"The Riches of India" 


India is a land of blooming flowers, beautiful trees, and costly gems.  

In vegetable productions, India is said to surpass all other lands. "Groves of different kinds of palms spread their beautiful foliage over the regions along the coast, offering the native and traveller delicious fruits and nuts of great variety; and over the inland plains and highlands the shady mango shelters the soil, while the sacred fig, and the bread fruit tree combine beauty with luxury. Great forests of caoutchouo (India rubber trees) grow throughout the low and marshy bracts, and millions of bamboos cub from the great northern regions, are yearly floated down the Ganges, whence they are sent to the different markets of the world." Teak forests (the wood of which is used in making ships) are found in Central India, and the deodar tree in the northwest provinces. Besides these, there are the mulberry trees, the acacia, filled with rich, yellow blossoms, the fine-leaved tamarind, the graceful neem, the willowy shecsham, and the cotton tree, covered with bright red flowers as large as roses, flashing like a great mass of fire in the morning light. There is also the coral tree, filled with lovely blood-red flowers, shaped like coral, and the kachnar, whose long branches are loaded with fragrant, lilac-colored blossoms.   

Of grains, rice is the principal one grown on the plains. Here also is grown cotton, sugar cane, indigo, jute, and poppies. For miles and miles along the river Ganges, as far as the eye can reach, great fields of white and violet-colored poppies may be seen at a certain time every year. They are not raised, however, for their bright flowers, but for the vile poison called opium, which is made from them, and yearly sold for millions of pounds. Although it brings so much money, it is a great curse, for it poisons and destroys those who get into the habit of eating and smoking it.   

Maize, millet, peas, beans, wheat, barley, and other grains, grow on the higher grounds; tea in Assam, the Punjaub, and the Neilgheries; pepper in Malabar; and coffee among the hills of Southern India.   

The fruit of temperate countries grow in the higher regions, and the fruits of hot countries grow in the lower portions of India.   

Fine silks, shawls, and tapestries of beautiful make, and cotton fabrics, wool, oil, seeds, leather, hides, and ivory, are sent from India in large quantities.  

The streams of India swarm with fish and crocodiles; the forests and plains teem with animals; and the air is alive with insects and the brightest colored birds. But we shall tell you more about these at another time.   

Coal, iron, and salt, are found more than any other mineral products. The greatest coal fields are found north-west of Calcutta, in the Dammooda Valley. Many thousands of tons are annually mined from this district alone; other places produce vast quantities, and new fields are all the time opening up. Iron is found in many places, and has been produced there for hundreds and hundreds of years. Salt is found in great quantity and purity in the salt range of the Punjaub. Lead is found in the ranges of the Himalayas, and copper in the high plateaus of Northern Bengal.   

Besides all of these riches, gold is found in the gravel of the streams of many parts of the country. Diamonds are picked up in the Southern and Central regions, and rubies, the topaz, beryl, emeralds, came-Hans, garnets, pearls, and other precious gems, are freely found, and are sold for large sums of money.   

Surely India is a rich country; but the best gem of all, the treasure of more value than all other treasures, is little known there, and by many has never yet been found. It is there in all its beauty and purity, an inexhaustible mine, free to all who earnestly search for it; but alas, thousands and thousands do not search, because they do not even know that it is there. Can you tell the name of that priceless gem? 


March 9, 1893 EJW, PTUK 75