882 IN THE REGION OF THE UPPER OXUS [Chap. XXVI
usually about 2 feet thick, still rise in places to over 12 feet in height. A dwelling at the SE. end contained several large rooms, one measuring 25 feet by 23. About a mile farther up a detached rock, about 6o feet high and known as Barikak, on the opposite bank of the river, carries scanty remains of walls which are also believed to go back to ` Kâfir' times. From here onwards the course of the river lies in a narrow canon, and the path ascends on the left bank through a steep rock
` Kâfir' fort couloir to a plateau occupied by the fields of Sendiw (about 9,100 feet above the sea). Where
of Sendiw. this plateau falls off precipitously to the river there rises on its edge an isolated rocky knoll once occupied by the keep of a ` Kâfir' fort. Most of the walls had been pulled down to supply material for the large newly built house of the Ming-bashi, but I could see the remnants of a wall running down from the knoll along a little ravine and probably meant to safeguard access to water.
March to It was about two miles beyond Sendiw that we encountered the first and only serious obstacle
Nesnûdh. to traffic within Shâkh-dara. Here a very steep descent of some 200 feet had to be made over ` Rafaks ' down to the left bank of the river, making it necessary to unload ponies. Beyond the small village of Sedj cultivation was repeatedly met with in small patches wherever the valley bottom widened. The road winds up and down steep slopes in places where the river has cut its way through narrow impracticable gorges. Yet we covered twenty-three miles without trouble before reaching that night's camp at the homesteads and Mazâr of Nemadh (io,ioo feet elevation).
Kirghiz Our march of September i8th was of distinct interest. It first led up the steadily widening
cultiva- valley, past a succession of small hamlets occupied mainly by immigrants from Röshân, until
Jaushangaz. after a march of about i i miles we reached quite Pamir-like ground in the wide grassy trough
of Jaushangaz (about io,800 feet above sea). Here we found some ten Kirghiz families cultivating oat fields but still living in their felt tents or ` Kirghas '. They had taken up land here in recent years, but plenty more of it capable of cultivation could be seen extending for miles to the east. Oats and barley were said to grow well here, and everything pointed to this head of the main valley having been closely settled in earlier times. Shâkh-dara tradition, as heard from old Tûrân Beg, credited it in fact with having once supported three thousand Shughni homesteads, an estimate greatly exaggerated, no doubt, yet significant. Sassik-kul on the Alichur Pamir can be reached from here by two easy marches along a route now followed by the Russian cart-road. Jaushangâz, therefore, when fully occupied, may well have once served as a halting-place and supply centre of importance for traders passing across the Pamirs to and from Shughnân 17 A ruined fort on a small spur rising within the Jaushangaz trough (Fig. 418) was said to have been occupied by Shughnis until some forty years before. Its masonry looked modern and distinctly inferior to that of the ` Kâfir ' remains at Bidech.
Crossing From Jaushangaz we turned to the north in order to gain the Dözakh-dara pass leading into
Dazakh- the Ghund valley. Before reaching the valley which descends from the pass we skirted abandoned
fields extending almost continuously for some four miles over terraces along the banks of the Khurwinek stream. Old canals could be traced clearly along the slopes. Heaps of stones on the flat saddle above the stream coming from the pass are believed by popular tradition to have been left behind by a Chinese army which was counted here. On September 19th we crossed the•pass at the head of Dôzakh-dara at an elevation of about 14,000 feet, after an easy ascent past three old moraine terraces. On the northern side of the pass several small lakelets mark the position of a former glacial lake. Below a very large terminal moraine the track for 3 miles crosses very trying slopes of rock-debris choking the valley bottom, which accounts for the appropriate name of Dôzakh-dara, corresponding to the ` Höllenthal ' so common in the Alps. Where the D5zakh-
17 Is it possible that the site of Jaushangaz is meant by Chinese record of Dharmacandra's journey towards Shughnân
the ` fortified town of Chi-lien on Mount Fa-lo' to which the refers ? Cf. above, ii. p. 880.