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twelve degrees of Farenheit below that of the plains of Bengal: in the months of March, April, May, September, and October, the difference is full twenty degrees.
As to climate, my own opinion, founded on personal experience of its effects on the health of my own large family, is highly in favor of its salubrity. I have no hesitation in giving it the preference to any I have ever been in; it must however be admitted that a widely different view has been taken on this point by others, who consider the dampness of the atmosphere, during the rains, as injurious to persons labouring under organic affections of the liver; whether this opinion is correct, or not remains to be proved, for I believe alarge majority of medical gentlemen who have visited the Sanatarium concur in considering the climate as highly congenial to the European constitution: in which opinion they are borne out by the florid and general healthy appearance of the European soldiers; but more especially of children, amongst whom no casualty has taken place in three years, though many have been afilicted with complaints incidental to childhood, which in all human probability would have proved fatal in the plains; some also who have been sent as a last hope in a state of extreme debility have been restored to perfect health in a few weeks. In these hills Cholera has never been known, although its ravages have frequently extended to the villages at their feet. The bilious remittent or jungle fever of Bengal is also unknown, and I believe no instance has occurred of a fatal case of dysentery.
Tyrea Ghat, which is at the commencement of the ascent, may be reached by the Pandua river, which is navigable for small boats, from the beginning of May, to the end of September; during the other months land carriage commences from Pandua, or Munipoor Ghat, the former distant from Tyrea two, and the latter four, miles. The Kasya porters however make no additional charge, their fares for conveying a load of one maund up or down the hill being four annas, whether taken up or laid down, at Tyreah, or either of the other stations. The road between Tyrea and Chirra has been recently much improved, and is for the most part practicable on horseback. There is no doubt that a liberal outlay of money, under the directions of a skilful engineer, would make it fit for wheeled carriages, at all events for elephants and loaded bullocks; it is also certain that at a moderate expence means might be devised of bringing coal, iron, and other bulky and heavy articles down to the plains, at one-tenth part of their present cost; but I shall take a future opportunity of submitting to the Asiatic Society, a model of a cheap and simple machinery, which I have contrived for the purpose.
From Calcutta, by a steam boat, the journey to Chattak (on the Soorma river) may at all seasons he performed in less than six days. Chattak is distant from Tyrea Ghat by the way of Pandua about
fourteen miles, which is generally performed in from four to eight hours.
The journey from Dacca to China, by large accommodation boats, usually occupies about ten or twelve days; the return voyage is performed in five or six days. Ladies and sick people are carried up the hill in light doolies by two Kasyas, for eight annas each; but the liberality of passengers has of late caused a considerable increase in this charge.
Children to the age of eight or ten years are taken up with great secu~
rity and comfort in baskets, by a single Kasya porter, for four annas. Bulky articles, which cannot be carried by a single person, often cost a sum for conveyance, which appears out of all proportion ; for instance, a chest, weighing a maund and a half, will be taken by one man for one rupee; but a square piano forte of the same weight will not be carried for less than ten or twelve.
The only provisions used by Europeans, which are produced in the hills, are beef and pork: these are abundant, cheap, and good. A cow fit for killing, weighing about 200 lbs., may be purchased for six rupees, and a well and clean fed porker, for the same price; of late the Kasyas towards Myrung, in the interior of the hills, have got into the way of cultivating potatoes with great success : these at present are sold at rather ahigh price, but a few years will bring them down. The crop comes in at the most convenient season in the month of September, when Patna potatoes become unfit for use, of which advantage might be taken in supplying the Calcutta market. A few other vegetables may also be had in the hills. It must be admitted however that little progress has yet been made in gardening.
