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0063 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 63 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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to deforestation ; for I found the slopes above and below Pakôra remarkably well wooded with evergreen tree-growth, including many big Ilex, which on account of the winter grazing it yields for goats, &c., appears to be religiously protected in this valley.

We encamped that day in open meadow land in the valley above Pakôra hamlet, at an elevation of about 7,600 feet, and there first experienced that attack of fierce mosquitoes which was to remain a constant plague throughout our visit to Darél and Tangir. Continuing next morning the ascent of the broadening valley, we passed the few scattered homesteads of Chilidur surrounded by fertile maize fields (Fig. 8). Both above and below them I noted old cultivation terraces for which the available water-supply was declared to be no longer sufficient. That some of these terraces must have been abandoned for ages past was clear ; for the luxuriant forest of firs and pines which we first reached above Chilidur had completely overrun them. Yet we saw no water on the surface as the track led us up through a magnificent forest of Deodars, cedars, and firs to the pass known as Unutai-gali on the watershed towards the big Khanbari valley (10,510 ft.). The distant view obtained here both to the south-east (Fig. 7) and north-west allowed us to fix our position with accuracy on the plane-table, from peaks previously triangulated on the Childs side and on the Gilgit–Indus watershed.

On the Unutai pass we had reached the western border of Darél, and the view of the Khanbari valley immediately before us at once revealed two of the characteristic features of that territory. Luxuriant conifer forest, far thicker than any seen since leaving the Kishangangd, clothed the steep slopes descending towards the Khanbari river, while at the head of the valley could be seen extensive open uplands right up to the watershed range towards Gilgit. It is this magnificent growth of timber in the valleys at an elevation of about 7,000 to i i,000 feet and the plentiful summer grazing higher up that provide Darél with two main sources of potential wealth. The descent into the Datsoi Nullah leading down to the Khanbari river was extremely steep, and after about two miles led over huge masses of rock fragments thrown down in wild confusion and completely filling the gorge. Farther down its bottom turned into an impassably narrow canon, and the track above it became most difficult for the men carrying loads.

Fortunately a contingent of Darélis now came up to relieve them, and half a mile from where the deep-cut gorge emerges into the main Khanbari valley, at a place called Domôt, I was met by Mehtarjao Shah `A-lam, Raja Pakhtûn Wall's nephew and Wazir, who had been sent to receive and escort me. He had brought with him a large and well-armed posse of men selected from the Raja's own body-guard and comprising some of his most trusted retainers (Fig. 1o). The careful watch they kept over us from the start—I was personally never able to move or halt without being closely attended by two or more of these alert men-at-arms—seemed to afford adequate protection against any attempt by unruly subjects of the Raja or by fanatical visitors from other parts of the Indus, Kôhistdn, and Swat, who might have liked to embroil him by an attack upon us.

At first this close guarding caused me serious misgivings as to the freedom that I should be allowed, in particular for useful topographical work. It was mainly in the interest of the latter that I had asked to be permitted to enter Darél through the mountains instead of by the Indus valley route. It proved a difficult line of progress, but it had great advantages for surveying operations, and fortunately I soon found that we were left full liberty to use them. At the expense of much hard climbing a succession of excellent plane-table stations were secured, the best on the great spurs descending from the Indus–Gilgit watershed and dividing the several valleys comprised in Darél and Tangir. The spell of fine weather that prevailed right through our visit to this territory enabled us to take advantage of the extensive views towards the snowy ranges above the great Indus bend and westwards about the head-waters of the Swat river. Thus we were able

Ascent to Unutai pass.

Forests and uplands of Khanbari.

Reception by Mehtarjao Shah `A1am.

Survey work in Darél and Tangir.