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The Source of Jumna ( Yamuna )

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July 4, 1837
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Mohammed Abdulkarim
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Scenary 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.


By dint of untiring perseverance, and no small exertion of bodily strength, the travellers may at length find themselves on the confines of eternal snow. As they approach Jumnootree, the river is seen gliding under arches of ice, through which it has worn its passage; until at length, these masses having'become too hardly frozen to yield and mingle with the current, the stream itself can be no longer traced ; and here, therefore, is seen, if not its actual source, at least the first visible stage of its existence. It is rarely possible to suppress emotion at the successful accomplishment of a pilgrimage to a spot so deservedly celebrated, by enterprise that few people have the opportunity of exerting, and still fewer the nerve to undertake; and tourists, therefore, may well congratulate each other on the achievement, when, at last, they stand on the congealed pavement of unsullied snow that is spread before the birthplace of the mountain torrent. The glen at this place is not more than from thirty to forty feet in width, and the rocks on either side are of the noblest dimensions, crowned with dark, luxuriant foliage; while the impracticable region beyond—solemn, majestic* and wonderfully beautiful—seems to proclaim the hopelessness of mortal effort to penetrate the mysteries veiled by its frozen barrier.

The most sacred spot near the source of the river is upon the left bank of the glen, where a mass of quartz and silicious schist rock sends forth five hot springs into the bed of the river, boiling and splashing furiously. When mingled with the icy-cold stream of the Jumna, these smoking springs form a very delightful tepid bath; and pilgrims, after dipping their hands in the hottest part, perform much more agreeable ablutions where the temperature oilers a desirable medium between the scalding water above and the chilling stream jielow. It is usual here with the devotees to make an offering of money to the divinity of the river, which, of course, finds its way to the pouch of the officiating Brahmin, who, in return, prays over the bathers, and marks them on the forehead, in the most orthodox fashion, with the sacred mud of the Jumna,

The height of the snow bed at J umnootree is about 10,000 feet; and, in the month of October, when a portion of the snow dissolves at this place, it is sometimes possible to advance a little nearer to the real source than at any oilier period. Crossing to the spot whence the water emerges, is a work of some difficulty ; but when ac¬ complished, the infant river is seen divided into three streams, each forming a separate Waterfall, and flowing over steep, green hills. The lower of these is surmountable, but not without danger, as the stones are loose, and slip from under the feet* The most direct stream of the river does not arise from any part of Ruridapooch, but from the mountain-range that runs off it to the westward. Standing at J umnootree, these small streams arc perceptible before their junction into one fall, which loses itself under a mass of snow, whence it again issues near the hot springs before mentioned.

The’furest stretches at least 1,500 feet above the snowy bed of the Jumna, before vegetation is entirely forbidden by the frosts of the giant heights above* The geologist may make, at Junmootree, a very interesting, collection for his cabinet, as beautiful specimens of garnet, shorl, and tourmaline crystals are found. There is a considerable quantity of talcose gneiss rock; but the greater proportion is a coarse gneiss; while the granite summits of the mountain peaks rise to the height of 10,000 feet above.

After indulging in the gratification which the sublime prospects of this interesting place afford, travellers usually proceed to satisfy some of those cravings of appetite that forcibly recall them to a sense of their terrestrial nature. Fortunately, one of the first duties that a native of India undertakes to perform at a baiting-pi ace, is to kindle a fire, and commence preparations for a meal. Such of the Hindoos as bring rice with them, boil it over the hot springs by enclosing it in a cloth, and suspending it at the end of a stick. In the vent of the chief spring, which issues with great force from a fissure in the rock, the temperature of the water is about 194°, Several of these hot springs are found along the course of the Jumna; for which, according to native belief, the world is indebted to the merits of an exceedingly devout Brahmin, who was favoured by the gods with these hot-water fountains for his special use, whenever tie found the water of the river too cohl for the comfortable performance of his ablutions. At his request, the boon was perpetuated for the benefit of future devotees.

The difficulties likely to be encountered iu getting back to Knrsalee, are rarely con¬ sidered previous to the attempt to reach Jimmootree; or the probability is, such attempts would be of rare occurrence, since, practically, they are infinitely more serious than any met with on the approach. In the course of the first day's journey by the down¬ ward route, the Jumna has to be crossed more than thirty times : it is also necessary to slide down places previously scrambled up; and to leap gaps that are much more easily passed from the other side. But the retrograde journey is not without its charms, The spots on wdiicli the traveller occasionally rests, offer, in their soft loveliness, a pleasing contrast to the rugged horrors of many portions of the scene behind—the- beautiful i mingling largely with the sublime. Sometimes he is seated upon banks of violets of the richest blue, surrounded by luxuriant vegetation of fruit and flower—the strawberry spreading itself far and wide, and raspberry, blackberry, and black currant bushes forming a perfect garden ; while the influence of the scene is exquisitely soothing mid refreshing : at another point, the sudden turn of an angle brings the wayfarer in imme¬ diate contact with the snow; which, smooth and hard, is unbroken by human tread, and glitters in its unsullied purity; and thus, surrounded hy the wild and magnificent scenery of the mountain-ranges, the descent by a new route towards Knrsalee is accomplished.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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