Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
293
BALUCHISTAN

distance from Quetta. No part of Baluchistan is beyond the reach of the political officer, but there are many parts where he is not often seen. The climate of British Baluchistan is dry and bracing—even exhilarating—but the extremes of temperature lead to the development of fever in very severe forms. On the whole it is favourable to European existence.

South-west of the dividing railway lies the great block of Southern Baluchistan. Within this area the drainage generally trends south and west, either to the Arabian Sea or to the central swamps of Lora and Mashkel. The Hab river, which forms the boundary west of Karachi; the Purali (the ancient Arabus), which Southern.drains the low-lying flats of Las Bela; the Hingol (the ancient Tomerus) and the Dasht, which drain Makran, are all considerable streams, draining into the Arabian Sea and forming important arteries in the network of internal communication. An exception to the general rule is found in the Mulla, which carries the floods of the Kalat highlands into the Gandava basin and forms one of the most important of the ancient highways from the Indus plains to Kandahar. The fortress of Kalat is situated about midway between the sources of the Bolan and the Mulla, near a small tributary of the Lora (the river of Pishin and Quetta), about 6800 ft. above sea-level, on the western edge of a cultivated plain in the very midst of hills. (See Kalat.) To the north are the long sweeping lines of the Sarawan ridges, enclosing narrow fertile valleys, and passing away to the south-west to the edge of the Kharan desert. East and south are the rugged bands of Jalawan, amongst which the Mulla rises, and through which it breaks in a series of magnificent defiles in order to reach the Gandava plain. Routes which converge on Kalat from the south pass for the most part through narrow wooded valleys, enclosed between steep ridges of denuded hills, and, following the general strike of these ridges, they run from valley to valley with easy grades. Kalat is the “hub” or centre, from which radiate the Bolan, the Mulla and the southern Lora affluents; but the Lora drains also the Pishin valley on the north; the two systems uniting in Shorawak, to lose themselves in the desert and swamps to the west of Nushki, on the road to Seistan. Sixty miles south of Kalat, and beyond the Mulla sources, commences another remarkable hydrographic system which includes all southern and south-western Baluchistan. To the west lies the Kharan desert, with intermittent river channels enclosed and often lost in sand-waves ere they reach the Mashkel swamps on the far borders of Persia. To the south-west are the long sweeping valleys of Rakshan and Panjgur, which, curving northwards, likewise discharge their drainage into the Mashkel. Directly south are the beginnings of the meridional arteries, the Hab, the Purali and the Hingol, which end in the Arabian Sea, leaving a space of mountainous seaboard (Makran) south of the Panjgur and west of the Hingol, which is watered (so far as it is watered at all) by the long lateral Kej river and several smaller mountain streams. Thus southern Baluchistan comprises four hydrographical sections. First is the long extension from Kalat, southwards, of that inconceivably wild highland country which faces the desert of Sind, the foot of which forms the Indian frontier. This is the land of the Brahui, and the flat wall of its frontier limestone barrier is one of the most remarkable features in the configuration of the whole line of Indian borderland. For the first 60 m. from the sea near Karachi the Hab river is the boundary of Sind, and here, across the enclosing desolation of outcropping ridges and intervening sand, a road may be found into Makran. But from the point where the boundary leaves the Hab to follow the Kirthar range not a break occurs (save one) in 150 m. of solid rock wall, rising many thousands of feet straight from the sandy plain. The one break, or gorge, which allows the Kej waters to pass, only forms a local gateway into a mass of impracticable hills. Secondly, to the west of this mountain wilderness, stretching upwards from the sea in a wedge form between the Brahui highlands and the group of towering peaks which enclose the Hingol river and abut on the sea at Malan, are the alluvial flats and delta of the Purali, forming the little province of Las Bela, the home of the Las Rajput. In this hot and thirsty corner of Baluchistan, ruled by the Jam or Cham, there is a fairly wide stretch of cultivation, nourished by the alluvial detritus of the Purali and well irrigated. In a little garden to the south of the modern town of Bela (the ancient Armabel) is the tomb of Sir Robert Sandeman, who spent the best part of an energetic and active life in the making of Baluchistan.

The boundary between Baluchistan and Afghanistan, starting from Nushki, cuts across the Lora hamun, leaving the frontier post of Chagai to Baluchistan, and from this point to the Malik Siah Koh it is based partly on the central mountainous water-divide already referred to, and partly runs in straight Western boundary.lines through the desert south of the salt swamps of the Gaud-i-Zirreh. It thus passes 50 m. to the south of the Helmund, entirely shutting off that valley and the approach to Seistan between the Helmund and the Gaud-i-Zirreh (the only approach from the east in seasons of flood) from Baluchistan. But it leaves a connected line of desert route between Nushki and Seistan, which is open in all ordinary seasons, to the south, and this route has been largely developed, posts or serais having been established at intervals and wells having been dug. There is already a promising khafila traffic along it and the railway has been extended from Quetta to Nushki.

