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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Occasionally also called Kuh i Rustam


Gul

Khan, the Consul's assistant, accompanied me as far as the Kuh-i-Kwajah mountain, to inspect which I had to make a detour.

We passed south of Sher-i-Nasrya, and, after wading through numberless water channels and skirting large pools of water, crossed a tiny anonymous village of six domed huts, and then came to a very large one rejoicing in the name of Dadi. My fast camels carrying loads had gone ahead, and we, who had started later on horses, caught them up some sixteen miles onward, where there was a third little village, the inhabitants of which were wild-looking and unkempt. The women and children stampeded at our approach. The houses were flat-topped and were no taller than seven feet, except the house of the head village man which was two-storeyed and had a domed roof.

When the Hamun Halmund extended as far south as Kandak the Kuh-i-Kwajah mountain was an island, but now the whole country around it is dry except some small swamps and pools, on the edges of which thousands of sheep could be seen grazing. It took a very powerful sight indeed to see what the animals were grazing on. One's idea of a pasture--we always picture a pasture for sheep as green--was certainly not fulfilled, and after a minute inspection one saw the poor brutes feeding on tiny stumps of dried grass, yellowish in colour and hardly distinguishable from the sand on which it grew in clusters not more than half an inch high.

justify;">Where the Hamun had been its bed was now of a whitish colour from salt deposits.

The Kuh-i-Kwajah (mountain), occasionally also called Kuh-i-Rustam, rising as it does directly from the flat, is most attractive and interesting, more particularly because of its elongated shape and its flat top, which gives it quite a unique appearance. Seen from the east, it stretches for about three miles and a half or even four at its base, is 900 feet high, and about three miles on top of the plateau. The summit, even when the beholder is only half a mile away from it, appears like a flat straight line against the sky-line, a great boulder that stands up higher on the south-west being the only interruption to this uniformity. The black rocky sides of the mountain are very precipitous--in fact, almost perpendicular at the upper portion, but the lower part has accumulations of clay, mud and sand extending in a gentle slope. In fact, roughly speaking, the silhouette of the mountain has the appearance of the section of an inverted soup-plate.

[Illustration: silhouette of kuh-i-kwajah.]

Major Sykes, in the _Royal Geographical Society's Journal_, describes this mountain as resembling in shape "an apple," but surely if there ever was anything in the world that had no resemblance whatever to "an apple" it was this mountain. It would be curious to know what Major Sykes calls "an apple."

The diagram here appended of the outline of the mountain, and indeed the photograph given by Major Sykes in the _Royal Geographical Society's Journal_, February, 1902, page 143, will, I think, be sufficient to convince the least observant on this point. Major Sykes is also no less than 500 feet out in his estimate of the height of the hill. The summit is 900 feet above the plain--not 400 feet as stated by him.

The altitude at the base is 2,050 feet, and at the summit 2,950 feet. As we rounded the mountain to the southward to find a place at which we could climb to the top, we saw a very ancient fort perched on the summit of the mountain commanding the ruins of Kala-i-Kakaha, or the "city of roars of laughter,"--a quaint and picturesque city built on the steep slope of the south escarpment of the mountain.


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