Page images
PDF
EPUB

valley, is that which is most affected by tourists, because it is a cut road on which a jhanpan can be carried, and because it has bungalows which were constructed for the road engineers, and are available for all European travellers. Shipki in Chinese Tibet is only about eight marches beyond Pangay, but the road is so dreadful that few travellers care to go beyond the latter place; and those who do, avoid the Chinese border and turn northward towards Leh in Ládak by Hango, Lío, the Parangla Pass, and the Tsho Morari Lake. There is a more direct route from Simla to Leh, along a cut road or bridle-path, through the Kúlú valley, over the Rotang Pass, and then through Lahaul, and over the Barra Lacha Pass. The directest route from Simla to Kashmir is that by way of Belaspur, Kangra, Badrawar, and the Braribal Pass, and occupies only about thirty-one marches ; but it is rather uninteresting, and enterprising travellers prefer to go round by Leh, or to follow some of the many ways there are of passing through the sublimer scenery of the Himalaya.

It is comparatively easy to go from Simla direct, either to Chinese Tibet or to Kashmir; but to take in both these termini in one journey is a more difficult problem. That was what I wished to accomplish ; and to have come down again from the Chinese border towards Simla, and then gone up to Kashmir by one of the directer routes, would have brought me into the region of the Indian monsoon at a season when it was at its height, and when it would have rendered hill travelling almost impossible for me. What then seemed the proper thing for me to do, after touching the territory of the Grand Lama, was to keep as high up as possible among the inner Himálaya, and to see if I could reach Kashmir in that way, without descending either into hot or rainy regions. I could not get any information as to considerable portions of my proposed march; but, as it turned out, I was able to go all the way from Shipki in Chinese Tibet to the Sind valley in upper Kashmír, along the whole line of the Western Himalaya—if not exactly over the tops of them, yet something very like that—through a series of elevated valleys, for the most part about 12,000 feet high, with basses ranging up to 18,000 feet.

Thus, passing through Hangrang, Spiti, Lahaul, Zanskar, Súrú, and Dras, I never required to descend below 10,000 feet, and very seldom below 12,000; and, though travelling in the months of the Indian monsoon, I met with hardly any rain, and enjoyed a most bracing and exhilarating climate, together with the great privilege of beholding the wildest, sublimest scenery of the Himálaya, and making acquaintance with the most secluded and primitive of its people.

CHAPTER IX.

MY HIMÁLAYAN OUTFIT.

TENTS-LORD NAPIER'S TENT—FURNITURE-SUPPLIES ON THE WAY

GAME-NO EGGS-BALTISTAN APRICOTS-PRESERVED PROVISIONS

-POTABLES-STIMULANTS UNNECESSARY-SERVANTS-MY ATTEN-
DANTS-MEANS OF CARRIAGE.

I must hurry on, however, to the events of my own journey; but before treating of them it may be well, in order to make these events intelligible, to say something about what is necessary for travellers in the Himalaya. Journeying among these giant mountains is a somewhat serious business, and yet it is not so serious as it probably appears to those who have had no experience of it. In Switzerland, when essaying icy peaks and crossing snowy passes, we never get farther off than a day or two from some grand hotel, where all the comforts, and many of the luxuries, of civilisation are to be found; and even then considerable preparations have to be made for remaining two or three days beyond human habitations, and for sleeping in a cave or hollow of the rock. But for a journey like mine, in the inner and upper Himalaya, extending over months, the preparations which have to be made are of rather an alarming kind. House, furniture,

[ocr errors]

kitchen, cooking-pots, bed, bedding, a certain proportion of our food, and all our potables, except water, have to be carried with us, for the most of the way on the shoulders of men or women; and, in my case, the affair was complicated by my having to be carried also; for, at starting, I was unable to walk a hundred yards, or to mount a horse. Almost no bungalows were to be met with beyond the first fourteen marches up to Pangay; in a considerable portion of the country to be traversed the people will not allow Europeans to occupy their houses—and even if they did, motives of comfort and health would dictate a tent, except in very severe weather; for the houses are extremely dirty and ill-ventilated, and the mountaineers are covered with vermin. Of course, too, one is far more independent in a tent; and there is no comparison between the open camp, under trees, or the protection of some great rock, and a low-roofed, dark, unventilated, dirty room alive with insects.

A tent, then, is the first necessity to look after, and that matter is much simplified by the fact that, there being almost no level ground in the Himalaya, it is useless taking any tent but one of very small dimensions. The tremendous slopes and precipices of these mountains were not made for the large canvas houses which Indian officials carry about with them on the plains. I have travelled for a whole day before finding a piece of level ground the size of an ordinary drawing-room, and have had to pitch my tent in such a place, that two steps from my own door would have carried me over a precipice-a position evidently unsuited for somnambulists, and for travellers of a very convivial turn of mind. Fortunately, when I told

Lord Napier of Magdála of my intended journey, he said to me, “ Have you got a tent yet? No. Then don't get one till you see the tent which I used in Abyssinia.” This historical tent he kindly had pitched for me, and I got a fac-simile of it made in Simla at the exceedingly reasonable price of 70 rupees (about £7), my butler being a great hand at making bargains. It was made of American drill, with a double fly, which was invaluable for keeping off rain and heat. Its floor, and up to where the roof began to slope, at three feet from the ground, was about eleven feet by nine, and its extreme height between seven and eight feet. It was supported by two upright bamboos, and a bamboo across them fitting on iron spikes. Properly speaking it had no walls, but ropes attached to the outside of the inner fly, about three feet from the ground, gave it a perpendicular fall of that height. It had not a pyramidal, but a very blunt wedge-like form; and the cloth of both front and back opened completely from the top to the ground, or could be kept quite closed by means of small hooks, while in both back and front there was a small upper window with a flap to cover it. This habitation was so light that one man could carry it and the bamboos, while its iron pegs were not a sufficient load for one coolie; and it was wonderfully roomy—more so than tents of much greater dimensions and of more imposing appear

It was a convenience, as well as a source of safety, to be able to get in and out of it at both sides without stooping down; and its coolness, and its use as a protection from the sun, were greatly enhanced by its allowing of either or both ends being thrown entirely open. I never fell in with any tent, except the

ance.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »