to be very capable, and well adapted to barley and wheat; rice might also
be raised as a summer crop. With regard to water, if there is a scarcity
of this element, it is due to the indolence of the people. I have not
yet seen any vestiges of buildings, topes, etc. to indicate that Candahar
has ever been a very populous place, the want of trees considering the
ease with which they may be cultivated, is a strong evidence of the
extreme laziness of the Affghans, who appear to me remarkably low in the
scale of civilization; and in personal habits, very generally
Poplars, mulberries, and willows are the principal trees: the poplar is
very much akin to the _Sofaida_ of the Sutledge, it is a handsome tree,
with a fine roundish crown. The fruit trees generally appear small in
gardens; lettuces and onions are commonly cultivated, especially the
latter, fields of Lucerne are very abundant, and I believe clover also; a
pony load of the former now costs five annas, but it is sufficient for a
day's consumption of two or three horses. The pomegranate attains the
ordinary size. In gardens two or three Ranunculaceae, Jasminum, pinks,
sweet-williams, marigolds, stocks, and wall-flowers, are common, with a
broad-leaved species of flag, the flowers of which I have not seen.
The crops vary according to the mode in which they have been watered; if
this has been properly done, they are rich. Some of the fields are
tolerably clean, others filled with weeds, among which a Dipsacea, and
one or two Centaureae are very common.
The villages are not generally defended: each house has its own
straggling direction, is built of mud, and the roof is generally dome-
shaped, and it has its own enclosure within a mud-wall. The houses are
very low, and indicate poverty, and want of ingenuity. The better order
appear always with arched roofs, and none are without picturesque ribs
The vineries here are so well enclosed, that there is no way of access
except by scaling the mud-wall: the vines are planted in trenches; a row
on each side, and allowed to run over the elevated spaces between the
trenches. In one garden pomegranates, a pomaceous tree, and mulberries,
whose fruit is now ripe but quite devoid of flavour, occurred. A
Zygophyllum, a beautiful Capparis, an Anthemis, Marrubium, Centaureoides
2, occurred as weeds, with Plantago, Phalaris, Cichorium.
For an excellent register of the thermometer at this place, I am indebted
to the kindness of Dr. Henderson; the range in the open air is from 60
degrees to 110 degrees!!!
The variations in the wet bulb are due to the currents of air, which
beginning about 11 A.M., pass into a rather constant strongish west wind
about 11.5 or 2 P.M., and even almost become hot. The climate is
excessively dry, as indicated by the effects it has on furniture, etc.
The difference of temperature between a tent, even with two flies or
double roof, and the open air in free situations, is by no means great;
thus when the thermometer was 105 degrees in part of my tent, it was
scarcely 110 degrees in the sun; in Capt. Thomson's large tent 102
degrees; placed against the outer _kunnat_, it rose to 105 degrees.
Hanging free with black cloth round the bulb, 112 degrees. But to shew
the great heating powers of the sun, the thermometer with the bulb,
placed on the ground and covered with the loose sand of the surface of
the soil, rose to 141 degrees.
Black partridges occur in the cornfields here, but in no great numbers.
Much of the cultivation of barley, wheat, and rye, is very luxuriant, but
the proportion of waste, to cultivated land is too considerable to argue
either a large population or active agricultural habits. Pastor roseus
occurs in flocks; it is evidently nearly allied to the _mina_. The
capabilities of this valley are considerable, more particularly when the
extreme readiness with which water is obtained in wells is considered, as
well as the nature of the soil, which is well adapted to husbandry.
Candahar, viewed from about a mile to the west of our camp, backed by the
picturesque hills (one bluff one in particular), the numbers and verdure
of the trees, the break in the mountains on the Herat road, presents a
_8th_. - The installation of the Shah, which took place to-day on the
plain to the north of the city, was a spectacle worth seeing on account
of the grand display of troops; but there were very few of the
inhabitants of Candahar or surrounding villages present. Mulberries and
apricots are now ripening. Rats, a Viverra with a long body and short
legs, tawny with brown patches, face broad, blackish-brown, white band
across the forehead, and white margins to the ears which are large;
storks were seen when alarmed. Pastor roseus occurs in flocks; magpies,
swallows, swifts, and starlings. There is a garden with some religious
buildings, to which an avenue of young trees leads in a north-east
direction from one of the Cabul gates, for there are two on this face.
The buildings are not remarkable; nor are the trees, which are small; a
few planes (Platanus) occur, the most common is the _Benowsh_, a species
of ash, (Fraxinus) of no great size or beauty. The elegant palmate
leaved Pomacea likewise occurs, with the mulberry: the marigold is a
The fields are now ripening, this being the harvest-moon. Wild oats
occur commonly, although they are not made any use of; the seed is large,
and ripens sooner than any of the others; from the size of the
uncultivated specimens, I am sure that oats would form an excellent crop.
In the fields Cichorium is very common, and Carduacea, Centaurea cyanea,
Dipsaceae, and in certain low places an Arundo, are the most common
weeds; two or three Silenaceae, and Umbelliferae also occur. In the
ditches Typha, Butomus, watercresses, Alomioides, Ceratophyllum, Lemna
_gibba_? Confervae, Gramineae two or three, Ranunculus, Potamogeton, one
species immersa; Mentha, Sium.
On the _Chummuns_, which are of no extent, but which are pleasing from
their verdure and soft sward chiefly consisting of Carex, Trifolium,
Juncus rigidus, Santalacea, and Gentiana likewise prevail.
The fields of Lucerne are luxuriant, but require much water, the price of
which is very dear; one ass-load costs eight annas!!
Iris crocifolia is common in old cultivations.
The city is situated at the termination of one of the shingly slopes,
which are universal between the bases of the hills, and the cultivated
portion of the valley. The ditch is hence shingly, whereas an equal
depth in the cultivated parts would meet nothing but a sandy, light,
easily pulverizable brownish-yellow soil, tenacious, and very slippery
when wet. The tobacco crop is excellent.
_Candahar to Cabul_.
The good old _Moolla_ of a mosque, to which we resort daily, gives me the
following information about the vegetable products of this country, from
which it would seem, that every thing not producing food, is looked upon
with contempt. The fruit trees, are -
1. _Sha-aloo_, _Aloo-bookhara_, (damson), which has ripe fruit in
August, the same time as figs; _Zurd-aloo_, (apricot),
_Aloocha_ - apricot, _Shuft-aloo_, another kind of apricot; _Unar_,
(pomegranate); _Ungoor_, (grapes); _Unjeer_, (guava); _Bihee_, (figs);
_Umroot_, _Toot_, (mulberry); _Aloogoordaigoo_, _Shuft-aloo_, all these
_Aloos_ being Pomaceous.
The Elaeagnus is called Sinjit: it produces a small red fruit, used in
medicine as an astringent, it ripens in August, and sells at eight or
nine seers the rupee; it is exported in small quantities; but the plant
is not much esteemed.
The _Munjit_ is an article of much consequence; it is exported chiefly to
China and Bombay, some goes to Persia; the roots are occasionally dug up
after two years, but the better practise is to allow them five to seven:
the price is six Hindostanee maunds for a rupee. The herb is used for
camel fodder. The Affghan name is _Dlwurrung_.
The common Artemisia of this place is called _Turk_; the camels are not
so fond of it, as they were of the Sinab and Quettah sort; perhaps this
is due to their preferring Joussa, which is found in abundance.
The carrot is called _Zurduk_; it is dug in the cold months, and sown in
July; three seers are sold for a pice: both men and cattle use it.
_Turbooj_, (watermelon,) ripens in June; it is not watered after
springing up; four seers are sold for a pice. But I have not seen much
of this fruit.
The wheat is watered according to the quality of the soil, the better the
soil the less water is required, and this varies from four to eight
repetitions of water. _Jhow_ requires two waterings less. Wheat is
considered dear if less than one maund is sold for the rupee. One year
ago, three maunds of barley, and four of wheat were sold for a rupee.
Iris odora, _Soosumbur_; (the two kinds, and _Datura_ has the same name)
The timber trees, or rather trees not producing fruit, and which the
_Moolla_ thinks very lightly of, are the _Chenar_, (plane), _Pudda_,
(Poplar?), Baid, _Sofaida_.
The fig trees are often planted in rows, they are very umbrageous, and
look very healthy. These, and the mulberry, are the most common; next
are the bullace and damson. Neither are worth introducing to India, nor
have I seen any thing yet in the country that is so.
It is certainly the interest of the inhabitants to keep the army here as
long as our commissariat places so many rupees in their hands. It may
indeed be questionable whether with an overpowering army, the rates paid
for grain and other supplies for the troops should not be established by
authority rather than advancing money for grain at exorbitant rates, when
the crops are entirely within the command of foraging parties. _Atta_
now sells at two and three-quarter seers the rupee, a mere nominal fall,
for the dealers will only give fifteen annas for a Company's rupee.
