Himalayan Journals or Notes of A Naturalist Index      Next Chapter V


Chapter IV

Leave Bhagulpore — Kunker — Colgong — Himalaya, distant view of — Cosi, mouth of — Difficult navigation — Sand storms — Caragola-Ghat — Purnea — Ortolans — Mahanuddee, transport of pebbles, etc. — Betel-pepper, cultivation of — Titalya — Siligoree — View of outer Himalaya — Terai — Mechis — Punkabaree — Foot of mountains — Ascent to Dorjiling — Cicadas — Leeches — Animals — Kursiong, spring vegetation of — Pacheem — Arrive at Dorjiling — Dorjiling, origin and settlement of — Grant of land from Rajah — Dr. Campbell appointed superintendent — Dewan, late and present — Aggressive conduct of the latter — Increase of the station — Trade — Titalya fair — Healtby climate for Europeans and children — Invalids, diseases prejudicial to.


I took as it were, a new departure, on Saturday, April the 8th, my dawk being laid on that day from Caragola-Ghat, about thirty miles down the river, for the foot of the Himalaya range and Dorjiling.

Passing the pretty villa-like houses of the English residents, the river-banks re-assumed their wonted features the hills receded from the shore; and steep clay cliffs, twenty to fifty feet high, on one side, opposed long sandy shelves on the other. Kunker was still most abundant, especially in the lower bed of the banks, close to the (now very low) water. The strata containing it were much undulated, but not uniformly so; horizontal layers over or under-lying the disturbed ones. At Colgong, conical hills appear, and two remarkable sister-rocks start out of the river, the same in structure with those of Sultangunj. A boisterous current swirls round them, strong even at this season, and very dangerous in the rains, when the swollen


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river is from twenty-eight to forty feet deeper than now. We landed opposite the rocks, and proceeded to the residence of Mr. G. Barnes, prettily situated on one of the conical elevations characteristic of the geology of the district. The village we passed through had been recently destroyed by fire; and nothing but the clay outer walls and curious-looking partition walls remained, often white-washed and daubed with figures in red of the palm of the hand, elephant, peacock, and tiger,—a sort of rude fresco-painting. We did not arrive till past mid-day, and the boat, with my palkee and servant, not having been able to face the gale, I was detained till the middle of the following day. Mr. Barnes and his brother proved most agreeable companions,—very luckily for me, for it requires no ordinary philosophy to bear being storm-stayed on a voyage, with the prospect of paying a heavy demurrage for detaining the dawk, and the worse one of finding the bearers given to another traveller when you arrive at the rendezvous. The view from Mr. Barnes' house is very fine: it commands the river and its rocks; the Rajmahal hills to the east and south; broad acres of indigo and other crops below; long lines of palm-trees, and groves of mango, banana, tamarind, and other tropical trees, scattered close around and in the distance. In the rainy season, and immediately after, the snowy Himalaya are distinctly seen on the horizon, fully 170 miles off. Nearly opposite, the Cosi river enters the Ganges, bearing (considering its short course) an enormous volume of water, comprising the drainage of the whole Himalaya between the two giant peaks of Kinchinjunga in Sikkim, and Gossain-Than in Nepal. Even at this season, looking from Mr. Barnes' eyrie over the bed of the Ganges, the enormous expanses of sand, the numerous shifting islets, and the long


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spits of mud betray the proximity of some very restless and resistless power. During the rains, the scene must indeed be extraordinary, when the Cosi lays many miles of land under water, and pours so vast a quantity of detritus into the bed of the Ganges that long islets are heaped up and swept away in a few hours; and the latter river becomes all but unnavigable. Boats are caught in whirlpools, formed without a moment's warning, and sunk ere they have spun round thrice in the eddies; and no part of the inland navigation of India is so dreaded or dangerous, as the Ganges at its junction with the Cosi.

Rain generally falls in partial showers at this season, and they are essential to the well-being of the spring crops of indigo. The stormy appearance of the sky, though it proved fallacious, was hailed by my hosts as predicting a fall, which was much wanted. The wind however seemed but to aggravate the drought, by the great body of sand it lifted and swept up the valleys, obscuring the near horizon, and especially concealing the whole delta of the Cosi, where the clouds were so vast and dense, and ascended so high as to resemble another element.

All night the gale blew on, accompanied with much thunder and lightning, and it was not till noon of the 9th that I descried my palkee-boat toiling down the stream. Then I again embarked, taking the lagging boat in tow of my own. Passing the mouths of the Cosi, the gale and currents were so adverse that we had to bring up on the sand, when the quantity which drifted into the boat rendered the delay as disagreeable as it was tedious. The particles penetrated everywhere, up my nose and down my back, drying my eyelids, and gritting between my teeth. The craft kept bumping on the banks, and being both crazy and leaky, the little comfortless cabin became the


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refuge of scared rats and cockroaches. In the evening I shared a meal with these creatures, on some provisions my kind friends had put into the boat, but the food was so sandy that I had to bolt my supper!