Geology.[1]—The mountain ranges of Baluchistan consist chiefly of Cretaceous and Tertiary beds, which are thrown into a series of folds running approximately parallel to the mountain ridges. The folds are part of an extensive system arranged as if in a festoon hanging southwards between Peshawar and Mount Ararat, but with the outer folds looped up at Sibi so as to form the subsidiary festoon of the Suliman and Bugti Hills. Outside the folds lie the horizontal deposits of the Makran coast, and within them lies the stony desert of north-western Baluchistan. In the broader depressions between the mountain ridges the beds are said to be but little disturbed. Besides the Cretaceous and Tertiary beds, Jurassic rocks are known to take a considerable part in the formation of the hills of British Baluchistan. Triassic beds lie along the south side of the upper Zhob, and Fusulina limestone has also been found there. With the exception of the later Tertiary beds the deposits are mostly marine. But in the upper Cretaceous and lower Tertiary, especially in north-western Baluchistan, there is an extensive development of volcanic tuffs and conglomerates, which are probably contemporaneous with the Deccan Traps of India. Great masses of syenite and diorite were intruded during the Tertiary period, and within the curve of the folded belt a line of recent volcanic cones stretches from western Baluchistan into eastern Persia. In Baluchistan these volcanoes appear to be extinct; though the Koh-i-Tafdan, beyond the Persian frontier, still emits vapours at frequent intervals. The lavas and ashes which form these cones are mostly andesitic. Mud “volcanoes” occur upon the Makran coast, but it is doubtful whether these are in any way connected with true volcanic agencies.

So far as is known, the mineral wealth of Baluchistan is inconsiderable. Coal has been worked in the Tertiary beds along the Harnai route to Quetta, but the seams are thin and the quality poor. A somewhat thick and viscid form of mineral oil is met with at Khattan in the Marri country; and petroleum of excellent quality has been found in the Sherani hills and probably occurs in other portions of the Suliman Range. Sulphur has long been worked on a small scale in the Koh-i-Sultan, the largest of the volcanoes of western Baluchistan.

Races.—Within the Baluchistan half of the desert are to be found scattered tribes of nomads, called Rekis (or desert people), the Mohamadani being the most numerous. They are probably of Arab origin. This central desert is the Kir, Kej, Katz or Kash Kaian of Arabic medieval geography and a part of the ancient Kaiani kingdom; the prefix Kej or Kach always denoting low-level flats or valleys, in contradistinction to mountains or hills. The Mohamadani nomads occupy the central mountain region, to the south of which lie the Mashkel and Kharan deserts, inhabited by a people of quite different origin, who possess something approaching to historical records. These are the Naushirwanis, a purely Persian race, who passed into Baluchistan within historic times, although the exact date is uncertain. The Naushirwanis appear to be identical with the Tahuki or Tahukani who are found in Perso-Baluchistan. (A place Taoce is mentioned by Nearchus, by Strabo and by Ptolemy.) They are a fine manly race of people, in many respects superior to their modern compatriots of Iran. Between the Naushirwanis of the Kharan desert and Mashkel, and the fish-eating population of the coast, enclosed in the narrow valleys of the Rakshan and Kej tributaries, or about the sources of the Hingol, are tribes innumerable, remnants of races which may be recognized in the works of Herodotus, or may be traced in the records of recent immigration. Equally scattered through the whole country, and almost everywhere recognizable, is the underlying Persian population (Tajik), which is sometimes represented by a locally dominant tribe, but more frequently by the agricultural slave and bondsman of the general community. Such are the Dehwars or Dehkans, and the Durzadas (Derusiaei of Herod. i. 125), who extend all through Makran, and, as slaves, are called Nakibs. The Arabs have naturally left their mark most strongly impressed on the ethnography of Baluchistan. All Rind tribes claim to be of Arab origin and of Koraish extraction. As the Arabs occupied all southern Baluchistan and Seistan from a very early date, and finally spread through the Sind valley, where they remained till the 12th century, their genealogical records have become much obscured and it is probable that there is not

  1. See W. T. Blanford, “Geological Notes on the Hills in the neighbourhood of the Sind and Punjab Frontier between Quetta and Dera Ghazi Khan,” Mem. Geol. Surv. India, vol. xx. pt. 2 (1883); E. Vredenburg, “A Geological Sketch of the Baluchistan Desert, and part of Eastern Persia,” Mem. Geol. Surv. India, vol. xxxi. pt. 2 (1901); E. Vredenburg, “On the Occurrence of a Species of Halorites in the Trias of Baluchistan,” Rec. Geol. Surv. India, vol. xxxi. (1904), pp. 162-166, pls. 17, 18.