A Scotsman in the Himalayas, Part 7


"Country to the Northward from Nowagurh Teeba"
'Views in the Himalayas', 1820

Sep 07, 2017 — CANADA (SUN) — Excerpts from the journal of an artist on expedition to the Himalayas.

Today's coloured aquatint was made by Robert Havell and Son from plate 2 of J.B. Fraser's 'Views in the Himala Mountains'. During the Anglo-Nepal hostilities, the Gurkhas occupied a chain of posts above the left bank of the Sutlej river. About 800 Gurkhas were on the Nowagurh heights alone. On 20 May 1815, James Fraser and his brother William reached Nowagarh Fort, situated on a high rocky wooded peak. From this position they had a great view of the Himalayas.

The scenery, plants and trees that James encountered on his travels reminded him of his Scottish Highlands home in Reilig. On the publication of his journal, which contained many poetic descriptions, Sir Walter Scott declared his admiration for the venture. Fraser's journal goes on to provide the following details of the region:

"The ascent continued for four miles and a half to the pass or gorge of Kuthagur, in the range that strikes off from Noagurh, and joins with Chumbee Kedhar, forming Nawur and some other valleys, and continuing from Toombroo to Urrukta. From a peak, on one side of this gorge, the whole Noagurh and Whartoo range was visible…

The fort of Noagurh is situated upon a neck of land, stretching from under a high wooded and rocky peak which commands it; but the difficulty of ascending it, and the timidity of the people, or their superstition, kept away the hill soldiers, and saved the fort from being annoyed. It is considered as the residence of a deota, or spirit, whose haunts perhaps they would not willingly profane for purposes of war and slaughter.

The neck on which the fort is placed continues onwards to the westward for some distance; and two other stockades were erected as positions in advance, and are in fact stronger than the post whence the whole is named. And these were the chief quarters of the Ghoorkha force.

While the snow lay on the ground, and that which they had collected, and kept in masses in the fort and on the hill, to serve for water, remained undissolved, and while their corn lasted, they maintained themselves well enough, and were but little harassed by any enemy. But when these resources began to fail, they were obliged to go in parties to forage; and were not only not supplied by the zemindars, but beset, and several of their number killed by their arrows, water was only to be had below the hill at a considerable distance; and parties always lay in wait to assail those who went for this necessary...

[And departing Nowagurh Teeba…]

After a long descent we reached the stream of another nullah, thc Thabar, which flows to the Girree; and, following its course for some distance further, we emerged, slanting along a large broad hill with a fine easy slope, chiefly fit for corn land, and, with the rest of the country in view, richly cultivated. Many villages were scattered through it, and the scene was lively and pleasing. Through this cultivation we proceeded by a rough but made road, of which the parapet of one of the ledges of a field formed one inclosure, and reached our camp by six o'clock, crossing another small but deep water-course, on which were three or four cornmills, one below the other in succession.

We pitched near the village of Urhealoo, but on the opposite side of the water-course; and looked down pleasantly enough on the sweet valley of the Chugount nullah that runs to the river Girree."


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