, gave me several chances of a long shot before, working
high into the air, they departed with loud expostulation to some
quieter haunt.

Later in the afternoon we tied up to the bank for the night near a
large jheel, where we all landed, Charlotte to try a rifle which she
had borrowed, and I, if possible, to slay a few more duck, while Jane
sat peacefully on a bank and enjoyed the glorious sunset.

The bag having been swelled by the addition of another dozen
“specimens”—obtained by the same manoeuvres as before—we strolled back
to our ships in the luminous dusk, visions of roast “canard” floating
seductively before our mental vision.

There proved to be several varieties of duck among the countless flocks
which I saw, notably mallard, teal, pochard, and shoveller. Likewise
there were many coots, while herons, disturbed in their meditations by
the untoward racket, flapped heavily away with disgusted squawks.

Jane is getting along remarkably well with her Hindustani. I have just
found her diary, and hasten to give an extract:—

“Woke up very early; much bitten by pice. Tom started off to try and
shoot a burra sahib, as he hears and hopes they’ve not yet shed all
their horns.”

“He really looked very nice in his new Pushtoo suit, with putty on his
legs and chaplains on his feet…. His chickory walked in front, carrying
his bandobast.”

“9 A.M.—Sat down to my solitary breakfast of poached ekkas and paysandu
tonga, with excellent chuprassies (something like scones). After
breakfast, tried on my new kilta, which I have had made quite short for
walking. I generally prefer walking to being carried in a pagdandy.”

“Then took another lesson in Hindustani from my murghi, though I really
think I hardly require it! My attention a good deal distracted by the
antics of a pair of bul-buls (not at all the same as our coo-coos) in
the jungle overhead.”

“7 P.M.—T. returned after what he called a blank blank day. He found
some bheesties (one of them a chikor ram or wild ghât) chewing the khud
on a precipitous dâk.”

“They were rather far off, about a mile he thinks, but he couldn’t get
any nearer owing to a frightful ghari-wallah with deep piasses which
lay between, so he put up his ornithoptic sight for 2000 yards and
‘pumped lead’ into the bheesties for half-an-hour.”

“He says he _thinks_ he hit one, but they all went away—as his chickory
remarked—‘ek dam,’ and Tom agreed with him.”

“He fell into a budmash on his way home and was half-drowned, but the
chickory, assisted by a friendly chota-hazri, managed to pull him out …
quite an eventful day!”

“10 P.M.—The body of the ram chikor has just been brought in. It looks
as if it had been dead for weeks, but the doolie, who found it, says
that in this climate a few hours is sufficient to obliterate a body….
Anyhow the head and tail seem all right…. Tom says the proper thing to
do is to measure something—he can’t quite remember whether it is the
horns or the tail, but the latter seems the more remarkable, so we
measured that, and found it to be 3 feet 4 inches.”

“By a little judicious pulling, the chickory, who knows all about
measuring things, elongated it to 4 feet 3 inches.”

“This, he says, is a ‘_Record_’—how nice!”

_Wednesday, April 12._—The place where we tied up was not far from the
point where the Jhelum expands into the Wular Lake—a broad expanse of
water, some seven or eight miles wide in places, which holds the proud
record of being the largest lake in all India.

The mountains rise steeply from its northern shores, and from their
narrow glens, squalls swift and strong are said frequently to sweep
over the open water, particularly in the afternoons. The bold sailormen
of Kashmir are not conspicuous for nautical daring—in fact their
flat-bottomed arks, top-heavy and unwieldy, destitute alike of anchor
and rudder, are not fit to cope with either wind or wave; they
therefore aim at punting hurriedly across the danger space as soon
after dawn as may be—panting with exertion and terror, they hustle
across the smooth and waveless water, invoking at every breath the
protection of local saints.

Long before we had left our beds, and blissfully unconscious of our
awful danger, we were striking out for Bandipur, which haven we safely
reached about 8 A.M. on a still and glorious morning.

Then came the business of collecting coolies and ponies, and loading
them up with the tents and lesser baggage under the direction of Sabz
Ali and the shikari.

By nine o’clock we were off. Charlotte and Jane, mounted astride a
brace of native ponies, led the way, and, in ragged array, the rest of
the procession followed. A quarter of a mile from the landing-place,
clustered at the foot of a steep little hill—a spur from the higher
ranges—lies the village of Bandipur, dirty and picturesque, with, its
rickety-looking wooden houses, and its crowded little bazaar. It is a
place of some importance in Kashmir, being the starting-point for the
Astor country and Gilgit—and here the sahib on shikar bent, obtains
coolies and ponies to take him over the Tragbal Pass into Gurais. A
post and telegraph office stands proudly in the middle of the little
village, and behind it lies a range of “godowns” filled with stores for
the use of a flying column should the British Raj require to send
troops quickly along the Gilgit road.

Passing through into the open country, we found ourselves on a good
road—good, that is to say, for riding or marching, as no roads in
Kashmir are adapted for wheeled traffic excepting the main artery from
Baramula to Srinagar, and the greater portion of the route from
Srinagar to Gulmarg. This road we followed up a gradually narrowing
valley, and over a brawling little river, until at Kralpura the Gilgit
road begins the steep ascent to the Tragbal by a series of wide zigzags
up the face of a mountain. The pass which we should have had to tackle,
had we carried out our original intention of going into Astor for
markhor and ibex, is nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, and is still
securely and implacably closed to all but the hardiest sportsmen. A
short cut, which we took up the hill face, led us through a rough scrub
of berberis and wild daphne (the former just showing green and the
latter in flower) until, somewhat scant of breath, we regained the
road, and followed it to the left up a gorge. As the mountains closed
in on either side, we began to look out for the camp, which we knew was
not far up the nullah. Presently, turning off the Gilgit road, along a
track to the left, we came upon Walter—bearded like the pard—a pard
which had left off shaving for about a week. He was pensively sitting
on a big sun-warmed boulder, beguiling the time while awaiting us by
contemplating the antics of a large family of monkeys, which he pointed
out to Jane, to her great joy.

Tender inquiries as to camp and consequent lunch revealed the sad fact
that some miles of exceedingly rough path yet lay betwixt us and the
haven where we would be.

So we pricked forward, along a sort of cattle track, across dirty
snow-filled little gullies, and over rock-strewn slopes, until the
white gleam of Walter’s tent showed clear on its perch atop of a
flat-roofed native hut.

Crossing the stream which tumbled down the valley, by a somewhat
“wobbly” bridge, and picking our way through the mixen which forms the
approach to every well-appointed hut, we arrived upon the roof which
supported the tent. This we achieved without any undue trouble, the
building, like most “gujar” homes, being constructed on the side of a
hill sufficiently steep to obviate the necessity for any back wall—the
rear of the roof springing directly from the hillside. A Gujar village,
owing to this peculiarity of construction, always looks oddly like a
deposit of great half-open oysters clinging to the face of the hill.

After a welcome lunch, the ladies both pronounced decidedly against
remaining in or near the highly-scented precincts of the village. The
argument that there was no flat ground excepting roofs to be seen was
overruled; so Walter and I climbed a neighbouring ridge, and selected a
site on the crest.

It was not, certainly, a very good site for a camp, as it was so narrow
that the unwary might easily step over the edge on either side, and
toboggan gracefully either back on top of the aforesaid roof, or
forward into a very rocky-bedded stream which employed its superfluous
energy in tossing some frayed and battered logs from boulder to
boulder, and which would have rejoiced greatly in doing the same to a
fallen nestling from the eyry above.

Neither was the ridge level, and our tents were pitched at such an
angle that the slumberer whose grasp of the bed-head relaxed

“In the mist and shadow of sleep”


was brought to wakefulness by finding his toes gently sliding out into
the nipping and eager air of night.

The holding-ground for the tent-pegs was not all that could be desired,
and visions of our tents spreading their wings in the gale and
vanishing into space haunted us.

No—it was not an ideal camping-ground, and Jane, whose rosy dreams of
camping in Kashmir had pictured her little white canvas home set up in
a flowery mead by the side of a purling brook, gazed upon the rugged
slopes which rose around—the cold snow gleaming through the shaggy
pine-trees—with a shiver and a distinct air of disapproval.

It grew more than chilly too, as the sun dipped early behind the ridge
that rose jealous between us and the western light, and an icy breeze
from the snow came stealing down the gorge and whispering among the
taller tree-tops in the nullah at our feet.

We were about 1500 feet above the Wular Lake, and snow lay in thick
patches within a few yards of our tents, and had obviously only melted
quite recently from the site of the camp, leaving more clammy mud about
the place than we really required.

As it is reasonable to suppose that the bilingual lady who composes the
fashion columns of the _Daily Horror_ is most anxious to know how the
fair sex was accoutred at our dinner party that night, I hasten to
inform her that Charlotte was gowned in an elegant confection of Puttoo
of a simply indescribable nuance of _crême de boue_—the train,
extremely décolletée at the lower end, cunningly revealing at every
turn glimpses of an enchanting pair of frou-frou putties.

The neat bottines, _à la_ Diane Chasseresse, took a charming touch of
lightness from the aluminium nails which decorated the “uppers” with a
quaint and original Dravidian cornice.

She carried a spring bouquet of wild onions _en branche_—ornaments (of
course), diamonds.

Every one remarked that Jane was simply too lovely for words, as, with
the sweet simplicity of an _ingénue, en combinaison_ with the craft of
a Machiavella (I beg to point out that I know my Italian genders), she
draped her lissom form in the clinging folds of an enormous habit _de
peau de brebis_—portions of ear and the tip of her nose tilted over the
edge of the deep turned-up collar, which, on one side, supported the
coquettish droop of the hairy “Tammy” that, dexterously pinned to the
spikes of a diamond fender, gave a _clou_ to the entire “_sac
d’artifice_.”

Walter, having already shot two bara singh and a serow, came under the
“statute of limitations” of the Kashmir Game Laws, and had to sound the
“cease firing” as regards these animals; but Charlotte and I, having
“khubbar” of game, started at 7 A.M. in pursuit. She, attended by
Walter and in tow of Asna (the best shikari in all Kashmir), followed
up the nullah which lay to our right, while I deflected to the north.
Having donned grass shoes, I started off up a very steep slope which
rose directly behind the camp. Reaching snow within a few minutes of
leaving my tent, I was glad to find it hard and the going good, the
early sun not yet having had time to soften and destroy the crisp
surface.

Up and up we toiled, I puffing like any grampus—partly by reason of not
yet being in good condition, and partly on account of the height, which
was probably nearly 9000 feet above sea level. As we rose to the
shoulder of the hill the gradient became much easier, and I had leisure
to admire the panorama that stretched around the snowy ridge, which
fell away abruptly on either side through dense pine forests. The day
was quite glorious…. The sun, blazing in a cloudless sky, cast sharp
steel-blue shadows where rock or tree stood between the snow and his
nobility. The white peaks that rose around in marvellous array seemed
so near in the bright air that it seemed as though one could see the
smallest creature moving on their distant slopes. But there was little
life observable in this still and silent world—nothing but an
occasional pair of crows flapping steadily over the woods, or a far
vulture circling at a giddy height in the “blue dome of the air.”
Silence everywhere, except for the distant and perpetual voice of many
waters murmuring in the unseen depths below.

To the south—showing clear above the serrated back of the ridge beyond
the camp—stood the Pir Panjal; pale ivory in the pale horizon below the
sun. At the foot of the valley up which we had come yesterday, and
partly screened by the intruding buttresses of its enfolding hills, the
Wular Lake lay a shimmering shield of molten silver.

In front, the sheeted mountains which guard Gurais and flank the icy
portals of the Tragbal stood, a series of glistening slopes and
cold-crowned precipices, while to the east Haramok reared his 17,000
feet into a threefold peak of snowy majesty.

It was a sight to thank God for, and to remember with joy all the days
of one’s life. Doubtless there are many views as wonderful in this
lovely land, but this was the first, and therefore not to be effaced
nor its memory dimmed by anything that may come after.

The shikari had not climbed the mountain’s brow to waste time over
scenery; so, having apparently gone as far as he wanted on the ridge,
he plunged down among the silver firs to the right, and I, with my
heart in my mouth, went after him. At first it seemed to the
inexperienced that we were slithering down the most awful places, and
that, should the snow give way, I should have to swiftly embrace the
nearest tree to avoid being shot down, a human avalanche, farther than
I cared to think. However, I soon found it was all right. A welcome
halt for lunch brought the tiffin coolie to the front. A blanket spread
upon the hard snow at the foot of a fir made an excellent seat, and a
cold roast teal, an apple, and a small flask of whisky were soon
exhumed from the basket. Water, or rather the want of it, was a
difficulty, for I was uncommonly thirsty, and no sign of any water was
to be seen. A judicious blending of the dry teal with bits of succulent
apple overcame the drought, and the half-hour for refreshment passed
all too quickly.

The men considered it now time to get up some “shikar,” so they
invented a bear. This was exciting! They had separated (there were four
of them) in search of traces of bara singh, &c., and some one found the
bear, or its den, or a lock of its wool—I really couldn’t quite
ascertain which—but fearful excitement was the immediate result.

A consultation took place in frenzied whispers. My rifle was peeled
from its case, and we proceeded to scramble stealthily down a horribly
steep face much broken by rocks. The shikari being in front with my
rifle over his shoulder, I was favoured with frequent glimpses down its
ugly black barrel as I, like Jill, “came tumbling after,” and I
rejoiced that all the cartridges were safely stowed in my own pocket.
Well! we searched like conspirators for that bear, peeped round rocks
and peered into holes, and anxiously eyed all possible and impossible
places where a bear might be supposed to reside, but there was no bear;
and at length we arrived on the bank of the torrent which rioted
noisily down the bottom of the nullah.

I now began to realise that plunging about in snow, often over one’s
knees, and scrambling among the fallen tree-trunks and great rocks
selected by the torrent to make its bed, was distinctly tiring work!

Presently we came to a bridge over the river. It consisted of a single
log, and appeared extremely slender. The stream was not deep enough to
drown a man, but, all the same, a slip, sending one into the foaming
water among a particularly large and hard collection of boulders,
seemed most undesirable, and I stepped across, like Agag, delicately,
carefully balancing myself with a khudstick. The men came prancing over
as if they were on a good high-road, the careless ease with which they
made the passage bordering on impertinence! I reflected, however, that
sheep, and such like beasts of humble brain, can stroll upon the brink
of gruesome precipices without any fear of falling, and my self-respect
returned.

After another half-hour of stiff scrambling I sat down to rest awhile,
leaving the men to spy the neighbourhood. Of course they had to find
something, so this time they found a “serow”—a somewhat scarce beast. I
awaited the coming of the serow at various coigns of vantage where they
said it was bound to pass, while the four men surrounded it from
different directions. Finally, like the Levite, it passed by on the
other side—at least I never saw it. The shikari afterwards informed me,
in confidence, that it was, like the inexcusable baby in _Peter
Simple_, “a very little one.”

We now made the best of our way down the nullah, and when an apology
for a path became apparent I rejoiced greatly, and followed it along
its corkscrew course until the camp came suddenly into view as we
topped a spur, which gave the path a final excuse for dragging me up a
stiff two hundred feet, and then sending me down a knee-shaking
descent, for no apparent reason but pure “cussedness.”

Charlotte had got home just before me, having seen nothing to shoot at.
She, too, seemed anxious for tea!

During the day Sabz Ali had been doing his level best to improve the
position in our sleeping-tent. The camp-beds had stood at such an angle
that it was almost impossible to avoid sliding gradually into the outer
darkness, but S.A. had scraped out earth from the head, and filled up a
terrace at the foot, in a way which gave us hope of sound sleep. Our
things had been carefully stowed, too, and a sort of hole scooped for
the bath. Luxury stared us in the face!

The sunset certainly was a little dull last night, but we were quite
unprepared for the dreary aspect of Dame Nature to which we awoke this
morning. It was raining very heavily, and a dense pall of mist hung low
among the pines, giving an impression of melancholy durability.

There was obviously nothing to do but exist as cheerfully as might be
until the weather improved. The wet had shrunk canvas and rope gear
till the tent-guys were as taut as fiddle-strings; and as it did not
seem to have occurred to any of the servants to attend to this, an
immediate tour of the camp had to be undertaken, in “rubbers” and
waterproofs, to slack off guys and inspect the drainage system, as we
had no wish to have our earthen floor—already sufficiently cold and
clammy—turned into an absolute swamp.

These things done, we scuttled and slid down to the mess tent, and
breakfasted as best we might; and the best was surprisingly good,
considering the difficulties the wretched servants must have had in
cooking anything in their wet lair, where the miserable fire of damp
sticks produced apparently little but acrid smoke.

We passed a dismal day, as, wrapped in our warmest clothes, we sat upon
our beds watching the rain turn to snow, then to hail and sleet, and
finally back to rain again; while the ever-changing wisps of grey mist
gathered thick in the glens, or “put forth an arm and crept from pine
to pine.”

Towards evening the clouds broke a little, and the forest-clad steeps
appeared through them, powdered thickly with new snow. Walter and I
sallied forth from our sodden tents and held a council of war in the
mud. It was decided to quit our somewhat unsatisfactory and precarious
position early to-morrow, if fine, as the weather looked so nasty, and
a squall of wind might have awkward consequences.

_Friday, April_ 14.—A very fairly fine morning enabled us to strike
camp yesterday, and get the baggage off in good time. The Smithsons
decided to make for the jheels near the river, in order to give the
duck a final worry round before the season closes on the 15th.

My shikari having reported a good bara singh in a small nullah off the
Erin, I arranged to go in search of him. The march down to Bandipur was
a short and easy one, and we got comfortably settled on board our boats
early in the afternoon. About sunset the clouds gathered thick over the
hills which we had left, and a thunderstorm broke, its preliminary
squall throwing the crews of our fleet into a fearful fuss, and sending
them on to the bank with extra ropes and holdfasts to make all secure.
An elderly lady, with a dirty red cap and very untidy ringlets,
superintended the business with much clamour. We take her to be the
wife or grandmother (not sure which) of the skipper.

It was with an undoubted sense of solid comfort that we lay in our cosy
beds under a wooden roof, whereon the fat rain-drops sputtered, while
the thunder still crackled and banged in the distance!

We shifted before dawn to a small village a couple of miles to the
east, and at 6.30 Jane and I set out to attack the bara singh, of which
the shikari held out high hope. My wife, mounted on a rough pony, was
able to accomplish with great comfort the two miles of flat country
which we had to traverse before turning off sharp to the right along a
track which led steeply upwards through the scrub that clothed the
lower part of the nullah.

There is something unusually charming in the dawn here—the crisp,
buoyant air, the silent hills, their lower slopes and corries still a
purple mystery; on high, the silver peaks—looking ridiculously
close—change swiftly from their cold pallor into rosy life at the first
touch of the risen sun.

The first part of our day’s work was easy enough. The sun was still
hidden from us behind the mountain flange on our left; the snow patches
on the sky-line ahead seemed comparatively near, and the diabolical
swiftness of the shikari’s stealthy walk was yet to be fully realised.

Up and up we went, first through a thick scrub or jungle of a highly
prickly description, over a few small streams, then out upon a grassy
ridge, up which we slowly panted. The gradient became sharper, and I
began to feel a little anxious about Jane, as the short, brown grass
was slippery with frost—a slip would be very easy, and the results
unpleasant. However, with the able assistance of the shikari, she did
very well, and, having crossed a shelving patch of snow by cutting
steps with our khudstick, we found ourselves, after an hour and a
half’s stiff climbing, on the sky-line of the ridge that had seemed but
an easy stroll from below. The heights and distances are most
deceptive, partly on account of the crystal clearness of the air, and
partly because of the magnitude of everything in proportion. The
mountains are not only high themselves, but their spurs and foothills
would rank as able-bodied mountains were they not dwarfed by peaks
which average 15,000 feet in height above the sea. The pines which
clothe their sides, the chenars and poplars in the valley, are all
enormous when compared with their European cousins.

The view was most remarkable as we gained the crest of the ridge—a sea
of white cloud came boiling up from the valley to the east, and,
pouring over the saddle upon which we stood, gave only occasional
glimpses of snow and pine and precipice above, or the glint of water in
the rice-fields far below. Once, between the swirling cloud masses, the
near hills lay clear in the sunshine for a few moments and revealed a
party of five bara singh hinds, crossing the slope in front of us, and
not more than 150 yards away. Alas! there was no stag.

This was not satisfactory weather for stalking. However I was hopeful,
as I have noticed that in the fine forenoons a thick white belt of
cloud often forms about the snow level—roughly, some 8000 feet above
the sea, or 3000 above the Wular Lake—and hangs there for an hour or
two, to disappear entirely by midday. And so it came about to-day;
after a halt for tiffin, I set forward in brilliant sunshine, while
Jane remained quietly perched on the hillside, as the shikari said the
road was not good for a lady. The shikari was right, as, within ten
minutes of starting, we had to drop from the crest of the ridge to
circumvent a big rock which barred our way, to find ourselves
confronted by a very unpleasant-looking slope of short brown grass,
which fell away at an angle of about 50° to what seemed an endless
depth. This grass, having only just become emancipated from its winter
snow, had all its hair—so to speak—brushed straight down, and there was
mighty little stuff to hold on to! Carefully digging little holes with
our khudsticks, and not disdaining the help of my shikari, I got
across, and thankfully scrambled back to the safety of the ridge.

Now we reached snow, and the going became easier, whereupon Ahmed Bot
promptly set a pace which left me struggling far behind. As the sun
grew stronger the surface-crust of the snow became soft, and at every
few steps one went through to the knees, until both muscles and temper
became sorely tried. For an hour or so we kept climbing up what was
evidently one of the many steep and rugged ranges which, radiating from
Haramok, on this side flank the Wular with their lofty bastions. Having
apparently attained the height he deemed necessary, and got well above
the part of the pine forest in which he expected to find game, Ahmed
Bot turned to the left of the ridge, and we were immediately involved
in the deep drifts which covered the pine-clad slope of the nullah.
Over snow-covered trunks of prostrate trees, over hidden holes and
broken rocks, we toiled and scrambled until, emerging breathless on a
bare knoll—smooth and white as a great wedding-cake—we obtained a
searching view into the neighbouring gullies. Still no sign or track of
any “beast,” so we worked back until, tired and hot, I regained the
place where Madame lay basking beneath her sunshade. The shikari and
his myrmidons departed to “look” another bit of country, while I,
nothing loth, remained to await events in the neighbourhood of the
refreshment department.

On the return of the men, who had of course seen nothing, we set off
for home, climbing down the edge of the ridge where yellow colchicum
starred the turf. It was steep—verging on the precipitous in places—and
Jane frankly expressed her satisfaction when we accomplished the worst
part and entered a dense jungle of scrubby bushes, all of which seemed
to grow spines of sorts. A bear was said to have been seen here
yesterday, so we kept our weather eyelids lifting, but were not
favoured with a sight of him. We had almost gained the bottom of the
hill, with but two short miles to dinner and a tub, when weird shrieks
and whistles were exchanged between our people and an excited villager
below. The shikari, his eyes gleaming with uncontrollable excitement,
announced that the “big stag” was waiting for me at that very
moment!—and therewith Ahmed Bot dashed off down the hill, leaving me to
follow as best I might. Leaving my wife in charge of the tiffin coolie,
I tumbled off after the shikari, whom I found gloating with the
messenger over the inspiriting particulars of the monarch of the glen,
which, I understood, crouched expectant some paltry 2000 feet above us,
near the top of the nullah!

It was past six o’clock, and the light already showing signs of waning,
so we lost no time in attacking the hill again. I was pretty well
“done,” and had to accept a tow from the shikari, and hand in hand we
pressed up that accursed hill until, at seven o’clock, the sun set and
it began to grow dusk. Lying down near the edge of the snow, to gain
breath and let the shikari crawl round and “look” the face of the hill,
I was soon moved to activity by the news that the stag was lying under
a pine tree within a few hundred yards. A short “crawl” brought me
within sight of the beast, who lay half-hidden by a rock. It was now so
dark that even with my glasses I could only make sure that it was a
“horn beast” and not a hind; there was no time to lose, so, putting up
my sight for 150 yards, I let him have it, and was nearly as much
surprised as gratified to see him roll out on the snow to the shot. My
vexation and disgust may be imagined when I found the noble beast to be
a miserable 8-pointer, which I would never have fired at if I could
have seen its head properly. Heartily consigning the shikari, together
with the mendacious villager and all his kind, to a hot place, I
dolefully stumbled away downhill again in the gathering dark, and
finally deposited my weary and dejected self on board the boat, after
fourteen hours of the hardest walking I have ever done.

There is a confused tale prevalent that the bear, taking a mean
advantage of my absence, has been down to the village and eaten a few
ponies, or frightened them—I can’t make out which.



CHAPTER VII
BACK TO SRINAGAR


Easter Day, _April_ 23.—We left the Erin district early in the morning
following the bara singh fiasco, and punted and poled up the river to
join the Smithsons in a last attack upon the duck. We found the bold
Colonel,

“Rough with slaughter and red with fight,”


enjoying himself hugely among the jheels, and we prepared to join in
the fray; but our _chasse_ was put an end to by the discovery that the
14th, and not the 15th, was the last legal day for shooting. So we
packed away our guns and towed up to Srinagar, which we reached on
Sunday afternoon.

Our brief experience of camping and “shikar” had proved to my wife that
she was not cast in the heroic mould of a female Nimrod. Not being a
shot herself—as Charlotte is—she saw that, as far as she was concerned,
a shooting expedition with the Smithsons would entail a great deal of
solitary rumination in camp, while the rest of the party pursued the
red bear to his den, or chased the nimble markhor up and down the
precipices. The joys of reading, knitting, and washing the family
clothes might—probably would—pall after a time; and the physical
exertion of “walking with the guns” in Kashmir is decidedly more of an
undertaking than over a Perthshire grouse moor! Our original
arrangement, before coming out to join the Smithsons, was that the time
should be spent in camping, boating, “loafing,” and shooting. Being
perfectly ignorant of the conditions of life out here, we were unaware
of the fact that it is practically impossible to combine serious
shooting with any other form of amusement. In Scotland one may stalk
one day, fish the next, and golf the third, but out here it is not so.
The worshipper of Diana must be prepared to sacrifice everything else
at her shrine; he must go far afield, and be prepared to live hard and
work hard, and even then it may befall that his trophies of the chase
are none too plentiful. That will depend a good deal on his shikari and
his own knowledge, together with luck.

Walter had the good fortune to come upon two fine stags not far from
his camp almost as soon as he got there. He was within fifty yards of
them as they were moving slowly in deep snow, and he killed them both;
the best of these was a remarkably fine 10-pointer, length of horn 41
inches and span 38-1/2 inches. His wife spent an equal time in the same
neighbourhood and never saw anything.[1]

[1] That lady subsequently killed a remarkably good 13-pointer bara
singh and some bears in October.


When we talked over plans with Colonel and Mrs. Smithson at Pindi, the
general idea had crystallised into a scheme for going into Astor to
shoot, immediately upon our arrival in Kashmir, and, in order to reach
Srinagar before April 1st—the date of issue of shooting passes—we had
struggled hard to make our way into the country before it was really
attractive to the ordinary visitor.

When we did reach Srinagar we found that our friends had abandoned all
idea of an expedition to Astor, partly on account of expense, but
principally on account of the backwardness of the season, which
practically precluded ladies from crossing the Tragbal and Boorzil
Passes for some time. The merits and demerits of the Tilail district
and Baltistan came up for review, and then we almost decided to go to
Leh until we reflected that the return journey over a bare and open
country—arid and hot as an Egyptian desert—in the month of August might
not be unmixed joy, and the Smithsons were assured that they would find
no sport whatever _en route_, but would have to go several marches
beyond Leh to obtain the chance of an Ovis Ammon or Thibetan antelope.

The Leh scheme thus having come to naught, and our friends being still
wholly intent on “shikar” to the exclusion of all other pursuits, we
decided to be independent, so we hired a nice-looking boarded dounga,
whose fresh and clean appearance pleased us, for a term of three
months. Nedou’s Hotel offered so few attractions and so many drawbacks
that we were prepared to do anything rather than return to it, and, as
a matter of economy, we scored heavily, as, on working it out, we found
that the boat, including the cook-boat, would cost 60 rupees per month.
Our food and the wages of those servants whom we should not have
required at the hotel came to approximately 80 rupees per month, making
a total of 140 rupees, or £9, 6s. 8d.; whereas our hotel bill would
have come to 12 rupees per day, without extras—or 360 rupees (£24) per
month—a clear saving in money as well as in comfort.

Our new habitation—the house dounga _Moon_—was owned and partly worked
by Satarah, an astute old rascal, whose “tawny beard,” like Hudibras’—

“Was the equal grace
Both of his wisdom and his face;
In cut and dye so like a tyle
A sudden view it would beguile:
The upper part whereof was whey,
The nether orange mixt with grey.”


His costume consisted of a curious sort of short nightgown worn over
white and flappy trousers, below which were revealed a pair of big,
flat naval feet. The first lieutenant, Sabhana—sleek and civil-spoken,
but desperately afraid of work—was, we understand, son-in-law to the
Admiral Satarah, having to wife the Lady Jiggry, eldest daughter of
that worthy, who, with her younger sisters Nouri, Azizi, and “the
Baba,” completed the ship’s company.

The _Moon_ differed from an ordinary house-boat in being narrower, and
possessing a long bow and stern which projected far enough from the
body of the boat to enable men to pole or paddle with ease; a
house-boat can only be towed. On embarking by means of a narrow
gangway—a plank possessed of an uncontrollable desire to “tip-up” at
unexpected and disconcerting moments—one entered first a small
vestibule, or “ante-cabin,” which held our big boxes and opened into
the drawing-room—quite a roomy apartment, about fifteen feet by ten
feet, fitted with a fireplace, a rough writing-table, and overmantel,
surmounted by a photograph—something faded—of Mrs. Langtry! A small
table and a couple of deck chairs graced the floor, while upon the
walls a heterogeneous collection of pictures, including a coloured
lithograph of a cottage and a brook, a fearful and wonderful portrayal
of an otter, and a very fancy stag of unlimited points dazzled the eye.
The ceiling was decorated with an elaborate and most effective design
in wood—a fashion very common in Srinagar, consisting of a sort of
patchwork panelling of small pieces of wood, cut to length and shape,
and tacked on to a backing in geometrical designs. At a little distance
the effect is rich and excellent, but close inspection shows up the
tintacks and the glue, and a prying finger penetrates the solid-looking
panel with perfect ease.

The drawing-room was separated from the dining “saloon” by a sliding
door—which frequently refused to slide at all, or else perversely slid
so suddenly as to endanger finger-tips and cause unseemly words to
flow. This noble apartment of elegant dimensions (to borrow the
undefiled English of the house-agent) could contain four feasters at a
pinch. Sabz Ali having cooked the dinner, the cook-boat was laid
alongside, and Sabz Ali, clambering in and out of the window, proceeded
to serve the repast, a black paw, presumably belonging to Ayata, the
kitchenmaid-man, appearing from time to time to retrieve the soiled
plates or hand up the next course.

A funny little sideboard and cupboard contained a slender stock of
knives, forks, and glasses, and part of a broken-down dinner set, while
the fireplace easily held three dozen of soda-water.

Then came Jane’s bedroom, fitted with a cupboard and shelves, which
were a constant source of covetousness to me, who had none. A small
bathroom completed our suite of apartments, and, after the bare boards
of the _Cruiser_, the _Moon_ seemed to overflow with luxury.

We have been taking life easily here for the last week. The Smithsons
intend going into Tilail as soon as the Tragbal becomes feasible; we
propose to remain in Srinagar for a while. The weather has not been
very fine—cold winds and a good deal of rain, varied by thunderstorms,
being our daily experience. The spring is, I am told, exceptionally
backward, and, although the almond is in full and lovely flower, the
poplars and chenars are barely showing a sign of life.

My wife having gone to lunch at the Residency this afternoon, I walked
half-way up the Takht-i-Suleiman, whose sharp, rock-strewn pyramid
rises a thousand feet above Srinagar.

The view of the Kashmir plain, through which the river winds like a
silver snake; the solemn ring of mountains, enclosing the valley with a
rampart of rock and snow; the innumerable roofs of the city, glittering
like burnished scales in the keen sunlight, densely clustered round the
fort-crowned height of Hari Parbat, went to make up such a picture as
Turner would have kneeled to.

Of course it is simply futile to compare one magnificent view with
another which differs entirely in kind. All that one can do is to lay
by in the memory a mental picture-gallery of recollection; and as I sat
in the shelter of a big rock, gazing out over the level plain
stretching below, where the changing shadows as they swept by turned
the amber masses of the trees to gold, I conjured up in my mind’s eye
other scenes whose beauties will remain with me while life shall
last:—The purple and gold of a glorious sunset over Etna, the Greek
theatre of Taormina in front of me, with the sea below—a shimmering
opal that melted away in the haze beyond Syracuse; the awful rapids
raging furiously below Niagara, a very ocean tortured and maddened to
blind fury, pouring its irresistible torrents through the chasm above
the whirlpool; and again, a cloudless October morning, with just the
keen zest of early autumn in the air, as I lay high up on a hillside in
Ardgour watching for deer—with the hills of Lochaber and Ballachulish
reflected in all their glory of purple and russet in the waters of Loch
Linnhe, windless and still!

Chills can be caught amidst the most glorious scenery—the little tufts
of purple self-heal at my feet were shivering and shaking in a biting
breeze that swept down from the snows to the north-east, and although I
am an admirer of Kingsley, I do not hold with him in his wrong-headed
admiration for a “nor’-easter”—so I quitted my perch in search of tea.

_Easter Monday_.—The Smithsons scuttled away in a great hurry to-day,
their shikari, Asna (the best shikari in Kashmir), having heard that,
owing to the lateness of the season, the bara singh have not even yet
all shed their horns—so Charlotte is filled with high hope. The bears,
too, are said to be waking from their winter’s doze and poking around
in warm and balmy corners.

Armed to the teeth and thirsting for blood, the hunter and the huntress
cast loose their matted dounga and paddled away merrily down the Jhelum
to Bandipur, thence to pursue the royal bara singh, and later, if
possible, scale the snow-barred slopes of the Tragbal and penetrate the
lonely Tilail Valley to assail the red bear and the multitudinous ibex.

Jane and I having decided that a purely shikar expedition into the more
difficult parts of the country was not suited to our prosaic habits,
remained to enjoy the effeminate pleasures of Srinagar till the weather
should grow a few degrees warmer.

As we are bidden to a sort of state luncheon to-morrow, given by the
Maharajah, it appeared to me to be but right and seemly to go and
inscribe my name in the visitors’ book of His Highness, and also to
call upon his brother, the Rajah Sir Amar Singh. I went with the more
alacrity as I thought it might prove interesting. Strolling across the
big bridge above the Palace, I soon found myself in the purely native
quarter, immersed in a seething crowd of men and beasts, from beneath
whose passing feet a cloud of dust rose pungent. The water-sellers, the
hawkers of vegetables and of sweets, the cattle, the loafers and the
children got into the way and out of it in kaleidoscopic confusion. By
the side of the street, money-changers, wrapped in silent
consideration, bent over their trays of queer and outlandish coins.
Bright cottons and silks flaunted pennons of gorgeous colours. Brass,
glowing like gold, rose piled on low wide counters. In front stood the
Palace, looking its best from this point, and showing huge beside the
huddle of wooden and plaster huts which hem it in.

General Raja Sir Amar Singh lives in a sort of glorified English villa.
Were it not for the flowering oleanders and hibiscus in front and the
silvery gleam of temple domes beyond, one might suppose oneself near
the banks of Father Thames. And were it not for the group of stalwart
retainers at the door, the illusion need not be lost on entering the
house.

The hall and staircase were decorated with a profusion of skins and
horns, somewhat modern and brilliant rugs, and tall glasses full of
flowers closely copied from Nature; while the drawing-room was of a
type very frequently seen near London.

Like so many British reception-rooms, it shone replete with _objets
d’art_, rather inclining to Oriental luxury than Japanese restraint.

My host, who came in almost immediately, was charming, speaking English
with fluency, although he has never been in England.

He is essentially a strong man, and remarkably well posted in
everything, both political and social, that occurs in the state, mixing
far more freely than his brother with the English, towards whom his
courtesy is proverbial.

His elder brother, the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, is in many
respects of a different type. Keeping more aloof from the English
colony, he spends much of his time in devotion and the privacy of the
inner Palace.

On leaving Sir Amar Singh, one of his henchmen conducted me across the
iron bridge spanning a cut from the Jhelum, and into the warren-like
precincts of the Palace; presently we emerged from an obscure passage,
and found ourselves at the “front door,” where, in the visitors’ book,
by means of the stumpy pencil attached thereto, I inscribed my name and
condition.

_April_ 27.—His Highness the Maharajah having invited us to a luncheon
given by him in honour of Colonel Pears, the new Resident, we prepared
to cross the famous Dal Lake to the Nishat Bagh, the scene of the
present feast, which we fondly hoped might recall the glorious days of
the Moguls when Jehangir dallied in the historic Shalimar with the fair
Nourmahal.

“Th’ Imperial Selim held a feast
In his magnificent Shalimar:—
In whose saloons …
The valleys’ loveliest all assembled.”


Our shikara, a sort of canoe paddled by four active fellows, with the
stern, where we sat on cushions, carefully screened from the sun by an
awning, was brought alongside the dounga at about 11.30, as we had some
seven or eight miles to accomplish before reaching the Nishat Bagh.

Leaving the main river just above the Club, we paddled down the
Sunt-i-kul Canal, which runs between the European quarter and the
Takht-i-Suleiman, the rough brown hill which, crowned with its temple,
forms a constant background to Srinagar.

The canal was closely lined with house-boats and their satellite
cook-boats, clinging to the poplar-shaded banks. The golf-links lay on
our left, and on a low spur to the right stood the hospital, which the
energy and philanthropy of the Neves has gained for the remarkably
ungrateful Kashmiri. It is told that a man, being exceedingly ill, was
cared for and nursed during many weeks in the Mission Hospital, his
whole family likewise living on the kindly sahibs. When he was cured
and shown the door, he burst into tears because he was not paid wages
for all the time he had spent in hospital!

Just before entering the waterway of noble chenars, known as the Chenar
Bagh (a camping-ground reserved for bachelors only), we ported our helm
(or at least would have done so had there been any rudders in Kashmir),
and pushed through the lock-gate, which gives entrance to the Dal Lake,
against a brisk current.

This gate, cunningly arranged upon the non-return-valve principle, is
normally kept open by the current from the Dal; but if the Jhelum,
rising in flood, threatens to pour back into the lake and swamp the low
ground and floating gardens, it closes automatically, and so remains
sealed until the outward flow regains the mastery.

A sharp bout of paddling, puffing, and splashing shot us into the
peaceful waters of the Dal Lake, over which every traveller has gushed
and raved. It is difficult, indeed, not to do so, for it is truly a
dream of beauty.

A placid sheet of still water, its surface only broken here and there
by the silvery trails of rippled wake left by the darting shikaras or
slow-moving market boats, lay before us, shining in the crystal-clear
atmosphere. On the right rose the Takht, his thousand feet of rocky
stature dwarfed into insignificance by holy Mahadeo and his peers,
whose shattered peaks ring round the lake to the north, their dark
cliffs and shaggy steeps mirrored in its peaceful surface.

On the lower slopes strong patches of yellow mustard and white masses
of blossoming pear-trees rose behind the tender green fringe of the
young willows.

As we swept on, the lake widened. On the left a network of water lanes
threaded the maze of low-growing brushwood and whispering reeds, and
round us extended the half-submerged patches of soil which form the
celebrated “floating gardens” of the lake. From any point of view
except the utilitarian, these gardens are a fraud. A combination of
matted and decaying water-plants, mud, and young cabbages kept in place
by rows and thickets of willow scrub, is curious, but not lovely; and
our eyes turned away to where Hari Parbat raised his crown of crumbling
forts above the native city, or to the mysterious ruins of Peri Mahal,
clinging like a swallow’s nest to the shelving slopes above Gupkar.

“Still onward; and the clear canal
Is rounded to as clear a lake;”


and we emerged from the willow-fringed water lanes, and saw across the
wider shield of glistering water the white cube of the Nishat Bagh
Pavilion—the Garden of Joy, made for Jehangir the Mogul—standing by the
water’s edge, and at its foot a great throng and clutter of boats,
amidst whose snaky prows we pushed our way and landed, something stiff
after sitting for two hours in a cramped shikara.

Other guests—some thirty in all—were arriving, either like us by boat,
or by carriage _viâ_ Gupkar, and we strolled in groups up the sloping
gardens, which still show, in their wild and unrestrained beauty, the
loving touch of the long-vanished hand of the Mogul.

Down seven wide grassy terraces a series of fountains splashed and
twinkled in the sun. Broad chenars, just beginning to break into leaf,
gave promise of ample shade against the day when the blaze should
become overpowering. So far so good, but the grass that bordered the
path was not the sweet green turf of an English lawn, and the way was
edged by big earthen pots, into which were hastily stuck wisps of iris
blooms and Persian lilac. The topmost terrace widened out, enclosing a
large basin of clear water, in the middle of which played a fountain.
On one side was raised a marquee, revealing welcome preparations for
lunch. On the opposite side of the fountain a profusion of chairs,
shaded by a great awning, stood expectantly facing a bandstand. Here we
were welcomed by His Highness, a somewhat small man with exceedingly
neat legs and an enormous white pugaree, in his customary gracious
manner.

