Himalayan Journal vol.47
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.47

Publication year:
1991

Editor:
Harish Kapadia
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. SURVEY OF INDIA THROUGH THE AGES
    (LT. GEN. S. M. CHADHA*)
  3. SOUTH FACE OF LHOTSE, 1990
    (TOMO CESEN)
  4. CHAOS
    (A.V. SAUNDERS)
  5. CAT AND MOUSE ON CHO OYU'S WEST RIDGE
    (CARLOS BUHLER)
  6. HORRIBLE, BUT HONOURABLE LHOTSE SHAR
    (GWANG GEOL HAN)
  7. TWO IS COMPANY
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  8. THE FIRST ASCENT OF SWARGAROHINI I
    (SQN. LDR. A.K. SINGH)
  9. CHAUDHARA, 1989
    (S.N. DHAR AND RANATOSH MAJUMDAR)
  10. KAGBHUSAND - A LEGENDRY PEAK
    (DIVYESH MUNI)
  11. THE NILKANTH HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION, 1990
    (ROY LINDSAY)
  12. BHAGIRATHI HI, WEST FACE
    (SILVO KARO)
  13. A SPIN AROUND SPITI
    (WILLIAM McKAY AITKEN)
  14. THE ENJOYABLE DIFFERENCE
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  15. ANOTHER RIMO1
    (NICK KEKUS)
  16. PASSAGE ACROSS THE KARAKORAM ON SKIS
    (BERNARD ODIER)
  17. BRITISH MASHERBRUM EXPEDITION, 1989
    (DR GINETTE HARRISON)
  18. HIMALAYAN JOURNALS OF SIR JOSEPH D. HOOKER
    (A.D. MODDIE)
  19. THE MOST SPECTACULAR FLIGHT IN INDIA
    (ROMESH D. BHATTACHARJI)
  20. HIDDEN HIMALAYA
    (MAVIS HEATH)
  21. AT THANGMAN GLACIER
    (M. H. CONTRACTOR)
  22. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  23. BOOK REVIEWS
  24. IN MEMORIAM
  25. CORRESPONDENCE
  26. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1990

HIMALAYAN JOURNALS OF SIR JOSEPH D. HOOKER

A.D. MODDIE

IN THE NINETEENTH century Himalayan India and Central Asia was one of the great scenes of European adventure. It was an era of the opening up of the hearts of continents, and perhaps the most fascinating was the heart of the oldest continent of all, Asia, which offered some of civilisation's and nature's greatest heights. Among the many who set adventurous foot here, the names Hedin, Hooker and Stein command these heights. Our choice is Hooker because he was more an Indian than a Central Asian traveller. He was also the first modern scientist of eminence to push forward the boundaries of knowledge in this sub-continent. A son of a Director of Kew Gardens - to which post he succeeded his father - he was an F.R.G.S. (later its President) and a friend and collaborator of Darwin. He helped in the incubation of the ideas in the Origin of Species. Not since Alberuni had India known a scientific traveller like Joseph Hooker. On the Indian scene his claim to fame was that he was the 'discoverer' of Sikkim and the famous Himalayan Rhododendrons, and he also complied the first Flora Indica with Dr Thompson.

Hooker arrived in India in early 1848 with Lord Dalhousie, the new Governor General, whose guest he was in Calcutta. His first attraction was the once famous Botanical Garden on the Hooghly, which he found 'an unsightly wilderness' with little shade, the first requirement of every tropical garden.

It was in a period of temporary decline, but it had made the largest contribution of tropical plants to public and private gardens of the world. Its greatest contribution was the introduction of the tea plant in India from China. On his return from Sikkim, Hooker found the Garden improving under his friend, Dr Falconer. He then mentioned two things of interest to us today. The first was the great Banyan tree (Ficus Indica), which is still the pride of the garden. It was then seventy-five years old. The second was the arrival of plants from North America in 'ice-ships' - fore-runners of modern deep freeze transportation. They were chiefly fruit trees, apples, pears, peaches, currants, goose - berries, all in vigorous bud, wliich sprouted into leaves the day after they came out of ice.

See Himalayan Journals or Notes of a Naturalist by Sir J.D. Hooker, first published in 1854. Also refer to 'Sir Joseph Hooker, Early Travels in Nepal and Sikkim'. by F.F. Fergusson, H.J. Vol. XVI, p. 86. - Ed.

