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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The tower is most cleverly loopholed


This is one of the three principal passages by which the mountains can be crossed with animals from Kerman towards the east (north of the latitude of Kerman 30 deg. 17' 30"). The other two passages are: one to Khabis over a pass (north-east of Kerman) in the Husseinabad Mountains; the second between the Derun Mountain and the Leker Kuh from Abid, also to Khabis. From the latter place it is also possible to cross the Desert to Birjiand, but the lack of water even at the best of times makes it a very dangerous track to follow both for men and animals. Barring these passages there are high mountains protecting Kerman and continuously extending, roughly, from N.N.W. to S.S.E.

We travelled partly above the high cliffs, then, near the circular tower, we descended to the dry river-bed of well-rounded pebbles and sand. Our course had gradually swerved to the south-east, then we left the river bed once more and went due east, over confused masses of mud hillocks from twenty to a hundred feet high. To the north we had a wall-like mountain range formed of superposed triangles of semi-solidified rock, the upper point of each triangle forming either an angle of 45 deg. or a slightly acute angle; and to the south also another wall-like range, quite low, but of a similar character to the northern ones. Beyond it, to the south-west, twenty miles back (by the way followed) lay the Darband Mountain, on the other side of which we had made our previous camp.

The camp at which we halted bore the name of Darband, and from this point the desert again opened into a wide flat expanse. The mountains to the north suddenly ended in a crowded succession of low mud-hills, descending for about a mile into the flat. The desert in all its dignified grandeur, spread before us almost uninterruptedly from due north to south-east, as far as the eye could see. North, a long way off, one could perceive a low range of hills extending in an easterly direction, and beyond at 30 deg. bearings magnetic (about N.N.E.) rose a very high mountain and yet another very far north-east, with some isolated conical hills of fair height standing before it in the same direction; otherwise everything else in front of us was as flat and as barren as could be.

At Darband halting place there is an interesting old circular tower, much battered, as if it had seen some fighting. The attacks on it seem to have taken place mostly from the south-westerly side, which aspect bears evident marks of violent assaults. The tower is most cleverly loopholed, so as to protect the inmates while firing on the enemy, and has a look-out house on the top. For additional protection the entrance door is about twenty feet above the ground and can only be reached by a ladder, which was drawn up in cases of emergency.

A large dilapidated and filthy caravanserai--a regular fortress with a watch tower of its own and loop-holes all round--is erected in the vicinity in another commanding position. In the gully below there is a small oasis of palm trees and a few square yards of vegetation alongside a small spring of brackish water--the only water there is--with a reservoir. Next to this, west of the caravanserai, are the remains of a few mud huts in ruins.


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