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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

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LETTER sxv             AN ATASH-KARDAH                       197

cipitously, at the narrowest part of the throat, the fine
mountain Baba All. A long valley, full of cultivation
and bearing fine crops of cotton, a pass through the red
range of Kizil Kabr, and a long descent brought us
to a great alluvial plain through which passes the river
Jagatsu on its way to the Dead Sea of Urmi. Broad
expanses of shingle, trees half-buried, and a number of
wide shingly water-channels witness to the destructive-
ness of this stream. A severe dust storm rendered the
end of the march very disagreeable, as the path was
obliterated, and it was often impossible to see the horses'
ears. In winter and spring this Jagatsu valley is com-
pletely flooded, and communication is by boats. There
are nearly 150 villages in the district, peopled almost
entirely by Kurds and Turks, and there are over 200
nomad tents. The Jagatsu is celebrated for its large fish.

When the storm abated we were close to Sain Kala,
a picturesque but ruinous fort on a spur of some low
hills, with a town of 300 houses at its base. In the
eastern distance rises the fine mountain Pira Mah, and
between it and Sain Kala is a curious mound—full of
ashes, the people said—a lofty truncated cone, evidently
the site of an Atash-Kardah, or fire-temple. This town
is in the centre of a very fertile region. Its gardens and
orchards extend for at least a mile in every direction,
and its melons are famous and cheap—only 6d. a dozen
just now.

It is a thriving and rising place. A new bazar is
being built, with much decorative work in wood. The
junction of the roads to Tabriz from Kirmanshah
and Hamadan, with one route to Urmi, is in the
immediate neighbourhood, and the place is busy with
the needs of caravans. It looks much like a Chinese
Malay settlement, having on either side of its long narrow
roadway a row of shops, with rude verandahs in front.