Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/117

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MOUNT GADJUR; ITS SACRED LAKE.

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and on the 7th and 9th of August snow fell in such quantities as to lie on the ground and form considerable drifts. Under these circumstances scientific investigations could not be successfully prosecuted; the flowering season was nearly over, and only forty of the plants collected by us during the summer were gathered in August.

The summit of Gadjur is crowned by some huge cliffs, in whose bosom reposes the small lake of Demchuk.[1] This lakelet is 700 feet long and 240 wide; the access is by a narrow chasm like a gateway. The lake itself is held sacred by the Tangutans, and prayers are offered up here by the common people as well as by the lamas of Chertinton. Their superior, our friend the Gigen, lived for seven years in a cave on the lake, and told us that he once saw a large blue cow rise from it, swim on its surface for some time and again disappear in its depths. Ever since then it has been held in high repute.

The absolute elevation of Demchuk is 13,100 feet, and the situation is very striking. The narrowness of the gorge, the tranquil gleaming waters, the gigantic rocks towering up all round, only admitting one small streak of sky, and lastly, the solemn silence almost unbroken save by an occasional falling stone, move the inmost soul of man. As for myself, I remained more than an hour on its shore absorbed in reverie ; and when I left I felt how naturally the untutored mind might invest with mysterious sanctity

  1. There are actually two little lakes, but one is much smaller than Demchuk, and lies below it.