General Description & Geography of Kohat :: Khyber.ORG

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General Description & Geography of Kohat District

Extracts from the Gazetteer of Kohat District


  1. General Description
  2. Territorial Divisions
    1. Divisions into Tahsils
    2. Transfers from Other Districts
  3. General Features of the District
    1. Principal Streams
    2. Principal Hills & Mountains
    3. Altitude of Towns and Villages
  4. Situation of the Town of Kohat
  5. Roads
    1. Road to Peshawar through Kohat Pass
    2. Road to Khushalgarh
    3. Road to Hangu and Thal
  6. Miranzai
    1. The Hangu Nalla
    2. Lower Miranzai
    3. Upper Miranzai
  7. Country Below Hangu
  8. Baizai and Samalzai
    1. Irrigation from Shahu Khel Nalla
  9. Kohat Plain
  10. Gumbat and Division of Akora Country
    1. Khwarra Tappa
    2. Government Jungles in this Tract
    3. Nilab Tappa
    4. Zira Tappa
    5. Pattiala Tappa
  11. Southern Portion of the District
    1. Teri Toi
    2. Valley North of Teri Toi
    3. Country North of Teri Toi
    4. Lachi Malgin Valley
    5. Bahadar Khel - Narri Valley
    6. Southern Salt Ranges
    7. Chauntra
    8. Land-Kammar Thal
  12. Sagri Country
    1. Shakardarra
  13. Flora & Fauna
    1. Timber Trees and Shrubs
    2. Wildlife
  14. Notes

General Description

The Kohat district is the southernmost of the three districts of the Peshawar division, and lies between north latitude 32° 47' and 33° 53' and east longitude 70° 34' and 72° 17'. It is bounded [1] on the north by the Peshawar district and the Afridi and Orakzai hills, on the east by the Indus, on the south by the Bannu district and on the west by the river Kuram and the Waziri hills. It comprises the greater portion of the rough hilly country that lies between the open valleys of Peshawar and Bannu, its extreme length from north-east to south-west being 104, and its extreme breadth 50 miles. It has a supposed area [1] of 2,973 square miles, and a population of 181,540 souls.

Of its three tahsils, more fully noticed below, Kohat occupies the north and north-east, Hangu the north-west, and Teri the centre and south of the district. Some leading statistics are given in the following table:

Click on Table to Expand

The district contains one town of more than 10,000 souls, namely, Kohat with a population of 18,179, at which the administrative headquarters are situated. Kohat stands 16th in order of area and 31st in order of population among the 32 districts of the Province, comprising 2.66% of the total area, 0.96% of the total population, and 0.75% of the urban population of British territory:

The latitude, longitude, and height in feet above the sea of the principal places in the district are shown below:

Town N. Latitude E. Longitude Feet above Sea Level
Kohat 33-35-34 71-28-43 1,768
Teri 33-17-40 71-8-37 2,199
Hangu 33-32-8 71-6-16 2,200

Territorial Divisions

The whole of the Kohat district is divided between the Pathan tribes of the Bangashes and the Khattaks. The Bangashes occupy the central, northern and north-western parts of the district. Their country is divided into Kohat proper, consisting of the tappas of Samilzai and Baizai and into Upper and Lower Miranzai. The Khattaks are divided into Teri, Akora, and Sagri Khattaks. The Akora Khattaks hold the Nilab, Khwarra, Zira, and Pattiala tappas forming the north-eastern part of the district. The larger portion of the Akora Khattaks reside in the adjoining parts of Peshawar, The Sagris hold Shakardarra, which forms the south-eastern part of the district. They also hold the tappa of Makhad in Rawalpindi. The Teri Khattaks hold all the rest of the district or very nearly half. Their country includes the southern and most of the central portion of the district. It extends on the east to the Indus, and on the north to the Jawaki hills, thus cutting off the Akora and Sagri parganas from the rest of the district, and from each other. The area held by each of these tribes is as follows in square miles:

Division into Tahsils

The district is divided into three tahsils; Kohat, Hangu and Teri, of which the approximate area is: Kohat 811, Hangu 546, and Teri 1,616 square miles.

The Kohat tahsil consists of Kohat proper and the Akora and Sagri parganas. The Hangu tahsil, so named from the chief place in it, consists of Upper and Lower Miranzai. The tahsildari is held by the leading member of the Hangu family, who have a sort of hereditary claim to it. The Teri tahsil consists of the country of the Teri Khattaks, and is held on an istimrari tenure by their chief Nawab Sir Khwaja Muhammad Khan.

Transfers from Other Districts

The limits of the Kohat district have remained unaltered since annexation, except to the north-east, where the Khwarra and Zira valleys were transferred to it from the Peshawar district in January 1854.

General Features of the District

The Kohat district consists of a succession of ragged mountain ranges divided by open valleys. The former are generally from 2,000 to 5,000 feet in height. The latter are rarely more than four or five miles across. The run of the hills is as a rule east and west and the streams take a similar direction.

Principal Streams

The greater part of the district drains east into the Indus - a portion drains west and south-west into the Kuram. The principal streams are the Kohat and Teri tois which flow into the Indus, and the Shkdli which flows into the Kuram. ("Toi" is the local name for a stream and is said to be derived from the Sanskrit, and to mean "snow-fed," cf. the Tavi, a tributary of the Jumna). The Kohat toi where it enters the district has a small perennial flow which is generally exhausted for purposes of irrigation before it can reach the town of Kohat. Lower down near Dodha the water reappears and flows continuously to the Indus. There is a small perennial supply in the Shkdli, but little or none in the Teri toi. The other streams are for the greater part of the year dry torrent beds, though here and there springs well up in them supplying a little water for drinking purposes and less often for irrigation. The length of the Kohat toi from its source in the Mamuzai hills to the Indus is about 90 miles. The length of the Teri toi is about 60 miles. After heavy rain not only these main streams, but many of the smaller nallas become roaring torrents. They all go down very rapidly. Even the Kohat toi becomes fordable within a few hours after the rain has ceased.