It was now half-past two, and we had breakfasted early, so that a move
towards the luncheon tent was most welcome. Finding the fair lady whom
I was detailed to personally conduct, and the ticketed place where I
was to sit, I prepared to make a Gargantuan meal. Was it not almost on
this very spot that

“The board was spread with fruit and wine,
With grapes of gold, like those that shine
On Casbin’s hills;—pomegranates full
    Of melting sweetness, and the pears
And sunniest apples that Cabul
    In all its thousand gardens bears.
Plantains, the golden and the green,
Malaya’s nectar’d mangusteen;
Prunes of Bokara, and sweet nuts
    From the far groves of Samarcand,
And Basra dates, and apricots,
    Seed of the sun, from Iran’s land;—
With rich conserve of Visna cherries,
Of orange flowers, and of those berries
That, wild and fresh, the young gazelles
Feed on in Erac’s rocky dells..
Wines, too, of every clime and hue
Around their liquid lustre threw;
Amber Rosolli..
And Shiraz wine, that richly ran..
Melted within the goblets there!”


This reckless, but unsubstantial and very unwholesome meal, was not for
us, and while waiting patiently for the first course to appear, I
glanced down the long table to admire the decorations. They were
delightful, consisting of glass flower-vases spaced regularly along the
festive board, and filled to overflowing with tufts and clumps of
flowers. Innumerable plates filled with fruit and sweetmeats graced the
feast, and a magnificent array of knives and forks gave promise of good
things to come.

Presently the expected dainties arrived, resembling but little the
lately-described poetic feast; a strict attention to business enabled
us to keep the wolf from the door, and a very cheerful party finally
emerged from the big tent to stroll by the fountains that flashed under
the chenars.

The Maharajah, of course, did not lunch with us, but held aloof,
peeping occasionally into the cook-house to satisfy himself that the
lions were being fed properly, and in accordance with their unclean
customs.

Finally, he and his chief officers of state vanished into a secluded
tent, where he probably took a little refreshment, having first
carefully performed the ablutions necessary after the contamination of
the unbeliever.

His Highness reappeared from nowhere in particular as his guests
strolled across the terrace, and, after a little polite conversation,
we took our leave and set forth for Srinagar.

It was a glorious afternoon, and we deeply regretted that time would
not permit us to visit the neighbouring Shalimar Bagh, which lay hidden
among the trees near by. The excursion must remain a “hope deferred”
for the present, as we had again to thread the maze of half-submerged
melon plots and miniature kitchen gardens which, even in the golden
glow of a perfect evening, could not be made to fit in with our
preconceived ideas of “floating gardens.” Jane was frankly
disappointed, as she admitted to having pictured in her mind’s eye a
series of peripatetic herbaceous borders in full flower, cruising about
the lake at their own sweet will and tended by fair Kashmirian maidens.

By-the-bye, here let me expose, once for all, the fallacy of Moore’s
drivel about the lovely maids of fair “Cashmere.” _There are none!_
This appears a startling statement and a sweeping; but, as a matter of
fact, the Eastern girl is not left, like her Western sister, to flirt
and frivol into middle age in single “cussedness,” but almost
invariably becomes a respectable married lady at ten or twelve, and
drapes her lovely, but not over clean, head in the mantle of old
sacking, which it is _de rigueur_ for matrons to adopt.

The good Tommy Moore did not know this, but, letting his warm Irish
imagination run riot through a mixed bag of Eastern romancists and
their works, he evolved, amid a _pôt pourri_ of impossibilities, an
impossible damsel as unlike anything to be found in these parts as the
celebrated elephant evolved from his inner consciousness by the German
professor!

As I traversed the main, or rolled by train,
    From my Western habitation,
I frequently thought—perhaps more than I ought—
    Upon many a quiet occasion
Of the elegant forms and manifold charms
    Of the beautiful female Asian.

For the good Tommy Moore, in his pages of yore,
    Sang as though he could never be weary
Of fair Nourmahal—an adorable “gal”—
    And of Paradise and the Peri,
Until, I declare, I was wild to be where
    I might gaze on the lovely Kashmiri.

Through the hot plains of Ind I fled like the wind,
    Unenchanted by mistress or ayah,
The dusky Hindu, I soon saw, wouldn’t do,
    So I paused not, until in the sky——Ah!—
Far upward arose the perpetual snows
    And the peaks of the proud Himalaya.

But in Kashmir, alas! I found not a lass
    Who answered to Tommy’s description—
For the make of such maid I am sadly afraid
    The fond parents have lost the prescription,
And I murmured; “No doubt, the old breed has died out,
    At least such is my honest conviction.”

In the horrible slums which form the foul homes
    Of the rag-covered dames of the city,
I saw wrinkled hags, all wrapped in old rags,
    Whose appearance excited but pity.
Beyond question the word which it would be absurd
    To apply to these ladies is “pretty.”

In the high Gujar huts were but brats and old sluts,
    These last being the plainest of women;
Then I sought on the waters the sisters and daughters
    Of the Mangis—those “bold, able seamen”
(I have often been told that the Mangi is bold,
    And as brave as at least two or three men).

One lady I saw—I am told her papa
    In the market did forage and “gram” sell—
Decked all over with rings, necklets, bangles and things,
    She appeared a desirable damsel;
And I cried “Oh, Eureka! I’ve found what I seek:
    Tell me quick—Is she ‘madam’ or ‘ma’mselle’?”

It was comical, but to this question I put—
    A remarkably innocent query—
I received but a sigh or evasive reply,
    Or a blush from the modest Kashmiri;
And I gathered at last that the lady was “fast,”
    And her name should be Phryne, not Heré.

Toddled up a small tot—her hair tied in a knot—
    Who remarked, “I can hardly consider
You’ve the ghost of a chance on this wild-goosie dance
    Unless you should hap on a ‘widder!’
For our maidens at ten—ay, and less now and then—
    Are all booked to the wealthiest bidder.”

“My dear man, it’s no use to indulge in abuse
    Of our customs, so be not enraged, sir—
No woman a maid is—we’re all married ladies.
    Our charms very early are caged, sir—
I’m eleven myself,” remarked the small elf,
    “And a year ago I was engaged, sir!”


Ah, well! The country is the loveliest I ever saw, and that goes far to
make up for its disgusting population.

Here, indeed, it is that

“Every prospect pleases, and only man is vile.”


We stopped to look at the ruins of an ancient mosque, built in the days
of Akbar by the Shiahs. Its remains may be deeply interesting to the
archaeologist, but to me a neighbouring ziarat, wooden, with its grassy
roof one blaze of scarlet tulips, was far more attractive. Moving
homeward, we floated under a lovely old bridge, whose three rose-toned
arches date from the sixteenth century—the age of the Great Moguls. The
extreme solidity of its piers contrasts strongly with the exceedingly
sketchy (and sketchable) bridges manufactured by the Kashmiri.

In fairness, though, I must point out that, as the bridge in Kashmir
usually spans a stream liable at almost any moment to overwhelming
floods, it would appear to be a sound idea to build as flimsily as
possible, with an eye to economical replacement.

The Kashmiri carries this plan to its logical conclusion when he fells
a tree across a raging torrent, and calls it a bridge, to the
unutterable discomfiture of the Western wayfarer.



CHAPTER VIII
THE LOLAB


_May_ 1.—The pear and cherry blossom has been so lovely in and around
Srinagar that we determined to go to the Lolab Valley and see the apple
blossom in full flower.

We started in some trepidation, for the warm weather lately has melted
much snow on the hills, and Jhelum is so full that we were told that
our three-decker would be unable to pass under the city bridges—of
which there are seven. We decided to see for ourselves, so set forth
about eleven, and soon came to the first bridge, the Amira Kadal, which
carries the main tonga road into Srinagar, tying up just above it, amid
the clamour and jabber of an idle crowd.

The Admiral solemnly measured the clear space between the top of the
arch and the water with a long pole, consulted noisily with the crowd,
yelled his ideas to the crew, and decided to attempt the passage.

Hen-coops, chairs, half-a-dozen flower-pots containing sickly specimens
of plants, and all other movables being cleared from the upper deck, we
set sail, and shot the bridge very neatly, only having a few inches of
daylight between the upper deck and the wooden beams upon which the
roadway rests.

_Ce nest que, le premier “pont” que coute_.

The other bridges were all easier than the first, and we shot them
gaily, spending the rest of the day in floating quietly down the river,
and finally anchoring—or rather mooring, for anchors are, like
boat-hooks, masts, sails, rudders, and rigging, alike unknown to the
“jollye mariners” of the Jhelum—some two or three miles above the
entrance to the dreaded Wular Lake.

This awful stretch of water, so feared by the Kashmiri that his eyes
goggle when he even thinks of it, is an innocent enough looking lake,
generally occupied in reflectively reproducing its surroundings upside
down, but occasionally its calm surface is ruffled by a little breeze,
and it is reported that wild and horrible squalls sweep down the
nullahs of Haramok at times, and destroy the unwary. These squalls are
said to be most frequent in the afternoons, and are probably the
accompaniments of the thunderstorms.

It is only considered possible to cross the Wular between dawn and 10
or 11 A.M., and no persuasion will prevail upon a native boatman to
risk his life on the lake after lunch.

Before turning in, I gave orders that a start should be made next
morning at five o’clock, but a heavy squall of rain and thunder during
the night had the effect of causing orders to be set at naught, and at
breakfast-time there was no sign of “up anchor” nor even of “heaving
short.” An interview with the Admiral showed me that the Wular, in his
opinion, was too dangerous to cross to-day—in fact he wouldn’t dream of
asking coolies to risk it. He was given to understand that we intended
to cross, and that the sooner he started the safer it would be.

No coolies being forthcoming, I inhumanly gave orders to get under
way—the available crew consisting of the wicked Satarah, the first
lieutenant, and the Lady Jiggry. Sulkily and slowly we wended our way
past the wide flats which border the Wular, all blazing golden with
mustard in full pungent flower.

Before entering the lake the Admiral meekly requested to be allowed to
try for coolies in a small village near by. He was allowed quarter of
an hour for pressgang work, and sure enough he came back within a very
reasonable time with a few spare hands, and then—paddling and poling
for dear life—we glided swiftly through the tangled lily-pads and the
green rosettes of the Singhara, and soon were _in medias res_ and
fairly committed to the deep.

The Wular lay like a burnished mirror, reflecting the buttresses of
Haramok on our right, and the snowy ranges by the Tragbal ahead, its
silvery surface lined here and there with the wavering tracks of other
boats, or broken by bristling clumps of reeds and tall water-plants.
Our transit was perfectly peaceful, and by lunch-time we were safely
tied up to a bank, purple with irises, just below Bandipur.

A visit to the post-office and a stroll up the rocky hill behind it,
where we sat for some time and watched a pair of jackals sneaking
about, completed a peaceful afternoon.

_May_ 3.—We were up with the lark, and, having moved along the coast a
few miles to the west of Bandipur, left the ship before six of the
clock in pursuit of bear. I had “khubbar” of one in the Malingam
Nullah, and, after a brisk walk over the lower slopes, we entered the
nullah and clambered up about 1500 feet to a quiet and retired spot
under a shady thorn-bush, where we breakfasted.

We thereafter climbed a little higher, and then sat down while the
shikaris departed to spy, their method of spying being, I believe,
somewhat after this fashion:—Leaving the sahib with his
belongings—notably the tiffin coolie—in a spot carefully selected for
its seclusion, the miscreants depart hurriedly and rapidly up the
nearest inaccessible crag; this is “business,” and throws dust, so to
say, in the eyes of the sahib, by means of an exhibition of activity
and zeal. Passing out of sight over the sky-line, the hunters pause,
wink at one another, and, choosing a shady and convenient corner,
proceed to squat, light their pipes, and discuss matters—chiefly
financial—until they deem it time to return, scrambling and breathless
with excitement, to relate all that they have seen and done.

So, while the shikaris unceasingly spied for bear, for nine mortal
hours Jane and I camped out on a remarkably hard and unyielding stone,
varied by other seats equally tiresome.

Fortunately we had brought books with us, and we relieved the monotony
by observing the habits of a pair of “kastooras,” a hawk, and a brace
of chikor at intervals, but it was truly a tedious chase.

At four o’clock the sons of Nimrod returned, declaring that the bear
had been seen, but that as we had on chaplies and not grass shoes, it
would be impossible for us to pursue him. I asked the shikari why the
—— goose he had let me come out in chaplies instead of grass shoes if
the country was so rough? His reply was to the effect that whatever it
pleased me to wear pleased him!

_May_ 4.—Armed _cap-à-pie_ so to speak, with pith helmets and grass
shoes, we again set forth at dawn of day to hunt the bear. Breakfast
under the same tree, sitting on the same patch of rose-coloured
flowers—a sort of fumitory (_Corydalus rutaefolia_)—followed by another
nine-hour bivouac, brought us to 5 P.M. and the extreme limit of
boredom, when lo! the shikaris burst upon us in a state of frenzied
excitement to announce the bear! Off we went up a steep track for a
quarter of an hour, until, at the foot of a rough snow slope, the
shikari told the much disgusted Jane that she must wait there, the rest
of the climb being too hard for her, and, in truth, it was pretty bad.
Up a very steep gully filled with loose stones and rotten snow,
scrambling, and often hauling ourselves up with our hands by means of
roots and trailing branches, we slowly worked our way up a place I
would never have even attempted in cold blood.

Twenty minutes’ severe exertion brought us to a shelf, or rather slope,
of rock on the right, sparsely covered with wiry brown grass from which
the snow had but very recently gone, and crowned by a crest of stunted
pines. Up this we wriggled, I being mainly towed up by my shikari’s
cummerbund, and, lying under a pine, we peered over the top.

A steep gully divided us from a rough ridge, upon a grassy ledge of
which, about 200 yards off, a big black beast was grubbing and rooting
about.

The shikari, shaking with excitement, handed me the rifle, urging me to
shoot. I did nothing of the sort, having no breath, and my hand being
unsteady from a fast and stiff climb.

I regret to be obliged to admit that, not realising that it would be
little short of miraculous to kill a bear stone-dead at 200 yards with
a Mannlicher, and being also, naturally, somewhat carried away by the
sight of a real bear within possible distance, I waited until I was
perfectly steady, and fired. The brute fell over, but immediately
picked himself up again and made off. I saw I had broken his
fore-shoulder and fired again as he disappeared over the far side of
the ledge, but missed, and I saw that bear no more.

We had the utmost difficulty in crossing the precipitous gully to a
spot below the ledge upon which the beast had been feeding—the ledge
itself we could not reach at all; and the lateness of the hour and the
difficulty of the country in which we were, prevented us from trying to
enter the next ravine and work up and back by the way the bear had
gone. A neck-breaking crawl down a horrible grass slope brought us to
better ground, and I sadly joined Jane to be well and deservedly
scolded for firing a foolish shot. The lady was very much disgusted at
having been defrauded of the sight of a bear “quite wild,” as she
expressed it—a certain short-tempered animal which had eaten up her
best umbrella in the Zoo at Dusseldorf not having fulfilled the
necessary condition of wildness.

Next day I sent out coolies to search for traces, promising lavish
“backshish” in the event of success, but I got no trustworthy news,
“and that was the end of that hunting.”

_May_ 6.—Jane took a respite from the chase, and I sallied forth alone
at dawn up a nullah from Alsu to look for a bear which was said to
frequent those parts. A brisk walk of some four miles over the flat,
followed by a climb up a track—steep as usual—to the left of the main
track to the Lolab, brought us to a grassy ridge, where I sat down
patiently to await the bear’s pleasure. I took my note-book with me,
and whiled away some time in writing the following:—

Let me jot down a sketch of my present position and surroundings; it
will serve to bring the scene back to me, perhaps, when I am again
sitting in my own particular armchair watching the fat thrushes hopping
about the lawn.

Well, I am perched in a little hollow under a big grey boulder, which
serves to shelter me to a certain, but limited, extent from the brisk
showers that come sweeping over from the Lolab Valley. The hollow is so
small that it barely contains my tiffin basket, rifle, gun, and self—in
fact, my grass-shod and puttied extremities dangle over the rim, whence
a steep slope shelves down some 200 feet to a brawling burn, the hum of
which, mingling with the fitful sighing of the pines as the breeze
sweeps through their sounding boughs, is perpetually in my ears. Across
the little torrent, and not more than a hundred yards away, rises a
slope, covered with rough grass and scrub, similar to that in the face
of which I am ensconced.

Here the bear was seen at 7 A.M. by a Gujar, who gave the fullest
particulars to Ahmed Bot (my shikari) in a series of yells from a
hill-top as we came up the valley. We arrived on the scene about seven,
just in time to be too late, apparently. It is now 3 P.M., and the bear
is supposed to be asleep, and I am possessing my soul in patience until
it shall be Bruin’s pleasure to awake and sally forth for his afternoon
tea.

There is certainly no bear now, so I pass the time in sleeping, eating,
smoking, writing, and observing the manners and customs of a family of
monkeys who are disporting themselves in a deep glen to the left.
Beyond this ravine rises a high spur, beautifully wooded, the principal
trees being deodar, blue pine (_Excelsa_) and yew. This is sloped at
the invariable and disgusting angle of 45 degrees. Beyond it rise
further wooded slopes, with snow gleaming through the deep green, and
above all is the changing sky, where the clear blue gives way to a
billowy expanse of white rolling clouds or dark rain-laden masses,
which pour into the upper clefts of the ravine, and blot out the
serried ranks of the pines, until a thorough drenching seems
inevitable—when lo! a glint of blue through the gloomy background, and
soon again,

“With never a stain, the pavilion of Heaven is bare.”


The immediate foreground, as I said before, slopes sharply from my very
feet, where a clump of wild sage and jasmin (the leaves just breaking)
grows over a charming little bunch of sweet violets. Lower down I can
see the lilac flowers of a self-heal, and the bottom of the little
gorge is clothed with a bush like a hazel, only with large, soft
whitish flowers.

My solitude has just been enlivened by the appearance of a cheerful
party of lovely birds. They are very busy among the “hazels,” flying
from bush to bush with restless activity, and wasting no time in
idleness. They are about the size of large finches—slender in shape,
with longish tails. They are divided into two perfectly distinct kinds,
probably male and female. The former have the back, head, and wings
black; the latter barred with scarlet, the breast and underparts also
scarlet. The others—which I assume to be the females—replace the black
with ashy olive, the wings being barred with yellow, the underparts
yellowish. The very familiar note of the cuckoo, somewhere up in the
jungle, reminds me of an English spring.

4 P.M.—I knew it! I knew that if the wind held down the nullah I should
be dragged up that horrible ridge opposite. Hardly had I written the
above when I was hunted from my lair, and rushed down 200 steep feet,
and then up some 500 or 600 on the other side of the stream, through an
abattis of clinging undergrowth that made a severe toil of what could
never have been a pleasure. There can be no doubt but that a pith
helmet—a really shady, broad one—is a most infernal machine under which
to force one’s way through brushwood.

Well, all things come to an end—wind first, temper next, and finally
the journey.

My shikari is a fiend in human shape. He slinks along on the flat at
what _looks_ like a mild three-miles-an-hour constitutional, but unless
you are a _real_ four-mile man you will be left hopelessly astern; but
when he gets upon his favourite “one in one” slope, then does he simply
sail away, with the tiffin coolie carrying a fat basket and all your
spare lumber in his wake, while you toil upward and ever
upwards—gasping—until with your last available breath you murmur
“Asti,” and sink upon the nearest stone a limp, perspiring worm!

5.30 P.M.—That bear has taken a sleeping draught!

I am now perched on a lonely rock, my hard taskmaster having routed me
out of a very comfortable place under a blue pine, whose discarded
needles afforded me a really agreeable resting-place, and dragged me
away down again through the pine forest and jungle; hurried me across a
roaring torrent on a fallen tree trunk; personally conducted me hastily
up a place like the roof of a house; and finally, explaining that the
bear, when disturbed, must inevitably come close past me, has departed
with his staff (the chota shikari, the tiffin coolie, and a
baboon-faced native) to wake up the bear and send him along.

After the first flurry of feeling all alone in the world, with only a
probable bear for society, and having loaded all my guns, clasped my
visor on my head and my Bessemer hug-proof strait-waistcoat round my
“tummy,” I felt calm enough to await events with equanimity.

6.15 P.M.—A large and solemn monkey is sitting on the top of a thick
and squat yew tree regarding me with unfeigned interest. The torrent is
roaring away in the cleft below. Nothing else seems alive, and I am
becoming bored——What? A bear? No! The shikari, thank goodness!

“Well, shikari—Baloo dekho hai?” No, it is passing strange, but he has
_not_ seen a bear. “All right! Pick up the blunderbuss, and let us make
tracks for the ship.”

_Wednesday, May_ 10.—Beguiled by legends of many bears, detailed to me
with apparently heartfelt sincerity by Ahmed Bot, I have been pursuing
these phantoms industriously.

On Monday we quitted our boat, and started upon a trip into the Lolab
Valley. The views, as the path wound up the green and flower-spangled
slope, were very beautiful, and, when we had ascended about 1500 feet
and were about opposite to the supposed haunt of Saturday’s bear, we
determined to camp and enjoy the scenery, not omitting an evening
expedition in search of our shy friend.

Jane joining me, we had a most charming ramble down a narrow track to
the bed of the stream which rushes down from the snow-covered ridge
guarding the Lolab. Here we crossed into a splendid belt of gaunt
silver firs, the first I have seen here; whitish yellow marsh-marigolds
and a most vivid “smalt” blue forget-me-not with large flowers were
abundant, also an oxalis very like our own wood-sorrel.

Emerging from the pines, we crossed a grassy slope covered with tall
primulas (P. _denticulata_) of varying shades of mauve and lilac, and
sat down for a bit among the flowers while the shikaris looked for
game. (I need hardly remark that the noble but elusive beast had
appeared on the scene shortly after I left on Saturday; a Gujar told
the shikari, and the shikari told me, so it must be true.) When we had
gathered as many flowers as we could carry, we strolled back to the
camp to watch the sunset transmute the snowy crest of Haramok to a
golden rose.

Yesterday, Tuesday, I left the camp at dawn, and went all over the same
ground, but with no better success, only seeing a couple of bara singh,
hornless now, and therefore comparatively uninteresting from a “shikar”
point of view. After a delightful but bearless ramble I returned to
breakfast, and then we struck camp, and completed the ascent of the
pass over into the Lolab. Arrived at the top, we turned off the path to
the right, and, climbing a short way, came out upon the lower part of
the Nagmarg, a pretty, open clearing among the pines where the grass,
dotted thickly with yellow colchicum, was only showing here and there
through the melting snow. Choosing a snug and dry place on some
sun-warmed rocks at the foot of a tree, we prepared to lunch and laze,
and soon spread abroad the contents of the tiffin basket.

There is something, nay much, of charm in the utter freedom and
solitude of Kashmir camp life. There is no beaten track to be followed
diligently by the tourist, German, American, or British, guide-book in
hand and guide at elbow. No empty sardine-tins, nor untidy scraps of
paper, mar the clean and lonely margs or village camping-grounds.

The happy wanderer, selecting a grassy dell or convenient shady tree
with a clear spring or dancing rivulet near by, invokes the tiffin
coolie, and if a duly watchful eye has been kept upon that incorrigible
sluggard, in short space the contents of the basket deck the sward.
What have we here? Yes, of course, cold chicken—

“For beef is rare within these oxless isles.”


Bread! (how lucky we sent that coolie into Srinagar the other day).
Butter, nicely stowed in its little white jar, cheese-cakes (one of the
Sabz Ali’s masterpieces), and a few unconsidered trifles in the form of
“jam pups” and a stick of chocolate.

Whisky is there, if required, but really the cold spring water is
“delicate to drink” without spirituous accompaniment.

Hunger appeased, the beauty of the surrounding scenery becomes
intensified when seen through the balmy veil of smoke caused by the
consumption of a mild cheroot, and peace and contentment reign while we
feed the sprightly crows with chicken bones and bits of cheese rind.

Shall we ever forget—Jane and I—that simple feast on the Nagmarg?

The sloping snow melting into little rills which trickled through the
fresh-springing flower-strewn grass; the extraordinary blue of the
hillsides overlooking the Lolab Valley seen through the sloping boughs
of the pines; the crows hopping audaciously around or croaking on a
dried branch just above our heads; and above all, the glorious sense of
freedom, of aloofness from all disturbing elements, of utter and
irresponsible independence in a lovely land unspoiled by hand of man?

The afternoon sun smote us full in the face as we descended the bare
and not too smooth path that led into the valley, and we were right
glad to reach the shade of a grove of deodars that covered the lower
slopes of the hill. The Lolab Valley, into which we had now penetrated,
is a rich and picturesque expanse of level plain, some fifteen miles
long by three or four broad, apparently completely surrounded by a
densely-wooded curtain of mountains, rising to an elevation of some
3000 feet above the valley on the south and west, but ranging on the
other sides up into the lofty summits which bar the route into Gurais
and the Tilail. The mountain chain is not really continuous, the river
Pohru, which drains the valley, finding outlet to the west e’er it
bends sharply to the south and enters the Wular near Sopor.

Perhaps the most noticeable objects in the Lolab are the walnut trees;
they are now just coming into full leaf, and their great trunks, hoary
with age and softly velveted with dark green moss, form the noble
columns of many a lovely camping-ground. We pitched our tents at
Lalpura in a grove of giants, the majesty of which formed an exquisite
contrast to the white foam of a cluster of apple trees in bloom.

It has been so hot to-day that we have stayed quietly in camp, reading,
sketching, and enjoying the _dolce far niente_ of an idle life.

_Sunday, May_ 14.—On Thursday we left Lalpura and marched to Kulgam, a
short distance of some eight or ten miles. Mr. Blunt, the forest
officer,[1] had most kindly placed the forest bungalows of the Lolab at
our disposal; but, as they all lie on the other side of the valley, we
are obliged to camp every night. We have been working along the north
side of the Lolab, as the shikari is full of bear “khubbar,” and as
long as the weather remains fair we really do not much care where we
go! Skirting the foot of the wooded ridge on our right, and with the
flat and populous levels of the valley on our left, we marched along a
good path shaded in many places by the magnificent walnuts and snowy
fruit-trees for which the Lolab is justly famed, until, crossing the
Pohru by a rickety bridge, and toiling up a hot, bare slope, we reached
Kulgam, nestling at the foot of the hills.

[1] Commonly called the “Jungly-sahib.”


After tiffin and a short rest we set forth up the nullah behind the
village to look for (need I say?) a bear. The gradient was stiff, as
usual, and the path none too good. Feeling that our laborious climb
deserved to be rewarded by, at any rate, the sight of game, and Ahmed
Bot having sent a special message to the Lumbadhar at Kulgam directing
him to keep the nullah quiet, we were justly incensed when, having
toiled up some couple of thousand weary feet, we met a gay party of the
_élite_ of Kulgam prancing down the hill with blankets stuffed with
wild leeks, or some such delicacy.

Ahmed Bot showed reckless courage. Having overwhelmed the enemy with a
vituperative broadside, he fell upon them single-handed, tore from them
their cherished blankets, and spilt the leeks to the four winds.

I expected nothing less than to be promptly hurled down the khud, with
Jill after me, by the six enraged burghers of Kulgam. But no. They
simply sat down together on a rock, and blubbered loud and long; we sat
down opposite them on another rock and laughed, and laughed—tableau!

On Friday I went for a delightful walk through the pine and deodar
forests, the ostensible objective being, of course, a bear. Putting
aside all ideas of sport, I gave myself up to the simple joy of mere
existence in such a land; noting a handsome iris with broad red lilac
blooms, which I had not seen before; listening to the intermittent
voice of the cuckoo, and pausing every here and there to gaze over the
fair valley, backed by its encircling ranges of sunlit mountains.

The chota shikari is a youth of great activity, both mental and
physical. He almost wept with excitement on observing the mark of a
bear’s paw on a dusty bit of path. He said it was a bear which had left
that paw-mark, so I believed him. Late in the dusk of the afternoon he
_saw_ a bear sitting looking out of a cave. I could only make out a
black hole, but he saw its ears move. I regarded the spot with a
powerful telescope, but only saw more hole; still, I cannot doubt the
chota shikari. The burra shikari saw it too, but was of opinion that it
was too late to go and bag it. I think he was right, so we went back to
camp without further adventure.

Yesterday we left Kulgam, and followed up a track to a small village
which lies at the foot of the track leading over to Gurais and the
Tilail country. Here we camped in a grove of walnuts, which stood by an
icy spring. Jane and I went for a stroll, watched a couple of small
woodpeckers hunting the trunk of a young fir within a few feet of us,
but retreated hurriedly to camp on the approach of a heavy
thunderstorm. This was but the prelude to a bad break in the weather;
all to-day it has rained in torrents, and everything is sopping and
soaked. The little stream which yesterday trickled by the camp is
become a young river, and it is a perfect mystery how Sabz Ali manages
to cook our food over a fire guarded from the full force of the rain by
blankets propped up with sticks, and how, having cooked it, he can
bring it, still hot, across the twenty yards of rain-swept space which
intervenes between the cook-house and our tent.

_Monday, May_ 15.—The deluge continued all night, and only at about ten
o’clock this forenoon did the heavy curtain of rain break up into
ragged swirls of cloud, which, torn by the serrated ridges of the
gloomy pines, rolled dense and dark up the gorges, resonant now with
the roar of full-fed torrents.

The men are all beginning to complain of fever, and have eaten up a
great quantity of quinine. Considering the dismal conditions under
which they have been living for the last couple of days, this is not
surprising; so, with the first promise of an improvement in the
weather, we struck camp, determined to make for the forest bungalow at
Doras and obtain the shelter of a solid roof. Many showers, but no
serious downpour, enlivened our march, and we arrived at the snug
little wooden house just in time to escape a particularly fine specimen
of a thunderstorm. The Doras bungalow seemed a very palace of luxury,
with its dry, airy rooms and wide verandah, all of sweet-smelling
deodar wood. The men, too, were thankful to have a good roof over their
heads, and we heard no more of fever.

_Wednesday, May_ 17.—Yesterday it rained without ceasing, until the
valley in front of us took the appearance of a lake—A party of terns,
white above and with black breasts, skirled and wrangled over the
“casual” water. It was still very wet this morning, but as it cleared
somewhat after breakfast, we made up our minds to quit the Lolab and
get back to our boat.

Doras has sad memories for Jane, for here died the “chota murghi,” a
black chicken endowed with the most affectionate disposition. It was
permitted to sit on the lady’s knee, and scratch its yellow beak with
its little yellow claw; but I never cared to let it remain long upon my
shoulder—a perch it ardently affected. Well! it is dead, poor dear, and
whether from shock (the pony which carried its basket having fallen
down with it _en route_ from “Walnut Camp”), or from a surfeit of
caterpillars which were washed in myriads off the trees there, we
cannot tell. Sabz Ali brought the little corpse along, holding it by
one pathetic leg to show the horrified Jane, before giving it to the
kites and crows. He has many “murghis” left; baskets full, as he says,
for they are cheap in the Lolab, but we shall never love another so
dearly.

We had a shocking time while climbing to the pass which leads over to
Rampur, the road being deep in slimy mud, and so slippery that the
unfortunate baggage ponies could hardly get along. Jane, who is in
splendid condition now, toiled nobly up a track which would have been
delightful had the weather been a little less hideous.

Reaching the ridge which divides the Lolab from the Pohru Valley, we
turned to the left, along the edge, instead of descending forthwith, as
we had hoped and expected to do. It was raw and cold, with flying
wreaths of damp mist shutting out the view, and we were glad of a
comforting tiffin, swallowed somewhat hurriedly, under a forlorn and
stunted specimen of a blue pine. Then on along a rough and slippery
catwalk that made us wonder if the baggage ponies would achieve a safe
arrival at Rampur.

Crossing a steep, rock-strewn ridge, covered with crown imperial in
full flower, we began a sharp descent through a wood of deodars; and
now the thunder, which had been grumbling and rumbling in the distance,
came upon us, and a deafening peal sent us scurrying down the hill at
our best pace; the lightning-blasted trunks stretching skywards their
blackened and tempest-torn limbs in ghastly witness of what had been
and what might be again.

At last we cleared the wood, and, plunging across a perfect slough of
deep mud, crawled on to the verandah of the Rampur forest-house, where
we sat anxiously watching the hillside until we saw our faithful ponies
safely sliding down the hill.

_Thursday, May_ 18.—The changes of weather in this country are sudden
and surprising. This morning we woke to a perfect day—the sun bathing
the warm hillsides, the picturesque brown village, and the brilliant
masses of snowy blossoming fruit-trees with a radiant smile. And, but
for the tell-tale riot of the streams and the sponginess of the
compound, there was nothing to betray the past misdeeds of the clerk of
the weather.

At noon we set out to cover the short distance that lay between us and
Kunis, where we had made tryst with Satarah. The country was like a
series of English woodland glades—watered by many purling streams, and
bright with masses of apple blossom; the turf around the trees all
white and pink with petals torn from the branches by the recent storms.
Clumps of fir clothed the hills with sombre green—a perfect background
to a perfect picture.

The flowers all along our path to-day were much in evidence after the
rain. Little prickly rose-bushes (_R. Webbiana_) were covered with pink
blossoms just bursting into full glory; bushes of white may, yellow
berberis, Daphne (_Oleoides?_), and many another flowering shrub grew
in tangled profusion, while pimpernel (red and blue), a small androsace
(_rotundifolia_), hawks-bit, stork’s bill, wild geranium, a tiny
mallow, eye-bright, forget-me-not, a little yellow oxalis, a speedwell,
and many another, to me unknown, blossom starred the roadside. In the
fields round Kunis the poppies flared, and the iris bordered the fields
with a ribbon of royal purple.

We reached Kunis at two o’clock, and found the village half submerged,
the water being up and over the low shores from the recent rain. Our
boats were moored in a clump of willows, whose feet stood so deeply in
the water that we had to embark on pony-back! After lunch came the
usual difference of opinion with the Admiral, who seems to have great
difficulty in grasping the fact that our will is law as to times and
seasons for sailing. He always assumes the rôle of passive resister,
and is always defeated with ignominy. He insisted that it was too late
to think of reaching Bandipur, but we maintained that we could get at
any rate part of the way; so he cast off from his willow-tree, and
sulkily poked and poled out into the Wular, taking uncommon good care
to hug the shore with fervour.

Here and there a group of willows standing far out into the lake, or a
half-drowned village, drove us out into the open water, and once when,
like a latter-day Vasco de Gama, the Admiral was striving to double the
dreadful promontory of a water-logged fence, a puff of wind fell upon
us, lashing the smooth water into ripples, whereupon the crew lost
their wits with fright, and the lady mariners in the cook-boat set up a
dismal howling; the ark, taking charge, crashed through the fence, her
way carrying us to the very door of a frontier villa of an amphibious
village. With amazing alacrity the crew tied us up to the door-post,
and prepared to go into winter quarters.

This did not suit us at all, and

“The harmless storm being ended,”


we ruthlessly broke away from our haven of refuge, and safely arrived
at Alsu.

_Friday, May_ 19.—An ominous stillness and repose at 3 o’clock this
morning sent me forth to see why the windlass was not being manned. A
thing like a big grey bat flapping about, proved, on inspection, to be
that rascal the Lord High Admiral Satarah. He said he could not start,
as the hired coolies from Kunis had been so terrified by the horrors of
yesterday that they had departed in the night, sacrificing their pay
rather than run any more risks with such daredevils as the mem-sahib
and me. This was vexatious and entirely unexpected, as I had never
before known a coolie to bolt before pay-day. Sabz Ali and Satarah were
promptly despatched on a pressgang foray, while I put to sea with the
first-lieutenant to show that I meant business. A crew was found in a
surprisingly short time, and a frenzied dart was made for the mouth of
the Jhelum.

All day we poled round the shore of the lake, over flooded fields where
the mustard had spread its cloth of gold a short week ago, over the
very hedges we had scrambled through when duck-shooting in April, until
in the evening we entered the river just below Sumbal.

The towing-path was almost, in many places quite, under water, and the
whole country looked most forlorn and melancholy as the sun went down—a
pale yellow ball in a pale yellow haze.

_Sunday, May_ 21.—All yesterday we towed up the river against a current
which ran swift and strong.

The passage of the bridge at Surahal gave us some trouble, as the
flooded river brought our upper works within a narrow distance of the
highest point of the span, but we finally scraped through with the loss
of a portion of the railing which decorated our upper deck.

The strain of towing was severe, so, when a brisk squall and
threatening thunder-shower overtook us at the mouth of the Sind River,
we decided to tie up there for the night.

This morning we started at four o’clock, but only reached our berth at
Srinagar at two, having spent no less than six hours in forcing the
boats by pole and rope for the last three miles through the town! An
incredible amount of panting, pushing, yelling, and hauling, with
frantic invocations to “Jampaws” and other saints, was required to
enable us to crawl inch by inch against the racing water which met us
in the narrow canal below the Palace.

All’s well that ends well, and here we are once more in Srinagar, after
a trip which has been really delightful, albeit the weather latterly
has not been by any means all that could have been desired, and we have
slain no bears![2]

[2] Can it be that Bernier was right? “Il ne s’y trouve ni serpens, ni
tigres, ni ours, ni lions, si ce n’est très rarement.”—_Voyage de
Kachemire_.



CHAPTER IX
SRINAGAR AGAIN


We have spent the last three weeks or so quietly in Srinagar, our boats
forming links in the long chain that, during the “season,” extends for
miles along both banks of the river. A large contingent of amphibians
dwells in the canal leading to the Dal gates, and the Chenar Bagh,
sacred to the bachelor, shows not a spare inch along its shady length.

Not being either professional globe-trotters or Athenians, we have not
felt obliged to be perpetually in high-strung pursuit of some new
thing; and to the seeker after mild and modest enjoyment there is much
to be said in favour of a sojourn at Srinagar.

Polo, gymkhanas, lawn-tennis, picnics, and golf are everyday
occurrences, followed by a rendezvous at the club, where every one
congregates for a smoke and chat, until the sun goes down behind the
poplars, and the swift shikaras come darting over the stream like
water-beetles to carry off the sahibs to their boats, to dress, dine,
and reassemble for “bridge,” or perhaps a dance at Nedou’s Hotel, or at
that most hospitable hub of Srinagar, the Residency.

Polo is, naturally, practically restricted to the man who brings up his
ponies from the Punjab, but golf is for all, and the nine-hole course,
although flat, is not stale, and need not be unprofitable, unless you
are fallen upon—as I was—by two stalwart Sappers, sons of Canada and
potent wielders of the cleek, who gave me enough to do to keep my
rupees in my pocket and the honour of the mother country upheld!

On May 26th we took shikara and paddled across the Dal Lake to see
something of the Mohammedan festival, consisting in a pilgrimage to the
Mosque of Hasrat Bal, where a hair of the prophet’s beard is the
special object of adoration.

As we neared the goal the plot thickened. Hundreds of boats—from
enormous doungas containing the noisy inhabitants of, I should suppose,
a whole village, down to the tiniest shikara, whose passenger was
perched with careful balance to retain a margin of safety to his two
inches of freeboard—converged upon the crowded bank, above which rose
the mosque.

How can I best attempt to describe the din, the crush, the light, the
colour? Was it like Henley? Well, perhaps it might be considered as a
mad, fantastic Henley. Replace the fair ladies and the startling
“blazers” with veiled houris and their lords clad in all colours of the
rainbow; for one immortal “Squash” put hundreds of “squashes,” all
playing upon weird instruments, or singing in “a singular minor key”;
let the smell of outlandish cookery be wafted to you from the “family”
boats and from the bivouacs on the shore; let a constant uproar fall
upon your ears as when the Hall defeats Third Trinity by half a length;
and, finally, for the flat banks of Father Thames and the trim lawns of
Phyllis Court, you must substitute the Nasim Bagh crowned with its huge
chenars, and Mahadco looking down upon you from his thirteen thousand
feet of precipice and snow.

Half-an-hour of this kaleidoscopic whirl of gaiety satisfied us. The
sun, in spite of an awning, was a little trying, so we sought the quiet
and shade of the Nasim Bagh for lunch and repose.

Returning towards Srinagar about sundown, we stopped to visit the
ancient Mosque of Hassanabad, which stands on a narrow inlet or creek
of the Dal Lake, shaded by chenars and willows in all their fresh
spring green. A little lawn of softest turf slopes up gently to the
ruined mosque, of which a portion of an apse and vaulted dome alone
stand sentinel over its fallen greatness. Around lie the tombs of
princes, whose bones have mouldered for eight hundred years under the
irises, which wave their green sabres crowned with royal purple in the
whispering twilight.

