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I HAD had a great deal of fever during my eighteen months' residence at Peshawar, and in April, 1854, I obtained six months' leave to Kashmir. I travelled via Murree to Abbottabad, along the route now well known as the Gullies.' Here I was joined by Lieutenant George Rodney Brown,* a subaltern of Horse Artillery, with whom I chummed at Peshawar.

Abbottabad was a very small place in those days. It was named after its first Deputy-Commissioner, James Abbott,† famous for his journey via Bokhara and Khiva to Russia in 1839, undertaken for the release of Russian prisoners who were kept as slaves by the Turkomans. He had just left, and had been succeeded as Deputy Commissioner by a Captain Becher, who, fortunately for us, was away in the district. I say fortunately, because we were bent on visiting Khagan, and had obtained permission from the Commissioner of Peshawar to do so. He had told us to apply to Becher for assistance, but from what we heard of that officer, it did not seem likely he would help us. Khagan was beyond our border, and the inhabitants were said to be even more fanatical than the rest of the frontier tribes. The Commissioner, however, had given us leave, and as his Deputy appeared to be the kind of man to create obstacles, we made up our minds to slip away before he returned.

We started on the 21st May, and marched to Habibula-Ki-Ghari. Here the road bifurcates, one branch leading to Kashmir, the other to Khagan. We took the latter, and proceeded to Balakot, twelve miles further on, which was then our frontier post. There we found a small guard of Frontier Police, two of whom we induced to accompany us on our onward journey for the purpose of assisting to look after the baggage and collecting coolies. Three days' more marching brought us to Khagan. The road almost the whole way from Balakot ran along a precipice overhanging the Nainsukh river, at that time of year a rushing torrent, owing to the melting of the snows on the higher ranges. The track was rough, steep, and in some places very narrow. We crossed and recrossed the river several times by means of snowbridges, which, spanning the limpid, jade-coloured water, had a very pretty effect. At one point our shikarris‡ stopped, and proudly told * Now a retired Major-General.

+ Now General Sir James Abbott, K.C.B.

‡ Men who carry the guns, and point out the most likely places for game, etc.

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21

We wandered over the beautiful and fertile Lolab valley, and pitched our little camp in the midst of groves of chunar, walnut, apple, cherry, and peach trees; and we marched up the Sind valley, and crossed the Zojji La Pass leading into Thibet. The scenery all along this route is extremely grand. On either side are lofty mountains, their peaks wrapped in snow, their sides clothed with pine, and their feet covered with forests, in which is to be found almost every kind of deciduous tree. From time to time we returned for a few days to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, to enjoy the pleasures of more civilized society. Srinagar is so well known nowadays, and has been so often described in poetry and prose, that it is needless for me to dwell at length upon its delights, which, I am inclined to think, are greater in imagination than in reality. It has been called the Venice of the East, and in some respects it certainly does remind one of the Bride of the Sea,' both in its picturesqueness and (when one gets into the small and tortuous canals) its unsavouriness. Even at the time of which I am writing it was dilapidated, and the houses looked exactly like those made by children out of a pack of cards, which a puff of wind might be expected to destroy. Of late years the greater part of the city has been injured by earthquakes, and Srinagar looks more than ever like a card city. The great beauty of the place in those days was the wooden bridges covered with creepers, and gay with booths and shops of all descriptions, which spanned the Jhelum at intervals for the three miles the river runs through the town-now, alas! for the artistic traveller, no more. Booths and shops have been swept away, and the creepers have disappeared-decidedly an advantage from a sanitary point of view, but destructive of the quaint picturesqueness of the town.

The floating gardens are a unique and very pretty characteristic of Srinagar. The lake is nowhere deeper than ten or twelve feet, and in some places much less. These gardens are made by driving stakes into the bed of the lake, long enough to project three or four feet above the surface of the water. These stakes are placed at intervals in an oblong form, and are bound together by reeds and rushes twined in and out and across, until a kind of stationary raft is made, on which earth and turf are piled. In this soil seeds are sown, and the crops of melons and other fruits raised in these fertile beds are extremely fine and abundant.

The magnificent chunar-trees are another very beautiful feature of the country. They grow to a great height and girth, and so luxuriant and dense is their foliage that I have sat reading and writing for hours during heavy rain under one of these trees and kept perfectly dry.

The immediate vicinity of Srinagar is very pretty, and the whole valley of Kashmir is lovely beyond description: surrounded by beautifully-wooded mountains, intersected with streams and lakes, and gay with flowers of every description, for in Kashmir many of the

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