Principal Hills and Mountains

Sleeping Lady of Kohat

The district is full of mountains, but none of them attain any great altitude. The Cherat, Nilab, Mirkhwali, Swanai Sar, Mirandai and Lawaghar ranges are all nearly of the same height. The only hill marked in the maps as more than 5,000 feet high is the Jalala Sir in the Cherat range (5,110 feet), but all these other ranges have peaks varying from 4,700 to 4,900 feet in height. As regards the hills along the border, the highest ranges in the Adam Khel country are of about the same height as the Cherat range. The Orakzai hills are considerably higher. Molaghar, a conspicuous hill in Tira, 12 miles north-west of Kohat, is 7,060 feet high. Mazeoghar and the adjoining peaks which overlook kachai are about 8,300 feet high. The Samana range, which lies just outside the district, rises north of Kahi to a height of 6,670 feet, and further from our border in the Zaimusht country reaches an altitude of over 9,000 feet. The Waziri hills to the west are much lower, the highest, Kafir Kot, being only 4,004 feet. There are no lakes or large jheels in the district except one at Dhand near Shakardarra, which is about a quarter of a mile long. The village tanks are for the most part insignificant in size. There is an almost entire absence of ponds and marshes. Owing to the generally high level of the district, the height of the mountains above the level of the plains is very much less than their height above the sea. Kohat stands nearly 2,000 feet high; Hangu nearly 3,000, and deducting these figures a hill of 4,000 or 5,000 feet is reduced to very ordinary dimensions.

Altitudes of Towns and Villages above Sea-Level

The following table gives the altitude of some of the more important places in the district

Station Height Above Sea-Level (feet)
Khushalgarh (River at Zero) 815
Ditto (Foot of Bungalow) 945
Kohat (Highest point of fort) 1,768
Lachi (Roof of Bungalow) 1,557
Bahadar Khel (Roof of Bungalow 35 feet from ground) 2,075
Tiri (Camp west of village on banks of stream) 1,873
Hangu (foot of Bungalow) 2,815
Kotgai Serai 2,858
Kathi, Hangu (Roof of highest building) 3,545
Thal (Picket Hill north-east angle of fort. Foot of sentry box) 2,820

Situation of the Town of Kohat

Road Across the Kohat Kotal

The town of Kohat is situated on the left bank of the Kohat toi at a point where, after running nearly due east for 50 miles, it suddenly takes a turn to the south. The river on the west shaves round the base of the Bar Raisan range of hills, which is a continuation of the Samana range, and which terminates here in a two-headed hill overlooking the town. On the east the cantonments of Kohat extend to some low hilly ground connected with the Jawaki hills to the east and with the mountains of the Pass Afridis to the north. These latter rise at a distance of three or four miles from the town in a steep range which is crossed by the Peshawar road at a point known as the Kohat Kotal. To the west a rich valley stretches away along the north of the Kohat toi towards Miranzai. To the south of the town there is another rich open tract extending along both sides of the toi for a distance of about seven miles and with a breadth of about five or six. Kohat is the only place in the district worthy of the name of a town, Teri and Hangu being hardly more than big villages.


Road to Peshawar through Kohat Pass

Kohat is 39 miles from Peshawar, 31 from Khushalgarh station, the terminus of the Punjab Northern State Railway, 63 from Thal where the road to Kabul by the Peiwar Kotal crosses the Kuram, and 83 front Bannu. These are the principal and almost the only roads in the district. Four miles from Kohat the Peshawar road, after passing through stony hills and ravines, crosses the Kotal or crest of a range of hills overlooking Kohat. The elevation of Kohat is 1,768 feet above the sea. That of the Kotal is 2,845 feet; so that there is a rise of nearly 1,100 feet from Kohat. The descent on the other side of the Kotal is much less and leads into an open valley occupied by the Pass Afridis. The road winds through this valley for 12 miles further, and then debauches on the Peshawar district.

Road Across the Kotal Pass to Peshawar

The road on both sides of the Kotal is repaired by the Public Works Department. The road through the valley itself is left in a state of nature, as the Pass Afridis object to our touching it, and never do anything to it themselves. The whole way from the northern base of the Kotal to Aimal Chabutra, on the Peshawar side, there is a very gradual descent along the course of a nalla. The track is in places fair, but is often blocked up by boulders, and it is a work of difficulty to drag through even the lightest dogcart. This can only be done by taking out the horse and carrying the cart over the bad places. An attempt was made to get a good road made in 1876-77, but after the use of much moral pressure and a blockade that lasted a year it was given up. The only point gained was the right to repair the northern slope of the Kotal. There were some promises of an improved road through the remainder of the pass, but they came to nothing.

Entrance to Kohat Cantonment Limits (1960s)

Road to Khushal Garh

The road to Khushalgarh is metalled. For the first 17 miles to a little beyond Gumbat the road is level. It then crosses a low range of hills, after which, though level in places, there are a good many ascents and descents owing to the numerous ravines by which it is crossed. Khushalgarh is a village of 824 inhabitants on the bank of the Indus. It is a stony desolate place and exceedingly hot for the greater part of the year. There is a dak bungalow here. Khushalgarh is 29 miles from Kohat. The railway station is two miles further on the other side of the Indus, which is crossed by a bridge of boats. This bridge during the Afghan war used to be kept up all the year round. It is now dismantled during the rains. The descent to it on both sides is steep and rocky. The river in the cold weather is 550 feet across. In the hot weather the ordinary span is 1,150 feet. The maximum is 1,500 feet. The maximum difference between the highest and lowest known levels that the river has reached is 6l feet. The average difference between the cold weather and the hot weather level is 40 feet. The bridge is managed by the Public Works Department, an assistant engineer being kept at Khushalgarh for the purpose. The Khushalgarh road for the first six miles from Kohat passes through the rich irrigated plains mentioned as lying south-east of the town. Beyond Billitang the country towards Gumbat is a broad cultivated plain which yields rich barani crops in good years. It is, however, dependent on rain, and during the last year or two has been little better than a desert.