Near by, the mud and timber walls of a ziarat stand, softly brown,
supporting a deeply overhanging, grass-grown roof, blazing with scarlet
tulips. Through its very centre, and as though supporting it, pierces
the gnarled trunk of a walnut tree, reminding one of Ygdrasil, the
Upholder of the Universe.

_May_ 27.—What an improvement it would be if a house-dounga could be
fitted with torpedo netting! Jane finds herself in the most
embarrassing situations, while dressing in the morning, from the
unwelcome pertinacity of the merchants who swarm up the river in the
early hours from their lairs, and lay themselves alongside the helpless
house-boats.

By 10 A.M. we have to repel boarders in all directions. Mr. Sami Joo is
endeavouring to sell boots from the bow, while Guffar Ali is pressing
embroidery on our acceptance from the stern. Ali Jan is in a boat full
of carved-wood rubbish on the starboard side, while Samad Shah,
Sabhana, and half-a-dozen other robbers line the river bank opposite
our port windows and clamour for custom. A powerful garden-hose of
considerable calibre might be useful, but for the present I have given
Sabz Ali orders to rig out long poles, which will prevent the enemy
from so easily getting to close quarters.

_June_ 17.—It is quite curious that it should be so difficult to find
time to keep up this journal. Mark Twain, in that best of burlesques,
_The Innocents Abroad_ affirms, if I remember rightly, that you could
not condemn your worst enemy to greater suffering than to bind him down
to keep an accurate diary for a year.

It is the inexorable necessity for writing day by day one’s impressions
that becomes so trying; and yet it must be done daily if it is to be
done at all, for the only virtue I can attain to in writing is truth;
and impressions from memory, like sketches from memory, are of no value
from the hand of any but a master.

The time set apart for diary-writing is the hour which properly
intervenes between chota hasri and the announcement of my bath; but,
somehow, there never seems to be very much time. Either the early tea
is late or bath is early, or a shikar expedition, with a grass slipper
in pursuit of flies, takes up the precious moments, and so the business
of the day gets all behindhand.

The fly question is becoming serious. Personally, I do not consider
that fleas, mosquitoes, or any other recognised insect pests
(excepting, perhaps, harvest bugs) are so utterly unendurable as the
“little, busy, thirsty fly.” It seems odd, too, as he neither stings
nor bites, that he should be so objectionable; but his tickly method of
walking over your nose or down your neck, and the exasperating
pertinacity with which he refuses to take “no” for an answer when you
flick him delicately with a handkerchief, but “cuts” and comes again,
maddens you until you rise, bloody-minded in your wrath, and, seizing
the nearest sledgehammer, fall upon the brute as he sits twiddling his
legs in a sunny patch on the table, then lo—

“Unwounded from the dreadful close “—


he frisks cheerfully away, leaving you to gather up cursefully the
fragments of the china bowl your wife bought yesterday in the bazaar!

How he manages to congregate in his legions in this ship is a mystery.
Every window is guarded by “meat safe” blinds of wire gauze; the doors
are, normally, kept shut; and yet, after one has swept round like an
irate whirlwind with a grass slipper, and slain or desperately wounded
every visible fly in the cabin, and at last sat down again to pant and
paint, hoping for surcease from annoyance, not five minutes pass before
one, two, nay, a round dozen of the miscreants are gaily licking the
moisture off the cobalt (may they die in agony!), or trying to swim
across the glass of water, or playing hop-scotch on the nape of my
neck.

From what mysterious lair or hidden orifice they come I know not, but
here they are in profusion until another massacre of the innocents is
decreed.

It is a sound thing to go round one’s sleeping-cabin at night before
“turning in,” and make a bag of all that can be found “dreaming the
happy hours away” on the bulkheads and ceiling. It sends us to bed in
the virtuous frame of mind of the Village Blacksmith—

“Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose”


There are other microbes besides flies in Kashmir which are
exasperating—coolies, for instance.

I had engaged men through Chattar Singh (the State Transport factotum
at Srinagar) to take us up the river, and decreed that we should start
at 4 A.M. yesterday.

We had been to an _al fresco_ gathering at the Residency the night
before, and so were rather sleepy in the early morning, and I did not
wake at four o’clock. At six we had not got far on our way, and at ten
we were but level with Pandrettan, barely three miles from Srinagar as
the crow (that model of rectilinear volition) flies.

I was busy painting all the forenoon, and failed to note the sluggish
steps of our coolies, but in the afternoon it was borne in upon us that
if we wanted to reach Avantipura that night, as we had arranged, a
little acceleration was necessary.

Then the trouble began. The coolies were bone-lazy, the admiral and
first-lieutenant were sulky, and the weather was stuffy and threatened
thunder—the conditions were altogether detrimental to placidity of
temper.

By sunset we had the shikari, the kitchen-maid, and the sweeper on the
tow-rope, and even the great and good Sabz Ali was seen to bear a hand
in poling. Much recrimination now ensued between Sabz Ali and the
Admiral, and the whole crowd made the air resound with Kashmiri
“language,” every one, apparently, abusing everybody else, and making
very nasty remarks about their lady ancestors.

At 10 P.M. I got four more coolies from a village, apparently chiefly
inhabited by dogs, who deeply resented our proximity, and at 2 o’clock
this morning we reached the haven where we would be—Avantipura.

This morning I discharged the Srinagar coolies and took a fresh lot,
who pull better and talk less.

How differently things may be put and yet the truth retained. Yesterday
we reclined at our ease in our cosy floating cottage, towed up the
lovely river by a picturesque crew of bronze Kashmiris, the swish of
the passing water only broken by their melodious voices. The brilliancy
of the morning gave way in the afternoon to a soft haze which fell over
the snowy ranges, mellowing their clear tones to a soft and pearly
grey, while the reflections of the big chenars which graced the river
bank deepened us the afternoon shadows lengthened and spread over the
wide landscape. Towards evening we strolled along the river bank
plucking the ripe mulberries, and idly watching the terns and
kingfishers busily seeking their suppers over the glassy water; and at
night we sat on deck while the moon rose higher in the quiet sky, and
the dark river banks assumed a clearer ebony as she rose above the
lofty fringe of trees, until the towing-path lay a track of pure silver
reaching away to the dim belt of woodland which shrouded Avantipura.

That is a perfectly accurate description of the day, and so is this:—

It was very hot—and there is nothing hid from the heat of the sun on
board a wooden house-dounga. The flies, too, were unusually malevolent,
and I could scarcely paint, and my wife could hardly read by reason of
their unwelcome attentions.

The coolies were a poor lot and a slack, and as the day grew stuffier
and sultrier so did their efforts on the tow-path become “small by
degrees and beautifully less.”

That irrepressible bird—the old cock—refused to consider himself as
under arrest in his hen-coop, and insisted upon crowing about fifteen
times a minute with that fidgeting irregularity which seems peculiar to
certain unpleasant sounds, and which retains the ear fixed in nervous
tension for the next explosion of defiance or pride, or whatever evil
impulse it is which causes a cock to crow.

Driven overboard by the cock, and a feeling that exercise would be
beneficial, we landed in the afternoon, and plodded along the bank for
some miles. The innumerable mulberry trees are loaded with ripe fruit,
the ground below being literally black with fallen berries. We ate
some, and pronounced them to be but mawkish things.

After dinner we sat on deck, as the lamp smelt too strongly to let us
enjoy ourselves in the cabin, and the coolies on the bank and the
people in our boat and those in the cook-boat engaged in a triangular
duel of words, until the last few grains of my patience ran through the
glass, and I spake with _my_ tongue.

There is certainly some curious quality in the air of this country
which affects the nerves: maybe it is the elevation at which one
lives—certain it is that many people complain of unwonted irritability
and susceptibility to petty annoyances. And, while travelling in
Kashmir is easy and comfortable enough along beaten tracks, yet the
petty worries connected with all matters of transport and supply are
incessant, and become much more serious if one cannot speak or
understand Hindustani.

It takes some little time for the Western mind to grasp the fact that
the Kashmiri cannot and must not be treated on the “man and brothel”
principle.

He is by nature a slave, and his brain is in many respects the
undeveloped brain of a child; in certain ways, however, his outward
childishness conceals the subtlety of the Heathen Chinee.

He has in no degree come to comprehend the dignity of labour any more
than a Poplar pauper comprehends it, but fortunately his Guardians,
while granting certain advantages in his tenure of land and payment of
rent, have bound him, in return, to work for a fair payment, when
required to do so by his Government, as exercised by the local
Tehsildhar.

The demand made upon a village for coolies is not, therefore, an
arbitrary and high-handed system of bullying, but simply a call upon
the villages to fulfil their obligation towards the State by doing a
fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay of from four to six annas.

I do not, of course, propose to entangle myself in the working of the
Land Settlement, which is most fully and admirably explained in
Lawrence’s _Valley of Kashmir_.

The coolie, drawn from his native village reluctant, like a periwinkle
from its shell, is never a good starter, and when he finds himself at
the end of a tow-rope or bowed beneath half a hundredweight of the
sahib’s trinkets, with a three-thousand-feet pass to attain in front of
him, he is extremely apt to burst into tears—idle tears—or be overcome
by a fit of that fell disease—“the lurgies.” Lest my reader should not
be acquainted with this illness, at least under that name, here is the
diagnosis of the lurgies as given by a very ordinary seaman to the
ship’s doctor.

“Well, sir, I eats well, and I sleeps well; but when I’ve got a job of
work to do—Lor’ bless you, sir! I breaks out all over of a tremble!”



CHAPTER X
THE LIDAR VALLEY


We were glad enough to leave Srinagar, as that place has been
undoubtedly trying lately, being extremely hot and relaxing. The river,
which had been up to the fourteen-foot level, as shown on the gate
ports at the entrance to the Sunt-i-kul Canal, had fallen to 9-1/2
feet, and the mud, exposed both on its banks and in the fields and
flats which had been flooded, must have given out unwholesome
exhalations, of which the riverine population, the dwellers in
house-boats and doungas, got the full benefit.

Jane has certainly been anything but well lately, and I confess to a
certain feeling best described as “slack and livery.”

We had not intended to remain nearly so long in Srinagar, but the
continuity of the chain of entertainments proved too firm to break, and
dances and dinners, bridge and golf, kept us bound from day to day,
until the _fête_ at the Residency on the 15th practically brought the
Srinagar season to a close, and broke up the line of house-boats that
had been moored along both banks of the river.

We had arranged to start with a party of three other boats up the
river, visiting Atchibal with our friends, and then going up the Lidar
Valley, while they retraced their way to Srinagar.

The most popular bachelor in Kashmir was appointed commodore, and
deputed to set the pace and arrange rendezvous. He began by sending on
his big house-boat, dragged by many coolies, to Pampur, a distance of
some ten miles by water, and, following himself on horseback by road,
instituted a sort of “Devil take the hindmost” race, for which we were
not prepared.

On reaching Pampur we heard that the “Baltic Fleet” had sailed for
Avantipura, so we followed on; but, alas! having made a forced march to
this latter place, we found that Rodjestvenski Phelps had again escaped
us and “gone before.”

We consigned him and the elusive “chota resident,” who was in command
of the rest of the party, to perdition, and decided to pursue the even
tenor of our way to the Lidar Valley.

The upper reaches of the Jhelum tire not wildly or excitingly lovely.
The narrowed waters, like sweet Thames, run softly between quiet
British banks, willow veiled. The wide level flats of the lower river
give place to low sloping hills or “karewas,” which fall in terraced
undulations from the foothills of the higher ranges which close in the
eastern extremity of the Kashmir Valley.

It was well into the evening, and the sun had just set, throwing a
glorious rosy flush over the snows which surround the Lidar Valley,
when we came to the picturesque bridge which crosses the stream at
Bejbehara.

The scene here was charming—a grand festa or religious tamasha being
toward; the whole river was swarming with boats—great doungas, with
their festive crews yelling a monotonous chant, paddled uproariously
by. Light shikaras darted in and out, making up for want of volume in
their song by the piercing shrillness of their utterances. The banks
and bridge teemed with swarming life, and all Kashmir seemed to have
contributed its noisiest members to the revel.

Beyond the bridge we could see through the gathering dusk many
house-boats of the sahibs clustering under a group of magnificent
chenars, over whose dark masses the moon was just rising, full orbed.
The piers of the bridge seemed to be set in foliage, large willows
having grown up from their bases, giving a most curious effect. We
marked with some apprehension the swiftness of the oily current which
came swirling round the piers, and soon we found ourselves stuck fast
about half-way under the bridge, apparently unable to force our boat
another inch against the stream which boiled past. An appalling uproar
was caused by the coolies and the unemployed upon the bridge, who all,
as usual, gave unlimited advice to every one else as to the proper
management of affairs under the existing circumstances, but did nothing
whatever in support of their theories. The situation was becoming quite
interesting, and the “mem-sahib” and I, sitting on the roof of our
boat, were speculating as to what would happen next when the Gordian
knot was cut by the unexpected energy and courage of the
first-lieutenant, who boldly slapped an argumentative coolie in the
face, while the admiral dashed promiscuously into the shikara,
and—yelling “Hard-a-starboard!—Full speed ahead!—Sit on the
safety—valve!”—boldly shot into an overhanging mulberry tree, wherein
our tow-rope was much entangled. The rope was cleared, the crew poled
like fury, the coolies hauled for all they were worth, every one yelled
himself hoarse, and we forged ahead. We crashed under the mulberry
tree, which swept us from stem to stern, nearly carrying the hen-coop
overboard; while Jane and I lay flat under a perfect hail of squashy
black fruit which covered the upper deck.

We went on shore for a moonlight stroll after dinner. The place was
like a glorified English park; chenars of the first magnitude, taking
the place of oaks, rose from the short crisp turf, while a band of
stately poplars stood sentry on the river bank. Through blackest shadow
and over patches of moonlit sward we rambled till we came upon the
ruins of a temple, of which little was left but a crumbled heap of
masonry in the middle of a rectangular grassy hollow which had
evidently been a tank, small detached mounds, showing where the piers
of a little bridge had stood, giving access to the building from the
bank. An avenue of chenars led straight to the bridge, showing either
the antiquity of the trees or the comparatively modern date of the
temple.

_June 19_.—Yesterday afternoon we left Bejbehara, and went on to
Kanbal, the port of Islamabad. A hot and sultry day, oppressive and
enervating to all but the flies, which were remarkably energetic and
lively. The river below Islamabad is quite narrow, and hemmed in
between high mudbanks.

Here we found the “Baltic Fleet,” but, knowing that our fugitive
friends must have already reached Atchibal, we held to our intention of
going up the Lidar.

Having tied up to a remarkably smelly bank, which was just lofty enough
to screen our heated brows from any wandering breeze, we landed to
explore. A hot walk of a mile or so along a dusty, poplar-lined road
brought us to the town of Islamabad, which, however, concealed its
beauties most effectually in a mass of foliage. Although it ranks as
the second town in Kashmir, it can hardly be said to be more than a big
village, even allowing for its 9000 inhabitants, its picturesque
springs, and its boast of having been once upon a time the capital of
the valley. The first hundred yards of “city,” consisting of a
highly-seasoned bazaar paved with the accumulated filth of ages, was
enough to satisfy our thirst for sight-seeing, and after a visit to the
post-office we trudged back through a most oppressive grey haze to the
boat. Crowds of the _élite_ of the neighbourhood were hastening into
Islamabad, where the “tamasha,” which we came upon at Bejbehara, is to
be continued to-morrow.

We had a good deal of difficulty in getting transport for our
expedition, as the Assistant Resident and his party had, apparently,
cleared the place of available ponies and coolies. An appeal to the
Tehsildhar was no use, as that dignitary had gone to Atchibal in the
Court train. However, a little pressure applied to Lassoo, the local
livery stablekeeper, produced eight baggage ponies and a good-looking
cream-coloured steed, with man’s saddle, for my wife.

The syce, a jovial-looking little flat-faced fellow, was a native of
Ladakh.

We made a fairly early start, getting off about six, and, having
skirted the town and passed the neat little Zenana Mission Hospital, we
had a pretty but uneventful march of some six miles to Bawan, where,
under a big chenar, we halted for the greater part of the day.

Here let me point out that life is but a series of neglected
opportunities. We were within a couple of miles of Martand, the
principal temple in Kashmir, and we did not go to see it! I blush as I
write this, knowing that hereafter no well-conducted globe-trotter will
own to my acquaintance, and, indeed, the case requires explanation.
Well, then, it was excessively hot; we were both in bad condition, and
I had ten miles more to march, so we decided to visit Martand on our
way down the valley. Alas! we came this way no more.

Little knowing how much we were missing, we sat contented in the shade
while the hot hours went by, merely strolling down to visit a sacred
tank full of cool green water and swarming with holy carp, which
scrambled in a solid mass for bits of the chupatty which Jane threw to
them.

A clear stream gushed out of a bank overhung by a tangle of wild
plants. To the left was a weird figure of the presiding deity, painted
red, and frankly hideous.

We were truly sorry to feel obliged, at four o’clock, to leave Bawan
with its massy trees and abundance of clear running water, and step out
into the heat and glare of the afternoon.

I found it a trying march. The road led along a fairly good track among
rice-fields, whence the sloping sun glinted its maddening reflection,
but here and there clumps of walnuts—the fruit just at the pickling
stage—cast a broad cool shadow, in which one lingered to pant and mop a
heated brow e’er plunging out again into the grievous white sunlight.

The cavalcade was increased during the afternoon by the addition to our
numbers of a dog—a distinctly ugly, red-haired native sort of dog,
commonly called a pi-dog. He appeared, full of business—from nowhere in
particular—and his business appeared to be to go to Eshmakam with us.

As we neared that place the road began to rise through the loveliest
woodland scenery—white roses everywhere in great bushes of foamy white,
and in climbing wreaths that drooped from the higher trees, wild indigo
in purple patches reminding one not a little of heather. Above the
still unseen village a big ziarat or monastery shone yellow in the
sinking sunlight, and overhead rose a rugged grey wall of strangely
pinnacled crags, outliers of the Wardwan, showing dusky blue in the
clear-cut shadows, and rose grey where the low sun caught with dying
glory the projecting peaks and bastions.

In a sort of orchard of walnut trees, on short, clean, green grass, we
pitched our tents, and right glad was I to sit in a comfortable
Roorkhee chair and admire the preparations for dinner after a stiff
day, albeit we only “made good” some sixteen miles at most.

_June_ 20.—A brilliant morning saw us off for Pahlgam, along a road
which was simply a glorified garden. Roses white and roses pink in wild
profusion, jasmin both white and yellow, wild indigo, a tall and very
handsome spiraea, forget-me-not, a tiny sort of Michaelmas daisy, wild
strawberry, and honeysuckle, among many a (to me unknown) blossom,
clothed the hillside or drooped over the bank of the clear stream, by
whose flower-spangled margin lay our path, where, as in Milton’s
description of Eden,

“Each beauteous flower,
Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine
Reared high their flourished heads.”


Soon the valley narrowed, and closer on our left roared the Lidar,
foaming over its boulders in wild haste to find peace and tranquil flow
in the broad bosom of Jhelum.

The road became somewhat hilly, and at one steep zigzag the nerves of
Jane failed her slightly and she dismounted, rightly judging that a
false step on the part of the cream-coloured courser would be followed
by a hurried descent into the Lidar. I explained to her that I would
certainly do what I could for her with a dredge in the Wular when I
came down, but she preferred, she said, not to put me to any
inconvenience in the matter. We were asked to subscribe, a few days
later, at Pahlgam to provide the postman with a new pony, his late
lamented “Tattoo” having been startled by a flash of lightning at that
very spot, and having paid for the error with his life.

A halt was called for lunch under a blue pine, where we quickly
discovered how paltry its shade is in comparison with the generous
screen cast by a chenar; scarcely has the heated traveller picked out a
seemingly umbrageous spot to recline upon when, lo! a flickering shaft
of sunlight, broken into an irritating dazzle by a quivering bunch of
pine needles, strikes him in the eye, and he sets to work to crawl
vainly around in search of a better screen.

Nothing approaches the great circle of solid coolness thrown by a big
chenar. The walnut does its best, and comes in a good second. Pines
(especially blue ones) are, as I remarked before, unsatisfactory.

But if the pine is not all that can be wished as a shade-producer, he
is in all his varieties a beautiful object to look upon. First, I
think, in point of magnificence towers the Himalayan spruce, rearing
his gaunt shaft,

“Like the mast of some tall ammiral,”


from the shelving steeps that overhang the torrents, and piercing high
into the blue. In living majesty he shares the honours with the deodar,
but he is merely good to look upon; his timber is useless and in his
decay his fallen and lightning-blasted remains lie rotting on these
wild hills, while the precious trunks of the deodar and the excelsa are
laboriously collected, and floated and dragged to the lower valleys,
producing much good money to Sir Amar Singh and the best of building
timber to the purchaser.

The road towards Pahlgam is a charming woodland walk, where the wild
strawberries, still hardly out of flower, grow thick amidst a tangle of
chestnut, yew, wild cherry, and flowering shrubs. Overhead and to the
right the rocky steeps rise abruptly until they culminate in the crags
of Kohinar, and on the left the snow-fed Lidar roars “through the
cloven ravine in cataract after cataract.”

About four miles from Pahlgam, on turning a corner of the gorge, a
splendid view bursts upon the wayfarer. The great twin brethren of
Kolahoi come suddenly into sight, where they stand blocking the head of
the valley, their double peaks shining with everlasting snow.

It needed all the beauty of the scene to make me forget that the
thirteen miles from Eshmakam were long and hot, and that I was woefully
out of condition, and we rejoiced to see the gleam of tents amid the
pine-wood which constitutes the camping-ground of Pahlgam.

We sat peacefully on the thyme and clover-covered maiden, amongst a
herd of happily browsing cattle, until our tents were up and the
irritating but needful bustle of arrival was over, and the tea-table
spread.

Pahlgam stands some 2000 feet above Srinagar, and although it is not
supposed to be bracing, yet to us, jaded votaries of fashion in stuffy
Srinagar, the fresh, clear, pine-scented air was purely delightful, and
a couple of days saw us “like kidlings blythe and merry”—that is to
say, as much so as a couple of sedate middle-aged people could
reasonably be expected to appear. The camping-ground is in a wood of
blue pines, which, extending from the steeper uplands, covers much of
the leveller valley, and abuts with woody promontories on the flowery
strath which borders the river. Here some dozen or so of visitors had
already selected little clearings, and the flicker of white tents, the
squealing of ponies, and the jabber of native servants banished all
ideas of loneliness.

About half a mile below the camping-ground is the bungalow of Colonel
Ward, clear of the wood and with Kolahoi just showing over the green
shoulder which hides him from Pahlgam. I was fortunate enough to find
the Colonel before he left for Datchgam to meet the Residency party,
and to get, through his kindness, certain information which I wanted
about the birds of Kashmir.

An enthusiast in natural history, Colonel Ward has given himself with
heart-whole devotion for many years to the study of the beasts and
birds of Kashmir, and he is practically the one and only authority on
the subject.

We were very anxious to cross the high pass above Lidarwat over into
the Sind Valley, having arranged to meet the Smithsons at Gangabal on
their way back from Tilail. Knowing that Colonel Ward would be posted
as to the state of the snow, I had written to him from Srinagar for
information. His reply, which I got at Islamabad, was not encouraging,
nor was his opinion altered now. The pass might be possible, but was
certainly not advisable for ladies at present.

_Friday, June 23_.—We were detained here at Pahlgam until about one
o’clock to-day, as Colonel Ward, as well as two minor potentates, had
marched yesterday, employing every available coolie. The fifteen whom I
required were sent back to me by the Colonel, and turned up about noon,
so, after lunch, we set forth.

Camels are usually unwilling starters. I knew one who never could be
induced to do his duty until a fire had been lit under him as a gentle
stimulant. He lived in Suakin, and existence was one long grievance to
him, but no other animal with which I am acquainted approaches a
Pahlgam coolie in _vis inertiâ_.

Whether a too copious lunch had rendered my men torpid, or whether the
attractions of their happy homes drew them, I know not, but after the
loads (and these not heavy) had been, after much wrangling, bound upon
their backs, and they had limped along for a few hundred yards or so,
one fell sick, or said he was sick, and, peacefully squatting on a
convenient stone, refused to budge.

We were still close to some of the scattered huts of Pahlgam, so an
authority, in the shape of a lumbadhar or chowkidar, or some such, came
to our help, and promptly collected for us an elderly gentleman who was
tending his flocks and herds in the vicinity. Doubtless it was
provoking, when he was looking forward to a comfortable afternoon tea
in the bosom of his family, after a hard day’s work of doing nothing,
to be called upon to carry a nasty angular yakdan for seven miles along
a distinctly uneven road; but was he therefore justified in blubbering
like a baby, and behaving like an ape being led to execution?

The first half-mile was dreadful. At every couple of hundred yards the
coolies would sit down in a bunch, groaning and crying, and nothing
less than a push or a thump would induce them to move. We felt like
slave-drivers, and indeed Sabz Ali and the shikari behaved as such,
although their prods and objurgations were not so hurtful as they
appeared, being somewhat after the fashion of the tale told by an
idiot,

“Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”


Presently we became so much irritated by the ceaseless row that we
decided to sit down and read and sketch by the roadside, in order to
let the whole mournful train pass out of sight and earshot.

Now, I wish to maintain in all seriousness that I am not a Legree, and
that, although I by no means hold the “man and brother” theory, yet I
am perfectly prepared to respect the _droits de l’homme_.

This may appear a statement inconsistent with my acknowledgment that I
permitted coolies to be beaten—the beating being no more than a
technical “assault,” and never a “thrashing!”—but my contention is that
when you have to deal with people of so low an organisation that they
can only be reached by elementary arguments, they must be treated
absolutely as children, and judiciously whacked as such.

No Kashmiri without the impulsion of _force majeure_ would ever do any
work—no logical argument will enable him to see ultimate good in
immediate irksomeness.

It is very difficult for the Western mind to give the Kashmiri credit
for any virtues, his failings being so conspicuous and repellent; for
not only is he an outrageous coward, but he feels no shame in admitting
his cowardice. He is a most accomplished thief, and the truth is not in
him. He and his are much fouler than Neapolitan lazzaroni, and his
morals—well, let us give the Kashmiri his due, and turn to his virtues.
He is, on the whole, cheerful and lively, devoted to children, and kind
to animals.[1]

[1] This is incorrect, the European Residents having frequently
attempted, but hitherto vainly, to induce the native authorities to
curb Kashmiri cruelty.


Here is a story which is fairly characteristic of the charming
Kashmiri.

During the floods which nearly ruined Kashmir in 1901, a village near a
certain colonel’s bungalow was in danger of losing all its crops and
half its houses, the neighbouring river being in spate. My friend, on
going to see if anything could be done, found the water rising, and the
adult male inhabitants of the village lying upon the ground, and
beating their heads and hands upon it in woebegone impotence.

He walked about upon their stomachs a little to invigorate them, and,
sending forthwith for a gang of coolies from an adjacent village which
lay a little higher, he set the whole crowd to work to divert part of
the stream by means of driftwood and damming, and was, in the end, able
to save the houses and a good part of the crops.

When the hired coolies came to be paid for their labour, the villagers
also put in a claim for wages, and were desperately vexed at my
friend’s refusal to grant it, complaining bitterly of having had to
work hard for nothing!

You will find a good description of the Kashmiri in _All’s Well that
Ends Well:_—

_Parolles_. He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister…. He professes
not keeping of oaths, in breaking them, he is stronger than Hercules.
He will lie, sir, with such volubility, that you would think truth were
a fool: drunkenness is his best virtue; … he has everything that an
honest man should not have; what an honest man should have, he has
nothing.


He excels his brother for a coward, yet his brother is reputed one of
the best that is: in a retreat he outruns any lackey; marry, in coming
on he has the cramp.


We had not long sat sketching and basking in the genial glow of a
summer afternoon among the mountains, when it began to be borne in upon
us that the weather was going to change, and that the usual
thunderstorm was meditating a descent upon us. Black clouds came
boiling up over the mountain peaks, and the too familiar grumble of
distant thunder sent us hurrying along the lovely ravine, through which
the path leads to Aru. Only a seven miles’ journey, but ere we had gone
half-way the storm broke, and a thick veil of sweeping rain fell
between us and the surrounding mountains.

Presently we found a serious solution of continuity in the track,
which, after leading us along a precarious ledge by the side of the
river, finished abruptly; sheared clean off by a recent landslip.

We were very wet, but the river looked wetter still, and it boiled
round the rocky point, where the road should have been but was not, in
a distinctly disagreeable manner.

However, Jane dismounting, I climbed upon the cream-coloured courser,
and proceeded to ford the gap. The water swirled well above the syce’s
knees, but the noble steed picked his way with the greatest
circumspection over and among the submerged boulders, till, after
splashing through some hundred yards of water, he deposited me, not
much wetter than before, on the continuation of the high-road, whence I
had the satisfaction of watching Jane go through the same performance.

Hoping against hope that the coolies, by a little haste, might have got
the tents pitched before the storm came on, we plodded on, until, wet
to the very skin, we slopped into Aru, to behold a draggled party
squatting round a central floppy heap in a wet field, which, as we
gazed, slowly upreared itself into a drooping tent.

In dear old England this sort of experience would have spelt shocking
colds, and probably rheumatism for life, but here—well, we crawled into
our tent and found it, thanks to a couple of waterproof sheets spread
on the ground, surprisingly dry. A change of clothes, a good dinner,
produced under the most unfavourable circumstances from a wretched
little cooking-tent, and a fire burning goodness knows how, in the
open, showed the world to be quite a nice place after all.

After dinner a great camp-fire was lit in front of our tent, the rain
cleared off, and I sat smoking with much content, while all our soaking
garments were festooned on branches round the blaze, and Jane and I
turned them like roasting joints, at intervals, until the steam rose
like incense towards the stars.

The coolies, too, had quite got over their homesickness, and were
extraordinarily cheerful, their incessant jabber falling as a lullaby
on our ears as we dropped off to sleep.

_Saturday, June_ 24.—We got away in good time for our short eight-mile
march to Lidarwat. The coolies went off gaily—the day was warm and
brilliant, and the views down the valley towards Pahlgam superb.

We had camped on the low ground at Aru, just across the bridge, but
about half a mile on, and upon a grassy plateau there is an ideal
camping-ground facing down the Lidar Valley, towards the peaks which
rise behind Pahlgam. Want of water is the only drawback to this spot,
but if mussiks are carried, water can easily be brought from a small
nullah towards Lidarwat.

Tearing ourselves away from this spot, and turning our backs upon one
of the most gorgeous views in Kashmir, we plunged into a beautiful
wood. Maidenhair and many another fern grew in masses among the great
roots which twined like snakes over the rocky slopes. Far below, with
muffled roar, the unseen river tore its downward way.

By-and-by, the path emerging from the wood shelved along a green
hillside, where bracken and golden spurge clothed the little hollows,
while wild wall-flower, Jacob’s Ladder, and a large purple cranes-bill
brightened the slopes where happy cattle, but lately released from
their winter’s imprisonment, were feeding greedily on the young green
grass.

I fancy the cattle have a remarkably poor time here in winter. Hay is
not made, and very little winter forage seems to be collected. As the
snows fall lower on the hills, the flocks and herds are driven down to
the low ground, where they drag through the dark days as best they can,
on maize-stalks and such like.

I noticed early in May the water buffaloes just turned out to graze in
the Lolab, and more weakly, melancholy collections of skin—and—bone I
have seldom seen.

Now, however, up high in every sunny grassy valley, the Gujars may be
found camping with their flocks—cattle, ponies, buffaloes, and goats,
working upwards hard on the track of the receding snow, where the
primula and the gentian star the spring turf.

A series of grassy uplands brought us close to Lidarwat, when a sharp
shower, arriving unexpectedly from nowhere in particular, sent us to
eat our lunch under the shelter of some fairly waterproof trees in the
company of a herd of water buffaloes of especially evil aspect.

One hoary brute in particular, with enormous horns and pale blue eyes,
made me think of the legend concerning the origin of the buffalo.

When the Almighty was hard at work creating the animals, the devil came
and looked on until he became filled with emulation, and begged the
Deity to let him try his hand at creation. So the Almighty agreed,
asking him what beast he would prefer to make, and he said, “A cow.” So
he went away and created a water buffalo, which so disgusted the
Creator that the devil was not permitted to make any more experiments.

As soon as the rain held up and the thunder had rolled off up the
valley, we packed the tiffin basket, had one more drink from an icy
spring, and left the shelter of the friendly trees, followed by the
glares of all the buffaloes, who appear to have a decided antipathy to
the “sahib logue.”

We soon came to Lidarwat, passing several tents there, pitched by the
edge of a green lawn, and sheltered by a deep belt of trees. Crossing
to the right bank of the river by the usual rickety bridge, we
continued our way, as the farther up the glen we get to-night, the less
shall we leave for to-morrow, when we intend to visit the Kolahoi
Glacier.

The cream-coloured courser nearly wrecked my Kashmir holiday at this
point, owing to the silly dislike of white folk which he possesses in
common with the buffaloes. As I was incautiously handing Jane her
beloved parasol, he whisked round and let out at me, and I was only
saved from a nasty kick by my closeness to the beast, whose hock made
such an impression upon my thigh as to cause me to go a bit short for a
while.

We camped in rather a moist-looking place, where the wood begins to
show signs of finishing, and the slopes fall steep and bare to the
river.

A rather rank and weedy undergrowth was not inviting, and was strongly
suggestive of dampness and rheumatism. It was fairly chilly, too, at
night, as our camp was some 11,000 feet above the sea, and the little
breezes that came sighing through the pines were straight from the
snow.

_Sunday, June 25_.—A most glorious morning saw us start early for an
expedition to the Kolahoi Glacier. The sombre ravine in which we were
camped amid the pines lay still in a mysterious blue haze, but the sun
had already caught the snow-streaked mountain-tops to our left, and
gilded their rugged sides with a swiftly descending mantle of warmth
and light.

A very fine waterfall came tumbling down a wooded chasm on our right,
and as fine waterfalls are scarce in Kashmir we stopped for some time
to admire it duly.

The track now led out into a wide and treeless valley, flanked by
snow-crowned mountains, and we pushed on merrily until we arrived at
the brink of a rascally torrent, which gave us some trouble to ford,
being both exceeding swift and fairly deep. Luckily, it was greedy,
and, not content with one channel, had spread itself out into four or
five branches, and thus so squandered itself that Jane on her pony and
I on coolie-back accomplished the passage without mishap. For some
miles we held on along an easy path which curved to the right along the
right bank of the river, which was spanned in many places by great snow
bridges, often hundreds of yards in width. We lunched sitting on the
trunk of a dead birch which had been carried by the snow down from its
eyrie, and then left, a melancholy skeleton, bleaching on the slowly
melting avalanche. Some two miles farther on we could see the end of
the Kolahoi Glacier, its grey and rock-strewn snout standing abrupt
above the white slopes of snow.

Behind rose the fine peak of Harbagwan, in as yet undisputed splendour,
Kolahoi being still hidden behind the cliffs which towered on our
right.

Distances seem short in this brilliant air, but we walked for a long
while over the short turf, flushing crimson with primulas and golden
with small buttercups, and then over snowy hillocks, before we reached
the solid ice of the great glacier.

It was so completely covered with fragments of grey rock that Jane
could hardly he persuaded that it really was an ice slope that we were
scrambling up with such difficulty, until a peep into a cold mysterious
cleft convinced her that she was really and truly standing upon 200
feet of solid ice.

The sight that now burst upon us was one to be remembered. Kolahoi
towered ethereal—a sunlit wedge of sheer rock some six thousand feet
above us—into the crystal air. From his feet the white frozen billows
of the great glacier rolled, a glistering sea, to where we, atoms in
the enormous loneliness, stood breathless in admiration. Around the
head of the wide amphitheatre wherein we stood rose a circle of stately
peaks, their bases flanged with rocky buttresses, dark amid the long
sweeps of radiant snow, their shattered peaks reared high into the very
heavens. A great silence reigned. There was no wind with us, and yet,
even as we watched, a white cloud flitted past the virgin peak of
Kolahoi—ghostly, intangible; and immediately, even as vultures assemble
suddenly, no one knows whence, so did the clouds appear, surging over
the gleaming shoulders of the mountain ridges, and up and round the
grim precipices. We turned and hurried down the face of the glacier,
and made for camp, as we knew from much experience that a thunderstorm
was inevitable.

Over the beds of dirty snow, down by the side of the new-born torrent,
which leaped full-grown to life from the womb of a green cavern below
the glacier; over patches of pulpy turf just freed from its wintry
bondage, and already carpeted with masses of rose-coloured primulas, we
hastened, keeping to the left bank of the stream, in order to avoid the
torrent which had so troubled us in the morning, which we knew would be
deeper in the afternoon owing to the melting of the snows in the
sunshine.

We had got but a bare half of our journey done when the storm burst,
and in a very short time we were reduced to the recklessness which
comes of being as wet as you can possibly be.

    “The thunder bellows far from snow to snow
(Home, Rose and Home, Provence and La Palie),
    And loud and louder roars the flood below.
Heigho! But soon in shelter we shall be
(Home, Rose and Home, Provence and La Palie).”


Crossing the river on a big snow-bridge below the point where our old
enemy came thundering down the mountain-side, we tramped gaily through
mud and mire and over slippery rocks until we were gladdened by the
sight of our camp, dripping away peacefully in the midst of the weeping
forest.

The rain, as usual, ceased in the evening. A great camp-fire was lit,
and the neighbouring buffaloes of Gujar-Kote having kindly supplied us
with milk, we dined wisely and well and dropped off to sleep, lulled by
the roaring of the Kolahoi River, which raced through the darkness
close by.

_Tuesday, June 27_.—Being still hopeful of achieving the pass over into
the Sind, we struck camp early yesterday and marched down to Lidarwat,
only to find that the party which we knew had camped there with a view
to crossing, had given up the idea and retreated down the valley; so I
sent a swift messenger to countermand the three days’ supply of
“rassad” which I had ordered from Pahlgam for my men, and we marched on
to Aru. Upon the spur which overlooks Aru we found Dr. Neve encamped,
and proceeded to discuss the possibility of crossing into the Sind
Valley _viâ_ Sekwas, Khem Sar, and Koolan. The Doctor, who is an
enterprising mountaineer, was himself about to cross, but he did not
encourage Jane to go and do likewise, as he said it would be very
difficult owing to the late spring, and would probably entail a good
deal of work with ropes and ice-axes.

This absolutely decided us, our valour being greatly tempered by
discretion, and we camped quietly at Aru, and came on into Pahlgam this
forenoon. The river, for some reason best known to itself, was so low
that we got dry-shod past the corner which had worried us so much on
the way up.



CHAPTER XI
GANGABAL


Friday, _June_ 30.—The last few days have been somewhat uneventful. We
left Pahlgam at early dawn on Wednesday, just as the first
lemon-coloured light was spreading in the east over the pine-serrated
heights above the camp.

The rapids below Colonel Ward’s bungalow, which had been fierce and
swollen as we passed them on our upward way, were now reduced to
roaring after the subdued fashion of the sucking dove; so we hardly
paused to contemplate either them or the big boulder, red-stained and
holy, at Ganesbal, but hastened on to the point where, just before
turning a high bluff which shuts him from sight for the last time, we
got the view of Kolahoi, with the newly-risen sun glowing on his upper
slopes. An hour flew by much too fast, and it was with great reluctance
that we finally turned our back on the finest part of the Lidar Valley,
and sadly resumed our march to Sellar, crossing the river and following
a rather hot and dull road. Sellar itself is not nearly as pretty as
Eshmakam, and we grew rather tired of it by evening, as we arrived soon
after one o’clock, and found little to do or see.

Yesterday we left Sellar and marched to Bejbehara, the hottest and
dullest march I know of in Kashmir. A shadeless road slopes gently down
across the plains to the river. All along this road we overtook parties
of coolies laden with creels of silk cocoons, whose destination is the
big silk factory at Srinagar, small clouds of hot red dust rising into
the still air, knocked up by the shuffling tread of their grass-shod
feet.

In the fields, dry and burnt to our eyes after the green valleys,
squatted the reapers, snipping the sparse ears, apparently one by one,
with sickles like penknives. They seemed to get the work done somehow,
as little sheafs laid in rows bore witness; but the patience of Job
must have been upon them!

The chenars of Bejbehara threw a most welcome shade from the noonday
sun, which was striking down with evil force as we panted across the
steamy rice-fields which surround them.

Hither we came at noon, only to find that our boats were not awaiting
us as we had directed. A messenger bearing bitter words was promptly
despatched to root the lazy scoundrels out from Islamabad, while Jane
and I camped out beneath a huge tree and lunched, worked, and sketched
until four o’clock, when the Admiral brought the fleet in and fondly
deemed his day’s work done.

This was by no means our view of the case, and the usual trouble
began—“No coolies”—“Very late”—“Plenty tired,” &c. &c.

Of course Satarah was defeated, and was soon to be seen sulkily poling
away in the stern-sheets, while his son-in-law still more sulkily
paddled in the bow.

We made about eight or ten miles, having a swift current under us,
before a strong squall came up the valley, making the old ark slue
about prodigiously, and inducing us to tie up for the night.

