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Jaintiapur to Nakhola : Earlier Reports

Thursday 3 September 2009, by P. Ramirez

1824, Scott, The Asiatic Journal, XIX, 1825, pp. 259-261

1837 W. Griffith William Griffith, Journals of Travels in Assam, Burma, Bhootan, Afghanistan and The Neighbouring Countries. 1847. In 1837 the botanist W. Griffith travelled from Cherra to Assam through the present Jaintia Hills and Karbi-Anglong. From Jowai he reached Nartiang: "November 11th.—The march to Nurtung occupies about 6 hours. The country is level, or merely undulated, with no considerable descent, the steepest being that to the river on which Nurtung is situated. The vegetation continues the same, the trees except in the ravines almost exclusively pines, those on the ravines consisting of oaks, Rhododendra, Betula corylifolia, Betula moroides, Solidago, Verbena, Primulaceae, Othonna, occur; Anthistiriae, _both_ those of Nunklow are common, Rottboellia Manisuris in low valleys: here and there Phoenix pumila is common. The country just before Nurtung is uninteresting, scarcely any thing but grass being visible in some directions. Indeed it falls off on leaving Joowye.

Rhinanthus, Corolla infundibulif. subbilabiat. lobis 2, superioribus minoribus, stam. ascendent. stigmati inclusi decurvo.

_November 12th_.—Nurtung is a large place for these hills, perhaps next in extent to Joowye, it occupies principally both sides of a sufficiently sheltered hill. The lanes adjacent to the place are narrow, often very wet, and always very dirty. The gardens are enclosed with wooden palings and are screened still further by bamboos. The houses, at least the better order, are still better than even those of Joowye. The exterior is of the same construction as all Khasya houses, but the lawns and the comparative cleanliness of the front makes them look much better. The market, which took place to-day, is outside the village and close to our bungalow: it is well attended, but the amount of persons could not exceed 100 to 200, and these form a considerable amount of all the persons capable of bearing burdens from the neighbouring villages. The luxuries exhibited are all Khasyan, consisting of stinking fish, some other things of dubious appearance and still more dubious odour, millet and the inferior grains, and the fashionable articles of Khasya clothing and the adjuncts to that abominable habit pawn eating. There was plenty of noise, but still order prevailed: no other rupees than the _rajah’s_ were taken, and even pice were refused. Iron implements of husbandry of native manufacture were vended, in short all the various luxuries or necessaries of a Khasya are obtainable.

This place bears evidence of having been ruled over by some chief pretending to Hindooism. This is observable in the large fig trees in some of the buildings, in most of the houses in the presence of some brahmins, in the tanks, and in a sacred lake. At any rate it is attended with bad effects, and to see a Khasya attempting the formalities of a rigid Hindoo is ridiculously absurd.

It must be a wealthy place, many of the natives are well off; and I saw a _lady_ of a decidedly superior nature to the Khasya women, clad in snow white, reclining in oriental fashion on a platform. The _vegetation_ of this place forms a curious melange around our huts: Rhus bucki ameli, two Artimiseae, Anthistiria arundinacia, Pteris aquilina, Callicarpa _lilacina_, Eurya, Bombax, Osbeckia nepalensis and linearis, Marlea begonifolia, Pyrus, Pinus, Urticia fructibus aurantiaceus capitulatis, Polygonum rheoides, Rubi 3, Swertia angustifolia, Polygonum globuliferum, Valerianae, Cacalia, Randia, Gnaphalia nervosa, and G. revoluta, Smilax, Plectranthus azureus, Trichosanthes, Leea, Tradescantia clavigera, Geniosporum, _Butea_, Hypericum, Knoxia cordata, Rice cultivation.

Along the path to the village are to be found, Carduus, Myrica crotalaria, _Hacyoides_, Cariceneae, Panicum curvatum, Arundo, Mentha verticillata, Cyperaecae usual, Zizania ciliaris, Panax, Wendlandia _Salvinia_, Isachne bigeniculata, Betula corylifolia common, Pontedera, Tetranthera, Erythrina, Celtis, Salix, Buddleia, Gordonia, Calamus abundant, Juncus, Arum macrophyllum, Cordiaceae, Urena lobata, Cynoglossum canescens, Bambusa, Verbesinea, _Lavinia_, Magnolia of Myrung, Camellia oleifolia, Gualtheria.

About the village, Porana, Musa, Verbena, Xanthophyllum, Xyris, Urtica herophylla, Sambucus, etc.

The cultivation consists of rice, millet, Soflong? pumpkins and tobacco; guavas and oranges, are also to be seen.

Daphne cannabina occurs here, as well as Loxotis obliqua, the Cardaminum, Plantago, and Martynia.

From a fresh observation and taking the mean, I find the elevation of Nurtung to be 3,302 feet.

On enquiry I find that Rulung is one march off, that the country is similar, and that pines grow there to a large size. From this place to Koppilee river it is said to be nine marches. A fuqueer from Cutch said several, six to ten—and as the distance is nearly fifty miles and the ground difficult, he was probably right.

You then come to the Meekir country. To get into Tooly Ram’s country would require at least nine days, but with loaded people probably twelve or fifteen. The station between Rulung and the Koppilee is Hush Koorah. Thermometer varies here from 45 to 85 in the sun, in shade from 52 to 74.

_November 13th_.—Left for the Borpanee.

The country traversed is easy, consisting chiefly of undulations covered with grassy vegetation. There are no steep ascents nor descents; and the only obstacle is the Borpanee. The march is of about six hours’ duration.

Butea suffruticosa is very common about Nurtung, but ceases soon after leaving its environs. All the valleys near this place are cultivated: the ground being now inundated in proportion. Dipsacus valeriana continued, and a short distance from Nurtung pines become very common. Thence the country became more undulated and scarcely a tree was met with: Hedysarum gyrans commenced shortly after leaving Nurtung: a sure sign of decreasing elevation. The country subsequently improved, being more diversified with wood: firs became abundant, Callicarpa arborea commenced. About Nonkreen, a small village to the east, close to our path the trees became mostly different. Kydia appeared, a tree like the mango, and some others unknown to me. Bauhinia, Randia, Phyllanthus Embelica, and a stunted arboreous Symplocos, Anthistiria arundinacea common, with chesnuts (Castaneae).

Close to this, Gordonia, pines of some size, Anthistiria arundinacea and Cassioides. The grasses continued the same, but two new Andropogons and a small Rottboellia appear; Holcus, Airoides, etc. of Churra have ceased: the other are Sacchara and various Andropogons. On approaching a considerable descent the woods became open, consisting at first entirely of pines, Betula of Joowye, etc. then of pines, Quercus castaneoides which attains a large size. It was here that the pines became large, one felled measured sixty-nine feet to the first branch, most are straight, the greatest diameter not two feet. Gordonia occurred here of large size, the woods are really delightful, reminding one much of England. Here Myrica occurs but rarely, Lematula, Flemingia, Elephantopus, Vanda, Quercus callicarpifolius commences, Biophytum appears a short distance hence. Also, Liriodendron, Dipterocarpus, Bambusa, Pinus but of smaller size, Engelhaardtia, Dioscorea, Castanea, Quercus callicarpa, which is very common.

Here Bombax appears somewhat lower, with it Castanea, Kydia, Gordonia. No pines now occur except on the neighbouring heights.

The descent to the Borpanee is not great, say 400 feet; on its banks Thunbergia grandiflora commences, but the Castanea castaneoides of large size, Camellia oleifolia, Daphne cannabina, Rhododendron punctatum variety. Engenia Wallichii (which commences), Quercus castaneoides, etc. may be found along its banks.

This is a large stream, not fordable at any time, nor passable in the rains; both banks are high, rocks of course break the stream, which is gentle at the points crossed. Breadth is 50 to 60 yards, the elevation of its bed is 2,508 feet, water boiling at 207.5 degrees: temperature 74 degrees.

The ascent of the north bank is great, on surmounting it one returns to grassy undulations, the vegetation of which is the same as before, Rottboellia of Suniassa as well as Manisuroides here occur. The village Madan is very small, the people, of course, as they have scarcely ever seen a white face, very polite and obliging: it is situated on a hill, but is still below the north bank of the river. Its altitude is 2,753 feet—temperature of the air 67 degrees: boiling water 207 degrees.

[Gradient Nurtung to Madan: g182.jpg]

The birds, as well as those of the Nurtung river, are the water-ouzel, the greyish-blue water-chat, the red and black ditto with a white head- top, and the black bird, _durn-durns_ or bird producing that cry occurs, but not in great numbers. Pea-fowl at Madan. Elephants are abundant, especially towards the descent to the Borpanee. _Fly wheel_ (?) insect is here common at Kokreen, a small village close to Nonkreen. Equisetum occurs along the Boga Panee as well as a new species of Podostemon, P. fronde profunde lobato, lobis liniaribus simplicibus vel lobatis saxis arcti adpressis, floribus marginalibus distiches. Polygala occurs at 3,000 feet and continues higher.

