Sec. iv] BY THE ALICHUR AND GREAT PAMIR 86i
the British Boundary Commission party essayed to discover this or some other pass over the mountain watershed south of Lake Victoria ', but had failed and expressed their opinion that no such pass exists.
It was accordingly a pleasant surprise when careful inquiries from two much-travelled Kirghiz in our party resulted in definite and independent evidence of an old track, still regularly used by Wakhi herdsmen of villages on the Ab-i-Panja, which leads from the Wakhan side across the watershed range to the glacier-filled head of the Shör-jilga valley, clearly visible from Lake Victoria. Descending this valley, which is shown in the Survey of India map without a name next to the east of the Bêsh-kunak-jilga, one either gains the open valley of the Pamir river, or else, over gentle peneplains, the south-western shores of the lake. The ascent to the pass from the Great Pamir side lies up the south-western branch of the Shör-jilga, which the panoramic view (Fig. 360), taken from the mouth of the Bash-gumbaz valley, shows at the point marked with an arrow. On the northern side of the pass glacier ice has to be crossed. After passing the watershed the track drops down to the Kök-moinak spur, where it bifurcates. One route descends into the southern Shörjilga, marked in the Survey of India map by the entry ` Shaor',17a and thence leads up the Ab-i-Panja. to Langar. The other was said to cross in succession the heads of the grazing valleys of Boz-dektir and Tokuz-bash over easy slopes and thus to reach Sarhad. The description of the latter portion of the route agreed with what I had seen in 1906 from the Kansir spur of the range rising above Sarhad.18 The information received was calculated to vindicate once again reliance on the topographical details preserved by the record in the Chinese Annals of Kao Hsien-chih's great alpine feat. My only regret was that regard for time and the Afghan border would not allow me to test them on the spot, as I had done in the case of the Darköt and the battle ground south of Sarhad.ls
On the morning of August 28th I left Lake Victoria for the journey down the Pamir river to Langar-kisht, where it joins the main branch of the Ab-i-Panja. The three marches in which we covered the distance of about 78 miles correspond to Marco Polo's three days' ride from ` Vokhan ' to the great lake. The valley of the Pamir river has since Captain Wood's time been often described, and only few of my observations call for brief record here. In the upper Pamir-like portion of the valley one passes, about 4 miles below the outflow of the Bash-gumbaz stream, a natural hillock shaped like a cone and about 8o feet high. It is known as Mazar-döbe and worshipped by the Kirghiz as the burial-place of holy warriors. Its curiously regular shape must in Buddhist times have made it appear as a ` Svayambhù ' Sttlpa to pious eyes, and continuity of local worship probably accounts for its sanctity at the present day.20
references, British and Russian, to some direct passage between the Great Pamir and Ab-i-Panja valley are fully quoted.
The following brief remarks, based on the more exact topographical record in the Survey of India map (Northern Transfrontier Sheet No. 2 N.w., 1896) and on local inquiry, may help to clear up some points of the conflicting evidence there detailed.
Colonel Gordon's mention (1874) of the Wurm pass' approached from head of Lake Victoria probably applies to the pass at the head of the Kara-jilga from which the Waram valley debouching on the Ab-i-Panja above Langar can be gained. The name ` Shor Kara Jilga or Warram appearing in an earlier Indian Intelligence map and shown also in Lord Curzon's map, seems to have been wrongly applied to the Burgutai or Chelap pass giving access farther
east to the lower end of Lake Chakmaktin. The track of which Lord Curzon heard from his Kirghiz as running to Lake Victoria up the Nullah that he passed ` between 12 and 15 miles below Langar ' (the Bahârak-dara) exists and leads to the Shôr-jilga pass discussed above.
17a In 1906 I heard the name Bahârak-dara applied to the debouchure of this valley.
18 See Serindia, i. Fig. 25.
19 Cf. Ancient Khotan, i. pp. 8 sqq. ; Serindia, i. pp. 55 sqq., 67 sqq.
2° Cf. Serindia, iii. p. 1303. The same name ` Mazârtapa ' is through some misapprehension shown by the Russian and Indian Survey maps also for a Mazar passed farther down below the debouchure of the stream coming from the Khargôsh pass.