This morning we slipped down stream to Srinagar, only halting for a
short while to obtain some of the native bread for which Pampur is
celebrated.

The river seemed exceedingly hot and stuffy after the lovely air which
we have been breathing lately, and we quite determined that the sooner
we get out of the valley the better for our pleasure, if not for our
health.

We have been greatly exercised as to how best dispose of the time until
September, for, during the months of July and August, the heat in the
valley is very considerable, and every one seeks the higher summer
retreats. The Smithsons suggested an expedition to Leh, which would,
undoubtedly, have been a most interesting trip, but which would in no
wise have spared us in the matter of heat. Had we started about this
time for Leh we should have reached our destination towards the end of
July, and would therefore have found ourselves setting out again across
an arid and extremely hot country on the return journey somewhere about
the middle of August.

The game did not seem to be worth the candle, and the Smithsons
themselves shied at the idea when it was borne in upon them that there
would be little or no shooting to be done _en route_.

The alternatives seemed to lie between Gulmarg, where most of the
beauty and fashion of Kashmir disports itself during the hot weather,
Sonamarg, and Pahlgam.

Sonamarg, from description, seemed likely to be quiet, not to say dull,
as a residence for two months. One cannot live by scenery alone, and
even the loveliest may become _toujours pâté de l’anguille._

Pahlgam suffered in our eyes from the same failing, and our thoughts
turned to Gulmarg. Here, however, a difficulty arose. It is a
notoriously wet place. We heard horrid tales of golf enthusiasts
playing in waders, and of revellers half drowned while returning from
dinners in neighbouring tents.

We thought of rooms in Nedou’s Hotel, but our memories of this hostelry
in Srinagar were not altogether sweet, and we did not in the least
hanker after a second edition; moreover, every available room had been
engaged long ago, and it was extremely doubtful, to say the least of
it, if the good Mr. Nedou could do anything for us. The prospect of a
two-month sojourn in a wet tent wherein no fire could ever be lighted,
and in which Jane pictured her frocks and smart hats lying in their
boxes all crumpled and shorn of their dainty freshness, was far from
enticing!

Tent existence, when one lives the simple life far from the madding
crowd, clad in puttoo and shooting-boots, or grass shoes, is
delightful; but tent life in the midst of a round of society
functions—golf, polo, with their attendant teas and dinners—was not to
be thought of without grave misgiving.

Sorely perplexed, and almost at our wits’ end, the Gordian knot was cut
by our being offered a small hut which had been occupied by a clerk in
the State employ, now absent, and which the Resident most kindly placed
at our disposal for a merely nominal rent. Needless to say we
gratefully accepted the offer, in spite of the assurance that the hut
was of very minute dimensions.

_Sunday, July_ 2.—Yesterday we toiled hard in the heat to get
everything in train for a move to Gulmarg. Subhana, that excellent
tailor and embroiderer, arranged to have all our heavy luggage sent up
to meet us on the 10th, and from him, too, we arranged for the hire of
such furniture as we might require, for we knew that the hut was bare
as the cupboard of nursery fame.

This morning we set off down the river to keep tryst with the Smithsons
at Gangabal, where we hope to meet them about the 5th on their way back
from Tilail. The usual struggle with the crew resulted, also as usual,
in our favour, and we got right through to Gunderbal at the mouth of
the Sind River, where we now lie amid a flotilla of boats whose
occupiers have fled away from the sultriness and smelliness of Srinagar
in search of the cool currents, both of air and water, which are
popularly supposed to flow down the Sind.

As Jane and I returned from a visit to the post-office along a
sweltering path among the rice-fields, from which warm waves of air
rose steaming into the sunset, we failed to observe the celebrated and
superior coolness of Gunderbal’

_Thursday, July_ 6.—The lumbadhar of Gunderbal, in spite of his
magnificent name, is a rascal of the deepest dye. He put much water in
our milk, to the furious disgust of Sabz Ali, and he failed to provide
the coolies I had ordered; I therefore reported him to Chattar Singh,
and sent my messengers forth, like another Lars Porsena, to catch
coolies.

This was early on Tuesday morning, and a sufficient number of ponies
and coolies having been got together by 5.30, we started.

I may here note that, owing to a confusion between _Gunderbal_ (the
port, so to speak, of the Sind Valley, and route to Leh and Thibet) and
_Gangabal_, a lake lying some 12,000 feet above the sea behind Haramok,
our arrangement to meet the Smithsons at Gangabal was altered by a
letter from them announcing their imminent arrival at Gunderbal! This
was perturbing, but as the mistake was not ours, we decided not to
allow ourselves to be baulked of a trip for which we had surrendered an
expedition to Shisha Nag, beyond Pahlgam.

The lower part of the Sind Valley is in nowise interesting; the way was
both tedious and hot, and we rejoiced greatly when, having crossed the
Sind River, we found a lovely spring and halted for tiffin. After an
hour’s rest we followed the main road a little farther, and then,
passing the mouth of the Chittagul Nullah, turned up the Wangat Valley.
The scenery became finer, and the last hour’s march along a steep
mountain-side, with the Wangat River far below on our right, was a
great improvement on what we had left behind us.

The little village of Wangat, perched upon a steep spur above the
river, was woefully deficient of anything like a good camping-ground.
We finally selected a small bare rice patch, which, though extremely
“knubbly,” had the merits of being almost level, moderately remote from
the village and its smells, and quite close to a perfect spring.

Yesterday we achieved a really early start, leaving Wangat at 4.15, the
path being weirdly illuminated by extempore torches made of pine-wood
which the shikari had prepared. A moderately level march of some three
miles brought us to the ruined temples of Vernag and the beginning of
our work, for here the path, turning sharply to the left, led us
inexorably up the almost precipitous face of the mountain by means of
short zigzags.

It was a stiff pull. The sun was now peering triumphantly over the
hills on the far side of the valley, and the path was (an extraordinary
thing in Kashmir) excessively dusty. Up and on we panted, Jane partly
supported by having the bight of the shikari’s puggaree round her waist
while he towed her by the ends.

There was no relaxation of the steep gradient, no water, and no shade,
and the height to be surmounted was 4000 feet.

If the longest lane has a turning, so the highest hill has a top, and
we came at last to the blissful point where the path deigned to assume
an approach to the horizontal, and led us to the most delightful spring
in Kashmir! The water, ice-cold and clear, gushes out of a crevice in
the rock, and with the joy of wandering Israelites we threw ourselves
on the ground, basked in the glorious mountain air, and shouted for the
tiffin basket.

Only the faithful “Yellow Bag” was forthcoming, the tiffin coolie being
still “hull down,” and from its varied contents we extracted the only
edibles, apricots and rock cakes.

Never have we enjoyed any meal more than that somewhat light breakfast,
washed down by water which was a pure joy to drink.

Alas! There were but two rock cakes apiece! Another half-hour’s
clamber, along a pretty rough track, brought us to a point whence we
looked down a long green slope to our destination, Tronkol—a few Gujar
huts, indistinct amidst a clump of very ancient birch-trees, standing
out as a sort of oasis among the bare and boulder-strewn slopes.

The view was superb. To the right, the mountain-side fell steeply to
where, in the depths of the Wangat Nullah, a tiny white thread marked
the river foaming 4000 feet below, and beyond rose a jagged range of
spires and pinnacles, snow lying white at the bases of the dark
precipices. “These are the savage wilds” which bar the route from the
Wangat into Tilail and the Upper Sind.

Over Tronkol, bare uplands, rising wave above wave, shut out the view
of Gangabal and the track over into the Erin Nullah and down to
Bandipur.

On our left towered the bastions of Haramok, his snow-crowned head
rising grimly into the clear blue sky.

We pitched our camp at Tronkol about two o’clock, on a green level some
little way beyond the Gujar huts, and just above a stream which picked
its riotous way along a bed of enormous boulders, sheltered to a
certain extent by a fringe of hoary birches.

We had never beheld such great birches as these, many of them, alas!
mere skeletons of former grandeur, whose whitening limbs speak
eloquently of a hundred years of ceaseless struggle with storm and
tempest.

I saw no young ones springing up to replace these dying warriors. The
Gujars and their buffaloes probably prevent any youthful green thing
from growing. It seems a pity.

Towards evening we observed baggage ponies approaching, and at the
sight we felt aggrieved; for, in our colossal selfishness, we fancied
that Tronkol was ours, and ours alone. A small tent was pitched, and
presently to our surly eyes appeared a lonely lady, who proceeded
solemnly to play Patience in front of it while her dinner was being got
ready.

A visit of ceremony, and an invitation to share our “irishystoo” and
camp-fire, brought Mrs. Locock across, and we made the acquaintance of
a lady well known for her prowess as a shikari throughout Kashmir—

“There hunted ‘she’ the walrus, the narwal, and the seal.
    Ah! ’twas a noble game,
    And, like the lightning’s flame;
Flew our harpoons of steel”


I cannot resist the quotation, but I do not really think Mrs. Locock
hunts walruses in Kashmir, and I know she doesn’t use a harpoon. No
matter, she proved a cheery and delightful companion, and we entirely
forgave her for coming to Tronkol and poaching on our preserves.

We were extremely amused at the surprise she expressed at Jane’s feat
in climbing from Wangat. Evidently Jane’s reputation is not that of a
bullock-workman in Srinagar!

This morning we all three went to see Lake Gangabal. An easy path leads
over some three or four miles of rolling down to our destination, which
is one of a whole chain of lakes—or rather tarns—which lie under the
northern slopes of Haramok.

We came first upon a small piece of water, lying blue and still in the
morning sun, and from which a noisy stream poured forth its glacier
water. This we had a good deal of trouble in crossing, the ladies being
borne on the broad backs of coolies, in attitudes more quaint than
graceful. A second and deeper stream being safely forded, we climbed a
low ridge to find Gangabad stretched before us—a smooth plane of
turquoise blue and pale icy green, beneath the dark ramparts of
Haramok, whose “eagle-baffling” crags and glittering glaciers rose six
thousand sheer feet above. In the foreground the earth, still brown,
and only just released from its long winter covering of snow, bore
masses of small golden ranunculus and rose-hued primulas.

An extraordinary sense of silence and solitude filled one—no birds or
beasts were visible, and only the tinkle of tiny rills running down to
the lake, and the distant clamour of the infant river, broke, or rather
accentuated, the loneliness of the scene.

We had brought breakfast with us, and after eating it we made haste to
recross the two rivers, because, troublesome as they were to ford in
the morning, they would certainly grow worse with every hour of
ice-melting sunshine.

Once more on the camp side, however, we strolled along in leisurely
mood, staying to lunch on top of the ridge overlooking Tronkol. I left
the ladies then to find their leisurely way back among the flowery
hollows, and made for a peak overlooking the head of the Chittagul
Nullah. A sharp climb up broken rocks and over snow slopes brought me
to the top, a point some 13,500 feet above the sea. In front of me
Haramok, seamed with snow-filled gullies, still towered far above;
immediately below, the saddle—brown, bare earth, snow-streaked—divided
the Chittagul Nullah from Tronkol. Far away down the valley the Sind
River gleamed like a silver thread in the afternoon light, and beyond,
the Wular lay a pale haze in the distance.

To the northward rose the fantastic range of peaks that overhang the
Wangat gorge, and almost below my feet, at a depth of some 1500 feet,
lay a sombre lakelet, steely dark and still, in the shadow of the ridge
upon which I sat.

The sun was going down fast into a fleecy bed of clouds, amid which I
knew that Nanga Parbat lay swathed from sight. To see that mountain
monarch had been the chief object of my climb, so, recognising that the
sight of him was a hope deferred, I made haste to scramble down to the
tarn below, stopping here and there to fill my pith hat with wild
rhubarb, and to pick or admire the new and always fascinating wild
flowers as I passed. Large-flowered, white anemones; tiny gentian, with
vivid small blue blossoms; loose-flowered, purple primulas, and many
strange and novel blossoms starred the grassy patches, or filled the
rocky crevices with abundant beauty.

By the lake side the moisture-loving, rose-coloured primula reappeared
in masses, and as I followed down its outgoing stream towards the camp,
I waded through a tangle of columbine, white and blue; a great purple
salvia, arnica, and a profusion of varied flowers in rampant bloom.

_Saturday, July_ 8.—An early start homewards yesterday, in the cold
dawn, rewarded us by the sight of the first beams of the rising sun
lighting up the threefold head of Haramok with an unspeakable glory, as
we crossed the open boulder-strewn uplands, before descending into the
nullah, which lay below us still wrapped in a mysterious purple haze.
The downward zigzags, with their uncompromising steepness, proved
almost as tiring as the ascent had been, and we were more than ready
for breakfast by the time we reached the ruined temples of Vernag.

These temples, built probably about the beginning of the eighth
century, are, like all the others which I have seen in Kashmir, small,
and somewhat uninteresting, except to the archaeologist. They consist,
invariably, of a “cella” containing the object of veneration, the
lingam, surmounted by a high-pitched conical stone roof. In structure
they show apparently signs of Greek influence in the doorways, and the
triangular pediments above them. Phallic worship would seem to have
been always confined to these temples, with ophiolatry—the nagas or
water-snake deities being accommodated in sacred tanks, in the midst of
which the early Kashmir temples were usually placed.

Any one who wishes to study the temple architecture of Kashmir cannot
do better than read Fergusson’s _Indian Architecture_, wherein he will
find all the information he wants.

To the ordinary “man in the street” the ancient buildings of Kashmir do
not appeal, either by their aesthetic value or by the dignity of size.
Martand, the greatest, and probably the finest, both in point of
grandeur and of situation, I regret to say, I did not see; but the
temples at Bhanyar, Pandrettan, and Wangat resemble one another closely
in design and general insignificance. The position of the Wangat ruins,
embosomed in the wild tangle

“Of a steep wilderness, whose airy sides
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,
Access denied; and overhead up grew
Insuperable height of loftiest shade,
Cedar, and pine, and fir,”


and seated at the base of a solemn circle of mountains, gives the group
of tottering shrines a picturesqueness and importance which I cannot
concede that they would otherwise have had.

I do not remember ever to have seen it noted that all buildings which
are impressive by the mere majesty of size are to be found in plains
and not in mountainous countries. This is probably due to two causes.
The one being the denser population of the fat plains, whereby a
greater concourse of builders and of worshippers would be sustained,
and the other being the—probably unconscious—instinct which debarred
the architect from attempting to vie with nature in the mountains and
impel him to work out his most majestic designs amid wide and level
horizons.

The fact remains, whatever may be the cause, that architecture has
never been advanced much beyond the mere domestic in very mountainous
regions, with the exception of the mediaeval strongholds, which formed
the nucleus of every town or village, where a _point d’appui_ was
required against invasion, for the protection of the community.

Breakfast, followed by a prowl among the ruins and a short space for
sketching, gave the sun time to pour his beams with quite unpleasant
insistence into the confined fold in the hills, where we began to gasp
until the ladies mounted their ponies, and we took our way down the
valley, crossing the river below Wangat, and keeping along the left
bank to Vernaboug, where we camped, the only incident of any importance
being the sad loss of Jane’s field-glasses, which, carried by her syce
in a boot-bag, were dropped in a stream by that idiot while crossing,
he having lost his footing in a pool, and, clutching wildly at the
pony’s reins, let go the precious binoculars.

This morning we were up betimes, Mrs. Locock having ordained a bear
“honk”! This was, to me, a new departure in shikar, and truly it was
amusing to see the shikari, bursting with importance, mustering the
forty half-naked coolies whom he had collected to beat. A couple of men
with tom-toms slung round their necks completed the party, which
marched in straggling procession out of the village at dawn.

A mile of easy walking brought us to the rough jungly cliffs, seamed
with transverse nullahs, narrow and steep, which bordered the river.
Here we were placed in passes, with great caution and mystery, by the
shikari and his chief-of-the-staff—the “oldest inhabitant” of
Vernaboug; and here we sat in the morning stillness until a distant
clamour and the faint beating of tom-toms afar off made us sit up more
warily, and watch eagerly for the expected bear.

The yells increase, and the tom-toms, vigorously banged, seem
calculated to fuss any self-respecting bear into fits. We watch a
narrow space between two bushes some dozen yards away, and see that the
Mannlicher across our knees and the smooth-bore, ball loaded in the
right and chokeless barrel, lie handy for instant use.

Hidden in the dense jungle, some hundred yards below, sits Mrs. Locock
on the matted top of a hazel, while Jane, chittering with suppressed
excitement, crouches a few paces behind me.

The beaters approach, and pandemonium reigns. A few scared birds dart
past, but no bear comes; and when the first brown body shows among the
brushwood we shout to stop the uproar, and all move on to another beat.

Four “honks” produced nothing, so far as I was concerned; but a
bear—according to her shikari—passed close by Mrs. Locock, so thickly
screened by jungle that she couldn’t see it. This may be so, but
Kashmir shikaris have remarkably vivid imaginations.

After a delightful morning to all parties concerned—for we were much
amused, the coolies were adequately paid, and the bear wasn’t
worried—we returned to breakfast, and then marched fifteen hot miles
into Gunderbal, where we found the Smithsons, with whom we dined. They
have been in Gurais and the Tilail district ever since they left
Srinagar on the 24th April, and have had an adventurous and difficult
time, with plenty of snow and torrents and avalanches, but somewhat
poor sport.

This is not according to one’s preconceived ideas of shikar in Kashmir,
as they went into a nullah which no sahib had penetrated for five
years; they had the best shikari in Kashmir (he said it, and he ought
to know); they worked very hard, and their bag consisted of one or two
moderate ibex and a red bear.

_Tuesday, July_ 11.—On Sunday morning the combined fleet sailed for
Palhallan. The Smithsons had a “matted dounga,” and she “walked away”
from our heavier ark down the winding Sind at a great pace. We reached
Shadipur at 11 A.M., but the Smithsons had “gone before,” so, crossing
the Jhelum, we made after them in hot pursuit, and reached them and
Palhallan at sunset.

A narrow canal, bordered by low swampy marshland, allowed us to get
within a mile of the village and tie up among the shallows, whereupon
the mosquitoes gathered from far and near, and fell upon us.

The final packing, effected amid a hungry crowd of little piping
fiends, was a veritable nightmare, and yesterday morning we rescued our
mangled remains from the enemy, and, having paid off our boats,
hurriedly clambered on to the ponies which had come—late, as usual—from
Palhallan to convey what was left by the mosquitoes to Gulmarg.

The unfortunate Jane—always a popular person—is especially so with
insects; and if there is a flea or a mosquito anywhere within range it
immediately rushes to her.

She paid dearly for her fatal gift of attractiveness at Palhallan—her
eyes, usually so keen, being what is vulgarly termed “bunged up,” and
every vulnerable spot in like piteous plight!

We quitted Palhallan as the Lot family quitted Sodom and Gomorrah, but
with no lingering tendency to look backward; we cast our eyes unto the
hills, and kicked the best pace we could out of our “tattoos,” halting
for breakfast soon after crossing the hot, white road which runs from
Baramula to Srinagar.

As we left the steamy valley and wound up a rapidly ascending path
among the lower fringes and outliers of the forest our spirits rose,
and by the time we had clambered up the last stiff pull and emerged
from the darkly-wooded track into the little clearing, where perches
the village of Babamarishi, we were positively cheerful.

Once more the air was fresh and buoyant, the spring water was cool and
“delicate to drink,” and from our tents we could look out over the
valley lying dim in a yellow heat-haze far below.

Babamarishi is a picturesquely-grouped collection of the usual
rickety-looking wooden huts, no dirtier, but perhaps noisier than
usual, owing to the presence of a very holy ziarat much frequented by
loudly conversational devotees. We spent the crisp, warm afternoon
peacefully stretched on the sloping sward in front of our tents, and
making the acquaintance of the only good thing that came out of
Palhallan—a charming quartette of young geese which Sabz Ali had bought
and brought.

These delightful birds evinced the most perfect friendliness and
confidence in us, and we became greatly attached to them. They and the
fowls seemed excellent travellers, and after a long day’s march would
come up smiling, like the jackdaw of Rheims, “not a penny the worse.”

This morning we had but a short and easy march from Babamarishi to
Gulmarg, along a good road, through a fine forest of silver fir.



CHAPTER XII
GULMARG


Somehow one’s preconceived ideas of a place are almost always quite
wrong, and so Gulmarg seemed quite different from what I had expected.
It seemed all twisted the wrong way, and was really quite unlike the
place which my imagination had evolved.

Turning through a narrow gap, we found ourselves facing a wide, green,
undulating valley completely surrounded by dense fir forest. Beyond, to
the left, rose the sloping bulk of Apharwat, one of the range of the
Pir Panjal; while to the right low, wooded hillocks bounded the valley
and fell, on their outward flanks, to the Kashmir plain.

Immediately in front of us a small village or bazaar swarmed with
native life, and sloped down to a stream which wound through the
hollows.

All round the edge of the forest a continuous ring of wooden huts and
white tents showed that the “sahib” on holiday intent had marked
Gulmarg for his own.

As we rode through the bazaar the view expanded. Apharwat showed all
his somewhat disappointing face; his upper slopes, streaked with dirty
snow, looked remarkably dingy when contrasted with the dazzling white
clouds which went sailing past his uninteresting summit. The absence of
all variety in form or light and shade, and the dull lines of his
foreshortened front, made it hard to realise that he stood some five
thousand feet above us.

Near the centre of the marg, on a small hill, was a large wooden
building surrounded by many satellite huts and tents: this we rightly
guessed to be Nedou’s Hotel. Below, on a spur, was the little church,
and to the right, in the hollow, the club-house faced the level
polo-ground.

A winding stream, which we subsequently found to be perfectly
ubiquitous, and an insatiable devourer of errant golf-balls, ran
deviously through the valley, which seemed to be rather over a mile
long, and almost equally wide.

The Smithsons rode away vaguely in search of a camping-ground; while
we, having found out where our hut was, turned back and climbed a knoll
behind the bazaar, and found ourselves in front of our future home, a
very plain and roughly-built rectangular wooden hut, containing a small
square room opening upon a verandah, and having a bedroom and bathroom
on each side.

Such was our palace, and we were well satisfied with it.

The cook-house and servants’ quarters were in a hut close by, and I
could summon my retainers or chide them for undue chatter from my
bedroom window—a serviceable short cut for the dinner, too, in wet and
stormy weather!

Life at Gulmarg is extremely apt to degenerate into the “trivial round”
of the golf links varied by polo, or polo varied by golf, with
occasional gymkhanas and picnics. There are, doubtless, many delightful
excursions to be made, but upon the whole it seems difficult to break
far beyond the “Circular Road,” a fairly level and well-kept
bridle-path, which for eight beautiful miles winds through the pine
forest, giving marvellous glimpses of snowy peaks and sunlit valleys.

The “Circular Road” is always fine, whether seen after rain, when, far
below in the Ferozepore Nullah, the

“Swimming vapour slopes athwart the glen,
Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,”


or when in the evening sunlight the whole broad Valley of Kashmir lies
glowing at our feet, ringed afar by the ethereal mountains whose pale
snows stand faint in the golden light, until beneath the yellowing sky
the clouds turn rosy, and from their midst Haramok and Kolahoi raise
their proud heads towards the earliest star.

The expedition to the top of Apharwat is, in my opinion, hardly worth
making, but then I was not very lucky in the weather. Major Cardew,
R.F.A., and I arranged to do the climb together, and duly started one
excessively damp and foggy morning towards the middle of July.

Taking our ponies, we scrambled up a rough path through the forest to
Killanmarg, a boulder-strewn slope, some half a mile wide, which lies
between the upper edge of the forest and the final slopes of the
mountain.

Sending our ponies home, we set about the ascent of the 3500 feet that
remained between us and our goal. The whole hillside was a perfect wild
garden. Columbines, potentillas—yellow, bronze, and crimson—primulas,
anemones, gentian, arnica, and quantities of unknown blossoms gave us
ample excuse for lingering panting in the rarefied air, as we struggled
through brushwood first, and then over loose rocks and finally slopes
of shelving snow, before we found ourselves on the crest of the
mountain, shivering slightly in the raw, foggy air.

Our view was narrowed down to the bleak slopes of rock and snow that
immediately surrounded us, for our hope that we should get above the
cloud belt was not fulfilled, and beyond a dismal tarn, lying just
below us, in whose black waters forlorn little bergs of rotten snow
floated, and a very much circumscribed view of dull tops swathed in
flying mist, we saw nothing.

Had the sky been clear, I am told that the view would have been
magnificent, but I should think probably no better than that from
Killanmarg, as it is a mistake to suppose that a high, or at least too
high, elevation “lends enchantment.” As a rule the view is finer when
seen half-way up a lofty mountain than that obtained from the summit.

We did not stay long upon the top of Apharwat discussing the best point
of view, because Cardew sagaciously remarked that if it grew much
thicker he wouldn’t be answerable for finding the way down, and as I
have a holy horror of rambling about strange (and possibly precipitous)
mountains in a fog, we set about retracing our own footsteps in the
snow until we regained the ridge we had come up by.

A remarkably wet couple we were when we presented ourselves at our
respective front doors, just in time for a “rub down” before lunch!

The golf at Gulmarg is very good, the 18-hole course being exceedingly
sporting, and tricky enough to defeat the very elect. Jane and I had
conveyed our clubs out to Kashmir, knowing that they were likely to
prove useful. I had also taken the precaution to pack up a box or two
of balls, but I found my labour all in vain, as “Haskells” and
“Kemshall-Arlingtons” were supplied by the club at precisely the same
price as in England—viz., 1 r. 8 an., or two shillings.

New clubs are also cheap and in plenty, but repairs to old favourites
are not always satisfactory. My pet driver, having been damaged, was
very evilly treated by the native craftsman, who bound up its wounds
with large screws!

The mountains of Kashmir have been a constant joy to us. Varying with
every change of light and shade, custom cannot stale their infinite
variety; but as yet I had not seen the great monarch of Chilas, Nanga
Parbat.

In July and early August he is rarely visible from Gulmarg, owing to
the haziness of the atmosphere. One clear morning, however, towards the
end of July, after a night of rain and storm, I was strolling along the
Circular Road when, lo! far away in the north-west, soaring ethereal
above the blue ranges that overlook Gurais, above the cloud-banks
floating beyond their summits, the great mountain, unapproachable in
his glory, stood revealed.

The early morning sun struck full on his untrodden snows, making it
hard to realise that eighty-five miles of air separated me from that
clear-cut peak. Soon, very soon, a light cloud clung to his eastern
face, and within ten minutes the whole vision had faded into an
up-piled tower of seething clouds.

Later in the season, as the air grew clearer, Jane and I made almost
daily pilgrimages to the point, only a few minutes’ walk from our hut,
whence, framed by a foreground of columnar pines, Nanga Parbat could
generally be seen for a time in the morning.

_Tuesday, August_ 1.—Society in Gulmarg is particularly cheery, as
indeed might be expected where two or three hundred English men and
women are gathered together to amuse themselves and lay in a fresh
store of health and energy before returning to the routine of duty in
the plains.

There have been many picnics lately, the little glades or margs, which
are frequent in the forest slopes, being ideal places of rendezvous for
merrymakers on horse or foot. Picnics of all sorts and sizes, from the
little impromptu gatherings of half-a-dozen congenial young souls
(always an even number, please), who ride off into the romantic shades
to nibble biscuits and make tea, to the dainty repasts provided by a
hospitable lady, whose official hut overlooks the Ferozepore Nullah,
and who, in turn, overlooks her cook, to the great gratification of her
guests.

How small a thing will upset the best-laid plans of hospitality! It is
said that a most carefully planned picnic, where all the little tables,
set for two, were discreetly screened apart among the bushes, was
entirely ruined by a piratical damsel undertaking a cutting-out
expedition for the capture of the hostess’ best young man.

Our evenings are by no means dull. On many a starlit night has Jane
mounted the noble steed which, through the kindness of the Resident, we
have hired from the “State,” and ridden across the marg attended by her
slaves (her husband and the ancient shikari, to wit), to dine and play
bridge in some hospitable hut, or dance or see theatricals at Nedou’s
Hotel.

Last week we tore ourselves away from our daily golf, and joined the
Smithsons in a futile expedition to the foot of the Ferozepore Nullah
for bear. Three days we spent in vain endeavour to find “baloo,” and on
the fourth we wended our toilsome way up the hill again to Gulmarg.

_Monday, August_ 27.—There are drawbacks as well as advantages in being
perched, as it were, just above the bazaar. Its proximity enables our
good Sabz Ali to sally forth each morning and secure the earliest
consignment of “butter and eggs and a pound of cheese,” which has come
up from Srinagar, and select the best of the fruit and vegetables. It
affords also an interesting promenade for the geese, who solemnly march
down the main street daily for recreation and such stray articles of
food as may be found in the heterogeneous rubbish-heaps.

It possesses, however, a superabundance of pi-dogs, who gather together
on the slope in front of our hut in the watches of the night, and
serenade us to a maddening extent.

The natives, too, have a sinful habit of chattering and shouting at an
hour when all well-conducted persons should be steeped in their beauty
sleep.

A few nights ago this culminated in what Keats would have called a
“purple riot.” The sweeper and his friends were holding a meeting for
the purpose of conversation and the consumption of apple brandy.

Having fruitlessly sent the shikari to try and stop the insufferable
noise, I was fain to sally forth myself to investigate matters.

Then to a happy and light-hearted party seated chattering round a
blazing fire there came suddenly the unwelcome apparition of an
exceedingly irate sahib, in evening dress and pumps, brandishing a
khudstick.

A wild scurry, in which the bonfire was scattered, a few remarks in
forcible English, a whack which just missed the hindmost reveller, and
the place became a deserted village.

Next morning Sabz Ali came to me in a towering rage to report that the
sweeper—that unclean outcast—had dared to say most opprobrious things
to him, being inspired thereto by the devil and apple brandy. Nothing
less than the immediate execution of the culprit by hanging, drawing,
and quartering would satisfy the outraged feelings of our henchman.

I promised a yet severer punishment. I said I would “cut” the wretched
minion’s pay that month to the amount of a rupee. Vengeance was
satisfied, and the victim reduced to tears.

It is good to hear Jane—who for many years has been accustomed to
having her own way in all household matters—ordering breakfast.

“Well, Sabz Ali—what shall we have for breakfast to-morrow?”

“Jessa mem-sahib arder!”—with a friendly grin.

“Then I shall have kidneys.”’

“No kidney, mem-sahib! Kidney plenty money—two annas six pice ek. Oh,
plenty dear!”

“I’m tired of eggs. Is there any cold chicken you could grill?”

“Chota murghi one egg lay, mem-sahib, anda poach. Sahib, chicken grill
laike!”

“Oh, all right! But I thought of a mutton-chop for the major sahib.”

“Muttony stup” (mutton’s tough). “Sahib no laike!”

“Very well, that will do—a poached egg for me and grilled chicken for
the sahib.”

“No, mem-sahib—no ’nuf. Sahib plenty ’ungry—chicken grill, peechy
ramble-tamble egg!”

“Have it your own way. I daresay the major sahib _would_ like scrambled
eggs, and we’ll have coffee—not tea.”

“No, mem-sahib. No coffee—coffee finish!”

“Send the shikari down to the bazaar, then, for a tin of coffee from
Nusserwanjee.”

“Shikari saaf kuro lakri ke major sahib” (cleaning the golf-clubs).
“Tea breakfast, coffee kal” (to-morrow).

And, utterly routed on every point, Jane gives in gracefully, and makes
an excellent breakfast as prearranged by Sabz Ali!

The news is spread that there will be an exhibition of pictures held in
Srinagar in September. Every second person is a—more or
less—heaven-born artist out here, so there promises to be no lack of
exhibits. I dreamed a dream last night, and in my dream I was walking
along the bund and came upon an elderly gentleman laying Naples yellow
on a canvas with a trowel. The river was smooth and golden, and
reflected the sensuous golden tones of the sky. Trees arose from golden
puddles, half screening a ziarat which, upon the glowing canvas,
appeared remarkably like a village church. “How beautiful!” I cried,
“how gloriously oleographic!” and the painter, removing a brush from
his mouth, smiled, well pleased, and said, “I am a Leader among
Victorian artists and the public adores me!” and I left him vigorously
painting pot-boilers. Then in a damp dell among the willows of the Dal
I found a foreigner in spectacles, and the light upon his pictures was
the light that never was on sea or land; but through a silvery mist the
willows showed ghostly grey, and a shadowy group of classic nymphs were
ringed in the dance, and I cried “O Corot! lend me your spectacles. I
fain, like you, would see crude nature dimmed to a silvery perpetual
twilight.” And Corot replied: “Mon ami moi je ne vois jamais le soleil,
je me plonge toujours, dans les ombres bleuâtres et les rayons pâles de
l’aube.”

Then upward I fared till, treading the clear heights, I found one
frantically painting the peaks and pinnacles of the mountains in weird
stipples of alternate red and blue.

“Great heavens!” I exclaimed, “what disordered manner is this!”

The artist glanced swiftly at me, and said disdainfully: “I am a modern
of the moderns, and if you cannot see that mountains are like that, it
is your fault—not mine. Go back, you stand too close.”

And as I went back I looked over my shoulder, and, truly, the flaring
rose-colour had blended amicably with the blue, and I admitted that
perhaps Segantini was not so mad as he looked.

A little lower down a stout Scotchman painted a flowery valley. The
flowers were many and bright, but not so garish as they appeared to
him, and I hinted as much; but he scorned my criticism.

“Mon,” he shouted, “I painted the Three Graces, an’ they made me an
Academeesian. I painted a flowery glen in the Tyrol (dearie me, but
thae flowers cost me a fortune in blue paint), and it was coft for the
Chantry Bequest, and hoo daur _you_ talk to me?”

Then I departed hurriedly and came upon four men, two of them with long
beards, and all with unkempt hair, laboriously depicting a blue pine,
needle by needle, and every one in its proper place. I asked them if
theirs was not a very troublesome way of painting.

They looked at one another with earnest blue eyes, and remarked that
here was evidently a Philistine who knew not Cimabue and cared not a
jot for Giotto; and the first said: “Sir, methinks he who would climb
the golden stairs should do so step by step;” and the second said,
sadly: “We are but scapegoats, truly, being cast forth by the
vindictive Victorians of our day.”

The third murmured in somewhat broken English.

“Victoria Victrix,
Beata Beatrix,”


whereby I recognised him to be a poet, if not a painter.

But the fourth—an energetic-looking man with a somewhat arrogant
manner—said briskly: “Perchance the ass is right; these pine needles
are becoming monotonous, and I have seventeen million four hundred and
sixty-two thousand five hundred and eleven more to do. Beshrew me if I
do not take to pot-boiling!”

Down by the water-side a lady sat, sketching in water-colours for dear
life; around her lay a litter of half-finished works, scattered like
autumn leaves in Vallombrosa. I approached her, quite friendly, and
offered to gather them up for her—at least some of them, saying
soothingly, for I saw she was in a temper—

“Dear, dear, Clara, why, what _is_ the matter?”

“I am painting the Venice of the East,” she cried petulantly, “but for
the life of me I can’t see a campanile, and how can I possibly paint a
picture without a campanile?”

I understood that, of course, she couldn’t, so I stole away softly on
tip-toe, leaving her turning doungas into gondolas for all she was
worth.

A dark, dapper man, with an alert air and an eyeglass, sat near the
seventh bridge, writing. Beside him stood an easel and other
painting-gear. I asked him what he was doing, and he answered, with a
fine smile, “I am gently making enemies;” so, to turn the subject, I
picked up a large canvas, smeared over with invisible grey, like the
broadside of a modern battleship, and sprinkled here and there with
pale yellow blobs.

“What have we here, James?” I inquired cheerfully, and he, staying his
claw-like hand in mid-air, made reply—

“A chromatic in tones of sad colour, with golden accidentals—Kashmir
night-lights.”

“Ah! quite so,” I exclaimed; “but have I got it right side up?”

He looked at it doubtfully for a moment, then, pointing to a remarkable
butterfly (_Vanessa Sifflerius_) depicted in the corner, cried: “It’s
all right; you’ll never make a mistake if you keep this insect in the
_right bottom corner_. It is put there on purpose.”

Lastly, on an eminence I saw a man like an eagle, sitting facing full
the sun, and upon his glowing canvas was portrayed the heavens above
and the earth beneath and the waters under the earth, and behind him
sat one who patted him upon the back, and looked at intervals over his
shoulder at the glorious work, and then wrote in a book a eulogy
thereof; and I, too, came and looked over the painter’s shoulder, and I
muttered, with Oliver Wendell Holmes,

“The foreground golden dirt,
The sunshine painted with a squirt.”


Then the man who patted the painter on the back turned upon me
aggressively, and said: “This is the only painter who ever was, or will
be, and if you don’t agree with me you are a fool.” The painter,
smiling a sly Monna-Lisan smile of triumph, remarked: “Right you are,
John. I rather think this _will_ knock that rascal Claude,” and I
laughed so that I awoke; but the memory of the dream remained with me,
and it seemed to me that, perhaps, we poor amateurs might not be any
better able to compass aught but caricatures of this marvellous scenery
than the ghostly limners of my dream!

The hut just above ours was tenanted by a party of three young Lancers
on leave from Rawal Pindi, a gramophone, and a few dogs.

One of the soldiers was laid up with a bad ankle, and it soon became a
daily custom for Jane or me to play a game of chess or piquet with the
invalid.

Later on, when leave had expired for the hale, when the dogs had
departed, and the voice of the gramophone was no more heard in the
land, we came to see a great deal of the wounded warrior, and finally
arranged to personally conduct him off the premises, and return him, in
time for medical survey, to Rawal Pindi.

Many years ago I read a delightful poem called _The Paradise of
Birds_—I believe it was by Mortimer Collins,[1] but I am not sure. Now
the Poet (who, together with Windbag, sailed to this very paradise of
birds) deemed that this happy asylum of the feathered fowls was
somewhere at the back of the North Pole. He cannot have known of
Kashmir, or he would assuredly have sent the persecuted birds thither,
and placed the “Roc’s Egg” as janitor, somewhere by the portals of the
Jhelum Valley. Kashmir is truly and indeed the paradise of birds, for
there no man molests them, and no schoolboy collects eggs, and the
result is a fascinating fearlessness, the result of perpetual peace and
plenty.

[1] It is by Courthope, not Collins.


I regret exceedingly that my ornithological knowledge is extremely
limited. I could find no books to help me,[2] and, as I did not care to
kill any birds merely to enable me to identify their species, my notes
were merely “popular” and not “scientific.”

[2] See Appendix II.


Shall I confess that I began an erudite work on the birds of Kashmir,
but got no further than the Hoopoe? It began as follows:—

THE HOOPOE

_Early history of_.—Tereus, King of Thrace, annoyed his wife Procne so
much by the very marked attention which he paid to her sister
Philomela, that she lost her temper so far as to chop up her son
Itylus, and present him to his papa in the form of a ragoût.

This, naturally, disgusted Tereus very much, and he “fell upon” the
ladies with a sword, but, just as he was about to stab them to the
heart, he was changed into a Hoopoe, Philomela into a nightingale,
Procne into a swallow, while Itylus became a pheasant.

“Vertitur in volucrem, cui stant in vertice cristæ
Prominet immodicum pro longa cuspide rostrum;
N epops volucri.”


OVID, _Metam_. lib. vi.


_His crest and patent of nobility_.—Once upon a time, King Solomon,
while making a royal progress, was much, incommoded by the powerful
rays of the sun, and as he had ascendency over the birds, and knew
their language, he called upon the vultures to come and fly betwixt the
sun and his nobility, but the vultures refused. Then the kindly Hoopoes
assembled, and flew in close mass above his head, thus forming a shade
under which he proceeded on his journey in ease and comfort.

At sundown the monarch sent for the King of the Hoopoes, and desired
him to name a reward for the service which he and his followers had
rendered.

Then the King of the Hoopoes answered that nothing could be more
glorious than the golden crown of King Solomon; and so Solomon decreed
that the Hoopoes should thenceforward wear golden crowns as a mark of
his favour. But alas! when men found the Hoopoes all adorned with
golden crowns, they pursued and slew them in great multitudes for greed
of the precious metal, until the King of the Hoopoes, in heavy sorrow,
hied hastily to King Solomon, and begged that the gift of the golden
crowns might be rescinded, ere every Hoopoe was slain.

Then Solomon, seeing the misery they had brought upon themselves by
their presumption, transformed their crowns of gold to crowns of
feathers, which no man coveted (for the Eastern ladies didn’t wear
hats), and the Hoopoes wear them to this day as a mark of royal favour,
but all the feathers fell off the necks of the disobliging vultures.

_His amazing talent_.—In those dark ages … the Hoopoe was considered as
prodigiously skilful in defeating the machinations of witches, wizards,
and hobgoblins. The female, in consequence of this art, could preserve
her offspring from these dreaded injuries.

She knew all the plants which defeat fascinations, those which give
sight to the blind; and, more wondrous still, those which open gates or
doors, locked, bolted, or barred.

Aelian relates that a man having three times successively closed the
nest of a Hoopoe, and having remarked the herb with which the bird, as
often, opened it, applied the same herb, and _with the same success_,
to charm the locks off the strongest coffer.—_Naturalists’ Magazine_
(about 1805).

