Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/127

This page has been validated.



elastic turf, its murmuring course defined by a belt of violets and cowslips, whilst ferns of every variety are dancing gracefully in the breeze, and dipping their feathered heads in the tiny wave as it sparkles on its way.


The height of the loftiest peak of this magnificent mountain is ascertained to be twelve thousand one hundred and forty-nine feet above the level of the sea, being the most considerable of the range south of the Himalaya, between the Sutlej and Jumna rivers. From its commanding position it turns and separates the waters of Hindostan, the streams rising on the southern and eastern face being forced into the direction of the Pabar, the Giree, the Tonse, and the Jumna, which find their way over the great plain into the bay of Bengal; while those that have their sources to the north and the west are compelled toward the Sutlej and the Indus, and, uniting in the last, pour their waters into the Arabian ocean.

During a considerable part of the year, the Choor is hoary with snow, and in bad weather intense cold may be experienced at the elevation which we had reached, a short distance below the loftiest peak. We here found ourselves in a region of ice; and when moonlight came and lit up the scene, we were charmed by the novel effect produced by the floods of molten silver which shed their soft radiance over the snow. Moonlight, ever beautiful, amid these snowy masses assumes a new and more exquisite charm. The rugged peaks, stern and chilling as they are, lose their awful character, and become brilliant as polished pearl; the trees, covered with icicles, seem formed of some rich spar, and the face of nature being wholly changed, we may fancy that we have reached another world, calm and tranquil, but still and deathlike. The storms, however, which frequently rage and roar through these solitudes, effectually disturb the serenity of the landscape, and frequently the whole scene is enveloped in clouds, which, upon some sudden change of the atmosphere, will draw off like a curtain, revealing the cold bright and pearly region beyond. To be overtaken by a snow-storm in crossing the Choor, proves one of the least agreeable varieties in a tour through these hills.

Hitherto our journey had proceeded very prosperously, but we were not destined to complete it without sustaining considerable inconvenience from inclement skies. While marching rather wearily along, the aspect of the heavens changed, the clouds darkened over our heads, and presently down came a heavy storm of hail, which was quickly followed by snow falling fast and thick. On reaching our tents, we found them loaded with snow, which lay several feet in depth upon the ground, while the only wood attainable was not to be procured without great difficulty and toil. There was no fire, consequently no cookery, and the night was passed in a miserably freezing condition. Morning dawned only to shew a fresh fall of snow, and the prospect of more, for if the fleecy shower ceased for a few minutes, the change merely developed a sullen black canopy above, threatening to overwhelm us with its fierce discharge. Loud rose the cries of mutiny in our camp; many were the groans uttered by our followers, the native coolies not scrupling to vent their feelings in words, while our Mohammedan servants, paralyzed and aghast at a predicament so new to them, looked unutterable things. As long as the snow lasted, there was no possibility of doing any thing to effect an improvement in our comfortless condition, patience being the sole resort—and that, it was vain to expect to teach men dragged against their own consent into so disagreeable a dilemma. At length