1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bajour

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BAJOUR, or Bajaur, a small district peopled by Pathan races of Afghan origin, in the North-West Frontier Province of India. It is about 45 m. long by 20. broad, and lies at a high level to the east of the Kunar valley, from which it is separated by a continuous line of rugged frontier hills, forming a barrier easily passable at one or two points. Across this barrier the old road from Kabul to India ran before the Khyber Pass was adopted as the main route. Bajour is inhabited almost exclusively by Tarkani (Tarkalanri) Pathans, sub-divided into Mamunds, Isazai, and Ismailzai, numbering together with a few Mohmands, Utmauzais, &c., about 100,000. To the south of Bajour is the wild mountain district of the Mohmands, a Pathan race. To the east, beyond the Panjkora river, are the hills of Swat, dominated by another Pathan race. To the north is an intervening watershed between Bajour and the small state of Dir; and it is over this watershed and through the valley of Dir that the new road from Malakand and the Punjab runs to Chitral. The drainage of Bajour flows eastwards, starting from the eastern slopes of the dividing ridge which overlooks the Kunar and terminating in the Panjkora river, so that the district lies on a slope tilting gradually downwards from the Kunar ridge to the Panjkora. Nawagai is the chief town of Bajour, and the khan of Nawagai is under British protection for the safeguarding of the Chitral road. Jandol, one of the northern valleys of Bajour, has ceased to be of political importance since the failure of its chief, Umra Khan, to appropriate to himself Bajour, Dir, and a great part of the Kunar valley. It was the active hostility between the amir of Kabul (who claimed sovereignty of the same districts) and Umra Khan that led, firstly to the demarcation agreement of 1893 which fixed the boundary of Afghanistan in Kunar; and, secondly, to the invasion of Chitral by Umra Khan (who was no party to the boundary settlement) and the siege of the Chitral fort in 1895.

An interesting feature in Bajour topography is a mountain spur from the Kunar range, which curving eastwards culminates in the well-known peak of Koh-i-Mor, which is visible from the Peshawar valley. It was here, at the foot of the mountain, that Alexander found the ancient city of Nysa and the Nysaean colony, traditionally said to have been founded by Dionysus. The Koh-i-Mor has been identified as the Meros of Arrian's history—the three-peaked mountain from which the god issued. It is also interesting to find that a section of the Kafir community of Kamdesh still claim the same Greek origin as did the Nysaeans; still chant hymns to the god who sprang from Gir Nysa (the mountain of Nysa); whilst they maintain that they originally migrated from the Swat country to their present habitat in the lower Bashgol. Long after Buddhism had spread to Chitral, Gilgit, Dir and Swat; whilst Ningrahar was still full of monasteries and temples, and the Peshawar valley was recognized as the seat of Buddhist learning, the Kafirs or Nysaeans held their own in Bajour and in the lower Kunar valley, where Buddhism apparently never prevailed. It is probable that the invader Baber (who has much to say about Bajour) fought them there in the early years of the 16th century, when on his way to found the Mogul dynasty of India centuries after Buddhism has been crushed in northern India by the destroyer Mahmud.

The Gazetteers and Reports of the Indian government contain nearly all the modern information available about Bajour. The autobiography of Baber (by Leyden and Erskine) gives interesting details about the country in the 16th century. For the connexion between the Kafirs and the ancient Nysaeans of Swat, see R. G. S. Journal, vol. vii., 1896.

(T. H. H.*)