Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/48

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The new road, which runs direct to Hurdwar, and for which the old one on the back of the river is entirely deserted, forms a very amusing drive. On either side, for the distance of two miles, are to be seen the large and handsome tents belonging to the civil and military officers of the Company, who visit the fair upon duty, either to assist in keeping the peace, or for the purchase of horses for the cavalry regiments; while others, who have nothing save pleasure in view, establish themselves in the same encampment. These canvass dwellings are diversified by the more substantial country abodes of rich natives, occurring amid large mango groves, and having showy gardens pranked with flowers. So great is the necessity for temporary habitations during the fair, that artificers resort to the neighbourhood of Hurdwar from a considerable distance, in order to construct them of thatch and grass-mats upon a bamboo frame. These houses, or huts, are rendered both sun and water proof, and add considerably to the picturesque effect of the scene. The town of Hurdwar bears a striking resemblance to that of its neighbour Khunkul, but is apparently of more ancient date; it completely skirts the Ganges, many of the best houses having their foundations in the bed of the sacred river. These are generally constructed of brick, the lower stories of a great number being of very fine white free-stone, a material which is found in the neighbourhood, while lime-stone of good quality is met with close at hand, in the bed of the stream. The Ganges, during the rainy season, is a mile in width at Hurdwar, pursuing its course between low woody islands, some of which afford very commodious encamping ground. On the west bank the eye rests upon a ridge of hills rising to the height of six hundred feet, covered with thick brushwood, mingled with trees. These hills are cleft in many places into rugged ravines, which afford ample cover to numerous wild beasts. The back-ground of the landscape is formed of part of the range of blue mountains, from six to eight thousand feet in height, which conceal the base of the Himalaya, or snowy region, and fill up the distance in the most magnificent manner possible.

It is difficult to afford any idea of the grandeur and beauty of the inanimate objects which render Hurdwar one of the places best worthy of a traveller's attention in India, but still more so to convey even a faint notion of the swarms of living creatures, men and beasts of every description, which occupy every foot of ground during the time of the fair, multitudes of cows, horses, bullocks, camels, elephants, ponies, and mules from Osbeck Tartary to Benares, are crowded together, rendering the scene in the highest degree animated and interesting: every thing is to be found at the fair, though horses form its principal attraction. The horse merchants from Bokhara and Cabool occupy the stony central parts of the river, while those from Torkistan take up their quarters in small enclosures behind the houses of the town. These men are famed for their ponies and galloways, animals of great power, called Toorkies, some of which bear very high prices. The elephant dealers incline to Khunkul, for the sake of fodder, but traverse the roads of the fair with their studs during the mornings and evenings, each elephant having a large bell attached to the neck, for the purpose of giving warning to passengers of their approach. The buneeas, or grain-sellers, hulwaees, or confectioners, cloth, shawl, and toy merchants, occupy the road-side close to the town, their dwelling-places being inter-