« PreviousContinue »
frontier provinces of both countries, will be shewn, and the heads of the Indus, Ganges, and Oxus, brought into one point of view. It will also serve to convey an idea of the route pursued by Mr. Forster *, from the banks of the Ganges, to the Caspian sea ; and which has never been travelled by any European in modern times at least no account of it is to be found on public record.
The positions of Jummoo, Attock, Behnbur (or Bember) and Pithour, are given in the large map of India; therefore, I shall begin with an account of those of Cashmere, Cabul and Candahar.
From Jummoo, Mr. Forster travelled to the capital city of Cashmere, which he reckons 97 coffes by the road; and the general
The history of this gentleman's travels is very curious. He proceeded by land from Bengal to the Caspian sea, and from thence by the ordinary route on the river Wolga, &c. to Detersburgh ; in the years 1783 and 1784. It was neceffary, from a regard to lafety, to avoid the country of the Seiks; that is, Lahore: he accordingly crofled the Ganges and Jumna rivers within the mountains, and proceeded to Caf mere by the road of Jummoo. He visited this celebrated country, I presume, through motives of curiority, as it lay so far out of his way. From thence, crossing the Indus, about 20 miles above Attock, he proceeded to Cabul, the capital city of Timur Shah, King of Candahar ; or more cominonly known by the name of sbdalla. He meant to have proceeded from thence, through the country of Bucharia or Transexonia ; but finding it too hazardous, he pursued the accuitomed route of the caravans by Candahar. From this place, which is suppoled with reason to be the Paropomijan Alexandria, his route was nearly in a straight line through Herat, to the south extreinity of the Carian ; across the modern provinces of Šeista!ı, Korain, and Mazanderan ; and which were known to the Ancients, under the names of Paropenijis, Aria, or (Ariana) Paribit, and Topuri. It will be perceived that (as far as a comparison can be made) Mr. Foriter traced back a considerable part of the route pursued by Alexander, when in puriuit of Bellus. As he travelled in the disguise of an Afiatic, and in the company of Afiatics ; through a vait extent of Mohammedan country, where the religious prejudices of the natives, are nearly equalled by their political jealouty of all sorts of foreigners ; we may pronounce the man who could perform fueh a task without suspicion, to pofiess great presence of mind, and no less discretion ; added to an uncommon share of observation of manners, and facility of attaining languages. Detection had been worse than death ; and he was subject to continual suspicion froin his fellow-travellers, who were not in the secret. I hope he means to publith his obfervations on the manners, government, and present itate of that part of Persia, of which we know the least : as well as of Calhmere, a subject yet more interesting to the philosopher and naturaliit. It may ferve to lhew the extensive commercial intercourie, and credit in Hindooltan, and the adjoining country (once dependant on it) notwithstanding the variety of governments it contains, and the unfettied state of the greatest part of them; that the bills of exchange which Mr. Forster obtained at Calcutta, were negociable at Cabul, 17 or 18 hundred miles distant; and the capital of a kingdom totally unconnected with, and possibly hoitile in political sentiments, to that in which the bills originated. From the time he left the last British station in Oude, to the Caspian, in which he einployed near a twelvemonth, and travelled 2700 English miles ; he was compelled to foreg? inoit of the ordinary comforts, and accommodations, which are enjoyed by the lowest ciais oi people, in European countries ; feeping in the open air, even in rainy and snowy weather ; and contenting himself
with the ordinary food and cookery of the country he passed through. Indeed it was barely possible to carry with him the means of procuring comiorts, without hazarding his fafety; as he was so long on the road.
bearing, at N by W. The last 19 coffes of the way, were by water, following the course of the Chelum or Behut river (he writes it Jalum) which, with its several branches, traverses the valley of Cashmere, and takes nearly a westerly direction, in this place. This being the cafe, only 78 coffes are to be reckoned in a northwardly direction, from Jummoo to Illamabad, the place of embarkation : and as the hilly (not to say mountainous) nature of the country requires at least 45 cosses to make a degree, the position of the capital of Cashmere may be reckoned 117 G. miles N by W from Jummoo: or in lat. 33° 49', lon. 73° u'. The Persian tables give its latitude at 35°: but not only the distance from Jummoo, but its bearing from Pilhour, plainly demonstrates that it ought not to be higher than 33° 49', or at most 34°; provided Lahore be in 31°. The capital of Cashmere has the same name as the province, according to Mr. Forster, and M. Bernier : but the Ayin Acbaree, at an earlier period, names it Sirinagur. It is a large city, and built on the sides of the river Chelum, which has a remarkable smooth current throughout the whole valley, according to Mr. Forster) and this proves the remarkable flatness of the. country; as the body of water is very large.
The valley or country of Cashmere, is celebrated throughout upper Asia for its romantic beauties, for the fertility of its soil, and for the temperature of its atmosphere. All these particulars may be accounted for, when it is considered, that it is an elevated and extensive valley, surrounded by steep mountains, that tower above the regions of snow; and that its soil is composed of the mud deposited by a capital river, which originally formed its waters into a lake, that covered the whole valley ; until it opened itself a passage through the mountains, and left this fertilized valley, an ample field to human industry, and to the accommodation of a happy race: for such the ancient inhabitants of Cashmere, undoubtedly
Although Although this account has no living testimony to support-it, yet history and tradition, and what is yet stronger, appearances ; have impressed a conviction of its truth on the minds of all those who have visited the scene, and contemplated the different parts of it. Different authors vary in their accounts of the extent of the valley. The Ayin Acbaree reckons Cashmere 120 coffes long, and from 10 to 15 broad; but I imagine that some other districts under its
government, are included. Bernier, who accompanied Aurengzebe thither, in 1664, says it is 30 leagues long, and 10 or 12 broad. And Mr. Forster, who I dare say was accurate in his enquiries and observations, says it is 80 miles long, and 40 in breadth ; and of an oval form.
The author of the Ayin Acbaree dwells with rapture on the beauties of Cashmere ; whence we may conclude that it was a favourite subject with his master Acbar, who had visited it three times, before Abul Fazil wrote. Other Emperors of Hindoostan visited it also, and seemed to forget the cares of government, during their residence in the happy valley. It appears that the periodical rains, which almost deluge the rest of India, are shut out of Cashmere by the height of the mountains ;. fo that only light showers fall there : these however, are in abundance enough to feed some thousands of cascades, which are precipitated into the valley, from every part of the stupendous and romantic bulwark that encircles it..
The soil is the richest that can be conceived ; and its productions those of the temperate zone. A vast number of streams and rivers from all quarters of the valley, bring their tribute to the Chelum, the parent of the soil; which is a large navigable river, and in which we recognise the famous Hydafpes of Alexander, who crossed it about 100 miles below the valley. Many small lakes are spread over the surface, and some of them contain floating islands. In a. word, the scenery is beautifully picturesque; and a part of the romantic circle of mountains, makes up a portion of every landscape. The pardonable superstition of the fequcstered inhabitants, has mul