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houses, and with only two or three poor fields. There were a great number, however, of yaks and ponies, and no signs of poverty about the place. The people are Tibetan-speaking Lama Budhists, and differ from those of the other Tibetan provinces of the Himálaya only in being more pastoral, more primitive, more devout, more hospitable, and less democratic. Kharjak is a dependence of the larger village of Thesur, about a day's journey down the valley. The principal Talúkdár of both was in it when I arrived ; and his reception of us, as well as that given by all the people, formed a very pleasing contrast to the inhospitality of the Lahaulies. The Talúkdár gave me a rupee to touch as a hazúr or act of obeisance, and insisted on furnishing my servants with horses for the next two days' journey, purely out of the hospitality of a mountaineer. He himself accompanied us these two days, with three times the number of men that I required or paid for, merely to show me respect, and he was very kind and attentive in every way. Any sportsmen who have gone into Zanskar have done so from Kashmír, and only as far as Padam, so that in this part of the country Sahibs are almost unknown. I am not aware that any one has passed through it since Mr Heyde did so; and in these circumstances, hospitality, though pleasant, is not to be wondered at. Kharjak, as I have mentioned, is 13,670 feet high, and it is inhabited all the year round. The sky was overclouded in the afternoon; some rain fell, and a violent wind arose, which continued through great part of the night.
Our next day's journey to the Talvíkdár's village of Thesur was a sort of honorary procession, and the path was pretty good, though there were some ugly ravines and high banks above the river. Before reaching Thesur we had to cross to the left bank of the Kharjak Chu, and this was not easily accomplished. The stream was broad, and so rapid that a single man on horseback might have been swept away; so we had to join hands and go over in an extended line — the riders, so to
, speak, supporting the horses, and the action of the whole party preventing any individual steed from being carried down. There were no trees at this village, but the houses were large, and there were a number of sloping but hardly terraced fields. The next morning took us to the junction of the Kharjak Chu with the Tsarap Lingti, before which we passed the Yal bridge, one of single rope, on which a man had all the appearance of flying through the air, as the slope from one side was considerable.
The junction of the two rivers was a beautiful scene. On the right, the Pune Gonpa, or monastery, had a picturesque castellated appearance; and the water of the Tsarap Lingti was of a clear, deep blue, with long, large, deep pools. The stream we had descended was of a muddy grey colour; and for some way after their junction, the distinction between the water of the two rivers was as marked as it is at the junction of the Rhone and the Arve beneath the Lake of Geneva ; but (as is usual in unions between human beings of similarly dissimilar character) the coarse and muddy river soon gained the advantage, and polluted the whole stream. Probably there is a lake up in that unsurveyed part of the mountains from whence the Tsarap Lingti descends, and hence its waters are so pure; for the rocks between which it ran are of the same character as those of its muddy tributary.
Shortly after we passed Char (12,799 feet), perched most picturesquely on the other side of the river, but connected with our side by a very well constructed and easy jhula. Immediately after, there was a campingground, and some attempt was made at a change of bigarrís, but the Char people refused to have anything to do with the burden of our effects. I found my tent pitched at the little village of Suley, on a very small, windy, exposed platform, about a thousand feet above the river, and had it moved on again. We then passed down into a tremendous ravine, at the bottom of which there was a narrow deep gorge choked up with pieces of rock, beneath which a large mountain stream foamed and thundered. Soon after, we reached a bad, but sheltered and warm, camping-ground, on the brink of the Tsarap Lingti, and there stayed for the night, the Suley people bringing us supplies.
The next day took us over very difficult ground, with no villages on our side of the river, but with Dargong and Itchor on the other. We camped at the village of Mune, beside a fine grove of willow-trees, the first I had seen in Zanskar, and near the Mune Gonpa, the Lamas of which were indisposed to allow me to examine their retreat. The next day took me to Padam, over similar ground. We descended by a steep slope, dangerous for riding, into the valley of the Tema Tokpho, and crossed that river just above its conflu
Soon after, the great Burdun Gonpa appeared, where also objection was made to my admission ; and, on approaching Padam, I had the great pleasure of seeing a few square miles of level ground which, though it was in great part covered with white stones, afforded much relief to a mind somewhat overburdened with precipice walls and gorges.
CAMPING-GROUND-PADAM-SECLUSIONS OF ZANSKAR-ITS PEOPLE
AREA— ELEVATION-VALLEYS—A CURIOUS THEORY.
At Padam we were told to camp in a very unsuitable place half a mile from the town, among fields which next morning were flooded with water; but I would not do so, and found a delightful camping-ground about a quarter of a mile to the west of the town, on a fine grassy terrace under the shelter of an immense rock, which completely protected us from the wind.
This capital of Zanskar may be called a town, or even a city, as matters go in the Himalaya, and was at least the largest village I had seen since leaving Shipki, in Chinese Tibet. It has a population of about 2000, and is the residence of a Thánadar, who governs the whole province as representative of the Maharaja of Kashmír, and who is supported by a small force of horse and foot soldiers. In the afternoon this Mohammedan official called, and presented a hazúr of Baltistan apricots, and said he would send a sowar or trooper with me to Súrú, in order to prevent any difficulty on the way. He was civil and agreeable, and was specially interested in my revolver; but I did not get much information out of him beyond learning that in winter the people of Padam were pretty well snowed-up in their houses; and, if that be the case there, at a height of only 11,373 feet, w hat must it be in the villages which are over 13,000 feet high?
No province could be much more secluded than Zanskar is. The tremendous mountains which bound it, the high passes which have to be crossed in order to reach it, and its distance (both linear and practical) from any civilised region, cut it completely off from the foreign influences which are beginning to affect some districts of even the Himálaya. There is a want of any progressive element in itself, and its Tibetan-Búdhist people are in opposition to the influence of Mohammedan Kashmír. It yields some small revenue to the Maharaja ; but the authority of his officers and soldiers in it is very small, and they are there very much by sufferance. It is the same in the Tibetan portion of Súrú; but when I got over the long, wild, habitationless tract which lies between the Ringdom monastery and the village of Súrú, among a population who were more Kashmiri and Mohammedan than Tibetan and Budhist, I found an immense change in the relations between the people on the one hand and the soldiers on the other. The former were exceedingly afraid of the soldiers, and the latter oppressed the people very much as they pleased. There was nothing of that, however, visible in Zanskar, where the zemindars paid little respect to the soldiers, and appeared to manage the affairs of the country themselves, much as the zemindars do in other districts of the Himálaya which are entirely free from Mohammedan control.
According to Cunningham, Zanskar has an area of 3000 square miles, and a mean elevation of 13,154 feet,