At night the storm lulled a little, and I proceeded to Caragola Ghat and took up my dawk, which had been twenty-eight hours expecting me, and was waiting, in despair of my arrival, for another traveller on the opposite bank, who however could not cross the river.

Having accomplished thirty miles, I halted at 9 a..m. on the following morning at Purnea, quitting it at noon for Kishengunj. The whole country wore a greener garb than I had seen anywhere south of the Ganges: the climate was evidently more humid, and had been gradually becoming so from Mirzapore. The first decided change was a few miles below the Soane mouth, at Dinapore and Patna; and the few hygrometrical observations I took at Bhagulpore confirmed the increase of moisture. The proximity to the sea and great Delta of the Ganges sufficiently accounts for this; as does the approach to the hills for the still greater dampness and brighter verdure of Purnea. I was glad to feel myself within the influence of the long-looked-for Himalaya; and I narrowly watched every change in the character of the vegetation. A fern, growing by the roadside, was the first and most tangible evidence of this; together with the rarity or total absence of Butea, Boswellia, Catechu, Grislea, Carissa, and all the companions of my former excursion.

Purnea is a large station, and considered very unhealthy during and after the rains. From it the road passed through some pretty lanes, with groves of planted Guava and a rattan palm (Calamus), the first I had seen. Though no hills are nearer than the Himalaya, from the constant


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alteration of the river-beds, the road undulates remarkably for this part of India, and a jungly vegetation ensues, consisting of the above plants, with the yellow-flowered Cactus replacing the Euphorbias, which were previously much more common. Though still 100 miles distant from the hills, mosses appeared on the banks, and more ferns were just sprouting above ground.

The Bamboo was a very different species from any I had hitherto met with, forming groves of straight trees fifteen to twenty feet high, thin of foliage, and not unlike poplars.

Thirty-six miles from Purnea brought me to Kishengunj, when I found that no arrangements whatever had been made for my dawk, and I was fairly stranded. Luckily a thoughtful friend had provided me with letters to the scattered residents along the road, and I proceeded with one to Mr. Perry, the assistant magistrate of the district,—a gentleman well known for his urbanity, and the many aids he affords to travellers on this neglected line of road. Owing to this being some festival or holiday, it was impossible to get palkee-bearers; the natives were busy catching fish in all the muddy pools around. Some of Mr. Perry's own family also were about to proceed to Dorjiling, so that I had only to take patience, and be thankful for having to exercise it in such pleasant quarters. The Mahanuddee, a large stream from the hills, flows near this place, strewing the surrounding neighbourhood with sand, and from the frequent alterations in its course, causing endless disputes amongst the landholders. A kind of lark called an Ortolan was abundant: this is not, however, the European delicacy of that name, though a migratory bird; the flocks are large, and the birds so fat, that they make excellent table game. At this time they were rapidly disappearing; to return from the north in September.


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I had just got into bed at night, when the bearers arrived; so bidding a hurried adieu to my kind host, I proceeded onwards.

April 12.—I awoke at 4 a.m., and found my palkee on the ground, and the bearers coolly smoking their hookahs under a tree (it was raining hard): they had carried me the length of their stage, twelve miles, and there were no others to take me on. I had paid twenty-four pounds for my dawk, from Caragola to the hills, to which I had been obliged to add a handsome douceur; so I lost all patience. After waiting and entreating during several hours, I found the head-man of a neighbouring village, and by a further disbursement induced six out of the twelve bearers to carry the empty palkee, whilst I should walk to the next stage; or till we should meet some others. They agreed, and cutting the thick and spongy sheaths of the banana, used them for shoulder-pads: they also wrapped them round the palkee-poles, to ease their aching clavicles. Walking along I picked up a few plants, and fourteen miles further on came again to the banks of the Mahanuddee, whose bed was strewn with pebbles and small boulders, brought thus far from the mountains (about thirty miles distant). Here, again, I had to apply to the head-man of a village, and pay for bearers to take me to Titalya, the next stage (fourteen miles). Some curious long low sheds puzzled me very much, and on examining them they proved to be for the growth of Pawn or Betel-pepper, another indication of the moisture of the climate. These sheds are twenty to fifty yards long, eight or twelve or so broad, and scarcely five high; they are made of bamboo, wattled all round and over the top. Slender rods are placed a few feet apart, inside, up which the Pepper Vines climb, and quickly fill the place with their


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deep green glossy foliage. The native enters every morning by a little door, and carefully cleans the plants. Constant heat, damp, and moisture, shelter from solar beams, from scorching heat, and from nocturnal radiation, are thus all procured for the plant, which would certainly not live twenty-four hours, if exposed to the climate of this treeless district. Great attention is paid to the cultivation, which is very profitable. Snakes frequently take up their quarters in these hot-houses, and cause fatal accidents.

