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0086 Archaeological Reconnaissances in North-Western India and South-Eastern Īrān : vol.1
Archaeological Reconnaissances in North-Western India and South-Eastern Īrān : vol.1 / Page 86 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000189
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capital. Once more Taxila furnishes an absolutely safe starting-point for our investigation; for it is after dealing with the kingdom of Takshasilâ, or Taxila, that Hsüan-tsang's account takes us to Sirhhapura. For the sake of convenience I may reproduce it here in Mr. Watters's translation, changing only the wording where the use of the past instead of the present gives it, quite needlessly, the appearance of a paraphrase.

`From this ( that is, the neighbourhood of Takshasilâ) going south-east across hills and valleys for above 700 li you come to the Seng-ha-pu-lo (Simhapura ) country; this is about 3,500 li in circuit with the Indus on its west frontier. The capital fourteen or fifteen li in circuit rests on hills and is a natural fortress. The soil of the country is fertile, the climate is cold, the people are rude, bold and deceitful. There is no king and the country is a dependency of Kashmir.

`Near the south of the capital is an Moka tope, the beauty of which is impaired although its miraculous powers continue, and beside it is a Buddhist monastery quite deserted.'

A look at the map suffices to show that by a hilly territory situated to the south-east of Taxila and adjoined on the west by the Indus no other area can be meant than the one comprising the Salt Range in the wider sense of the term and now divided between the Districts of Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Attock, and Shâhpur. It is true that if we take the 700 li to refer, as usually in Hsüan-tsang's distance reckonings, to the distance from capital to capital we should be taken far beyond the area where any town surrounded by hills can possibly be looked for. But since the pilgrim's own subsequent narrative distinctly states that he returned from Sirhhapura to the northern confines of the territory of Taxila, a statement confirmed also by his Life ,5 we can safely accept the explanation long ago suggested by Cunningham that the distance of 700 li relates to the whole length of the journey from Taxila to Sirhhapura and back.

Mr. Watters's suggestion `that north-east should be substituted for southeast in the statement of the direction of Sirhhapura from Takshasilâ' implies an obvious geographical impossibility in view of what is said about the territory bordering on the Indus in the west. On the other hand, it is easy to account for the distance of 700 li if we assume that the double journey to and from Ketâs is intended; for the direct distance between it and Taxila is about 72 miles as measured on the map, and 350 li would be a very reasonable estimate for the journey by road, considering that in hilly country not more than about 4 li can be reckoned to the mile.6

5 Cf. Julien, Vie de Hiouen-tbsang, p. 261; Beal, references to passages in Chinese records indicating

Life of Hivan Tsiang, p. 191.   the value of the li in Tang times.

6 Cf. Stein, Serindia, ii. p. 735, note 28a, for