Bridge on Indus Highway on Khushalgarh Road

Road to Hangu and Thal

The pleasantest part of the Kohat district is that traversed by the Thal road. For most of its distance this road follows the Kohat toi and its southern or Hangu branch. At 27 miles from Kohat, the road passes the town of Hangu, and at 63 miles it reaches the village of Thal, situated on the banks of the Kuram. For the first nine miles from Kohat the Thal road runs straight through a well irrigated valley a mile or two in breadth to Sherkot. Sherkot is a village on a hill with a conspicuous white tomb. Beyond Sherkot to Hangu the valley alternately contracts and widens, sometimes narrowing to a mere gorge, at other times spreading out into stretches of rich cultivation a mile or more across. The broader parts of the valley are often broken by out crops of low hills, which running parallel with its general direction divide it in two for a short distance, the two branches reuniting spin a little further on. Beyond Hangu the valley again opens out and stretches in a continuous sweep to Thal. Its width here varies from two or three to five or six miles across.


The part of the country known as Miranzai is divided into upper and lower. Eastern and western would have been more appropriate names, for although forming a single valley they drain in opposite directions, and their level above the sea is about the same. The line of division between the two coincides with the watershed between the Kuram and the Indus. The ascent to the watershed is very gradual on both sides. The traveller passes through an open cultivated plain which sweeps over the crest of the valley in a great wave. As he passes over this crest, the mountains on the other side, of which he before only saw the peaks, come into view down to their bases, while those behind him simultaneously disappear. Upper Miranzai drains into the Kuram. Lower Miranzai is drained by the southern branch of the Kohat toi, which for convenience may be called the Hangu nalla, having no special name of its own. The total length of Miranzai from Kuram to Raisan half-way between Hangu and Kohat is about fifty miles. The boundary between upper and lower Miranzai runs through the village of Kahi. Upper Miranzai has a length of 20 miles. Lower Miranzai of 30 miles.

The Hangu Nalla

The Hangu branch of the Kohat toi rises in the hills north of Kahi. Flowing north-east from the watershed, it carries off the drainage from the hills on both sides of lower Miranzai. The range to the north is the Samana, which rises to a height of nearly 7,000 feet. The hills to the south, which are much lower, have no special name, and may be called the Miranzai southern range. This range forms a sort of lateral connection between six or seven parallel ranges which terminate in it. These latter run due east and west enclosing narrow valleys, the streams from which lower down join the Kohat and Teri tois. The angle between these valleys and the Miranzai southern range is about 45 degrees. There are generally gaps in the latter, which is not a continuous range, allowing of connection between these valleys and Miranzai. Sometimes, as in the case of the Borakka valley, a high pass has to be crossed. Generally the pass is very low. In the case of the Ibrahimzai-Bar valley, for instance, there is a slight rise for two or three miles from Ibrahimzai, the road passing for a short distance through a rocky gorge, after which it again very gradually descends running through a level valley almost straight to Kohat. The pass between Togh and the Alilan valley, which is the usual route between Hangu and Teri, is also very low and fairly level all through.

Lower Miranzai West of Hangu

From Kahi to Hangu, which is 12 miles to the east of it, the cultivation is nearly all dependent on rain. A little water wells up here and there in the bed of the toi. This is drawn off and irrigates a small amount of land near its banks. The amount of this perennial supply gradually increases as we approach Hangu. This portion of lower Miranzai is an open plain broken by low hillocks with very few trees. The land when not cultivated is thickly overgrown with dwarf palm. The hills, especially the range to the south, are covered with a thick growth of scrub jungle, consisting principally of wild olive Gurgulla and Sanatha, which on the north often extends for some distance into the open valley. The villages are generally large and at some distance apart, the inhabitants in old days having had to collect together for purposes of protection. They are almost always un-walled. The crops are wheat, bajra and Indian corn, and to a less extent cotton and kangni.

Upper Miranzai

Upper Miranzai on the other side of the watershed is very similar in character to the part of lower Miranzai above Hangu, with the same large villages and the same treeless plains covered with dwarf palm. The main Samana range, however, retrocedes on the north, leaving room first for a broad tract of low hills, and after-wards for considerable valleys which run for thirty or forty miles northwards into the Zaimusht country. The main watercourse of upper Miranzai is the Shkali which falls into the Kuram between Thal. A branch of this stream rises at the watershed near Kahi, but its principal feeder is the Torawari nalla which drains the eastern Zaimusht country. Another considerable stream is the Sangroba nalla, which drains the central portion of the Zaimusht country, and which joins the Kuram just above Thal or about a mile above its junction with the Shkali. These northern streams have a considerable perennial flow, and there are in consequence large tracts of irrigated land round the villages of Nariab, Darsamand and Torawari. The proportion of irrigated land is therefore greater than in the tract between Kahi and Hangu, though the chief portion of the cultivation is still barani. A little land near Thal is irrigated from the Kuram, which has an unfailing supply of water, but the bed of the Kuram is too low to allow of its waters being utilized to any extent. Towards Thal the open valley contracts somewhat, and the ground for five or six miles is generally rough and raviny.

