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the most attractive is Darjiling, about two hundred and fifty miles north of Calcutta.
The journey may be made in twenty-four hours, and is one of the grandest railway journeys in the world. From Calcutta to the hills the route lies over the great fertile plain of Bengal, with its fields of rice, sugar cane, and indigo.
As it begins the ascent of the mountain, the road passes through dense jungles, the home of the tiger and the elephant. A little higher, extensive clearings have been made, and here the tea plant grows in greatest luxuriance. The cultivation of tea is becoming a great industry in this section of India.
The road winds in and out of the great forests of cedar and pine, and climbs higher and higher up the mountain ridges. Every moment the grandeur of the scene increases, until at length the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas are seen in all their magnificence.
Darjiling is surrounded by the grandest scenery in the world. It is almost under the shadow of Kunchinjinga, the second highest mountain on the globe, twenty eight thousand feet high. A few miles distant a good view of Mt. Everest is to be had; but, though higher, it is not as interesting as Kunchinjinga. On all sides are snow-covered peaks, from ten thousand to twenty thousand feet high, and between them lie vast snowfields and glaciers.
The houses in Darjiling are built along the sides of the cliffs, wherever room can be found for them, and the effect is, indeed, picturesque.
In winter this famous hill station is almost deserted; but when the summer exodus from Calcutta takes place, the beautiful villas and bungalows are thrown open and the hillsides are thronged with people.
The market place, or bazaar, is at the center of the town, and is one of the most interesting in all India. Here the hill tribes come to trade and have a grand holiday Sunday is the great market day, when thousands of these people come together to exchange their goods. The stalls, which are all around the market place, contain a great many curious articles of trade, —such as yaks' tails and old bottles, also umbrellas, tobacco, cotton and woolen goods, to say nothing of pigs, goats, and poultry.
There are many different tribes, each with its own dialect and peculiar costume. Among the most interesting are the Lepchas and the Bhutias.
The Lepchas are distinguished by their coarse black hair, which is worn in a braid as long as a horse's tail.
The women dress and appear much like the men, except that they display a great deal of jewelry and wear their hair in two braids instead of one.
The Bhutia women make an interesting picture. Each one wears above her mass of black hair a circlet of coral and turquoise beads. With gold earrings four or five inches in length, and with never less than four necklaces, of different-colored beads, each one may be said to be gaily caparisoned.
MADRAS AND THE SOUTH.
LEAVING Calcutta we embark on one of the large steamships which come to this port, and, after a voyage of nearly a thousand miles to the south, arrive at the city of Madras.
Sailing down the river we again call to mind the importance of this mighty stream. We know that the Hoogly, on which our steamer is plowing its way, is but a branch of the great river, and that all about us stretches the delta with its network of streams. The mud and sand, which through long ages have been forming this delta, have been brought from the mountains fifteen hundred miles away.
An ingenious estimate has been made of the amount of fertilizing material brought down by the Ganges in a single year. A train of freight cars is supposed to be loaded with this mud, each car carrying fifty tons. It would require a train of more than seven millions of such cars to carry the amount. This train would be sixty-seven thousand miles in length, would reach twice around the earth and leave a sufficient number of cars to run two parallel trains through the earth's center !
The contrast between Madras and the other great seaports of India is very marked. Although the most important city in southern India, Madras is situated at one of the most exposed points on the Coromandel coast. Hurricanes are frequent and the surf is always high.
Its artificial harbor is one of the most interesting features. Two immense breakwaters, extending far out into the bay, have been built. Within these it was thought ships might anchor in safety, but in stormy weather this has not proved to be the case. Large ships do not come into docks as at Bombay, but anchor in the roadstead. Even in the finest weather the embarking and landing of passengers is a difficult matter. The natives have peculiar boats which they paddle through the surf with much skill, and in them they convey passengers to and from the shore.
We wonder that so great a city should have grown up on this unprotected shore, and yet Madras was the first English capital of India.
The city covers a wide territory, and in the English portion is quite attractive. The native portion, called Blacktown, is near the harbor.
Its narrow streets are crowded with people, many of them dressed in white; but here and there may be seen a red, orange, green, or blue costume, giving a brilliant color to the scene.
The houses, one story high, are built of mud or brick, and have small thatched verandas.
Dancing girls are a noticeable feature of all Hindu cities, and here in Madras they are to be seen dancing on the streets. If a prince gives a reception, one part of the entertainment is sure to be dancing; but it is done by these dancing girls, who are hired for the purpose. The people of the East say, “ We like dancing, but we prefer to hire it done!"
Fort St. George, standing on a slight elevation near