Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Bambanwala-Ravi-Bedian Link Canal, Raiya Branch to the Rescue

Bookmark and Share

In 1860, as the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) took off from Madhopur near Gurdaspur, now in Indian Punjab, drawing water from the Ravi River, Raj administrators began to look into the distant future. As early as 1875, they devised the Triple Canal System to pool the waters of the Jhelum and Chenab with those of the Ravi through major canals. These were Upper Jhelum Canal, Lower Bari Doab Canal and, the last to be completed in 1915, Upper Chenab Canal (UCC), flowing from the Chenab at Marala, district Sialkot.

Wheat harvest in progress southeast of Lahore in the command area of the Bambanwala- Ravi-Bedian-Dipalpur Link Canal. Before the building of this great irrigation scheme, the area was part of the Lakhi Jungle and featured in many stories of Punjabi political resistance from the Middle Ages well into British times
About 15 kilometres downstream of its head, at the little hamlet of Bambanwala, UCC gave off two canals: the Nokhar Branch flowing southwest into the upper parts of district Gujranwala and Raiya Branch heading southeast to irrigate the country east of Gujranwala all the way to Shahdara outside Lahore. Near Raiya village, 70 kilometres northeast of Lahore on the railway line to Narowal, it swung on a south-westerly alignment to reach its terminus.
Read more »

Labels: , ,

posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM, , links to this post

The blessed Punjabi landscape

Bookmark and Share

Back in the mid-1990s when M-2 was being built by Snowy Mountains Engineering Company, they had Geoff Gowers as the Chief Resident Engineer. He and his wife Andrea became good friends with the two of us, and together we travelled the not-yet-ready motorway several times.


Now as so many people zoom up and down the motorway, few remark on the raised road bed the tarmac rests on. Fewer still perhaps take their eyes off the drudgery unfolding straight ahead on the gray tarmac. But back then Geoff and I used to frequently talk of how the raised road will once again make the magical Punjabi countryside visible to road users.
Read more »

Labels: ,

posted by Salman Rashid @ 10:34 AM, , links to this post

Philosophers of Taxila

Bookmark and Share

Read in Urdu about Philosophers of Taxila who astounded Alexander with their wisdom [double click the image below to enlarge and read].
Read more »

Labels: , , ,

posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:10 AM, , links to this post

Musa’s rock with the hole and the roof

Bookmark and Share

For the tenth time did Rehmat Khan Buzdar try to convince me that hospitality was not such a bad thing after all. And for the tenth time I returned that it was not such a hot idea to slaughter a sheep for a vegetarian and if he and his lot kept at killing their flocks the way they were doing it their tribal name of Buzdar (buz for goat and dar for owner or keeper) would soon be a misnomer. I said hospitality could just as easily be a nicely done dish of vegetables or lentils. But that, he argued, would not become Baloch hospitality. Then he told me the story.


There was once a Baloch of kind heart and generous spirit whose door was forever open to all comers. It was a rare mealtime that the man ate by himself; always there would be a passing traveller pausing to partake of whatever the man’s hearth could offer. But not so the man’s wife. A shrewish woman of niggardly disposition, she ceaselessly lamented the drain the hospitality caused on their larder and the trouble it caused her. No amount of cajoling blunted her verbal offensives.
Read more »

Labels: ,

posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM, ,

Palace on the Rock

Bookmark and Share

It is a handsome complex of stone-and-timber buildings virtually smothered with various fruit trees and grapevines. Here and there willows, their branches drooping narcissistically over water, are dwarfed by towering poplars where golden orioles sing and magpies engage in noisy arguments. Outside its boundary wall a tumultuous river crashes over rounded boulders on its way to pay tribute to the glacier-born stream that is here known as the Shigar. Not many miles to the southward, right outside Skardu the capital city of Baltistan in the Northern Areas, the Shigar River in turn yields its waters to the great Sindhu.


Outsiders simply know it as Shigar Fort, but for the people of Baltistan it is Fong Khar – Palace on the Rock. An apt enough name for the main wing of the building straddles a huge rock. Admittedly although the rock could not be moved, there being ample space, the palace could have been designed differently to avoid building around its protuberance. One wonders, therefore, why the builders incorporated the rocky mass into the design for it serves no apparent purpose other than giving the place its name.
Read more »

Labels: ,

posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:30 AM, , links to this post

The Alafis in Makran

Bookmark and Share

The Alafi tribe of western Hejaz were among the earlier converts to Islam. Since before 680 CE, a large body of them frequently travelled back and forth between their country and Makran. Now, Makran at that time seems to have been very much like modern day Fata. Though part of the kingdom of Sindh under Raja Chach, it appears to have been only loosely held with a substantial foreign element running wild in the country.


In 684, when Abdul Malik bin Marwan took over as caliph, his deputy in Iraq, Hujaj bin Yusuf, appointed one Saeed of the family Kilabi to Makran. The man was entrusted with collecting money from this country as well as neighbouring regions wherever he could exercise pressure.
Read more »

Labels: , ,

posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM, , links to this post

jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Bookmark and Share


jhelum: City of the Vitasta - Book is available at Sang e Meel (042-3722-0100), Lahore

Labels: , , , , ,

posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM, , links to this post




My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days