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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

At Khale Mandelha the horses are changed


The

fourth basin is at a higher level than the others--some 100 feet or so above the third--and is absolutely flat, with dark, gravelly soil.

Azizawad village has no special attraction beyond the protecting wall that encloses it--like all villages of Persia--and the domed roofs of houses to which one begins to get reconciled. Next to it is the very handsome fruit garden of Khale-es-Sultan.

At Khale Mandelha the horses are changed. The road becomes very undulating, with continuous ups and downs, and occasional steep ascents and descents. Glimpses of the large salt lake, Daria-i-Nimak, or the Masileh, as it is also called, are obtained, and eventually we had quite a pretty view with high blue mountains in the background and rocky black mounds between the spectator and the silvery sheet of water.

Aliabad has a large caravanserai with a red-columned portico to the east; also a special place for the Sadrazam, the Prime Minister, when travelling on this road; a garden with a few sickly trees, and that is all.

On leaving the caravanserai one skirts the mountain side to the west, and goes up it to the horse station situated in a most desolate spot. From this point one gets a bird's-eye view of the whole lake. Its waters, owing to evaporation, seem to withdraw, leaving a white sediment of salt along the edge. The road from the Khafe-khana runs now in a

perfectly straight line S.W., and, with the exception of the first short incline, is afterwards quite flat, passing along and very little above the lake shore, from which the road is about one mile distant. The lake is to the S.E. of the road at this point. To the S.W., W., N.W., N., lies a long row of dark-brown hills which circle round the valley we are about to cross.

The sunset on that particular night was one in which an amateur painter would have revelled. A dirty-brown foreground as flat as a billiard-table--a sharp cutting edge of blue hill-tops against a bilious lemon-yellow sky blending into a ghastly cinabrese red, which gradually vanished into a sort of lead blue. There are few countries where the sun appears and disappears above and from the earth's surface with less glow than in Persia. Of course, the lack of moisture in the atmosphere largely accounts for this. During the several months I was in the country--though for all I know this may have been my misfortune only--I never saw more than half a dozen sunsets that were really worth intense admiration, and these were not in Western Persia. The usual sunsets are effects of a washed-out sort, with no force and no beautiful contrasts of lights and colours such as one sees in Egypt, in Morocco, in Spain, Italy, or even, with some amount of toning down, in our little England.

The twilight in Persia is extremely short.


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