30 SARÎKOL AND THE ROUTE TO KASHGAR [Chap. II
very steep, seems to represent the Pu-k`o-yi mountains as regards height, difficulty, and relative distance 13.
Hsüan- Hsüan-tsang, whose itinerary has already been referred to as our main authority concerning
ancient Sarikol, reached the district from the opposite direction, i. e. from the west. Returning over the PP g
Pamirs. after his long travels in India towards his native land about the summer of 642 A. D., Hsüan-
tsang passed through Badakhshan into the kingdom of Ta-mo-hsi-tie-ti, which undoubtedly corresponds to the present Wakhan 14. In the valley of Pa-mi-lo, reached by the pilgrim after seven marches to the north-east, his earliest European interpreters could not fail to recognize the Pamir region. The •salient features of his description, as Lord Curzon duly notes, ` stand
out as an unmistakable picture of the Pamir country , and leave a doubt only as to
the particular valley or Pamir by which the traveller crossed it 1s.' With Lord Curzon and the majority of Hsüan-tsang's commentators, I believe that there is preponderant evidence in favour of the route which leads through the Great Pamir and past Lake Victoria ; for only in the latter can we find a real approach to the position and size of ` the great Dragon Lake ' which the pilgrim passed ` in the middle of the Pa-mi-lo Valley ' 10.
Lord Curzon has observed that this identification is distinctly supported by what we are told of Hsüan-tsang's immediately succeeding marches. ` On leaving the midst of this (Pa-mi-lo) valley and going south-east, along the route, there is no inhabited place. Ascending the mountains, traversing the side of precipices, encountering nothing but ice and snow, and thus
going 500 li, we arrive at the kingdom of Chieh-p`an-t`o Pa n 17.' The south-eastern
direction, here indicated, of the further journey to Sarikol could not be accounted for if Hsüan-
tsang was supposed to have travelled by the Little Pamir and past its lake, the ChakmaktinKul. A look at the map shows that a traveller proceeding from the latter towards Sarikol would have to follow the valley of the Ak-su for some distance to the north-east before he could reach a practicable route across the watershed range to the Tash-kurghan river.
No such difficulty arises if we assume that Hsüan-tsang's journey lay over the Great
Pamir. From the latter, two main routes are open to the traveller whose goal is the inhabited centre of Sarikol. He can either make his way in a generally eastern direction to the Naizatash Pass, the descent from which, in the Shindi valley running north-east, would bring him straight to Tash-kurghan. Or he may direct his route first into the valley of the Ak-su river, where it leaves the Little Pamir, and thence reach the upper portion of the Taghdumbâsh
tsang's route into Sarikol.
13 The route here indicated may be conveniently traced in the map accompanying Dr. Hedin's Reisen in Zentral-Asien (drawn by Dr. Hassenstein) and in the Map of Portions of Western China and Tibet explored by Captain H. H. P. Deasy, published by the Survey of India Department, 1900. For a description of the route from Tash-kurghân eastwards as far as Unkurluk, see Hedin, Through Asia, ii. pp. 7o2 sqq. Dr. Hedin, who took six days from Tash-kurghan to Langar, one of the Tong villages, describes the summit or ridge of the Kandahar Pass (16,6io feet) as being `as sharp as a knife' and experienced near it heavy snowfall on Sept. 19-20, 1905. I am unable to refer at present to Captain Deasy's Three years in Tibet, which contains an account of the same mountain tract.
I have not been able to trace any information as to the existence in this region of a lake corresponding to that mentioned by Sung Yün. But this could scarcely surprise
us if, as I suspect, Sung Yiin's reference is really to a spot which no longer contained a lake but only the legendary site of one. The story of the Naga Sufravas, whose earlier lake habitation is placed by Kashmir legend near the ancient city of Cakradhara, and who is believed to have subsequently banished himself to a distant mountain lake (Silk-am Nag, near the Amarnath Peak), seems to offer an exact parallel. The story is told by Kalhana, Rizjat. i. 203-7o, and has been discussed by me in my notes, Rcijal. i. 201-3, 267.
14 For a critical review of all available data bearing on the early topography and designations of Wakhan, Marquart, .ran. ahr, pp. 223 sqq., should be consulted.
15 See The Pamirs, p. 69.
1fi Siyu-kz; transl. Beal, ii. p. 297.
'7 See Si-yu-ki, transl. Beal, ii. p. 298 ; transl. Julien, ii. p. 209.