_His personal appearance_.—The beak is bent, convex and sub-compressed,
and in some degree obtuse; the tongue is obtuse, triangular and very
short, and the feet are ambulatory. As this bird has a great abundance
of feathers, it appears considerably thicker than it is. It is, in
fact, about the size of a mistletoe thrush, but looks, while in its
feathers, to be as large as a common pigeon.—_Naturalists’ Magazine_.

I had got _no_ further in my _magnum opus_, when I unfortunately showed
my notes to Colonel—well, I will not mention his name, but he is the
greatest authority on the birds and beasts of Kashmir. He besought me
to spare him, pathetically remarking that I should cut the ground from
under his feet, and take the bread out of his mouth, and the wind out
of his sails, if I went any further with my monograph on the Hoopoe. He
saw at a glance that I was conversant with authorities whom he had
never consulted, and possessed a knowledge of my subject to which he
could hardly aspire, so I gracefully agreed to leave the field to him,
and relinquished my _magnum opus_ in its very inception.

One of the chiefest charms of Kashmir, and one which is apt to be
overlooked, is the entirely unspoilt freshness of its scenery. No
locust horde of personally-conducted “trippers” pollutes its ways and
byways, nor has the khansamah of the dâk bungalow as yet felt
constrained to add sauerkraut and German sausage to his bill of
fare—for which Allah be praised!

The world is growing very small, and the globe-trotter rushes round it
in eighty days. The trail of the cheap excursionist is all over Europe,
from the North Cape to Tarifa, from the highest Alpine summit (which he
attains in comfort by a funicular railway) to the deepest mines of
Cornwall. Egypt has become his footstool, and the shores of the
Mediterranean his wash-pot. Niagara is mapped and labelled for his
benefit, and the Yosemite is his happy hunting-ground. He “does” the
West Indies in “sixty days for sixty pounds,” and he is now arranging a
special cheap excursion from the Cape to Cairo. “But,” it may be
remarked, “what were Jane and I but globe-trotters’? and am I not
trying to sing the praises of Kashmir with the avowed object of
inducing people to go out and see it for themselves?”

By all manner of means let us travel. Far be it from me to wish folks
to stay dully at home, while the wonders and beauties of the wide world
lie open for the admiration and education of its inhabitants.

But there are globe-trotters and globe-trotters. My objection is only
to those—alas! too numerous—vagrants who cannot go abroad without
casting shame on the country which bred them; whose vulgarity causes
offence in church and picture-gallery; who cannot see a monument or a
statue without desiring to chip off a fragment, or at least scrawl
their insignificant names upon it.

From these, and such as these, Kashmir is as yet free; but some day, I
suppose, it will be “opened up,” when the railway, which is already
contemplated, is in going order between Pindi and Srinagar, and cheap
excursion tickets are issued from Berlin and Birmingham.

Here is a specimen page of the Guide Book (bound in red) for 19—(?):

“Ascend Apharwat by the funicular railway. The neat little station,
with its red corrugated-iron roof, makes a picturesque spot of colour
near the Dobie’s Ghât. Fares, 4 an. 6 pi., all the way.”

“A local guide should on no account be omitted (several are always to
be found near the station leaning on their khudsticks, and discussing
controversial theology in the sweet low tones so noticeable in the
Kashmiri). See that he be provided with a horn, to the hooting of which
the Echo Lake will be found responsive.”

“From the balcony of the * Hôtel Baloo an unrivalled view of Nanga
Parbat should be obtained. Glasses can be procured from the
anna-in-the-slot machines which are dotted about.”

“This veritable king of the Himal—” (here follows a pageful of
regulation guide-book gush).

“Good sport is to be obtained from the obliging and enterprising
manager of the hotel, Herr Baer. A few rupees will purchase the
privilege of shooting at that monarch of the mountains, the markhor.
Start not, fair tourist, for no danger lurks in the sport. No icy
precipices need be scaled, no giddy gulfs explored, and the only danger
which menaces the bold hunter in the mimic stalk, is that which menaces
his shins in the broken soda-water bottles and sharp-edged sardine tins
with which the summit of Apharwat is strewn.”

“As a matter of fact, the consumption of mutton is considerable in the
Hôtel Baloo in the tourist season, and the worthy Baer conceived the
brilliant and financially sound scheme of attaching some old ibex and
markhor horns (bought cheap when the old library at Srinagar was swept
away in the last flood) to his live stock, and turning his decorated
flock loose on the mountain’s brow, where the sportsman saves him the
trouble of slaughter while enjoying all the excitement and none of the
difficulty of a veritable stalk.”

“Another brilliant invention of the good Baer is his ‘sunset
spectacles.’ These are made with the glasses in two halves—the upper
part orange and the lower one purple. These are simply invaluable to
those who have only a brief half-hour in which to ‘do’ Apharwat before
darting down to catch the 3.15 express for Leh (_viâ_ the newly opened
Zoji La tunnel), since for the modest sum of 8 a. a superb sunset can
be enjoyed at any time of the day.”

“Should, however, the leisured globe-trotter have unlimited time at his
disposal, he would do well to lunch at the Hôtel Baloo, in order to
taste the celebrated Kashmir sauerkraut (made of wild rhubarb) and
Gujar pie (composed of the most tempting tit-bits of the water
buffalo), before returning to the ‘Savoy’ at Srinagar by the turbine
tram from Tangmarg, or by the pneumatic launch which leaves Palhallan
Pier every ten minutes, weather permitting.”

“Should the tourist be a naturalist he can hardly fail to observe, and
be interested in, the mosquitoes of this charming and picturesque
locality. He will note that they rival the song-thrush in magnitude and
the Bengal tiger in ferocity. A coating of tar laid with a trowel over
the exposed parts of the body will be found the best protection,
especially as the new Armour Company’s patent hermetically sealed
bear-proof visor will be found too hot for comfort in summer.”

“The environs of Srinagar are charming. Notice the picturesque
‘furnished apartments’ for paying guests all along the water-side, and
the mixed bathing establishments, crowded daily by the Smart Set, whose
jewelled pyjamas flash in rivalry of the heliographic oil-tins which
deck the neighbouring temples.”

“By a visit to the Museum, and an inspection by eye and nose of the
quaint specimens of antique clothing exhibited there, the intelligent
and imaginative traveller may conjure up a mental picture of the
unpolished appearance of the old-time Mangi and his lady before he
adopted the tall hat and frock coat of civilisation, or she had
discovered the ‘swanbill’!”



CHAPTER XIII
THE FLOOD


Tuesday, _September_ 12.—A second edition of the Noachian deluge is
upon us! It began to rain on Saturday, at the close of a hot and stuffy
week, and, having succeeded in thoroughly soaking the unfortunate
ladies who were engaged in a golf competition that day, it proceeded to
rain abundantly all through Sunday and Monday.

The outlook from our hut is dispiriting; through a thick grey veil of
vapour the gleam of water shines over the swamp that was the
polo-ground. The little muddy stream in which so many erring golf-balls
lie low is up and out for a ramble over its banks. The lower
golf-greens resemble paddy-fields, and round the marg the spires of
dull grey pines stand dripping in a steadfast shower-bath.

Sometimes the heavy cloud folds everything in its leaden wing, blotting
out even the streaming village at our feet, and reducing our view to
the immediate slope below us where the wilted ragwort and rank weeds
bend before the tiny torrents which trickle everywhere. Then comes a
break, falsely suggestive of an improvement, and lo! soaring above the
cloudy boil, the lofty shoulders of Apharwat sheeted in new-fallen
snow!

After the somewhat oppressive heat of last week, the sudden raw cold
strikes home, and Jane and I take a great interest in the fire, the
“Old Snake”[1] is an accomplished fire-master, and it is pleasant to
watch him squatting like an ungainly frog in front of the hearth, and
sagaciously feeding the flame with damp and spitting logs.

[1] Our pet name for Shikari Mark II., who reigns in the stead of Ahmed
Bot, sacked for expensive inefficiency.


It is amazing what lavish expenditure of fuel one will indulge in when
it costs nothing a ton!

We are just beginning to find out the exact spots where chairs may be
planted so as to avoid the searching draughts which go far to make our
happy home like a very airy sort of bird-cage.

Well! we might have been worrying through all this in a sodden tent,
where even a boarded floor would barely have kept out rheumatism, and
where one would have been liable to alarms and excursions at all sorts
of untoward times when drains wanted deepening and guys slackening. The
mere thought of such things sent us into a truly thankful state of
mind, and we discussed from our cosy chairs the probable condition of
the party from the Residency which set forth, full of high hope, on
Saturday morning to attack the markhor of Poonch.

Here it has rained with vehemence ever since they left; up in the high
ground it has doubtless snowed; and although they were well armed with
cards and whisky, yet it would appear but a poor business to play
bridge all day in a snow-bound tent on the top of the Pir Panjal!
Nothing short of a hundred aces every few minutes could make the game
worth the candle!

This spell of bad weather has greatly interfered with the movements of
a large number of the folks who were to leave Gulmarg early this week.
Many got away betimes on Saturday, and a few faced the elements on
Sunday, and a painful experience they must have had.

We had intended to leave next Thursday, and had ordered boats to meet
us at Parana Chauni, but the road will be so bad that I wired this
morning to put off our transport till further orders.

The end of the season at Gulmarg sees the bazaar stock at low water.
Eggs, fowls, cherry brandy, and spirits of wine are “off,” also butter,
but the latter scarcity does not affect us, as we make our own in a
pickle jar. The bazaar butter became very bad, probably because the
large numbers of visitors to Gulmarg caused an additional supply to be
got from uncleanly Gujars, so we, by the kindness of the Assistant
Resident, had a special cow detailed to supply us daily with milk at
our own door.

That cow was very friendly; I first made its acquaintance one forenoon.
While I was sitting below the verandah sketching, with a dozen lovely
peaches spread by me on the hoards to obtain their final touch of
perfection in the sun before lunch, the cow strolled up. I was much
interested in the sketch, and believed that the cow was too; but when I
looked up at last, expecting to see its eye fixed upon the work in
silent approbation,

“The ‘cow’ was still there, but the ‘peaches’ were gone.”


In the afternoon the weather showed signs of a desire to amend its
ways. The clouds broke here and there, and, though it still rained
heavily, it became apparent that the clerk of the weather had done his
worst, and the supply of rain was running short. Clad in aquascutic
garments, and surmounted by an ungainly two-rupee bazaar umbrella (my
dapper British one having been annexed by a covetous Mangi)—

“Ombrifuge, Lord love you, case o’ rain,
I flopped forth ’sbuddikins on my own ten toes.”


The whole slope in front of the hut was a trickle of water, threading
the dying stalks of dock and ragwort, and hurrying down to add its
dirty pittance to the small yellow torrent rushing along the greasy
strip of clay that in happier days was the path.

The whole marg was become lake or stream—lake over the polo-ground and
half the golf-links—fed by the weeping slopes on every side, whence
innumerable rills rioted over the grass, emulating in ferocity and
haste, if not in size, the tawny torrents which drained the sides of
Apharwat.

The road from the bazaar to the club was all but impassable, but as it
had still a few inches of freeboard, I followed it to the foot of the
church slope, and, skirting the hill, inspected the desolation which
had been wrought at the Kotal hole, where the stream had torn through
its banks and wrecked the green.

During a visit of condolence to Mrs. Smithson, whose unfortunate
husband is pursuing markhor in Poonch, the sky cleared—a splendid
effort in the way of a “clearing shower” being followed by a decided
break-up of the pall of wet cloud in which we have been too long
immersed. Not without a severe struggle did Jupiter Pluvius consent to
turn off the tap, but at length the sun broke through the hanging
clouds and sent their sodden grey fragments swirling up the Ferozepore
Nullah to break in foamy wreaths round the ragged cliffs of Kulan.

Finding the road across to the post-office altogether under water for
some distance—a lake extending from the twelfth hole for nearly a
quarter of a mile to the main road—I wandered back towards the higher
ground, joining a waterproof figure, a member of the Green Committee,
who was sadly regarding the water-logged links with the disconsolate
air of the raven let loose from the ark! We agreed that this was a
remarkably good opportunity for observing the drainage system, and
taking notes for future guidance, and in company we went over as much
of the links as possible, finishing below the second hole, where the
cross stream which comes down from the higher ground had torn away the
bridge and cut off the huts beyond from civilisation.

The homeward stroll at sunset was perfectly beautiful, and showed
Gulmarg in an absolutely new guise. The lower part of the marg, being
all lake, reflected the lustrous golden sky and rich dark pine-woods in
a faithful mirror. Flying fragments of cloud, fleeces of gold and
crimson, clung to the mountain-sides or sailed above the forests, while
beyond Apharwat, coldly clad in a pure white mantle of snow, new
fallen, rose silhouetted against the darkening sky.

_Saturday, September_ 16.—After the Deluge came the Exodus, everybody
trying to leave Gulmarg at once. We had always intended to go down to
Srinagar about the 15th, but, finding that the Residency party meant to
move on that day, we arranged to migrate a day earlier in order to
avoid the pony and coolie famine which a Residential progress entails
on the ordinary traveller.

On Wednesday afternoon the ten ponies, carefully ordered a week before
from the outlying villages, were congregated on the weedy slope which
falls away from our verandah, picking up a scanty sustenance from
decaying ragwort and such like.

Secure in the possession of the necessary transport, Jane and I
strolled forth for a last look at Nanga Parbat, should he haply deign
to be on view. He did not deign, however, preferring to remain, like
Achilles, when bereft of Briseis, sulking in his cloudy tent. So we
consoled ourselves with an exceedingly fine view of the snow-crowned
heights at the head of the Ferozepore Nullah. Upon returning to our
beloved log cabin we were met by Sabz Ali—almost speechless with
wrath—who broke to us the distressing news that six of our ten
weight-carriers had departed from the compound. The entire staff, with
the exception of our factotum, were away in pursuit, and there was
nothing for it but to possess our souls in what patience we might until
they returned.

As we had arranged for a four o’clock start next morning, it was most
disconcerting to have all our transport desert so late in the evening.
An urgent note to the Assistant Resident, and some pressure on the
Tehsildhar, produced promise of assistance.

Early on Thursday morning came an indignant chit from an irate General,
complaining that my servants were trying to seize his ponies, for which
he had paid an advance of two rupees, and would I be good enough to
investigate the affair. Here was the murder out. His chuprassie had
obviously bribed my pony wallahs, and a letter, stating my case pretty
clearly, produced the ponies and an apology.

This delay kept us till after midday, when, stowing our invalid snugly
in a dandy, we left Gulmarg and began the descent to Srinagar. I
remained behind to see the hut clear and make a sketch, and then
hurried down the direct path, which drops some 2000 feet to Tangmarg.
Here I found Jane and the invalid comfortably disposed in a landau, but
the baggage spread about anywhere, and the usual clamour of coolies
uprising in the heated and dust-laden air.

No ekka—the one which had been ordered with the landau having
apparently got another job and departed. Presently a stray ekka, drawn
by a sorely weary-looking mule, appeared on the scene, and we seized
upon it instantly, loaded it up with most of the baggage, and
despatched coolies with the rest.

After the storm came a holy calm, and we settled down to a light but
welcome lunch before starting down the long slope into the valley.

We had heard most disquieting tales of floods; the water had burst the
bund at Srinagar, and there was said to be ten feet over the
polo-ground. The occupants of Nedou’s Hotel were going in and out by
boat, and Srinagar itself was said to be quite cut off from all access
by road.

The Residency party have countermanded their intended move to-morrow.

At the post-office I was told that only a small part of the mail had
been brought into Srinagar, the road being “bund” between Baramula and
that place, while an unusual number of landslips and bridges have come
down in the Jhelum Valley.

Nevertheless, we had made a push to get on; things in Kashmir are often
less gloomy than their reports would make one believe, and so we bowled
quite cheerfully down the road from Tangmarg, basking in the hot and
sunny air, which seemed to us really delicious after the raw
cheerlessness of the last few days at Gulmarg.

From Tangmarg to the dâk bungalow at Margam, a steady descent is
maintained by an excellent road over the sloping Karewa, for about ten
miles, of which we had just about travelled half when a series of yells
from the syce behind, a wild swerve, and a heavy plump brought us up
just on the edge of the steep and rocky bank, which fell sharply from
the roadside.

Alas! the axle of the off hind wheel had snapped, and the wheel itself
was hopelessly lying in the thick white dust, and our landau looked
like an ancient three-decker in a squall.

The horses being unharnessed, we sent the drivers with one of them
forward to look for help, and Hesketh and Jane proceeded to make tea
while I sat by the roadside and sketched.

Presently an empty dandy came “dribbling by” on its return journey to
Gulmarg, and it was immediately impressed for the benefit of the lame.
Hardly had we packed him in, when a wandering tonga hove in sight, and,
being promptly requisitioned, we rattled off the five miles which lay
between us and Margam in no time.

Here we found a large party assembled in the little rest-house. Colonel
and Mrs. Maxwell (who had kindly sent us back the tonga on hearing of
the breakdown); Mr. and Mrs. Allen Baines, whose dandy had been the
means of bringing Hesketh along; and Sadleir-Jackson, and Edwards of
the 9th Lancers.

The bungalow was full, but I found out that one room was appropriated
by a coming event, who had cast his shadow before him in the guise of a
bearer. This being contrary to the etiquette as observed in dâk
bungalows, I gently but firmly cleared out the neatly arranged toilet
things and ready-made bed; while Hesketh was taken over, somewhat
shattered by his tedious though exciting day, by his fellow Lancers.

The resources of the little place were severely strained; dinner was a
scanty meal, and soda-water gave out almost immediately: nevertheless,
a cheroot and a rubber of bridge sent us contented to bed.

Yesterday (Friday) the question of how to proceed arose. The road was
reported to be impassable after about five miles, the remaining ten
being under water.

We set out after breakfast, Jane perched on a pony which Sabz Ali had
raised or stolen, Hesketh in the dandy, and I on foot. After a warm
five miles’ march we came upon signs of a block. Vehicles of many and
strange sorts were drawn up in the shade of a chenar, under whose wide
branches the Baines family was faring sumptuously on biscuits and
brandy and water.

Horses, goats, and cattle strayed around, and a chattering mob of
natives, busily engaged, as usual, in doing nothing, completed the
picture.

Hesketh was reduced to despair; after two months in bed, this could not
but be a trying journey under the most favourable circumstances, and
the prospect as held out by his pessimistic bearer was pretty gloomy—no
boats available, and no signs of our doungas.

I pushed on to the break in search of my shikari, whom I had sent on by
pony early in the morning, and soon found that estimable person, who is
not really the blithering idiot he looks!

In the first place, he had appropriated the only two shikaras he could
find, and our baggage was already being stowed in them; secondly, he
had discovered both Juma and Ismala, our Mangis, who reported the
doungas moored below Parana Chaum, about four miles away over the
flooded fields.

This was good news, and we ate a cheerful lunch under a tree densely
populated by jackdaws.

The Maxwells got away somehow in search of their house-boat, which was
supposed to have left Baramula some days ago. They started cheerfully,
but vaguely, down the Spill Canal, and we trust they found their ark
somewhere!

Promising to send back a boat for the Baines, we paid and dismissed
coolies and ponies, and paddled away over the flood water. The country
was simply a vast lake, the main road merely marked by a dense row of
poplars. Trees rose promiscuously out of the calm and sunlit water,
wisps of maize and wreckage clinging to their lower boughs. Presently
the road showed in patches, a broad waterfall breaking it every here
and there as the imprisoned waters from above sought the slightly lower
channel of the Jhelum.

We passed a party of natives bivouacking near the roof and upper storey
of their wooden hut, which, floating from above, was held up by the
Baramula road. Sounding now and then with our khudsticks, we found no
bottom over the submerged rice crops, though we could see plainly the
laden ears waving dismally down below. This is nothing less than a
great calamity for the owners, as the rice was just ready for
gathering.

Towards dusk we arrived at our ships, calmly lying moored to poplar
trees by the roadside, and right gladly did we clamber on board, for
our invalid was pretty well fagged out.

This morning we cast loose from our poplars, and brought the fleet up
to within half a mile of the seventh bridge, or, rather, of the spot
where the seventh bridge used to be, for all but a fragment has been
washed away! The strong current prevented us from getting any higher up
the river in our doungas. Jane and I, however, were anxious to see what
appearance Srinagar presented, so we manned the shikara with five
able-bodied paddlers and pushed our way upwards. Turning into a side
canal we passed a demolished bridge, and tried to force our way up a
small but swift stream.

Failing to make anything of it, we landed and had the boat carried over
into a wider channel. Three times we were obliged to get out and leave
our stalwart crew to force the boat on somehow, and they did it
well—hauling, paddling, and shouting invocations to various saints,
particularly the one whose name sounds like “jam paws!”

The water had already fallen some four or five feet, but there was
plenty left. A great break in the bund between Nusserwanjee’s shop and
the Punjab Bank allowed us to paddle into the flooded European quarter,
past the telegraph office, standing knee-deep in muddy water, up over
the main road to Nedou’s Hotel, where boats lay moored outside the
dining-room windows, then across the lagoon, lightly rippled by a tiny
breeze, beneath which lay the polo-ground, to the Residency, where we
landed to inspect damages.

The water had been all over the lower storey, but a muddy deposit on
the wooden floor, and a brown slimy high-water mark on the door jambs,
alone remained to show what had happened. The piano had been hoisted
upon a table, carpets and curtains bundled upstairs, and everything,
apparently, saved. The poor garden, with its slime-daubed shrubs,
broken palings and torn creepers, trailing wisps of draggled foliage in
the oozy brown pools, was a sad and pitiful sight, especially when
mentally contrasted with the glowing glory of asters and zinneas which
it should have been.

The flood has been nearly as bad as the great one of 1903. Fortunately
the Spill Canal, cut above Srinagar to carry off the flood water, took
off some of the pressure; the bund, also, is three feet higher than it
was then, but it gave way in two places—one somewhere near the top, and
the other just below the Bank, letting in the river to a depth of ten
feet over the low-lying quarter. The stream is now falling fast, and,
after doing a little shopping and visiting the post-office, which is
temporarily established on the bund in the midst of an amazing litter
of desks, boxes, and queer pigeon-holes admirably adapted to lose
letters by the score, we spun swiftly down the rushing stream to tea
and our cosy dounga.

_Monday, September_ 18.—It was impossible to get our boats up the river
yesterday, so I spent the day sketching amidst the most picturesque,
but horribly smelly, part of the town; much quinine in the evening
seemed desirable as a counterblast to possible malaria.

The sunsets lately have been really magnificent; the poplars and
chenars, darkly olive, reflected in the flooded fields against a red
gold sky, in the foreground the black silhouettes of the armada.

The days are almost too hot, but the nights are cool and delicious, and
the mosquitoes are only noticeable for a brief period of sinful
activity about sundown, after which the wicked cease from troubling and
the weary are at rest.

At half-past ten this morning we set sail; that is to say, we hired
nine extra coolies and a second shikara to tow, and advanced on
Srinagar. Hesketh’s boat, being the lighter, kept well ahead (here let
me note that “bow” in that boat is quite the prettiest girl we have
seen in Kashmir, and the minx knows it!), but we had good men, and
worked along slowly and steadily up the main river, the side canals
being all choked by broken bridges and such like. We crept past the
Amira Kadal, or first bridge, about two o’clock, and tied up for lunch,
revelling in the most perfect pears, peaches, and walnuts. As a rule
the Kashmir fruit is disappointing; abundant and cheap certainly, but
not by any means of first-rate quality.

Strawberries, cherries, apricots, melons, and grapes might all be far
better if properly cultivated, and scientifically improved from
European stock.

The pears alone defy criticism, and the apples, I am told, are
excellent also.

Vegetables are in great plenty, but, like the fruit, would be much
improved by good cultivation.

_Wednesday, September_ 25.—The abomination of desolation wrought by the
flood is borne in upon one more and more as an inspection of the town
reveals the damage done more fully—the houses standing empty, their
lower storeys dank and slimy, the ruined gardens, and muddy, slippery
roads. The wrecked garden of the Punjab Bank is one of the saddest
sights, and must be a painful spectacle to Mr. Harrison, whose joy it
was to spend time and money on importing exotic and improving
indigenous plants.

One cannot help reflecting how desperately depressed Noah, and the
probably more impressionable Mrs. Noah, must have been when, discarding
their aquascutums for the first time, they sallied forth, a primeval
party, to observe the emerging country.

Mrs. Noah, tucking up the curious straight garment that is a memory of
our childhood, went ahead with feminine curiosity; Noah, bare-legged,
slithering along in the rear and beseeching the ladies to note the
slipperiness of the alluvial deposit, and for goodness’ sake not to
make a glissade down the side of Ararat.

I feel confident they must have taken great precautions, for Sabz Ali
slipped up on the shelving bank of the Jhelum, and, had he not caught
the gunwale of our dounga in his descent, would most certainly have had
to swim for his life—which I doubt if he can do!

Now, Shem and Co. were as valuable to Noah as Sabz Ali is to us, and I
should not be surprised if he made them travel on all-fours in the
risky places. Fathers were very dictatorial in those days, and there
was nobody about to make them consider their dignity.

One can imagine the scene. Ararat, a muddy pyramid dotted here and
there with olive trees—curious, by the way, to find olives so high!—in
the receding waters the vagrant raven cheerfully picking out the eye of
a defunct pterodactyl. The heavy clouds rolling off the sodden
world—they must have indeed been heavy clouds, nimbus of the first
water—as they had raised the world’s water-level 250 feet per day
during “the flood” … surely a record output!

The primeval family party, sadly poking about along the expanding
margin of the world, noting how Abel Brown’s tall chimney was beginning
to show, and how Cain Jones’ wigwam was clean gone. Mrs. Shem said she
knew it would, the mortar work had been so terribly scamped.

And Naboth Robinson’s vineyard—well, _it_ was in a pretty mess, to be
sure, and serve him right, for Mrs. Noah had frequently offered him two
of her (second) best milch mammoths for it; yet he had held on to his
nasty sour grapes, like the mean old curmudgeon that he was.

And now Hammy must set to work and tidy it up; and oh! what lots of
nice manure was floating about, all for nothing the cartload … And so
the primeval family felt better, and went back to the ark to tea,
feeling almost cheerful, but rather lonesome.

Fortunately this great flood did little injury to life or limb. A
certain amount of destruction of crops and other property was
inevitable, but on the whole the loss was not so great as was at one
time feared, and much was saved that at first seemed irreparable.

A well-known lady artist came near to giving the note of tragedy to the
British community, and losing the number of her mess (to use a
nautical, and therefore appropriate expression) by reason of a big
willow tree, beneath whose shady boughs she had moored her floating
studio. This hapless tree, having all its sustenance swept from beneath
by the greedy water, came down with a crash in the night upon the
confiding house-boat, and all but swamped it.

The cook-boat, occupied as usual by a pair of prolific Mangis and their
large small family, was saved by the proverbial “acid drop”—the
children crawling out somehow or anyhow from among the branches of the
fallen tree.

The fair artist, having with shrieks invoked the aid of a neighbour, he
promptly descended from his roof or other temporary camp, and helped
her with basins and chatties to bale out the half-swamped boat. The
lady is now safely moored to the mudbank on the other side of the river
where willow trees do not grow.

The whole bund is in a very unsafe state: it was raised three feet
after the last flood, but its width was not increased correspondingly.
Now that the water has fallen, great fissures and subsidences have
appeared, and in many places large portions of the bank have fallen
away, carrying big trees with them.



CHAPTER XIV
THE MACHIPURA


Wednesday, _September_ 27.—We left Srinagar yesterday, very sorry
indeed to part from the many good friends we have made and left there.
Truly Kashmir is a hospitable country, and we have met with more kind
friendliness in the last six months than we could have believed
possible, coming as we did, strangers and pilgrims into a strange land.
Our consolation is that every one comes “Home” sooner or later, so that
we can look forward to meeting most of our friends again ere very long,
and recalling with them memories of this happy summer with those who
have done so much to make it so.

Farewell, Srinagar! Your foulness and inward evilness were lost in the
background behind your picturesque and tumble-down houses as we floated
for the last time down Jhelum’s olive waters, where the sharp-nosed
boats lay moored along the margin or, poled by their sturdy Mangis and
guided by the chappars of their wives and daughters, shot athwart the
eddying flood, breaking the long reflections of the storeyed banks.

Past the Palace of the Maharajah, its fantastic mixture of ancient
fairness and modern ugliness blending into a homogeneous beauty as
distance lent it enchantment.

Past the temples, their tin-coated roofs refulgent in the brilliant
sunlight; under the queer wooden bridges, their solid stone piers
parting the suave flow of water into noisy swirl and gurgle.

Past the familiar groups of grave, white-robed men solemnly washing
themselves, then scooping up and drinking the noisome fluid; past their
ladies squatting like frogs by the river-side, washing away at clothes
which never seem a whit the cleanlier for all their talk and trouble.

Past the children and fowls, and cows and crows, all hob-nobbing
together as usual.

Past all these sights—so strange to us at first and now so strangely
familiar—we floated, till the broken remnant of the seventh bridge lay
behind us, and the lofty poplars that hem in the Baramula road stood
stark and solemn in their endless perspective.

Here a jangling note, out of tune and harsh, was struck by the dobie,
with whom we had a grave difference of opinion regarding the washing.

That gentleman having “lost by neglect” certain articles of my kit—to
wit sundry shirts and other garments—and having rendered others
completely _hors de combat_ by reason of his sinful method of washing,
I decided to “cut” three rupees off his remuneration.

This decision seemed to have taken from him all that life held of
worth, and he implored me to spare his wife, children, and home, all of
whom would be broken up and ruined if I were cruel enough, to enforce
my awful threat. Seeing that I was obdurate, being well backed by the
infuriated Jane, whose underwear showed far more lace and open work
than nature intended, the wretched dobie melted into loud and tearful
lamentation, and perched himself howling in the prow. This soon became
so boresome that I deported him to Hesketh’s boat, where he underwent
another defeat at the hands of that irate Lancer, whose shirts and
temper had suffered together; finally the woeful washerman, still
howling lugubriously, was landed on the river bank, and we saw and
heard him no more!

Down the gentle river we swiftly glided all day, while the Takht and
Hari Parbat grew smaller and bluer, and Srinagar lay below them
invisible in its swathing greenery.

Reaching Sumbal at sunset, we turned to the left down a narrow canal,
and soon the Wular lay—a sheet of molten gold—upon our right; and by
the time we had moored alongside a low strip of reedy bank, the
glorious rosy lights had faded from the snows of the Pir Panjal, and
their royal purple and gold had turned to soft ebony against the
primrose of the sky.

A few hungry mosquitoes worried us somewhat before sunset, promising
worse to follow; but the sharp little breeze that came flickering over
the Wular after dark seemed to upset their plans, and send them
shivering and hungry to shelter among the reeds and rushes.

This morning we crossed the Wular, starting as the first pale dawn
showed over the eastern hills.

Before the sun rose over Apharwat, his shafts struck the higher snows
and turned them rosy; while the lower slopes, their distant pines
suffused with strong purple, stood reflected in the placid mirror of
the lake.

“Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovran eye,”


but seldom a more lovely one than this—our last on the Wular Lake.

The active figures of the propellent Mangis, and the quiet ones of
their ladies at the helm, completed a picture to be recalled with a
sigh when we are parted by thousands of miles from this entrancing
valley.

Sopor we had understood to be but an uninteresting place, but we were,
perhaps, inclined to regard things Kashmirian through somewhat rosy
spectacles. Anyhow, we rather liked Sopor. Mooring close alongside a
remarkably picturesque building standing in the midst of a smooth green
lawn, which was once, I believe, a dâk bungalow, we halted to make
arrangements for the hire of coolies and ponies to take us inland, and
I went off to the post-office for letters and to make inquiries as to
the probable depth of water in the river Pohru.

Our skipper, Juma, affirmed that there was no water to speak of; but
Juma probably—nay, certainly—prefers the _otium_ of a sojourn at Sopor
to the toil of punting up the Pohru.

The postmaster declared that there was lots of water, but qualified his
optimism by saying that it was falling fast. So we arranged for our
land transport of ponies for ourselves, and a dandy for Hesketh, to
meet us one march up the river at Nopura, while we ourselves set
forward in our boats to Dubgam, three or four miles down the Jhelum,
where the Pohru joins it. At the entrance are large stores of timber,
principally deodar, which is floated down from the Lolab, stored at
Dubgam, and sent thence down country and otherwhere for sale. The great
boom across the river to catch the floating logs had been carried away
in the flood, and merely showed a few melancholy and ineffectual spikes
of wood sticking up above the now calm and sluggish river.

We towed up easily enough, through a quiet and peaceful country, which
only became gorgeous under the alchemy of sunset, reaching Nopura in
good time to tie up before dinner.

_Friday, September 29_.—On Thursday morning we started, as usual, at
dawn, and proceeded to pole and haul our way up the devious channel of
the Pohru. Some four or five miles we accomplished successfully,
although there were ominous signs of a gradual lack of water, until we
came upon a hopeless shallow, where the river, instead of concentrating
its energies on one deep and narrow channel, had run to waste over a
wide bed, where the wrinkling wavelets showed the golden brown of the
gravel just below the surface. Our big dounga stuck hard and fast at
once, and Captain Jurna promptly gave up all hope of getting farther.
He was, in fact, greatly gratified to find his prophesies come true,
and an insufferable air of “I told you so” overspread his face as he
wagged his head with mock sorrow, and gently poked the bottom with his
pole to show how firmly fixed we were.

Having an invalid with us, however, it was important to gain every easy
mile we could, and it was not until all the fleet in turn had attempted
to cross the shallow, and failed, that we made up our minds to take to
our land transport. It was uncommonly hot in the full glare of the sun
as Hesketh in his dandy, Jane on her “tattoo,” and I on foot set
forward for the forest house at Harwan, which lay some five miles away
across the fields, where the rice is now being busily cut.

At the foot of a very brown and parched-looking hill stood the little
wooden hut, facing the valley of the Pohru and the Kaj-nag range. Hot
and thirsty, we blessed the good Mr. Blunt, the kindly forest officer,
who had so courteously given us permission to use the forest huts of
the Lolab and the Machipura. Our blessings of Blunt turned swiftly to
curses directed towards the chowkidar, who was not to be seen, and who
had left the hut firmly fastened from within. An attempt to force the
door brought upon us the resentment of a highly irritable swarm of big
red wasps, who plainly regarded us as objectionable intruders; and Jane
was really getting quite cross (she says—she always does—that it was I
who lost my temper)—before the bold sweeper, prying round the back
premises, found an unbarred window, and the joy bells rang once more.

The Colonel turned up from the Malingam direction, and pitched his tent
in the rest-house compound; and, as the afternoon grew cooler, he and I
sallied forth to select a few chikor for the pot.

The chikor is extremely like the ordinary European redleg or Barbary
partridge, not only in colouring, but in habit, loving the same dry,
scrub-covered country, and preferring, like him, to run rather than fly
when pursued. The chikor, however, is certainly far superior in the
capacity of what fowl fanciers call “a table bird,” being, in fact,
truly excellent eating.

He is not an altogether easy bird to shoot, owing to his annoying
predilection for the steepest and rockiest hillsides, and those most
densely clothed in spiny jungle, wherein lurking, he chooses the
inopportune moment when the sportsman is hopelessly entangled, like
Isaac’s ram, to rise chuckling and flee away to another hiding-place.

Without dogs, he would be often extremely hard to find; but unluckily
for himself, being a true Kashmiri bird, he cannot help making a noise,
and thereby betraying his presence. His corpse, when dead, is hard to
find in the jungle, and a runner is, of course, hopeless without canine
help. It is well, therefore, to kill him as dead as possible, and to
that end I used No. 4 shot, with, I think, a certain advantage over
Walter, who shot with No. 6, and who, in consequence, lost several
birds.

The friendliness and sociability of the beasts and birds of Kashmir has
been a great joy to us. The thing can be overdone, though, and both the
wasps and the rats of Harwan were inclined to overstep the bounds of
decorum.

The latter were obviously overjoyed to see visitors, and visions of
unlimited plunder from our festive board would, of course, put them
somewhat above themselves. Still, they should have refrained from
rioting so openly around our beds as soon as the lights were out, and
Jane was naturally indignant when a large one ran over her feet!

On Friday morning we left Harwan, pretty early, as usual, for it is
still somewhat too warm to travel comfortably in the middle of the day.
The Colonel (always an early bird) got away first, followed by our
invalid in his dandy, while Jane and I remained to hunt the loiterers
out of camp. A glorious morning, and the cheering knowledge that
breakfast was in front of us, sent us merrily along for a mile or two,
until branching paths led us to inquire of an intelligent Kashmiri, who
appeared to be busily engaged in reaping rice with a penknife, as to
the road taken by our precursors, especially the tiffin coolie!

The industrious one had seen no sahibs at all pass by. This was a blow,
and Jane and I sat down to review the situation. We finally decided
that the son of the soil was indulging in what the great and good
Winston Churchill has called a “terminological inexactitude,” as the
others must have gone by one of the two roads; so, putting our fortunes
to the touch, we took the left-hand path, and were in due time rewarded
by reaching Sogul, and there finding our pioneers peacefully seated
under a tree, and breakfast ready.

Leaving Sogul, we skirted for some miles a bare ridge which rose on the
right, and which looked an ideal ground for chikor, and then turned
into a beautiful valley drained by the Pohru, now quite a small and
insignificant stream.

Drogmulla, our objective, lies about fourteen miles from Harwan, and
the forest house is a full mile beyond the village, at the end of a
somewhat steep and winding path.

A welcome sight was the snug rest-house, perched upon a hillock above a
fussy little stream and surrounded by a fine clump of deodars.

A tiny lawn in front was decorated with an artificial tank full of
water-plants, and through the opening, among the trees, we saw the
snowy crest of Shambrywa and the Kaj-nag rising over the deeply-wooded
foothills.

Drogmulla was so fascinating a spot, and the weather was so remarkably
fine, that we made up our minds to remain here for a few days. That old
red-bearded snake, the shikari, has sent the Colonel into a seventh
heaven of anticipation by pointing to the encircling forest with
promise of “pul-lenty baloo, sahib, this pul-lace.” We straightway
ordained a honk.

Our sick soldier is so much better since leaving Gulmarg that he is
able to hop “around” with considerable activity on his crutches.

_Saturday, September_ 30, 4 P.M.—Walter and I have been bear-honking
all day in a district reputed to be simply crawling with bears. I love
bear-honking; it is such a peaceful occupation.

After a stiff and very hot scramble up a rugged hillside covered with
the infuriating scrub through which nothing but a reptile could crawl
easily, the spot is reached within short range of which (in the opinion
of the “oldest inhabitant,” backed up by the “Snake”) the bear _must_
pass.

Here the battery of rifles and guns is carefully arranged, and I
proceed to wipe my heated brow and settle down to the calm enjoyment of
the honk. Drawing forth my cigar-case, I am soon wreathed in the
fragrant clouds engendered by the incineration of a halfpenny cheroot,
and, with a sigh of satisfaction, I spread out my writing or sketching
materials and proceed to scribble or paint, calm in the knowledge that
nothing on earth is in the least likely to disturb the flow of ideas,
or interrupt the laying on of a broad flat wash. Now and again, lazily,
I lean back to watch the witless hoverings of a big butterfly, or
sleepily listen to the increasing sound of the tom-toms and the yells
of the beaters, whose voices, as those of demons of the pit, rend the
peaceful air and add to my sense of Olympian aloofness!

A feeling of drowsiness steals over me; that succulent cold chikor,
followed by a generous slice of cake upon which I so nobly lunched,
clouds somewhat my active faculties, and the article—“A Bear Battue in
the Himalayas”—which I am engaged in writing for the _Field_—seems to
flag a little.

Come, come! Begone dull sloth—let me continue—

“As the sound of the beaters swells upon the ear, and the thunder of
the tom-toms grows more insistent, the keen-eyed sportsman grasps more
firmly the lever of his four-barrelled Nordenfeldt and prepares to play
upon the bears his hail of stinging missiles. Hark! The plot is
thickening, behind yon dense screen at the end of the cover the ph——
bears are beginning to crowd, the pattering of their feet upon the dead
leaves sends a thrill through the beating heart of the expectant
sportsman. A few bears break back amid wild yells from the coolies. One
or two odd ones dart out here and there at angles of the covert.
Steady! Steady! Here they are, following the lead of yon fine old cock;
with a whirr and a rush the bouquet is upon us. The shikari, mad with
excitement, presses the second Gatling and the light Howitzer into our
hands as he screams: ‘Bear to right, sahib!—Bear over!!—Bear behind!!!
Bang—bang!’”

“Eh? What? Oh, all right, shikari. Honk finished? Is it? Saw nothing?
Dear me! how very odd. Very well, then gather up my guns and things,
and we’ll go on to the next beat.”

