Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains/Valley of the Dhoon, with the Ganges in the Distance, from the Landour Ridge
VALLEY OF THE DHOON, WITH THE GANGES IN THE DISTANCE, FROM THE LANDOUR RIDGE.
Returning to Mussooree, we were again gratified with a view of the ever-beautiful valley of Deyrah stretching out before us, with the Ganges hastening towards the plains through its devious windings.
After our long sojourn under canvass, we found the houses at Mussooree, though neither so spacious nor so elegant as those at Simla, exceedingly convenient and agreeable. Upon cold evenings we particularly enjoyed a fire, the companion always so acceptable to an Englishman: it is true, we had managed to warm our tents, when fuel was plentiful, by means of wood embers, which were placed, while in a red heat, in large brass basins, and which diffused a genial glow throughout the apartment, but this contrivance lacked the blaze which the lover of the fire-side always delights to provoke. We found very excellent society at Mussooree, the station being greatly on the increase; and though our experience might have rendered us somewhat fastidious, we thought the scenery charming. Unsatiated by our forest wanderings, we followed with fresh zest the rugged and intricate footpaths which led to the different points, whence the view sometimes embraced romantic glens, and small amphitheatres of rocks; and at others ranged boundlessly over an illimitable space, the distance being softened into the tint of the atmosphere, and rendering it impossible to distinguish the heavens from the earth.
The close vicinity of the valleys of Kearda and Deyrah Dhoon to Mussooree, renders the station particularly agreeable to parties who are fond of going out in search of tigers the surrounding forests abound with bears, leopards, and wild elephants, but they live in comparative safety, since the coverts are so heavy, and so completely cut up by ravines, that they are inaccessible to the mounted sportsman. Lower down, however, where the tiger chiefly roams, elephants may be brought against the tawny monarch. A battue of this kind, when there are several elephants in the field, and a proportionate number of scouts and beaters, affords a wild and picturesque group, in strict keeping with the jungle scenery. The men upon the look-out usually climb the neighbouring trees, whence they can give advices concerning the whereabout of the savage, who, though often charging with great gallantry, even when first aroused, more frequently endeavours to make his way to some place of greater security. Having received intelligence that three tigers had taken possession of a particular spot, we beat down the banks of the ravine for several hours without finding any trace of them, and were beginning to fancy that we had been misinformed, when, coming to a patch of very tall jungle grass, we stumbled upon a bullock half eaten, and bearing marks of having been newly killed, and of affording so recent a repast, that we might hope to follow very closely on the track of the destroyer. Accordingly advancing, our leading elephant trumpeting and shewing signs of uneasiness, assured us that we were not far off. Several deer got up about three hundred yards ahead, evidently in great terror—another certain indication: so, forward we went, and, catching a distinct view of the gentleman as he crossed the ravine, one of the party fired a long shot, which had only the effect of accelerating his
pace. The elephants now pushed on, two more shots were fired, and suddenly the tiger made across the open space full in front of us, but at too great a distance to bring him to the charge. We followed as rapidly as possible, crossing and crashing through the bed of a nullah, to which our friend had betaken himself. While in full chase, two fresh tigers got up almost under our feet, and, receiving a few shots, made for cover. The glare of an eye gleaming through some brushwood betrayed the retreat of one, and a ball aimed with fatal precision went through the brain, and he fell, never to rise again. The second was despatched in a very short time, though it took two or three shots to stretch him on the ground: the third was still abroad, and apparently unhurt, and, arousing him for the third time, he went off in good style, but considerably ahead. At length a long shot from a rifle told; the noble animal turned and charged, coming down gallantly, and offering too fair a mark to be missed: before it could spring upon the leading elephant, a well-aimed bullet stopped his career, and he, too, bit the dust. This day the party returned to camp in great triumph, with three tigers padded on the baggage elephants, the whole cavalcade being such as Landseer would not have disdained to paint, and which, combined with the beautiful scenery and the picturesque cluster of tents, would have made a very effective group upon canvass.
The next day we proceeded along the Dhoon, without much expectation of finding tigers, and with some intention of looking after deer on the way to the encamping ground, but in beating some lemon bushes, a large tiger broke cover, going off, however, before we could get in good range of him: a considerable space of open country interspersed with swamps, and bounded by a thick forest, formed the hunting ground, which, if we could succeed in turning the tiger should he make for the forest, was the best that could have been selected; the pedestrians were therefore directed to climb the trees, and to shout with all the power of their lungs, if our friend should come their way. Meantime we had lost sight of him, but were guided to the probable place of his retreat; by a flock of vultures which were perched upon a tree; a pretty certain sign that there was a dead carcase below newly slain, which the tiger would return to devour. The cover was exceedingly heavy, and we found some difficulty in beating, but a glimpse of a tawny, stripe, assuring us that we were on the right track, and the trumpeting of the elephants increasing, we pushed forward, warned at the same time by the shouts of our people in the trees, that lie was making for the forest. Turned at all points, the tiger doubled back, and was now in a long narrow strip of high jungle grass, which was separated from the dense wood on the right by nothing more than twenty yards of bare bank, being divided from the heavy covers he had just left by a pool of clear water. We immediately beat up this strip, taking care to have an elephant on the bank, to prevent a retreat to the forest. Presently the tiger again got up about two hundred yards ahead, and again doubling back, one of the party got a fair shot which brought him on his haunches; another ball made him move to some broken ground, where he took up his position. Advancing, we saw him in the grandeur of his rage, lashing his tail, roaring, and grinding his teeth, as he prepared to charge. Firing again, the provocation was completed. With a roar that made the whole dell ring, down he came upon us, and fell at length from a volley fired simultaneously by the whole party, under the very feet of the elephants.