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0032 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 32 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Alberûni's notice of Dard valleys.


ramparts and the rigorous system of guarding the frontier-passes 8. In view of this jealously maintained isolation it cannot surprise us to find that Kalhana's horizon northward was practically limited by the petty hill state on the Upper Kisanganga and its tributaries, which he designates as Daraddeta, ` the Darad land.' The seat of its chiefs, referred to by the name of Daratpuri, ` the town of the Darads ', may have stood at the present Guréz 9. This, the main settlement of the valley, was the residence of the Nawabs who ruled the tract until the Sikh conquest. On account of the advantages offered by its position in the widest and most central portion of the valley, Guréz was probably a place of some importance in earlier times, though among its rude log-huts and near the rubble-built fort no remains of antiquity could be traced by me.

Once beyond this point the guidance of the Chronicler fails us completely for the historical topography of the route. It is, indeed, significant, as I have pointed out elsewhere, that

Kalhana, when describing the home of the " Mleccha" chiefs from the north who, in his own time, invaded Kashmir together with the Darads of the Kisangangd. Valley (viii. 2762-4), can treat us only to details of the mythical geography of the Himalaya regions '10. Judging from Kalhana's usual accuracy in matters topographical we may feel convinced that he would not have withheld from us the old Sanskrit designations of Astor, Gilgit, and the other Dard valleys from which the northern allies were undoubtedly drawn, if those territories had been as familiar to him as they are now to the educated Kashmiri.

Considering this restricted knowledge prevailing in the Kashmir of Hindu times, and the complete inaccessibility of Kashmir itself to all Muhammadans, it is remarkable that Albérûni, more than a century before Kalhana, should have succeeded in obtaining any information, however scanty, about that northern region. In my Memoir on the Ancient Geography of Kashmir, I have shown the value attaching to the chapter of Alberûni's India, which contains his description of Kashmir derived from indigenous sources 11. He refers there to the mountains of ` Bolor and Shamilan' as visible for two marches on the left of the traveller who enters the Kashmir Valley from the western ` Gate ', i. e. through the gorge of Baramûla. At present we can trace neither the name Shamilân nor the designation Bhattavaryân given by Albérûni to the tribes which inhabit those mountains, and whose king has the title of Bhatta-Shah'. But the position indicated, and the use of the term Bolor, which has been applied to Gilgit and Baltistan for centuries, plainly show that Alberûni's informant meant the mountain-region of the Dards, forming the confines of Kashmir to the north and north-west. This is confirmed by the subsequent mention of ` Gilgit, Aswira, and Shiltas' as the chief places of those tribes ; for here it is impossible to mistake a reference to the modern Gilgit, Hasora, and Childs 12.


Nowhere among the Dards do we meet with written records of any antiquity or other evidence which could throw light on the early history of the region traversed by the ` Gilgit Road'. Nor are there archaeological remains to offer us guidance ; at least I did not succeed in tracing any going back to pre-Muhammadan times until Gilgit itself was reached. But

8 See my introduction to Râjat., I. pp. 3o sq.

a Compare my note to Rajat. vii. 911; regarding Guréz and the neighbouring portions of the valley, see Ruins of Khotan, pp. 15 sqq.

'o See Râjat., I. p. 31, note 6.

11 See Ràjat., II. pp. 359 sqq., §§ I z-r 4.

12 See Albérnni, India, transi. Sachau, i. p. zo; for a possible explanation of the term Matta, see my note, Rizjat., II. pp. 363-4.