Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/15

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The Himalaya mountains, signifying the abode of snow, form that tremendous barrier, which, stretching from the Indus on the north-west to the Bramaputra on the south-east, divides the plains of Hindostan from the wilds of Thibet and Tartary. This chain of mountains comprises numerous ranges, extending in different directions west of the Indus; one of its ramifications, running in a still more westerly direction, is known to the Afghans by the name of the Hindoo Kosh, the whole stupendous range being merely broken by the Indus. From the north-east point of Cashmere, it takes a south-eastern course, stretching along the sources of all the Punjab rivers, except the Sutlej, where it separates the hilly portion of the Lahore province from those tracts which have been designated in modern geography, Little Thibet. Still pursuing the same direction, it crosses the heads of the Ganges and Jumna, and compels their currents towards a southward channel. Farther east, the chain is supposed to be less continuous, it being the generally received opinion that it is penetrated by the Gunduck, the Arun, the Cosi, and the Teesta. Beyond the limits of Bootan, the course of the chain, extending into an unexplored country, can be traced no longer; but the supposition is in favour of its running to the Chinese sea, skirting the northern frontier of the provinces of Quangsi and Quantong, and lessening in height as it advances to the east. The portion of this extensive chain which borders Hindostan, rises to an elevation far exceeding that of any other mountains in the world, in some places forming an impassable barrier to the countries beyond, and rendering their extent a matter for conjecture only. The breadth of the snowy chain varies in different parts between the Sutlej and the Ganges; it has been estimated at about eighty miles from the plains of Hindostan to those of Thibet. The heights of this splendid barrier are unassailable by man, but in some places the beds of rivers which intersect it afford access to its wild fastnesses; and as a few penetrate the mighty mass, there is a possibility that the unceasing efforts of scientific persons may force a passage through the rocks and snows of these desert wastes. The ranges of hills extending in a southerly direction from the Himalaya, are divided into numerous principalities, to the eastward of the Sutlej—Sirmoor, Gurwall, Kumaon, Nepaul; and many others are to be found, several of which were unknown to the European inhabitants of India, previous to the Ghoorka wars of 1815, an event which has led to our present acquaintance with this highly interesting country.