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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Here there was a Chappar khana

There were some 300 habitations in Agdah, the principal one with a large quadrangular tower, being that of the Governor; but both the Chappar khana and the caravanserai were the filthiest we had so far encountered. A number of Sayids lived here.

We halted at four in the afternoon on Monday, October 19th. The mules were so tired that I decided to give them twelve hours' rest. It may be noticed that we had travelled from ten o'clock the previous evening until four in the afternoon--eighteen hours--with only four hours' rest,--quite good going for caravan marching. The mules were excellent.

At 4 a.m. on the Tuesday we rode out of the caravanserai, and still travelled south-east on a flat gravel plain, with the high Ardakan Mountains to the east. Fourteen miles or so from Agdah the country became undulating with large pebble stones washed down from the mountain-sides. Cairns of stone had been erected on the first hillock we came to near the road. We passed two villages, one on the track, the other about a mile north of it, and near this latter two or three smaller hamlets were situated.

Sixteen miles from Agdah we halted for an hour or so at the village of Kiafteh (Chaftah)--altitude 3,960 feet--with its round tower and the Mosque of Semur-ed-din one mile north of it. Here there was a Chappar khana. The labourers wore a short blue shirt and ample trousers, with white turban and white shoes. Having partaken of a hearty breakfast we were off again on the road in the broiling sun at 10.30 a.m. Beautiful effects of mirage were before us like splendid lakes, with the mountains reflected into them, and little islands.

As we go through the gap in the mountains that are now to the south-west and north-east of us the plain narrows to a width of some four miles, and the direction of the track is east-south-east. To the south-east the hillocks of a low range stretch as far as the mountains on the south-west, and several parallel ranges lie on the north-east. South, very far off, is the high Shirkuh mountain.

Eight miles from Kiafteh we cross over the low hill range by a pass (4,090 ft.) about 100 feet above the plain (3,990 ft.). There is a mournful look about the soil of black sand, and also about the gloomy shingle hill range extending from the north-east to the south-west. The black underlying rock where exposed to the air shows numberless holes corroded in it, as by the action of moving salt water. An inexplicable isolated hill stands in the centre of the valley, which here is not perfectly flat, but in a gentle incline, higher at its south-western extremity than at its north-eastern edge.

A formation of mud dunes similar to those we had encountered near Saigsi is here to be noticed, this time, however, not directly in front of each gap in the mountain range, but opposite them near the range in front, that forms a kind of bay. These dunes were probably caused by the deposit of sand and gravel left by a current that met the barrier of mountains on the opposite side of the bay.

On crossing the hill range some eighteen miles from Kiafteh, we come across a sand-bar which stretches in a semi-circle half way across the valley, where it then suddenly turns south-east. It is about 80 feet high. To all appearance the sand deposited upon this bar seems to have travelled in a direction from north north-east to south south-west. A mile further it meets another sand dune, stretching in a general direction of south-west to north-east. Where the higher dune comes to an end half-way across the valley we find a village, having the usual quadrangular mud enclosure with towers, an abandoned caravanserai fast tumbling down, and a few domed mud hovels. The larger and better preserved village of Bafru, one mile to the east of the track, is well surrounded by a long expanse of verdant trees. South of it is the other flourishing settlement of Deawat (Deabad).

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