Country Below Hangu

The Miranzai valley above Hangu is on the whole an open, treeless, un-irrigated tract, bounded on the north and south by clearly defined ranges of hills a considerable distance apart. Below Hangu the character of the country changes. Springs and streams are more numerous. Most of the land is irrigated and richly cultivated. Trees become more abundant and there are frequent groves and gardens. Hangu itself is a small town of 2,918 inhabitants, of whom 322 are Hindus. It has a police station, a school and dispensary. There is no tahsil, the Khan doing the tahsil work in his own house. There is no octroi. The place is little more than a big village. The gardens round are irrigated from a spring behind the town. There are a number of small villages near Hangu, lying for the most part along the banks of the toi. With the exception of these the villages from Hangu to Kohat are generally large and scattered along the valley at intervals of a mile or two apart. At Raisan, eight miles from Hangu, the Hangu toi is joined by a stream known as the Gurbin, Kashai, Khanki, and by other names, but which, to prevent confusion, may be called the Shahu Khel nalla. This is the principal feeder of the Kohat toi, and is in fact the main stream. It rises in the Miranzai hills about 35 miles to the west of the point of junction. It flows through the country of the Ali Khels, Mishtis, and other Orakzai tribes, and enters British territory at Shahu Khel, ten miles from Raisan. The perennial supply of water in the Hangu branch of the toi is often hardly enough to meet the requirements of its own villages. The villages on the main toi below Raisan depend therefore almost entirely on the Shahu Khel branch for their supply.

Kohat Tappas of Baizai and Samilzai

Three miles below Raisan the Hangu tahsil ends and we enter the Kohat tahsil. The Bangash portion of the Kohat tahsil is divided into the Samilzai and Baizai tappas. Samilzai, Baizai and Miranzai are all named from the sections of the Bangash tribe to which they were originally allotted. Baizai is the tract immediately round and to the south-east of Kohat. Samilzai lies between Baizai sod Miranzai, reaching on the east to Muhammadzai, three miles from Kohat. The Samilzai portion of the Kohat valley is well irrigated, and a great portion of it is well wooded. This is owing to the influence of a holy man named Sheikh Yusaf, whose shrine is in a grove of trees near Sherkot. For a distance of three or four miles along the Thal road between Chikarkot and Ushtarzai, through a tract generally known as Chili Bagh, no one is allowed to cut a tree. The consequence is that the hills are fringed with little woods and groves of well grown Shisham, palosi and mulberry, which extend also along most of the water cuts, so that the country is very green and pretty. Samilzai also comprises the Kachai and Marai valleys, which occupy a recess between the Kohat, Miranzai valley and the Orakzai hills. The Marai nalla rises in the Manikhel hills just beyond our border. The Kachai nalla, before entering British territory, drains the Drund valley which belongs to the Sheikhan Orakzais. Both nallas join the Kohat toi in the Chili Bagh tract between Raisan and Sherkot. Neither has any perennial flow. The Kachai-Marai tract consists of rough open plains broken to some extent by low ranges of hills. It is covered to the east with a thick growth of dwarf palm, and to the west with a dense jungle of olive, gurgulla and other shrubs, which extends into the Orakzai country and affords excellent shelter for hill robbers. The country is but little cultivated. There is a clump of rich villages in Kachai, and there are two or three villages in Marai, but the intervening country is nearly all a stony jungle-covered waste. The cultivation in Kachai and Marai depends on local springs. The Kachai valley is the prettiest bit in the district. The spring rises in a thick wood on a hill side, and its waters flow through a rich little valley three or four miles long. The channel is continuously shaded by a broad belt of mulberry and other trees, which grow here to an unusually large size, and similar groves skirt the smaller water cuts and the sides of the valley.

Irrigation from the Shahu Khel Nalla and Kohat Toi

The Miranzai villages on the Shahu Khel nalla and the Samilzai villages below them get an abundant supply of water both from the toi and from springs. They are richly cultivated. Each village has its own bund on the toi. The Baizai villages are not so well watered. Ordinarily they get the water that escapes from Samilzai and the supply from the Kohat spring. The latter is very considerable, but only certain villages of the tract are entitled to it. In times of drought it is often necessary to cut the Miranzai and Samilzai bands from Shahu Khel downwards, and let the whole water pass down for a fortnight at a time to the Baizai villages.

Kohat Plain

From Kohat the toi turns southwards. It flows through the open plain already mentioned, which is nearly cut across by the low hills of Jarma on one side and of Kharmatu on the other. At Dodha the toi gets among broken hills. There is a good deal of rich irrigated land along its banks, and villages are numerous for some eight miles further to Koteri. Beyond this the bed of the toi becomes a deep ravine, the irrigated lands cease, and it eventually finds its way through a waste mountainous country to the Indus. The villages below Dodha are irrigated from springs in the bed of the toi, which never fail, and which continue to flow freely even when the toi itself further up is perfectly dry. The supply of water gradually increases towards the Indus, there being no lands for the irrigation of which it can be utilised.

Kohat Plains

Gumbat & Divisions of Akora Country

Baizai is separated from the Akora Khattak country by a portion of the Teri tahsil, of which Gumbat is the principal place. The tract lying between the Gurgalot range south-east of Gumbat and the Indus and extending from the toi to the Peshawar district consists of three distinct valleys; Khwarra-Nilab, Zira and Pattiala. The most northern of these, the Khwarra-Nilab valley, lies between the Cherat range that divides Kohat and Peshawar, and the Nilab range, which, commencing in the Jawaki country, is continued across the Indus into the Rawalpindi district. This valley is twenty miles long and five or six broad. Looking at it from a height it appears a long trough shut in by high hills on all sides except to the east, where the country across the Indus is comparatively open. The Indus which flows south from Attock, on reaching the Nilab range, turns due west, running close under these hills till finding a gap in them it again turns south.

