Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/76

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ray, assume a luminous appearance, flaming like crimson lamps along the heavens, for as yet they seem not to belong to earth; all below being involved in impenetrable gloom. As the daylight advances, the whole of the chain flushes with a deeper dye, the grand forms of the nearer mountains emerge, and night slowly withdrawing her obscuring veil, a new enchantment decks the scene: the effects of the light and shadows are not less beautiful than astonishing, defining distant objects with a degree of sharpness and accuracy which is almost inconceivable: and until the sun is high up in the heavens, the lower ranges of the mountains appear to be of the deepest purple hue, while others, tipped with gold, start out from their dark back-ground in bold and splendid relief. A new and sublime variety is afforded when a storm is gathering at the base of the snowy chasm, and dark rolling volumes of clouds, spreading themselves over the face of nature, give an awful character to the scene.

Our day's march to Jubberah was peculiarly agreeable; we had risen as usual with the sun, enjoying the sweetness and freshness of the mountain air, and, after a steady advance of some hours, in which a great part of our journey was performed, came to a peculiarly beautiful spot, where we found our breakfast laid out, our people having gone forward, as usual, to prepare it. It was a platform of rock, scooped by the hand of nature in the precipitous side of a shaggy mountain: above our heads crag piled itself upon crag, the interstices being richly clothed with foliage, forest trees springing from the rifts, while creepers threw down their wild garlands to our feet. In front, and all around, we looked upon a chaotic confusion of hills, some separated from us and from each other by narrow and deep ravines, and some running in long ridges, throwing out what appeared to be endless ramifications.

While seated at our repast, we observed another European traveller at a considerable distance, pursuing the path which we had just trodden, and, having the day before us, we awaited his approach. We found in this gentleman a very acceptable addition to our party, he being well acquainted with the mountains, and having spent a considerable period in places out of the common route of the tourist, and where, previous to his arrival, the English were only known by name. In looking over the notes of my fellow-travellers, I found none so copious or interesting as those which he made during his wanderings through the valley of the Baspa, and, as they form a very agreeable variety to each day's itinerary, little apology need be made for inserting some interesting extracts in this place.

"The Baspa derives its source from a lofty range of mountains, shutting in the valley to which the river has given its name, to the east, and forming the boundary of Koonawar, a small and fertile district, situated between the Sutlej and the Jumna in that direction. The Baspa runs nearly east and west in a stream of considerable volume, expanding occasionally over a broad bed of stone, and assuming at these times a tranquil character, as its shallow waters glide calmly along. In many places, however, the stream narrows, as it is girt in on either side by rocky banks, and then it pursues its course with headlong fury, rushing over its rugged bed in a sea of foam, and with a velocity which defies all comparison. At length, three miles below Sungla its savage beauty is completed, as, suddenly contracting in breadth, it forces its passage through a frightful chasm, so narrow as to admit of one of the rude native bridges being thrown across it, and, bounding from rock to rock, it flings itself in fearful torrents over the gigantic obstructions which chafe, but cannot delay it in its rapid flight. From this point, until it throws itself into the Sutlej, its waters are perfectly ungovernable, dashing madly down a steeply inclined plane, and forming cataracts as they leap over the ridges