Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/132

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a pack of hounds upon the plains, could the breed he established in such capital hunting-grounds; as, however, so notable a design is not feasible, they are fain to be content with slaying them whenever an opportunity is given for a fair shot.


Simla deservedly takes rank as the superior European station of the hill-districts; the spot which it occupies has risen to its present rank and importance in consequence of its having been chosen for the summer residence of the political agent, stationed at Subathoo for the purpose of maintaining a good understanding among the various potentates in the neighbourhood. Visited in his encampment under the cedars, by several friends, anxious like himself to escape from the heat of the plains, it seemed desirable to erect a mansion, which was expeditiously accomplished, and, the example being followed, considerable numbers of picturesque and commodious dwellings have sprung up in all directions. The Earl of Amherst, governor-general of India, as early as the year 1827, was tempted to pay a visit to Simla. Lord Combermere made it for some time his head-quarters; and, to the strong interest taken by this public-spirited commandant in the prosperity of the infant settlement, it is indebted for a great many improvements, especially for an excellent road, broad, safe, and not possessing any unpleasant acclivities; a bridge, represented in the accompanying engraving, spanning a ravine which it crosses in its progress. This road encircles the principal hill, and is about two miles in circumference, thus affording an agreeable ride or drive to the inhabitants; but there is another, which stretches to a very considerable distance, of sufficient breadth, and sufficiently level to ride along with rapidity and safety. Bungalows, or post-houses, have been erected at the end of each stage, varying from eight to twelve miles in distance, for the accommodation of travellers proceeding into the interior ranges of the Himalaya, on the road to Chinese Tartary; and this route affords great facilities for persons who have no desire to penetrate so far, to make themselves acquainted with the character of the country, without being exposed to the hardships and dangers which they must encounter in following the primitive tracks with which the natives have been content.

The greater number of houses at Simla range from seven to eight thousand feet above the level of the sea; a very considerable portion of wood enters into their construction, the walls being strengthened by stout beams introduced at intervals; some of the roofs are nearly flat, having just sufficient slope to allow the rain to run off, and are formed of chunam, a peculiar kind of stucco used in India, intermixed with wood, and closely cemented to the rafters; others, however, are sloping with gable-ends, (Major Kennedy's being of this description,) and rather Chinese in their appearance : many, indeed all the situations, are exceedingly beautiful; the summit of a small green knoll, sheltered by a steeper hill at the back, and looking down upon a valley, being usually chosen, every part magnificently wooded with pines of various kinds, the larch and the cedar, evergreen oak, and rhododendron, the two latter not bearing the same proportion as the former.

The gardens are numerous and thriving; potatoes, cabbages, and other vegetable esculents grow very freely, and beautiful parterres of flowers may be obtained by the mere trouble of transplanting the numerous wild varieties which wreathe the side of every hill; while the seeds procured from the plains are easily matured. The greensward is at Simla enriched with the violet, the primrose, red and white roses, some double and some assuming the form of a creeper, convolvoli of many kinds, the whole family of geraniums, the orchis, and others of great beauty peculiar to the hills. The rose may