The Khwarra Tappa

The Khwarra tappa comprises more than two-thirds of the valley, the remainder forming the Nilab tappa which lies to the east. The Khwarra is so named from the Pashto word Khwarr or ravine. The principal torrent, called the Musadarra nalla, by which it is intersected, rises in the Jawaki hills near Jammu, and passing by the Jawaki village of Pastawani and the Hassan Khel village of Musadarra enters the district at Tutkai. The Khwarra valley is here very narrow, being shut in on both sides by hills about 5,000 feet high. From this point the valley gradually widens. The Musadarra nalla joins the Indus just where it breaks through the Nilab range.

Government Jungles in this Tract

Numerous torrents run south from the Cherat range. Most of these flow into the Musadarra nalla; the more easterly find their way direct to the Indus. The whole of the Khwarra is seamed by these ravines. It is a rough stony tract covered over with a thick jungle of palosi (camel thorn) generally shout 15 feet high, something between a tree and a bush. As the valley rises towards the west, the palosi gives place to gurgulla. The wild olive also begins to appear. The hill sides are thickly covered with these latter shrubs. Towards Nilab the jungles get thinner, and the palosi gives place to jal and karita. The Khwarra valley is free of hills, but is broken and raviny. There is hardly any cultivation. The villages are few and the population is sparse. The people make their livelihood principally by grazing cattle and by cutting and selling wood. The railways to Peshawar and Khushalgarh have given a great impetus to the latter trade. These jungles are the joint property of the villagers and of the Government. The villagers own in full proprietorship only their cultivated lands, but enjoy free right of grazing and of cutting wood for their private requirements. A royalty is charged in all wood exported. There is a small perennial stream in the Musadarra nalla used chiefly for drinking purposes. It dries up in places. There are a few springs in the Cherat range. One of these is near the bungalow on the Mir Kalan road to Nowshera. Another is near the village of Amir, where a Khattak Chief, Biland Khan, jagirdar of Khushalgarh, has his home, and where there are two or three pleasant little gardens. Here and there wells have been sunk for cultivating purposes. Water is generally near the surface. The principal places in the tract are Nizampur on the Kohat-Khairabad road, a village of about four houses, where there is a police station, and Garu, the head-quarters of the forest conservancy establishment, which is somewhat larger. Cultivation increases in the eastern part of the Khwarra. Most of the people have two homes, one in the upper villages, where they go for grazing, and another in the eastern villages, where their arable lands are situated. To the east the Khwarra gets less raviny and gradually sinks into the Nilab maira.

The Nilab Tappa

The Nilab tappa is held in jagir by Jafir Khan, a Khattak chief, who lives at Manduri on the Indus. It is a slightly undulating plain, generally bare of trees, with a light soil. The ground is often very stony, but this does not interfere with the cultivation, the stones being supposed to keep the soil cool. The dense jungles of the Khwarra probably extended at one time over Nilab, but appear to have been cleared away generations ago. The present supply of wood in the Nilab tappa is not more than is required to meet local wants. Nilab contains large stretches of undulating cultivation broken by stony wastes. There are very few ravines. The central high-lying un-irrigated portion of the tract is called the Maira. Along the Indus there is a strip of low-lying alluvial land which near Manduri and Jabbi is thickly studded with wells. Below these villages wells are scarce and the cultivation is mostly sailaba. The villages in the Nilab are mostly on the banks of the Indus or along the skirts of the hills.

The Zira Tappa

The Zira valley closely resembles the Khwarra though on a smaller scale. It is divided from the latter by ranges of hills some four miles across, of which the Toru Sir, 4,840 feet, and the Nilab Ghasha, 2,834 feet, are the principal peaks. On the south it is divided from Pattiala by a continuation of the south Jawaki range, the average altitude of which is much less. The Zira valley is drained by what may be called the Paiah nalla. This torrent rises in the Jawaki hills about four miles from our border. The valleys of Paiah and Ghariba, which are thickly studded with Jawaki villages, form naturally the upper part of the Zira valley, into which they open out. Owing to Jawaki depredations Zira was at the commencement of British rule nearly deserted. Captain Coke did much to re-people it. The population is still very sparse. Like Khwarra it is nearly all waste land which is half a government property. The character of the vegetation is the same as in Khwarra, though the growth is perhaps less dense. Zira is more broken than Khwarra. It is nearly cut in two by a spur from the Toru Sir. The Paiah nalla at this point passes through a gorge, just below which is the ziarat of Sheikh Allahdad. There are here two small domed tombs, said to date from the time of the Khattak Chief Khushal Khan. There are some pleasant shady gardens near this shrine irrigated from a stream that here wells up in the bed of the nalla. They form quite an oasis. The Mians of Sheikh Allahdad are much reverenced by the neighbouring Jawakis, who in spite of this occasionally harry their cattle. There are only two or three villages in upper Zira. These have all some good cultivation irrigated from springs. Round Khuza Khel the irrigated area is considerable. The country towards the Indus is more open, the cultivation being barani. Shadipur, the best known though not the largest village of the tract, is on the Indus. It contains some 20 houses only. It used to be the site of a thannah which has now been removed to a desert place called Lukh Talao on the Khairabad road, celebrated for its enormous mosquitoes.

The Pattiala Tappa

Below Zira is an open plain about 14 miles long by 8 broad known as Pattiala. This tract is intersected by the road from Kohat to Khushalgarh. Khushalgarh, a village on the banks of the Indus with a population of 824 souls, a stony desolate place, and exceedingly hot for the greater part of the year, is the most important place in Pattiala, though Chorlakki has a larger population. Pattiala is shut in on the west by low hills connected with the Gurgalot range and on the south by the Kohat toi and the ranges beyond. The north-eastern half, including Khushalgarh, is occupied by Akora Khattaks and belongs to the Kohat tahsil. The south-western belongs to the Teri country. Pattiala presents the general aspect of an open plain, but a good deal of it, especially towards the Indus, is much cut up by ravines, which have eaten into the otherwise level surface. It is also broken in places by outcrops of low hills. The cultivation is dependent on rain, assisted by torrent irrigation obtained by damming up the smaller ravines. The soil is generally a firm loam, but is light and sandy in places. In years of good rain the tract is said to be fruitful. In bad years nothing could be more desolate than its bare treeless stretches and low barren hills.

