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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/56

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RIVERS

the Indus receives the Zanskar, which drains the south-east of Kashmir. After another 150 miles it flows through the basin, in which Skardo, the principal town in Baltistan, is situated. Above Skardo a large tributary, the Shyok, flows in from the east at an elevation of 8000 feet. The Shyok and its affluent, the Nubra, rise in the giant glaciers to the south-west of the Karakoram pass. After the Skardo basin is left behind the descent is rapid. The river rushes down a tremendous gorge, where it appears to break through the western Himalaya, skirts Haramosh, and at a point twenty-five miles east of Gilgit bends abruptly to the south. Shortly after it is joined from the west by the Gilgit river, and here the bed is about 4000 feet above sea level. Continuing to flow south for another twenty miles it resumes its westernly course to the north of Nanga Parvat and persists in it for 100 miles. Our political post of Chilas lies in this section on the south bank. Fifty or sixty miles west of Chilas the Indus turns finally to the south. From Jalkot, where the Kashmir frontier is left, to Palosi below the Mahaban mountain it flows for a hundred miles through territory over which we only exercise political control. Near Palosi, 812 miles from the source, the river enters British India. In Kashmir the Indus and the Shyok in some places flow placidly over alluvial flats, and at others with a rapid and broken current through narrow gorges. At Skardo their united stream is said, even in winter, to be 500 feet wide and nine or ten feet deep. If one of the deep gorges, as sometimes happens, is choked by a landslip, the flood that follows when the barrier finally bursts may spread devastation hundreds of miles away. To the north of the fertile Chach plain in Attock there is a wide stretch of land along the Indus, which still shows in its stony impoverished soil the effects of the great flood of 1841.