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age breadth measured by the soil coming within the influence of the river or its branches, as the extent is very variable: to the eastward, particularly above the Delta, as far north as Khyrpúr, the sandy desert which separates Sindh from Cutch and Guzírat, contends with the fertile soil for the predominance, and thus it is generally narrow and limited, whilst on the western side the river occasionally fertilises to the utmost verge of the mountains, at a great distance from its main stream. Sindh Proper, however, may be understood as the whole of that portion of territory included between the limits before given, and within the influence of the river: those parts which lie beyond the reach of the Indus being sandy wastes or desert tracts, scarcely merit any place in describing a country so peculiar in its features as that of Sindh, which, like Egypt, is the gift of the river permeating its whole extent and fertilising its valley.
There are various opinions as to the origin of the title given to this tract. By the Greeks, the whole, or a portion, appears to have been known as Sindomana. The Hindús trace it fabulously to "Sindh, the brother of Hind, the son of Noah," and in their sacred books it is called Sindhú. Both Hindús and Mahommedans style this portion of the river Indus as Sindh, by which it is generally known in the East, and it is thus probable, that the river gives the name to that lower portion
of country fructified by its waters. however derived, is very ancient.
Sindh has always been divided, geographically and politically, into two principal portions, Upper and Lower, or rather Northern and Southern, distinguished by the natives as Lar and Sirra, the etymology of which terms is not very clear. Each of these divisions has its particular climate, soil, and productions, and is otherwise distinctly marked by physical peculiarities.
Northern, or Upper Sindh, comprises all that tract from Sehwun upwards to the Bhawulpúr territories; and Southern or Lower Sindh, that from Sehwun, including the delta of the river to the sea. Each has its capital, and is again subdivided into certain districts, or pergunnahs; the government of the upper also being shared by a branch of the same family as that ruling in the lower country.
Commencing with the southern portion and Delta of the Indus, we find that in many cases the Delta of a great river is the division of soil most cultivated; but although this rule obtains on the Nile, that of the Indus may be considered as forming an exception, for, though it yields so abundantly in rice, it is almost of spontaneous growth, and there is otherwise little cultivated produce commensurate with the means for fertility so abundantly provided.
On the Nile, the strip of productive soil, afforded by the alluvial deposit, is very narrow, yet every
portion of it is cultivated with a care and industry commensurate with its value.
Canals are cut from the river into the interior, the banks are walled with masonry, hand wheels for raising water are every where seen, and waving crops refresh the eye; but on the Indus, without inducement to labour, and under the oppression of a government indifferent to any wants but those of semi-barbarous recreation, the people raise only what may be required for their immediate subsistence, and feel no anxiety for the agricultural improvement of the country. Unlike the cultivated portion of the Nile, a mere strip of fine soil, bordered by the hopeless sands of the Libyan Desert, the greater portion of the Delta of the Indus is capable of cultivation, but it nevertheless is overgrown with jungle, and on the Indus miles are travelled over country between its delta and the sea, where neither villages nor cultivation meet the eye, nor aught indeed but droves of camels, feeding on the thorny bushes springing from a soil capable of producing most abundantly.
The river Indus possesses in all eleven mouths; some are yet partially open to navigation, and others, by the casting up sand banks with various causes, have become inaccessible. A little below the city of Tattah, the main stream divides into two great branches, and between these lies the Delta.
The western branch, known as the Bàgàr, is well cultivated on both its banks: the means of irri
gation with Persian wheels and water channels are frequent, and the cattle are large, and apparently provided with good pasturage; but between this branch and the eastern mouth of the river the country is a mere waste in the dry season, and a swampy rice ground during the inundations, although the effects of these are to prepare the land for yielding abundantly of every description of produce. The Delta occupies a space of about seventy English miles, and presents generally the appearance of a level, overgrown with camel thorn and bastard cypress. It is as well peopled as other parts, though the wandhs, or temporary villages scattered about it, are, like their inhabitants, wretched in the extreme. The Sindhians, who are found in the Delta, are for the greater part, wandering and pastoral tribes, Jutts and Jokias: a few Bilúchís feed their camels here, and fishermen. reside near the river banks, but the whole population, excluding the residents of the few towns that yet remain, is very trifling.
One of the chief obstacles to the settlement of cattle breeders and agriculturists in the Delta, is the difficulty sometimes experienced of procuring sufficient quantities of fresh water, which, in consequence of the saltness of that near the mouths and creeks, must be procured from springs and wells in the interior: this observation however only applies to the lower portions near the sea.
Consequent on the light character of the soil in
Lower Sindh, from sunrise to sunset clouds of dust whirl over the country, from which the inhabitants of the Delta partially protect themselves by erecting little grass huts, and fencing them about with mats made of the long coarse grass called Keri, that the people raise near the river banks as forage, in the same manner that they cultivate dense jungle, to secure to the Amirs their favourite Shikargahs, instead of useful crops of valuable cultivation.
The climate of the Delta during the inundations of the Indus is noxious and unpleasant, and owing to the abundant overflow to which it is exposed from the river, travelling is both difficult and unhealthy.
On the Bagàr creek there yet remains a celebrated place of pilgrimage known as Pír Puttur, which with its surrounding tombs and ruined edifices, stands on a crescent of limestone hills looking on the creek. The extent of walls still to be seen induces to the opinion that a town of very considerable size once stood here; and although a Persian inscription over the door of a Minar asserts that the Pir was a cotemporary of the poet Sadi, the town was probably of much higher antiquity, having perhaps originally flourished under the Hindú dynasties of Sindh. Innumerable remains of rich architecture lie scattered over the hills, but they are tangled with the milk bush and Pelú, and surrounded by white-washed tombs and mounds of rubbish.