Southern Portion of the District

The southern half of the district belongs nearly entirely to the Teri Khattaks. It is intersected by the Bannu road, which, in spite of many turns and twists occasioned by the intervening hills, runs in a general south-westerly direction from Kohat. For four miles after leaving Kohat the Bannu road runs south through a rich plain. It then crosses the toi, and passes through a level gap in the Jarma hills into another open valley known as the Jarma maira. This is itself a part of the Kohat plain, from which lower down it is only divided by the toi. The road now runs for a short distance along the Samari nalla, and crosses over some low ranges into the Lachi plain. Lachi is a village of 3,055 inhabitants. It has plenty of good barani land, especially to the west, but its general appearance is bare, and it has little to recommend it. This is the first stage, 17 miles from Kohat. The road after leaving Lachi crosses some ranges of low hills and enters an open cultivated country that extends to the town of Teri. The road strikes the Teri toi four miles east of Teri, and takes advantage of a gap made by the toi to get through the Miranda range of hills to Banda Daud Shah, an insignificant village which is the second halting place. This stage is 15 miles. At Banda the road crosses the Teri toi and runs due west to Bahadar Khel, for the most part through a succession of desolate ravines. The distance to Bahadar Khel is 20 miles. Troops sometimes halt half way at Totakki, but the water at this place is bad and scanty. Bahadar Khel is a village of 1,422 inhabitants. It is five miles from the Waziri border, and has a small fort garrisoned by a military detachment. From Bahadar Khel to Latammar is 12 miles. The road passes through a tunnel and then follows a rough gorge known as the Surdagh pass. Latammar is on the outskirts of the open valley of Bannu, and is only 19 miles from Bannu itself.

The Teri Toi

The Teri toi rises about ten miles from the Kuram. It runs through the centre of the district almost due east and west and very nearly in a bee line. From its source near Gurguri to its junction with the Indus is a distance of 50 miles, and the stream never diverges for more than a mile or two from a straight line drawn between these points. The town of Teri, which is the head-quarters of the Teri tahsil, is 34 miles from Kohat. It is situated on the toi, four miles to the west of the Bannu-Kohat road. The chief of the Teri Khattaks, Nawab Sir Khwaja Muhammad Khan resides here. The place is hardly more then a big village. There is no tahsil, the Nawab collecting his own revenue; the only public buildings are the police station, the school and the dispensary. The two latter are on a small scale. The population of Teri is 4,071, of whom 301 are Hindus and the remaining 3,770 are Muhammadans. There are a few wells round Teri, and between it and the hills to the north there is an open well cultivated valley. The town is close to the toi and is well situated on a rising ground over-looking the surrounding country. The upper portion of the valley of the toi above the town of Teri is generally known as the Darra. The stream runs generally in a deep ravine through an open valley two or three miles across, and near Teri itself somewhat wider. On the north this valley is shut in by the Swanai Sar, rising to a height of 4,785 feet, and to the south by the Miranzai range, which is nearly as high. The watershed between the Teri toi and the Kuram is less marked than in the case of the Hangu toi. The open valley of the Darra stretches on to Dallan without a break, and the unimportant ravines by which the western end is drained make their way through some low hills to the Kuram. The Darra is generally well peopled and has plenty of good barani cultivation. Here and there the stretch of open undulating or level ground is broken by ravines and low hills.

Valley North of Teri Toi

The tract of country between the Miranzai southern range, the Bannu road and the Teri toi forms roughly a sort of triangle, of which the toi is the base. The whole of this tract is intersected by a succession of mountain ranges running parallel to the toi and enclosing narrow valleys. The connection between these valleys and Miranzai has been alluded to above. The upper ends of these valleys generally belong to the Hangu tahsil, the few hamlets that they contain being attached as bandas [2] to big villages in the Miranzai valley. Their lower ends are occupied by the Teri Khattaks. To the north the Borakka valley, which leads to the hill station of Mir Khweli, was originally a waste un-owned tract. All the lower portion was given soon after annexation to a Persian gentleman, Ghulam Haidar Khan Kiyani. The upper portion still forms a Government rakh. Mir Khweli, now known as Fort Cavagnari, is the sanatorium of Kohat. It is 4,690 feet high. There is no spring on the top worthy of the name, and the tanks are generally dry, so that want of water is a constant trouble. Its distance from the cultivated country makes it difficult also to get supplies. There are four bungalows, of which half are in ruins. The distance from Kohat is only 17 miles, but the road is nearly everywhere stony, and for the last few miles the ascent is steep. The hill is covered more or less with the usual growth of wild olive and sanatha. On the south Mir Khweli overlooks the Samari valley, which belongs to the Hangu tahsil; Mir Khweli itself belongs to Kohat.

Country North of Teri Toi

The cultivation in these valleys is nearly all barani, though here and there a casual spring allows of a little irrigation with perhaps a garden and grove. Towards the Bannu road most of these hill ranges die away. A few cross the Kohat toi, forming the Gurgalot hills south of Gumbat. The main ranges that enclose the Teri valley continue to the Indus. Immediately below the town of Teri, the toi leaves this valley and gets into one south of the Miranzai range, and soon after the valley itself comes practically to an end, the Swanai Sar and Miranzai ranges contracting into a single belt of hills, which, however, contain distinct and separate continuations of the original ranges. These hills form the most northern of the salt ranges by which the district is intersected. The Miranzai range is full of salt mines, the Swanai Sar to the north has fewer. The important mines of Jatta and Malgin, the first just east of the Bannu road, the second half way between this point and the Indus, are both situated in the Miranzai system.

