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- Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 110/157 -


crystalline, and does not scale or flake, nor is its surface polished.] accessible from the north and east, but almost perpendicular to the southward, where the slope is 80 degrees for 600 feet. The elevation is 400 feet above the mean level of the surrounding ridges, and 700 above the bottom of the valleys. The south or steepest side is encumbered with enormous detached blocks, while the north is clothed with a dense forest, containing red tree-rhododendrons and oaks; on its skirts grew a white bushy rhododendron, which we found nowhere else. The hard granite of the top was covered with matted mosses, lichens, Lycopodiums, and ferns, amongst which were many curious and beautiful airplants.* [_Eria, Coelogyne_ (_Wallichii, maculata,_ and _elata_), _Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Sunipia_ some of them flowering profusely; and though freely exposed to the sun and wind, dews and frosts, rain and droughts, they were all fresh, bright, green and strong, under very different treatment from that to which they are exposed in the damp, unhealthy, steamy orchid-houses of our English gardens. A wild onion was most abundant all over the top of the hill, with _Hymenopogon, Vaccinium, Ophiopogon, Anisadenia, Commelyna, Didymocarpus, Remusatia, Hedychium,_ grass and small bamboos, and a good many other plants. Many of the lichens were of European kinds; but the mosses (except _Bryum argenteum_) and ferns were different. A small _Staphylinus,_ which swarmed under the sods, was the only insect I remarked.]

Illustration--KOLLONG ROCK.

The view from the top is very extensive to the northward, but not elsewhere: it commands the Assam valley and the Himalaya, and the billowy range of undulating grassy Khasia mountains. Few houses were visible, but the curling smoke from the valleys betrayed their lurking-places, whilst the tinkling sound of the hammers from the distant forges on all sides was singularly musical and pleasing; they fell on the ear like "bells upon the wind," each ring being exquisitely melodious, and chiming harmoniously with the others. The solitude and beauty of the scenery, and the emotions excited by the music of chimes, tended to tranquillise our minds, wearied by the fatigues of travel, and the excitement of pursuits that required unremitting attention; and we rested for some time, our imaginations wandering to far-distant scenes, brought vividly to our minds by these familiar sounds.

CHAPTER XXIX.

View of Himalaya from the Khasia--Great masses of snow--Chumulari --Donkia--Grasses--Nunklow--Assam valley and Burrampooter-- Tropical forest--Borpanee--Rhododendrons--Wild elephants-- Blocks of Syenite--Return to Churra--Coal--August temperature --Leave for Chela--Jasper hill--Birds--_Arundina_--Habits of leaf-insects--Curious village--Houses--Canoes--Boga-panee river--Jheels--Chattuc--Churra--Leave for Jyntea hills-- Trading parties--Dried fish--Cherries--Cinnamon--Fraud-- Pea-violet--Nonkreem--Sandstone--Pines--Granite boulders-- Iron washing--Forges--Tanks--Siberian _Nymphaea_--Barren country--Pomrang--_Podostemon_--Patchouli plant--Mooshye-- Enormous stone slabs--Pitcher-plant--Joowye cultivation and vegetation--_Hydropeltis_--Sulky hostess--Nurtiung-- _Hamamelis chinensis_--Bor-panee river--Sacred grove and gigantic stone structures--Altars--Pyramids, etc.--Origin of names-- _Vanda coerulea_--Collections--November vegetation--Geology of Khasia--Sandstone--Coal--Lime--Gneiss--Greenstone--Tidal action--Strike of rocks--Comparison with Rajmahal hills and the Himalaya.

The snowy Himalaya was not visible during our first stay at Myrung, from the 5th to the 10th of July; but on three subsequent occasions, viz., 27th and 28th of July, 13th to 17th October, and 22nd to 25th October, we saw these magnificent mountains, and repeatedly took angular heights and bearings of the principal peaks. The range, as seen from the Khasia, does not form a continuous line of snowy mountains, but the loftiest eminences are conspicuously grouped into masses, whose position is probably between the great rivers which rise far beyond them and flow through Bhotan. This arrangement indicates that relation of the rivers to the masses of snow, which I have dwelt upon in the Appendix; and further tends to prove that the snowy mountains, seen from the southward, are not on the axis of a mountain chain, and do not even indicate its position; but that they are lofty meridional spurs which, projecting southward, catch the moist vapours, become more deeply snowed, and protect the dry loftier regions behind.

