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Grass Rope Bridge at Teree. - Gurwall

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December 17, 1837
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Mohammed Abdulkarim
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Scenery and Places
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Bahadur Shah II

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The above image is found from the book The Indian Empire Illustrated, The London Printing and Publishing Company Limited.


The village of Teree, in the province of Ghurwai, is a small and insignificant place, distinguished only by the romantic scenery that surrounds it, and its bridge, which, suspended in mid-air, throws a graceful festoon over the rapid and rock-bound stream below.

Suspension-bridges, formed of grass ropes—the simple and elegant invention of the rude mountaineers of the Himalaya—are of great antiquity in the provinces where they are found, and may be supposed to have given the original hint for the chain-bridges of Europe. The bridge at Teree is a beautiful specimen of its class, the adjacent scenery on either side of the river, adding much to its picturesque effect. In some of the hill districts, where the natural advantages of the country are not so great, the bridge is suspended from scaffolds erected on both banks of the stream. Over these are stretched ropes of great thickness, to afford on each side a support for the flooring, which is formed of a ladder, wattled with twigs and branches of trees, and attached to the balustrade by pendent ropes. The main ropes are extremely slack, and, where the banks are not very high, the centre of the bridge is sometimes within a foot of the water; but even at this trifling altitude, the danger from immersion is very great, since the current of the mountain streams runs with such impetuosity, that the best swimmer would find considerable difficulty in effecting a safe landing. The ropes of the bridge at Teree are constructed from the long coarse grass which grows on the sides of the hills; each is about the size of a small hawser, and is formed with three strands. They are obliged to be renewed constantly; and even when in their best condition, the passage across is, from its altitude, rather a perilous undertaking. Some very melancholy acci¬ dents have occurred to European visitors upon the fragile bridges among the hill districts.

But there are still more extraordinary methods resorted to by the natives who reside near Ram poor, on the banks of the Sutlej. The river at this place is about 200 feet broad, and, during the summer months, is crossed by a jboola or swing bridge, which is erected in May, and is usually employed until the early part of September; after which time there is no bridge, but the passage across the river is effected upon the hide of a buffalo or bullock, inflated with air, on which a single person, together with the ferry¬ man, can be conveyed. The latter throws himself on his breast athwart the skin, and directs its course by the rapid action of his feet in the water, assisted by a paddle three feet in length, which he holds in his right hand. He thus crosses the stream with ease; but it is sometimes necessary to launch two or three skins together, in order more effectually to stem the force of the current. The passenger by this conveyance sits astride the back of the ferryman, resting his legs on the skin; and the tail and legs of the bullock being left entire, serve to support and prevent him from being wetted. There is some danger of the bursting of the skin, in which event the passenger finds himself in a disagreeable predicament; for the velocity of the current is so great, and the river so full of rocks, that an expert swimmer would hardly succeed in reaching the shore. When natives of rank desire to cross the river during the season that the jhoola is relieved from duty, a commodious seat is improvised by lashing two or more skins together, and then placing a charpoy, or common bedstead, across them; which, although not very dignified in appearance, is always found to answer the purpose for which it is designed.

The province of Ghurwal chiefly consists of an assemblage of hills in close con¬ tiguity, the distance between each range being exceedingly circumscribed, and not a spot is to be seen that would afford room for an encampment of 1,000 men. Some of the ranges are covered with wood, and wear an aspect of eternal verdure; among them, the arbutus and other flowering trees attain to great perfection, and the polyandria monogynia, which grows to the height of forty feet, and loads the air with most fragrant perfume. In other places, ridges of hare rock are piled upon each other; and the whole is wild, broken, and overrun with jungle. There is but little cultivation, and the revenues of the province have always been inconsiderable.

It is reported by a native writer, that the district, in consequence of its poverty, was for many years exempted from tribute, Akbar, however, not being willing that any of his neighbours should escape a mulct, demanded from the chief of Ghurwal an account of the revenues of his raj, and a chart of the country. The rajah being then at court, repaired to the presence the following day; and, in obedience to the imperial command, presented a true but not very tempting report of the state of his finances; and, as a correct representative of the chart of his country, facetiously introduced a lean camel, saying—“This is a faithful picture of the territory I possess—up and down, and very poor/* The emperor smiled at the ingenuity of the device, and told him, that from the revenue of a country realised with so much labour, and in amount so small, he had nothing to demand. The province, however, subsequently paid an annual tribute of 25,000 rupees

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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