_Sunday, October 1_.—To-day being Sunday, we have been idle and
happy—sketching, loafing, and enjoying the scenery and the glorious
weather. Our bear-honk yesterday was only productive of annas to the
beaters, but we picked up some chikor on the way home, and we have
found mushrooms growing close to the hut, so that our lower natures are
also satisfied. After lunch I mustered up energy sufficient to take me
down to the village to sketch a native hut which, surrounded by a patch
of flaming millet, had struck me on Friday as an extraordinary bit of
colour. Jane and Walter, after many “prave ’orts” about climbing the
ridge behind Drogmulla, contented themselves with a minor ascent of a
knoll about fifty feet high, while the Lancer, reckless in his
increasing activity, managed to trip over his crutches and give himself
an extremely unfortunate fall.

_Monday, October 2_.—There was a man who, during our bear-honk on
Saturday, rendered himself conspicuous, partly by reason of his
likeness to my shikari, and also because of his complete knowledge of
the whereabouts of all bears for many miles around. He was quite glad
to impart much information to us, and so won upon the sporting but too
trustful heart of the brave Colonel, that he was retained by that
officer in order that he might show sport to the Philistines, and annas
and even rupees were bestowed upon him; and he and the old original
“Snake” were sent forward on Saturday evening, as Joshua and Caleb, to
spy out the promised land in the neighbourhood of Tregam.

Lured by rumours of many bears, Walter and I set forth at daylight for
Tregam, leaving Jane and the youthful Lancer (once more, alas! reduced
to stiff bandages and a painful relapse) in possession of the hut. We
“hadna gane a mile—a mile but barely twa,” when the old shikari met us
with the painful intelligence that two sahibs were already at Tregam,
and had killed many bears there, grievously wounding the rest; so we
altered course eight points to port, crossed the Pohru, and made for
Rainawari.

A sharp climb over a wooded ridge (on the top of which we halted for
breakfast), followed by a steep descent, brought us into a flat and
well-cultivated plain, which sloped gently from the foothills of the
Kaj-nag to the bed of the Pohru. Everywhere, in the glowing sunlight,
the villagers were busily engaged in reaping the rice, which lay in
ripe brown swathes along the little fields. The walnuts, of which there
are a great plenty in this district, have been lately gathered, some
few trees only still remaining, loaded with a heavy crop, but the main
produce lay drying in heaps in the villages as we rode through.

The road to Rainawari seemed curiously devious. A Kashmiri track seldom
shies at a hill, but pursues its way, heedless of gradient, for its
objective; but this path imitated a corkscrew in its windings, and
reduced us to the utmost limit of our patience before, passing through
a small village whose dull-coloured houses were enlivened with gorgeous
festoons of scarlet chilies, we climbed a steep little hill and found
ourselves upon a park-like lawn or clearing, and facing the cluster of
rough wooden shanties which compose the Rainawari forest bungalow and
its outhouses. Behind the huts the densely-wooded hill drops sharply to
where a stream of good and pure water riots among the maidenhair and
mosses.

A large and inquisitive company of apes came up from the wood to take
stock of us, and I sat for a long time watching them as they played
about quite close to me, feeding, chattering, and quarrelling, entirely
unconcerned by the presence of their human spectator.

_Friday, October 6_.—All Tuesday was spent in honking bear in the lower
woods which stretch far towards the Pohru. The high hills which rise
above, covered with jungle, are said to be too large to work, and I can
well believe it! For the first drive I was posted on a steep bank
overlooking a most lovely little hollow, where the shafts of sunlight
fell athwart the grey trunks and heavy green masses of the pines,
lighting up the yellow leaves of the sumachs till they glowed like
gold, and casting a flickering network of strong lights and shadows
among the tangled mazes of undergrowth. A happy family of magpies,
grey-blue above, with barred tails and yellow beaks, flitted about in
restless quest, their constant cries being the only sound which broke
the peaceful stillness, until the faint and distant sound of shouts and
tom-toms showed that the first act of the farce had begun.

Towards the end of the third beat, while I was drowsily digesting
tiffin, and, truly, not far from napping, I was electrified by the
report of a rifle, followed by yells and a second shot! The beaters
redoubled their shouts, and the tom-tommers seemed like to burst their
drums.

My shikari, writhing with extreme excitement, hissed, “Baloo, sahib,
baloo!” and began aimlessly running to and fro, apparently hoping to
meet the bear somewhere. It was truly gay for a few minutes, but as
nothing further occurred, and the beaters grew very hoarse with their
prodigious efforts, I hurried on to Walter’s post to learn what had
happened.

A bear had suddenly come out of the cover some 40 yards off, and stood
to look. The Colonel missed it, whereupon it dashed forward, passing
within a few yards of him, and he missed it again. It departed at top
speed across some open ground behind him, and gained the great woods
which stretch away to the Kaj-nag, and never shall we see that bear
again! The Colonel was much disgusted, and if language—hot, strong, and
plenty of it—could have slain that bear, he would have dropped dead in
his tracks.

The beaters brought up a wonderful tale of how another bear, badly
wounded in the leg, had charged through their lines and gone back. They
stuck to their story, and either a second bear actually existed or they
are colossal liars. I incline to the latter theory.

We had wasted all our luck. No more bears came to look at us, and so,
late in the afternoon, we sought the rest-house and consolation from
Jane and Hesketh, who had arrived from Drogmulla.

I had occasion to deplore the bad manners of the rats at Harwan, but
their conduct was exemplary compared with that of the rats of
Rainawari! I had been writing my journal, according to my custom,
before going to sleep, and hardly had “lights out” been sounded than a
rat went off with my candle, literally from below my very nose. Then,
from the inadequately partitioned chamber where the invalid vainly
sought repose, came sounds of strife—boots and curses flying—followed
by an extraordinary scraping and scuffling. A large rat, having fallen
into the big tin bath, was making bids for freedom by ineffectually
leaping up the slippery sides. At last he contrived to get out, and
peace reigned until we managed to get to sleep.

Wednesday was spent honking in the forlorn hope of a bear, I have now
spent more than fourteen days in pursuit of black bear, and I have only
seen one. Every one said to me in spring, “Oh, go to the Lolab, it’s
full of bear,” I went, and was informed that it was a late season and I
was too early—the bears were not yet awake. I was consoled by learning
that later on, when the mulberries were ripe, the berry-loving beasts
jostled one another in the pursuit of the delicacy so much, that they
were no sport I went down from Gulmarg for three days, honking among
the mulberries, but saw none. Then I was told the maize season was
undoubtedly the best. Now the maize is full ripe; the maize fields are
tempting in their golden glory, and the only thing wanting to complete
the picture is a big, black bear.

Either my luck has been particularly bad (and I think it has, as the
Colonel got a fine bear below Gulmarg, and had another chance at
Rainawari), or else there are not so many bears in real life as exist
in the imaginations of those who know. My own theory is, that, unless
he has remarkable luck, a stranger, in the hands of an ignorant
shikari, and knowing nothing of the language, has but a remote chance
of sport. If the shikari does not happen to know the district
thoroughly, he is necessarily in the hands of the villagers, and has to
trust to them to arrange the beats and place the guns. The villagers
want their four annas for a day’s shouting, but do not know or care if
a bear is in the neighbourhood, so, having planted the gun (and shikari
with him), they proceed to beat after their own fashion, in other words
to stroll, in Indian file, like geese across a common, along the line
of least resistance, instead of spreading out and searching all the
thickest jungle.

Much yelling serves both to cheer the sahib, and frighten away any bear
which might otherwise haply frighten them.

I cannot say I regret the time I have spent looking for bear. The
scenery has always been fine—sometimes magnificent, and there has
always been a certain cheering hope, which sustained me as I lay hour
after hour in the Malingam Nullah, or sat expectant amid ever varying
and always beautiful glades and passes, watching the bird life, and
storing up scenes and memories which I know I shall never forget.

Alas! we have but a very few days yet before us in Kashmir, and it is
lamentable, for now the climate is simply perfect, the air clear and
clean, and without the haze of summer; the first crispness of coming
autumn making itself felt most distinctly in the early hours of morning
ere

“Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
The glorious sun uprist;”


and each dawn saw us up and out to watch these sunrises, whose
splendour cannot be expressed on paper. This morning it was more than
usually wonderful, the whole flank of Nanga Parbat and his lesser
peaks, turning from clear lemon to softest rose, stood radiant above
the purple shades of the great range which lies around Gurais. In the
middle distance, rising above the level yellow of the plain, still dim
and shadowy below the morning light, rolled wave upon wave of the blue
hills which hold in their embrace the fruitful Lolab. At our feet the
deodars, still dark with the shadow of night, crept up the dewy slope
upon whose top we stood. Then suddenly

“The sanguine sunrise, with his meteor eyes,”


flamed over the eastern ridges, and in a flood of glory the soft
shadows and pallid lights of the dawn became merged in the brilliance
of a Kashmir autumn day.

Our march yesterday from Rainawari to Kitardaji was charming. I had no
idea that this Machipura country, which is not much visited by summer
sojourners in Kashmir, was so fine. The district lies along the lower
shoulders and foothills of the Kaj-nag, and, while lacking the savage
grandeur of the Lidar or Upper Sind, yet possesses the charm of
infinite variety and, in this early autumn, a climate in which it is a
pure joy to live. On leaving Rainawari we followed up a river valley
for some distance, and then wound through richly cultivated hollows and
past well-wooded hills, where the dark silver firs and the deodars were
lit up by splashes of scarlet and orange, and the deciduous sumach and
thorn-bushes hung out their autumn flags. Walnuts—the trees in many
places turning yellow—were being gathered into heaps, and the apple
trees, reddening in the autumn glow, hung heavy with abundant fruit.

Turning into a narrow gorge, where the trees overhung the path and
shaded the wanderer with many an interlaced bough; where ferns grew in
great green clumps, and the friendly magpies chattered in the luminous
shade, I hurried on, having stayed behind the others to sketch. Up and
up, till only pines waved over me, and the track, leading along the
edge of a deep khud, opened out at last upon a plateau, hot and sunlit;
here an entrancing panorama of Nanga Parbat and the whole range of
mountains round Haramok caused me to stop “at gaze” until a mundane
desire for breakfast sent me scurrying down the dusty and slippery
descent to Larch, where I found, as I had hoped, the rest of the party
assembled expectant around the tiffin basket, while the necromancer,
Sabz Ali, had just succeeded in producing the most delightful stew,
omelette, and coffee from the usual native toy kitchen, made,
apparently, in a few minutes with a couple of stones and a dab of mud!

It has been an unfailing marvel to us how, in storm or calm, rain or
fine, the native cook seems always able to produce a hot meal with such
apparently inadequate materials as he has at his command. Give him a
fire in the open, screened by stones and a mud wall, a _batterie de
cuisine_ limited to one or two war-worn “degchies,” and let him have a
village fowl and half-a-dozen tiny eggs, and he will in due time serve
up, with modest pride, a most excellent repast.

The remaining half of our twelve-mile march lay along a continually
rising track, which finally brought us to Kitardaji, a cosy pine-built
hut, perched upon a hill clothed with deodars, at the foot of which ran
the inevitable stream.

This, alas! is our last Kashmir camping-ground, and it is one of the
most charming of all.

At 8.15 this morning we bade farewell to Kitardaji. We had got up
before dawn to see the sunrise, but afterwards took things leisurely,
as the march is short to Baramula, and our boats were to be in waiting
there, and we had made all arrangements for a landau and ekkas to be in
readiness to take us down to Rawal Pindi, while the Colonel returned up
the Jhelum for more shooting before rejoining his wife at Bandipur.

The march of about thirteen miles from Kitardaji to Baramula is
fine—the views of Nanga Parbat in the early hours, before the sun’s
full strength cast a golden glow over the distance, were magnificent,
and long we lingered upon the last ridge, gazing over the great valley,
ringed with its guardian mountains, ere we sadly turned our backs for
the last time on the scene, and wended our way downward to Baramula and
our boats.

Kashmir seems to be as difficult to get out of as to get into! What was
our amazement and disgust to find neither landau nor ekkas, nor,
apparently, any chance of getting them!

Baramula was in a ferment, and wild confusion reigned because the
Viceroy, having somewhat suddenly determined to come to Jammu, the
Maharajah and all his suite, together with the Resident and his
belongings, were to start down the road at once, and all transport was
commandeered by the State. Here was a coil! Officers innumerable, who
had stayed in Kashmir until the limit of their leave, were struggling
vainly to get on, and had got to Baramula only to find all transport in
the hands of the State officials. Some few had, by fair means or foul,
got hold of an ekka or two and hidden them; others had seized ponies,
but nothing to harness them to. A few of the younger men set forth on
foot, and others had their servants out in ambush on the roads to try
and collect transport.

It was most important that we should get on, as Hesketh had to be in
Pindi to go before a medical board on the 14th, in order to be
invalided home to England; and as he was most anxious to catch a
steamer sailing on the 25th, he had no time to spare.

I telegraphed to Sir Amar Singh for authority to engage ekkas, and I
sent for the Tehsildhar of Baramulla to complain of my ekkas being
taken. He appeared in due course—a somewhat pert little person—who
promised to do what he could, which I knew would be nothing. A farewell
dinner on board Walter’s ship concluded a fairly busy day.

_Saturday, October 7_.—A strenuous day, to say the least of it. Sir
Amar Singh most courteously met my wishes, and himself directed the
local authorities to assist me. Armed with this power, I again sent for
the Tehsildhar, who promised many ekkas, but appeared to have some
difficulty in fulfilling his promises. I spent the forenoon in hunting
transport, sending out my servants also in pursuit. The Tehsildhar
produced one ekka with great pomp, as earnest of what he could and
would do later on.

During the afternoon the landau turned up from Srinagar, and at 6 P.M.
one of my myrmidons rushed in to say that two ekkas had arrived at the
dâk bungalow.

It was but a few yards away, and in a couple of minutes I was on the
spot. The ekkas had come up from Pindi, and the sahib who had lured
them to Baramula seemed astonished at my method of taking them over. In
an uncommonly short while the ekkas were parked, with the landau, close
to the boats and under strict watch, while all harness was brought on
board my dounga, just in time, as native officials of some sort romped
up and claimed the ekkas, and threatened to beat my servants. It was
explained to them gently, but firmly, that if they touched my ekkas or
landau they would taste the waters of the Jhelum. We were then left in
peaceful possession.

_Tuesday, October 10_.—On Sunday morning we really saw our way to
making a start. We had three ekkas collected, and the Tehsildhar
produced a fourth with a great flourish, as though in expectation of a
heavy tip. The landau was being piled with odds and ends while the last
bits of business were being got through. Juma and his crew were paid
and tipped (grumbling, of course, for the Kashmiri is a lineal
descendant of the horse-leech). The shikari went to Smithson, and the
sweeper and permanent coolie were transferred to the assistant forest
officer, while Ayata (in charge of Freddie, the blackbird) scrambled
into the leading ekka.

By noon all was ready, and amid the rattle and jingle of many harness
bells and the salaams of the domestics, we bowled out of Baramula, and
set forward down the valley of the Jhelum.



CHAPTER XV
DELHI AND AGRA


The journey down was uneventful, and quite unlike the journey up, when
we had been briskly occupied in dodging landslips for days. A good
road, white and dry, and sloping steadily downward; a good pair of
ponies, strong and willing; a roomy landau, wherein Hesketh—still
suffering from his fall at Drogmulla—could stretch himself in
comparative comfort, combined to bring us to Kohala this afternoon in a
state of excellent preservation. Here we crossed the bridge, which
brought us to the right bank of the river—from Kashmir to British
territory.

Kohala is the proud possessor of one of the very worst dâk bungalows
yet discovered. This seems disappointing when stepping under the folds
of the Union Jack full of high hope and confidence.

Climbing up through a particularly noisome bazaar to the bungalow, I
was met with the information that it was already full. I said that was
a pity, but that room must be found for my party.

Room was got somehow, a dâk bungalow being an extraordinarily elastic
dwelling. Hesketh was stored in a little tent. I lodged in the
dining-room, and Jane took up her quarters in a sort of dressing-room
kindly given up by a lady, who bravely sought asylum with a
sister-in-law and a remarkably strong-lunged baby. I believe more
travellers arrived later, for—although, thanks to Sir Amax Singh and
good luck, we gained a good start at Baramula—now the tongas are
beginning to roll in and the plot to thicken.

I cannot think where the last arrivals bestowed themselves—not on the
roof, I trust, for a thunderstorm, accompanied by the usual vigorous
squall of wind, fell upon us during the night, and raged so furiously
that I was greatly relieved to see the Lancer’s little tent still
braving the battle and the breeze in the morning.

We had a long day before us, so started in good time to make the
tedious ascent to Murree. It rained steadily, and a cold wind swept
down the river valley as we began to make our slow way up the long,
long hill.

I never knew milestones so extraordinarily far apart as those which
mark the distance between Kohala and Murree. There are twenty-five of
them, distributed along a weary winding road which extends without an
apparent variation of gradient from Kohala to the Murree cemetery. The
rise from the river level to Murree is 5000 feet, and this, in a heavy
landau over a road often deep in red mud, is a heavy strain on equine
endurance and human patience.

We had a fresh pair of horses waiting for us half-way up the hill, but
they proved absolutely useless, being obviously already dead tired and
quite unable to drag the carriage through any of the muddier places
even with every one but the invalid on foot. So we apologetically put
the gallant greys in again, poor beasties, and they took us up well.

From the cemetery the road runs fairly level to where, upon rounding a
sharp corner, the hill station of Murree comes into sight, clinging to
its hill-tops and overlooking the far flat plains beyond Pindi.

I cannot imagine how anybody would willingly abide in Murree who could
go anywhere else for the hot weather. There being no level ground,
there is no polo, no cricket, and no golf. There is no river to fish
in, and I do not think that there is anything at all to shoot.
Doubtless, however, it has its compensations. Probably it abounds in
pretty mem-sahibs, who with bridge and Badminton combine to oil the
wheels of life, and make it merry on the Murree hills.

Leaving the station high on the left, we dipped in a most puzzling
manner down a slope through a fine wood giving magnificent views
towards the hills of our beloved Kashmir, and presently came to “Sunny
Bank,” whence a steep road seemed to run sharply hack and up to Murree
itself. It was late, and both we and our unfortunate horses were tired,
but a hasty peep into the little inn showed it to be quite impossible
as a lodging, and a biting wind sent us shivering down the hill as fast
as might be to seek rest and warmth at Tret.

The good greys took us down the eleven miles in a very short time, and
we pulled up at the dâk bungalow at 7.30, having been just twelve hours
doing the forty miles from Kohala.

The dâk bungalow and all the compound in front was crowded, detachments
_en route_, from Murree to Pindi having halted here for the night.
Hesketh was lucky enough to share a room with a brother Lancer, and a
mixed bag of Gunners and Hussars made up a cheery dinner-table.

The only member of the party showing signs of collapse was the
unfortunate Freddie, who, shaken up in his small cage for three days in
an ekka, seemed in piteous plight, feathers (what there were of them)
ruffled and unkempt, and eyes dim and half closed. Poor dear, it was
only sleep he wanted, for next morning he showed up, as his fond owner
remarked, “bright as a button!”

_12th_.—The road from Tret to Pindi seemed tame to us, but probably
charming to the horses, first down a few gently sloping hills, and then
for the remainder of its six-and-twenty miles it wound its dull and
dusty length along the level.

We halted for our last picnic lunch in a roadside garden full of loquat
trees and big purple hibiscus. The only curious thing here was a pi-dog
which refused to eat cold duck! Certainly it was a _very_ tough duck,
but still, I do not think a pi-dog should he so fastidious.

A few more level dusty miles, and we rattled into Rawal Pindi, where,
after depositing our sick man safely in his own mess precincts, we
proceeded to ensconce ourselves in Flashman’s Hotel, which is certainly
far better than the Lime Tree, where we stayed before. Indian hotels
are about the worst in the world. We have sampled rough dens in Spain,
in Tetuan, and in Corsica—especially in Corsica, but then they are
unpretentious inns in unfrequented villages, whereas in India you find
in world-famous cities such as Agra or Delhi the most comfortless dens
calling themselves hotels—hotels where you hardly dare eat half the
food for fear of typhoid, and will not eat the rest because it is so
unsavoury!

It may be argued that the hotels, if bad, are cheap, and that one
cannot reasonably expect much in return for five or six rupees per day;
it seems, however, that in a country where food and labour cost next to
nothing, a good landlord should be able to “do” his customers well upon
five rupees, and make a substantial profit into the bargain.

Probably, as the facilities for travel are rapidly increasing, and
India is now as easy to reach as Italy was in days not so long by, the
hotels will soon improve. Hospitality, which is still to-day greater in
the East than in our more selfish Western regions, and which has, until
quite recently, obviated for strangers and pilgrims the necessity for
hotels, is now unable to cope with the increasing flood of visitors and
wanderers; as the need becomes more pressing, so will the supply,
consequent upon the demand, improve both in quality and quantity; and
we have already heard of the new Taj Mahal Hotel at Bombay, the fame of
which has been trumpeted through India, and which is said to rival in
luxury the palaces of Ritz!

The real and serious difficulty, and one which at present seems
insurmountable, is to secure cleanliness and safety in that Augean
stable—the cook-house. Until the native can be brought to understand
the inadvisability of using tainted water and unclean utensils, and of
permitting the ubiquitous fly to pervade the larder—until, I say, that
millennium can be attained, the danger of enteric and other ills will
always be very great in Indian hotels.

_Friday, October_ 13.—Lunch with Dr. Munro, who surprised us somewhat
by having married a wife since we played golf and bridge together at
Gulmarg only a few weeks ago. Tea, a farewell repast with our
invalid—who goes before a medical board in a few days, and who will
then be doubtless sent home on long sick leave—and the despatch of our
heavy luggage direct to Bombay, occupied us pretty fully for the day;
and in the evening, after dinner, we took up our residence in a
carriage drawn up in a siding to be attached to the 6.30 mail in the
morning. Our last recollection of Pindi was a vision of the faithful
Ayata, paid, tipped, and provided with a flaming “chit,” flapping along
the road in the bright moonlight, with all his worldly possessions, _en
route_ for Abbotabad and home.

_Saturday, October_ 14.—A prodigious amount of banging, whistling, and
yelling seemed to be necessary before we could be coupled up to the
early train, and sent flying towards Lahore. It was impossible to
sleep, and I was peacefully watching the landscape as it slid past,
first in the pink flush of early dawn, and gradually losing colour as
the sun, gaining in strength, reduced everything to a white hot glow,
when, scraping and bumping into a wayside station, we were suddenly
informed that, owing to hot bearings or heated axles or something, we
must quit our carriage at once, and so, half dressed and wholly
wrathful, we were shot out on a hot and exceedingly gritty platform,
with our hand luggage and bedding all of a heap, and with the whole
length of the train to traverse to attain our new carriage. Sabz Ali
being curled up asleep in an “intermediate,” was all unwitting of this
upheaval. The officials were impatient, and so Jane and I were in a
thoroughly unchristian frame of mind by the time we were stowed, hot
and greatly fussed, into a stifling compartment, whose dust-begrimed
windows long withstood all endeavours to open them.

We reached Lahore about noon, and, having some six hours to dispose of
there, we spent them in calm contemplation, sitting on the verandah of
Nedou’s Hotel. It was really too hot to think of sight-seeing.

_Thursday, October 19_.—Another night in the train brought us to Delhi
at dawn, and we drove up to the execrable caravansary of Mr. Maiden. I
do not propose to write much about Delhi. Every one who has been in
India has visited the capital of the Moguls, whose wealth of splendid
buildings would alone have rendered it a supreme attraction for the
sight-seer, even had it not played the part it did in the Mutiny, and
been memorable as the scene of the storming of the Kashmir Gate and the
death of John Nicholson.

We, personally, carried away from Delhi an uncomfortable sense of
disappointment. It was very hot, and Jane fell a victim to the heat or
something, and took to her bed in the comfortless hotel, while I
prowled sadly about the baking streets, and tried to work up an
enthusiasm which I did not feel.

As soon as Jane was fit, we joined forces with a young
fellow-countryman and his sister, who were the only other English
people in the hotel, and drove out to see the Kutab Minar. On arrival
we found a comfortable dâk bungalow, and, having made an excellent
breakfast, sallied forth to view the Kutab. May I confess that I was
again a little disappointed? I do not really know exactly why, but the
great tower, whose fluted shaft, dark red in the sunglow, shoots up
some 270 feet into the air, did not appeal to me. It is like no other
column—it is unique, marvellous,—but it leaves me cold.

The splendid arch of the screen of the old temple, and the lovely
columns of the Jain temple opposite, attracted me far more than the
Kutab Minar.

Jane and young Buxton went off to see a native jump down a well fifty
feet deep for four annas. The performance sounded curious, but
unpleasant. The sightseers were much impressed! Meanwhile, Miss Buxton
and I discovered a very modern and exceedingly hideous little Hindu
temple, painted in the most appalling manner—altogether a gem of
grotesqueness, and truly delightful and refreshing.

Tea in front of the dâk bungalow, in a corner blazing with “gold
mohurs” and rosy oleanders, while the driver and the syce harnessed the
lean pair of horses, a final visit to the Kutab and the great arch, and
we fared back over the eleven bumpy miles that lay between us and
Delhi.

A good deal of my spare time, while Jane was _hors de combat_, was
spent in the jewellers’ shops of the Chandni chowk, the principal
merchants’ quarter of Delhi. I do not think that anything very special
in the way of a “bargain” is to be obtained by the amateur, although
stones are undoubtedly cheaper than in London. I saw little really fine
jewellery, probably because I was obviously unlikely to be a big buyer,
but many good spinels, dark topaz, and rough emeralds. The stones I
wanted I failed to get. Alexandrites were not, and pink topaz scarce
and dear. The dealers generally tried to sell pale spinels as pink
topaz. Peridot are cheaper, I think, at home, and certainly in Cairo,
and the only amethysts worth looking at are sent out from Germany. The
pale ones of the country come from Jaipur. By-the-bye, the
best-coloured amethysts I ever remember seeing were in Clermont
Ferrand.

Delhi has always been connected with gems in my mind. I am not certain
why. Partly, perhaps, because the famous Peacock Throne of Shah Jehan
stood in the Palace here. I cannot resist giving the description of it
in the words of Tavernier, who saw it about 1655, and who describes it
as follows:—

“This is the largest throne; it is in form like one of our field-beds,
six foot long and four broad. The cushion at the back is round like a
bolster; the cushions on the sides are flat. I counted about a hundred
and eight pale rubies in collets about this throne, the least whereof
weighed a hundred carats. Emeralds I counted about a hundred and
forty.”

“The under part of the canopy is all embroidered with pearls and
diamonds, with a fringe of pearls round about. Upon the top of the
canopy, which is made like an arch with four paws, stands a peacock
with his tail spread, consisting entirely of sapphires and other
proper-coloured stones;[1] the body is of beaten gold enchased with
several jewels; and a great RUBY upon his breast, to which hangs a
pearl that weighs fifty carats. On each aide of the peacock stand two
nosegays as high as the bird, consisting of various sorts of flowers,
all of beaten gold enamelled.”

[1] “Au dessus du ciel qui est faite en voûte à quatre pans on voit un
Paon, qui a la queue relevée fait de Saphirs bleus et autres pierres de
couleur.”—TAVERNIER, livre ii. chap. viii.


“When the king seats himself upon the throne there is a transparent
jewel, with a diamond appendant of eighty or ninety carats weight,
encompassed with rubies and emeralds, so hung that it is always in his
eye. The twelve pillars also, that uphold the canopy, are set with rows
of fair pearl, round, and of an excellent water, that weigh from six to
ten carats apiece.”

“At the distance of four feet, upon each side of the throne, are placed
two umbrellas, the handles of which are about eight feet high, covered
with diamonds, the umbrellas themselves being of crimson velvet,
embroidered and fringed with pearl.”

“This is the famous throne which Tamerlane began and Shah Jehan
finished; and is really reported to have cost a hundred and sixty
millions and five hundred thousand livres of our money.”

One can picture the enraptured diamond merchant examining this
masterpiece of Oriental luxury with awe-struck eye, appraising the size
and lustre of each gem, and taking the fullest notes with which to
dazzle his countrymen on returning to the more prosaic Europe from what
was then indeed the “Gorgeous East!” This world-famous throne was
seized by Nadir Shah, when he sacked Delhi in 1739, and carried away
(together with our Koh-i-noor diamond) into Persia. Dow, who saw the
famous throne some twenty years before Tavernier, describes _two_
peacocks standing behind it with their tails expanded, which were
studded with jewels. Between the peacocks stood a parrot, life size,
cut out of a single emerald!

_Friday, October_ 20.—Yesterday at 6 A.M. we spurned the dust of Delhi,
hot and blinding, from our feet and clambered into the train, which
whirled us across the sun-baked plain to Agra.

There has been a woeful shortage of rain in the Punjab and Rajputana,
and a famine seems imminent—not a great and universal famine, as, the
monsoon having been irregular, only some districts have suffered to a
serious extent, and they can be supplied from elsewhere, whereas in the
great famine of 1901 the drought parched the whole land, and no help
could be given by one State to another, all lying equally under the
sun’s curse. Not a great famine, perhaps; yet, to one accustomed to the
genial juiciness of the West, the miles and miles of waterless hot
plains, stretching away to where the horizon flickered in the glare,
the brown and parched vegetation, the lean and hungry-looking cattle,
tended by equally lean and famished herds, caused the monotonous view
from the carriage windows to be strangely depressing.

This is the very battle-ground of Nature and the British Raj. We have
given peace and, to a certain extent, prosperity to the teeming
millions of India, and they have increased and multiplied until the
land is overburthened, and Nature, with relentless will, bids Famine
and Pestilence lay waste the cities and the plains. Then Science, with
irrigation works and improved hygiene, strives hard to gain a victory,
but still the struggle rages doubtfully.

Agra we liked as much as we disliked Delhi. To begin with creature
comforts (and the well-being of the body produces a pair of _couleur de
rose_ spectacles for the mental eye), Laurie’s Hotel at Agra is very
much more comfortable than the den we abode in at Delhi, and after a
good tiffin we set forth with light hearts to see the Fort.

This, the accumulated achievement of the greatest of the Mogul
Emperors, is a magnificent monument of their power and pride. The
earliest part, built by Akbar, is all of rich red sandstone. The great
hall of audience and other portions show his broad-minded tolerance and
catholicity of taste in being almost pure Hindu in style and
decoration. Later, with Jehangir and Shah Jehan, the high-water mark of
sumptuousness was attained in the use of pure white marble, lavishly
inlaid with coloured stones.

As we wandered through halls and corridors of marble most richly
wrought, while the sun-glare outside did but emphasise the cool shade
within, or filter softly through the lace-like tracery of pierced
white-marble screens, one longed to reclothe these glorious skeletons
with all the pomp of their dead magnificence—for one magic moment
replace the Great Mogul upon his peacock throne, surround him with a
glittering crowd of courtiers and attendants, clothe the wide marble
floors upon which they stand with richest carpets from the looms of
Persia and the North, and drape the tall white columns with rustling
canopies of silk.

Before the great audience hall let the bare garden-court again glow
with a million blooms; there let the peacocks sun themselves, their
living jewels putting to shame the gems that burn back from aigrette
and from sword-hilt; see and hear the cool waters sparkling once again
from their long-dried founts, flashing in the white sunlight, and
flowing over ducts cunningly inlaid with zigzag bands to imitate the
ripple of the mountain stream.

The dead frame alone is left of all this gorgeous picture. The
imperishable marble glows white in the sunlight as it did in the days
of Shah Jehan. The great red bastions of the Fort frown over the same
placid Jumna, and watch each morning the pearly dome of the Taj Mahal
rise like a moon in the dawn-glow, shimmer through the parching glare
of an Indian day, and at eve sink, rosy, into the purple shadows of
swiftly-falling night, as they did when Shah Jehan sat “in the
sunset-lighted balcony with his eyes fixed on the snow-white pile at
the bend of the river, and his heart full of consolation of having
wrought for her he loved, through the span of twenty years, a work that
she had surely accepted at the last.”[2]

[2] _The Web of Indian Life_


We spent a long afternoon in the Fort, and drove out finally through
the monstrous gateway in a little Victoria, feeling all the time that
none but elephants in all their glory of barbaric caparison could pass
through such a portal worthily.

The moon was full almost a week ago, unfortunately, so we determined
that, failing moonlight, our first visit to the Taj should be at
sunset.

The two miles’ drive along an excellent road was delightful, and the
approach to the Taj has been laid out with much skill as a beautiful
bit of landscape garden. This care is due to Lord Curzon, who has taken
Agra and its monuments into his especial keeping.

A very small golf-course has been laid out, and the familiar form of
the enthusiast could be seen, blind to everything but the flight of
time and his Haskell, hurrying round to save the last of the daylight.

Beneath a tree was laid out a tea equipage, and a few ladies indolently
putting showed that, after all, the game was not taken too seriously.

I have no intention of trying to describe the Taj Mahal. The attempt
has already been made a thousand times. I may merely remark that the
detestable Indian miniatures, and little ivory or marble models that
are, alas! so common, are incapable of giving an idea, otherwise than
misleading, of this wonderful building, which is not—as they would
vainly show it—glaring, staring, and hard, nor does its formality seem
other than just what it should be.

As we saw it first—opalescent in the soft, clear light of sunset—the
chief impression it made upon us was that of size; for this we were
quite unprepared.

As we approached it from the great red entrance arch, along a smooth
path bordering the central stretch of still, translucent water, the
lovely dome rose fairy-like from the masses of trees that, in their
turn, formed a background of solemn green for gorgeous patches of
colour, in bloom and leaf, which glowed on either side as we advanced.

Ascending a flight of steps to the wide terrace, all of whitest marble,
upon which the Taj is raised, we realised that the detail of carving
and of inlay was as perfect as the general effect of the whole.

High as my expectations had been raised, I was not disappointed in the
Taj, and that is saying much, for one’s pre-formed ideas are apt to
soar beyond bounds and to suffer the fate of Icarus. At the same time,
I cannot agree with Fergusson that the Taj Mahal is the most beautiful
building in the world. I do not admit that it is possible to compare
structures of such widely divergent types as the Parthenon, the
Cathedral of Chartres, the Campanile of Giotto, and the Taj Mahal, and
pronounce in favour of any one of them. It is as vain as to contend
that the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a finer poem than Keats’ “Eve
of St. Agnes,” or that the “Erl Konig” is better music than “The
Moonlight Sonata.”

Perhaps it is not too much to say that it is the loveliest tomb in the
world, and the finest specimen of Mohammedan architecture in existence.
If I dared to criticise what would appear to be faultless, I should
humbly suggest that the four corner minarets are not worthy of the
centre building, reminding one rather of lighthouses.

We spent a second day in Agra, revisiting the Fort and the Taj rather
than seeing anything new. We could have hired a motor and rushed out
for a hurried visit to Fatehpur-Sighri, and there was temptation in the
idea; but we decided to content ourselves with the abundant food for
eye and mind which we had in these two wonderful buildings, and in the
evening we took the train for Jaipur.

_Saturday, October 21._—One is apt to be cross and fussed and generally
upset on being landed on a strange platform in the dark at 5.30 A.M.,
as we were at Jaipur, but much solace lay in the fact that a
comfortable carriage stood waiting us and a most kind and genial host
received us on the broad verandah of his bungalow, and the cheering
fact was borne in upon us that we shall have henceforward but little to
do with Indian hotels.

How one appreciates a large, cool room, good servants, good food, and
last, but not least, the society of one’s kind, after two or three
weeks of racket and discomfort by road and rail.

A restful morning enlivened us sufficiently to enjoy a garden party at
the Residency in the afternoon, where not only the English society, but
a large number of native gentlemen, were playing lawn-tennis with
laudable energy.

After Kashmir, where Sir Amar Singh is the only native who mixes at all
with the English, it was interesting to see and meet on terms of
good-fellowship these Rajput aristocrats.

_Sunday, October_ 22.—The city of Jaipur is, I think, principally
interesting as being modern and enlightened among those of the native
states.

When the ancient city of Ambér was abandoned, principally on account of
its scanty water-supply, Jaipur was built upon a regular and
prearranged plan, having a great wide street down the centre, crossed
by two large thoroughfares at right angles, thus dividing the town into
six rectangular blocks.

We drove into the city in the afternoon, and were much impressed by its
airiness and cleanliness. The houses are all coated with pink stucco,
picked out with white, which, in the bright atmosphere, has, at a
little distance, a charming effect. On closer inspection the real
tawdriness and want of solidity of the work become painfully apparent,
and the designs in white upon the pink, in which the wayward fancy of
each householder runs riot, generally leave much to be desired, both in
design and execution.

The broad, clean main streets were a perfect kaleidoscope of colour and
movement. Men in pink pugarees—in lemon-coloured—in emerald green;
women in blood-red saris, bearing shining brass pots upon their heads,
all talking, shouting, jostling—a large family of monkeys on a
neighbouring roof added their quota of conversation—calm oxen, often
with red-painted horns and pink-streaked bodies, camels, asses, horses,
strolled about or pushed their way through the throng. No Hindu cow
would ever dream of making way for anybody. Yes, though! Here comes an
elephant rolling along, and the holy ones with humps discreetly retire
aside, covering their retreat before a _force majeure_ by stepping up
to the nearest greengrocer’s stall and abstracting a generous mouthful
of the most succulent of his wares.

Rising in the midst of a lovely garden, just outside the city, is the
Albert Hall, a remarkably fine structure, built in accordance with the
best traditions of Mohammedan architecture adapted to modern
requirements by our host, the designer. It contains both a museum of
the products of Rajputana, and also an instructive collection of
objects of art and science, gathered together for the edification of
the intelligent native.

We would willingly have spent hours examining the pottery and brass
work for which Jaipur is famous, or in making friends with the denizens
of the great aviary in the garden, but time is short, and even the baby
panther could only claim a few minutes of our devotion.

The Palace of the Maharajah is neither particularly interesting nor
beautiful, and we did not visit it further than to inspect the ancient
observatory built by Jey Singh, with its huge sundial, whose gnomon
stands 80 feet above the ground! What we are pleased to call a
superstitious attention to times lucky or unlucky has given to
astronomical observations in the East an unscientific importance which
they have not had for centuries in Europe.[3] A slight attack of fever
prevented me from going to Ambér; so I stayed at home, peacefully
absorbing quinine, subsequently extracting the following from Jane’s
diary:—

[3] I fear this is somewhat misleading. Jey Singh was, _par
excellence_, an astronomer, not an astrologer,—T. R. S.


“‘Tea ready, mem-sahib.’ The familiar and somewhat plaintive sound of
Sabz Ali’s voice roused me, as it so often has in tent, forest hut, or
matted dounga;”

but this time I was really puzzled for a moment, on awaking, to find
myself in a real comfortable spring bed, white-enamelled and
mosquito-netted, while for roof I only saw the clear, pale, Indian sky.
Then it was I remembered that, at my host’s suggestion, my bed had been
carried out into the shrubbery, and that I had fallen asleep, lulled by
the howling of the jackals and the rustle of the flying squirrels in
the gold mohur-tree overhead.

“Springing on to the cool, grassy carpet, and dressing quickly, to gain
as much time as possible before the rising of the hot October sun, I
was soon ready for breakfast, which Miss Macgregor and I had in the
garden among the parrots and the pigeons, and the dear little
squirrels. We were ready for the road before seven, and were soon
trotting along between dusty hedges of gaunt-fingered cactus, shaded
here and there by neem trees and peepuls.”

“Our smart victoria was lent by a Rajput friend of Sir Swinton’s, and
he had also sent us his private secretary as guide and escort—a very
thin young man in a black sateen coat and gay-flowered waistcoat.”

“Through the pink-stuccoed streets of Jaipur we threaded our
way—slowly, on account of the holy pigeons breakfasting in thousands on
the road, and the sacred bulls, who barely deigned to move aside to let
us pass.”

“It appears to be the custom, when a man dies, for his relatives to let
loose a bull _in memoriam_, and the happy beast forthwith sets out to
live a life of sloth and luxury. The city is his, and every
green-grocer in it is only too much honoured if the fastidious animal
will condescend to make free with his cabbages.”

“Once clear of the crowded streets, we got on quicker, and about six
miles out we found the elephant which had been sent out from the royal
stable to carry us to Ambér. We climbed upon her (it was a lady
elephant) in a great hurry, by means of a rickety sort of ladder, as we
were told that an elephant, if ‘fresh,’ was apt to rise up suddenly, to
the great detriment of the passenger who had ‘not arrived.’ She was a
very friendly-looking creature though, and her little eyes twinkled
most affably; her face was decorated in a scheme of red and green, and
her saddle was a sort of big mattress surrounded by a railing.”

“I am no judge of the paces of elephants, but this one seemed
uncommonly rough; and we held on vigorously to the railing until we
reached a ridge and saw the dead city of Ambér before us, dominated by
the white marble palace, standing on a steep cliff, and reflected in
the water of the lake which laps its base.”

“Up a steep and narrow path we mounted until we reached the courtyard
of the ancient palace of the ruler of Ambér, and there we alighted from
our steed, and set out to explore the ruins. First we came to a small
temple, ugly enough, but interesting, for here a goat is sacrificed
every morning to Kali—a particularly hideous goddess, if the frescoes
on the walls and the golden image in the sanctuary are in any way
truthful! Formerly a human sacrifice was customary, but the unfortunate
goat is found to fulfil modern requirements, since goddesses are more
easily pleased or less pampered than of yore.”

