National Geographic : 1921 Nov
VOL. XL, No. 5 WASHINGTON NOVEMBER, 1921 THE MAGAZI HII COPYRIGHT.1921 BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTON.0. C. THROUGH THE HEART OF HINDUSTAN A Teeming Highway Extending for Fifteen Hundred Miles, from the Khyber Pass to Calcutta BY MAYNARD OWEN WILLIAMS AUTHOR Or "RUSSIA'S ORPHAN RACES," "CZECHOSLOVAKIA, KEYLAND OF CENTRAL EUROPE," "ADVENTURES WITH A' CAMERA IN MANY LANDS," ETC. T HERE is nothing provincial about India's Main Street. Starting at the Khyber Pass, where the Af ghan caravans weave a tenuous thread of trade between the frontier hills, it runs to Calcutta, where a goodly share of the world's shipping is idly swinging to the tides of the treacherous Hooghly.* The railways which parallel its more than 1,500 miles, as they parallel many of our own best highways, have diverted much traffic from the open road and cooped it up like crated fowls in third class cars. But the bullock-cart still rolls on and the motor-car has made its pres ence smelt from the northwest frontier province to Bengal. The "broad road" of Kipling's lama and his adventurous chela, Kim, runs through one of the most thickly populated regions in the world. It is a plain road from beginning to end. From the mud fort of Jamrud to the docks at Kidder pore, this highway is a low way. It passes over the watershed between the Indus and the Ganges at an altitude of less than a thousand feet, and thence runs along with the Jumna or the Ganges to the alluvial delta in the midst of which Calcutta proudly reigns as queen. * For a map of India, see "The Map of Asia" (size, 28x 36 inches), issued as a supplement with THE GEOGRAPHIC for May, 1921. To the left, throughout the length of the road, are the eternal hills, beyond which the snow wall of the world's mightiest mountains can sometimes be seen. To the right is the jumble of low hills which bear various names, but which, if the peninsula of India were slightly lowered, would form the irregular north ern base of an arrow-shaped island, with its point at Cape Comorin, opposite Ceylon. THROUGH A REGION OF RIVERS Although Main Street runs through a region of rivers, let us not think of it as a garden land; for during much of the year it is dusty and dry and at no time does it have the lush loveliness which dots the hot southland with scenes of re freshing beauty. Throughout most of its length, irrigation has been developed to a high degree, and the farmer buys his water as he buys his soil. From the arid furnace of Ali Masjid, in the Khyber, to the steamy Sundarbans, this road is deadly hot at times; yet ice formed in my tent-room in Lahore, and along the watershed between India's two most famous rivers the nights in winter can be bitter cold, even for those Mon golian peoples whose heavy costumes re mind one of the Himalayan snows, whence they come.