The central piece of Hooker's travels was Sikkim, with an incursion into East Nepal, preceded by an approach journey through West Bengal and Bihar, and followed by one in Assam and East Bengal. He made scientific observations on Parasnath, where he found more moisture at the top than at the bottom; visited Benares 'the Athens of India'; took part in a fruitless tiger hunt the beat of which produced ' no single living thing, either mouse, bird, deer or bear, much less tiger'; drew lurid descriptions of land and water 'thuggee'; looked into the flourishing opium business in JSihar; and took delight in the model horticultural garden in Bhagalpur - such gardens being an elegant resource for the many unoccupied hours which an Englishman in India finds upon his hands. Of all these observations perhaps two might attract our special attention, Benares, the Eternal City and opium, a vanished industry.

Hooker found Benares like most other towns, 'always more or less ruinous'. The buildings and temples were of every shape and size, in all stages of completion and dilapidation, and at all angles of inclination. Then, as now, Aurangzeb's mosque stood out 232 ft above the Ganges. The only part of the town which he liked was the meadows and trees of the Resident's house. The rest of the town was a squalid mass of 12,000 brick and 16,000 mud houses. 'The eye wanders in vain for some attractive feature or evidence of the wealth, the devotion, the science, or the grandeur of a city celebrated throughout the East for all these attributes'. The city's boast was a million idols, but even the 'Bishishar Kumandil, holiest of holies' did not impress Hooker the scientist. He turned curious eyes and pen, to the famous observatory of Jai Singh, and took sketches of all its astronomical instruments. He was taken around by a poor, half naked astronomer - 'Royal with a sore on his stomach and hunger inside it.' It appears the Raja of Jaipur doled out 'too scanty a pittance to his scientific corps'. One would like to see a critical Hooker going around National Laboratories in India a hundred years later. He drew attention to the deplorable facts that the best of observatories at Ujjain was turned into an arsenal and cannon foundry, and that the Buddha figures at Sarnath were used by an officer in Benares to repair a bridge over the Gomti!

His main object at Patna was to see the opium industry, and our thoughts leap back to the opium war which the British waged with China in 1840 to boost the new business. When Hooker came he saw it in its flourishing hey-day. He found the poppy cultivated with such care that he found no way of improving its revenue. The mass of it was for the Chinese market, only very small quantities going to government hospitals and the general trade in India. Opium was grown and sold under license by the district collectors, but the quantity reaching the retailers was so adulterated that it did not contain 'one-thirtieth part of the intoxicating power that it did when pure'. The poppy flowered in the first-two months in the year, and the opium jars came into the Patna store oy land and water in March.

From Bhagalpur, he went up to Darjeeling, botanising as usual all the way. After Siliguri he plunged into the Terai. 'Every feature, botanical, geological, and zoological, is new on entering this district'. The change was sudden and immediate, from flat cultivated fields to dense tropical jungle, humid and stagnating. It is interesting to see Hooker speculate that the pent-up water in this undulating ground 'must be one main agent in the production of the malarious vapours of this pestilential region'. It is strange how the old world attributed so many ailments to vapours. Hooker later relates how even the perfume of musk in the pouch of the musk-deer was put down to the odiferous plants which it grazed on at high altitudes. Elephants, tigers, rhinos, wild boars and leopards inhabited the foot-hills. At Kurseong, 1460 m, he met the spring, which most vividly recalled that of England - the oak flowering, the birch bursting into leaf, the violet, wild strawberry, maple, geranium and bramble.

At Darjeeling, Hooker gives us an insight into that charming British legacy in India, the hill - station. It is but natural that temperate people in the tropics should look for temperate oases under a hot sun, and these they found in the hill-stations. It was healthier for civilians and troops. He relates that the incidence of disease in a detachment of H.M. 80th Regiment at Darjeeling was only one-third that of troops in Calcutta or Durgapur. J.W. Grant had pointed out the advantages of Darjeeling to Lord William Bentinck, then Governor-General; 'dwelling upon its climate, proximity to Calcutta, and accessibility; on its central position between Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and British India; and on the good example a peaceably-conducted and well - governed station would be to our turbulent neighbours in that quarter'. Darjeeling was then a part of Sikkim, and Hooker himself explains more candidly the reasons for Sikkim's and Darjeeling's existence 'Our main object', he says, 'was to retain Sikkim as a fender between Nepal and Bhutan; and but for this policy the aggressive Nepalese would, long ere this, have possessed themselves of Sikkim, Bhutan, and the whole Himalaya, eastwards to the borders of Burmah'. And so an amalgam of such reasons went to make for these hill - stations, originally a purely British creation. Even the Mughals holidayed in the lower valley of Kashmir.

