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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

At one time formed part of ancient Kerman


The

various trade caravanserais, of which there were over a dozen in Kerman on either side of the main bazaar street, were quite interesting. They were large courts with high platforms, six to ten feet high, all round them, the centre well, enclosed by them, being tightly packed with camels, mules and donkeys. Above on the broad platform lay all the packs of merchandise which had arrived from Birjand and Afghanistan, from Beluchistan or from India _via_ Bandar Abbas. The shops and store rooms were neat and had wood-work in front, with gigantic padlocks of a primitive make. Some, however, had neat little English padlocks.

[Illustration: The Interior of a Hammam or Bath--First Room.]

The most interesting to us, but not the most beautiful, was the Hindoo caravanserai, where some forty British Hindoo merchants carried on their commerce. The place looked old and untidy, and the shops overcrowded with cheap articles of foreign make, such as are commonly to be seen in India,--paraffin lamps, knives, enamelled ware, cotton goods, indigo, tea, sugar and calicos being prominent in the shops. The piece goods come mostly from Germany and Austria, the cottons from Manchester.

The Hindoos were very civil and entertained us to tea, water melon, and a huge tray of sweets, while a crowd outside gazed at the unusual sight of Europeans visiting the caravanserais. The merchants said that the trade

in cotton, wool, gum and dates was fairly good, and that, taking things all round, matters went well, but they had a great many complaints--they would not be Hindoos if they had not--of petty quarrels to be settled among themselves and with the Persians. These, of course, arose mostly out of matters of money. They seemed otherwise quite jolly and happy, notwithstanding the exaggerated hats and curious costumes they are compelled to wear, so that they may be distinguished at a glance from the Persians themselves.

Here, too, as has been already said, there is a small Parsee community of about 3,000 souls. They are, however, rather scattered nowadays, and are not so prominent as in Yezd.

The side streets leading out of the bazaar are narrow and dingy, covered up in places with awnings and matting. There is very little else worth seeing in the city, but the many ruins to the east of the town and the ancient fortifications are well worth a visit.

It is to the east of the city that the ancient fortifications are found, on the most western portion of the crescent-shaped barrier of mountains. According to some natives the smaller fort, the Kala-i-Dukhtar, or Virgin fort, on the terminal point of the range, at one time formed part of ancient Kerman. The fort, the Kala-i-Dukhtar is on the ridge of the hill, with a fairly well-preserved castellated wall and a large doorway in the perpendicular rock at the end of the hill range.

In a long semicircular wall at the foot of the hill a row of niches can be seen, but whether these made part of an ancient stable for horses, or were used for other purposes, I could not quite ascertain. Some people said that they were a portion of a _hammam_; others said they might have been cells of a prison, but what remained of them was not sufficient to allow one to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

[Illustration: The Hot Room in a Persian Bath.]

[Illustration: The Kala-i-Dukhtar or Virgin Fort.


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