Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/138

This page has been validated.




Nahun is the capital of Sirmoor, that is, the chief town of a small raj, and, though diminutive, is considered one of the best planned and best built cities in India. It is approached through a very picturesque, well-watered, and finely-wooded valley, and, occupying the summit of a rock, it commands on all sides most extensive and beautiful views. The country round about is intersected with valleys and ravines, clothed in the richest luxuriance of foliage and verdure, the Deyrah Dhoon stretching out in the distance to the south-east, and the comparatively low belts of hills in the neighbourhood affording very pleasing specimens of mountain scenery. The road leading to the town is exceedingly steep and narrow, cut inconveniently up a very precipitous ascent, which elephants, however, contrive to mount, even when laden with baggage. The streets have somewhat the appearance of stairs, so numerous are the steps occasioned by the unevenness of the rock on which they are built; and though accustomed to the native disdain of obstacles of this kind, we were surprised to see the principal inhabitants riding about on horseback and mounted on elephants, as if the place were adapted for such recreations.

The rajah, who is indebted to British aid for the rescue of his dominions from the Ghoorkas, is exceedingly polite and attentive to Europeans passing his way, affording them all the assistance in his power. He is rather in an impoverished condition, his territories consisting chiefly of the thinly peopled and scantily cultivated mountain regions between Deyra and Pinjore; but while complaining, and with some reason, of the scantiness of his revenues, he contrives to cut a figure, which he trusts will impress his European visitants with a due notion of his consequence.

There are few things more absurd than the interviews which occasionally take place between native potentates and the civil or military European travellers who may chance to pass through some remote principality. The latter are usually in a most deplorable state of dishabille—fortunate if they have a decent coat to mount upon the occasion. A long journey, in all probability, has sadly deteriorated the appearance of the cattle and the followers, and the tourist would willingly relinquish the honours which are thrust upon him. The rajah, on the other hand, is anxious to exhibit as a person of importance, and, having given due notice of his intended visit, pays his respects to the representative of Great Britain with all the pomp and circumstance which he can command. The cavalcades on these occasions are generally exceedingly picturesque, and afford an imposing display of elephants handsomely caparisoned, ornamented litters, gaudily dressed troopers, and crowds of men on foot, brandishing swords, silver maces, and rusty matchlocks; while the deep and rapid sounds of the kettle-drums, and the shrill blasts of the trumpets, come upon the ear in wild and warlike melody. It is necessary, notwithstanding the numerous discrepances appearing in the shape of ragged followers, and the consciousness of the unfitness of travelling costume for the reception of a visit of state, to preserve a steady countenance, since laughter would appear unseemly, and certainly would not be attributed to the right cause. The rajah of Nahun is rather proud of his killar, or fortress, and never fails to invite European strangers to pay him a visit in it, and to inspect his troops. The latter are neither very numerous nor highly disciplined, and their appearance readily accounted for the facility with which the more martial Seiks and Ghoorkas possessed themselves of the territories of the raj. Within view of the town is the hill-fortress of Tytock, four thousand eight