Odd it is to look back over a hundred years and hear Hooker recommend the cultivation of tea on the Lebong slopes near Darjeeling : 'it might be cultivated to great profit, and be of advantage in furthering a trade with Tibet'. Little did he foresee that Darjeeling and tea would be names almost'synonymous in a world market, and not just Tibet, and that it would one day be India' s major export. But for the beginnings we have to thank these early pioneering scientists.

Although Hooker, in the wealth of information he has given in his 500 printed pages on almost every branch of natural science, has, pah passu, also described all the people whom he saw, let it suffice to hear him speak only of the true native of Sikkim whom he loved best, the Lepcha. Mongoloid, like his northern and eastern neighbours, he is unlike all who surround him in a 100 km pocket of one of the world's grandest mountain regions in so far as he is meek, a true child of nature, a peaceful worshipper of Pan; and yet, instead of inheriting his earth for these divine qualities, he has been losing it over the years to the more aggressive Nepalese, Bhotias and Bhutanis around him. The Lepcha are short, sturdy and picturesquely dressed. They are honest, amicable and always natural. They know no family or political feuds. Indolence is their one besetting sin, and they love the music of the bamboo flute and the 'murmur' in the bamboo jug. All the labours of the house and field are left to the women, children and slaves. Although the Tibetans introduced Buddhism among them, Hooker says 'they are only half Buddhists; in their hearts they dread the demons of the grove, the lake, the snowy mountain and the torrent'.

His final tribute, 'A more interesting and attractive companion than the Lepcha I never lived with: cheerful, kind and patient to a master to whom he is attached; rude but not savage, ignorant and yet intelligent; with a simple resource of a plain knife he makes his house and furnishes yours. In all my dealings with these people they proved scrupulously honest. Except for drunkenness and carelessness, I never had to complain of any of the merry troop; some of whom, bare-headed and barelegged, possessing little or nothing save a cotton garment and a long knife, followed me for many months from the scorching plains to the everlasting snows'.

And it is to those journeys that we must now eagerly turn. As he was unable to get permission to go directly into Sikkim he decided to go into easten Nepal to visit the passes west of Kangchenjunga, and return via Sikkim if permission was received by then. His route lay first to Tonglu on the Singalila ridge, from where he descended into the Tambur valley in Nepal. From the high spurs of the Singalila and the Tambur he viewed a magnificent panorama, from the lone summit of Chomolhari standing like a lone sentinel in eastern Tibet to the meandering Kosi in the plains of Bihar. Nearest in this wide arc was the Kangchenjunga,1 massive, with its satellites Pandim, Kabru and Kumbhkarna (Jannu). All these presented white rock cliffs below their summits, but far west was 'a lofty Nepal mountain presenting cliffs ot black rock1. Hooker took bearings and found a mountain of stupendous elevation 130 km away at latitude 27° 49' and longitude 86° 24' which his Nepalese called 'Tsungan'. He thought it was 'upwards of 28,000 ft.', but believed Kangchenjunga (8586 m.) was the highest mountain in the world."He did not know then that he was actually looking at the world's highest summit, later called Everest (8848 m) at Lat 28°N and Long 87° E. He only knew of it by the time his Journals were published in 1854.

1. Hooker called it 'Kinchinjunga' - Ed.

But this was 1848, and one wonders in what state a botanising Himalayan explorer went on his travels then. He had a party of 56 men, including a Portuguese half-caste personal servant, a Nepalese guard, Lepcha and Bhutia porters, an interpreter, a bird and animal shooter, collector and stuffer, and 'three Lepcha boys to climb trees and change plant papers'. His tent was made of a blanket thrown over the limb of a tree, and it was occupied by a bed, table, books and instruments. A barometer hung in a corner, and wet and dry bulb thermometers hung under a canopy of thickly plaited bamboo outside. He also carried a sextant, measuring tape, azimuth compass, geological hammer, bottles and boxes for insects, and, in the days before cameras, a sketch book. Hillary's modem scientific expedition 112 years later near the same region of NE Nepal comprised a botanist, a physiologist, an entomologist, .and geologist among many others, all equipped with capola, nylon, oxygen, anti-biotics and even an aeroplane. Hooker combined all these functions plus that of anthropologist in one under a piain blanket tent and mapless. He was a pioneering traveller in the old style. Nothing escaped his eye from tropical insects and plants to the rocks of the world's highest mountain, from tribal living to the courts and monasteries of the rulers, everything that scenery, superstition, society and science could offer to an observant mind and the simple equipment of 1850. No change of weather, temperature, humidity, flora, fauna or rocks went unobserved. Long before physiology was taken to altitudes, he was measuring human pulse beats over 5200 m, and a century before Sikkim got its first hydro-electricity he was measuring the cusec flow of the Teesta at different places.