Grain of all kinds is brought from the plains. Rice sells from 35 seers to one maund for a rupee; other grains, in proportion; but at all times much cheaper than in Calcutta. Eight ducks for a rupee ; large fowls, nine and ten for a rupee ; small fowls, 20 and 22 for a rupee; eggs, 160 for a rupee; bread, 12 loaves for a rupee, but competition will make this much cheaper. Sheep must be brought from the plains and fed. Farmyards answer admirably; pigeons thrive and increase rapidly ; rabbits require more care than has hitherto been bestowed on them; milk and butter abundant, but rather dear.
The native fruits are excellent and abundant in the season; that is, from November till the end of February, the finest oranges in India may be had for about one thousand for a rupee.
The pine-apple plant, which produces the hemp, of which specimens are sent herewith, is raised with hardly any care in the culture, in all the valleys surrounding Chirra, but chiefly in that of Nanguth, about six
hours’ journey from the Sanata.rium,where it flourishes in great luxuriance» producing in the season, June, July, and August, an abundant crop of fruit, which is admitted to be as much superior to pine-apples grown elsewhere in Bengal, as the Kasya (or as they are called) Silhet oranges are to those of any other part of India. When in full season, this fruit is some times sold at the Sanatarium at upwards of 380 for one rupee ; it is rather above the common size, weighing from -.1; to -2- of a. seer each; it contains much juice, and it only remains to be ascertained, whether this fine fruit (certainly the cheapest, considering its quantity known to exist any where) may not make fine cider, or whether by distillation, it may not be converted into good brandy. The leaves of the plant are gathered by the Kasyas according to the wants of their respective families, and not for the purpose of trade, generally before the commencement of the rains; they are soaked in water for some time, before the fibre is separated by being beaten out, this fibre appears remarkably strong, but I have not had opportunity of submitting it to any comparative trials. It is chiefly used by the Kasyas for the net pouches or bags which form part of the equipment of every inhabitant of the hills. One of these I have the pleasure to send you. Should this hemp be found adapted for cordage, canvas, or even for paper, it may become an article of much importance, as I can assure the Society that the plant may be spread to any extent that may be supposed desirable, with little care and hardly any expense.
The pepper vine grows wild in the jungles; it is also cultivated in small quantities about the houses of the natives. The specimen now forwarded is the produce of such culture. It is used by the natives in their ordinary food, and is sold in the bazar of every village; but I have not been able to find that it is ever exported. There can be no question however but the cultivation of this vine may be extensively increased.
Specimens of Indian Rubber I have already presented to the Society. It is produced from a tree which grows to a considerable size amongst the rocks, and which being of quick growth maybe propagated with ease to any extent from suckers or even from slips ; but even without increasing the plant, a very considerable supply might now be furnished were the article to be in demand. From the various purposes to which it has lately been applied in England, it may one day become a valuable article of export; in its liquid state I have succeeded in moulding it into any shape.
The cotton which is brought by the Kasyas to the plains for sale is purchased by them from the Garrows, a tribe inhabiting the northern side of the range of hills which divide Assam from Sylhet, but as this article has been already fully described by Captain FISHER I merely mention it whilst enumerating the various productions of the Kasya moun
tains, which may eventually become valuable articles of commerce,
Honey and bees’-wax are produced from bees kept, as in England, in a domestic state, but they are also obtained from the jungles. As yet bees’Wax has only been exported in small quantities ; there is, however, no reason why it should not be abundantly collected as an article of traffic, if not of manufacture on the spot.
