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0051 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 51 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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was as general in ancient Kashmir as it has from necessity remained to the present day in many parts of the mountains right up to the Hindukush watershed.16

It only remains to point out that supplies reaching Childs from the south could have been carried thence without serious difficulty, as they are to-day, to the central portion of what is now Gilgit, by the route leading up the Indus valley to Bûnji and thence up the Gilgit river. As this route throughout runs over low ground in the valleys, between about 3,60o and 4,40o feet above sea-level, it is, of course, open to traffic throughout the year. But in view of the great summer heat experienced in the confined valleys, it is probable that, in the days when human transport alone was practicable, the far shorter line was preferred that leads straight to the north of Childs by the Kinar-gah valley and after crossing two high but easy passes strikes the cultivated central tract of Gilgit a few miles below the present fort and station.17


Apart from the Chinese notice relating to a route through Childs which has just been discussed

I am able to trace only one early reference to the territory. It is to be found in Albèrûni's India and offers some interest, cursory as the passage is. In his account of Kashmir, the importance and value of which I have had occasion fully to explain elsewhere,' the great Muhammadan scholar tells us that passing into the open plain of the Kashmir valley from the entrance gorge of Bardmûla, ` you have for a march of two more days on your left the mountains of Bolor and Shamildn, Turkish tribes who are called Bhattavaryän. Their king has the title of Bhatia-Shah. Their towns are Gilgit, Aswira and Shiltds, and their language is the Turkish. Kashmir suffers much from their inroads.' 2 In the three localities mentioned as the chief seats of these tribes it is impossible to mistake the present Gilgit, Hasôra (Astôr) and Childs. Nor can it reasonably be doubted that whatever caused Albèrûni to describe their inhabitants as ` Turks ', he means by them the same Dard tribes whom we know from plentiful evidence to have held this region ever since classical times.' Considering that Kashmir was wholly inaccessible to Albèrûni and the regions beyond, if possible, even more so, we may well feel surprise at his information about those distant mountain tracts being as exact as it proves to be. I have indicated elsewhere that the explanation of this detailed knowledge lies probably in the fact that Albèrûni employed Kashmirian Pandits for the Indian studies he carried on during his long stay at Ghazna and in the Punjab (A. D. I 0 I 7-30).4

Local knowledge derived from such Kashmirian informants obviously accounts for the perfectly correct statement that the traveller entering the open Kashmir valley from the gorge of

16 Regarding the system of forced carriage of loads, included in modern Kashmir under the general term of begiir, cf. the passages discussed in my notes on Râjat.

v. 172-4 ; viii. 2509-13. It is interesting to note that the last-named passage specially refers to the forced carriage employed for military transport on an expedition directed to the Kishangangd valley about Shardi in A. D. 1144. For other references, including one by Albérani, see my note, Riajat. II. p. 361, note 5o.

17 The road from Childs Fort to Gilgit via Banji, now made practicable for camel transport, is reckoned at 89 miles, while the distance up the Kinar-gdh Nullah and across the Kinijut and Khomar passes is estimated at 6o miles.

For the route leading up the Indus see Northern Trans-frontier map Sheet 3 NE.; Mason, Routes in Western Himalaya, pp. 86 sq.

1 See Rajat. II. pp. 36o sqq. ; also Memoir on the ancient geography of Kaintir, pp. 21 sqq.

2 See Albéricni's India, trans]. by Sachau, i. p. 207.

3 Cf. my notes, Rdjat. i. 312-16; II. p. 431, for the numerous passages of Kalhana's chronicle where the tribes occupying the mountain tracts to the north of Kashmir are referred to by the Skr. name of Darad or Diirada ; also for references to ancient notices of the same ethnic designation in that region.

That Albèrdni uses here the term ` Turk ' in the same vague way as when he speaks elsewhere e.g. of the ` Turks of Tibet ', meaning the undoubtedly Tibetan population adjoining Kashmir on the east, has been pointed out by me in Rajat. II. p. 363, note 64.

4 See Rajat. II. pp. 359 sq.

Gilgit easily reached from Childs.

Albérdni's notice of Childs.

` The mountains of Bolor and Shamildn.'