THE HIMALAYAS AND THE INVASION OF THIBET
Darjeeling is one of the most favored spots on earth, the loveliest place in India, and the favorite resort and sanitarium of the citizen element as distinguished from military and official circles. It is a hard journey, both going and coming, and a traveler gets impatient when he finds that it takes him from four o’clock in the afternoon of one day until nearly two o’clock of the next to make a journey of 246 miles. He leaves Calcutta with the thinnest clothing he can buy, but when he arrives there he is glad that he brought his overcoat and gloves, and pulls a second blanket over himself at night. At the same time it is not so cold in Darjeeling as one would expect from the altitude of 7,400 feet above the sea, and the latitude, which is about 27 degrees 50 minutes. You travel from four o’clock till seven upon a railway of ordinary gauge, cross the Ganges on a steamboat for an hour, taking your dinner while afloat; change into a three-foot gauge train until half-past four in the morning, when you are routed out, given a cup of coffee and a roll, and transferred to a baby carriage on wheels which crawls up the foothills of the Himalayas at the rate of six miles an hour.
The track is only two feet gauge, with forty-pound rails, which have been laid upon the ancient highway over which the caravans between China and India have passed for thirty centuries. It winds in and out of gorges and defiles and at several points the engineers have had to cut a foothold for it on the edges of tremendous precipices. It doubles on itself repeatedly, describes the letter S and the letter Z and the figure 8, and zigzags about so recklessly that the engineer puts his locomotive first at one end of the train and then at the other. Englishmen who write books on India assert that it is the grandest railway journey in the world, but we can show them several quite as picturesque and attractive in our own beloved Rocky Mountains. The only advantage they have over us there is the superior height of the mountains and the superior size of the trees. But you must remember that our country is young yet, and India is one of the oldest nations in the world.