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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

In the courtyard of the caravanserai


CHAPTER XXXVI

Khupah--Sunken well--Caravanserai--Night marching--Kudeshk--The Fishark and Sara ranges--Lhas--The pass--Whirlwinds--Robbers--Fezahbad--The dangers of a telegraph wire--An accident--Six villages--Deposits of sand and gravel--Bambis--The people--Mosquitoes--A Persian house--Weaving loom--Type of natives--Clothing--Sayids.

Early in the afternoon Khupah (altitude 5,920 feet) was reached, with its very large and dirty caravanserai to the west, just outside the town wall. From the roof--the only clean part of the hostelry--one obtains a good panoramic view of the town. It is built in a most irregular shape, and is encircled by a castellated mud wall with round turrets. There is a humble dome of a mosque rising somewhat higher than all the other little domes above each dwelling.

Feeble attempts at raising a bazaar have been made on different sites in the town, where bits of arcades have been erected, but there are no signs about the place of a flourishing industry or trade. The majority of houses, especially in the northern part of the city, are in ruins. The principal thoroughfare is picturesque enough, and on the occasion of my visit looked particularly attractive to me, with its huge trays of delicious grapes. They were most refreshing to eat in the terrific heat of the day. One peculiarity of the place is that most doorways of houses are sunk--generally from one to three feet--below the level of the street.

Between the caravanserai and the city is a sunken well with flat roof and four ventilating shafts to keep the water cool. Further away, are seven more buildings--probably dead-houses--and a garden. The little range north of the city is quite low, and has in front of it a pyramidal dune--a similar deposit to those we have already noticed to the north-west in the morning on our march to this place, but much higher.

South of the town many trees and verdant gardens are visible, and to the West the immense stretch of flat--some sixty miles of it that we had travelled over from Isfahan.

For want of a better amusement I sat on the roof to watch the sunset, while Sadek cooked my dinner. The nearer hills, of a bright cobalt blue, faded into a light grey in the distance, the sky shone in a warm cadmium yellow, and beneath stretched the plain, of a dark-brown bluish colour, uninterrupted for miles and miles, were it not for one or two tumbled-down huts in the immediate foreground, and a long, snake-like track winding its way across the expanse until it lost itself in the dim distance.

Directly below, in the courtyard of the caravanserai, four camels squatted round a cloth on which was served straw mixed with cotton seeds, that gave flavour to their meal. The camels slowly ground their food, moving their lower jaws sideways from right to left, instead of up and down as is usual in most other animals; and some of the caravan men placidly smoked their kalians, while others packed up their bundles to make ready for their departure as soon as the moon should rise. In another corner of the courtyard my own caravan man groomed the mules, and around a big flame a little further off a crowd of admiring natives gazed open-mouthed at Sadek boiling a chicken and vegetables for my special benefit.

We were to make a night march, as the heat of the day was too great to travel in. At three in the morning, yawning and stretching our limbs when we were roused by the charvadar,[5] we got on the mules and made our departure. The cold was intense, and the wind blowing with all its might from the west. Six miles off we passed Kamalbek, then six miles further the large village of Moshkianuh in ruins, with a few green trees near it.


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