The Kasyas have no regular artificers, except blacksmiths and ironfounders, but they are all handy and expert in the useof the daw or cleaver, and also with the adze, with which they square their timbers and smooth their planks. They are not often employed in building houses, as workmen from the plains come up in any number that may be required; of these, excellent bricklayers may be had at the rate of seven rupees a month ; good carpenters, at seven rupees per month ; grammies, at five ditto ; stone-cutters, at five ditto ; coolies, at four ditto. Kasya workmen may be hired by the day at three annas, but the best way ‘of employing them, and the way they like best, is by contract; in this way, the tasks they perform are incredible. I shall scarcely be believed when I state the particulars of some task-work, which was executo ed by a few Kasyas, with their wives and children, in the course of last month (October, 1833). I had a wall built round my estate of dry stones, those on the exteriorbeing broke into square or oblong slabs, so as to pre~ sent a smooth,well-built, and regular surface. This wall was four feethigh, at the base it was four feet wide, and two feet at the top; each foot in length consequently contained twelve cubic feet of masonry; but every twelve feet in length, containing 144 cubic feet, were completed at one rupee twelve annas, till the whole was finished, measuring upwards of 800 feet; thus, six cubic feet, weighing, I should suppose, more than 1000 lbs. cost only one anria :—cheaper labour than this I imagine it would be hard to find in any country. The Kasyas are remarkably athletic and industrious; their women partake in their hardest labours; and the children commence carrying heavy burdens at a tender age : they live well, have comfortable houses, and the poorest amongst them is not without gold or silver ornaments.
Their wealth has heretofore resulted from the manufacture of iron, which process is explained by Mr. CRACROFT in the fourth number of your journal for the month of April, 1832. Of late, the sale of iron has been unusually dull, and numerous individuals who were employed in digging, Washing, and smelting the ore, are out of employment.
All these people are available for any manufactory that may be formed at Chirra, at very moderate wages.
Building materials, either for temporary or permanent buildings, are abundant and cheap; for the former, posts, eighteen feet long, and from
eight to twelve inches in diameter, cost one rupee each; marwells androaks, or roof sticks, eighteen feet long, and four inches in diameter, sell at ten and sixteen for a rupee ; small hill bamboos, called aspar, ten feet long and g of an inch in diameter, for lath and plaster walls, and binding on chuppers, or grass roofs, cost one rupee for 250 ; latkorahs, or squared timbers, five inches square, and eighteen or twenty feet long, for joists or rafters, sell four for the rupee ; rattan grows at the foot of the hills, and is remarkably cheap ; good grass for thatching is brought from the plains at four rupees a thousand bundles, each (being tight bound) measuring 7% inches in circumference.
For permanent buildings, the common grey sandstone, which forms the structure of the table land of Chirra, is found by far the best material. This stone is found in inexhaustible qauntities, in slabs or layers from six inches to two feet thick ; it may be easily split into square blocks by the wedge and hammer ; these blocks require little or no dressing before they are passed into the hands of the mason. When the puckah houses belonging to Messrs. SARGENT and Cnscaorr were erected, the facility of working this stone was not understood ; hence, a material was used, a red spongy ‘soft sandstone, which was squared by the Kasyas, and sold at the enormous rate of four rupees a hundred; these same stones now sell for one rupee the hundred; but they will never again be made use of in building. The common grey sandstone before alluded to is the same of which the wall is built, which I have described under the head of price of labour; it hardens from exposure to the air, and is not in any situation liable to decay or decomposition. It is of this stone also, cut into blocks of eight or ten feet long, three feet wide, and two thick, of which the monument to the memory of the late Mr. Soon is now in progress of construction under the orders of the Government; it is likewise the material employed by the Kasyas for their tomb stones, some of which are single blocks, standing nearly thirty feet high, being bulky in proportion, and which, according to the tradition of the natives, have stood uninjured for many centuries. Limestone is brought to the spot whenever required, within the Sanatarium, for six rupees the hundred maunds: burning it even in the simple and wasteful manner now adopted costs about ten rupees more, so that good fresh lime, fit for use, only costs sixteen rupees the hundred maunds; it may however be burnt on an extensive scale in proper kilns, for five or six rupees the hundred maunds. Fire-wood for burning lime costs four rupees eight annas the hundred maunds. Good sand for mortar may be got in the immediate neighbourhood of any spot where a building is to be erected; excellent clay for making bricks or tiles is found within half a mile of the Sanatarium ; but except for mixing with mortar and building furnaces, bricks will not be much in use at Chirra. Good timber may be had, and