There is a curious _hazy_ appearance of the atmosphere over the city in
the evening, occasioned by fine dusty particles from cattle, suspended in
air; which, from their fineness, are long in subsiding.
This curious hazy weather increases daily, yesterday evening was very
cloudy, and this morning the wind rather strong and southerly up to 8
A.M.: and at 5.5 P.M. the sun is either quite obscured, or the light so
diminished, that the eye rests without inconvenience on his image. In
the morning the wind strengthens as the sun attains height and power.
The old _Moolla_ says that this weather commences in Khorassan with the
setting in of the periodical rains in the north-western provinces of
India, and continues with them. From the direction of the wind it is
probably connected with the commencement of the south-west monsoon at
Bombay, for the rains at Delhi do not commence before June.
The haze is so strong at times that hills within three to five miles are
quite obscured; it tends to diminish the temperature considerably,
especially between seven and eight of a morning; curious gusts of hot
winds are observed, even when the general nature of the wind is cool.
_21st_. - A fine and clear cold morning; thermometer 56 degrees at 7 A.M.
in the tent. Air fresh; thermometer 75 degrees at 9 P.M. A few drops of
rain at 12; _cloudy generally_.
_22nd_. - Thermometer 48 degrees at 5 A.M. Similar weather, clear and
elastic: south winds continue but of less strength.
Easterly wind prevails in the morning up to 9 A.M., after which hour the
westerly hot wind, variable in strength, sets in: the range of the
thermometer is then somewhat increased, although in the house it does not
rise above 90 degrees.
The _Moolla_ tells me, that snow is of rare occurrence at Candahar; he
mentions one fall in about four or five years. The rains last for three
months, and happen in winter. During the winter all occupations out of
doors are suspended, and people wrap themselves up, and sit over fires.
Clouds are of very rare occurrence, and then only partial.
The clouds, if resulting from the south-west monsoon, ought to be
intercepted by the Paropamisus and Hindoo Koosh, and rain ought to fall
along these and about Ghuznee at this time. In the evening a cool wind
sets in, indicating a fall of rain somewhere.
Rarity of dews in Khorassan: as dews depend on a certain amount of
moisture either in the soil or atmosphere, it follows that in a very dry
climate no dews will occur. The occurrence of the dews here at this
period, is another proof that rain must have fallen somewhere (to the
southward), to which the coolness of the weather is attributable.
Yesterday and to-day, the thermometer at 5 A.M. stood at 48 degrees, 49
degrees; at 8 P.M. 75 degrees, 72 degrees, the daily range in the mosque
is from 70 degrees to 80 degrees. Capt. Thomson suggests that the dews
observed here are either confined to, or much greater in the _Chummuns_,
in which the water is very close to the surface, as indicated _inter_
_alia_ by the green turf.
The kinds of grapes are numerous; those earliest ripe are the black, and
a small red kind called _Roucha_; which will be ripe in the latter end of
this moon. _Kismiss_ another sort, comes in July. The _Tahibee_ is the
best kind produced here, and the dearest.
Tobacco is cultivated chiefly along the Arghandab; it is planted about
this season, and gathered in two or three months, and requires to be
watered ten or twelve times.
The barley is now fully ripe, and is generally cut and thrashed in some
places. Pears in gardens are now ripe.
Candahar valley is of great extent to the westward, or south-west and
The wasps, with large femora, I observe build their mud nests in houses.
The rarity of Lepidoptera, except perhaps some nocturnal moths, is
curious; Coleoptera are more common, but inconspicuous. Ants are
abundant in the mud walls. A small gnat with large noiseless wings, is
very annoying, and the bite very painful and irritating. Doves, and wild
pigeons are tolerably common, as also crested larks, and swifts.
Abundance of lizards; a venomous snake of brown colour, having an
abruptly attenuated tail.
Every thing that happens shows how credulous, and how unenquiring we are;
and in all cases out of our particular sphere, how extremely apt most are
to give excessive credit, where a moderate only is due. It is a generous
failing which it is difficult to condemn, particularly with regard to our
travellers in this direction. Instance Connolly, and certainly Gerard
whose acquaintance with Burnes and its results demands attention. It is
singular that his name scarcely occurs in Burnes' book, although his
scientific knowledge and MSS. submitted to Government, entitle him to be
considered an observant, and well-informed traveller. Pottinger is
another instance of what I have said above.
