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- Himalayan Journals, V1 - 30/63 -


the Sikkim authorities, to which I have elsewhere alluded, my endeavours to procure leave to penetrate further beyond the Dorjiling territory than Tonglo, were attended with some trouble and delay.

In the autumn of 1848, the Governor-General communicated with the Rajah, desiring him to grant me honourable and safe escort through his dominions; but this was at once met by a decided refusal, apparently admitting of no compromise. Pending further negotiations, which Dr. Campbell felt sure would terminate satisfactorily, though perhaps too late for my purpose, he applied to the Nepal Rajah for permission for me to visit the Tibetan passes, west of Kinchinjunga; proposing in the meanwhile to arrange for my return through Sikkim. Through the kindness of Col. Thoresby, the Resident at that Court, and the influence of Jung Bahadoor, this request was promptly acceded to, and a guard of six Nepalese soldiers and two officers was sent to Dorjiling to conduct me to any part of the eastern districts of Nepal which I might select. I decided upon following up the Tambur, a branch of the Arun river, and exploring the two easternmost of the Nepalese passes into Tibet (Wallanchoon and Kanglachem), which would bring me as near to the central mass and loftiest part of the eastern flank of Kinchinjunga as possible.

For this expedition (which occupied three months), all the arrangements were undertaken for me by Dr. Campbell, who afforded me every facility which in his government position he could command, besides personally superintending the equipment and provisioning of my party. Taking horses or loaded animals of any kind was not expedient: the whole journey was to be performed on foot, and everything carried on men's backs. As we were to march through wholly unexplored countries, where food was only procurable at uncertain intervals, it was necessary to engage a large body of porters, some of whom should carry bags of rice for the coolies and themselves too. The difficulty of selecting these carriers, of whom thirty were required, was very great. The Lepchas, the best and most tractable, and over whom Dr. Campbell had the most direct influence, disliked employment out of Sikkim, especially in so warlike a country as Nepal: and they were besides thought unfit for the snowy regions. The Nepalese, of whom there were many residing as British subjects in Dorjiling, were mostly run-aways from their own country, and afraid of being claimed, should they return to it, by the lords of the soil. To employ Limboos, Moormis, Hindoos, or other natives of low elevations, was out of the question; and no course appeared advisable but to engage some of the Bhotan run-aways domiciled in Dorjiling, who are accustomed to travel at all elevations, and fear nothing but a return to the country which they have abandoned as slaves, or as culprits: they are immensely powerful, and though intractable to the last degree, are generally glad to work and behave well for money. The choice, as will hereafter be seen, was unfortunate, though at the time unanimously approved.

My party mustered fifty-six persons. These consisted of myself, and one personal servant, a Portuguese half-caste, who undertook all offices, and spared me the usual train of Hindoo and Mahometan servants. My tent and equipments (for which I was greatly indebted to Mr. Hodgson), instruments, bed, box of clothes, books and papers, required a man for each. Seven more carried my papers for drying plants, and other scientific stores. The Nepalese guard had two coolies of their own. My interpreter, the coolie Sirdar (or headman), and my chief plant collector (a Lepcha), had a man each. Mr. Hodgson's bird and animal shooter, collector, and stuffer, with their ammunition and indispensables, had four more; there were besides, three Lepcha lads to climb trees and change the plant-papers, who had long been in my service in that capacity; and the party was completed by fourteen Bhotan coolies laden with food, consisting chiefly of rice with ghee, oil, capsicums, salt, and flour.

I carried myself a small barometer, a large knife and digger for plants, note-book, telescope, compass, and other instruments; whilst two or three Lepcha lads who accompanied me as satellites, carried a botanising box, thermometers, sextant and artificial horizon, measuring-tape, azimuth compass and stand, geological hammer, bottles and boxes for insects, sketch-book, etc., arranged in compartments of strong canvass bags. The Nepal officer (of the rank of serjeant, I believe) always kept near me with one of his men, rendering innumerable little services. Other sepoys were distributed amongst the remainder of the party; one went ahead to prepare camping-ground, and one brought up the rear.

The course generally pursued by Himalayan travellers is to march early in the morning, and arrive at the camping-ground before or by noon, breakfasting before starting, or _en route._ I never followed this plan, because it sacrificed the mornings, which were otherwise profitably spent in collecting about camp; whereas, if I set off early, I was generally too tired with the day's march to employ in any active pursuit the rest of the daylight, which in November only lasted till 6 p.m. The men breakfasted early in the morning, I somewhat later, and all had started by 10 a.m., arriving between 4 and 6 p.m. at the next camping-ground. My tent was formed of blankets, spread over cross pieces of wood and a ridge-pole, enclosing an area of 6 to 8 feet by 4 to 6 feet. The bedstead, table, and chair were always made by my Lepchas, as described in the Tonglo excursion. The evenings I employed in writing up notes and journals, plotting maps, and ticketing the plants collected during the day's march.

I left Dorjiling at noon, on the 27th October, accompanied by Dr. Campbell, who saw me fairly off, the coolies having preceded me. Our direct route would have been over Tonglo, but the threats of the Sikkim authorities rendered it advisable to make for Nepal at once; we therefore kept west along the Goong ridge, a western prolongation of Sinchul.

