Page images
PDF

men, who often arrive with a string of upwards of five hundred head of cattle, and after loading, depart for Mhow, Aseergurh, Boorhanpoor, Sagur, &c. The country all around is one uninterrupted flat, teeming with cultivation, with the exception of a short patch of praus jungle, round Bhugwara, and the same also about Kahureea. Gram, wheat, peas, the different kinds of dals, bajra, and the jowar form the chief cultivation : khéts of sugar-cane (the thin white species) and cotton are occasionally met with. The herds of buffaloes and cows are also very large and numerous, while their subsistence is both easy and abundant.

The strata of the country is a black soil, with the exception of some few parts through jungle, where the road led over a gravel bed.

From Pugdar (a G0sain’s village) to the Moorun nuddee, a thick low jungle of praus and underwood, with occasional stunted trees, and several byr bushes extends, through which the narrow and uneven road leads ;—a gravel soil is again met with. Doura-ghat is the site only of a village that once was. The Moorun is a hill torrent, varying from 80 to 120 yards in width : at the ford from bank to bank, it is about 150 yards: its channel is obstructed in several parts by ledges of rock, which in some places present a bluish black, and in others again a whitish tinge ;—not being a geologist I cannot take upon me to say the nature of it, but I strongly conclude it to be limestone. At the ford it was massive, and laid bare in the bed of the torrent. The descent from the jungle into the Moorun is trifling and gradual, (natu1-ally) ; but the ascent on the opposite side up to the small hamlet of Umlara, which stands on a high bank of sandy soil (cacluir), is very steep. After we left Seonee, the long range of tree-covered hills, which bounds the prospect to the south, as well as the S. E. became more clearly defined, and we were approximating them fast each stage.

The Vindhya range, which skirts the northern bank of the Nerbudda, is no longer visible, and the eye has one uninterrupted range to the N. and also to the W., over an extensive plain, bounded only by the horizon. The whole of this level tract is one sheet of cultivation, studded, as it were, with occasional topes of mango trees.

Bhadoogaon is a small town, or rather a large village, of which in 1824, a man named Reka Sét was the malgoozar. It is situated on the western bank of the Gunjal river, which flows at the ford in a shallow rippling current over a pebbly bed, but deepens considerably a short distance beyond the town. The north part of Bbadoogaon is situated on a high bank, overhanging the stream. To the S. E. is a dense jungle, which stretches for some way towards the hills.

From Bkadoogaon to Rhitgaon, the country is open generally speaking; here and there a small patch of praus is met with on either side of

the road. (I have ever observed that when the soil is of a black loam, there I have remarked the widest extent of praus, as well as a greater cultivation of the cotton shrub.) Two villages only were seen near the road.

Rhitgaon is a small town, less in point of size than Bhadoogaon, situated on the west bank of the Ajnuul nuddee : this stream flows in a gentle current over a sandy bed; no rocks or stones being perceptible. In the centre of the place is a small dilapidated mud gurhee, or fort.

The country from Rhitgong to Mugurduh is a black loam soil, with a great deal of praus jungle and bg/r bushes on each side of the road— yet, withal, there was a pretty fair cultivation, considering the paucity of villages and the scanty population.

Since we left Seonee, we have been travelling over a bye-road, and one but very little passed, and seldom if ever used by way-farers and travellers. The great thoroughfare to Aseergurh, Boorhanpoor, &c. branches 011' from Seonee through Hurda.

Mugurduh is a small village, distant about 69 miles from Hoslumgabacl, and stands on the confines of the Company’s ceded districts. It is

situated on the northern bank of the Machuk nuddee, a small stream,

taking its rise at no very great distance in the mountainous regions to the eastward, and discharging itself after a short course into the Nerbudda.

