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- Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 80/157 -

a wood-borer; a species of Goliath-beetle, _Cheirotonus Macleaii,_ and a smaller species of the same rare family, _Trigonophorus nepalensis_; of these the former is very scarce, the latter extremely abundant, flying about at evenings; both are flower-feeders, eating honey and pollen. In the summer of 1848, the months at Dorjiling were well marked by the swarms of peculiar insects that appeared in inconceivable numbers; thus, April was marked by a great black _Passalus,_ a beetle one-and-a-half inch long, that flies in the face and entangles itself in the hair; May, by stag-beetles and longicorns; June, by _Coccinella_ (lady-birds), white moths, and flying-bugs; July, by a _Dryptis?_ a long-necked carabideous insect; August, by myriads of earwigs, cockroaches, Goliath-beetles, and cicadas; September, by spiders.] _Mantis,_ great locusts, grasshoppers, flying-bugs, crickets, ants, spiders, caterpillars, and leeches, were but a few of the pests that swarmed in my tent and made free with my bed. Great lazy butterflies floated through the air; _Thecla_ and _Hesperides_ skipped about, and the great _Nymphalidae_ darted around like swallows. The venomous black cobra was common, and we left the path with great caution, as it is a lazy reptile, and lies basking in the sun; many beautiful and harmless green snakes, four feet long, glided amongst the bushes. My dogs caught a "Rageu,"* ["Ragoah," according to Hodgson: but it is not the _Procapra picticaudata_ of Tibet.] a very remarkable animal, half goat and half deer; the flesh was good and tender, dark-coloured, and lean.

I remained here till the 15th of August,* [Though 5 degrees further north, and 5,268 feet above the level of Calcutta, the mean temperature at Choongtam this month was only 12.5 degrees cooler than at Calcutta; forty observations giving 1 degree Fahr. as equal to 690 feet of elevation; whereas in May the mean of twenty-seven observations gave 1 degree Fahr. as equal to 260 feet, the mean difference of temperature being then 25 degrees. The mean maximum of the day was 80 degrees, and was attained at 11 a.m., after which clouds formed, and the thermometer fell to 66 degrees at sunset, and 56 degrees at night. In my blanket tent the heat rose to upwards of 100 degrees in calm weather. The afternoons were generally squally and rainy.] arranging my Lachen valley collections previous to starting for the Lachoong, whence I hoped to reach Tibet again by a different route, crossing the Donkia pass, and thence exploring the sources of the Teesta at the Cholamoo lakes.

Whilst here I ascertained the velocity of the currents of the Lachen and Lachoong rivers. Both were torrents, than which none could be more rapid, short of becoming cataracts: the rains were at their height, and the melting of the snows at its maximum. I first measured several hundred yards along the banks of each river above the bridges, repeating this several times, as the rocks and jungle rendered it very difficult to do it accurately: then, sitting on the bridge, I timed floating masses of different materials and sizes that were thrown in at the upper point. I was surprised to find the velocity of the Lachen only nine miles per hour, for its waters seemed to shoot past with the speed of an arrow, but the floats showed the whole stream to be so troubled with local eddies and backwaters, that it took from forty-three to forty-eight seconds for each float to pass over 200 yards, as it was perpetually submerged by under-currents. The breadth of the river averaged sixty-eight feet, and the discharge was 4,420 cubic feet of water per second. The temperature was 57 degrees.

At the Lachoong bridge the jungle was still denser, and the banks quite inaccessible in many places. The mean velocity was eight miles an hour, the breadth ninety-five feet, the depth about the same as that of the Lachen, giving a discharge of 5,700 cubic feet of water per second;* [Hence it appears that the Lachoong, being so much the more copious stream, should in one sense be regarded as the continuation of the Teesta, rather than the Lachen, which, however, has by far the most distant source. Their united streams discharge upwards of 10,000 cubic feet of water per second in the height of the rains! which is, however, a mere fraction of the discharge of the Teesta when that river leaves the Himalaya. The Ganges at Hurdwar discharges 8000 feet per second during the dry season.] its temperature was also 57 degrees. These streams retain an extraordinary velocity, for many miles upwards; the Lachen to its junction with the Zemu at 9000 feet, and the Zemu itself as far up as the Thlonok, at 10,000 feet, and the Lachoong to the village of that name, at 8000 feet: their united streams appear equally rapid till they become the Teesta at Singtam.* [The slope of the bed of the Lachen from below the confluence of the Zemu to the village of Singtam is 174 feet per mile, or 1 foot in 30; that of the Lachoong from the village of that name to Singtam is considerably less.]

On the 15th of August, having received supplies from Dorjiling, I started up the north bank of the Lachoong, following the Singtam Soubah, who accompanied me officially, and with a very bad grace; poor fellow, he expected me to have returned with him to Singtam, and thence gone back to Dorjiling, and many a sore struggle we had on this point. At Choongtam he had been laid up with ulcerated legs from the bites of leeches and sand-flies, which required my treatment.