And so he went up and down the valleys of east Nepal to Mywala Guda, to Wallanchen, to Walung, from tropical country upto 3700 m where he, to his surprise, found the two commonest of British weeds,2 a grass (Poa anuna) and the shepherd'*s purse, and mused how these little wanderers had found their way over Central Asia, and the ages it took to travel here to these wild and desolate places. Hooker pushed on to the northern passes with Tibet, which he measured as being 5710 m. On the way he experienced altitude and its symptoms - lassitude, shortness of breath, giddiness anH headache. At the top of the ' Wallanchoon' pass he found that alpine plants in the Himalaya were generally without the special protection of a covering of a soft white wool, and that such were only exceptions like Saussurea Gossypina. The prevailing Himalayan genera, primulas, saxifrages, Ranunculi and gentians had almost naked foliage and no such winter clothing. Most of the higher altitude vegetation was juniper and rhododendron.

2 A reflection of the age when even weeds in India needed British origin to establish themselves! - Ed.

Next he went up the Yanguna (Yalung) valley and glacier. This was the first land glacier he had seen, after seeing the sea glaciers of the south polar region where he had been with Sir James Ross. He saw glacial terraces and moraines stretching far down below the ice-level. The phenomenon puzzled him, and he arrived at the theory of retreating glaciers in the Himalaya. Once these glaciers had come down to lower levels at 3000 m in the east Nepal and Sikkim valleys. They must then have been about 64 km long and about 150 m in depth, thought Hooker. When they retreated with the ages to elevations above 4570 m they left behind their gigantic rocky traces.

Then up the Yalung and the Choonjerna pass under 7710 m high Kumbhakarna (Jannu). Botanically and geologically it was like the Kangbachen pass, but on his way down he witnessed one of those incomparable Himalayan sunsets when 'the sun plunges into a sea of mist and cloud, bathing the landscape in the most wonderful and indescribable changing tints'. Never before or since had he gazed on a scene so sublime and so beautiful. Near these high passes he had seen the Oris Ammon of Siberia and the Kasturi or musk deer. Considering they were without meat Hooker bitterly regretted the want of a gun, which he had to forsake for his instruments. Two of his Lepchas gave chase and shot arrows at these animals, but, he says, 'these people are fond of carrying a bow but are very poor shots'.

Descending to the Yalung valley, he returned to Darjeeling by crossing into Sikkim over the Kanglanamo (Kang la ?) and Ishimbo pass by Dzongri and Pemianchi. Over all this country his was the way of the rhododendron, some species of which, Falconeriand Rodgroni, named after the two friends who made his Himalayan journeys possible. At Pemianchi he saw what only Sikkim can show in all the wide world, 'the eye surveying in one glance' the vegetation of the Tropics and the Poles', a magnificent sweep from 600 m to 8000 m. There, too, he saw the famous Buddhist monastery, the plan of which he drew. On all these journeys he made a close study of the practice of Lamaistic Buddhism. 'I could not but gaze with a feeling of deep interest on these emblems of a religion which perhaps numbers more votaries than any other on the face of the globe. Buddhism in some form is the predominating creed from Siberia and Kamchatka to Ceylon, from the Caspian steppes to Japan'.

On this return passage through Sikkirn, Hooker was met by the British Superintendent in Darjeeling, Dr Campbell, and both were given an interview with the Sikkim Raja at Rhomsong. Hooker described the event with his usual eye for detail. The audience chamber was of bamboo wattle. Two Bhotias in scarlet coats and with bows and arrows were on guard. The square wicker throne inside was covered with purple silk and brocade, overhung by a canopy of tattered silk. On it sat 'an odd, black, insignificant old man, with twinkling upturned eyes'. This was the Raja, a Tibetan of 70 years. There were about twenty counsellors and shaven mitred Lamas. A monk waved an incense pot

containing juniper and odiferous plants. All others were motionless; the scene was solemn and impressive; 'the genius of Lamaism reigned supreme'. As the Raja did not understand Hindustani, they spoke through a Lama interpreter. As the Diwan did not favour the interview it was short and constrained. As a signal for departure white scarves were thrown over their shoulders, the custom in Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan; and presents were made to them of Chinese silks, bricks of tea, wool, yaks, ponies, salt and 'silk purses and fans for Mrs. Campbell', Hooker being a bachelor. They found the Raja poor, ignorant of what happened in his kingdom which was really ruled by the Diwan, living on the plainest and coarsest food, devout and 'wrapt in contemplation' and 'all but prepared for that absorption into the spirit of Boodh, which is the end and aim of all good Buddhists'.

