Engraving from a drawing by CH.Crowe and published in The Illustrated London News, 19 September 1863.
The idea for the establishment of a telegraph line overland from Basra via Bandar Abbas and Makran to Karachi had been initiated by a Reverend Badger in 1860. As the territory over which the proposed line would be laid belonged to the Shah of Persia, the Sultah of Muscat and the Khan of Kalat, the Government of Bombay assigned Major Goldsmid, the Assistant Commissioner in Sindh, to conduct a survey. Goldsmid left Karachi for Gwadar in December 1861 and returned three months later in February 1862, during which time he concluded arrangements with the, Jam of Lasbela and the representative of the Khan of Kalat for protection to be made available to the line and for the maintenance of line-guards. The survey also revealed the incursions of the Shah of
Persia into Baluchistan and it was decided therefore to limit the line in the first stage from Karachi to Gwadar.
The construction of the line began in June 1862 and reached Gwadar by April 1863, covering the distance of.373 miles in less than a year. The line was continued westwards six years later in March 1869 and extended to Chahbar and J ask. A portion of the line was destroyed in 1898. In 1907,fifty-onelinemen and line-guards were deployed to monitor and maintain over 400 miles of line.
The large hut on the beach in this illustration was the office of the Makran telegraphic department and the tents the accommodation for the officials. The population of Gwadar at this time numbered about 3000, their livelihood depending upon a trade in salted fish, dates and wool. Gwadar fort, being made of mud, was marginally more durable than the houses which were put together from date-tree mats. Guarding it stood ‘a few old honeycombed cannons, more dangerous to the inhabitants than to an enemy’.
- WORKING PARTY, AGRORE, MAKRAN, 1863 Engraving from a drawing by CH.Crowe and published in The Illustrated London News, 19 September 1863.
Agrore was a flat plain, three miles from the river Huddee and overshadowed by the 1000-feet high Hinglaj peak of the Hala mountains, about 150 miles from Karachi.
This engraving, The Illustrated London News wrote informing its readers depicts ‘the flying or advanced camp of the No. 1 working party of the Makran telegraph department at Agrore, on the line to England, via the Persian Gulf and Bagdad in Asia Minor. In the foreground the Pathan or Afghan coolies are engaged in their war dance.’
- THE GREAT MALAN, OFF MAKRAN, 1863 Engraving from a drawing by CH.Crowe, published in The Illustrated London News, 19 September 1863.
The Great Malan mountain – over 3200 feet high overlooking the southern Makran coast and about 100 miles east of Karachi – proved to be a formidable obstacle to the working party throwing the telegraph wires.
The antiquity of the area, and because of its ready access to the Arabian sea, caused a natural association to be made with other classical sea-faring nations, such as the Greeks. ‘Many places of the Lus and Mekran coast are the same as those given by the Greeks, and mentioned by Arrian. Maluna, Araba, Kalama .. are now called Mallan, Araba, Kalamat’, (Ross (1883) 62).
- TOMBS AT TRAK, 1844
Lithograph by Charles Haghe based upon a sketch by William Edwards, 1844. Published in W. Edwards Sketches in Scinde (London, 1846), Plate 2.
A thirty-five year old lieutenant serving under the command of Sir Charles Napier in the 1844-45 campaign against the Baluchi sardars following the annexation of Sindh, William Edwards sketched many of the locations connected with the campaign. These were later published as a portfolio of lithographs drawn by Charles Haghe and derived from Edward’s sketches.
Edwards’ own published notes on the subject of this particular lithograph read: ‘These tombs lie among the Lakee Hills which extend from Kurrachee to Schewan, being distant from the former place N.E. about sixty-five miles. Little or nothing is known about them but that they are very ancient and held in great sanctity. The external ornamental painting is in fresco on a very hard marble-like and
durable composition, made chiefly from finely powdered shells and is called”Chunam”… The route from Kurrachee to Schewan is by the Gorban Pass. Dummuj, Marraie and Choula was first traversed by British troops in 1839, but these tombs lie quite out of the usual route to upper Scinde among the Lakee Hills, a solitude rarely visited by travellers.’
The tombs sketched by Edwards were at Trak, a small village in the Kohistan range, east of the Malir river and due north of Jungshahi (see Eastwick (1883), map opposite 299). They are very similar to the ones found at numerous sites in Sindh and Baluchistan. The most accessible are those at Chaukandi, about 27 kilometres east from Karachi, and sixty kilometres further on the Makli Hills outside Thatta. The stacked stone tombs are richly carved with distinguishing motifs – weapons and horses for the men, and flowers and feminine jewellery for the women – and although their exact
- origins have not been verified, they are regarded as datable to the 16th or 17th century.