Titalya was once a military station of some importance, and from its proximity to the hills has been selected by Dr. Campbell (the Superintendent of Dorjiling) as the site for an annual fair, to which the mountain tribes resort, as well as the people of the plains. The Calcutta road to Dorjiling by Dinajpore meets, near here, that by which I had come; and I found no difficulty in procuring bearers to proceed to Siligoree, where I arrived at 6 a.m. on the 13th. Hitherto I bad not seen the mountains, so uniformly had they been shrouded by dense wreaths of vapour: here, however, when within eight miles of their base, I caught a first glimpse of the outer range—sombre masses, of far from picturesque outline, clothed everywhere with a dusky forest.

Siligoree stands on the verge of the Terai, that low malarious belt which skirts the base of the Himalaya, from the Sutlej to Brahma-koond in Upper Assam. Every feature, botanical, geological, and zoological, is new on entering this district. The change is sudden and immediate: sea and shore are hardly more conspicuously different, nor from the edge of the Terai to the limit of perpetual snow is any botanical region more clearly marked than this, which is the commencement of Himalayan vegetation. A sudden descent leads to the Mahanuddee river, flowing in a shallow valley, over a pebbly bottom: it


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is a rapid river, even at this season; its banks are fringed with bushes, and it is as clear and sparkling as a trout stream in Scotland. Beyond it the road winds through a thick brushwood, choked with long grasses, and with but few trees, chiefly of Acacia, Dalbergia Sissoo, and a scarlet fruited Sterculia. The soil is a red, friable clay and gravel. At this season only a few spring plants were in flower, amongst which a very sweet-scented Crinum, Asphodel, and a small Curcuma, were in the greatest profusion. Leaves of terrestrial Orchids appeared, with ferns and weeds of hot damp regions. I crossed the beds of many small streams: some were dry, and all very tortuous; their banks were richly clothed with brushwood and climbers of Convolvulus, Vines, Hirća, Leea, Menispermeć, Cucurbitaceć, and Bignoniaceć. Their pent-up waters, percolating the gravel beds, and partly carried off by evaporation through the stratum of ever-increasing vegetable mould, must be one main agent in the production of the malarious vapours of this pestilential region. Add to this, the detention of the same amongst the jungly herbage, the amount of vapour in the humid atmosphere above, checking the upward passage of that from the soil, the sheltered nature of the locality at the immediate base of lofty mountains; and there appear to me to be here all necessary elements, which, combined, will produce stagnation and deterioration in an atmosphere loaded with vapour. Fatal as this district is, and especially to Europeans, a race inhabit it with impunity, who, if not numerous, do not owe their paucity to any climatic causes. These are the Mechis, often described as a squalid, unhealthy people, typical of the region they frequent; but who are, in reality, more robust than the Europeans in India, and whose disagreeably


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sallow complexion is deceptive as indicating a sickly constitution. They are a mild, inoffensive people, industrious for Orientals, living by annually burning the Terai jungle and cultivating the cleared spots; and, though so sequestered and isolated, they rather court than avoid intercourse with those whites whom they know to be kindly disposed.

After proceeding some six miles along the gradually ascending path, I came to a considerable stream, cutting its way through stratified gravel, with cliffs on each side fifteen to twenty feet high, here and there covered with ferns, the little Oxalis sensitiva, and other herbs. The road here suddenly ascends a steep gravelly hill, and opens out on a short flat, or spur, from which the Himalaya rise abruptly, clothed with forest from the base: the little bungalow of Punkabaree, my immediate destination, nestled in the woods, crowning a lateral knoll, above which, to east and west, as far as the eye could reach, were range after range of wooded mountains, 6000 to 8000 feet high. I here met with the India-rubber tree (Ficus elastica); it abounds in Assam, but this is its western limit.

From this steppe, the ascent to Punkabaree is sudden and steep, and accompanied with a change in soil and vegetation. The mica slate and clay slate protrude everywhere, the former full of garnets. A giant forest replaces the stunted and bushy timber of the Terai Proper; of which the Duabanga and Terminalias form the prevailing trees, with Cedrela and the Gordonia Wallichii. Smaller timber and shrubs are innumerable; a succulent character pervades the bushes and herbs, occasioned by the prevalence of Urticeć. Large bamboos rather crest the hills than court the deeper shade, and of the latter there is


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abundance, for the torrents cut a straight, deep, and steep course down the hill flanks: the galleys they traverse are choked with vegetation and bridged by fallen trees, whose trunks are richly clothed with Dendrobium Pierardi and other epiphytical Orchids, with pendulous Lycopodia and many ferns, Hoya, Scitamineć, and similar types of the hottest and dampest climates.

The bungalow at Punkabaree was good—which was well, as my luggage-bearers were not come up, and there were no signs of them along the Terai road, which I saw winding below me. My scanty stock of paper being full of plants, I was reduced to the strait of botanising, and throwing away my specimens. The forest was truly magnificent along the steep mountain sides. The apparently large proportion of deciduous trees was far more considerable than I had expected; partly, probably, due to the abundance of the Dillenia, Cassia, and Sterculia, whose copious fruit was all the more conspicuous from the leafless condition of the plant. The white or lilac blossoms of the convolvuluslike Thunbergia, and other Acanthaceć were the predominant features of the shrubby vegetation, and very handsome.

