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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/45

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The Gomal Pass as a trade route.— East of Kajuri Kach the Gomal flows through tribal territory to the Gomal pass from which it debouches into the plains of the Dera Ismail Khan district' The Gomal route is the oldest of all trade routes. Down it there yearly pours a succession of kdfdas (caravans) led and followed up by thousands of well-armed Pathan traders, called Powindahs, from the plains of Afghanistan to India. The Powindahs mostly belong to the Ghilzai tribes, and are not therefore true Afghans[1]. Leaving their women and children encamped within British territory on our border, and their arms in the keeping of our frontier political officials, the Powindah makes his way southwards with his camel loads of fruit and silk, bales of camel and goat hair or sheepskin goods, carpets and other merchandise from Kabul and Bokhara, and conveys himself through the length and breadth of the Indian peninsula .... He returns yearly to the cool summits of the Afghan hills and the open grassy plains, where his countless flocks of sheep and camels are scattered for the summer grazing" (Holdich's India, pp. 80-81).

Physical features of hilly country between Peshawar and the Gomal river.— The physical features of the hill country between Peshawar and the Gomal pass may best be described in the words of Sir Thomas Holdich:

"Natural landscape beauty, indeed, may here be measured to a certain extent by altitude. The low ranges of sun-scorched, blackened ridge and furrow formation which form the approaches to the higher altitudes of the Afghan upland, and which are almost as regularly laid out by the hand of nature in some parts of the frontier as are the parallels .... of the engineer who is besieging a fortress — these are by no means ' things of beauty,' and it is this class of formation and this form

  1. They are held to be of Turkish origin.