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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And he is the patron saint of Beluch robbers


"The fissures," MacMahon says, "made by rain and weather action down its sides give it a fluted appearance from a distance. We expected to find a high natural pillar, but were not prepared for the stupendous size of the reality. Judging from its width at the base, which is over 100 yards in diameter, the height must be no less than from 500 to 800 feet. The Sultan, in whose honour this range is named, is an ancient mythical celebrity, who is said to be buried in the vicinity of the mountains. His full name is Sultan-i-Pir-Khaisar, and he is the patron saint of Beluch robbers. Hence these mountains have a reputation as a robber resort. The Sultan Mountains abound in the assafoetida plant, and in the summer months traders come in numbers from Afghanistan to collect it."

I was in a great hurry to return to England, and could not afford the detour entailed by going near enough to photograph the "Spear." Besides, Major MacMahon gives a capital photograph of it in the _Royal Geographical Society's Journal_.

At Kundi, a big Ziarat, with many trunks of tamarisk trees, some 10 feet high, supporting bleached horns, has been erected to the Kuh-i-Sultan. Hundreds of beautiful pieces of marble and alabaster of all sizes, colours and shapes have been deposited here, as usual, but the sand is fast covering the whole Ziarat.

From Kundi the track, which has come in a south-east-east (120 deg. b.m.) direction, now turned sharply to north-east (60 deg. b.m.). Ten high mud and stone _neshans_--or _Tejia_ (cairns) as they are called by the Beluch--have been erected to warn the traveller. Four curious mounds with tufts of high tamarisk trees upon them are to be seen at Kundi. There is fair grazing for camels all along. One is specially attracted by the peculiar stones corroded into all sorts of shapes, strewn all over the ground.

We made a double march on that day, and--barring the quaint Sultan Mountains which we saw all along--had but a very flat uninteresting country all round.

We arrived during the evening at Tretoh, having been nineteen hours on the saddle. It was bitterly cold at night, the drop in the temperature being very great immediately after the sun went down. At this station, too, the water tasted very bad--almost undrinkable--but was not necessarily unwholesome. We were glad to get into the thana and light up a big fire in the centre of one of the mud rooms, but no sooner had we done this than it got so hot that I had to find a cooler abode in the new bungalow in course of construction, which had not yet a roof.

It was always a marvel to me how the natives could stand the great heat in the rooms with no draught for the smoke and heat to get away. It positively roasted one alive, but my men seemed to revel in it. On the other hand they suffered from the cold to a degree that was also unaccountable to me. On many occasions I have heard my camel-driver moan from pain in his frozen toes and fingers, but, true enough, when out in the open desert the wind was rather penetrating, and his clothes, barring a waistcoat, consisted of thin white cotton garments. Personally, I never had occasion to make a change in my tropical clothing (I could not if I had wanted to), nor did I ever once have to use an overcoat. But--I seldom know what it is to feel cold.

We delayed our departure the next morning to see if the gale would abate, but at 10 a.m. we had to venture out. One was rather at the mercy of the wind on the hump of the camel. It did blow! The wind hampered the camels greatly and was a nuisance all round, as one could only by an effort remain on the saddle. The flying sand filled one's eyes and ears, and the wind catching the brim of one's hat made such a hissing noise that one had to find a more comfortable headgear by wrapping up one's head in a blanket.


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