All around, the hills rise steeply five or six thousand feet, clothed in a dense deep-green dripping forest. Torrents rush down the slopes, their position indicated by the dipping of the forest into their beds, or the occasional cloud of spray rising above some more boisterous part of their course. From the road, at and a little above Punkabaree, the view is really superb, and very instructive. Behind (or north) the Himalaya rise in steep confused masses. Below, the hill on which I stood, and the ranges as far as the eye can reach east and west, throw spurs on to the plains of India. These are very thickly wooded, and enclose broad, dead-flat, hot and damp valleys,


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apparently covered with a dense forest. Secondary spurs of clay and gravel, like that immediately below Punkabaree, rest on the bases of the mountains, and seem to form an intermediate neutral ground between flat and mountainous India. The Terai district forms a very irregular belt, scantily clothed, and intersected by innumerable rivulets from the hills, which unite and divide again on the flat, till, emerging from the region of many trees, they enter the plains, following devious courses, which glisten like silver threads. The whole horizon is bounded by the sea-like expanse of the plains, which stretch away into the region of sunshine and fine weather, in one boundless flat.

In the distance, the courses of the Teesta and Cosi, the great drainers of the snowy Himalayas, and the recipients of innumerable smaller rills, are with difficulty traced at this, the dry season. The ocean-like appearance of this southern view is even more conspicuous in the heavens than on the land, the clouds arranging themselves after a singularly sea-scape fashion. Endless strata run in parallel ribbons over the extreme horizon; above these, scattered cumuli, also in horizontal lines, are dotted against a clear grey sky, which gradually, as the eye is lifted, passes into a deep cloudless blue vault, continuously clear to the zenith; there the cumuli, in white fleecy masses, again appear; till, in the northern celestial hemisphere, they thicken and assume the leaden hue of nimbi, discharging their moisture on the dark forest-clad hills around. The breezes are south-easterly, bringing that vapour from the Indian Ocean, which is rarefied and suspended aloft over the heated plains, but condensed into a drizzle when it strikes the cooler flanks of the hills, and into heavy rain when it meets their still colder summits. Upon what a gigantic scale does nature here operate! Vapours, raised


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Punkabaree, Sikkim Terai, and Balasun River.


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from an ocean whose nearest shore is more than 400 miles distant, are safely transported without the loss of one drop of water, to support the rank luxuriance of this far distant region. This and other offices fulfilled, the waste waters are returned, by the Cosi and Teesta, to the ocean, and again exhaled, exported, expended, re-collected, and returned.

The soil and bushes everywhere swarmed with large and troublesome ants, and enormous earthworms. In the evening, the noise of the great Cicadć in the trees was almost deafening. They burst suddenly into full chorus, with a voice so harshly croaking, so dissonant, and so unearthly, that in these solitary forests I could not help being startled. In general character the note was very similar to that of other Cicadć. They ceased as suddenly as they commenced. On the following morning my baggage arrived, and, leaving my palkee, I mounted a pony kindly sent for me by Mr. Hodgson, and commenced a very steep ascent of about 3000 feet, winding along the face of a steep, richly-wooded valley. The road zigzags extraordinarily in and out of the innumerable lateral ravines, each with its water course, dense jungle, and legion of leeches; the bite of these blood-suckers gives no pain, but is fo1lowed by considerable effusion of blood. They puncture through thick worsted stockings, and even trousers, and, when full, roll in the form of a little soft ball into the bottom of the shoe, where their presence is hardly felt in walking.

Not only are the roadsides rich in plants, but native paths, cutting off all the zigzags, run in straight lines up the steepest hill-faces, and thus double the available means for botanising; and it is all but impossible to leave the paths of one kind or other, except for a yard or two up


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the rocky ravines. Elephants, tigers, and occasionally the rhinoceros, inhabit the foot of these hills, with wild boars, leopards, etc.; but none are numerous. The elephant's path is an excellent specimen of engineering—the opposite of the native track, for it winds judiciously.

At about 1000 feet above Punkabaree, the vegetation is very rich, and appears all the more so from the many turnings of the road, affording glorious prospects of the foreshortened tropical forests. The prevalent timber is gigantic, and scaled by climbing Leguminosć, as Bauhinias and Robinias, which sometimes sheath the trunks, or span the forest with huge cables, joining tree to tree. Their trunks are also clothed with parasitical Orchids, and still more beautifully with Pothos (Scindapsus), Peppers, Gnetum, Vines, Convolvulus, and Bignonić. The beauty of the drapery of the Pothos-leaves is pre-eminent, whether for the graceful folds the foliage assumes, or for the liveliness of its colour. Of the more conspicuous smaller trees, the wild banana is the most abundant, its crown of very beautiful foliage contrasting with the smaller-leaved plants amongst which it nestles; next comes a screw-pine (Pandanus) with a straight stem and a tuft of leaves; each eight or ten feet long, waving on all sides. Araliaceć, with smooth or armed slender trunks, and Mappa-like Euphorbiaceć, spread their long petioles horizontally forth, each terminated with an ample leaf some feet in diameter. Bamboo abounds everywhere: its dense tufts of culms, 100 feet and upwards high, are as thick as a man's thigh at the base. Twenty or thirty, species of ferns (including a tree-fern) were luxuriant and handsome. Foliaceous lichens and a few mosses appeared at 2000 feet. Such is the vegetation of the roads through the tropical forests of the Outer-Himalaya.