The most conspicuous group of snows seen from the Khasia bears N.N.E. from Myrung, and consists of three beautiful mountains with wide-spreading snowy shoulders. These are distant (reckoning from west to east) respectively 164, 170, and 172 miles from Myrung, and subtend angles of + 0 degrees 4 minutes 0 seconds,-0 degrees 1 minute 30 seconds, and-0 degrees 2 minutes 28 seconds.* [These angles were taken both at sunrise and sunset, and with an excellent theodolite, and were repeated after two considerable intervals. The telescopes were reversed after each observation, and every precaution used to insure accuracy; nevertheless the mean of one set of observations of angular height often varied 1 degree from that of another set. This is probably much due to atmospheric refraction, whose effect and amount it is impossible to estimate accurately in such cases. Here the objects are not only viewed through 160 miles of atmosphere, but through belts from between 6000 to 20,000 feet of vertical height, varying in humidity and transparency at different parts of the interval. If we divide this column of atmosphere into sections parallel to those of latitude, we have first a belt fifteen miles broad, hanging over the Khasia, 2000 to 4000 feet above the sea; beyond it, a second belt, seventy miles broad, hangs over the Assam valley, which is hardly 300 feet above the level of the sea; and thirdly, the northern part of the column, which reposes on 60 to 100 miles of the Bhotan lower Himalaya: each of these belts has probably a different refractive power.] From Nunklow (940 feet lower than Myrung) they appear higher, the western peak rising 14 degrees 35 minutes above the horizon; whilst from Moflong (32 miles further south, and elevation 6,062 feet) the same is sunk 2 degrees below the horizon. My computations make this western mountain upwards of 24,000 feet high; but according to Col. Wilcox's angles, taken from the Assam valley, it is only 21,600, the others being respectively 20,720 and 21,475. Captain Thuillier (the Deputy Surveyor General) agrees with me in considering that Colonel Wilcox's altitudes are probably much under-estimated, as those of other Himalayan peaks to the westward were by the old surveyors. It is further evident that these mountains have (as far as can be estimated by angles) fully 6-8000 feet of snow on them, which would not be the case were the loftiest only 21,600 feet high.

It is singular, that to the eastward of this group, no snowy mountains are seen, and the lower Himalaya also dip suddenly. This depression is no doubt partly due to perspective; but as there is no such sudden disappearance of the chain to the westward, where peaks are seen 35 degrees to the west of north, it is far more probable that the valley of the Soobansiri river, which rises in Tibet far behind these peaks, is broad and open; as is that of the Dihong, still farther east, which we have every reason to believe is the Tibetan Yaru or Burrampooter.

Supposing then the eastern group to indicate the mountain mass separating the Soobansiri from the Monass river, no other mountains conspicuous for altitude or dimension rise between N.N.E. and north, where there is another immense group. This, though within 120 miles of Myrung, is below its horizon, and scarcely above that of Nunklow (which is still nearer to it), and cannot therefore attain any great elevation.

Far to the westward again, is a very lofty peaked mountain bearing N.N.W., which subtends an angle of-3 minutes 30 seconds from Myrung, and +6 minutes 0 seconds from Nunklow. The angles of this seem to indicate its being either Chumulari, or that great peak which I saw due east from Bbomtso top, and which I then estimated at ninety miles off and 23,500 feet high. From the Khasia angles, its latitude and longitude are 28 degrees 6 minutes and 89 degrees 30 minutes, its elevation 27,000 feet, and its distance from Myrung 200 miles. I need hardly add that neither the position nor the elevation computed from such data is worthy of confidence.

Further still, to the extreme west, is an immense low hog-backed mass of snow, with a small peak on it; this bears north-west, both from Myrung and Nunklow, subtending an angle of-25 minutes from the former, and-17 minutes from the latter station. It is in all probability Chumulari, 210 miles distant from Nunklow. Donkia, if seen, would be distant 230 miles from the same spot in the Khasia, and Kinchinjunga 260; possibly they are visible (by refraction) from Chillong, though even further from it.

The distance from Myrung to Nunklow is ten miles, along an excellent road. The descent is at first sudden, beyond which the country is undulating, interspersed with jungle (of low trees, chiefly oaks) and marshes, with much rice cultivation. Grasses are exceedingly numerous; we gathered fifty kinds, besides twenty _Cyperaceae_: four were cultivated, namely sugar-cane, rice, _Coix,_ and maize. Most of the others were not so well suited to pasturage as those of higher localities. Dwarf Phoenix palm occurs by the roadside at 5000 feet elevation.

Gneiss (with garnets) highly inclined, was the prevalent rock (striking north-east), and scattered boulders of syenite became very frequent. In one place the latter rock is seen bursting through the gneiss, which is slaty and very crystalline at the junction.

Nunklow is placed at the northern extremity of a broad spur that over-hangs the valley of the Burrampooter river, thirty miles distant. The descent from it is very rapid, and beyond it none of the many spurs thrown out by the Khasia attain more than 1000 feet elevation; hence, though the range does not present so abrupt a face to the Burrampooter as it does to the Jheels, Nunklow is considered as on the brink of its north slope. The elevation of the bungalow is 4,688 feet, and the climate being hot, it swarms with mosquitos, fleas, and rats. It commands a superb view to the north, of the Himalayan snows, of the Burrampooter, and intervening malarious Terai forest; and to the south, of the undulating Khasia, with Kollong rock bearing south-west. All the hills between this and Myrung look from Nunklow better wooded than they do from Myrung, in consequence of the slopes exposed to the south being bare of forest.

A thousand feet below the bungalow, a tropical forest begins, of figs, birch, horse-chestnut, oak, nutmeg. _Cedrela, Engelhardtia, Artocarpeae,_ and _Elaeocarpus,_ in the gullies, and tall pines on the dry slopes, which are continued down to the very bottom of the valley in which flows the Bor-panee, a broad and rapid river that descends from Chillong, and winds round the base of the Nunklow spur. Many of the pines are eighty feet high, and three or four in diameter, but none form gigantic trees. The quantity of balsams in the wet ravines is very great, and tree-ferns of several kinds are common.


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