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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Is not far from the Rud i Nasru


1896, according to Major Sykes (_Royal Geographical Society's Journal_), a new canal, known as the Rud-i-Perian, was formed, and destroyed Jahanabad, Ibrahimabad and Jalalabad. This canal, he says, is not far from the Rud-i-Nasru, which he seems to think was at one time the main stream and flowed in a natural bed past Zaidan to the west of it, but personally I have my doubts about the accuracy of this statement. I believe that the Rud-i-Nasru was merely a shallow canal that passed to the west of Zaidan, but that the river course of the Halmund itself was always to the east of Zaidan as well as of the other adjoining cities north of Zaidan. The Canal to the east of Nad-i-Ali is no doubt a naturally cut channel, the obvious continuation under natural circumstances of the river course. The same remark might apply to the small channel self-cut to the west of that place. There are other important channels, such as the Madar-Ab, which supplies water to Chiling, Pulki and Sekhuka; the Kimak canal and the Kasimabad. Before the present dam was constructed some eighty years ago, a previous "Band" existed, as we shall see, further up the course of the Halmund to the south, and secured the irrigation of the southern portion of Sistan, which is now absolutely dry and barren. Dried up canal beds of great length are still to be found in southern Sistan.

[Illustration: Sketch Plan of "Zaidan Citadel"

by A. Henry Savage Landor.]

style="text-align: justify;">It would be a great undertaking to describe accurately all these canals and the various positions they have occupied at different epochs, and the task would at best be most thankless and useless, for, with the exception of the larger ones, the minor ones keep constantly changing their course by cutting themselves new beds in the soft soil. Anybody who has visited eastern Sistan, even in a very dry season, as I did, knows too well how the ground is intersected in all directions by myriads of natural water channels, all fed by the Halmund, so that, unless one had months of time at one's disposal, it would hardly be possible to map them all out exactly.

During flood time the water flows over the Band and into its natural channel due north up into the Hamun, where it loses itself.

There is a good deal of verdure, trees, and high reeds near the banks of the river at the Band, with many snakes, while fish is plentiful in the water and myriads of wild fowl are to be seen.

Curious conical temporary graves of mud can occasionally be seen, some six feet high, the body being, it is said, buried standing within these cones previous to proper interment with due ceremony. On the outside, clear imprints made while the mud was still soft of several sized hands--presumably of the deceased's relations or friends--were left on the surface of the cone, the imprints being one above the other in a line.

Among the ruins of Peshawaran, Bellew found traces of several canals, now dry, one of which, however, had been restored by the chief of Hokat and brought a stream of good water up to the Silyan ruins for irrigation purposes.

As for the southern end of the great city at Kala-i-Fath, we have very good accounts from Ferrier, Goldsmid, and Bellew, all testifying to its great extent. Here, too, there is a strong citadel standing on an artificial mound, and seeming to have been repaired some twenty-five or thirty years ago. Bellew says that the ruins extend over several miles of country, and Goldsmid speaks of a circumference of ruins of some two and a half miles at Kala-i-Fath, with a large citadel and fine arched buildings within. He mentions spacious courtyards and the remains of reservoirs, caravanserais, and large buildings in abundance, but no vestige of anything approaching magnificence.

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