“The Palace, which dates from the seventeenth century, is chiefly
remarkable for its magnificent situation, and for its court and hall of
audience of marble and red sandstone.”

“This work was so fine as to excite the jealousy of the Mogul Emperor,
so the Prince of Ambér had it promptly whitewashed—and whitewashed it
remains to this day. Some of the brazen doors are remarkably fine, as
also those of sandal-wood, inlaid with ivory, in the women’s quarters.”

“We climbed to the marble court on the roof, where, canopied only by
the sky and lighted by the moon, nocturnal durbars were held. Now, in
the glare of the noonday sun, we fully appreciated the value of an
evening sitting, for it was impossible to remain grilling there, even
though the view of the silent city below, falling in tier after tier to
the lake—the glare only broken here and there by patches of green
garden—was superb. On either side rose the bare, rocky ridges,
fort-crowned and looking formidable even in decay, while in front the
dusty road stretched away into the haze of the dusty plains below. Of
course, we should have visited the great Jain temples and other things
worthy of note; but, alas! a green garden, whose palms overhung the
lake, proved more attractive than even Jain temples, and a charming
picnic on fruits and cool drinks strengthened us sufficiently to enable
us to face the hot road home, buoyed up each mile by the nearer
prospect of a tub.”

Jaipur is celebrated for its enamelling on gold, so our host kindly
sent for an eminent jeweller to come and show us some trifles.
Expectant of a humble native carrying the usual bundle, we were much
impressed when, in due time, a dignitary drove up in a remarkably well
turned out carriage and pair. His servants were clad in a smart livery,
and he himself was resplendent, with uncut emerald earrings, and the
general appearance of a certain Savoy favourite as the “Rajah of Bong”!

Our spirits sank as he spread himself and his goods out upon the
drawing-room floor, which speedily became a glittering chaos of gold
and jewelled cups, umbrella handles, boxes, scent-bottles, and
necklaces. Jane divided her admiration between a rope of fat pearls and
a necklace of uncut emeralds, either of which might have been hers at
the trifling price of some 7000 rupees, but we finally restricted our
acquisitions to very modest proportions, and the stout jeweller
departed, apparently no whit less cheerful than when he came.

The modern brass-work of Jaipur is somewhat attractive, and we bought
various articles—a tall lamp-stand, an elephant bell, and a few
ordinary bowls of excellent shape.

I have remarked before on the extreme tameness of, and the confidence
shown by, wild creatures out here. A titmouse came and perched on the
arm of my chair while sitting reading on the verandah at Gulmarg.

The rats and mice, who own the forest houses in the Machipura, have to
be kicked off the beds at night. But the little grey squirrels in Sir
Swinton Jacob’s garden are—_facile princeps_—the boldest wild-fowl we
have yet encountered.

Every afternoon about three, when tea was toward, the squirrels
gathered on the gravel path, and prepared to receive bread and butter.

After a few nervous darts and tail whiskings, a bold squirrel would
skip up close, and, after eating a little ground bait, would boldly
come up and nibble out of a motionless hand. In two minutes
half-a-dozen pretty little creatures would be fidgeting round, eating
bread and butter daintily, neatly holding the morsel in their little
forepaws and nuzzling into one’s fingers for more.

A handsome magpie, and, of course, a contingent of crows, made up the
fascinating party; while in the background, among the neem trees and
the flaming “gold mohurs,” the minahs and green parrots sustained an
incessant and riotous conversation.

_Wednesday, October 25_.—Gladly would we have accepted the Jacobs’
invitation to stay longer at Jaipur. We would have liked nothing
better, but time was flying, and the 5th November—our day of departure
from Bombay—was drawing rapidly near. So yesterday evening we took the
6.30 train for Ajmere, and, reaching there at 10.30, changed into the
narrow-gauge railway for Chitor. We are becoming well accustomed to
sleeping in an Indian train, and Sabz Ali had our beds unrolled and our
innumerable hand luggage stowed away in no time, including four bottles
of soda-water, which he has carefully garnered in the washstand, and
which no hints, however broad, will induce him to relinquish.



CHAPTER XVI
UDAIPUR


We arrived, very sleepy and gritty, at Chitor at 5.30 A.M., to find an
unprecedented mob of first-class passengers _en route_ for Udaipur, and
only one very minute compartment in which to stow them.

The station-master—a solemn Baboo, full of his own importance,
becomingly clad in a waving white petticoat, with bare legs and
elastic-sided boots, surmounted by a long cutaway frock-coat, topped by
a black skull-cap, and finally decorated by a pen behind his ear—seemed
totally unable to cope with the terrible problem he was set to solve.

I suggested that another carriage should be put on, but he had none,
nor any solution to offer; so we cleared a second-class compartment and
divided the party out, and then, with five people in our tiny
compartment, we set out on the fifty-mile run to Udaipur.

Five people in a carriage in Europe is nowise unusual, but five people
in an Indian one (and that a narrow, very narrow gauge), accompanied by
rolls of bedding, tiffin-baskets, and all the quantity of personal
luggage which is absolutely necessary, not to speak of a large-sized
bird-cage (which cannot, strictly speaking, be classed as a necessary),
requires the ingenuity of a professional packer of herrings or figs to
adjust nicely!

By cramming the toilet place with bedding, khudsticks, a five-foot
brass lamp-stand, and the four soda-water bottles, we made shift to
stow portmanteaux, bags, tiffin-baskets, &c., under the seats and
ourselves upon them, and then arranged a sort of centre-piece of Jane’s
big tin bonnet-box, surmounted by Freddy in his cage. The other
passengers were very amiably disposed, and not fat, and they even went
so far as to pretend to admire Freddy—a feat of some difficulty, as he
is still very bald and of an altogether forbidding aspect. This
admiration so won upon the heart of Jane, that in the fulness thereof
she served out biscuits and a little tinned butter all round, while
Freddy cheerfully spattered food and water upon all indiscriminately.

About eighteen miles from Udaipur we passed the ruins of Ontala. Here,
in the stormy time when Jehangir had seized Chitor, there happened a
desperate deed.

The Rana of Mewar, expelled from his capital, determined to attack and
retake Ontala. Now, the Rajputs were divided into clans as fiery as any
of those whose fatal pride went far to ruin Bonnie Prince Charlie at
Culloden. The Chondawats and the Saktawats both claimed the right of
forming the vanguard, and the Rana, unable to pronounce in favour of
either, subtly decided that the van should be given to the clan which
should first enter Ontala.

The Saktawats then made straight for the one and only gateway to the
fortress, and, reaching it as day broke, almost surprised the place,
but the walls were quickly manned and defended. Foiled for a moment,
the leader of the Saktawats threw himself from his elephant, and,
placing himself before the great spikes with which the gate was
protected against the assault of the beast, ordered the mahout to
charge; and so a crushed and mangled corpse was forced into the city on
the brow of the living battering-ram, in whose wake the assailants
rushed to battle.

Alas! his sacrifice was in vain. The Chondawat chief was already in
Ontala. First of the stormers with scaling-ladders, he was shot dead by
the defenders ere reaching the top of the rampart, and his corpse fell
back among his dismayed followers. Then the chief of Deogurh, rolling
the body in his scarf, tied it upon his back, fought his way to the
crest of the battlements, and hurled the gory body of his chieftain
into the city, shouting, “The vanguard to the Chondawat!”

It is further told how, when the attack began, two Mogul chiefs of note
were engaged within upon a game of chess. Confident of the strength of
the defence, they continued their game, unheeding the din of battle.
Suddenly the foe broke in upon them, upon which they calmly asked for
leave to finish their interesting match. The request was granted by the
courtly Rajputs, but upon its termination they were both put to death.

Udaipur lies in a well-cultivated basin, shut in by a ring of arid
hills. After skirting the flanks of some of the outlying spurs, we
bustled through a tunnel and drew up at a bright little station, draped
with great blue and pink convolvulus. And this was Udaipur.

We were picked out of the usual jabbering, jostling, gibbering crowd of
natives by our host, who, looking most enviably cool and clean, took
his heated, dishevelled, and unbarbered guests off to a comfortable
carriage, and we were quickly sped towards tiffin and a bath.

The station is a long way from the town, as the Maharana, a most
staunch conservative of the old school, having the railway more or less
forced upon him, drew the line at three miles from his capital, and
fixed the terminus there. One cannot help being glad that the prosaic
steam-engine, crowned with foul smoke and heralded by ear-piercing
whistles, has not been allowed to trespass in Udaipur, wherein no
discordant note is struck by train line or factory chimney, and where
everything and every one is as when the city was newly built on the
final abandonment of Chitor, the ancient capital of Mewar.

Here in the heart of the most conservative of native States, whose
ruler, the Maharana, Sir Fateh Singh, claims descent from that ancient
luminary the Sun, we found novelty and interest in every yard of the
three miles that stretch between the station and the capital. The
scrub-covered desert has given place to a wooded and cultivated valley,
ringed by a chain of hills, sterile and steep. The white ribbon of the
road, through whose dust plough stolid buffaloes and strings of
creaking bullock-carts, is bordered by tall cactus and yellow-flowered
mimosa on either side. Among the trees rise countless half-ruined
temples and chatries; on whose whitewashed walls are frequent frescoes
of tigers or elephants rampant, and of wonderful Rajput heroes wearing
the curious bell-shaped skirt, which was their distinctive dress.

The people too, their descendants, who crowd the road to-day, are
remarkable—the men fine-looking, with beards brushed ferociously
upwards, and all but the mere peasants carrying swords; the women,
dark-eyed, and singularly graceful in their red or orange saris, and
very full bell-shaped petticoats. Upright as darts, they walk with
slightly swaying gesture, a slender brown arm upraised to support the
big brass chatties on their heads, revealing an incredible collection
of bangles on arms and ankles. These women are the descendants of those
who, in the stormy days of the sixteenth century, while the Rajput
princes still struggled heroically with the all-powerful Mogul
emperors, preferred death to shame, and, led by Kurnavati (mother of
Oodi Singh, the founder of Udaipur), accepted the “Johur,” or death by
fire and suffocation, to the number of 13,000, while their husbands and
brothers threw open the city gates and went forth to fight and fall.

As we drew near our destination the towers of the Maharana’s Palace
rose up above the trees, gleaming snowy in the cloudless blue. The
brown crenellated walls of the city appeared on our left, and, suddenly
sweeping round a curve, we found ourselves by the border of a lovely
lake, whose blue-rippled waters lapped the very walls of the town. In
the foreground a glorious note of colour was struck by a group of
“scarlet women” washing themselves and their clothes by the margin.

Up a steep incline, and we found ourselves before a verandah, blazing
overhead with bougainvillea, and our hostess waiting to receive us
beneath its cool shade.

In the afternoon, refreshed and rested, we went down to the shore,
where our host had arranged for a state-owned boat and four rowers to
be in waiting. Armed with rods and fishing tackle, we proceeded to see
Udaipur from the lake which washes its northern side. First crossing a
small landlocked bay bordered on the left by a long and picturesque
crenellated wall, and passing through a narrow opening, we found
ourselves in a second division of the water; on the left, still the
wall, with a delightful-looking summer-house perched at a salient
angle; on the right, small wooded islands, the haunt of innumerable
cormorants, who, with snaky necks outstretched, watched us suspiciously
from their eyrie.

A curious white bridge, very high in the centre, barred the view of the
main lake till, passing through the central arch, we found ourselves in
a scene of perfect enchantment. Before us the level sheet of molten
silver lay spread, reflecting the snowy palaces and summer-houses that
stood amid the palms and greenery of many tiny islands. On the left the
city rose from the water in a succession of temples and wide-terraced
buildings, culminating in the lofty pile of the Palace of the Maharana.
Here, on this enchanted lake, we rowed to and fro until the sun sank
swiftly in the west and the red gold glowed on temple and turret.

Then, with our catch, about 15 lbs. weight of most excellent fish, we
rowed back past the white city to the landing-place, and, in the
gathering dark, climbed the hillock upon which stood our host’s
bungalow.

We spent a week at Udaipur—a happy week, whose short days flew by far
too quickly. The weather was splendid; hot in the middle of the day—for
the season is late, and the monsoon has greatly failed in its cooling
duty—but delightful in morning and evening.

Rising one morning at early dawn, before the sun leaped above the
eastern hills, we took boat and rowed to one of the island palaces,
where, after fishing for mahseer, we breakfasted on a marble balcony
overlooking the ripples of the Pichola Lake, which lapped the feet of a
group of great marble elephants.

Not the least interesting expedition was to the south end of the lake
one afternoon to see the wild pigs fed. Traversing the whole length of
the Pichola, past the marble ghâts where the crimson-clad women washed
and chattered, while above them rose the roofs and temple domes of the
fairy city culminating in the walls and pinnacles of the palace—past
the fleet of queer green barges wherein the Maharana disports himself
when aquatically inclined, we left the many islands marble-crowned on
our right; and finally landed at a little jutting ledge of rock, whence
a jungle track led us in a few minutes to a terrace overlooking a rocky
and steep slope which fell away from the building near which we stood.
The scene was surprising! Hundreds of swine of all sorts and sizes,
from grim slab-sided, gaunt-headed old boars, whose ancient tusks
showed menacing, to the liveliest and sprightliest of little pigs
playing hide-and-seek among their staid relatives, were collected from
the neighbouring jungle to scramble for the daily dole of grain spread
for them by the Maharana.

A cloud of dust rose thick in the air, stirred up by the busy feet and
snouts of the multitude, and grunts and squeals were loud and frequent
as a frisky party of younglings in their play would heedlessly bump up
against some short-tempered old boar, who in his turn would angrily
butt a too venturesome rival in the wind and send him, expostulating
noisily, down the hill!

Beyond the crowd of swine on the edge of the clearing, a few peacocks,
attracted by the prospect of a meal, held themselves strictly aloof
from the vulgar herd.

The whole city of Udaipur is a paradise for the artist—not a corner,
not a creature which does not seem to cry aloud to be painted. The only
difficulty in such _embarras de richesses_ of subject and such
scantiness of time, is to decide what not to do.

Hardly has the enthusiastic amateur sat down to delineate the stately
pile of the palace, soaring aloft amid its enveloping greenery, than he
is attracted by a fascinating glimpse of the lake, where, perhaps, a
royal elephant comes down to drink, or a crimson-clad bevy of Rajputni
lasses stoop to fill their brazen chatties with much chatter and
laughter.

Bewildered by such wealth of subject, one is but too apt to sit at
gaze, and finally go home with merely a dozen pages of scribbles added
to the little canvas jotting-book!

The Palace of the Maharana is a very splendid pile of buildings, as
seen from some little distance crowning the ridge which rises to the
south of the lake, but it loses much of its beauty when closely viewed.
It is, of course, not to be compared architecturally with the
master-works of Agra and Delhi, and the internal decorations are
usually tawdry and uninteresting. The entrance is fine; the visitor
ascends the steep street to the principal gate, a massive portal,
strengthened against the battering of elephants by huge spikes, and
decorated by a pair of these animals in fresco-rampant. Beyond the
first gate rises a second or inner gate. On the right are huge stables
where the royal elephants are kept, and on the left stand a row of
curious arches, beneath one of which the Maharanas of old were wont to
be weighed against bullion after a victory, the equivalent to the royal
avoirdupois being distributed as largesse to his people!

Within the gates, a long and wide terrace stretches along the entire
front of the Palace, on the face of which is emblazoned the Sun of
Mewar, the emblem of the Sesodias. This terrace was evidently the happy
home of a great number of cows, peacocks, geese, and pigeons, which
stalked calmly enough, among the motley crowd of natives, and gave one
the impression of a glorified farmyard. The building itself, like most
Indian palaces, is composed of a heterogeneous agglomeration in all
sorts of sizes and styles. Each successive Maharana having apparently
added a bit here and a bit there as his capricious fancy prompted.

Jane visited the armoury to-day with the Resident, who went to choose a
shield to be presented by the Maharana to the Victoria Museum at
Calcutta. I chose to go sketching, and was derided by Jane for missing
such a chance of seeing what is not shown to visitors as a rule. She
whisked away in great pomp in the Residential chariot, preceded by two
prancing sowars on horseback, and subsequently thus related her
experiences:—


“We really drove up far too fast to the Palace, I was so much
interested in the delightful streets; and we just whizzed past the
innumerable shrines and queer shops, and frescoed walls, where
extraordinary lions and tigers, and Rajput warriors, riding in wide
petticoats on prancing steeds, were depicted in flaming colours. I
wanted, too, to gaze at the native women, in their accordion-pleated,
dancing frocks of crimson or dark blue; but it seemed to be the correct
thing for a ‘Personage’ to drive as fast as possible, and try to run
over a few people just to show them what unconsidered trifles they
were. Well, we were received at the entrance to the Palace by one of
the Prime Ministers. There are two Prime Ministers—one to criticise and
frustrate the schemes of the other; the result being, as the Resident
remarked, that it is not easy to get any business done. Our Prime
Minister was dressed in a coat of royal purple velvet, on his head was
wound a big green turban, and round his neck hung a lovely necklet of
pearls and emeralds, with a pendant of the same, he had also earrings
to match. It was truly pitiful to see such ornaments wasted on a fat
old man.”

“Going up a narrow and rather steep staircase, we came to a small hall
full of retainers of his Highness, waiting until it should please him
to appear and breakfast with them, for it is the custom of the Maharana
to make that meal a sort of public function. In the middle of the hall
reposed a big bull, evidently very much at ease and quite at home!”

“A few more steps brought us to the door of the armoury. This is small
and badly arranged, which seems a pity, as there were some lovely
things. Chain armour and inlaid suits lay about the floor in heaps; and
we were shown the saddle used by Akbar during the last siege of Chitor.
The most remarkable things, however, were the Rajput shields, of which
there were some beautiful specimens. They are circular, not large, and
made, some of tortoiseshell, some of polished hippo hide, &c. One was
inlaid with great emeralds, a second had bosses of turquoise, and a
really lovely one was inlaid with fine Jaipur enamel in blue and green.
There were swords simply encrusted with jewels—one with a hilt of
carved crystal; another was a curiously-modelled dog’s head in smooth
silver, and I noticed a beauty in pale jade. Altogether it was a most
fascinating collection, different from, but in its way quite as
interesting, as the fine armoury at Madrid.”

Thus did Jane triumph over me with her description of what she had seen
and what I had missed; and I had been trying to delineate the Temple of
Jagganath, and had been disastrously defeated, for it is indeed a
complicated piece of drawing, and the children, both large and small,
crowded round me to my great hindrance. Therefore, it was not until I
had been soothed with an excellent lunch, and the contents of a very
long tumbler, that I felt strong enough to take an intelligent interest
in the contents of the Maharana’s curiosity-shop!

_Monday, October_ 30.—The more we see of Udaipur the more we are
charmed with it. The whole place is so absolutely unspoilt by
modernism, is so purely Eastern—and ancient Eastern at that—that we
feel as though we were in a little world far apart from the great one
where steam and electricity shatter the nerves, and drive their victims
through life at high pressure.

Ringed in by a rampart of arid hills, beyond which the scrub-covered
desert stretches for miles, the peaceful city of Udaipur lies secluded
in an oasis, whose centre is a turquoise lake. High in his palace the
Maharana rules in feudal state, and, like Aytoun’s Scottish Cavalier,

“A thousand vassals dwelt around—all of his kindred they,
And not a man of all that clan has ever ceased to pray
For the royal race he loves so well.”


For to his subjects the Maharana is little less than a divinity, for is
he not a direct descendant of the Sun? Likewise is he not the chief of
the only royal house of Rajputana, who disdained to purchase Mogul
friendship at the price of giving a daughter in marriage to the
Mohammedan?

There are greater personages among the ruling Princes of India,
according to British ruling—Hyderabad, for instance. And in the matter
of precedence and the number of guns for ceremonial salutation, the
Chief of Mewar—like other poor but proud nobles—is treated rather
according to his actual power than the cloudless blue of his blood.
Hence he is extremely unwilling to put himself in a position where he
might fail to obtain the honour which he considers due to him. He was
most averse from attending the Delhi Durbar, but such pressure was put
upon him that he was induced to proceed thither in his special train
running, as far as Chitorgarh, upon his own special railway. He reached
Delhi, and his sponsors rejoiced that they had indeed got him to the
water, although they had not exactly induced him to drink. As a matter
of fact, the Maharana, having gone to Delhi to please the British
authorities, promptly returned to Udaipur to please himself, alleging a
terrific headache as reason for instant departure from the capital,
without his having left his very own specially reserved first-class
compartment!

He may not be a willing guest, but he is evidently disposed to be an
excellent host, for great preparations are toward for the reception of
the Prince of Wales, who is expected in the course of a fortnight or
so.

The Residency, too, is being swept and garnished, the garden already
looking like a miniature camp, with tents for the suite all among the
flower-beds.

_Tuesday, October_ 31.—A day or two ago we arose betimes, and before
sunrise embarked in the State gig (which was always, apparently, placed
at our host’s disposal on demand), and set forth to catch fish for our
breakfast, and then proceed to eat the same on one of the island
palaces on the lake. We did not catch many fish—the mahseer were shy
that morning—but fortunately we did not entirely depend on the caprices
of the mahseer for our sustenance, and a remarkably well-fed and
contented quartette we were when we got into the gig while the day was
yet young, and rowed home as quickly as might be in order to escape the
heat which at noonday is still great.

This afternoon we went for a (to us) novel tea picnic. A State elephant
appeared by request, and we climbed upon him with ladders, and he
proceeded to roll leisurely along at the rate of about two and a half
miles an hour towards the foot of a hill, on the top of which stood a
small summer palace.

The afternoon was warm, and the rhythmic pace drowsy, but our steed was
determined to amuse us and benefit himself. So he blew great blasts of
spray at his own forelegs and chest to cool himself, and now and then
made shocking bad shots at so large a target, and, getting a trifle too
much elevation, nearly swept us from our lofty perch.

Fortunately his stock of spray gave out ere long, or he found that the
increasing gradient of the hill took all his breath, for we were left
at leisure to admire the widening view until we reached the top.

Here we had tea in one of the cool halls, and then sat watching the sun
sink towards the hills that stretch to Mount Aboo.

To the south-east lay Udaipur, milk-white along the margin of its
“marléd” waters.

On our way home we met with an adventure. While prattling to my
hostess, I observed that our toes were rising unduly, the saddle or
howdah being seated somewhat after the fashion of an outside car.
Glancing over my shoulder I descried Jane and her partner far below
their proper level. The howdah was coming round, and our steed was
eleven feet high! Agonised yells to the gentleman who guided the
deliberate steps of the pachyderm from a coign of vantage on the back
of his neck, awoke him to an appreciation of the situation. The
elephant was “hove to” with all possible despatch, and we crawled off
his back with the greatest celerity. We then sat down by the roadside
and superintended the righting of the saddle and the tautening of the
girths by several natives, who “took in the slack” with an energy that
must have made the poor elephant very “uncomfy” about the waist! I
secretly hoped it was hurting him horribly, as I had not forgiven him
for his practical jokes on the way up.

We had no more thrills. Resuming our motor ’bus, in due course, we were
landed opposite the top of our host’s verandah, whereupon the beast
shut himself up like a three-foot rule, and we got to ground.

The inexorable flight of time brought us all too soon to the limit of
our stay at Udaipur. Early on Wednesday the 1st November, therefore, we
bade adieu to the capital of the State of Mewar, and, accompanied by
our kind host and hostess, set out to spend a day in exploring the
ruined city of Chitor before taking train for Bombay.

As we drove to the station, we passed the group of ancient “chatries”
or tombs of dead and gone Ranas of Mewar, and halted for a short
inspection, as, the train by which we were to travel to Chitorgarh
being a “special,” we were not bound to a precise moment for our
appearance on the platform.

Jane, who is perfectly Athenian in her passion for novelty, decided to
travel on the engine, and proceeded to do so; until, at the first
halting-place, a grimy and somewhat dishevelled female climbed into our
carriage, and the next half-hour was fully occupied in scooping smuts
out of her eyes with teaspoons.

It had been arranged that an elephant should await our arrival at
Chitorgarh to take us up to the ancient city, but a careful search into
every nook and cranny failed to reveal the missing animal.

So my host and I set out on foot to cross a mile or so of plain which
spread in deceptive smoothness between us and the ascent to the city.
What seemed a serene and level track became quickly entangled in a maze
of rough little knobs and nullahs, and we took a vast amount of
exercise before arriving at the old bridge which spans the Gamberi
River.

Meanwhile, towering over the scrubby bushes and surrounded by a dusty
halo, the dilatory pachyderm bore down upon us, and, after the mahout
had been interviewed in unmeasured terms by my host, went rolling
slowly to the station to pick up the ladies.

The ancient city of Chitor lies crumbling and desolate on the back of a
long, level-topped hill, which rises solitary to the height of some
five hundred feet above the far-stretching plain. Kipling likens it to
a great ship, up the sides of which the steep road slopes like a
gangway. At the foot lies the modern village, squalid but picturesque.

As we toil, perspiring, up the long ramp which for a weary mile slopes
sidelong up the scarped flank of the mountain, and pass through the
seven gates which guarded the way, and every one of which was the scene
of many a grim and bloody struggle, I will try to sketch the outline of
the history of the famous fort, for many centuries the headquarters of
the royal race of Mewar.

The Gehlotes, or (as they were afterwards styled) the Sesodias, claim
descent from the Sun through Manu, Icshwaca, and Rama Chandra, as
indeed do the other Rajput potentates of Jaipur, Marwar, and Bikanir,
the Rana of Mewar, however, taking precedence owing to his descent from
Lava, the eldest son of Rama.

The ancient dynasty of Mewar has fallen from its high estate, but the
history of its rise is lost in the mists of grey antiquity.

“We can trace the losses of Mewar, but with difficulty her
acquisitions…. She was an old-established dynasty when all the other
States were in embryo.” Long before Richard of the Lion-heart fared to
Palestine to wrest the Holy City from the infidel, “a hundred kings,
its (Mewar’s) allies and dependants, had their thrones raised in
Chitor,” to defend it against the sword of the Mohammedan; while
overhead floated the banner displaying the golden sun of Mewar on a
crimson field.

Some centuries later the Crusaders brought to Europe from the plains of
Palestine the novel device of armorial bearings.

Chitor itself appears to have been in possession of the Mori princes
until, in A.D. 728, it was taken by Bappa, who, though of royal race,
was brought up in obscurity by the Bhils as an attendant on the sacred
kine. This shepherd prince, ancestor of the present Rana of Mewar,
became a national hero, and many legends are still current concerning
him and his romantic deeds. The story of his “amazing marriage,” by
which he succeeded in wedding six hundred damsels all at once, is one
of the most curious. Bappa, while still a youth, was appealed to, one
holiday, by the frolicsome maidens of a neighbouring village, who, led
by the daughter of the Solankini chief of Nagda, in accordance with the
custom upon this particular saint’s day, had come out to indulge in
swinging, but who had forgotten to supply themselves with a
swinging-rope. Bappa agreed to get them one if they would play his game
first. This the young ladies readily agreed to do; whereupon, all
joining hands, he danced with them a certain mystic number of times
round a sacred tree.

“Regardless of their doom, the little victims played,”


and finally dispersed to their homes, entirely unconscious that they
were all as securely married to Bappa as though they had visited Gretna
Green with him.

Some time afterwards, upon the engagement of the Solankini maiden to an
eligible young man, the soothsayer, to whom application had been made
with regard to fixing a favourable and auspicious wedding-day,
discovered from certain lines in her hand that the girl was already
married! Thus the whole story came out, and no less than six hundred
brides assumed the title of Mrs. Bappa.

He seems to have had a passion for matrimony, for when an old man he
left his children and his country, and carried his arms west to
Khorassan, where he wedded new wives and had a numerous offspring. He
died at the age of a hundred!

From the days of the very much married Bappa, until the time of
Samarsi, who was Prince of Chitor in the thirteenth century, the city
continued to flourish and increase in power and importance. Samarsi,
having married Pirtha, sister of Prithi Raj, the lord of Delhi, joined
his brother-in-law against Shabudin. For three days the battle raged,
until the scale fell finally in favour of Shabudin, and the combined
forces of Delhi and Chitor were almost annihilated. “Pirtha, on hearing
of the loss of the battle, her husband slain, her brother captive, and
all the heroes of Delhi and Cheetore ‘asleep on the banks of the Caggar
in a wave of the steel,’ joined her lord through the flames.”

From that time forward the history of Chitor is but a tale of sack and
slaughter, relieved in its murkiest days by flashes of brilliant
heroism and self-sacrificing devotion while the chivalrous Rajputs
struggled vainly against the successive waves of the Mohammedan
invasions, which in a fierce flood for centuries swept over India, and
deluged it with blood.

In the year 1275 Lakumsi became Rana of Chitor. His uncle Bheemsi had
married Padmani, a fair daughter of Ceylon, and her beauty was such
that the fame of it came to the ears of Alla-o-din, the Pathan Emperor.

He promptly attacked the fortress, but without success for a long
period, until he agreed to a compromise, declaring that if he could
merely see the Lady Padmani in a mirror he would be contented and raise
the siege.

His request was granted, and, trusting to the honour of a Rajput, he
entered the city unattended, and was rewarded by a sight of this
Eastern Helen reflected in a mirror. Desirous of showing equal faith in
a noble enemy, Bheemsi accompanied Alla back to his lines, but there he
was captured and held to ransom, Padmani being the price.

Word was now sent to the Emperor that Padmani would be delivered to
him, and seven hundred covered litters were prepared to convey her and
her ladies to Delhi, but each litter was borne by six armed bearers,
and contained no “silver-bodied damsels with musky tresses,” but only
steel-clad warriors, who, upon arrival in the Moslem camp, sprang from
their concealment as surprisingly as Pallas from the head of Zeus.

Alla-o-din was, however, not to be caught napping, and, being prepared
for all contingencies, a fierce combat took place, and the warriors of
Chitor were hard put to it to stand their ground until Bheemsi had
escaped to the stronghold on a fleet horse. Then the devoted remnant
retreated, pursued to the very gates by their foes. The flower of
Chitor had perished, but they had achieved their object. This was
called the “half sack” of Chitor.[1]

[1] These notes on the history of Chitor are taken, it need hardly be
said, from Tod’s _Rajast’han_, he being _the_ authority on Rajputana.
An account of the above incident is given somewhat differently by
Maurice in his _Modern History of Hindostan_ (1803), who also relates
that Akbar used the same trick to enter Rhotas in Behar, after being
long baffled by the apparent impregnability of that fortress.


Fifteen years later, Alla-o-din once more attacked Chitor, and this
time the assaults were so deadly that the garrison was decimated and
utter annihilation stared the survivors in the face. Then to the Rana
appeared the guardian goddess of the city, who warned him that “if
twelve who wear the diadem bleed not for Chitor, the land will pass
from the line.” Now the prince had twelve sons, and, in obedience to
the goddess and in hope of eventually saving their dynasty, eleven of
them cheerfully headed sorties on eleven following days, and were
slain, until only Ajeysi, the youngest, was left alive. Then the Kana
prepared for the end. He sent the boy Ajeysi with a small band by a
secret way, and he escaped to Kailwarra, so that the royal race of
Chitor should not become extinct. Then the women of the city, with the
noble Padmani at their head, accepted the Johur; “the funeral pyre
being lighted within the great subterranean retreat,” they steadfastly
marched into the living grave rather than yield themselves to the will
of the conqueror. All being now ready for the last act of the hideous
drama, the Rana caused the gates to be opened, and with his valiant
remnant of an army fell upon the foe only to perish to a man, and then,
and not till then, did the victorious Alla set foot of a conqueror
within Chitor, where now no living thing remained to stay him from
razing her deserted temples to the ground. The palace of Padmani alone
was spared in this, the first “saka” of Chitor.[2]

[2] The Jain Tower of Fame was also left standing, it dates from about
A.D. 900.


The wrecked stronghold remained an appanage of the Mogul until Hamir,
who, though not the direct heir of Ajeysi, had gained the chieftainship
through his valour, and who, having married a ward of the Hindu
governor of Chitor, by her help regained possession of the fortress.

Defeating the Emperor Mahmoud, Hamir entered Chitor in triumph, and
once again the standard of the Sun floated over its blood-stained
rocks. The Emperor Mahmoud himself was led captive into Chitor, and
kept prisoner there for three months until he regained his liberty by
surrendering Ajmere, Rinthumbore, Nagore, and Sooe Sopoor, with fifty
lacs of rupees and a hundred elephants. By this victory Hamir became
the sole Hindu prince of power in India; and the ancestors of the
present lords of Marwar and Jaipur brought their levies and paid
homage, together with the chiefs of Boondi, Abu, and Gwalior.

Then ensued for Chitor a period of splendid prosperity, during which
rose many noble buildings, amongst the ruins of which the great Tower
of Victory still soars supreme. This splendid monument[3] was raised to
commemorate the victory gained by Koombho over Mahmoud, King of Malwa,
and the Prince of Guzzerat, who in A.D. 1440 had formed a league
against Chitor. The Rana met them at the head of 100,000 troops and
1400 elephants, and overthrew them, and the commemorative tower was
begun in 1451 and finished in ten years.

[3] It is also attributed to Lakha Rana, A.D. 1373.


The State of Mewar reached the zenith of her glory in 1509, when 80,000
horse, seven rajas of the highest rank, nine raos, and 104 chiefs
bearing titles of rawul or sawut, with 500 elephants, followed Rana
Sanga of Chitor into the field.

The Mogul Baber, who captured Delhi in 1527, was yet unwilling to face
the ordeal of battle with the warlike Rajputs, but in the following
year Sanga marched against him at the head of the princes of
Rajast’han. A terrible battle ensued, which long inclined in favour of
the Rajputs, until, through the treachery of a Tuar chief, they were
defeated, and the star of Mewar began to decline, although so severe
had been the struggle that Baber dared not follow up his victory.

In 1533 Chitor suffered her second “saka” at the hands of Buhadoor or
Bajazet, Sultan of Guzzerat, who, after a grim struggle, obtained a
footing at the “Beeka” rock, and, springing a mine there, blew up 45
cubits of rampart and killed the Prince of the Haras, with five hundred
of his kin. Then the Queen-Mother, Jowahir Bae, clad in armour, headed
a sally, and was slain before the eyes of all.

The entrance to the city being forced, the heir of the Sesodias, the
infant Oodi Singh, son of Sanga, was placed in safety, while Bagh-ji,
Prince of Deola, assuming royalty, prepared to die, for Chitor could
only be retained by the Rajput princes while guarded by royalty.

The horrible Johur was decreed, and 13,000 women, headed by Kurnavati,
the mother of Oodi Singh,[4] marched to death and honour through the
“Gau Mukh,” or entrance to the subterranean tomb; while the city gates
were thrown open, and the defenders sallied forth. “Every clan lost its
chief,” and 32,000 Rajputs were slain during the siege and storm.

[4] And sister of the Rahtore queen, Jowahir Bae.


Now Kurnavati had bound Hamayoun, the son of Baber, to her cause by a
curious ceremony: she having sent him the Rakhi (bracelet), and he
having bestowed on her the Katchli (corselet), he was bound, in
consequence of this bond, to assist the lady in any time of need. Too
late to save Chitor, he retook it, and restored Bikramajit to the
throne; but the guardian goddess had turned her face from the doomed
city, and its final fall was at hand. The Emperor Akbar, having laid
almost all India at his feet, determined to bring the proud princes of
Rajputana into subjection. He attacked Chitor, but was foiled by the
masculine courage of the Rana’s concubine queen.

Again, in 1568, the Emperor Akbar attacked, and this time he found the
fated city in evil case, for Oodi Singh,[5] the Rana, for whom in
infancy his nurse had sacrificed her own child, was a degenerate son of
his race. He left Chitor to be defended by his lieutenants Jeimul and
Putta.

[5] The infant Oodi Singh being threatened with death by conspirators,
his Rajputni nurse hid him in a fruit-basket, and, covering it with
leaves, had it conveyed out of the fort, substituting her own child
just as Bimbir, the usurper, entered the room and asked for the prince.
Her pallid lips refused to utter sound, but she pointed to the cradle
and saw the swift steel plunged into the heart of her child.


In the first “saka” by Alla, twelve crowned heads defended the “crimson
banner” to the death. In the second, when conquest, at the hand of
Bahadur, came from the south, the chieftain of Deola, a noble scion of
Mewar, claimed the crown of glory and of martyrdom. But on this, the
third and greatest struggle, no royal victim appeared to appease the
Cybele of Chitor and win her to retain its battlements as her coronet.

When Jeimul fell at the Gate of the Sun, the command devolved upon
Putta of Kailwa, a lad of sixteen. His mother commanded him to don “the
saffron robe,” then, with him and his young bride, she fell full armed
upon the foe, and the heroic trio died before the eyes of the war-worn
garrison.

Once more was the Johur commanded, while 8000 Rajputs ate the last
“beera” together, and put on their saffron robes. The gates were thrown
open, “and few survived to stain the yellow mantle by inglorious
surrender.”

Thus in the blood-red cloud of battle sank for ever the Sun of Chitor;
for from this, the third and last “saka,” the ruined city never rose.
Her doom has been as the doom of Babylon, of which Isaiah declared: “It
shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation
to generation … but wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and
their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell
there…. And the wild beasts … shall cry in their desolate houses, and …
in their pleasant palaces:… Her days shall not be prolonged.”

The top of the long ascent being reached, the last gate, the Hathi Pol,
is passed, and the wayfarer finds himself in the midst of the great
dead city, which lies in ruins for three miles along the bastioned brow
of the mountain.

Just beyond the first group of stately ruins, we came on the building
which was probably the palace built by Lakha Rana in 1373. Here we sat
and rested until the elephant, bearing the ladies and the lunch,
stalked sedately round the jutting angle of a decayed fort, and then we
wended our way along a road lined with many a half-fallen temple, until
we reached the ancient palace where, six hundred years ago, dwelt the
ill-starred Padmani, whose loveliness brought such woe upon Chitor.
Here, in a cool chamber overlooking the tank, upon the brink of which
the palace stands, we lunched; afterwards threading our way among the
fallen fragments of many a stately shrine and palace towards the high
point on which the great Jain Tower of Fame rears its deeply-sculptured
shaft into the sky.

For a thousand years the innumerable stone gods which encircle the
tower in endless profusion have watched with sightless eyes over the
city. Grey already with age were they when they saw, raised in pristine
beauty, the shattered domes and broken columns which now lie prone in
the brushwood far beneath their feet. What ghastly scenes those stony
faces have surveyed, when, swept by the scathing steel, the city has
run red with blood, and her defenders have fallen to the last man. One
crowning horror, though, they have been always spared, for no maid or
matron of Chitor ever deigned to bow her neck beneath the yoke of the
Mogul, but rather dared to face a fiery death in the bowels of the
great cavern beneath the city than yield her honour to the conqueror.

The Tower of Fame is being repaired by the present Rana, under the
superintendence of our host and a party of native workmen. Masons and
most skilful carvers in stone were busily engaged in the restoration of
parts that had fallen into dangerous decay—an extremely flimsy-looking
scaffolding, made apparently of light bamboos, tied together in wisps,
and forming a fragile-looking ramp, wound spirally up the outside of
the tower. My host seemed to consider it a perfectly safe means of
ascent, and as the workmen did not appear to slip off in any
appreciable numbers I felt constrained to go up. I should like to have
done it on all fours! The climb was well worth undertaking, as it
enabled one to inspect the astonishing and finely-carved figures which
encrust the whole exterior of the column.

From the Tower of Fame we made our way to the other great landmark of
Chitor—the Tower of Victory.

Passing and examining _en route_ many elaborately-carved temples, whose
domes rose amid the strangling masses of desert tree and shrub, we came
to the base of the red tower, whose shaft, four-square and in perfect
preservation, has, with its more venerable brother of Fame, watched for
so many centuries over the fallen fortress of Chitor.

Not far away, the rocky wall on which the city stands is shattered into
a gloomy chasm, half-hidden in rank vegetation, which, clinging with
knotted root to ledge and crevice, hangs darkly over a stagnant pool.
Here was the awful portal, “the Gau Mukh,” or “cow’s mouth,” by which,
when all was lost to Chitor save honour, her women entered the
subterranean cavern while the fuel was heaped high, and an honourable
death by suffocation awaited them.

The burning Indian day was over, and the sun blazed red in the west, as
we mounted our elephant and paced along the road towards the Hathi Pol.
Darker grew the ghostly domes and shattered battlements against a
golden sky, and the swift southern night fell, dark yet luminous, as we
turned down the hill and left the dead city, splendid in its loneliness
and isolation, asleep within its crumbling walls.

Our dinner-table was set out on the platform of the station at
Chitorgarh, and our bedrooms were close by, our host and hostess
sleeping in the “special” by which they were to return to Udaipur in
the morning, while we slept in a siding, ready to be coupled up to the
early train from Bombay.

