Зображення сторінки



Ordered to inspect the tea-plantations in India — Deyra Doon plantation—Mussooree and Landour—Flora of the mountains — Height and general character — Our mode of travelling — Hill-plante resemble those of China — Guddowli plantation — Chinese manufacturers located there — I bid them farewell — The country improves in fertility — Tea-plantations near Almorah — Zemindaree plantations — Leave Almorah for Bheem Tal — View of the Snowy range — Bheem Tal tea-plantations — General observations on tea culture in India — Suggestions for its improvement — Other plants which ought to be introduced—Nainee Tal—Arrive at Calcutta— The Victoria regia.

Soon after my arrival at Saharunpore I received through the Lieutenant-Governor of the NorthWestern Provinces orders from the Governor-General of India to visit all the tea plantations in the districts of Gurhwal and Kumaon, and to draw up a report upon their condition and future prospects. In this tour of inspection I was accompanied by Dr. Jameson, who has the charge of all the Government tea plantations. The first plantations we visited were those in the Deyra Doon.

The Deyra Doon, or Valley of Deyra, is situated in latitude 30° 18' north, and in longitude 78° east . It is about 60 miles in length from east to west, and 16 miles broad at its widest part. It is bounded on the south by the Sewalick range of hills, and on the north by the Himalayas proper, which are here nearly Chap. XXII. DEYRA DOON PLANTATIONS. 369

8000 feet above the level of the sea. On the west it is open to the river Jumna, and on the east to the Ganges, the distance between these rivers being about 60 miles.

In the centre of this flat valley the Kaolagir tea plantation has been formed. Eight acres were under cultivation in 1847. There are now 300 acres planted, and about 90 more taken in and ready for many thousands of young plants lately raised from seeds in the plantation.

The soil is composed of clay, sand, and vegetable matter, rather stiff and apt to get "baked" in dry weather, but free enough when it is moist or during the rains. It rests upon a gravelly subsoil, consisting of limestone, sandstone, clay-slate, and quartz rock, or of such rocks as enter into the composition of the surrounding mountain ranges. The surface is comparatively flat, although it falls in certain directions towards the ravines and rivers.

The plants are arranged neatly in rows 5 feet apart, and each plant is about 4i feet from the next one. A long rank-growing species of grass, indigenous to the Doon, is most difficult to keep from overtopping the tea-plants, and is the cause of much extra labour. Besides the labour common to all tea-countries in China, such as weeding, and occasionally loosening the soil, there is here an extensive system of irrigation carried on. To facilitate this, the plants are planted in trenches, from four to six inches below the level of the ground, and the soil thus dug out is thrown between the rows to form the paths. Hence the whole of the plantation consists of numerous trenches. At right angles with these trenches a small stream is led from the canal, and by opening or shutting their ends irrigation can be carried on at the pleasure of the overseer.

The plants generally did not appear to me to be in that fresh and vigorous condition which I had been accustomed to see in good Chinese plantations. This, in my opinion, is caused, 1st, by the plantation being formed on flat land; 2nd, by the system of irrigation; 3rd, by too early plucking; and 4th, by hot drying winds, which are not unfrequent in this valley from April to the beginning of June.

Leaving the Doon, we took the hill-road for Paorie, near which was the next tea-plantation on our route. This road led us through the well-known hill stations of Mussooree and Landour. As we ascended the mountains, it was curious to mark the changes which took place in the character of the vegetable productions. On the plains and lower sides of these hills such plants as Justicia Adhatoda, Bauhinia racemosa and variegata, Vitex trifolia, Grislea tomentosa, &c, grew in the greatest profusion. Higher up, say 3000 or 4000 feet above the level of the sea, Berberis asiatica makes its appearance, while nearer the top we find Oaks, Rhododendrons, Berberis nepalensis, Andromeda ovalifolia, Viburnums, Spiraeas, and many other plants which are either hardy or half-hardy in England.

The mountains about Mussooree and Landour are nearly 8000 feet above the level of the sea. Their


sides are steep, and they are generally exceedingly barren; here and there I observed little terraced patches of cultivation, bnt these were few and far between. The view from the tops of these mountains on a clear day is very fine. The Valley of Deyra lies spread out to the southward, and appears as if bounded on all sides by hills, while to the northward nothing is seen but rugged barren mountains and deep glens. The snowy range is also visible when the atmosphere is clear.

Leaving these hill stations on the 30th of May, we went onwards in an easterly direction along the sides of the mountains. The country was very mountainous, and there were no traces of cultivation for many miles on this part of our journey. A long train of Paharies or hill-men carried our tents, luggage, and provisions. Dr. Jameson and myself rode on ponies, while Mrs. Jameson, who accompanied us, was carried in a jaun-pan, or kind of light sedanchair. In many places our road led along the sides of precipices which it made one giddy to look down, and had we made a single false step we should have fallen far beyond the reach of earthly aid.

On the journey along the upper sides and tops of these mountains, I had a good opportunity of observing the character of their vegetable productions. As Royle and other travellers have told us, the flora of the Himalayas at high elevations bears a striking resemblance to that of European countries; and I can add that it resembles still more the hill vegetation of the same latitudes in China. In fact many of the species found in the Himalayas are identical

with those which I met with on the Bohea mountains, and on the hills of Chekiang and Kiang-see. I might here give the names of the different plants met with on this journey from Mussooree to Paorie, but it will, perhaps, be better for me to refer the reader for such information to Boyle's 'Illustrations of the Botany of the Himalayan Mountains.'

On the morning of the 6th of June we arrived at the Guddowli plantation near Paorie. This plantation is situated in the province of Eastern Gurhwal, in latitude 30° 8' north, and in longitude 78° 45' east. It consists of a large tract of terraced land, extending from the bottom of a valley or ravine to more than 1000 feet up the sides of the mountain. Its lowest portion is about 4300 feet, and its highest 5300 feet, above the level of the sea: the surrounding mountains appear to be from 7000 to 8000 feet high. The plantation has not been measured, but there are, apparently, fully one hundred acres under cultivation.

There are about 500,000 plants, about 3400 of which were planted in 1844 and are now in full bearing; the greater portion of the others are much younger, having been planted out only one, two, or three years. There are besides a large number of seedlings in beds ready for transplanting.

The soil consists of a mixture of loam, sand, and vegetable matter, is of a yellow colour, and is most suitable for the cultivation of the tea-plant. It resembles greatly the soil of the best tea districts in China. A considerable quantity of stones are mixed

[merged small][ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »