Province of Behar.—Boundaries.—General description.—District of Chumparun.—Mooteeharree.—The town and lake.—Native houses.—The Planters’ Club.—Legoulie.
Among the many beautiful and fertile provinces of India, none can, I think, much excel that of Behar for richness of soil, diversity of race, beauty of scenery, and the energy and intelligence of its inhabitants. Stretching from the Nepaul hills to the far distant plains of Gya, with the Gunduch, Bogmuttee and other noble streams watering its rich bosom, and swelling with their tribute the stately Ganges, it includes every variety of soil and climate; and its various races, with their strange costumes, creeds, and customs, might afford material to fill volumes.
The northern part of this splendid province follows the Nepaulese boundary from the district of Goruchpore on the north, to that of Purneah on the south. In the forests and jungles along this boundary line live many strange tribes, whose customs, and even their names and language, are all but unknown to the English public. Strange wild animals dispute with these aborigines the possession of the gloomy jungle solitudes. Great trees of wondrous dimensions and strange foliage rear their stately heads to heaven, and are matted and entwined together by creepers of huge size and tenacious hold.
To the south and east vast billows of golden grain roll in successive undulations to the mighty Ganges, the sacred stream of the Hindoos. Innumerable villages, nestling amid groves of plantains and feathery rustling bamboos, send up their wreaths of pale grey smoke into the still warm air. At frequent intervals the steely blue of some lovely lake, where thousands of water-fowl disport themselves, reflects from its polished surface the sheen of the noonday sun. Great masses of mango wood shew a sombre outline at intervals, and here and there the towering chimney of an indigo factory pierces the sky. Government roads and embankments intersect the face of the country in all directions, and vast sheets of the indigo plant refresh the eye with their plains of living green, forming a grateful contrast to the hard, dried, sun-baked surface of the stubble fields, where the rice crop has rustled in the breezes of the past season. In one of the loveliest and most fertile districts of this vast province, namely, Chumparun, I began my experiences as an indigo planter.
Chumparun with its subdistrict of Bettiah, lies to the north of Tirhoot, and is bounded all along its northern extent by the Nepaul hills and forests. When I joined my appointment as assistant on one of the large indigo concerns there, there were not more than about thirty European residents altogether in the district. The chief town, Mooteeharree, consisted of a long bazaar, or market street, beautifully situated on the bank of a lovely lake, some two miles