They returned to Darjeeling and, canoeing down the Teesta - before the days of the Darjeeling Himalayan railway - they spent the winter in the region of Titalya, where there was a major fair, and in Jalpaiguri. At Titalya he witnessed an elephant sale, and marvelled at 'the wonderful docility of these giants of the animal kingdom, often only guided by naked boys'. In those distant days of laissez faire government controlled the price of elephants and set a maximum limit of £ 75 for a seven foot beast. Incidentally, the height was measured as being three times the circumference of the forefoot. The pedigree was enquired into, the hoofs were examined for cracks and the teeth for age. Since Hooker's day the opium trade with China has gone, and so has the elephant trade, now that Kheddah operations are uneconomic. But elephant-riding continues and many find it as he did, uncomfortable and trying, ' so injurious to the human frame that the Mahouts (drivers) never reach an advanced age, and often succumb young to spine diseases'. And then a wonderful passage of wordy Victorian displeasure: 'The broiling heat of the elephant's black back, and the odour of its oily driver, are disagreeable accompaniments, as are its habits of snorting water from its trunk over its parched skin, and the consequences of the great bulk of green food which it consumes' ! With the elephant his scientific interest seems to have ceased, and subjective feelings got the better.

He saw Holi celebrated at the house of the Jalpaiguri Raja, and thought it 'a childish and disagreeable sport’. In fact, it must have been quite alarming and strange to him, for once again he speaks in high Victorian tone: 'The heat, dust, stench of the unwashed multitude, noise, and increasing familiarity of the lower orders, warned us to retire, and we effected our retreat with precipitancy'.

In the following spring Hooker returned to Darjeeling for his second journey into Sikkim. This time it was to be a complete penetration from south to north to the Tibetan frontier and the source of the Teesta. The undertaking was constantly opposed by evasion, bluff and threat by the Diwan, but no notice was taken as long as there was no contrary order from the Raja himself. In the circumstances it was bolder than an ordinary exploration into unknown territory. No Himalayan explorer, certainly, has experienced the unremitting political opposition which Hooker did, and, as he relates, it gave him many sleepless night and ended in his imprisonment. From Darjeeling he cut across to the Teesta valley via Namche and Thami. Returning to Bhomusong the isolation of his position, the hostility of the Diwan, and bad weather made his spirits sink, and he then knew those uncertain, unhappy moments known to many a traveller when he counted 'the miles and months separating him from home'.

He pressed on up the Teesta to Chungthang, being bitten all the way by leeches, gnats, midges and mosquitos. The most magnificient plant of these tropical jungles he thought was Hodgsonia (a genus I have dedicated to my friend'), a gigantic climber allied to the gourd, bearing immense yellowish-white pendulous blossoms. The fruit is a rich brown. At Chungthang there was a profusion of beautiful butterflies and moths.

From here there are two routes to Tibet, one up the Lachen valley to the Kongra la and the other up the Lachung to the Donkhya la. He attempted the Lachen first, a difficult track torn by landslides. At Lamtent (now Lachen) 2710 m, he found a most interesting geographical phenomenon, a combination of European, American and Asian floras. He naturally considered this a subject of very great importance in physical geography; 'as a country combining the botanical characters of several others affords material for tracing the direction in which genera and species have migrated, the causes that favour their migrations, and the laws that determine the types and forms of one region, which represent those of another'. And the wonder was that all this was afforded in such a limited area. There were European and North American silver fir, larch, spruce and juniper; there were Japanese and Chinese Camellia, Dentzia, Ancula and many others; and there were also Malayan magnolias, Talanma, vacciniums and orchids.

