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William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

CHAPTER 14

Basaltic Cappings of the Sandstone Hills of Central India—­Suspension Bridge—­Prospects of the Nerbudda Valley—­Deification of a Mortal.

On the 29th[1] we came on to Patharia, a considerable little town thirty miles from Sagar, supported almost entirely by a few farmers, small agricultural capitalists, and the establishment of a native collector,[2] On leaving Patharia, we ascend gradually along the side of the basaltic hills on our left to the south for three miles to a point whence we see before us this plane of basaltic cappings extending as far as the eye can reach to the west, south, and north, with frequent breaks, but still preserving one uniform level.  On the top of these tables are here and there little conical elevations of laterite, or indurated iron clay.[3] The cappings everywhere repose immediately upon the sandstone of the Vindhya range; but they have occasional beds of limestone, formed apparently by springs rising from their sides, and strongly impregnated with carbonic acid gas.  For the most part this is mere travertine, but in some places they get good lime from the beds for building.

On the 1st of December we came to the pretty village of Sanoda, near the suspension bridge built over the river Bias by Colonel Presgrave, while he was assay master of the Sagar mint.[4] I was present at laying the foundation-stone of this bridge in December 1827.  Mr. Maddock was the Governor-General’s representative in these territories, and the work was undertaken more with a view to show what could be done out of their own resources, under minds capable of developing them, than to supply any pressing or urgent want.

The work was completed in June, 1830; and I have several times seen upon the bridge as many as it could hold of a regiment of infantry while it moved over; and, at other times, as many of a corps of cavalry, and often several elephants at once.  The bridge is between the points of suspension two hundred feet, and the clear portion of the platform measures one hundred and ninety feet by eleven and a half.  The whole cost of the work amounted to about fifty thousand rupees; and, under a less able and careful person than Colonel Presgrave, would have cost, perhaps, double the amount.  This work has been declared by a very competent judge to be equal to any structure of the same kind in Europe, and is eminently calculated to show what genius and perseverance can produce out of the resources of a country even in the rudest state of industry and the arts.

The river Nerbudda neither is nor ever can, I fear, be made navigable, and the produce of its valley would require to find its way to distant markets over the Vindhya range of hills to the north, or the Satpura to the south.  If the produce of the soil, mines, and industry of the valley cannot be transported to distant markets, the Government cannot possibly find in it any available net surplus revenue in money;

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