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0069 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 69 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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steeply up a boulder-strewn Nullah towards the serrated rocky crest of a spur curiously reminiscent of Dolomite scenery (Fig. 12). Skirting this to the north-east, we reached after about three miles a narrow ridge overlooking, at an elevation of about 12,500 feet, both the Dalgin and Iti Nullahs. From here we obtained a magnificent panoramic view over the whole ground extending from the Gilgit—Khanbari watershed to the glittering massif of Nangaparbat and the line of snowy peaks continuing it towards the Indus Kahistân. An atmosphere of dazzling clearness seemed to bring the great ice-clad range quite near, although in fact some sixty miles distant.

Then another two miles' ascent over huge beds of detritus and across what must once have been the névé-filled bed at the head of a former glacier brought us to the pass known as Phûno-phûno, at an elevation, as determined by barometrical observation, of about 13,65o feet. It was found to cross the watershed not towards Darél but towards the Kuren valley, which is drained by a considerable stream that joins the Khanbari a short distance above its confluence with the Indus. The Kuren valley, from what we could see while skirting the rocky crest at its head, appeared to resemble closely in its physical features the main Khanbari drainage. Less than a mile's progress along the above-mentioned crest brought us to a slight depression in the range, which at an elevation of a little over 14,000 feet gave access to the Ishkobar valley at the head-waters of the Darél river.

From this, the Chiyagal pass, wide views were again obtained towards the Gilgit—Indus watershed range, showing clearly the extensive pastures that its southern slopes afford to the herds of Darél. An easy descent over detritus slopes soon led us into a wide and almost flat basin showing unmistakable signs of having once been occupied by a large glacier, and next to a gently sloping amphitheatre of broad grassy uplands. Descending through this Pamir-like tract we reached the first firs below the fine meadows of Jojolôto, some four miles from the pass. Above this point birch trees clothed the slopes just as they would in Kashmir at this elevation of 11,000 to 12,000 feet. The track, after entering the forest, became very steep and either followed the boulder-filled bed of the stream or led along precipitous rock slopes (Fig. 14) scoured in places by land-slips, leaving us little time to admire the luxuriant vegetation on every side. After we had traversed about four miles of the forest, the firs gave place mainly to magnificent Deodars, and these continued in unbroken density right down to the junction with the main Darêl valley. As the bottom of the Ishkobar Nullah widened I noticed old cultivation terraces completely overrun by the forest. The first were met with a little above a point known as Kinekale, some seven miles below Jojolôto, where decayed walls of an old chiusa, half smothered by forest growth, stretched across the valley and up the precipitous flanking spurs.

Lower down, too, where the mouth of the valley opens out into an almost flat delta watered by branches of its stream, the forest maintained its hold. Huge Deodars up to a hundred feet and more in height rose in dense clumps over what was evidently fertile and had once been cultivated ground but was now wholly unoccupied except for a few log huts of graziers. As we passed down towards the main valley known in this part as Nyachût, there opened before me a delightful view across verdant meadow land and towards the frowning lofty range rising above it westwards. The slopes facing the main valley on that side looked very precipitous (Fig. 11). Yet everywhere, right up to a height of about 11,000 feet, they appeared clothed with forest as fine and close as that through which we had passed on the way from Ishkobar. It was a sight of alpine richness as impressive as any I had ever beheld in Kashmir and a fitting introduction to the latent resources of Darél.

That these resources, however neglected in modern times, had yet left their mark on the present conditions of life in the valley became apparent as in the twilight I passed, near the left

D 2

Descent towards head-waters of Dare.

forests of

Summer settlement at Gabar.