Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/136

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VIEWS IN INDIA.

conceal themselves with so much adroitness as to lead the party to believe that they take to earth. They do not attempt to attack the large hill-dogs belonging to the natives, and the latter sometimes assemble a pack together, and hunt the cat-a-mountain to his very lair, or rouse him in his den. A solitary tiger will occasionally straggle up to the neighbourhood of Simla, and the natives, though not distinguished for their bravery, will on such an emergence attack him very boldly. A shikarie, or huntsman, surprised one in the act of pulling down a cow; he shot him through the head with a bullet from his matchlock, and, following up the victory, closed upon him, and divided the spine with his sword. To those persons acquainted with the danger of approaching a tiger, however severely wounded, such an instance of personal courage will be justly estimated.

An excellent bazaar is established at Simla, which is well supplied with foreign products and provisions from the plains—the former, of course, on account of the length of carriage, at rather an expensive rate. Hitherto, though much wanted, nothing in the shape of a house of public entertainment has been attempted. It is rather surprising that while Europeans are always found ready to embark in indigo speculations, and to waste their lives in some horrid solitude, half the year compelled to the most dangerous superintendence of the labours of the factory under a climate fraught with disease, and the other half condemned to miserable inactivity; no one has been found to take up a project which could not fail to produce an excellent return for the capital laid out, and which would prove a pleasurable employment of time.

Three thousand pounds would suffice for the purpose of establishing an hotel at Simla, which, with proper care, must be rendered very productive, since the high rent of houses, and the expense of building them, deter many families and vast numbers of single men from visiting the hills, who would otherwise gladly make them their summer resort. A commodious family dwelling-house averages, in building complete, from three to five hundred pounds; and the hotel premises would, of course, cost the proprietor a proportionate sum, according to their extent. The ground is to be obtained on application to the political agent, at a trifling annual rent paid to Government; and there are various spots in Simla admirably calculated for the purpose of an hotel; one in particular on the entrance, and one at a higher elevation, comprising a succession of terraces, which would afford ample room for spacious buildings, out-houses, &c., and excellent garden -ground. Besides the families who seek health in the hills, numerous parties would run between return-days from Meerut, Loodianah, Kurnaul, and the adjacencies, if they had a place in which they could be accommodated without the necessity of carrying every thing with them excepting their wearing apparel. The landlord might also keep a number of goonts, and let them out to the public at considerable advantage; these ponies are procurable at exceedingly low prices at the annual fair at Rampore, and they may be fed upon barley, which is cheap in the hills. The hotel-keeper, besides the profits of his house, would have an opportunity of setting up, unrivalled, as general provisioner and farmer, and, in a very short time would be dependent only upon foreign supplies of wine and brandy. There is no doubt that brewing[1] might be very successfully undertaken

  1. The experiment of making beer has been tried at Meerut, and failed, but the causes which prevented success upon the plains, would not operate in the hills. The hop plant could be freely cultivated, and what is still more essential, as a substitute can be found for hops, the manufacture of malt might be carried on, which requires an equable temperature unattainable in the plains. In addition to the large consumption by Europeans, good beer would find a ready sale amongst the richer classes of natives, who are not fettered by the restrictions imposed upon more orthodox Hindoos. Amongst other customers, the brewer might reckon upon Runjeet Singh himself, for we are informed by the Delhi Gazette, that the Lion of the Punjab having heard that Furtee Allee, shah of Persia, had derived great benefit from the use of beer, sent to Loodianah for a hundred bottles of Hodgson's best.