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SECTION II.-THE PIR PANTSAL RANGE.
41. In order to understand correctly the data relating to the ancient topography of the mountains around Kasmir orography. Kaśmir, it is necessary to acquaint ourselves with their actual configuration and character. In the following account it will be possible only to indicate the most prominent features of this mountain system, and those directly connected with the historical data under discussion. For detailed information on Kaśmir orography a reference to the lucid and instructive account in MR. DREW's work may be specially recommended.1
The mountain ring enclosing Kaśmir is divided into three main ranges. One of these, usually designated as the Pir Pantsal Range, forms the boundary of the Kaśmir Valley to the south and southwest. It may be considered to begin from the southernmost part of the Valley where the Banahal Pass, 9200 feet above the sea, marks the lowest depression in the chain of mountains. After running for about 35 miles from east to west the range turns to the north-northwest. In this direction it continues for about fifty miles more, and after attaining its greatest elevation in the Taṭakūti Peak (15,524 feet above the sen), gradually descends towards the Valley of the Vitasta. All important old routes towards the Panjab cross this great mountain barrier, and this circumstance enables us to trace some interesting information regarding its ancient topography.
Eastern portion of
The Banahal Pass at the eastern extremity of the range must owing to its small elevation have always been a convenient route of communication towards the Upper Cinab Valley and the eastern of the Panjab hill-states. It takes its modern name from a village at the south foot of the pass which itself is mentioned in Kalhana's Chronicle by the name of BĀŅASĀLĀ. The castle of Bāṇaśālā was in Kalhaṇa's own time the scene of a memorable siege (A.D. 1130) in which the pretender Bhikṣācara was captured and killed. Coming from the Cinab Valley he had entered Visalātā,3 the hill district immediately south of the Banthal Pass with the view to an invasion of Kaśmir. As his move
1 See Jummoo, pp. 192-206.
See Rajat. viii. 1665 sqq. and note. Banahal is the direct phonetic derivative of Skr. Bāṇaśālā, medial Skr. í being regularly changed into h in Kaśmiri.
3 See Rajat. viii. 177. The name of Viṣalāṭā is probably preserved in that of the river Bichlari. Viṣalāṭā more than once served as a safe retreat for Kasmirian refugees; comp. Rājat, viii. 177, 697, 1074.
ment fell in the commencement of the winter, he could not have selected a more convenient route. The Banahal Pass is the only one across the Pir Pantsal Range on which communication is never entirely stopped by snowfall. Kalhana's narrative shows that the political and ethnographic frontier of Kasmir ran here as elsewhere on the watershed of the range. For the castle of Bāṇaśālā, though so near as to be visible already from the top of the pass (samkata), was already held by a Khaśa chief.
Proceeding westwards from Bānahāl we come to a group of three snowy peaks reaching above 15,000 feet. With their bold pyramidal summits they form conspicuous objects in the panorama of the range as seen from the Valley. Kasmir tradition locates on them the seats from which Vişņu, Siva and Brahman, according to the legend already related, fought Jalodbhava and desiccated the Satisaras. The westernmost and highest of these peaks (15,523 feet) forms the famous NAUBANDHANA Tirtha. According to the legend related in the Nilamata and other texts and connected with the Indian deluge story, Viṣṇu in his fish Avatāra had bound to this peak the ship (nau) into which Durgā had converted herself to save the seeds of the beings from destruction. At the foot of this peak and to the northwest of it, lies a mountain lake over two miles long known now as Kōnsar Nāg, the KRAMASARAS Or Kramasara of the Nilamata and Māhātmyas. It is supposed to mark a footstep (krama) of Viṣņu, and is the proper object of the Naubandhana pilgrimage.
About 8 miles straight to the west of this lake, the range is crossed by a pass, over 14,000 feet high, known now by the name of Sidau or Budil. It lies on a route which in an almost straight line connects Srinagar with Akhnūr and Siālkōt in the Panjab plain. Running up and down high ridges it is adapted only for foot traffic, but owing to its shortness was formerly a favourite route with Kaśmiris." The name Sidau is given to the pass from the first village reached by it on the
1 Rājat. viii. 1674, 1683. Saṁkața is the regular term for 'pass.'
2 Marked on maps as 'Brama Sakal,' perhaps a corruption for Brahmasikhara 'Brahman's peak.'
8 See Nilamata, 33 sqq.; Haracar. iv. 27; Srīv. i. 474 sqq.; Sarvāvatāra iii. 4, 12; v. 43, etc.
4 See Sriv. i. 482 sqq. where a visit of Sultan Zainu-l-'abidin to this lake is related at length; Nilamata, 121, 1272; Naubandhanamāhātmya, passim; Sarvāvatāra iii. 10; v. 174, etc.