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At about 4000 feet the road crossed a saddle, and ran along the narrow crest of a hill, the top of that facing the plains of India, and over which is the way to the interior ranges, amongst which Dorjiling is placed, still twenty-five miles off. A little below this a great change had taken place in the vegetation, marked, first, by the appearance of a very English-looking bramble, which, however, by way of proving its foreign origin, bore a very good yellow fruit, called here the “yellow raspberry.” Scattered oaks, of a noble species, with large lamellated cups and magnificent foliage, succeeded; and along the ridge of the mountain to Kursiong (a dawk bungalow at about 4,800 feet), the change in the flora was complete.

The spring of this region and elevation most vividly recalled that of England. The oak flowering, the birch bursting into leaf, the violet, Chrysosplenium, Stellaria and Arum, Vaccinium, wild strawberry, maple, geranium, bramble. A colder wind blew here: mosses and lichens carpeted the banks and roadsides: the birds and insects were very different from those below; and everything proclaimed the marked change in elevation, and not only in this, but in season, for I had left the winter of the tropics and here encountered the spring of the temperate zone.

The flowers I have mentioned are so notoriously the harbingers of a European spring that their presence carries one home at once; but, as species, they differ from their European prototypes, and are accompanied at this elevation (and for 2000 feet higher up) with tree-fern, Pothos, bananas, palms, figs, pepper, numbers of epiphytal Orchids, and similar genuine tropical genera. The uniform temperature and humidity of the region here favour the extension of tropical plants into a temperate region; exactly as the same conditions cause similar forms to reach


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higher latitudes in the southern hemisphere (as in New Zealand, Tasmania, South Chili, etc.) than they do in the northern.

Along this ridge I met with the first tree-fern. This species seldom reaches the height of forty feet; the black trunk is but three or four in girth, and the feathery crown is ragged in comparison with the species of many other countries: it is the Alsophila gigantea, and ascends nearly to 7000 feet elevation.

Kursiong bungalow, where I stopped for a few hours, is superbly placed, on a narrow mountain ridge. The west window looks down the valley of the Balasun river, the east into that of the Mahanuddee: both of these rise from the outer range, and flow in broad, deep, and steep valleys (about 4000 feet deep) which give them their respective names; and are richly wooded from the Terai to their tops. Till reaching this spur, I had wound upwards along the western slope of the Mahanuddee valley. The ascent from the spur at Kursiong, to the top of the mountain (on the northern face of which Dorjiling is situated), is along the eastern slope of the Balasun.

From Kursiong a very steep zigzag leads up the mountain, through a magnificent forest of cbesnut, walnut, oaks, and laurels. It is difficult to conceive a grander mass of vegetation: the straight shafts of the timber-trees shooting aloft, some naked and clean, with grey, pale, or brown bark; others literally clothed for yards with a continuous garment of epiphytes, one mass of blossoms, especially the white Orchids Cćlogynes, which bloom in a profuse manner, whitening their trunks like snow. More bulky trunks were masses of interlacing climbers, Araliaceć, Leguminosć, Vines, and Menispermeć, Hydrangea, and Peppers, enclosing a hollow, once filled by the now strangled


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supporting tree, which had long ago decayed away. From the sides and summit of these, supple branches hung forth, either leafy or naked; the latter resembling cables flung from one tree to another, swinging in the breeze, their rocking motion increased by the weight of great bunches of ferns or Orchids, which were perched aloft in the loops. Perpetual moisture nourishes this dripping forest: and pendulous mosses and lichens are met with in profusion.

Two thousand feet higher up, near Mahaldiram (whence the last view of the plains is gained), European plants appear,—Berberry, Paris, etc.; but here, night gathered round, and I had still ten miles to go to the nearest bungalow, that of Pacheem. The road still led along the eastern slope of the Balasun valley, which was exceedingly steep, and so cut up by ravines, that it winds in and out of gulleys almost narrow enough to be jumped across.