In his progress to the Zemu valley east of Kangchenjunga and to the Kongra la many places were pointed out to him as the Tibetan-Chinese frontier to bar his progress. He relates that where the Zemu forks into the Lachen a wooden bridge was shown to him as the frontier, it- had two sticks and a piece of worsted stretched over it. 'This I thought too ridiculous, I went on the bridge, threw the sticks into the stream, crossed, and asked the Phipun to follow; the people laughed and came over'. The Phipun then told him he had no authority to permit him to botanise here as he was in China, and proof of it could be shown by a guard house up the bank. It was there all right, a deserted ruin, once possibly occupied by Tibetans when this was the frontier. Fifty-five years later Douglas Freshfield was told at the same spot he was crossing the frontier into China. These tales lingered long after the facts of the situation had changed. A few weeks later when their party were on the other side of Kangchenjunga and they met some Tibetan sepoys, Hooker relates that 'nothing would induce them to cross into Sikkim, which they considered "Company's territory".'

Hooker's north Sikkim travels, involved an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the Zemu valley, which he ascended to a height of 3960 m and saw Kangchenjunga's stupendous east face sweeping down 4270 m 'in one unbroken mass of glacier and ice'; the ascent of the Kongra la on the Tibetan frontier, which he considered 'the object of so many years' ambition'; the penetration of the Jachu valley; the ascent to the Donkhya la (5640 m) and climbs on Donkhya Rhi upto 5800 m from the Lachung valley; and the ascent of the Sebu la and Bontao (5790 m) with Dr Campbell. All the while he was discouraged, threatened and deceived by the local Sikkim authorities who tried to persuade him to return. One of them, the Singtam Subah was puzzled at his 'unintelligible pursuits' in these remote, inhospitable places. 'A Tibetan cui bono, was always in his mouth. He asked : 'What good will it do you ? Why should you spend weeks on the coldest, hungriest, windiest, loftiest place on earth without inhabitants ? ' He believed drugs and idle curiosity were his motives.

All the while Hooker was indefatigably working on so many branches of science, sometimes, it pleased him to think, at altitudes higher than the summit of Mt. Blanc. He found that the feeders of the northern tributaries of the Teesta were warmer at higher elevations. The Zemu at its junction with the Lhonak was 46°F; 335 m higher it was 49°F. The reason being these waters rose in a drier and sunnier climate. Altitude was not the sole criterion of temperature. More than a century later Hunt's Everest expedition found day temperatures in the Western Cwm rose to 150°F in what appeared to be a land of perpetual snow and ice at 6700 m. Beyond the Zemu where it was drier Hooker found the vegetation sparse and Siberian. Beyond Thangu he found the most northern shrubs in Sikkim, the last he thought till the Siberian Altai mountains 1500 miles further north. Here, too, were famous Alpine plants, the primula, Sikkinensis, saxifrages, potentillas and ranancullas. At 5180 m he found minute Arctic plants, with Rhododendronnivale and the cherleria of the Scottish hills.

He found few animals in the moisf, cold climate below Thangu, as in Scotland and Norway and the damp west coast of Tasmania. But only a few miles north the more barren lands merging into Tibet abounded in wild horses, antelopes, hares, foxes and marmots. There were migrating wild sheep too. Beyond the Donkhya la he observed migrating swallows, finches, larches and sparrows; wild geese and ducks roosted in the river, and all these birds were poised for the flight to the south of the Himalaya and the plains of India. From Bhomtso he saw in wonder 'high in the heavens, black long V-shaped trains of wild geese cleave the air, shooting over the glacier-crowned top of Kangchenjunga, winging their flight in one day from Yaru (in Tibet) to the Ganges, over 500 miles of space, and through 22,000 ft. of elevation'. We now know that these flights may be non-stop for 2400 km.

On his return he tarried on the shores of a high lake, the Cho Lamo, and he doubted whether the world contained 'any scene with more sublime associations than this calm sheet of water, 17000 ft. above the sea with the shadows of mountains 22,000 to 24,000 ft. high, sleeping on its bosom'. Resting here, he says i yielded for a few moments to those emotions of gratified ambition which, unalloyed by selfish considerations for the future, become springs of happiness during the remainder of one's life'.

Here, where his heart was, we ought to leave Joseph Hooker, although later he and his friend Dr Campbell were temporarily imprisoned by the Sikkim Diwan on the return journey, and although his journals carried him still further into the Assam hills. For it was this that he gave to the world, the first knowledge of Sikkim, one of its most outstanding places of natural beauty.

SUMMARY

Details of the journeys made by J. D. Hooker, based on his book Himalayan Journals, first published in 1854. The place and peak names are retained as in the book when quoted.