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I was enabled by sextant observations to fix the latitude of Maralbashi at 39° 46' 25" N.
Nine miles to the north-east of Maralbashi is a ,huge black rock, apparently basaltic, with a treble peak, rising to a height of some 2,500 feet above the plain. It is very rugged and quite inaccessible and forms a conspicuous landmark. It is called " Pir Shereh Kuddum Moortaza Ali Tagh," "the Prophet Ali's footstep." At its foot on the north side is a Mazar of great sanctity. The Aksu road runs within a mile of it, and travellers on catching sight of the shrine dismount and say a prayer.
From Charwagh I was asked to come on to Tumchuk, some miles further on the Aksu road. As nothing had been said about it before leaving Kashghar, I decided not to do so, and had reason to repent my decision. On returning to Kashghar I was told that at Tumchuk are the ruins of a very ancient stone city. It happened that on one occasion while shooting
I came upon a hewn stone looking like part of an hexagonal pillar, but though I made several enquiries of the men with me, none of them said a word about the ruined city. I also noticed that the jungles contained many signs showing that at one time there had been considerable cultivation.
The country round Maralbashi is well watered, and the soil rich, and seems only to want population.
The stages beyond Charwagh on the Aksu road were given me as follows by the Mulla Samsakh, who told me that there was a robat at each stage :—
I returned to Kashghar on the 23rd January in five marches from Maralbashi. The day before I left I paid a visit to Ata Bai in the fort, and thanked him for all the civility I had experienced, presenting him at the same time with a pair of binoculars and a pound of English powder. He presented me in return with a pony, and the next morning a man overtook me on the march with a trained hawk, also sent me as a present.
No attempt was made at any time in any way to control or direct my movements. I received whatever supplies I was in need of, and was treated by all officials with the greatest civility.