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0089 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 89 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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south. Even from afar European eyes saw it then for the first time. I wondered when the time would arrive for exploring those Indus gorges, where the old Chinese pilgrims made their way south ` by hazardous paths through gloomy gorges, crossing bridges of ropes or iron chains, across bridges spanning precipices, or climbing by means of pegs for steps '.5

The descent from the pass to the Tangir river was a trying experience ; for after leading for a mile or so over slopes covered with magnificent Deodar forest the path dropped down along bare precipitous cliffs and over vast shoots of rock debris. Not until we had done nine hours of continuous climbing was the first water met with above the village of Shékho. Below, on the opposite side of the valley, the large villages of Diamir and Lurg could be seen spreading their terraced fields over wide alluvial fans watered by snow-fed streams. Beyond a rocky defile, through which the Tangir river has cut its way down to Shékho village, .the valley bottom opened out into a wide fertile basin occupied by the scattered hamlets of Rim and Jaglôt. Amidst the fields of the latter place Raja Pakhtûn Wall's stronghold rose close to the right bank of the river (Fig. 25), and there a very pleasant reception awaited me. The fort had been much enlarged since the time when the original modest structure, which he occupied as a refugee from Chitral, witnessed a memorable siege. The powerful Gabar-khél tribesmen who hold the upper portion of Tangir had then vainly tried to rid themselves of their ambitious exile-guest. Their defeat at this spot marked the first stage in Pakhtûn Wall's rise to power.

My passage through the permanently occupied portion of Tangir had for practical reasons to be restricted to two days. Yet it sufficed to show me on the one hand the close similarity in fertility and natural resources that exists between Tangir and Dare!, and on the other a marked difference as regards the character of the population and its ways of living. The practically continuous area of cultivable ground that extends from Jaglôt to the last hamlets above Dobats is scarcely less in extent than the area available in the main Dare! valley. The climatic conditions prevailing between these two points, situated at an elevation of about 6,000 and 7,500 feet respectively, are approximately the same as between Gumare-k& and Nyach fit. The water-supply available for irrigation is manifestly greater in Tangir ; for the streams feeding the Tangir river from the west and north drain mountains which are not only higher than those surrounding Darl but also carry considerable beds of permanent snow and glaciers. This abundance of water is proved by the volume, over 2,100 cubic feet per second, which I measured in the Tangir river where it passes below the bridge of Jaglôt.

The large size of the river represents an important factor in the exploitation of the magnificent Timber

forests that cover all the slopes of the valley from an elevation of about 7,50o to i 1,000 feet ; for exploited

in Tangir.

it permits the timber to be floated in huge logs to the Indus, and thus adds to the value of this great economic resource of Tangir. At the time of my visit, it is true, I found great masses of timber wedged in the gorge through which the river passes below Jaglôt. But the flood from the melting snows of the next spring and early summer was expected to clear off all this accumulation and carry it safely to the distant plains about Attock. There can be little doubt that in ancient times, as now, Gandhara and the territories lower down the Indus must have drawn their supplies of timber largely from Tangir and Darél. The exploitation of these forests formed an important source of revenue to Raja Pakhtûn Wall and was exclusively in the hands of Kaka-khél traders and their agents from the famous Ziarat near Nowshera in the Peshawar District. They alone, owing to the sanctity enjoyed by their clan, are able to carry on this business, here as also on the Swat river head-waters, in tracts too dangerous for others.6

5 See Watters, Yuan Chwang, i. p. 239.   khel community well deserves investigation by a critical

6 The true origin and history of this remarkable Kâka-   student familiar with the North-West Frontier. The corn-


Descent into Tangir.

Physical conditions in Tangir. •