Sec. ii] . ALEXANDER'S PASSAGE OF THE HYDASPES 17
Alexander's surveyors,26 is distinctly greater than that measured to Jhelum, whether by the line of the Grand Trunk Road or by that of the earlier road leading there past the fortress of Rohtâs. He rightly saw that this distance points to a longer route striking the Jhelum lower down.
The serious difficulty already indicated about General Cunningham's locations, however, remained; and Mr. Vincent Smith's critical examination has
shown that some minor arguments adduced by him were not conclusive.27 It was clear that both rival theories involved serious difficulties. What alone could offer a chance of settling the question was a careful scrutiny on the spot of the recorded historical data in the light of topographical facts and of whatever definite antiquarian indications might be found.
My survey was started on November 21st from Jhelum Cantonment, which I had reached the day before after a brief halt at Lahore. When by a long day's
ride extending as far as the vicinity of the Upper Jhelum Canal head at Jatli I
closely examined the ground which stretches up the left bank of the river to the north-east, I convinced myself that the battle with Poros could not possibly have
been fought there as assumed by Abbott and Vincent Smith. Within three miles
above the ground opposite to Jhelum town, where according to their assumption the camp of the Indian army must have stood while facing that of the invader,
there begins a series of marshy flood beds which stretch right across the narrow
riverine belt and, with short interruptions, extend for over five miles up the river. These successive beds of the Jabba, Bandar Kas, and Sukétar Ndlds receive
the drainage of numerous torrents descending from the Pabbi range and the
hills of Bhimbhar and Mirpur. They are from one-half to one and a half miles in width where they pass across the riverine flat before they join the Jhelum.
Quicksands remain in them, as ocular evidence showed, even after the rains of
the `hot weather' months have passed. During those months they are quite impassable, whether on foot or horseback; the only route then practicable lies
along the very broken ground at the foot of the hills to the east, entailing long detours. Some idea of the difficulties presented by this ground can be gained from the numerous and elaborately constructed bridgings and barrages, some over a mile long, over which the Upper Jhelum Canal, taking off higher up the river, had to be carried here.
It would have been an impossible proposition to take the large army of Poros with its chariots and elephants over such ground in the season of rains. It proved equally certain in view of the topographical facts clearly shown by the Survey of India's detailed maps ( e.g. No. 43. H. north-east) that the limited width of tolerably flat ground to be found beyond the great marshy bed of the Sukétar
26 Cf. Pliny, Historia naturalis, vi. 17. 27 See Early History of India2, pp. 77 sqq.