5 According to DREW, Jummoo, p. 524, the distance from Jammu to Srinagar by the Sidau route is reckoned at 129 miles while via the Banahal it is 177 miles.
The name Budil is given to the pass from the hill-district adjoining it on the south; compare my note Rajat. vi. 318.
Kasmir side. It is by this name, in its original form SIDDHAPATHA, that the pass is mentioned in Kalhana's Chronicle as the route chosen for a pretender's irruption in Sussala's reign.1
A snowy peak close to the west of the pass of Siddhapatha marks the point where the main range changes its direction towards northnorthwest. From the same point there branches off in a westerly direction the lower Ratan Pir Range to which we shall have to refer below. Beyond this lie the passes of Rūpri and Darhāl, both above 13,000 feet in height. They are not distinctly named in the Chronicles. But as they give most direct access to Rajauri, the ancient Rajapuri, and are crossed without much trouble during the summer months they are likely to have been used from an early time. Near the Darbāl Pass lies the Nandan Sar, one of the numerous tarns which along this portion of the chain mark the rock-ground beds of old glaciers. It is probably the Nandana Nāga of the Nilamata.
Pir Pantsal Route.
About five miles due north of the Nandan Sar we reach the lowest dip in the central part of the whole range. It is marked by the pass known as Pir Pantsāl, 11,400 feet high. The route which crosses it has from early days to the present time been the most frequented line of communication from Kaśmir to the central part of the Panjab. The frequent references which the Chronicles make to this route, permit us to follow it with accuracy from the point where it enters the mountains. This is in the valley of the Rembyāra River (Ramaṇyāṭavī), a little below the village of Hür pōr.
This place, the ancient S'URAPURA, is often referred to as the entrance station for those reaching Kaśmīr from Rājapuri and the neighbouring places, or vice versa as the point of departure for those travelling in the opposite direction. Surapura was founded by Sura, the minister of Avantivarman, in the 9th century evidently with the intention of establishing a convenient emporium on this important trade-route. He transferred to this locality the watch-station (dranga) of the pass. Its site, as I have shown in my Notes on the Ancient Topography of the Pir Pantsal Route, can still be traced at the place known as Ilahi Darwaza ('the gate of God'), a short distance above the village. We find the
1 See Rajat. viii. 557. In the Chronicles of Srivara and his successors the tract about Sidan is repeatedly referred to as Siddhädeśa, an evident adaptation of the Ks. form of the name.
2 See Rajat. iii. 227, Note D, § 1.
8 Compare Rajat. v. 39 note.
♦ See J. A. S. B., 1895, p. 385. This paper should be compared for all details regarding the other sites along this route.
commanders of this frontier-station more than once engaged in military operations against intending invaders from the other side of the mountains.
Ascending the valley of the Rembyār? or Ramanyaṭavi for about 7 miles we reach the point where the streams coming from the Pir Pantsal and Rūpri Passes unite. In the angle formed by them rises a steep rocky hillock which bears on its top a small ruined fort known as Kāmelankōth. These ruins probably go back only to the time of 'Aṭā Muḥammad Khan,' the Afghān Governor of Kasmir, who, about 1812, fortified the Pir Pantsal Route against the Sikh invasion then threatening. But I have proved in the above-quoted paper that they mark the original position of the ancient watch-station on this route before its transfer to Surapura. Kalbaņa, iii. 227, calls this site Kramavarta. This name is rendered by a glossator of the 17th century as Kāmelanakoṭṭa and still survives in the present Kāmelankōṭh (*Kramavartānāṁ koṭṭa).
