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Transition to a sterile Country.
but tends to remove national and provincial antipathies, and to bind together all the branches of the great human family.'
Beyond Paneeghur, the district begins to savour of the jungle. The traveller here enters upon a new order of things, and meets with a new regime in nature. First from the damp, and then from the dry, he has now attained a region which is decidedly sterile. No luxuriant vegetation to denote a soft locality-no other tree of an alluvial soil than a few straggling palms. The magnificent banyan, and the graceful cocoa, have long bidden their adieu, and now lag far-far behind. The transition is great from fertility to aridity. The soil, hard and kunkerry, and of a reddish tinge, denoting the presence of iron, is covered chiefly with low jungles and thin stunted copsewood. The ground is broken into deeper undulations than before—appearing billowy with enormous earthy waves, here leaving a hollow, and there forming a swell with a magnificent sweep.
To carry on the road in a level, they have cut through one of these swells or elevations, to the depth of thirtysix feet, and a mile in length. It is a stupendous work. . On the right of this cutting is a gloomy tract of jungles extending to the Rajmahal Hills. In the heart of this desolate region is a romantic spot, wherein the Shivite Brahmins have planted the linga of Byjnath-dogging in the steps of the Buddhists to oust them from even their mountain-fastnesses. The god was being brought from Cailasa by Ravana on his shoulders, to act as the
guardian deity of Lunka. But he assumed an immoveable ponderosity by coming in contact with the earth when laid down by Ravana to relieve himself from the hands of Varuna, who had entered his stomach to excite the action of his kidneys, that he may be necessitated to drop the god, and disappointed of his promised deliverance. Thus put up, Byjnath has become a famous pilgrimage. His present shrine is three hundred years old, and a mile in circumference. The god must be content only with our distant salutations.
Out of the cut, the eye meets towards the horizon a faint blue wavy streak, which is a perfect novelty to a Ditcher. Soon the dim and indistinct outline assumes the tangible form of detached spurs, and the towering Chutna and Beharinath clearly stand out in view — a welcome sight to him 'who long hath been in populous cities pent.' The land here is 360 feet higher than the level of the sea, and the two spurs are thrown off, like two out-scouts, to announce the beginning of the hills. From Khyrasole commence those coal-beds, which, say the Hindoos, are vestiges of their Marut Rajah's Yugya. By far more rational than this, is the version of the African Barotsees, in whose opinion coals are 'stones that burn.' Near Singarim, the phenomenon of a petrified forest reads a more valuable lecture upon the formation of our planet, than all the cosmogony of Menu. Raneegunge is then announced ;-and as one stands with his head projected out of the train, the infant town bursts on the sight from out an open and extensive plain, with its white-sheening edifices, the Raneegunge, - Terminus of the Railway.
towering chimneys of its collieries, and the clustering huts of its bazar—looking like a garden in a wilderness, and throwing a lustre over the lonely valley of the Damooder.
From the neighbourhood of the sea, the Rail has transported a whole town of men and merchandise, and set it down at the foot of the hills. The iron-horse also snorts as it goes, and slackens its pace in sight of the terminus of its journey. On arrival, it is unsaddled from its fetters, washed and groomed, and then led away to rest for fresh work on the morrow.
No comfortable lodgings are yet procurable at Raneegunge. The project of a staging caravanserai here might be a profitable speculation, considering the large tide of men that pass through this gateway of Bengal. To an untravelled Calcutta Baboo, this want of accommodation is a serious stumbling-block in the path of his journey. True, there is the Railway Hotel. But a native may read Bacon and Shakespeare, get over his religious prejudices, form political associations, and aspire to a seat in the legislature-he may do all these and many things more, but he cannot make up his mind to board at an English Hotel, or take up a house at Chowringhi. By his nature, a Hindoo is disposed to be in slippers. He feels, therefore, upon stilts before aliens. Ethnologically, he is the same with an Englishman—both being of the Aryan-house. Morally and intellectually, he can easily Anglicize himself. Politically, he may, sooner or later, be raised to an equality: But socially, in thought, habit, action, feelings, and
views of life, he must long measure the distance that exists geographically between him and the Englishman. If not travelling en grand Seigneur, a Hindoo gentleman would rather choose to put up in a small shed pervious to the cold drafts of the night wind and the rays of the moon, than be restrained from indulging in the tenor of his habits in a foreign element. It was a lucky thing for us to have picked up the acquaintance of a fellow-Ditcher on the way, who offered us asylum in his lodge.
Raneegunge is on the confines of a civilized world --beyond commence the inhospitable jungles and the domains of barbarism. Few spots can surpass this in charming scenery and picturesque beauty. On the left tower those spurs which give the first glimpse of the classic Vindhoo-giris. To the right, spread forests terminating as far off as where the Ganges rolls down its mighty stream. Before, is the realm of the hill and dale-wood and jungle. The sky over-head is bright as a mirror. Nodust or exhalation bedims the prospect. Through the smokeless atmosphere, the eye kens objects in the far distance. The town itself has a busy and bustling look with its shops, warehouses, and collieries. But it is yet too early to possess any feature of grandeur or opulence. As a new town, Raneegunge should not have been allowed to be built in defiance of those sanitary rules and laws of hygiene, which lengthen the term of human life. The Indians need lessons in town-building, as much as they do in ship-building. The streets here are as narrow, crooked, and dirty, as
Raneegunge,-a flourishing Seat of Trade.
in all native towns. The shops are unsightly huvels, crowded together in higgledy-piggledy. Buildings deserving of the name there are none—excepting those of the Railway Company. The population consists of petty shopkeepers, coolies, and other labourers. No decent folk lives here—no permanent settler. The wives and daughters of the Santhals are seen hither from the neighbouring villages to buy salt, clothing, and trinkets. The rural dealers open a bazar under the trees. But after all, the change has been immense from a jungly-waste from the haunt of bears and leopards into a flourishing seat of trade, yielding annually a quarter of a million. Raneegunge, making rapid advances under the auspices of the Railway, is destined in its progress to rival, if not outstrip, Newcastle. At present it is the only town in India which supplies the nation with mineral wealth-which sends out coals that propel steamers on the Ganges and on the Indian Ocean. Many such towns will rise hereafter to adorn the face of the country, and throw a lustre of opulence over the land. True, agriculture is India's legitimate source of wealth. But her vast mineral resources, once brought to notice, are not likely to be again neglected. Our forefathers were at one time not only the first agricultural, but also the first manufacturing and commercial nation in the world. In the same manner that Manchester now clothes the modern nations, did India clothe the ancient nations with its silks, muslin, and chintz-exciting the alarm of the Roman politicians to drain their empire of its wealth. Steel is