It was very late before I arrived at Pacheem bungalow, the most sinister-looking rest-house I ever saw, stuck on a little cleared spur of the mountain, surrounded by dark forests, overhanging a profound valley, and enveloped in mists and rain, and hideous in architecture, being a miserable attempt to unite the Swiss cottage with the suburban gothic; it combined a maximum of discomfort with a minimum of good looks or good cheer. I was some time in finding the dirty housekeeper, in an outhouse hard by, and then in waking him. As he led me up the crazy verandah, and into a broad ghostly room, without glass in the windows, or fire, or any one comfort, my mind recurred to the stories told of the horrors of the Hartz forest, and of the benighted traveller's situation therein. Cold sluggish beetles hung to the damp walls,—and these I immediately secured. After due exertions and perseverance with the damp wood, a fire smoked lustily, and, by


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cajoling the gnome of a housekeeper, I procured the usual roast fowl and potatos, with the accustomed sauce of a strong smoky and singed flavour.*

Pacheem stands at an elevation of nearly 7300 feet, and as I walked out on the following morning I met with English looking plants in abundance, but was too early in the season to get aught but the foliage of most. Chryosplenium, violet, Lobelia, a small geranium, strawberry, five or six kinds of bramble, Arum, Paris, Convallaria, Stellaria, Rubia, Vaccinium, and various Gnaphalia. Of small bushes, cornels, honeysuckles, and the ivy tribe predominated, with Symplocos and Skimmia, Eurya, bushy brambles, having simple or compound green or beautifully silky foliage; Hypericum, Berberry, Hydrangea, Wormwood, Adamia cyanea, Viburnum, Elder, dwarf bamboo, etc.

The climbing plants were still Panax or Aralia, Kadsura, Saurauja, Hydrangea, Vines, Smilax, Ampelopsis, Polygona, and, most beautiful of all, Stauntonia, with pendulous racemes of lilac blossoms. Epiphytes were rarer, still I found white and purple Cćloynes, and other Orchids, and a most noble white Rhododendron, whose truly enormous and delicious lemon-scented blossoms strewed the ground. The trees were one half oaks, one quarter Magnolias, and nearly another quarter laurels, amongst which grew Himalayan kinds of birch, alder, maple, holly, bird-cherry, common cherry, and apple. The absence of Leguminosć was most remarkable, and the most prominent botanical feature in the vegetation of this region: it is too high for the tropical tribes of the warmer elevations, too low for the Alpines, and probably too moist for those of temperate regions; cool, equable, humid climates being generally

* Since writing the above a comfortable house has been erected at Senadah, the name now given to what was called Pacheem Bungalow.


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unfavourable to that order. Clematis was rare, and other Ranunculaceć still more so. Cruciferć were absent, and, what was still more remarkable, I found very few native species of grasses. Both Poa annua and white Dutch clover flourished where accidentally disseminated, but only in artificially cleared spots. Of ferns I collected about sixty species, chiefly of temperate genera. The supremacy of this temperate region consists in the infinite number of forest trees, in the absence (in the usual proportion, at any rate) of such common orders as Compositć, Leguminosć, Cruciferć, and Ranunculaceć, and of Grasses amongst Monocotyledons, and in the predominance of the rarer and more local families, as those of Rhododendron, Camellia, Magnolia, Ivy, Cornel, Honeysuckle, Hydrangea, Begonia, and Epiphytic orchids.

From Pacheem, the road runs in a northerly direction to Dorjiling, still along the Balasun valley, till the saddle of the great mountain Sinchul is crossed. This is narrow, stretching east and west, and from it a spur projects northwards for five or six miles, amongst the many mountains still intervening between it and the snows. This saddle (alt. 7,400 feet) crossed, one is fairly amongst the mountains: the plains behind are cut off by it; and in front, the snows may be seen when the weather is propitious. The valleys on this side of the mountain run northwards, and discharge their streams into great rivers, which, coming from the snow, wind amongst the hills, and debouche into the Teesta, to the east, where it divides Sikkim from Bhotan.

Dorjiling station occupies a narrow ridge, which divides into two spurs, descending steeply to the bed of the Great Rungeet river, up whose course the eye is carried to the base of the great snowy mountains. The ridge itself is


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very narrow at the top, along which most of the houses are perched, while others occupy positions on its flanks, where narrow locations on the east, and broader ones on the west, are cleared from wood. The valleys on either side are at least 6000 feet deep, forest-clad to the bottom, with very few and small level spots, and no absolute precipice; from their flanks project innumerable little spurs, occupied by native clearings.

My route lay along the east flank, overhanging the valley of the Rungmo river. Looking east, the amphitheatre of hills from the ridge I had crossed was very fine; enclosing an area some four miles across and 4000 feet deep, clothed throughout with an impenetrable, dark forest: there was not one clear patch except near the very bottom, where were some scattered hamlets of two or three huts each. The rock is everywhere near the surface, and the road has been formed by blasting at very many places. A wooded slope descends suddenly from the edge of the road, while, on the other hand, a bank rises abruptly to the top of the ridge, alternately mossy, rocky, and clayey, and presenting a good geological section, all the way along, of the nucleus of Dorjiling spur, exposing broken masses of gneiss. As I descended, I came upon the upper limit of the chesnut, a tree second in abundance to the oak; gigantic, tall, and straight in the trunk.

