CROSSING BY A SANGHA NEAR JUMNOOTREE.
in a high wind the frail bridge is so fearfully swayed, that even the mountaineers themselves refuse to cross it; many accidents of course occur; but that they are not more numerous is wonderful, considering that not men only, but baggage of various kinds, is conveyed across. Our Mussulman servants, and the people from the plains, looked upon these tottering sanghas with great horror, and a sense of shame, and the dread of our ridicule, alone induced them to attempt the passage. Not participating in our delighted admiration of the romantic characters of the scene, they had nothing but a point of honour to console them under its terrors.
It is not every European who goes forth from the hill-stations on an exploring expedition, that fulfils his original intentions; many find the difficulties and dangers of the enterprise too great to be compensated by the wild beauties of the landscape, and turn back, some on the very threshhold of the undertaking, and others before they have proceeded half-way. We were obliged to dispense with our ponies at a certain point, and they were sent away under proper care to an appointed place, which we intended to pass on our journey to Simlah, where they would be available. We did not make any extraordinary use of our jhampans either, performing the greater portion, and all the perilous parts of our journey, on foot. We were now nearing the source of the Jumna, and though the ascent of its wild and rocky valley was any thing but easy, we moved forward steadily and with unabated ardour. The cold in the early part of our march from Kursalee was excessive, the thermometer in the shade being below the freezing point; but our exercise was of a description to render the circumstance of little importance.
The glen of the Jumna became narrower and narrower at every step, and the precipices on either side steeper, more lofty, and of a still more awful character. The brahmins, who never fail to make some advantage of their sacred calling, volunteered their services as cicerones; we had our own coolies besides, who having come afar with us, of course determined to avail themselves of all the benefits of the pilgrimage; together with a numerous train of fakeers, who are always ready to travel at the cheapest rate, and regarded the burra buxies' great present, which the head brahmin would receive from us, as a sufficient remuneration for the whole party:—thus we mustered strong.
Up we went, emulating the monkeys as we scrambled upon hands and knees with every possible contortion of body, while clinging and climbing the very steepest ascent that it seemed possible for human beings to achieve. Upon gaining a breathing-place, we found that we had reached a spot accounted very holy, being the portal as it were to the sacred source. A small shrine or temple is erected at this place, dedicated to Bhyram Jee, and called Bhyram Ghati, and here we found a brahmin ringing a bell; we paused to recover our breath, and to survey the prospect, which was inexpressibly grand. The glen of the river lay under our feet, and we could trace the lofty ridges which enclose it nearly as far as the plains. Opposite, bare and bleak precipices arose, rearing their lofty and sterile peaks to an astonishing height, while to the north-east we caught a view of the western angle of Bunderpooch, glittering in snow; and nearly in front, immense masses of frozen snow, whence the Jumna derives its source, were piled in icy grandeur.
While recovering our breath and enjoying the prospect, the devotees of the party employed themselves in gathering the flowers which adorned the wild and desolate spot, as an offering at the shrine. The difficulties of the approach precluded the pious architects of this place from any great attempt, and this altar is in consequence of a very rude description, being merely a collection of loose stones, put clumsily together, and