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June 6, 1838
Mohammed Abdulkarim
Scenery and places
Bahadur Shah II



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

The village of Kursalee stands at the height of 7,860 feet above the sea-level, and is one of the largest' of the class usually found in the Himalaya, consisting of at least thirty houses, with a population amounting to about 300 persons* It is seated on a plain ox considerable dimensions, on the left bank of the rocky ravine which forms the channel of the Jumna, surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, piled one upon another— some dark with rock and forest, and others shining in all the bright resplendence of eternal snow* The village is reached by an extremely steep and rugged road* Although the winters are severe, and the temperature always low, Kursalee is a place not only of great beauty, but of abundance; being cultivated into a perfect garden well wooded with luxuriant fruit-trees, which, while they add attraction to the landscape, are pleasingly associated with ideas of wealth aud comfort among those who live beneath their shade* Kursalee, notwithstanding its limited population, is a flourishing village, full of temples and Brahmins—the latter always establishing themselves iu great numbers near 16 THE INDIAN EMPIRE ILLUSTRATED.

haunts in most repute with pilgrims resorting to the sacred sources of the Jumna and the Ganges; from whose pockets the holy fraternity contrive to pick a very tolerable subsistence. Some of the temples at Kursalee are said to have been miraculously raised by the gods themselves, and, of course, acquire superior sanctity from that circum¬ stance. They are adorned, according to the zeal and means of the devotees, with orna¬ ments of varied description; among which are musical instruments, and rude images of every imaginable form and material. The horns of deer are also favourite decorations, both of temples and tombs, among the people of the hill districts, who attach some peculiar virtue to such sylvan trophies, and believe that they exercise mysterious influence over their present and future fortunes. In addition to the warship of the numerous deities introduced by the Brahmins of the plains, these mountaineers have a very extensive catalogue of superstitions peculiarly their own; and they offer religious worship to a variety of symbolical representations of good or evil beings, which their imaginations have invested with productive and controlling power. The cow is reverenced by all; although its sacred character does not exempt it from hard work; it being employed in the laborious operations of agriculture, in the manner pursued by the more orthodox Hindoos of the plains; but in the hills it is better treated, and is fed and tended with much greater care than the ill-used animal mocked by the worship of the former, who often, despite their veneration, prove cruel task-masters to the sacred animal.

Some fine pieces of land, attached to the village, are wholly appropriated to the main¬ tenance of the temples and their priests; and the images in some of the places used for worship, are remarkably well executed. At Lakha Kundul (a beautiful village near Kursalee), a religious edifice, dedicated to the Pandoo deities of Ellora, contains a bullock couclmnt, in black marble, of life-size, sculptured with astonishing fidelity and masterly execution, by some baud that has perhaps been powerless for ages, as it bears indications of very remote antiquity.

The people of Kursalee have become much accustomed to the visits of European strangers on their route to the source of the Jumna; and it is the custom for the principal inhabitants to come out to meet the pilgrims, of whatever religion, who pass through the village. The Hindoos of these districts are exceedingly tolerant in their faith, and are, generally speaking, eager to extend the benefits to be obtained from their gods to everybody that comes in their way. Accordingly, all who choose to submit to the operation, are daubed on the forehead with a distinguishing mark of yellow ochre, denoting the peculiar sect of the operator; into which the bedaubed disciple is supposed to be admitted or regenerated by the act. The Hindoo servants of European strangers joyfully avail themselves of such a testimonial of their near approach to what they con¬ sider one of the most holy places in the world. Christian tourists of course dispense with the ceremony; but while they omit the mark of reverence for the pagan deities of the place, the hill people are far from appreciating their reasons for refusal, and do not believe that motives of science or mere curiosity can have induced them to expose them¬ selves to toils and dangers which, in their opinion, religious zeal is alone sufficient to account for.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.


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