I arrived at Dorjiling on the 16th of April; a showery, cold month at this elevation. I was so fortunate as to find Mr. Charles Barnes (brother of my friend at Colgong), the sole tenant of a long, cottage-like building, divided off into pairs of apartments, which are hired by visitors. It is usual for Europeans to bring a full establishment of servants (with bedding, etc.) to such stations, but I had not done so, having been told that


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there was a furnished hotel in Dorjiling; and I was, therefore, not a little indebted to Mr. Barnes for his kind invitation to join his mess. As he was an active mountaineer, we enjoyed many excursions together, in the two months and a half during which we were companions.

Dr. Campbell procured me several active native (Lepcha) lads as collectors, at wages varying from eight to twenty shillings a month; these either accompanied me on my excursions, or went by themselves into the jungles to collect plants, which I occupied myself in drawing, dissecting, and ticketing: while the preserving of them fell to the Lepchas, who, after a little training, became, with constant superintendence, good plant-driers. Even at this season (four weeks before the setting in of the rains) the weather was very uncertain, so that the papers had generally to be dried by the fire.

The hill-station or Sanatarium of Dorjiling owes its origin (like Simla, Mussooree, etc.) to the necessity that exists in India, of providing places where the health of Europeans may be recruited by a more temperate climate. Sikkim proved an eligible position for such an establishment, owing to its proximity to Calcutta, which lies but 370 miles to the southward; whereas the north-west stations mentioned above are upwards of a thousand miles from that city. Dorjiling ridge varies in height from 6,500 to 7,500 feet above the level of the sea; 8000 feet being the elevation at which the mean temperature most nearly coincides with that of London, viz., 50°.

Sikkim was, further, the only available spot for a Sanatarium throughout the whole range of the Himalaya, east of the extreme western frontier of Nepal; being a protected state, and owing no allegiance, except to the British government; which, after the Rajah had been driven


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from the country by the Ghorkas, in 1817, replaced him on his throne, and guaranteed him the sovereignty. Our main object in doing this was to retain Sikkim as a fender between Nepal and Bhotan: and but for this policy, the aggressive Nepalese would, long ere this, have possessed themselves of Sikkim, Bhotan, and the whole Himalaya, eastwards to the borders of Burmah.*

From 1817 to 1828 no notice was taken of Sikkim, till a frontier dispute occurred between the Lepchas and Nepalese, which was referred (according to the terms of the treaty) to the British Government. During the arrangement of this, Dorjiling was visited by a gentleman of high scientific attainments, Mr. J. W. Grant, who pointed out its eligibility as a site for a Sanatarium to Lord William Bentinck, then Governor-General; dwelling especially upon its climate, proximity to Calcutta, and accessibility; on its central position between Tibet, Bhotan, Nepal, and British India; and on the good example a peaceably-conducted and well-governed station would be to our turbulent neighbours in that quarter. The suggestion was cordially received, and Major Herbert (the late eminent Surveyor-General of India) and Mr. Grant were employed to report further on the subject.

The next step taken was that of requesting the Rajah to cede a tract of country which should include Dorjiling, for an equivalent in money or land. His first demand was unreasonable; but on further consideration he surrendered Dorjiling unconditionally, and a sum of 300 pounds per

* Of such being their wish the Nepalese have never made any secret, and they are said to have asked permission from the British to march an army across Sikkim for the purpose of conquering Bhotan, offering to become more peaceable neighbours to us than the Bhotanese are. Such they would doubtless have proved, but the Nepal frontier is considered broad enough already.


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annum was granted to him as an equivalent for what was then a worthless uninhabited mountain. In 1840 Dr. Campbell was removed from Nepal as superintendent of the new station, and was entrusted with the charge of the political relations between the British and Sikkim government.

Once established, Dorjiling rapidly increased. Allotments of land were purchased by Europeans for building dwelling-houses; barracks and a bazaar were formed, with accommodation for invalid European soldiers; a few official residents, civil and military, formed the nucleus of a community, which was increased by retired officers and their families, and by temporary visitors in search of health, or the luxury of a cool climate and active exercise.

For the first few years matters went on smoothly with the Rajah, whose minister (or Dewan) was upright and intelligent: but the latter, on his death, was succeeded by the present Dewan, a Tibetan, and a relative of the Ranee (or Rajah's wife); a man unsurpassed for insolence and avarice, whose aim was to monopolise the trade of the country, and to enrich himself at its expense. Every obstacle was thrown by him in the way of a good understanding between Sikkim and the British government. British subjects were rigorously excluded from Sikkim; every liberal offer for free trade and intercourse was rejected, generally with insolence; merchandise was taxed, and notorious offenders, refugees from the British territories, were harboured; despatches were detained; and the Vakeels, or Rajah's representatives, were chosen for their insolence and incapacity. The conduct of the Dewan throughout was Indo-Chinese; assuming, insolent, aggressive, never perpetrating open violence, but by petty insults effectually preventing all good understanding. He was met


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by neglect or forbearance on the part of the Calcutta government; and by patience and passive resistance at Dorjiling. Our inaction and long-suffering were taken for weakness, and our concessions for timidity. Such has been our policy in China, Siam, and Burmah, and in each instance the result has been the same. Had it been insisted that the terms of the treaty should be strictly kept, and had the first act of insolence been noticed, we should have maintained the best relations with Sikkim, whose people and rulers (with the exception of the Dewan and his faction) have proved themselves friendly throughout, and most anxious for unrestricted communication.

