22 THROUGH CHI LAS, DAREL, AND TANGIR [Chap.I
the Hsi yii-chi and adds no fresh information. So we can turn at once to the data about ancient Darél supplied by the above-quoted notices of our Chinese pilgrims. Their mention of the miraculous wooden image of Maitreya, which necessarily interested them most and about which they record interesting and concordant details, must be left for discussion below. Of other points it deserves to be noted that Fa-hsien speaks of the kingdom as small and yet containing many monks. Here, I believe, we may recognize a clear indication of the fertility of the Darél tract.
Evidence of this is to be found also in the fact that both Darêl and Tangir attract, at the present day, a large number of Saiyids and attendant ` Talib-ilms ' from neighbouring parts to the south
and west, who find ready welcome and live on the fat of the land. It is mainly to their presence
that the two valleys owe the reputation of containing fanatical elements. Gold is still washed in the Darél river and along the adjoining course of the Indus, though, as elsewhere in the Indus
valley, the output is now very limited. I did not hear of saffron being cultivated at the present
time in Darêl. But the fact that the climate so nearly resembles that of the Kashmir valley, still famous for its saffron fields, seems sufficient to support Hsiian-tsang's statement. Finally it deserves
to be noted that his reference to Ta-li-lo as ` the old seat of the government of Udyana ' points to a territory of some importance, such as Darêl with its adjoining tracts might well become again under favourable political conditions.
The abundant resources, actual and potential, that Darél offers, even in its present state, impressed me forcibly during the few days I was able to spend in its main valley. On the morning
following our arrival at Nyachût a glorious view opened before me northward up the broad wooded
valley. At its bottom there extended rich meadow land, almost flat, flanked on either side by magnificent forest clothing all the slopes of the main valley and side Nullahs (Fig. i i). The high
peaks visible in the background were those overlooking the passes of Dôdar-gall and Suj-gali, by which access can be gained during the summer and early autumn to Giipis at the confluence of the rivers of Yasin and Ghizar and thus to the main Gilgit valley.
Looking up towards those passes I thought of the delight with which Fa-hsien, and other Chinese travellers who may have followed this route from the Pamirs and the Barôghil, must
have greeted the fine open valley with its rich alpine vegetation, after all the wastes of rock, ice
and high barren plateaux they had traversed. It must have appeared to them like an enticing gate to the fair lands of India. Riding back to where the Ishkobar stream debouches into Nyachût,
at an elevation of about 7,5o0 feet, I noticed how little of the cultivable ground on either side, all
bearing traces of old terraces and canals, was occupied by the present fields of barley or maize. The abundance of water for irrigation was proved by the fact that the main stream alone at the
above point had a flow of some i8o cubic feet per second, even at that early hour of the morning when the snow-beds high up on the ranges had not yet commenced to melt and contribute to the volume.
From our camp at Gabar a very gentle descent led down through splendid forest to near the mouth of the Kiner-gah Nullah, where the last Deodars were left behind (Fig. 15). There the
valley opened to a width at the bottom of over a mile and a half. Old cultivation terraces, now
deserted, were seen here too in plenty. But in pleasant contrast to this familiar sight I was struck by the care bestowed on the solid embankments that here confine the main stream and canals,
and by the shady rows of trees planted along the latter. This sight and the rich crops, mainly of wheat, which covered all cultivated ground from below the outlet of the Gilich Nullah (Fig. i 7) left no doubt that, however much else might have disappeared from Dare! in the course of centuries of misrule and anarchy, agricultural skill survived.
That there was ample scope for its use and also far more ground than the available population