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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

A short distance to the east of the Ziarat


We passed a strange mount shaped like a mushroom, and the same formation could be noticed on a smaller scale in many other smaller hills, the lower portion of which had been corroded by wind or water or both, until the petrified centre of the hill remained like a stem supporting a rounded cap of semi-petrified earth above it.

From the west there descended another water channel, quite dry. We next found ourselves in a large basin one mile across and with an outlet to the north-east, at which spot a square castle-shaped mountain stared us in the face. A similar fortress, also of natural formation, was to the south-south-west, and between these two the Robat track was traced. Another outlet existed to the south-east. To the west, north, east and south-east there were a great many sand-hills, and to the south-south-west high rugged mountains.

A strong south-westerly gale was blowing and the sky was black and leaden with heavy clouds. We were caught in several heavy showers as we proceeded along a broad flat valley amid high and much broken-up black mountains (north-west) the innumerable sharp pointed peaks of which resembled the teeth of a saw. At their foot between them and our track stretched a long screen of sand accumulations--in this case facing north-west instead of west, the alteration in the direction being undoubtedly due to the effect of the mountains on the direction of the wind.

To the east there were rocks of a bright cadmium yellow colour, some 45 feet high, with deposits of sand and gravel on them as thick again (45 feet). The mountains behind these rocks showed a similar formation, the yellow rock, however, rising to 120 feet with rock above it of a blackish-violet colour, getting greenish towards the top where more exposed to the wind.

The valley along which we were travelling averaged about 200 yards wide, from the sand hills on one side to those on the other, and was at an incline, the eastern portion being much lower than the western. The yellow rocks at the side bore marks of having been subjected to the corrosive action of water, which must occasionally fill this gully to a great height during torrential rains.

We came to a most interesting point--the Malek Siah Ziarat, which in theory marks the point where the three coveted countries, _i.e._, Persia, Afghanistan and Beluchistan, meet. The actual frontier, however, is on the summit of the watershed, a short distance to the east of the Ziarat.

This Ziarat was a fine one, of the Beluch pattern, not covered over by a building such as those, for instance, that we had found on Kuh-i-Kwajah. There seemed to be a fate against photographing these Ziarats. It was only under the greatest disadvantages that I was ever able to photograph them. On this particular occasion I had hardly time to produce my camera before a downpour, such as I had seldom experienced, made it impossible to take a decent picture of it.

There was a central tomb 15 feet long, of big round white stones, supported on upright pillars of brown and green stone, and a white marble pillar at each end. Circular white marble slabs were resting on the tomb itself, and a few feet from this tomb all round was a wall, 3 feet high, of upright pillars, of brown and green stone, forming an oblong that measured 20 feet by 8 feet, with a walled entrance at its south-eastern extremity. An additional wall like a crescent protected the south-eastern end of the oblong, and due east in a line were three stone cairns with bundles of upright sticks fixed into them, on which hung rags of all colours.


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