43. The old 'Imperial Road' constructed in early Mughal times then ascends the narrow valley, keeping on
Hastivanja. its left side high above the Pir Pantsal stream. At a distance of about four miles above Kāmelankōṭh and close to the Mughal Sarai of 'Aliābād, a high mountain-ridge slopes down from the south and falls off towards the valley in a wall of precipitous cliffs. The ridge is known as Hast'vanj. This name and the surviving local tradition makes it quite certain that we have here the spot at which a curious legend told by Kalhaṇa was localized from early times.
The Chronicle, i. 302 sqq. relates of King Mihirakula whose identity with the White Hun ruler of that name (circ. 515-550 A.D.) is not doubtful, that when on his return from a tour of conquest through India he reached the Gate of Kaśmir,' he heard the death-cry of an elephant which had fallen over the precipice. The gruesome sound so delighted the cruel king that he had a hundred more elephants rolled down at the same spot. The old glossator on the passage informs us that "since that occurrence the route by which Mihirakula returned, is called Hastivanja." The Persian Chroniclers too in reproducing the anecdote give Hastivanj as the name of the locality.
The local tradition of the neighbouring hill tracts still knows the story of a king's elephants having fallen down here into the gorge below. It also maintains that the old route to the Pass, in the times before the construction of the
Imperial Road', crossed the Hast'vañj
ridge and followed throughout the right bank of the Pir Pantsāl
1 J. A. S. B., 1895, pp. 384 sq.
2 Compare J. A. S. B., 1895, pp. 378 sqq.
J. 1. 10
stream. This is fully borne out by a statement of Abu-l-Fazl. Describing the several routes available on the march from Bhimbhar to Kaśmir, he clearly distinguishes "the route of Hastivanj (MSS. Hastivatar) which was the former route for the march of troops," from the Pir Pantsal route' which Akbar used on his visits to Kasmir.
The name Hast1vanj contains in its first part undoubtedly hast, the Ks. derivative of Skr. hastin, elephant.' The second part is connected by the Persian compilators with the root vanj meaning 'to go' in Western Panjābi. The close connection between the name and the local legend already heard by Kalhaṇa is evident enough. But whether the latter had any foundation in fact or merely arose from some 'popular etymology' of the name, cannot be decided.
The story helps in any case to make it quite clear that the ancient route from the Pir Pantsal Pass kept to the right or southern side of the valley. My enquiries on the spot showed that this route though neglected for many centuries is passable for laden animals and not unfrequently used by smugglers.2
44. 'Aliābād Sarai is a Mughal hospice erected for the shelter of travellers about half a mile above Hast1vanj. Pancaladhārāmaṭha.
It is about the highest point on the ascent to the pass where fuel can conveniently be obtained. I think it hence probable that the Matha or hospice which Kṣemendra mentions on the Pir Pantsal Pass, must have been situated somewhere in this neighbourhood.
1 See Ain-i Akb., ii. pp. 347 sq. The form Hastivatar in the text is a clerical error for Hastivanj, easily explained in Persian characters.
2 Dr. BERNIER who in the summer of 1665 accompanied Aurangzeb's court to Kasmir, has left us, in his Ninth Letter to M. de Merveilles, an accurate and graphic account of the Pir Pantsal Route. While ascending the Pass from the Panjab side he passed the spot where two days earlier an accident had happened curiously resembling Mihirakula's story. Fifteen of the elephants carrying ladies of the Imperial seraglio, owing to some confusion in the line of march, fell over the precipice and were lost; see Bernier's Travels, ed. Constable, p. 407. The curious Map of Kasmir given in the Amsterdam edition of 1672 shows accordingly the 'Pire Penjale' mountain with a troop of elephants rolling in picturesque confusion over its side.
Former editions of Ince's 'Hand-book' placed the scene of this accident at a spot called Lal Ghulām just opposite Hastivañj on the 'Imperial Road.' It is evident that this wrong location was due to the original compiler having somehow confused Bernier's account and the local tradition referring to Hastivanj. The edition of 1888, p. 64, rectifies this mistake, but still indicates Lal Ghulam as the site "of many a dreadful accident" before the causeway of the 'Imperial Road' was made. As a matter of fact, the left side of the valley was not used at all as a route before the construction of the 'Imperial Road' along its cliffs.
Of the accident on Aurangzeb's march no recollection survives.