The Lachi Malgin Valley

Between the Swanai Sar and Gurgalot hills there is a broad open valley, of which the western end forms the Lachi plain, while the eastern is known as the Malgin plain. This valley contains numerous villages and large stretches of good cultivation. Towards the Indus it gives place to low ranges of broken hills.

The Bahadar Khel-Narri Valley

The Teri toi on leaving the Darra gets into the Bahadar Khel-Narri valley which lies between the Miranzai hills to the north and the Bahadar Khel-Krar range to the south. To the west this valley is half shut in by the curious hill of Kafir Kot on the skirts of the Waziri country. This hill is composed of a coarse conglomerate which has been worn away, leaving detached pinnacles which have the appearance of gigantic towers, and though perfectly natural have been sometimes mistaken for the ruins of an ancient fortress. The western portion of this valley by Bahadar Khel is about four miles across. It narrows to the east, and for the last 16 miles is nothing but a narrow gorge through which the Teri toi makes its way to the Indus. The broad portion of the valley is fertile, most parts a network of impracticable ravines. Here and there are stretches of level ground fit for cultivation. There is a considerable plain round the villages of Bahadar Khel and Danish Khel, and another large cultivated tract is occupied by a clump of villages known under the common name of Narri. Much of the cultivation lies in a succession of long terraces, rising one above the other and hidden from the ordinary traveller by outcrops of low hills. The water supply of this valley is generally more or less salt, and on the whole it is the most desolate portion of the district.

Defiles in Earth along Bannu Road near Bahadar Khel

The Southern Salt Ranges

Between the Bahadar Khel-Krar range and the Lawaghar hills which separate the Kohat district from Isa Khel lies the last and largest of the valleys into which the Teri country is divided. The Bahadar Khel-Krar range is the most southern of the salt ranges. On the north side are the Bahadar Khel and Narri mines. On the south are the Karak mines and a number of closed quarries extending to Shakardarra in the Sagri country. Towards the west as far as Narri these hills run nearly due east and west. They then trend away to the north. The Lawaghar hills contain no salt. They run in a horse-shoe from the north-east to the south-west.

Salt Range in Bahadur Khel


The upper portion of the valley lying between these ranges is known as Chauntra. This is a broad undulating tract, with a some-what light sandy soil, interrupted here and there by low ranges, but on the whole forming a wide sheet of cultivated land. The central portion of the Chauntra valley is an open plain. To the west towards Karak a narrow gap of cultivated country connects it with the Land-Kammar Thal. In all other directions it is shut in by mountains and ravines. The highest cultivated portion of Chauntra is Mator. This is a cluster of hamlets lying high up on the slopes of the Lawaghar range and close to the Bhangi Khel boundary. The upward slope of the Lawaghar range is very gradual, but its composition is of soft sandstone and conglomerates, often degenerating into loose earth full of stones. It cuts into ravines with great facility, and it is difficult to travel over it owing to the deep nallas by which it is intersected everywhere. Looking southwards from Mator the crest of the range appears rising gently some two miles to the south, covered with a jungle of wild olive and sanatha. Northwards Kohat is visible at a distance of about 30 miles over the tops of the intervening ranges, and further on the Afridi and Orakzai hills with the Sufed Koh in the background of all. The Chauntra valley is a sort of great bank sloping up to these Lawaghar hills and falling away in every other direction.

View of Karak on the Indus Highway

Northern Bhangi Khel and the Shakardarra portion of the Sagri country naturally form a part of this Chauntra valley. The drainage from Mator runs due north in deep ravines, and falling into the Mitwan nalla passes through a gap in the Krar range and joins the Teri toi near Karirosam. The Shakardarra drainage also joins the Mitwan. The Lawaghar hills east of Mater, including most of northern Bhangi Khel, drain into the Laghari nalla, which also joins the Teri toi, but east of Shakardarra. To the west the Chauntra drainage passes partly into the Teri toi by the Bilutai nalla and partly westwards into the Kuram through the Karak nalla. Looking westwards from the centre of Chauntra the valley appears to be bounded by some low hillocks hardly rising above the general level of the plain, and beyond these there is nothing to break the view as far as Bannu. On reaching these hillocks, however, the traveller finds before him nothing but a succession of almost impassable ravines for a distance of ten miles. With the exception of the Karak gap, this belt of ravines extends right across the valley and entirely shuts out Chauntra from the Land-Kammar Thal.

The Chauntra valley grows great quantities of wheat, a good deal of barley, but not much gram, and the extent of land under kharif is generally not more than a fourth of that under rabi cultivation. A very little rain at the right season ensures a good rabi crop. Chauntra is in fact the granary of Kohat. It contains no large villages except Karak. The people live in small hamlets, scattered thickly over the country. In the raviny portions, and generally along the slopes of the Lawaghar hills, there are very few hamlets even, the people living in detached farms and homesteads. The character of the country necessitates this, as it would often take a man an hour to get to a field not half a mile off in a straight line. The Chauntra valley is generally bare of trees. Drinking water is found in the beds of nallas where there are numerous springs. Towards Karak wells are numerous. These are surrounded by clumps of trees. The ravines near Karak, which carry off the drainage of the Chauntra valley, are broad, sandy and shallow.

