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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

On the top of the pass we saw a Mesjid


The plain was subdivided into three. In the first portion, four miles wide, and one broad, the _monguli_ shrub was abundant, and, like the _kotor_, was pronounced a useless plant, despised by all beasts. In the second plain we found more _kotor_, and in the last--very sandy--a lot of tamarisk. The ground was cut about by numerous dry water-channels, and after a very easy march of some eleven miles we came to the bungalow of Kishingi, having ascended from 3,745 feet at the Nushki Tashil to 4,720 feet at the Kishingi rest-house. We had seen a great many white pillar posts indicating the line of the future railroad.

We had now quite a different type of rest-houses--two-storied, and very nice too, the two rooms being comfortably enough furnished. A caravanserai was attached to the bungalow.

Still going east we crossed another narrow valley, through which the railway was traced, and after going over a pass 5,250 feet we were in a valley with a lot of _johr_ growing upon it--a plant which the Beluch say is deadly to man and beast alike. On the top of the pass we saw a Mesjid, and several more were found on descending on the other side as well as a graveyard.

A curious white Mesjid was to be seen here shaped like an 8, and erected on the site where a Beluch had been killed. A conical mountain to the south, the Mudonek Ateng, was famous, my camel driver told me, because a Beluch fakir is said to have remained on the top of it for 25 days without food or water. A small stone shelter could be seen on the top of the mountain, which, they say, had been the fakir's abode during his long fast.

There is very little of special interest on this well-known part of the route near Quetta. We rose for several miles to a higher pass (5,700 feet), and were then on a higher flat plateau with a high range stretching half-way across it from south-south-east to north-north-west. One's attention was at once drawn to the north-east by two renowned peaks in British Beluchistan, the Chiltan, and further off the Takatu Mount. At their foot on the other side lay Quetta. In front of these we had the Hilti range stretching north-west to south-east, ending in Mount Barag on the north, and the two Askhan hills.

This part seemed more populated, and we left to the east the tribe of Gurghena, comprising four villages at intervals of about one mile from one another. The last was situated in the wide valley to the west of the Hilti range. Other villages could be seen further in the valley extending towards the south, which were supplied with water by a river flowing along the valley. A few _ghedan_, or low grass huts, were scattered about the valley, and some black tents 51/2 feet high, with one side raised like an awning by means of sticks. A pen for sheep was erected near them with tamarisk branches and sticks.

We were very thirsty and went to one of these tents. The woman who occupied it gave us some water, but, although in abject poverty, angrily refused to accept a silver coin in payment, saying that Beluch cannot be paid for hospitality. Water costs nothing. God gives water for all the people alike, and, if they were to accept payment, misfortune would fall upon them.

Further on we passed the village of Paden, with cultivation all round and plenty of water. The chief had quite an imposing residence, with a tower and castellated entrance gate, and the characteristic cylindrical mangers for horses in front of his dwelling. But although more elaborate, even this house--the largest I had seen--was absolutely devoid of windows, except for a loop-hole to the east of the tower, which I think was more for defensive purposes than for ventilation's sake.


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