On overtaking the coolies, I proceeded for six or seven miles along a zig-zag road, at about 7,500 feet elevation, through dense forests, and halted at a little hut within sight of Dorjiling. Rain and mist came on at nightfall, and though several parties of my servants arrived, none of the Bhotan coolies made their appearance, and I spent the night without food or bed, the weather being much too foggy and dark to send back to meet the missing men. They joined me late on the following day, complaining unreasonably of their loads, and without their Sirdar, who, after starting his crew, had returned to take leave of his wife and family. On the following day he appeared, and after due admonishment we started, but four miles further on were again obliged to halt for the Bhotan coolies, who were equally deaf to threats and entreaties. As they did not come up till dusk, we were obliged to encamp here, (alt. 7,400 feet) at the common source of the Balasun, which flows to the plains, and the Little Rungeet, whose course is north.

The contrast between the conduct of the Bhotan men and that of the Lepchas and Nepalese was so marked, that I seriously debated in my own mind the propriety of sending the former back to Dorjiling, but yielded to the remonstrances of their Sirdar and the Nepal guard, who represented the great difficulty we should have in replacing them, and above all, the loss of time, at this season a matter of great importance. We accordingly started again the following morning, and still keeping in a western direction, crossed the posts in the forest dividing Sikkim from Nepal, and descended into the Myong valley of the latter country, through which flows the river of that name, a tributary of the Tambur. The Myong valley is remarkably fine: it runs south-west from Tonglo, and its open character and general fertility contrast strongly with the bareness of the lower mountain spurs which flank it, and with the dense, gloomy, steep, and forest-clad gorges of Sikkim. At its lower end, about twenty miles from the frontier, is the military fort of Ilam, a celebrated stockaded post and cantonment of the Ghorkas: its position is marked by a conspicuous conical hill. The inhabitants are chiefly Brahmins, but there are also some Moormis, and a few Lepchas who escaped from Sikkim during the general massacre in 1825. Among these is a man who had formerly much influence in Sikkim; he still retains his title of Kazee,* [This Mahometan title, by which the officers of state are known in Sikkim, is there generally pronounced Kajee.] and has had large lands assigned to him by the Nepalese Government: he sent the usual present of a kid, fowls, and eggs, and begged me to express to Dr. Campbell his desire to return to his native country, and settle at Dorjiling.

The scenery of this valley is the most beautiful I know of in the lower Himalaya, and the Cheer Pine (_P. longifolia_) is abundant, cresting the hills; which are loosely clothed with clumps of oaks and other trees, bamboos, and bracken (_Pteris_). The slopes are covered with red clay, and separate little ravines luxuriantly clothed with tropical vegetation, amongst which flow pebbly streams of transparent cool water. The villages, which are merely scattered collections of huts, are surrounded with fields of rice, buckwheat, and Indian corn, which latter the natives were now storing in little granaries, mounted on four posts, men, women, and children being all equally busy. The quantity of gigantic nettles (_Urtica heterophylla_) on the skirts of these maize fields is quite wonderful: their long white stings look most formidable, but though they sting virulently, the pain only lasts half an hour or so. These, however, with leeches, mosquitos, peepsas, and ticks, sometimes keep the traveller in a constant state of irritation.

However civilised the Hindoo may be in comparison with the Lepcha, he presents a far less attractive picture to the casual observer; he comes to your camping-ground, sits down, and stares with all his might, but offers no assistance; if he bring a present at all, he expects a return on the spot, and goes on begging till satisfied. I was amused by the cool way in which my Ghorka guard treated the village lads, when they wanted help in my service, taking them by the shoulder, pulling out their knives for them, placing them in their bands, and setting them to cut down a tree, or to chop firewood, which they seldom refused to do, when a little such douce violence was applied.

My object being to reach the Tambur, north of the great east and west mountain ridge of Sakkiazung, without crossing the innumerable feeders of the Myong and their dividing spurs, we ascended the north flank of the valley to a long spur from Tonglo, intending to follow winding ridges of that mountain to the sources of the Pemmi at the Phulloot mountains, and thence descend.

On the 3rd November I encamped on the flank of Tonglo (called Nanki in Nepal), at 9,300 feet, about 700 feet below the western summit, which is rocky, and connected by a long flat ridge with that which I had visited in the previous May. The Bhotan coolies behaved worse than ever; their conduct being in all respects typical of the turbulent, mulish race to which they belong. They had been plundering my provisions as they went along, and neither their Sirdar nor the Ghorka soldiers had the smallest authority over them. I had hired some Ghorka coolies to assist and eventually to replace them, and had made up my mind to send back the worst from the more populous banks of the Tambur, when I was relieved by their making off of their own accord. The dilemma was however awkward, as it was impossible to procure men on the top of a mountain 10,000 feet high, or to proceed towards Phulloot. No course remained but to send to Dorjiling for others, or to return to the Myong valley, and take a more circuitous route over the west end of Sakkiazung, which led through villages from which I could procure coolies day by day. I preferred the latter


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