This village is situated in a low ground, and there is a slight descent to it the last half mile. It is a small poor place, the inhabitants being either all cultivators or herdsmen—-and chiefly of the same cast as their late patél (or headman) Ram Singh, who was a Rajpoot, and who, some years back, emigrated from Hindustan to settle there. The only trade of the place consists in the exportation of grain and ghee, and unwrought lumps of iron, as obtained from the neighbouring hills, after a coarse and rude process of smelting. The soil around is very rich, and the crops of wheat, (little of which is grown, however, hereabouts,) gram, jowar, boota, and bajra are, in consequence, both fine and abundant. Sugar-cane with rhur dal, and a small patch here and there for the cotton shrub, meet the eye occasionally; the finest and

best looking crops are the jowar, whose stalks have reached eleven feet '

and a half in height, although the general height is from six to eight feet; while their pods are well filled with grain. Between the village and the nuddee, there is a very fine burghut tree, which has thrown out several thick branches, which descending perpendicular to the earth, have entered it and taken root. These ramifications, giving support to the parent stem, contribute to a great increase of shade. The place is

extremely unhealthy just after the rains ; for it is literally embosomed in jungle, and save where cultivation extends, is surrounded by rank vegetation and underwood. The very air around is tainted by malaria, while the rottening foliage adds to the unwholesomeness of the place. The water of the nuddee is unfit to drink, for it is contaminated by leaves and putrid vegetable matter :—-like all mountain torrents, it is nearly dry in the cold and hot seasons, and water is only to be seen in pools. I happened to be stationed on command at this village, with a company of sepoys and a few irregular horse, in the month of October, and lost two or three men from cholera, while several others were laid up with fevers, chiefly of the intermittent kind, with some few cases of ague.

The water in the best and most frequented well, and which the camp used occasionally, if drawn up in a Iota over-night, and set aside, had its surface covered in the morning with oily particles.

The population is scanty about Mugurduk. The village of Indrapoora, (of which a Goand, named Lutteea, was patél in 1825,) Sanajhar and Banspanee, fine-sounding names, are wretched hamlets, buried in the jungle, and inhabited by Goands. This caste of Hindoos are almost jet-black, and dirty and forbidding in their appearance; while they are short in stature, and thick-set in point of make. Their dialect is peculiar to themselves. The whole race appears wretched and poor—a small dhotee and acoarse chudur to wrap over their bodies form their outward garments. Their tenements_ consist of huts, whose walls are built of stakes cut from the neighbouring forest, entwined with rude wicker-work, and plastered and besmeared over with mud; while the roofs consist of a thin layer or coating of dried grass, over which are spread some praus leaves, and a few battens made from the bamboo, fastened over all to prevent its being acted upon by the wind. The Goands are remarkably fond of swine and buffaloes; they are fond also of rearing fowls.. When leaving the road, and penetrating the forest's depths, an occasional hut is met with, completely isolated, and from such I have seen a Goand issue forth, its only human tenant, while a favorite pig has met my eye not far from the threshold. This race of human beings are little better in the human scale than demi-savages ; they are very superstitious, and like all dark minds, place great confidence and belief in the charms and quackery of their gooroos (or priests). They have rites peculiar to themselves, and tread the jungles’ depths at dead of night, without the slightest feeling of dread or fear from tigers or other Wild beasts. It has often been a matter of surprise to me, that these men should dare, both by day and night, to traverse and thread these deep forests, unapprehensive of danger from wild beasts (especially tigers) which in these parts are fearfully abundant. Habit with man is certainly a second nature.

Dooleea is a fine village, considerably larger that Mugurduh, at the distance of three miles W. by N. from it, and is (I believe) the Company’s frontier to the westward. It is built on a rising ground at the distance of a couple of hundred yards from the Machuk nuddee, which is here both deep and wide, resemblinga good-sized river rather than a nuddeeOn the opposite bank, on the edge of the nuddee, stands the village of Meergaon, (associated in recollection of Shekh Dulla’s visit,) in Scindea’s district, of which a Gosain is zumeendar, holding it rent-free.

Beyond Dooleea a good road leads nearly due west to the town of Charuah, belonging to Scindea, where the high-road is gained which leads through Cheinpoor and Ghora-puchar to Aseergurh, Boorhanpoor, and Bombay.