_November 14th_.—The march to Mengtung occupies about six hours, it is by no means difficult, and the only ascent of any length is that before descending on Nungtung. Throughout the 1st part, all the bottoms of the valleys are cultivated, thence all is jungle, either of high grass or of trees.

Near Madan, Arundinaria bambusifolia may be found, although at an elevation of 2,800 feet, Volkameria is common. The same grasses continue. In the rice field Butomus lanceolatus, Herpestes, Jussaeia, Juncus, Eriocaulon, Zizana ciliaris.

We then came after traversing such low swampy ground for sometime to a wood composed of Quercus castaneoidea, of large size; its bark is thick and somewhat corky, its diameter three feet. Quercus callicarpifolius appeared soon after, with Polygala linearis, Scitamineae are common in the valley. In similar low places, Impatiens graminifolia of Churra was seen, and Hedysarum gyrans.

Oolooks 183 and parrots are both found: Cnicus floribus roseis, Gerardia, Apluda, Senecio pubescens, were found in similar spots.

After traversing a low valley with gentle undulations presenting the usual grasses, we came to a wood presenting many tropical features. Oaks and chesnuts still continuing to be the usual trees. Much underwood, consisting of Acanthaceae, Laurineae, Anonaceae, Rubiaceae, among which Poederia triphylla and Mephitidia were common. Centothca sp., Sarcopyramis, Garcinia, Triumfetta were observed.

Thence we came to pines. Then a low valley, the altitude of the stream of which was 1,979 feet, the thermometer being in the air 82 degrees, boiling point 208.5 degrees. Then a wood.

In it Castanea ferruginea continued common, Quercus dalbergioides, Daphne cannabina, Acanthus leucostachyus (1st appearance), Oxyspora and Polypodium Wallichii were found; ascending a few feet, say 60, Randia microphyllum, Aneilema aspera, and pines appeared in the woods, with straight trunks and high branches, occasioned by the abortion of the lower branches, sometimes dichotomously forked, bark grey, and scaley, branches horizontal, approximated; cones inclining towards the axis. The descent occasioned a loss of pines, oaks and chesnuts continuing, Orthopogon, Pederia triphyllum.

This wood was of great extent, the path running along the precipitous or steep edge of a very wet water-course. Castanea ferruginea very common, Cyrtandracea.

Begonia malabarica, Achyranthes, Tradescantia flagellifera, Phlogacanthus, Acanthaceae, Sarcopyramis, Magnolia, Eupatorium arboreum, Laurineae, Gleichenia minor.

Pinus subsequently appears but is rare, Eurya.

Daphne involucrata, Gaultheria arborescens, Knoxia cordata, Polypodium arborescens, Thibaudia, Viburni sp., Vareca, Leucas galea brunacea.

Then still gradually ascending, open woods occurred.

Pines, Q. castaneoides.

Thence the ascent is still through open woods of pines. Castanea, Quercus castaneoides and callicarpifolia, Polygala here appears, Knoxia linearis, Flemingia, AEschynomene.

On the top no Pines. Oaks, chesnuts, and Gordoniae appear.

Thence a second but small ascent, pines re-appear with birch, Scutellaria, Erythrina, Melica latifolia, Epiphytes common, especially on Gordoniae. The altitude of the summit before descending on Nungtung was 3,359 feet: thermometer 75 degrees, boiling point 206 degrees.

The altitude of Nungtung is 2,862 feet, Temp. 64 degrees. Big Therm. in boiling water 206.5 degrees, ditto wooden 207 degrees, small ditto 201 degrees, centigrade 97.75 degrees.

[Gradient Madan to Nungtung: g185.jpg]

Nungtung is a small village not containing more than 12 houses; these are on michaowns, 186 and are built entirely of bamboos. The doors of curious construction, consisting of bamboos strung longitudinally over a transverse one, so that they can be only opened by pushing on one side. The pigs have similar doors to their houses and appear well acquainted with the mode of ingress and egress.