The general opinion is, and it is one which I have not discarded
entirely, that he threw himself into Herat, that he was throughout the
siege daily employed in the front of the garrison, and that it is owing
to his personal exertions that Herat was saved. I hear however on good
authority that he was at Herat accidentally, and wished to leave it when
the besiegers appeared, but was prevented by want of funds. So anxious
was he however to get away, as his leave of absence had expired, that he
was obliged to discover himself to Yar Mahommed, and request loans to
enable him to rejoin India. The Vizier at once secured him, took him to
Kamran, and hindered him from leaving, forcing him indeed to the
dangerous elevation of British Agent at Herat. His merits, if this be
true, rest on very different grounds from those generally supposed; his
courage however has been proved of a high moral cast.
The _Joussa_, the _Moolla_ tells me, is the _Kan Shootur_ or _Shootur_
_Kan_. Burnes' account of the _Turunjbeen_ or manna is correct, except
perhaps in the limits he assigns to its production. It is at any rate
produced here and sold in the bazar, its production while the plant is in
flower is curious, and worthy of examination; it may however be deposited
by an insect, in which case the probable period of its production would
be that of inflorescence.
There is some cultivation of Indian corn here, the plants have now
attained one-third of their growth.
Except in the immediate vicinity of the town, nothing can exceed the
sterility of the valley, or rather its desolation: scarcely a plant,
beyond the Peganum and _Joussa_, is to be found.
_Khaisee_, an excellent smooth skinned apricot, is now ripe, and is of
light yellowish colour, sometimes faintly spotted; it is a product from
grafts, the seeds are useless, as they do not continue the good qualities
of the fruit: it is here grafted on _zurd-aloo_, _thulk_, Potentilla
Melons and grapes are now coming in; the former, at least those I have
seen, have pale pulp, and are not superior. The grapes first ripe are
the ordinary black sort: we tasted yesterday some very good ones in the
_Moolla's_ garden. The _Kismiss_ are especially delicate, and another
large sort of very fine rich flavour, both were rather unripe. Those for
packing are still unripe. The trenches in this garden are very deep: the
vines are planted on the northern face only.
Gardens are very common to the south-west of the town. The valley of the
Arghandab is the most fertile part of Khorassan I have yet seen. A strip
of cultivation extends along the banks of the river, and from these last
not being high, the stream is easily diverted into channels for
irrigation. Seen from any of the neighbouring hills, the valley presents
one uniform belt of verdure, almost as far as the eye can reach, and the
view up and down is of some extent. The chief cultivation is wheat,
barley, and lucerne; _Chummuns_ also occur. Gardens abound, together
with fine groves of mulberry trees, the former are walled in, and are
verdant to a degree.
There is a bluff mountain to the north of Candahar, the disintegration of
which is so rapid, that it is evident from the slope of the debris, it
will in time bury the original structures.
The hills forming the ridge separating Arghandab from Candahar, as well
as all those rugged looking ones about Candahar, are of limestone, they
are much worn by the weather, and full of holes. They are very barren,
the only shrubby vegetation of any size being Ficus, which may be the
stock of the _Ungoor_, as it resembles it a good deal, Centaurea spinosa,
Paederiae 2, Echinops, Pommereulla, one to two, other Graminae, lemon-
grass, Dianthus, Peganum, Cheiranthus as before, Sedum rosaceum,
Gnaphalium, _Hyoceyamus_, _Didymocarpeae_, Gnidia, etc.
The Arghandab is a good sized river, with channel subdivided: its stream
is rapid and fordable; no large boulders occur in its bed; the
temperature of its water is moderate.
The fish are a Cyprinus and a Barbus, or Oreinus with small scales, thick
leathery mouth, and cirrhi; a Loach of largish size, flat head, reddish,
with conspicuous brownish mottlings, and a Silurus.
The hills forming the northern boundary of the valley are picturesque,
and of several series, and perhaps the subordinate valleys are not so
large and fruitful in this direction.
Between Arghandab and Candahar, two ranges occur; one interrupted: the
other nearer Candahar has first to be surmounted at a low pass; the pass
is short, rugged and impassable for guns. The inner ridge is much closer
to the cultivated part of the valley than the northern range.
