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Extract From Buckingham's Travels

( Originally Published 1851 )



The town of Khan-e-Keen consists of two portions, occupying the respective banks of the river Silwund, which are connected together by a bridge across the stream. The river here flows nearly from south to north through the town; about half a mile to the southward of the bridge the bend of the river is seen, where the stream comes from the eastward; it then goes north for about a mile, and afterwards turns westerly, bending gradually to the southward, so as to form the Giaour-Soo, which runs to the west of Kesrabad.

The river is here, however, called the Sirwund or Silwund, and has its source in the eastern mountains, though no one at the place pretends to know, the exact distance of it from hence. The bridge is newly built of brick-work, and is supported on thirteen pointed arches and buttresses all of good masonry. It is high, broad, and well paved across, and is a hundred and eighty horse paces long,. though the river itself is not, on an average, more than half that breadth.

Advantage has been taken of a bed of solid rock, which lies in the centre of the stream, to make it the foundation of the bridge; and the water of the river is led under each of the arches, through a narrow and deep channel, originally cut no doubt in the rock, but since worn into deep and apparently natural beds, leaving each side of the rock dry. In this way each arch has under it two broad level spaces of stone with a deep and rapid current going between them; so, that at this season of the year, when the water is low, a person can walk dry shod, across the rock, by the side of the bridge, and the places beneath the arches form so many shady retreats, where parties assemble to enjoy refreshments by the water, which is particularly clear, from running in a gravelly bed, and is of pure and excellent taste.

The western portion of Khan-e-Keen, which is the largest, approaches close to a cliff, overlooking the stream, and is banked up in some places by a brick wall. The eastern division is smaller, but contains an excellent khan built in the Persian style, and capable of receiving a large caravan. Both divisions together contain about fifteen hundred dwelling, and a population of twelve thousand inhabitants. There are two principal mosques in the place, and the people are all of the sect of the Soonnees. Among the inhabitants are a few Jews, but no Christians. The governor is subject to Bagdad, and pays a tribute to the Pasha, which is drawn from agriculture, and the profits made on supplies to casual passengers. The language spoken is chiefly Turkish.

There are many excellent gardens at Khan-e-Keen, and no want of trees; while the banks of the river, which are low both above and below the town, though one of them is high as the town itself, are covered with verdure. Tradition says that in this place was formerly a fine park, and two palaces, the work of Ferhad, the celebrated architect and sculptor, and lover of Shirine; one of these palaces, named Berzmahan, being for Shirine herself and the other the place from whence Khosrau or Kesra, her lord used to survey his troops. No situation can he more agreeable for parks or palaces, bu' no remains of any great buildings were now to be traced.

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