The path was narrow, and ran through a jungle of mixed tropical and temperate plants,* [As _Paris, Dipsacus, Circaea, Thalictrum, Saxifraga ciliaris, Spiranthes, Malva, Hypoxis, Anthericum, Passiflora, Drosera, Didymocarpus,_ poplar, _Calamagrostis,_ and _Eupatorium._] many of which are not found at this elevation on the damp outer ranges of Dorjiling. We crossed to the south bank by a fine cane-bridge forty yards long, the river being twenty-eight across and here I have to record the loss of my dog Kinchin; the companion of all my late journeyings, and to whom I had become really attached. He had a bad habit, of which I had vainly tried to cure him, of running for a few yards on the round bamboos by which the cane-bridges are crossed, and on which it was impossible for a dog to retain his footing: in this situation he used to get thoroughly frightened, and lie down on the bamboos with his legs hanging over the water, and having no hold whatever. I had several times rescued him from this perilous position, which was always rendered more imminent from the shaking of the bridge as I approached him. On the present occasion, I stopped at the foot of some rocks below the bridge, botanizing, and Kinchin having scrambled up the rocks, ran on to the bridge. I could not see him, and was not thinking about him, when suddenly his shrill, short barks of terror rang above the roaring torrent. I hastened to the bridge, but before I could get to it, he had lost his footing, and had disappeared. Holding on by the cane, I strained my eyes till the bridge seemed to be swimming up the valley, and the swift waters to be standing still, but to no purpose; he had been carried under at once, and swept away miles below. For many days I missed him by my side on the mountain, and by my feet in camp. He had become a very handsome dog, with glossy black hair, pendent triangular ears, short muzzle, high forehead, jet-black eyes, straight limbs, arched neck, and a most glorious tail curling over his back.* [The woodcut at vol. i. chapter ix, gives the character of the Tibet mastiff, to which breed his father belonged; but it is not a portrait of himself, having been sketched from a dog of the pure breed, in the Zoological Society's Gardens, by C. Jenyns, Esq.]

A very bad road led to the village of Keadom, situated on a flat terrace several hundred feet above the river, and 6,609 feet above the sea, where I spent the night. Here are cultivated plantains and maize, although the elevation is equal to parts of Dorjiling, where these plants do not ripen.

The river above Keadom is again crossed, by a plank bridge, at a place where the contracted streams flow between banks forty feet high, composed of obscurely stratified gravel, sand, and water-worn boulders. Above this the path ascends lofty flat-topped spurs, which overhang the river, and command some of the most beautiful scenery in Sikkim. The south-east slopes are clothed with _Abies Brunoniana_ at 8000 feet elevation, and cleft by a deep ravine, from which projects what appears to be an old moraine, fully 1500 or perhaps 2000 feet high. Extensive landslips on its steep flank expose (through the telescope) a mass of gravel and angular blocks, while streams cut deep channels in it.

This valley is far more open and grassy than that of the Lachen, and the vegetation also differs much.* [_Umbelliferae_ and _Compositae_ abound, and were then flowering; and an orchis (_Satyrium Nepalense_), scented like our English _Gymnadenia,_ covered the ground in some places, with tall green _Habenariae_ and a yellow _Spathoglottis,_ a genus with pseudo-bulbs. Of shrubs, _Xanthoxylon, Rhus, Prinsepia, Cotoneaster, Pyrus,_ poplar and oak, formed thickets along the path; while there were as many as eight and nine kinds of balsams, some eight feet high.] In the afternoon we reached Lachoong, which is by far the most picturesque village in the temperate region of Sikkim. Grassy flats of different levels, sprinkled with brushwood and scattered clumps of pine and maple, occupy the valley; whose west flanks rise in steep, rocky, and scantily wooded grassy slopes. About five miles to the north the valley forks; two conspicuous domes of snow rising from the intermediate mountains. The eastern valley leads to lofty snowed regions, and is said to be impracticable; the Lachoong flows down the western, which appeared rugged, and covered with pine woods. On the east, Tunkra mountain* [This mountain is seen from Dorjiling; its elevation is about 18,700 feet.] rises in a superb unbroken sweep of dark pine-wood and cliffs, surmounted by black rocks and white fingering peaks of snow. South of this, the valley of the Tunkrachoo opens, backed by sharp snowed pinnacles, which form the continuation of the Chola range; over which a pass leads to the Phari district of Tibet, which intervenes between Sikkim and Bhotan. Southwards the view is bounded by snowy mountains, and the valley seems blocked up by the remarkable moraine-like spur which I passed above Keadom.


Stupendous moraines rise 1500 feet above the Lachoong in several concentric series, curving downwards and outwards, so as to form a bell-shaped mouth to the valley of the Tunkrachoo. Those on the upper flank are much the largest; and the loftiest of them terminates in a conical hill crowned with Boodhist flags, and its steep sides cut into horizontal roads or terraces, one of which is so broad and flat as to suggest the idea of its having been cleared by art.


On the south side of the Tunkrachoo river the moraines are also more or less terraced, as is the, floor of the Lachoong valley, and its east slopes, 1000 feet up.* [I have since been greatly struck with the similarity between the features of this valley, and those of Chamouni (though the latter is on a smaller scale) above the Lavanchi moraine. The spectator standing in the expanded part below the village of Argentiere, and looking upwards, sees the valley closed above by the ancient moraine of the Argentiere glacier, and below by that of Lavanchi; and an all sides the slopes are cut into terraces, strewed with boulders. I found traces of stratified pebbles and sand on the north flank of the Lavanchi moraine however, which I failed to discover in those of Lachoong. The average slope of these pine-clad Sikkim valleys much approximates to that of Chamouni, and never approaches the precipitous character of the Bernese Alps' valleys, Kandersteg, Lauterbrunnen, and Grindelwald.]

The river is fourteen yards broad, and neither deep nor rapid: the

Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 80/157

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