Between it and the Arghandab, at least six cuts occur: these are met with
generally in threes, and are at different elevations; the inner one being
close at the foot of the hills; great labour must have been required to
make them. Numerous villages, some with flat roofed houses occur.
Arundo, Salsola, Plantago, P. coronopoid, Cnicus, Juncus, Veronica
exallata, Santalacea, Mentha, Lactucoides, Chenopod. 2-3, Panicum,
Samolus, Ceratophyllum; Salix occurs near the river; apricots, apples,
pomegranates, damsons or plums, bullaces, pears, mulberries and
raspberries in the gardens.
The shingle found about all the hills in Khorassan, can scarcely be
derived from any source but disintegration, it slopes too gradually and
uniformly for upheavement. If my idea is correct, the mountains will at
some period be buried in their own debris, of course inspection of the
shingle will at once point out whether this is true or not, more
especially _in all those places where the rocks are of_
_uniform structure_. There is a curious desert to the south and
southwest of Candahar, elevated a good deal above the valley, quite bare,
and stretching a long way to the westward: it is seen for forty miles
along the Girishk road.
_Curious reflection_. - Observed in ghee used as lamp-oil, a bubble
ascending from the surface of the water on which it floated, met by
another descending; the deception of this is perfect. That it is due to
reflection, is apparent from the variation of the length of the descent,
according to the angle under which it is viewed. When viewed from
beneath at a very oblique angle, the descent is complete, but if viewed
parallel to the surface, no appearance of the sort occurs. The
reflection is due to the surface of the ghee which appears to be more
dense than the rest, probably more oily; this mathematical reflection may
suggest others of a moral nature, touching our liability to mistaken
views of things, from observing only one side.
Old Candahar is about three miles to west of the new town; it is
immediately under a steep limestone range, running about southwest, and
not exceeding 500 feet in height. It bears marks of having been
fortified, and at either extremity remains of forts are still visible.
The fort of forty steps is at the north end of the range. The town is in
complete ruins; indeed none of the edifices are visible except those that
occupy the mound of stones, (with which they are partly built) probably
the site of the citadel. On three sides, the town is fenced by two
respectable ditches, the outer one about 50 yards wide; both are now,
especially the outer, beds of marshes; they were supplied by cuts from
the Arghandab river. Wells exist however. There is one white mosque in
good preservation. The works were strong, and much better than the very
indifferent ones of new Candahar; and the walls of the town were
prolonged up the face of the hills.
About Candahar, conical houses occur, probably for granaries. A curious
mosque cut out of the rock in situ, is seen on the Girishk road, with a
flight of steps leading to it, cut in like manner out of the rock. There
is also in the same quarter the fort of Chuhulzeenat, or forty steps; a
work not of very considerable extent; and as in other Asiatic countries I
have visited, troughs are cut in rocks for separating grain from the
husk. But there is no work to be seen indicating vast labour or any
Some remains of good pottery may be picked up; and the earth of which the
works, etc. were made, is filled with remains of coarse pottery.
_27th_. - Moved four miles to Shorundab, the country is very barren: not
much _Joussa_: the water is brackish at our present encampment, which is
within sight of Babawallee.
_28th_. - Proceeded to Kileeyazim, ten and a quarter miles, marched at 2
P.M. and reached the place at 6 P.M., the camels arriving one hour
afterwards: the ground is generally good, throughout stony, difficult in
places and undulated, particularly in two situations occasioned from
cuts. There is a square fort, situated at the halting place with a tower
at each corner, and on north face two; as well as towers at the gate: but
without windows. _Joussa_ is abundant, as also grass along the cuts.
Salsola rotundifolia, a Chenopodia, and a curious prickly, leafless
Composita and _Joussa_ occur, the latter most common, Artemisiae sp. Also
rock pigeons and the raven. Halted one mile to the east of the fort.
_29th_. - Proceeded to the Turnuk, near Khet-i-Ahkoond, distance fifteen
and a half miles. The country continues the same, no cultivation to be
seen before reaching the Turnuk. The road tolerable, over gravelly or
shingly ground: it was at first level, until we reached a mountain gorge,
when it became undulated. Passed the dry beds of two streams, the second
the larger: its banks were clothed with Vitex instead of Tamarisk. At
the entrance of gorge a fort similar to that of yesterday was passed.
Scarcely any change in vegetation. Artemisiae one or two, Centaurea
spinosa, Salsola cordifolia and aphylla? are the most common plants,