It is time now to extend my remarks on the country beyond the Coma pany’sjurisdiction, and as I believe those parts have seldom been visited by any Europeans, and that little is known thereof, I will in this place state what fell under my limited observation, when traversing that part of India in the early part of November, 1824, when in pursuit of the free-booter Shekh Dulla.

The ford at the Machuk nuddee is quite dry after the middle of Octoher; for its bed, composed of large round sand-stones, is in that spot as elevated as the level of the water on each side of it. This nuddee for the distance of two or three miles on each side of the village, is filled with large pieces of rock and stones.

The road, over a black soil, to Goomgaon, of which place a Goand was patél, was very bad and extremely confined, and only adapted for a rude and narrow species of carts, called Sagahs. The estimated distance is between four and five miles—low stunted trees, with praus jungle and byr bushes, skirted the road, nearly the whole distance. An occasional small patch of cultivation, barely sufficient for the population, near the wretched-looking villages of Kotwar, Zemineea, Parrlda, Amerkhal, and Moortalai, which were situated at a very short distance from off the road, was seen. The inhabitants were all Goands, black in colour, stunted in stature, squalid in appearance, and all poverty-clad. They all, however, possessed small herds of buffaloes and swine, while fowls were abundant.

Goomgaon is a good-sized village; a rivulet runs close to it—-to the eastward of the village, and at the distance of about fifty yards, there is a thick underwood, consisting chiefly of the much-alluded-to praus, (or dock,) and byr bushes, beyond which rise abruptly a low range of (sandstone, I believe,) hills, covered with foliage. To the S. W. an excellent road leads to the small village of Peepurfa, distant about three miles, and beautifully situated in a fine open plain, teeming with topes of mango-trees and cultivation. To the S. and at the distance of about

a couple of miles, are seen the continuation of the low range of hills,

noticed close to Goomgaon. This is the lower range of the Kali-bheet

hills.

The road out of Goomgaon, in the direction of Mukrai, is very good and very wide; yet there is little or no thoroughfare on it :—a few brinjary bullocks with grain, and the Goands bringing to the plains their lumps of unwrought iron, are the chief, if not only people met with ; moosafirs (travellers) are never seen.

At the distance of about three miles from Goomgaon, we arrive at the foot of a ghat, the ascent of which is by no means long, nor particularly steep. The soil appeared to be of a gravelly nature ; the whole of the distance from the village to the top of the ghat was skirted by a. wood jungle, in which not a single village was visible, while the first mile led through large detached blocks and masses of rock, apparently of limestone formation, which were scattered about in great confusion. It had the appearance of having been caused by an earthquake.

On reaching the top of the ghat, a fine prospect is presented on all sides; in the first place, we stand on table-land, (at an elevation, I conjectured, of between 15 and 1800 feet above the sea,) which stretches to the east, to the south, and to the west for a good distance. The southern aspect however was bounded, where the horizon intersected the view, by lofty hills, whose towering peaks rose proudly to the sky. These I supposed to be the lofty range, amongst which the fortress of Gawilgurh stands: facing round to the N., a splendid view of the plain below for miles and miles in extent, thickly studded with fine topes of trees, and whose face presented one beautiful sheet of cultivation, gladdened the eye. This magnificent view extends nearly in a half circle from W. to E. The soil on the table-land, I particularly noticed, was of a very black loam. The road was of very great width, very level, and in an excellent state; the strata thereof consisted of a. reddish colored gravel.

At the distance of a mile or two further on, a miserable hamlet was reached, consisting of half a dozen huts, called Doomgaon. The people who inhabited them were of the Bhdmkar caste; and in all respects. save the name, were the counterpart of Goands.

’ From Doomgaon, we left the high road, (if such it can be calledI being seldom, if ever, travelled,) and branched ofl’ to the left by a narrow pathway into the jungle depths. The first part of the way was a

, rapid descent into a small valley, in which we found innumerable streams to cross, and wherein we were closely surrounded by hills and forest. At the expiration of two or three miles’ progress, a hill was ascended, half way . round the crest of which a. narrow and dangerous footpath led :

« PreviousContinue »