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0046 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 46 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Other Indian assistants.

Start from Kashmir.


not previously touched by me. Darél and Tangir are ground lying on the most direct route between them, and thus a visit to this as yet unexplored area was possible without too great a sacrifice of time, an important consideration in my programme. The arrangements with Raja Pakhtûn Wall for my contemplated visit needed cautious preparation and diplomatic handling. But the kind interest shown in my plan by the Honourable (now Sir) Stuart Fraser, then Resident in Kashmir, was of great assistance, and finally his effective help, given with the assent of the Foreign Department of the Government of India, secured for me the chief's permission to visit his territories. The conditions he thought fit to attach to it were obviously meant in the first place to safeguard his political interests ; but their acceptance was made all the more expedient by the fact that incidentally they appeared also conducive to my safety among his newly won but by no means yet resigned subjects.

Final sanction of my expedition reached me only towards the close of May, 1913, and owing to the time occupied by the many practical preparations which could not be undertaken before, and by the negotiations which had to be carried on with Raja Pakhtûn Wall through the kind offices of Major (now Colonel) A. D. Macpherson, Political Agent at Gilgit, I was unable to leave my Kashmir base at Srinagar until the last day of July. During the preceding week I had been joined there by my trusted old travel companion, Rai Bahadur Lai Singh, Sub-Assistant Superintendent of the Survey of India, and a second surveyor, Muhammad Yagûb Khan. Colonel Sir Sidney Burrard, Surveyor-General of India, had kindly placed their services at my disposal for the proposed geographical work of my journey, together with all necessary surveying equipment and a grant to cover their travelling expenses.

At Srinagar there joined me also two other Indian assistants, who, though new to Central-Asian travel, proved both excellent selections for their respective spheres of work. In Naik Shamsuddin (since a Jamadar), of the First K.G.O. Sappers and Miners, whom Colonel TyldenPatterson, R.E., commanding that distinguished corps, had chosen for me, I found a most helpful ` handy man ' for all work requiring technical skill. The other assistant, Mian Afraz-gul Khan, a Pathan of the saintly Kaka-khél clan and a sepoy of the Khyber Rifles, was my own choice, and the record of our labours will show how fortunate it was. Originally a schoolmaster on the Peshawar border, he had soon after his enlistment in that famous Frontier Militia Corps been noticed for his topographical sense. After he had passed with distinction through the Military Surveyors' Class at Roorkee, he was permitted by the late Sir George Roos-Keppel, Chief Commissioner of the North-West Frontier Province and Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, to help me as temporary draughtsman and surveyor at the excavations carried out by me in the spring of 1912 at the site of Sahri-bahlôl in the Peshawar valley. In this and in subsequent work on the plans illustrating my Serindia he gave proof of marked and varied ability. When in addition I became aware of his energy and genuine love of adventure, I felt assured of his special fitness to render help as an assistant surveyor. Ample experience was also to prove the great value of his assistance in archaeological work, an assistance often given under most trying conditions.

On the 31st of July, 1913, we left Srinagar and proceeding by boat down that ancient highway

of Kashmir, the Jhelam or Vyath (Skr. Vitastd, Hydaspes), reached next day the little port of Bandipur on the Volur lake, the Mandpadmasaras of Kashmir Sanskrit texts. From there the

bulk of our baggage was dispatched under the care of Muhammad Yagûb Khan and Naik Shamsuddin by the Gilgit Transport Road to await us in Hunza.1 I myself with R. B. Lâ.l Singh

Joined by surveyors.

1 For an account of this modern road, well-engineered and fit for mules and camels, by which are transported most of the annual supplies required for the Imperial Service

troops garrisoning Gilgit and the other stations of the Agency, cf. my Ruins of Khotan, pp. 12 sqq.