Late into the warm and balmy night we paced the platform; for there
seemed to be always something still to say, and we found it hard to
part from our charming friends; realising, too, that this was the end
of our holiday, and that before us lay merely the toil and bustle of a
return to commonplace, everyday life. At last, though, the final
fag-end of a cheroot was thrown away, the last hand-grips given, and
the parting came.

There is little more to say.

All Thursday we rushed through the wide landscape; saw the parched
plains stretch far into the dusty horizon; saw the lean men and leaner
cattle, to whom the grim spectre of famine is already foreshadowed;
flew past populous villages and creaking water-wheels, noting every
phase of a scene now familiar, yet always delightful.

Late in the evening we changed at Baroda, and dawn next morning saw us
speeding across the swamps and inlets, which gave place ere long to the
palm groves and clustering houses which marked the farther limits of
the suburbs of Bombay.

We found the heat—damp and oppressive—very trying after the drier air
of Rajputana, and the Taj Mahal Hotel below our expectations in all
respects save price. It is undoubtedly better than most Indian hotels,
but yet it is not good!

Bombay is chiefly connected in our minds with the inevitable fuss and
worry of packing and departure.

As we left the Taj Mahal Hotel, in a conveyance piled high with
miscellaneous baggage, we saw the last of our faithful and
indispensable Sabz Ali, as he hurriedly quitted the hostelry in our
wake, fearful lest undue delay should jeopardise the possession of the
spoils he was carrying off, wrapped in bulging bundles of goodly size.

Jane and I were sorrier, I think, to part with him than he with us.
After all, we were but troublesome charges, for whose well-being he had
to answer to “General ’Oon Sahib,”—charges who had not been quite so
lavish with their incalculable riches as they should have been, and who
doled out rupees, and even annas, with a sorely grudging hand; still I
think Sabz Ali, as he made his way to the station, with many rupees
lining his inmost garments, and a flaming “chit” carefully stowed away,
felt a certain regret at parting from the “sahibs,” who had really
shown a very fine appreciation of his merit, and were sending him back
with much honour to his own country.

Late in the afternoon, as the spires and roofs of the city stood dark
against the sky, and the many steamers and native dhows showed black
upon a flood of liquid gold, the _Persia_ got under way, and we slowly
left the anchorage, steaming out into the fading light.

We stood long, leaning over the bulwarks and watching the lights of
Bombay, at first so distinct, melt gradually into a line of tiny stars
as the gulf widened that separated us from the land where we had spent
so many happy days.

I wonder if we shall ever revisit it? I trust so … and yet——

“As a rule it is better to revisit only in imagination the places which
have greatly charmed us … for it was not merely the sights that one
beheld which were the cause of joy and peace. However lovely the spot,
however gracious the sky, these things external would not have availed
but for contributory movements of mind and heart and blood—the
essentials of the man as then he was.”[6]

[6] “Henry Ryecroft”



APPENDIX I


BIG GAME LICENSE No. I,
Price Rs. 60 (sixty only).


This license will remain in force from the 15th of March 190 to the
15th November 190, and is subject to the Kashmir Stata Game Laws; it
permits the Licensee to shoot the undermentioned game in the Districts
and Nullahs open to sportsmen, and, subject to Rules 8 and 9 of these
Laws, small game between the above dates.

———————————+———————-+———————+————-+————-
                      | No. permitted | No. actually | Size of |District.
  Name of Animal.     | to be         | shot.        | heads.  |
                      | shot.         |              |         |
———————————+———————-+———————+————-+————-             |         |
Markhor of any variety|      2        |              |         |
Ibex                  |      4        |              |         |
Ovis Hodgsoni (Ammon) |      1        |              |         |
Ovis Vignei (Sharpu)  |      4        |              |         |
Ovis Nahura (Burhal)  |      6        |              |         |
Thibetan Antelope     |      6        |              |         |
  Do. Gazelle         |      1        |              |         |
Kashmir Stag          |      2        |              |         |
Serow                 |      1        |              |         |
Brown Bears           |      2        |              |         |
Tehr                  |      6        |              |         |
Goral                 |      6        |              |         |
Pigs, Black Bears and |  No limit.    |              |         |
  Leopards            |               |              |         |
———————————+———————-+———————+————-+————-

_Name of Licensee____________________________________________
_Address_____________________________________________________
_Signature of Licensee on returning License__________________

N.B.—This portion of the License to be returned to the Secretary,
Game Preservation Department.

————————————————————————————————————-
                      NAME OF SHIKARIES, &c., EMPLOYED
———+———-+————+———-+————————————————————-
      |Name of|        |Nature |    Place of Residence.    |
Serial|Shikari|Father’s|  of   +————-+————+—————+ REMARKS.
 No.  |  or   |  Name. |employ-| Village | Tehail | District |
      |Coolie.|        | ment. |         |        |          |
———+———-+————+———-+————-+————+—————+—————-
      |       |        |       |         |        |          |
      |       |        |       |         |        |          |
———+———-+————+———-+————-+————+—————+—————-

This License does not permit the Licensee to shoot in any of the closed
tracts or preserves mentioned in Rules 2 and 10, Kashmir State Game
Laws, nor in the Gilgit district, nor in the Astor or Kaj-nag
districts, without the special permit laid down under Rule 2.

_Dated_ ____ (Sd.) AMAR SINGH, GENERAL, RAJA, _The_ ______
_Vice-President of Council, Jammu and Kashmir State_.

I certify that a copy of Kashmir State Game Laws, 190, has been issued
herewith,

_Signature of Official granting License_ ___________________

NOTE—This License will be shown on demand and is not transferable. A
fee of Re. 1 will be charged for a duplicate copy.



APPENDIX II


From the earliest times the Kashmiris have been objects of contempt and
derision, whilst the women have been—perhaps unduly—lauded for their
looks and general excellence.

The Kashmiris themselves are of opinion that “once upon a time” they
were an honourable and valiant folk, brought gradually to their present
condition by foreign oppression.

To a certain extent this is probably true, but, according to the
_Rajatarangini Kulan_, they were noted for dishonesty and cunning long
before the evil days of conquest and adversity. Bernier speaks well of
the men, calling them witty and industrious. Doubtless the Kashmiri
character, originally none too good, was ruined during the long years
of cruelty and injustice to which he was subjected by the Tartars,
Afghans, and Sikhs, who, from the day when Akbar put him into women’s
clothes, treated him as something lower than a brute.

Forster, writing in 1783, abuses the Kashmiri, whom he stigmatises as
“endowed with unwearied patience in the pursuit of gain.” He speaks of
the vile treatment to which he was subjected by his then rulers the
Pathans, observing that Afghans usually addressed Kashmiris by striking
them with a hatchet, but, he concludes, “I even judged them worthy of
their adverse fortune.”

Elphinstone (1839) is of opinion that “the men are excessively addicted
to pleasure, and are notorious all over the East for falsehood and
cunning;” and again, “The Cashmerians are of no account as soldiers.”

“Many fowls in a yard defile it, and many Kashmiri in a country ruin
it,” says the proverb. Lawrence goes very fully into the Kashmiri
character, and dwells upon its few good points, giving him credit for
great artistic feeling, quick wit, ready repartee, and freedom from
crime against the person. He considers the last merit, though, to be
due to cowardice and the state of espionage which exists in every
village!

I was told (but perhaps by a prejudiced person) of a Kashmiri who,
during the great flood of 1903, he being safely on the shore, saw his
brother being swept down the boiling river, clinging to his rapidly
disintegrating roof. The following painful conversation ensued:—

“Whither sailest thou, oh brother, perched upon the birch bark of thine
ancestral roof?”

“Ah! brother dear. Save me quick! I drown!”

“Truly that can I; but say, what recompense wilt thou give me?”

“All I have in the world, brother—two lovely rupees.”

“Tut, tut, little one; thou takest me for a fool. Two rupees, forsooth,
for five perchance I will deign to save thy worthless life.”

“Three, then, three, carissimo—’tis all I have—and make haste, for I
feel my timbers parting, and I know not how to swim.”

“Farewell, oh, dearest brother! I could not possibly think of taking so
much trouble for three rupees, especially as, now I come to think of
it, I can borrow a singhara pole, and, in due time, will prod for thy
corpse in the Wular! Mind thou wrappest the lucre snugly in thy
cummerbund, that it be not lost—farewell, little brother!”

While the gentlemen of the Happy Valley have been lashed by the tongue
and pen of every traveller, the ladies, on the contrary, have been
rather overrated.

In all communities where the men are invertebrate the women become the
real heads of the family, doing not only most of the actual work, but
also taking the dominant position in affairs generally. This I have
observed strikingly in the case of the three “slackest” male races I
know—the Fantis of the Gold Coast, the Kashmiri, and the crofters of
the West Highlands.

Opinion is divided on the question of female loveliness in Kashmir.

Marco Polo (who probably only got his ideas of “Kesmur” from hearsay)
echoed the prevalent opinion by saying, “The women although dark are
very comely” (ch. xxvii.). Bernier is enthusiastic: “Les femmes surtout
y sont très-belles,” and hints at their popularity among the Moguls.

Moorcroft, Vigne, and others swelled the laudatory chorus until
Forster, “having been prepossessed with an opinion of their charms,
suffered a sensible disappointment,” and even was so rude as to
criticise the ladies’ legs, which he considered thick!

Lawrence saw “thousands of women in the villages, and could not
remember, save one or two exceptions, ever seeing a really beautiful
face;” but the heaviest blow was dealt them by Jacquemont, who, as a
gay Frenchman, should have been an excellent judge: “Je n’avais jamais
vu auparavant d’aussi affreuses sorcières!”



APPENDIX III


I had hoped to have given, through the kindness of Colonel Ward, a full
list of the birds of Kashmir. Up to the time of going to press,
however, the complete list has not been made out. A very large
proportion, however, has been published in the _Journal of the Bombay
Nat. Hist. Society_. I would refer those desirous of a knowledge of the
birds of Kashmir to the above Journal for 23rd April and 20th Sept.
1906, and 15th Feb. 1907. Also to Hume and Henderson’s _Lahore to
Yarkand_, and to Le Mesurier’s _Game, Shore, and Water Birds of India_,
to which I am indebted for the following:—

“In Kashmir, out of 116 genera of land birds, 34 have a wide range, 32
are characteristic of the Palar Arctic, 29 of the Indian, and 21 of the
Himalo-Chinese sub-region. Only one species is peculiar to Kashmir, a
very normal bullfinch (pyrula).”

The flora, which is most interesting, has yet (as far as I know) to be
treated independently of the neighbouring regions. Royle is scientific
but antiquated, and I know of no better list than that given by
Lawrence in his _Valley of Kashmir_.



APPENDIX IV


It may interest any one intending a trip to Kashmir to see a note of
reasonable expenses as incurred by two people during a nine-month
absence from England. Therefore I append a précis of ours.

It is to be remembered that a saving might be effected in many
particulars by any one knowing something of the country. We had to buy
our experience. Fully £10 or £12 could be saved in wages, as at first
we had a fighting tail like “Ta Phairson” of “four-and-twenty men and
five-and-thirty pipers”—and pipers have to be paid! We also hired tents
when we did not really require them. Against these outgoings, however,
it should be borne in mind that, thanks to the kindness of friends, we
paid a merely nominal rent for a “State” hut at Gulmarg. At Abbotabad,
Jaipur, and Udaipur, also, we had no hotel bills to meet.

PRÉCIS OF EXPENSES—TWO PERSONS

LONDON TO KARACHI (25 Days)

                                                   £   s.  d.  £   s.  d.
Half-Return fares, 1st class, London to Trieste,
  and thence by Austrian Lloyd (unaccelerated)    60   0   0
Hotels, sleeping-car, gratuities, wine bills, &c. 16  15   0
Baggage expenses                                   8  15   7
                                                       —————   85  10   7

BOMBAY TO LONDON (25 Days)

Share of fares                                    60   0   0
Hotel expenses and sundries, as before            10   6   8
Baggage expenses, dock dues, &c.                  17  11   4
                                                       —————  87  18   0

KARACHI TO SRINAGAR (16 Days)

Rail and baggage expenses to Pindi                12   6   8
Landau and two ekkas to Srinagar, inclusive of
   gratuities, tolls, &c.                         10  10   8
Hotels, Dàk bungalows, &c.                        13  18   9
Duty on firearms (repayable on leaving)            1  16   8
Resais, waterproof for luggage, kettles, &c.       1  19   3
Servant’s fare to Karachi, wages, &c.              2  12   8
                                                       —————  43   4   8
                                                            ——————-
                            Carry forward                  216  13   3

EXPENSES IN KASHMIR (6 Months)

                                                   £   s.  d.  £   s.  d.
            Brought forward                                216  13   3

Food, wine, washing, cigars, &c.                  72   7   3
Wages, inclusive of various clothes               42   9   9
Amusements, golf and tennis subscriptions, &c.    11   7   2
Hire of boats, tents and equipment                17   6   5
Transport coolies and ponies                      33  14  11
Hire of hut at Gulmarg                             5   6   8
Sundry furniture, cooking gear, yakdans, &c.       9   0   8
                                                       —————- 191  12  10

BARAMULA TO BOMBAY (1 Month)

Landau and four ekkas, with gratuities and tolls. 13  14   0
Dâk bungalows, hotels, &c.                        18   5   8
Wages, inclusive of gratuities                     6  14   0
Rail, Pindi to Bombay (viâ Udaipur)               16  17   0
Baggage                                            5   2   8
Hire of carriages, &c.                             1   4  11
                                                  —————  61  18   3
Loss by exchange on cheques.                                   5  19   7
                                                            ——————
                                      Total                  476   3  11
                                                            ============



INDEX AND NOTES


ABBOTABAD, A frontier station garrisoned by a mobile force of Gurkhas
and Royal Artillery, whence any descent from the Black Mountain or
Chilas country can be checked. Named after Lieutenant Abbot, who
reduced the neighbourhood to order in 1845-48.

Aden, Occupying a warm corner just outside the straits of Babol-Mandeb;
was the first addition made to the British dominions in the reign of
Queen Victoria, having been taken from the Arabs in 1839.

Agates,

Agra, Rose to importance under the Moguls, becoming their seat of
government after Akbar quitted the city he had built, Fatehpur-Sighri,
until Aurungzeb removed the seat of government to Delhi.

Akbar, The third, and in many ways the greatest, of the six “Great
Mogul” Emperors of India. A warrior first, he consolidated his
conquests with the genius of an enlightened statesman.

Alsu, A small village on the north-west shore of the Wular Lake.

Amar Singh (General Raja Sir Amar Singh, K.C.S.I.), Brother of His
Highness Sir Pratab Singh, G.C.S.I., Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir; is
Vice-President of the States Council and owner of much land in Kashmir,
the prosperity of which he has done much to promote.

Ambér, The ancient capital of Jaipur; was built in the eleventh
century, its Rajput rulers being the powerful allies of Chitor during
her struggles against the Mohammedan invasion. The Palace was built by
Raja Maun, _circa_ 1600, in the days of Akbar, whose cousin he was by
marriage ( _comp_. ). Ambér was deserted in 1728 by Jey Singh for his
new city of Jaipur.

Amethyst, This stone should be much worn in Scotland, particularly on
New Year’s Day, it having been (according to the Greek derivation of
the name) an antidote to drunkenness!

Amira Kadal, The highest of the seven bridges at Srinagar; a fine
modern structure, replacing that built by Amir Khan Jawan Sher, the
Pathan, who also built Sher Garhi.

Anda, Egg.

Anna, the sixteenth part of a rupee, value one penny.

Apharwat, One of the Pir Panjal range, which rises above Gulmarg,
height 14,500 feet.

Aru, A small village, beautifully situated about seven miles above
Pahlgam.

Asti, “Go slow.”

Astor, A district on the main route from Kashmir to Gilgit, the village
is about ninety-two miles from Bandipur. Two passes (the Rajdiangan, or
Tragbal, 11,800 feet, and the Boorzil, 13,500 feet) have to be crossed.
About ten passes are issued each season to sportsmen, markhor and ibex
being the game.

Atchibal, A village seven miles from Islamabad, where many springs
burst out from the rocks. Atchibal was a favourite pleasure-garden of
the Mogul Emperors, the remains of which still exist.

Aurungzeb, The last of the six “Great Moguls”; deposed and imprisoned
his predecessor Shah Jehan in 1658, and reigned until 1707. Bigoted and
intolerant, he shares with Sikander the odium of having destroyed many
of the ancient Hindu temples of Kashmir.

Avantipura, The modern village is near the extensive ruins named after
King Avanti Verma, which formed once the capital of Kashmir.

Bahamarishi, (_Baba-pam-Rishi=_Father Smoothbeard.) A village some
three miles below Gulmarg; the ziarat is named after a rishi, or
ascetic, of the sixteenth century.

Baloo, (Kashmiri, _Harpat_) “Rara avis in terras, nigroque similima
cignis.” _Anglicè_, a bear.

Bandipur, An important village on the north shore of the Wular Lake,
the starting-point for Gilgit, &c. Oddly enough, Bandipur is not marked
on the Ordnance Map.

Bandobast, A bargain or arrangement.

Bappa, An eighth-century Rajput hero, and ancestor of the present
chiefs of Mewar; appears to have had strong Mormon proclivities.

Baramula, The third town in Kashmir, having some 900 houses, is built
on the Jhelum at its outflow from the Kashmir Valley: it is also built
on the west focus of seismic disturbance in Kashmir, and was destroyed
by an earthquake in 1885, when 3000 Baramulans were killed. We were
unaware of these interesting facts on the morning of April 4! The
“Palms of Baramoule,” which Moore sang of, are like snakes in
Iceland—they do not exist.

Bara singh, The Kashmir stag.

Bawan,

Beera,

Bejbehara, The ancient Vijayasvara, a picturesque village and bridge
about four miles below Islamabad.

Bernier, F., a Frenchman attached to the court of Aurungzeb as medical
adviser; wrote _Voyage à Kachemire_.

Bhanyar,

Bheostie, The Indian Aquarius—the water-bearer.

Bhils,

Birch, (Kashmiri, _Burza_) The bark used in making the paper for which
Kashmir was noted, also for roofing, it being strong and impervious to
water.

Blue pine, _Pinus Excelsa_, (Kashmiri, _Yar_.)

Bombay,

Books on Kashmir:(1) Bernier, _Voyage à Kachemire_ (Utrecht, 1724); (2)
Forster’s (G) _Journey from Bengal to England_ (London, 1798); (3)
Moorcroft, _Travels in Kashmir, &c._ edited by Wilson, 1841; (4)
Jacquomont (V), _Voyage dans l’Inde_ (Paris, 1841); (5) Vigne (G. T.),
_Travels in Kashmir, &c._, 1844; (6) Hugel’s _Travels_, 1845; (7) Drew,
_Jummoo and, Ktishmir Territories_; and (8) Lawrence’s _Valley of
Kashmir_ 1895.

Budmash, A scoundrel.

Bund, An embankment or dyke to bank a river.

Burra, Big, or great.

Carnelian, “Flesh-stone”—for origin read Marryat’s _Pacha of Many
Tales_

Chakhoti,

Chandni Chowk,

Chaplies,

Chappar, Paddle with heart-shaped blade.

Chatris, The cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar; they stand in a
walled enclosure between Udaipur and the railway station.

Chenar, _Plaianus Orientals_ or Oriental plane. This magnificent tree
is supposed to have been introduced into Kashmir by the Mogul Emperors.
It grows to a great size, one measured by Lawrence being sixty-three
feet five inches in circumference at five feet above the ground! There
is a very fair specimen in Kew Gardens, between the pond and the
“herbaceous border.”

Chilas,

Chit, A note or letter, and also a character or recommendation, Every
man collects something, from pictures to tram tickets—the native
collects “chits.” Like other collectors he will beg, borrow, or steal
to improve his store, and life is made a burden by the perpetual
writing and reading of these mendacious documents.

Chitor,

Chittagul Nullah, The next nullah to the south-west of the Wangat. The
village of Wangat is wrongly placed in it, according to the Ordnance
Map.

Chondawats, A Rajput clan.

Chota, Little, _Chota Hazri = petit dejeúner_ or early breakfast.

Chowkidar, A functionary whose principal duty seems to be to snore in
the verandah at night and scare other robbers away.

Chupatty, A flabby sort of scone.

Chuprassie,

Cockburn’s Agency, The nearest approach to “Whiteley’s” in Kashmir.

Dâk, Post. _Dâk Bungalow_ = posting station.

Dal Lake, _Dal_ means lake (in a plain), while _nag_ is a mountain
tarn.

Dandy, A sort of enclosed chair with four projecting arms, wherein
pretty ladies are carried when it doesn’t suit them to walk.

Degchies, Cooking utensils—best made of aluminium, owing to the unclean
ways of native scullions.

Dekho, See, look! Delhi, The capital of the Mogul Emperors, dating from
1638, when Shah Jehan commenced to build the great fort. The ancient
city lies some miles to the south. Delhi was taken by General Lake in
1803.

Deodar, (Kashmiri, _Diár.) Cedrus Lebani_, var. _Deodara_. The most
valuable tree in Kashmir, where it was formerly abundant. It is now
chiefly found in the north-west districts, and it is carefully
cherished by the “Jungly Sahib” and his myrmidons.

Dobie, The thing that ruins all your shirts and causes you to shatter
the Third Commandment.

Domel, Village with Dâk Bungalow, at the confluence of the Jhelum and
the Kishenganga.

Doolie,

Doras,

Dounga, “The boats of Kashmir are very long and narrow, and are rowed
with paddles from the stern, which is a little elevated, to the centre;
a tilt of mats is extended for the shelter of passengers or
merchandize” (Forster); the mats are made of “pits” (reed mace), a
swamp plant.

Drogmulla,

Dubgam, A village at junction of the Pohru with the Jhelum, about seven
miles above Baramula.

EARTHQUAKE, An upsetting event of too frequent occurrence in Kashmir.
Particularly severe visitations occurred in 1827 and 1885 (_see_
Baramula).

Echo Lake, A small tarn on the top of Apharwat.

Ek, One. (_Ek dam_=immediately.)

Ekka,

Embroidery,

Erin Nullah,

Eshmakam, =_Eysh Makám_(“the delightful halting-place”) Above the
village stands the shrine of Zyn-u-din, one of the four disciples of
the Kashmir patron saint, Shah Nur-u-din.

FATERPUR-SIGHRI,

Ferozepore Nullah,

Floating Gardens,

GANESBAL, The boulder, red-stained and extremely sacred, which lies in
the middle of the Lidar; bears some fancied likeness to Ganésh (the
elephant-headed god).

Gangabal, A sacred lake, lying under the north glaciers of Haramok at
the elevation of 12,000 feet. It is said to be a source of the
Ganges(!) and is an object of pilgrimage.

Ghari,

Ghari Habibullah,

Ghari Wallah, The Jehu of these parts.

Ghât,

Gold mohur,

Golf,

Gram,

Grass shoes,

Gujar, Is not a Kashmiri, being a member of the semi-nomad tribes which
graze buffaloes and goats upon the hills. He speaks Parímu or Hindki.

Gulmarg, (The Rose Marg.) The most frequented resort of the English in
Kashmir during July and August; stands some 8500 feet above the sea,
wherefore some people find the air too rarefied. Gulmarg was first
mentioned by Yusaf Khan in 1580.

Gunderbal, A village placed where the Sind River debouches into the
plain. The starting-point for Leh and Thibet.

Gupkar, Town of Gopaditya(?). A wine-manufacturing suburb of Srinagar,
overlooking the Dal.

Gurais, A large village on the Bandipur-Gilgit route, lying on the
right bank of the Kishenganga, about forty-two miles from Bandipur.

HARAMOK, The predominating mountain (16,903 feet) of the valley, from
almost every part of which his square-headed bulk is visible; hence the
name, which means “all faces” or “all mouths.” A legend holds that a
vein of emerald lies near the summit, and that within view of this gem
no snake can live

Harbagwan,

Hari Parbat, (“The Green Hill”) So named on account of the gardens and
vineyards which clothed its sides. Became the residence of Akbar, who
built the wall round foot of hill in 1597. The fort on top was the work
of the Pathan, Atta Mohamad Khan.

Haripur,

Harwan,

Hasrat Bal Mosque, (The Prophet’s Hair.) Various fairs and festivals
are held here, the principal one being held upon the day that the
Prophet rode up to Heaven on his mule Al Barak (the Thunderer). This
mule, by-the-bye, is one of the five favoured beasts which the
Mohammedans believe destined to immortality; the others are (1)
Abraham’s Ram, (2) Balaam’s Ass, (3) the one upon which Christ rode on
Palm Sunday, and (4) the dog which guarded the seven sleepers.

Hassanabad Mosque, Built by Nur Jehan Begum (Nourmahal), and destroyed
by the Sikhs.

Hassan Abdal, (_Abdal=_fanatic).

Hoopoe, Un-natural history of.

INSECTS, Of benign insects such as butterflies there are singularly
few. Both mosquitoes and flies are very troublesome during the hot
weather in the valley. Visits to native huts will probably lead to an
introduction to other insects. In India ants become a nuisance: I met
with a foraging party of extremely large and well-nourished ones as I
entered my bath place one morning. I recognised them for the
descendants—decadent somewhat—of the famous fellows who played Alberich
to the Gold of Hindostan and regarding which Herodotus (commonly known
as the Father of History, or of Lies, I forget which) asserted that
they were of the bigness of foxes and ran with incredible swiftness. He
evidently got this yarn from Pliny—

“Indicae Formicae. Aurum ex cavernus egerunt terrae Ipsis autem color
Fehum magnitudo Aegypti Luporum” (Lib. xi. ch. 31)—

and passed it on to Sir J. Maundevil, who swallowed it greedily.
“Theise pissmyres ben grete as houndes; so that no man dar come to the
hilles, for the pissmyres wolde assaylen hem and devouren hem” (ch.
xxx) For the wily method of catching the ants napping, together with
other _contes drolatiques_, read Maundevil’s _Travels_.

Iris, (Kashmiri, _Krishm_) Succeeds the tulip and precedes the rose as
typical of Kashmirian Flora, is used as fodder, and the fibre makes
ropes, which are, however, not durable.

Islamabad, (Or Anant Nag, the “Place of Countless Springs.”) Is the
second city in Kashmir, having about 9000 inhabitants; stands at the
head of the navigable Jhelum, fifty miles by water and thirty-two by
land above Srinagar.

Jade,

Jagganath,

Jain, A small sect founded by Mahavera, a contemporary of Gautama. The
Jains were great temple-builders.

Jehangir,

Jeimal, With Putta, one of the national heroes of the Rajputs. They
fell, while mere boys, in the heroic defence of Chitor against Akbar.

Jey Singh, (Sowar Jey Singh.) Succeeded to the throne of Ambér in 1699,
founded Jaipur in 1728. He wrote the following, which I had not read
when I visited his observatory at Jaipur “Let us devote ourselves at
the altar of the King of Kings, hallowed be his name! In the book of
the register of whose power the lofty orbs of Heaven are but a few
leaves, and the stars, and that heavenly courser the sun, small pieces
of money in the treasury of the Most High.”

Jheel, A small lake, or pond.

Jhelum, (Kashmiri, _Veth_, Hindu, _Vetasta_, the ancient _Hydaspes_.)
Rises at Vernag, becomes navigable at Kanbal, and is so for 120 miles,
when it forms rapids below Baramula. Average breadth at Srinagar in
December 210 feet, average depth 9 feet.

Johur,

Kaj-nag,

Kali, (“The Terrible.”) Wife of Shiva or Mahadeva.

Kanbal,

Karachi,

Karewas, “Where the mountains cease to be steep, fan-like projections,
with flat, arid tops, and bare of trees, run out towards the valley”
(Lawrence)

Kashmir=Kashuf-mir (the country of Kashuf). Was ruled by Tartar princes
from about 150-100 B.C. for several centuries; conquered after a year’s
struggle by Mahmoud of Guznee (1014-1015 A.D.). Invaded by Baber and
Humayun, and finally conquered by latter in 1543, and formally annexed
by Akbar in 1588. After the fall of Delhi (Nadir Shah) in 1739, Kashmir
fell into the hands of Amirs of Cabul in 1753. It was captured by the
Sikhs under Ranjit Singh in 1819, and, after the defeat of the Sikhs at
the hands of the British, was handed over to Gulab Singh of Jammu for
twenty-five lacs of rupees “Kailasa is the best place in the three
worlds, Himalaya the best part of Kailasa, and Kashmir the best place
in Himalaya” _(Rajatarangini Kulan_).

Kastoora, Merula Boulboul (the grey-winged ousel). Jane bought
“Freddie” one day in Srinagar, and he has been our friend and companion
ever since—being at this present (August 1907) in rude health.

Khansamah, A Cook.

Khubbar, News—usually untrustworthy.

Khud, A steep slope or precipice.

Khudstick, An alpenstock made of tough wood, usually of Cotoneaster
baccillaris (lun); should be well tested before purchase, as life may
depend on its strength.

Killanmarg, A wide sloping marg above Gulmarg, just above the pine
forest on the slopes of Apharwat.

Kilta, Creel made of the pliant withes of the Wych Hazel, _Parrotia_
_Jacquemontiana_ (Chob-i-poh).

Kishenganga, A large affluent of the Jhelum which drains the Tilail
Valley, passes Gurais, and joins the Jhelum below Muzafferabad.

Kitardaji, Forest house in the Machipura.

Kitmaghar, Bearer.

Kobala,

Kohinar,

Kolahoi, or Gwash Brari, 17,800 ft. The loftiest peak in Kashmir
proper. It has not yet been ascended.

Koolan,

Kralpura,

Kulan, A peak of the Pir Panjal, at the head of the Ferozepore Nullah.

Kulgam, or Kuligam.

Kunis,

Kurnavati,

Kutab Minar,

Lacquer,

Lahore, Capital of the Punjab. An ancient and interesting city, which
(like Agra and Delhi) only attained its zenith of prosperity in the
days of Akbar.

Lakri, A stick (at Gulmarg also a golf-club).

Lalpura, A charming village in the Lolab.

Larch,

Lidar, Liddar, or Lambodri, Drains the Kolahoi district, and forms the
first substantial affluent of the Jhelum, which it joins below
Islamabad.

Lidarwat, A small Grujar village fifteen miles above Pahlgam, on the
left bank of the river, about 10,000 ft. above sea-level.

Logue or Log, Folk.

Lumbadhar, The headman of a village.

Machipura, “The Place of Fish”—why, I cannot imagine! The district
lying along the east foothills of the Kaj-nag.

Mahadeo, (Mahadeva or Shiva) A sacred mountain and object of
pilgrimage, north of Srinagar, 13,500 feet high.

Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, H.H. Sir Pratab Singh, G.C.S.I.,
succeeded his father Ranbir Singh (who was third son of Gulah Singh) in
1885. The family is of the Rajput Dogras. “His kindness to all classes
has won him the affection of his people” (Lawrence).

Maharana, H.H. the Maharana Dhiraj Sir Fateh Singh, G.C.S.I., of
Udaipur, is head of the Rajput princes in point of blood, being
descended from the Suryabansi, or Children of the Sun.

Mahseer,

Malingam,

Manji or Hanji, A Kashmiri water-thief or boatman.

Manserah,

Mar (snake) Canal. A dirty but most picturesque waterway between the
Dal and the Anchar Lakes.

Marg,(Margh?) Persian for a garden abounding in plants.

Margam,

Martand, The principal temple in Kashmir—stands on a high karewa some
few miles from Islamabad.

Metal-work,

Mewar,

Mogul, The Moguls were a warlike people of Central Asia, who, under
Timur (Tamerlane) their chief, sacked Delhi in 1398. At the great
battle of Panipat, in 1524, Baber the Mogul (direct descendant of
Timur) defeated the Sultans of Delhi. He was the first of the six
“Great” Moguls (the others being Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jehan,
and Aurungzeb), who ruled India with unparalleled magnificence for 150
years.

Mulberry, (_Morus sp_. Kashmiri _Tul_) A very precious tree in Kashmir,
on account of the silk industry. It grows to a great size, attaining a
girth of 25 feet.

Murghi, A fowl.

Murree, A hill station and sanatorium, 37 miles from Rawal Pindi, on a
hill 7500 feet above the sea. Its importance dates from 1850. Forster
speaks of it as a small village in 1786.

Musafferabad, (“The Place of Victory”) Built by Masufer Khan, Rajah of
Chikri.

Mussick, Water-skin.

NAG, A mountain lake or tarn.

Nagas, Human-bodied, snake-tailed gods.

Nagmarg,

Nanga Parbat, A great mountain in the Chilas country, 26,620 feet high
(the fourth in point of height in the world), Mommery and two guides
were destroyed in 1895, probably by an avalanche, while attempting the
ascent.

Nassim Bagh, (“The Garden of Delicious Breezes”) A favourite spot in
the days of the Mogul Emperors. Akbar planted 1200 chenars.

Neem tree.

Neve, Dr. A. He and his brother are surgeons to the Kashmir Medical
Mission, where for many years they have carried on the somewhat
thankless task of benefiting the natives.

Nishat Bagh, (“The Garden of Drink”)

Nopura, A village on the Pohru.

Nourmahal, (“Light of the Palace”), or, more properly, Nur Jehan Begum
(“Light of the World”), was the wife of Jehaugir, celebrated in
Mooree’s _Lalla Rookh_. Her life story was very curious. See Forster’s
_Journey from Bengal to England_, London, 1798.

Nullah, A valley or ravine.

Numdah,

ONTALA,

Oodi Singh,

PADMANI, “The Lotus-lovely Lady.”

Pagdandy, A short cut.

Pahlgam, “The Shepherd’s Village,” A Kashmiri summer resort for those
who like quiet. It is 27 miles from Islamabad up the Lidar Valley, and
is somewhat over 7000 feet above the sea.

Pampur, (Padma-pur, city of Vishnu, or Padmun-pur, “the place of
beauty”), principally noted now for its Pampur roti or bread, a
speciality of the place.

Pandrettan, or Pandrenthan, =Puranadhisthana, “the old capital.” Was
built in the time of Partha by his Prime Minister, Meru.

Parana Chauni,

Patan. “The City” or “Ferry,” the ancient Sankarapura, Sankaravarma
having built two temples there at the end of the eighth century.

Peechy, Afterwards, later, by-and-bye

Peri Mahal, “The Abode of the Fairies.” Built on the hill above Gupkar
by Prince Dara Shikoh, probably for astronomical purposes

Piasse, The onion.

Pice, See Rupee.

Pichola Lake,

Pir Panjab, Pir=Dogri for peak Pantzal, Kashmiri for ditto Pir also
meant a saint, particularly one who lived in the pass in the days of
Shah Jehan and Aurungzeb and who was interviewed by Bernier. The Pir
Panjal was the route followed by the Moguls when coming to Kashmir,
and, rough as it is, they sent elephants along it. The highest peak of
the Pir Panjal is Tatakuti, 15,500 feet.

Pohru,

Poonch, A native state lying south-west of Kashmir, to which it is
tributary. The Raja Buldeo Singh is cousin to the Maharajah of Kashmir.

Poplar. There are two varieties of Poplar in Kashmir, the Italian or
Black Poplar, and the White, the latter attains a great size, one near
Gurais measuring 127 feet in height and 14-1/2 feet in girth.

Porcelain,

Port Saïd,

Puttoo, Native cloth.

RAINAWARI,

Rajput, The brave and chivalrous inhabitants of Rajputana. Bernier,
probably influenced by Mogul opinion, attributes much of their valour
to opium, as the following curious extract shows “Ils sont grands
preneurs d’opium, et je me suis quelque fois etonné de la quantité que
je leur en voiois prendre; aussi ils s’y accoutûmerent dès la jeunesse;
le jour d’une bataille ils ne s’oublient pas de doubler la dose; cette
drogue les anime ou plutot les enyvre, et les rend insensibles an
danger, de sorte quils se jettant dans le combat comma des bêtes
furieuses, ne sachant ce que c’est de fuir … c’est un plaisir de les
voir ainsi avec leur fumée d’opium dans la tête s’entre embrasser quand
on est prêt de combattre et se dire adieu les uns aux autres, comme
gens qui sont resolus de mourir.”—Vol. i. p. 54.

Ramble-tamble egg, Scrambled eggs.

Ram chikor, The great snow partridge (_Tetragallus Himalayensis_).

Rampur. A small village in the Jhelum Valley, and a village on the way
into the Lolab _viâ_ Kunis.

Rawal Pindi,

Rassad, “Field Allowance” or extra rations given to coolies when doing
any mountain work or away from supplies.

Resai,

Roorkhee chair, An extremely comfortable and portable chair made by the
R.E. at Roorkhee.

Rope bridge,

Rupee=one fifteenth of a sovereign, or 1s. and 4d. 12 pice (or pies)= 4
paisa = 1 anna = 1 penny 16 annas = 1 rupee.

SAAF kuro, “Make clean.”

Saktawats, A Rapjut clan.

Sari, A woman’s garment, usually brilliant in colour, blood-red and
dark blue being favoured.

Sekwas,

Sellar,

Serow, _Nemorhaidus bubalerius_.

Sesodia, The ruling family of Udaipur, formerly known as Gehlote.

Shadipur, “The Place of Marriage”—probably with reference to the
junction of the Sind and Jhelum rivers.

Shah Jehan, The greatest builder of the Mogul Emperors. Ruled from 1627
to 1658, when he was deposed and imprisoned by Aurungzeb.

Shalimar,

Shalimar Bagh,

Shambrywa, One of the peaks of the Kaj-nag.

Shiah, A Mohammedan sect, usually much at variance with those of Sunni
persuasion.

Shikara, A light sort of canoe.

Shikari, A necessary joint in the “fighting tail” of the sportive
visitor to Kashmir. Usually a fraud, but, if not too proud, makes quite
a good golf caddy.

Shisha Nag, “The Glassy or Leaden Lake.”

Silver fir, _Abies Webbiana_ (Kashmiri, _Sungal_). Grows to a great
height, being known 110 feet high and 16 feet in girth.

Sind Desert,

Sind Valley,

Singhara, Meaning “horned nut,” the water chestnut _(Trapa bispinosa_).
An article of diet much prized by the Kashmiri.

Sogul,

Sonamarg, “The Golden Marg.” A summer station high up the Sind Valley
on the route to Leh and Ladak.

Sopor, =Sonapur, or the Golden City. A somewhat unclean little town of
some 600 houses on the Jhelum, about eight miles by road and twelve by
water above Baramula.

Spill Canal, Cut in 1904, after the Great Flood of 1903, to carry some
of the river clear of Srinagar and ease the pressure on the bund.

Spruce, _Picca, Morunda_. (Kashmiri, _Kachal_.)

Srinagar, _Surga Nagur_, City of the Sun. Has a population of 120,000.
Became capital in 960 A.D., when the ancient city of Pandrettan was
burnt in the reign of Abimanyu. The city was called Kashmir until
recently, Martand being called Sringar by Jacquemont.

Sultanpur,

Sumbal, Said to be the site of the ancient city Jayapura.

Sunt-i-kul = “Apple-tree Canal.”

TAJ MAHAL, The magnificent tomb of Mumtez Mahal, favourite wife of Shah
Jehan.

Takht-i-Suleiman, A steep isolated hill rising nearly 1000 feet above
Srinagar, crowned by a temple which is built on the ruins of a very
ancient edifice. The Takht or Throne of Solomon is, according to the
legend, the place which Solomon occupied during his mythical visit to
Kashmir.

Tangmarg, “The Open Marg”. Is the village about 1500 foot below
Gulmarg, which is the nearest point to Gulmarg attainable by wheeled
conveyance.

Tattoo, A pony.

Tehsildhar, The functionary who has jurisdiction over a tehsil.

Temples, For full description read Lawrence _(Valley of Kashmir_, chap.
vi.) Their ruined state is partly due to earthquakes, but probably
still more to the iconoclastic activity of Sikandar (_d._ 1416) and
Aurungzeb.

Tilail,

Tonga,

Topaz, Name derived from the Greek “to conjecture”—because no one knew
whence they came!

Tower of Fame,

Tower of Victory,

Tragbal,

Tragam, A large village south-west of the Lolab, whence a route leads
to Musafferabad.

Tret, A station at the foot of the Murree hills on the road to Rawal
Pindi.

Trieste,

Tronkol,

Turquoise,

UDAIPUR, The capital of the ancient and powerful Rajput State of Mewar,
founded by Oodi Singh after the fall of Chitor. Uri,

VERNABOUG,

Vernag,

WALNUT, A valuable tree in Kashmir, where its fruit and timber are both
greatly esteemed; grows to a very large size, one in the Lolab having a
girth of 18 feet 10 inches.

Wangat,

Wardwan, The mountainous district on the east of Kashmir.

Water buffalo, An ungainly and “sneevish” beast beloved of Gujars and
nobody else.

Weights 2 lbs. (English)=1 seer. 40 seers = 1 maund.

Wood carving,

Wular, Means “cave”. The largest lake in India, being 12-1/2 x 5 miles
in average extent. In floods it covers much extra space.

Wych hazel, _See_ Kilta.

YAKDAN,

ZIARAT, A Mohammedan shrine. Zoji La, The pass at the head of the Sind
Valley which is crossed on going to Leh, height 11,300 feet.





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