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0050 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 50 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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are all the easier that the watershed here is approached on the south by easy trough-like uplands curiously resembling small Pdmirs.l4 The westernmost of these open high valleys is drained by the head-waters of the Kdghdn river. On the north it gives access to a succession of Childs passes, of which the Bdbusar pass (13,68o feet) has since 1893 been traversed by a well-made mule road. This connects Childs through the fairly open valley of the Kunhdr or Kdghdn river with the fertile British district of Hazdra, and ever since the occupation of Childs has carried a considerable amount of trade and traffic proceeding to Gilgit and beyond.

Hazdra, the ancient Ura§d, appears during the greater part of the pre-Muhammadan period for which we possess historical records as a territory subject to the rulers of Kashmi'r.15 It may hence be safely assumed that this most direct and easiest of all routes connecting Childs. with India must have also been made use of during the times when the Chinese garrisons placed in Gilgit and Ydsin were maintained by means of supplies from Kashmir. This assumption is particularly confirmed by the specific reference made to salt in the letter of the Tokhdristdn ruler above quoted. This important commodity is not found in Kashmir. Obviously when Chinese troops had to be supplied with it in Gilgit, it would be imported, just as it is at the present day for the needs of the garrisons in the Gilgit Agency, by the nearest route from the source of supply in the Salt Range, i. e. by the road leading up to the Kdghdn river head-waters and thus to Childs. In the same way rice, too, which parts of Hazdra produce in plenty, may have been imported by this route and not solely from the Kashmir valley.

I have already referred to the fact that the Kdghdn valley route as well as those leading to Childs from the Kishangangd were in need of some improvement before they could be conveniently followed by traffic with laden animals. But this in no way militates against their extensive use for transport in earlier times. Natural obstacles on these tracks could easily be overcome by recourse to men as hearers, and we have abundant historical evidence to show that such recourse

Route connecting Childs with Hazdra.

Use of Kaghdn valley route.

that the Barai route has been chosen by the Kashmir authorities as an alternative line of traffic to Childs and Gilgit, and that, since my journey, the improvements have been made necessary to convert it into a regular mule road.

Immediately to the west of the Kamakdôri pass we reach the high but open ground resembling the Pamirs to which I have already referred. This extends along the Indus—Kishanganga watershed as far as the Ldlusar lake at the head of the Kunhdr (Kaghdn) river, a distance of some 16 miles. From this grassy upland the head-waters of every one of the Childs streams can be reached by easy passes, which the map Sheet No. 42 of the Northern Trans-frontier Series shows by the names of Balung, Damagdh, Bdbusar, Tatabai, Butogah.

The lowest among them, the Bdbusar pass (13,68o feet), is crossed, as already mentioned, by the well-made mule road which gives access from Kaghan and Hazdra and leads down the Thak Nullah to the chief place of Childs on the Indus. The great advantage offered by this route is that on it there is only a single pass to be faced, offering a very gentle ascent from the south, with plenty of grazing all the way.

14 My stay near the head-waters of the Kunhdr or Kaghan river during the summers of 1904 and 1905 enabled me to gain some personal acquaintance with the peculiar physical aspects of this high ground. It appears to me of distinct

interest to note that though the watershed west of the Barai pass as far as the extreme head-waters of the Kunhdr falls nowhere appreciably below the 14,000 feet level, and elevations rising to 15,000 feet or more are numerous on the crest line, yet there seem to be no permanent snow-beds along its line. Yet such snow-beds and even small glaciers are to be found farther south, both within the Kunhdr and the Kishanganga drainage areas, in connexion with peaks which do not rise much above 14,000 feet. We are, I believe, justified in accounting for this feature of the watershed above Childs by the climatic fact that, as my personal experience showed, the uppermost portion of the Kunhdr valley and of the ranges flanking it lies beyond the limits of the Monsoon rains.

This in turn may be connected with the configuration of the Kunhdr valley. It twists sharply in the vicinity of the large village of Kaghdn, and the high mountain ridges projecting on either side completely intercept the moisture-laden air currents that the Monsoon brings up from the south. This want of precipitation, whether rain or snow, during the summer months may explain both the absence of permanent deposits of snow or ice on the watershed and the steppe climate of those uplands which to me distinctly recalled the Pamirs.

15 Cf. my notes Räijat. V. 217 ; II. p. 434.