Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/98

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enclosing a few wretched idols of the most trumpery description. Strange it is, that men having so grand a shrine, so wonderful a temple, made by the Deity himself, in the midst of the sublimest portion of his creations, should disregard the fitness of the scene for that instinctive homage which the least religiously inclined person must pay to the mighty Author of the surrounding wonders, and stoop to offer adoration to the mishapen works of his own hands.

Though the distance from Kursalee to Jumnootree is only eight miles, the difficulties and dangers of the route render it a very arduous journey. From our last resting-place, Bhyram-ghati, we scrambled up and down, sometimes finding nothing but a notched tree for a path, and wandering backwards and forwards through the river, which was very cold, as either side offered the better footing; occasionally traversing the projecting stones arising from the midst of the stream. This devious way led us to a series of exceedingly beautiful cascades, the Jumna being in some places joined by tributary streams tumbling from immense heights, the precipitous masses of rock on either side attaining a still greater degree of nobleness and grandeur. Completely shut in by these mountain ranges, which rose abruptly on both sides of the narrowing stream, we could only catch glimpses of the snowy peaks beyond. The course of the river at this place is indeed a mere chasm cut in the rock, and worn by the action of the water in its continual flow. In some places the solid rocks on either side run up in a perpendicular height, rendering the opening as narrow at the top as at the base, and forming a dark pass, the foliage of the trees springing from clefts, and shallow beds of earth meeting at the summit. At each step the path became more difficult and laborious; deep pools obliged us to mount to the top of a precipice, and to leap down again from heights too steep to be mastered in any other way, while there was some danger of precipitation into the rapid waters boiling below. Then we clambered up loose fragments of a gigantic size, which seemed to have fallen from above purposely to block the way, and anon scrambled through a sort of sea of crumbling stones bedded in quag, and exceedingly difficult to pass, where the trees, occasionally laid along to serve as a pathway, are wanting.


By dint of untiring perseverance, and no small exertion of bodily strength, we at last found ourselves on the confines of eternal snow. As we approached Jumnootree, which is not accessible until the month of May, we found the river gliding under arches of ice, through which it had worn its passage, and at length, these masses becoming too strongly frozen to yield and fall into the current, the stream itself could be traced no longer, and, if not at its actual source, we stood at the first stage of its youthful existence. It is quite impossible to prevent a feeling of exultation from springing up in the mind, at the completion of a pilgrimage to a place so deservedly celebrated; an enterprise which few people have an opportunity of achieving, and still fewer the nerve to undertake. We had deemed it impossible that the awful grandeur of the preceding scene could have been heightened, yet standing on the snow which now completely covered the bed of the river, and beholding it from the place whence it emerged, we were as much struck with the sublimity of the landscape, as if we had come upon it suddenly and without previous preparation. The glen is not more than thirty or forty feet in width, and the rocks on either side are of the noblest dimensions, and crowned with dark luxuriant foliage, while the impenetrable region beyond—solemn, majestic, and wonderfully beautiful—seems abso-