By Victoria Schofield
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Additional info for Afghan Frontier: Feuding and Fighting in Central Asia
The hill station called Nathia Gali, with its perfect climate, took its name from a local prince Nathia Khan (Gali meaning valley). At an altitude of over 8,000 feet it became a favoured holiday resort for the British. Abbottabad, the main town in Hazara, is named after James Abbott who was a popular nineteenth-century administrator; and Haripur takes its name from Ranjit Singh’s general, Hari Singh, from the time when the Sikhs ruled the Punjab. A legend surrounds the name of the lake of Saiful Maluk in the valley of Kagan at the northern tip of Hazara, near the town of Naran; a prince of Delhi heard that a fairy queen lived in the mountains near the great 26,660-foot mountain of Nanga Parbat (‘the Naked Mountain’) in Chilas State.
Further mountain ranges, the Karakorams in Kashmir and Tibet, the Himalayas in Nepal, bind the northern edge of the Indian sub-continent. And in spite of the high altitudes, the British sent agents and explorers like Younghusband to Chitral as well as to the states of Gilgit, Hunza and Kashmir, to keep an eye on the northern frontier, observe the channels of trade and compete with any Russian presence. ’ Once they had crossed it, ‘the descent on the other side was steep and slippery, mules kept sliding; in the pine forest below I saw a mule fall over the edge and down the steep hillside like a cannon-ball, with its legs curled up, till brought to a halt by a tree far below.
Between the towns of Torkham on the border and Jalalabad, ‘you traverse a characteristic Central Asian scene: a vast stony plateau rimmed by remote mountains, the whole slightly tilted,’ observed Ian Stephens. ’ In spite of the long and dusty journey, there are, as Peter Mayne discovered on his travels, compensations, ‘such as the sudden emergence of the Hindu Kush sprawled like a snow leopard all over the north’. And on arriving in Kabul, ‘the landscape opens out and when this happens you can forget everything that has gone before and thank God for such loveliness as the climax to such a journey.
Afghan Frontier: Feuding and Fighting in Central Asia by Victoria Schofield