Page images
PDF
EPUB

how intense must be the heat in summer of the deeper valleys of the Himálaya: but in winter the snow comes down in the latter mountains to 3000 feet, or lower occasionally; so that there may be a range of 26,000

a feet of snow instead of 14,000 as among the Alps.

The arrest of the clouds of the Indian south-east monsoon on the outer range of the Himalaya combines, with other causes, to create an extraordinary dryness of atmosphere, and this aridity increases on the steppes beyond. Hence, even when the temperature may be very low, there is often very little snow to be deposited, , and the accumulations on the high mountains have been the work of

ages. It has often been observed, in polar and mountainous regions, how great is the power of solar rays passing through highly rarefied air; and upon the great heights of the Himalaya, the effect of these rays is something terrible. When they are reflected from new-fallen snow their power is so intense, that I have seen them raise my thermometer (when placed at a particular angle against a great sheet of sun-lit snow and exposed at the same time to the direct rays of the sun) from a little above freezing-point, which was the temperature of the air, to 192° Fahrenheit, or between the points at which spirits boil and water boils at the level of the

It is remarkable that in spite of this, and though snow-blindness is often the result, yet no cases of sunstroke appear to occur in the Himálaya, and supports the theory that sunstroke partakes more of the character of heat-apoplexy than of mere injury to the head in the first instance.

The difference of temperature between the days and nights is not such as might be expected from the ex

sea.

tremely rapid radiation of heat there is at high altitudes. The change arising from that cause would be almost killing were it not for the fortunate fact that the atmosphere forced up by the warmth of the day descends at night, and, being condensed, gives out heat. The cold of the Himalaya has been known to kill people when they were exposed to sudden gusts of wind, though they could safely have borne a much lower temperature in still air. The wind is certainly the great drawback both to health and comfort among these great mountains; but, as we have seen, it has its advantage, being caused by the elevation of heated air from below, which, afterwards descending and contracting, renders the nights endurable.

I understand that the monks of St Bernard, who go up to that monastery at eighteen years of age, and vow to remain there for fifteen years, only in rare instances are able to remain so long—and that does not say much for high mountain air; but it may be the seclusion of their life up there, and other defects in it, which makes that life so injurious to them. If any one would allow me a thousand a-year on condition that I always keep above 12,000 feet, I should be happy to make the experiment, and to write a warm obituary notice of

my benefactor when he dies below.

CHAPTER XXX.

THE MORAVIANS IN LAHAUL.

CHARACTERISTICS OF

LAHAUL-AN

ANCIENT LANGUAGE -MAGNIFI

CENT AVALANCHES-THE MORAVIAN MISSION-A HOWLING WILDER

NESS-LAHAULESE DISORDERLINESS-ROUTES FROM KAELANG TO
KASAMÍR—THE ZANSKAR ROUTE-FLOWERY MAIDANS—“A LITTLE
DIFFICULT "-ALARMED SERVANTS-SAD FATE OF A POLICEMAN.

The British province of Lahaul, into which I had now entered, lies on the southern slope of the main range of the Western Himálaya. The average level of its ground where there are villages is between 10,000 and 11,000 feet, and it is about sixty miles long, with an extreme breadth of about fifty. It has many mountain peaks, however, from 15,000 to 22,000 feet. Its population numbers about 6000. Though rich in trees as compared with Spiti and Zanskar, it is specially distinguished for its wild flowers ; and of the wild rose alone Herr Jaeschke has collected 282 varieties. In geological formation it is similar to other districts I have described which lie to the west of Chinese Tibet. The people, the language, and the religion are Tibetan, but all three have been a little affected by the Hindús of the neighbouring province of Kúlú. The bodies of dead human beings are disposed of by burning in Lahaul, whereas in Tibet proper they are exposed on the crests

a

a

of mountains. It is of interest to notice that there are remnants of what, for want of a better phrase, may be called an aboriginal language. It is called the Boonan, and resembles the Tiberskad spoken at Súgnam in the upper Sutlej valley. Herr Jaeschke of Herrnhut described it to me as an aboriginal, unwritten, non-Aryan language, and having a grammar more perfect than the Tibetan-as, for instance, in distinguishing different persons in the verb; but on this principle it must be more perfect than the language of Shakespeare and Milton.

I shall only mention further, in general connection with this province, that at Gandla, and still better, about half-way on the road to it from Sísú, magnificent avalanches of snow may be both heard and seen. On the opposite side of the Chandra river there rises, to the height of 20,356 feet, the extremely precipitous peak M of the Trigonometrical Survey ; and from the great beds of snow upon it, high above us, avalanches were falling every five minutes, before and after midday, on two long glaciers which extended almost down to the river. As the bed of the Chandra is here under 10,000 feet, the highest peak must have risen up almost sheer more than 10,000 feet, in tremendous precipices, hanging glaciers, and steep beds and walls of snow; though on its north-western shoulder the ascent was more gradual, and was covered by scattered pines. Immediately in front the slope was terrific; and every few minutes an enormous mass of snow gave way and fell, flashing in the sunlight, on steep rocks. A great crash was heard as these masses struck the rocks, and a continuous roar as they poured downwards, until they broke over a precipice above the

glaciers, and then fell with a resemblance to great cataracts of white foaming water, and sending up clouds of snow-spray as they struck the ice. The volume of one of these avalanches must, so long as it lasts, be greater than that of any known cataract, though they descend thousands of feet; and their final thundering concussion is as the noise of many waters in the solitudes around. “They too have a voice, yon piles of snow," and truly these are

“Sky-pointing peaks, Oft from whose feet the mighty avalanche

Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene.” The Moravian missions in Tibet originated with the sending of two of the brethren from Herrnhut to Mongolia, by way of the former country, in 1853. When the authorities on the Chinese border stopped their progress they received orders to settle down where they best could among the Tibetans, and selected Kaelang in Lahaul as their place of residence. A few years after, the Mission was placed on a more regular footing under Brothers Jaeschke, Rechler, and Heyde. When I visited this station in 1873, the staff consisted of Brothers Heyde and Redslob, with their wives and nearly twenty baptised converts, including the children of the native Christians. The mission house, which is situated 10,000 feet high, is a large substantial building, with glass windows and German stoves and furniture. Its orchards and vegetable gardens are carefully tended ; fields have been recently cultivated in connection with it higher up the mountains, and in some respects it presents the aspects of a prosperous farm. The mission work of the Moravians, however, has been very varied and extensive, and is not to be judged of by the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »