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LETTER xvi      TANG-I-DARKASH WARE ASH                     3

and a stampede of mules breaking my tent ropes, forbade
sleep. It was hot when we started the next morning,
still following up the Ardal valley and the Karun to
Kaj, a village on bare hummocks of gravel alongside of
the Karun, a most unpromising-looking place, but higher
up in a lateral valley there was a spring and a walled
orchard, full of luxuriant greenery, where we camped
under difficulties, for the only entrance was by a little
stream, leading to a low hole with a door of stone, such
as the Afghans use for security, and through which the
baggage could not be carried. The tents had to be
thrown over the wall. There was little peace, for num-
bers of the Kaj men sat in rows steadily staring, and
there were crowds of people for medicine, ushered in
by the ketchuda.

Four miles above Ardal is a most picturesque scene,
which, though I had ridden to it before, I appreciated far
more on a second visit. This is the magnificent gorge of
the Tang-i-Darkash Warkash, a gigantic gash or rift in
the great range which bounds the Ardal and Kaj valleys
on the north, and through which the river, on whose
lawn-like margin, the camps were pitched at Shamsabad,
find its way to the Karun. A stone bridge of a single
arch of wide span is thrown across the stream at its exit
from the mountains. Above the bridge are great masses
of naked rock, rising into tremendous precipices above
the compressed water, with roses and vines hanging out
of their clefts.

Below, the river suddenly expands, and there is a
small village, now deserted, with orchards and wheat-
fields in the depression in which the Darkash Warkash
finds its way across the Kaj valley, a region so sheltered
from the fierce sweep of the east wind, and so desirable
in other respects, that it bears the name of Bihishtabad,
the Mansion of Heaven.