Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/67

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this wild and confused sea, arose in calmer majesty, those towering piles of unchanging snow, which, from whatever point they may be viewed, can never fail to inspire sentiments of awe and admiration. The higher cluster of white peaks near the centre, are those of Bunderpooch, above Jumnootree, the source of the Jumna, which form conspicuous objects at a very considerable distance, and which had previously greeted our sight at Saharunpore; to the right are the Rudra Himala, near Gungootree, whence springs the Ganges; and still further to the east, the loftiest of the peaks, the Dwawalagiri, may sometimes be discovered, although the distance is two hundred and fifty miles, rearing its snowy coronet, and looking down, at the height of twenty-seven thousand feet, upon the pigmy world below; while far to the east and west extend the hoary tributaries of the giant, until their snowy eminences melt into air, and are lost to the straining sight. Although the distance, in a direct line, from the spot on which we stood, to the nearest mountains of the snowy range, is inconsiderable, not more than thirty miles, it requires a fatiguing journey of many days to reach it, in which the traveller has at least ninety miles of ground to go over. Several persons have succeeded in forcing a passage to the northward of these hills, but the peaks themselves are still untrodden by human foot. This snowy barrier divides us from the plains of Thibet and Chinese Tartary, and at the narrowest part may be penetrated by long and tedious journeys through sterile scenes, deserts of rock and snow. Thibet stands at an elevation of fifteen thousand feet above the level of the sea, and the descent on this side is easy, compared with the difficulties which must be encountered in climbing the southern face of the snowy range.

In the progress of our journey, the scene became wilder and wilder at every march, the valley narrowing as we advanced, and the rocks on either side rising with greater abruptness: the stream which flowed along our path, sometimes boiling over rocks, making a sea of foam, at others diving into darkness, and gurgling beneath impenetrable brushwood. Occasionally the savage landscape was relieved by spots of a calmer and quieter nature, the castle of some chieftain crowning with picturesque beauty a lofty rock, with the greensward beneath sloping downwards to the water, embellished with scattered trees, and approached over a carpet of sage and thyme, intermixed with flowers of every hue. Then, again, we were surrounded with crags, the level space being circumscribed to a few yards, and cascades roaring and tumbling around in every direction. One day's march, though all presented some peculiar attraction, struck us as particularly romantic and beautiful.

The first part conducted us through a narrow gorge, walled on either side by fantastic rocks, and wooded with fine alders, the stream rolling deep beneath our feet, while the path was overhung by dreadful precipices, toppling crags now and then threatening to follow some of the huge fragments which had already fallen; then the scene widened a little, and a natural terrace, shaded by some splendid mulberry-trees, offered rest and repose, the rocks scattering themselves around, traversed at one place by a foaming cataract. Ascending a steep and rugged eminence, we toiled on our weary way up rock and crag, until we came to another halting-place of table-land, adorned with fine chesnut trees, and commanding an extensive view, backed by the snowy ranges, while we looked down upon a splendid confusion of waterfalls, wild precipices, and luxuriant forests. The air was delightfully cool and bracing, and, as it may be supposed, we enjoyed the meal that awaited us in this glorious halting-place. In addition to the foreign articles of luxury which we had brought with us, we regaled ourselves with mountain mutton, a hill-pheasant, some of the delicious wild honey for which the place is famed, and peaches of no despicable size and flavour. Our appetites, sharpened by