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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/40

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MOUNTAINS, HILLS, AND PLAINS

its full fruition of content. Another is the silence of the forests. Bird and beast are there, but they are little in evidence. A third feature which can hardly be missed is the contrast between the northern and the southern slopes. The former will often be clothed with forest while the latter is a bare stony slope covered according to season with brown or green grass interspersed with bushes of indigo, barberry, or the hog plum (Prinsepia utilis). The reason is that the northern side enjoys much more shade, snow lies longer, and the supply of moisture is therefore greater. The grazier for the same reason is less tempted to fire the hill side in order to promote the growth of grass, a practice which is fatal to all forest growth. The rich and varied flora of the Himalaya will be referred to later.

Muztagh-Karakoram Ranges.— The Muztagh-Karakoram mountains form the northern watershed of the Indus. The range consists of more than one main axis. The name Karakoram is appropriated t.o the eastern part of the system which originates at E. longitude 79 near the Pangong lake in the Tibetan plateau a little beyond the boundary of Kashmir. Beyond the Karakoram pass (18,550 ft.) is a lofty bleak upland with salt lakes dotted over its surface. Through this inhospitable region and over the Karakoram pass and the Sasser-la (17,500 ft.) the trade route from Yarkand to Leh runs. The road is only open for three months in the year, and the dangers and hardships are great. In 1898 Dr Bullock Workman and his wife marched along it across the Shyok river, up the valley of the Nubra, and over the Sasser-la to the Karakoram pass. The scenery is an exaggeration of that described by Dr Neve as seen on the road from the Zoji-la to Leh. There is a powerful picture of its weird repellent grandeur in the Workmans' book entitled In the Ice World of Himalaya (pp. 28-29, 30-32). The