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.