Tobacco flourishes here. Here also I saw Sesamum and Ricinus, sure signs of increasing temperature, Labiata edulis. The first part of the march lay through an oak and chesnut wood; then through the valley which is under rice cultivation; then through part of an oak and fir wood; I then turned off to NNE. traversing undulated hills entirely covered with grass; here and there an oak and chesnut wood occurred; this continued until 1 P.M., when the path joined the great road as it is called, but which is nearly as bad as the Nungtung one. The marching was very disagreeable, owing to the path being choked up with grass, particularly in the swampy valley just before Onkreem. In this valley wild elephants were first seen.

After leaving the halting or resting place under a large oak (Q. castaneoides) at Onkreem, the path improved and is only rendered bad by the swarms of elephants, by which animals we were disturbed twice; it continued until 6 P.M., over undulated ground becoming lower and lower until we arrived at the large valley of Onswye, which is even now at this advanced period of the season, the middle of November, considerably swampy.

Oaks and chesnuts continued, but pines ceased about half way between Onkreem and Onswye.

[Gradient Nungtung to Onkreem: g187.jpg]

[Gradient Journey towards Assam and Bootan: g188.jpg]

[Gradient From Onkreem to Onkreem: g189.jpg]

[Gradient Journey towards Bootan: g190.jpg]

[Gradient Descent into Assam: g191.jpg]

Onswye [Umswai] is a small village, seated on a low hill, and entirely hidden by trees: the access to it is pretty. Its elevation is 1,632 feet, temperature 63 degrees. Water boils at 98.75 of centigrade, small ther. 202.5 degrees, big ditto 208.75 degrees, wooden ditto 210 degrees: taking 209 degrees as the mean.

It is a Lalung village. These people have distinct habits and language from their neighbours: their dress is like that of the Khasyahs. They approach to Hindoos in not eating cows. They inhabit the lower northern ranges of these hills, but do not extend further east, nor into the plains at the foot, and are far less civilized than the Khasyahs.

They have religious houses or places of worship, deo-ghurs, in one of which I slept, having it first cleansed, and the deity appeased by some most villainous music, and a procession of men with knives.

At this village Carica, Ficus elastica, Ficus cordifolius, Ricinus, Artocarpus intigrifol, Tamarind, Guava, Musa, Solanum Melongena, tobacco, etc., are cultivated.

Caryophyllea scandens, Desmochaeta, Plumbago, Plectranthus azureus, Phlebochiton, Cassia tora, Orthopogon, Adhatoda, Mangifera, Croton malvaefol, Hastingsia, Torenia asiatica, Caricinea, Leea, Prunus! Congea! Antidesma, Rottleria, Clerodendron nutans, Calamus, Xanthochymus. Mesua ferrea, Garcinia Cowa, Leea arbuscula, Dalhousia, Roxburghia, are found on the ascent which is moderate and pretty.

The heavy tree or bamboo jungle does not begin until you attain 12 or 1,500 feet, up to that, the ridges present the former grasses. Rottboellia, Andropogons, Erianthus, Saccharum, Anthistiria, and the trees are scattered consisting of Arborescent Leguminosae, Sterculia, Cedrela, Semicarpus continues to the tree jungle, but rarely.

The road to the village runs through heavy woods, the plants forming which I have already mentioned, it is in good order. The village is a Lalung one.

At Dullagong[???], which is situated in the plains of Assam, at the foot of the range the temperature being 66 degrees, 8.5 A.M., water boiled at 211.1 degrees in the large thermometer. 100 centigrade, and above the boiling point in the wooden. 205.5 degrees in the small metal thermometer.

Between this and Goba, the path is generally through grass or tree jungle. I noticed Exacum, Careya, Butea arborea, Ficus, Cinchona, Kydia, Saccharum Megala fuscum masus, Spathodea, Alstonia, Bombax, Semicarpus! AEgle Marmelos, Emblica, Panax, Elephantopus, and Lagerstraemia Reginae succeeds about Goba: and between this and Dhumria[Dimoria?], the country being low and highly cultivated, presents generally the appearance of one sheet of rice. In this march I observed one or two instances of the absolute enclosure of Dicotyledonous trunks by Fici. This enclosure arises entirely from the excessive tendency to cohesion between the roots and radicles of some of the species of this genus. With these, an expert gardener might produce any form he likes; the tendency exists in all to throwing out additional roots; in few only to excess. In the generality it is limited to the trunk and often to its base. Nobody can understand this genus who cannot study it from living specimens.

Cardiopterus is very common along the foot of these hills: it abounds with milky juice, and in habit and some other points approaches nearer to Chenopodiaceae than Sapindaceae.

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