Sec. iii] CHINESE OCCUPATION OF GILGIT AND ROUTE TO KASHMIR 17
notwithstanding a nominal tribute, and their turbulent disposition and the danger it represented for the newly-constructed ` Gilgit Road ' ultimately led, in 1892, to the occupation of their territory by an Imperial garrison.
The Chilasis, in race, language, and ethnic peculiarities, are closely allied to the other Dard communities which, organized in small republics, extend far down both banks of the Indus, and collectively form the tract known as Shinkari or the Kôhistan of the Indus Valley. Though this region is still inaccessible to the European traveller, it is certain that the several sections of the valley are not separated from each other by great natural barriers. Hence constant relations are kept up between these Dard communities which used to combine when
threatened by an external foe. In fact, tradition at Childs distinctly asserts that in pre-
Muhammadan times the whole of Shinkari was under the rule of one Raja 34.
We have seen already that, according to the indications furnished by the Tang Annals and Hsüan-tsang, this tract in the Indus Valley was at one time politically dependent on the kingdom of Udyana. The supremacy exercised from the Swat Valley may, at the period when we hear of the alliance between the Tibetans and Chieh-shih, have been replaced by predominant influence from the side of Chitral. Both from Chitral proper and from Upper Kashkar or Mastûj the Indus Valley can readily be reached by a number of routes leading across the headwaters of the Swat and Panjkôra rivers, and the remarkable extension which in recent years the Khan of Dir's power has taken in the direction of the Swat Kbhistan and the Indus Valley presents a curious parallel. Childs and the other Dard communities along the Indus, if left to themselves, could without great difficulty have been overawed by the Chinese garrison placed in Gilgit and Yasin ; but when controlled and supported by a neighbouring hill-state of such resources as Chitral, they were bound to become a serious menace to the Kashmir–Gilgit route, which they flanked, and upon which the maintenance of that garrison depended.
34 For much interesting information collected by Colonel Biddulph regarding the Indus Kbhistân, see Hindoo Koosh, pp. 8 sqq.
1 See Hindoo Koosh, pp. 109 sqq., where a rather primitive sketch of the relief is reproduced in lithography. The
attempted identification of this figure with the colossal Buddha image seen by Fa-hsien in Darél, requires no serious considera. tion. A somewhat indistinct photographic reproduction of the rock-carving is given in the Pamir Boundary Commission Report, p. 32.