Online Encyclopedia

KUNAR

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 946 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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KUNAR, a river and valley of Afghanistan, on the north-west frontier of British India. The Kunar valley (Khoaspes in the classics) is the southern section of that great river system which reaches from the Hindu Kush to the Kabul river near Jalalabad, and which, under the names of Yarkhun, Chitral, Kashkar, &c., is more extensive than the Kabul basin itself. The lower reaches of the Kunar are wide and comparatively shallow, the river meandering in a multitude of channels through a broad and fairly open valley, well cultivated and fertile, with large flourishing villages and a mixed population of Mohmand and other tribes of Afghan origin. Here the hills to the eastward are comparatively low, though they shut in the valley closely. Beyond them are the Bajour uplands. To the west are the great mountains of Kafiristan, called Kashmund, snow-capped, and running to 14,000 ft. of altitude. Amongst them are many wild but beautiful valleys occupied by Kafirs, who are rapidly submitting to Afghan rule. From 20 to 30 miles up the river on its left bank, under the Bajour hills, are thick clusters of villages, amongst which are the ancient towns of Kunar and Pashat. The chief tributary from the Kafiristan hills is the Pechdara, which joins the river close to Chagan Sarai. It is a fine, broad, swift-flowing stream, with an excellent bridge over it (part of Abdur Rahman's military road developments), and has been largely utilized for irrigation. The Pechdara finds its sources in the Kafir hills, amongst forests of pine and deodar and thick tangles of wild vine and ivy, wild figs, pomegranates, olives and oaks, and dense masses of sweet-scented shrubs. Above Chagan Sarai, as far as Arnawai, where the Afghan boundary crosses the river, and above which the valley belongs to Chit ral, the river narrows to a swift mountain stream obstructed by boulders and hedged in with steep cliffs and difficult " parris " or slopes of rocky hill-side. Wild almond here sheds its blossoms into the stream, and in the dawn of summer much of the floral beauty of Kashmir is to be found. At Asmar there is a slight widening of the valley, and the opportunity for a large Afghanmilitary encampment, spreading to both sides of the river and connected by a very creditable bridge built on the cantilever system. There are no apparent relics of Buddhism in the Kunar, such as are common about Jalalabad or Chitral, or throughout Swat and Dir. This is probably due to the late occupation of the valley by Kafirs, who spread eastwards into Bajour within comparatively recent historical times, and who still adhere to their fastnesses in the Kashmund hills. The Kunar valley route to Chitral and to Kafiristan is being developed by Afghan engineering. It may possibly extend ultimately unto Badakshan, in which case it will form the most direct connexion between the Oxus and India, and become an important feature in the strategical geography of Asia. (T. H. H.*)
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