These political matters have not, however, prevented the rapid increase of Dorjiling; the progress of which, during the two years I spent in Sikkim, resembled that of an Australian colony, not only in amount of building, but in the accession of native families from the surrounding countries. There were not a hundred inhabitants under British protection when the ground was transferred; there are now four thousand. At the former period there was no trade whatever; there is now a very considerable one, in musk, salt, gold-dust, borax, soda, woollen cloths, and especially in poneys, of which the Dewan in one year brought on his own account upwards of 50 into Dorjiling.* The trade has been greatly increased by the annual fair which Dr. Campbell has established at the foot of the hills, to which many thousands of natives flock from all quarters, and which exercises a most beneficial influence throughout the neighbouring territories. At this, prizes (in medals, money, and kind) are given for agricultural implements

* The Tibetan pony, though born and bred 10,000 to 14,000 feet above the sea, is one of the most active and useful animals in the plains of Bengal, powerful and hardy, and when well trained early, docile, although by nature vicious and obstinate.


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and produce, stock, etc., by the originator and a few friends; a measure attended with eminent success.

In estimating in a sanitory point of view the value of any health-station, little reliance can be placed on the general impressions of invalids, or even of residents; the opinion of each varies with the nature and state of his complaint, if ill, or with his idiosyncracy and disposition, if well. I have seen prejudiced invalids rapidly recovering, in spite of themselves, and all the while complaining in unmeasured terms of the climate of Dorjiling, and abusing it as killing them. Others are known who languish under the heat of the plains at one season, and the damp at another; and who, though sickening and dying under its influence, yet consistently praise a tropical climate to the last. The opinions of those who resort to Dorjiling in health, differ equally; those of active minds invariably thoroughly enjoy it, while the mere lounger or sportsman mopes. The statistical tables afford conclusive proofs of the value of the climate to Europeans suffering from acute diseases, and they are corroborated by the returns of the medical officer in charge of the station. With respect to its suitability to the European constitution I feel satisfied, and that much saving of life, health, and money would be effected were European troops drafted thither on their arrival in Bengal, instead of being stationed in Calcutta, exposed to disease, and temptation to those vices which prove fatal to so many hundreds. This, I have been given to understand, was the view originally taken by the Court of Directors, but it has never been carried out.

I believe that children's faces afford as good an index as any to the healthfulness of a climate, and in no part of the world is there a more active, rosy, and bright young


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community, than at Dorjiling. It is incredible what a few weeks of that mountain air does for the India-born children of European parents: they are taken there sickly, pallid or yellow, soft and flabby, to become transformed into models of rude health and activity.

There are, however, disorders to which the climate (in common with all damp ones) is not at all suited; such are especially dysentery, bowel complaints, and liver complaints of long standing; which are not benefited by a residence on these hills, though how much worse they might have become in the plains is not shown. I cannot hear that the climate aggravates, but it certainly does not remove them. Whoever is suffering from the debilitating effects of any of the multifarious acute maladies of the plains, finds instant relief, and acquires a stock of health that enables him to resist fresh attacks, under circumstances similar to those which before engendered them.

Natives of the low country, and especially Bengalees, are far from enjoying the climate as Europeans do, being liable to sharp attacks of fever and ague, from which the poorly clad natives are not exempt. It is, however, difficult to estimate the effects of exposure upon the Bengalees, who sleep on the bare and often damp ground, and adhere, with characteristic prejudice, to the attire of a torrid climate, and to a vegetable diet, under skies to which these are least of all adapted.

It must not be supposed that Europeans who have resided in the plains can, on their first arrival, expose themselves with impunity to the cold of these elevations; this was shown in the winter of 1848 and 1849, when troops brought up to Dorjiling were cantoned in newly-built dwellings, on a high exposed ridge 8000 feet above the sea, and lay, insufficiently protected, on a floor of


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loosely laid planks, exposed to the cold wind, when the ground without was covered with snow. Rheumatisms, sharp febrile attacks, and dysenteries ensued, which were attributed in the public prints to the unhealthy nature of the climate of Dorjiling.

The following summary of hospital admissions affords the best test of the healthiness of the climate, embracing, as the period does, the three most fatal months to European troops in India. Out of a detachment (105 strong) of H.M. 80th Regiment stationed at Dorjiling, in the seven months from January to July inclusive, there were sixty-four admissions to the hospital, or, on the average, 4-1/3 per cent. per month; and only two deaths, both of dysentery. Many of these men had suffered frequently in the plains from acute dysentery and hepatic affections, and many others had aggravated these complaints by excessive drinking, and two were cases of delirium tremens. During the same period, the number of entries at Calcutta or Dinapore would probably have more than trebled this.

Next Chapter V