1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tirah

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TIRAH, a mountainous tract of country on the Peshawar border of the North-west Province of India. It lies between the Khyber Pass and the Khanki Valley, and is inhabited by the Afridi and Orakzai tribes. It is chiefly notable as the scene of the Tirah Campaign of 1897 (see below). It is a cul-de-sac in the mountains, lying off all the roads to India, and the difficulty of its passes and the fierceness of its inhabitants had hitherto preserved it inviolable from all invaders'. Tirah comprises an area 1 of some six to seven hundred square miles and includes under this general name all the valleys lying round the source of the Bara river. The five chief valleys are Maidan, Rajgul, Waran, Bara and Mastura.

Maidan, the summer home of the Afridis, lies close under the snowbound ridges of the Safed Koh at an elevation of about 6400 ft. It is an oval plain about seven to eight miles long, and three or four wide, and slopes inwards towards the centre of its northern side, where all the drainage gathered from the four corners of the plain is shot into a narrow corkscrew outlet leading to the Bara Valley. Centuries of detritus accumulated in this basin have filled it up with rich alluvial soil and made it one of the most fertile valleys on the frontier. All its alluvial slopes are terraced and revetted and irrigated till every yard is made productive. Here and there dotted about in clusters all over the plain are square-built two storeyed mud and timber houses, standing in the shade of gigantic walnut and mulberry trees. Up on the hillsides surrounding the Maidan basin are wild olives in wide-grown clumps, almost amounting to forest, and occasional pomegranates. Higher still are the blue pines; but below on the shelving plains are nothing but fruit trees. Rajgul Valley lies north of Maidan, from which it is separated by a steep valley and well-wooded spur, eight to nine thousand feet nigh, and west of the Bara Valley, which it joins at Dwatoi. It is ten miles long, four to five miles at its widest, and has an elevation of 5000 ft. It is inhabited by the Kuki Khel Afridis. The Waran Valley is another valley about the same size as Maidan, lying east of it, and separated from it by the Tseri-Kandao Pass. It was the home of the Afridi mullah Sayad Akbar, and is the country of the Aka Khels. After the junction of the Rajgul and Maidan drainage at Dwatoi, the united stream receives the name of Bara, and the valley through which it flows down to its exit in the Peshawar Valley is also known by this name. The elevation of the valley is from 5000 ft. at Dwatoi to 2000 at Kajurai; on the north side it is hemmed in by the Surghar range, which divides it from the Bazar Valley; on the south lies another range dividing it from Maidan and the Waran Valley. The heat of the Bara Valley in summer is said to be excessive, malaria is prevalent, and mosquitoes very troublesome, so the hamlets are deserted and the Afridis migrate to the pleasant heights of Maidan. The Mastura Valley occupies the southern half of Tirah, and is inhabited by the Orakzais. It is one of the prettiest valleys on the frontier, lying at an elevation of 6000 ft. The Orakzais live, for the most part, in the Miranzai Valley, in the winter, and retreat to Mastura, like the Afridis, during the summer months. The chief passes in Tirah are the Sampagna Pass (6500 ft.), separating the Khanki Valley from the Mastura Valley; the Arhanga Pass (6995 ft.), separating Mastura Valley from Maidan ; Saran Sar (8650 ft.), leading from the Zakka Khel portion of Maidan into the Bara Valley; the Tseri Kandao (8575 ft.), separating Maidan from the Waran Valley, and the Sapri Pass (5190 ft.), leading from the east of the Mastura Valley into the Bara Valley in the direction of Mamanai. The whole of Tirah was thoroughly explored and mapped at the time of the Tirah Expedition.