The Land-Kammar Thal

The same character marks the nallas in the Land-Kammar Thal, which is a tract about 25 miles long and six or eight broad, naturally forming a part of the basin of the Bannu valley. Towards Bannu it slopes gradually down towards the Kuram. On the north it is shut in by the Bahadar Khel hills. On the south-east by the Lawaghar hills, and between the two by the raviny tract that divides it from Chauntra. The soil of this tract is light and sandy. In years of good rain it is a sheet of cultivation, growing good drops of wheat, gram and bajra. There are a few good sized villages, but except towards Latammar the bulk of the population live in small hamlets scattered thickly over the country. Water is scarce and is generally brought from great distances. Most of the springs are situated in a narrow rocky valley running along the foot of the Lawaghar, or as it is here called the Maidani range. This valley, or rather gorge, contains several villages. As a rule, the Thal lands are bare and open. In places, however, especially about Land-Kammar, the country is thickly scattered over with trees, mostly ber. The vegetation in the Land-Kammar Thal is similar to that of the Sind Sagar Doab.

The Lawaghar hills, which separate Chauntra and the Land-Kammar Thal from Isa Khel, are a double range. The northern is known as the Shingarh or green hills, the southern as the Surgarh or red hills. Between the two is a gorge containing but little cultivation. The crest of the Surgarh is the boundary between Kohat and the Isa Khel tahsil of Bannu. It is not so high, but is more rocky than the Shingarh and has less vegetation.

Sagri Country

The Sagri country is the only portion of the district left to describe. The northern boundary runs at a short distance from the Teri toi which it crosses. The Bahadar Khel-Krar range terminates just south of the toi, and eight miles from the Indus in a curious-looking sugar-loaf shaped hill called Qund Hukanni. The general system of the Kohat paralleled mountain ranges running east and west ends here. From Qund Hukanni a range runs due south to Dangot on the Indus. This range is continued on the other side of the Indus to Sakesar and the Pind Dadan Khan salt range. The Hukanni Sar is the highest peak in this cross range. It has a curious top, like an artificial tower, which is a conspicuous landmark. Another range, known as the Grawan hills, runs parallel to the Hukanni range and between it and the Indus.


The whole of the Sagri country lying west of the Indus has been formed at Settlement into a single mouzah called Shakardarra. The name Shakardarra is a corruption of Shigga Darra or sandy valley. It properly applies only to the open cultivated valley lying in the angle between the Krar and Hukanni ranges, which naturally form a part of the Chauntra plain. The name is seldom used by the Sagris themselves in any more extended sense. The chief place of the tract, also named Shakardarra, is situated in this valley. It consists of a cluster of three or four contiguous villages, with a total population of about 1,500. The Shakardarra valley is fertile and well cultivated. The cultivation is all dependent on rain. The rest of the western Sagri country is much broken up by hills and ravines. In the south the spurs of the Bangala Sir, one of the peaks of the Hukanni range, reach almost to the Indus in the valley of the Laghari; between the Hukanni and Grawan ranges there is some scattered cultivation. There is very little cultivation between the Grawan hills and the Indus. One or two rakhs are situated here, and in parts there is a good deal of scrub jungle. Shakardarra is connected with Kalabagh, which is twenty miles off, by a track. that crosses a gap between the Lawaghar and Hukanni ranges, and follows the Bhangi Khel ravine down to the Indus.

Taghori Peak in Kalabagh

Flora & Fauna

Pashto Names of Timber Trees and Shrubs

The following list of vernacular and scientific names of the principal trees and shrubs in the Afghan Frontier is taken from Dr. Cleghorn's Forest Report for 1864 :

Adaipashtawar Abelia Trifolora
Aghsakai Prosopis Spicigera
Anar Punices Granatum
Bedar Taxus Baccata
Bahan Populus Euphratica
Bajur Pices Webbians
Handukai Ephedra
Bera Zisyphus Jujuba
Buja --
Dzigawuna --
Cherai Quercus
Kharpeta Cherai Quercus ilex.
Ghwara Cherai Quercus
Sper Charai (i.e. white oak) Quercus incana
Chinar Platanus Orientallis
Ghujbai Alnus
Ghuraskai Dodones Burmannians
Ghurghushtai Amygdalus Persiem
Ghwa Tamarix Orientalis
Ghwarija [3] --
Ghwardza [3] --
Gira Alnus
Gulab Ghuri Rosa Brunonis
Gurgura Reptonis Buxifolia
Hagai Fraxinus Buxifolia
Hanja Acacia Farmesians
Indsar Ficus
Jarkangai Lonicara Quiequelonjaris
Karkaura Zisyphus Nummularis
Karkaurba Zisyphus Vulgaris
Kaskai Indigofera Heterantha
Khara Ospperie Spinoma
Khamadar --
Kharwula (i.e. big willow) Salix
Khiroba Indzar Grewia Befulcefolia
Khiroba Rotundifolia
Khownad Oles Suropes
Khwa Tamarix Divies
Khwaguwula (i.e. sweet willlow) Salix Dioles
Kirra Capparis Aphylla
Kuraskai Berberis Lycium
Laghunai Dephne Lycium
Lor Ehretis Sepera
Limandus Pinus Execeles
Mandats Amygdalus Persica
Mamra Pirus Malus
Marchob --
Marghwalwa Vibernum Continifolium
Marwandai Vitex Negundo
Mamanrai Sageretin
Mzarai Chamacerops Ritchiana
Nashtar Pinus Longifolia
Cedrus Deodra
Nawukai Jasminum
Palosa Acacia Modesta
Parwata Hedera
Pastawuna (perai) Grewis Oppositifolis
Plewan Salvadora Persica
Regdawan Tecoma Undulats
Sanjata Kleagnus Orientalis
Sarap Taxus Barcata
Sarawan Rhus Integerrims
Sarlashtai Spices Lindleyans
Shakai Urtica Hypoleucs
Shamshad Buxus Sempervirenna
Shawa Dalbergia Siaso
Shne (green) Pistacia Terebinthus
Speda (i.e. sofaida) Populas Alba
Sperawuna Ruddleis Crisps
Spilecha Fothergilla Divoluverats
Suraghsai (red thorn) Celastrus Parviflora
Tagho Celtis
Torjaga Pavia Indicas
Tritch Gandera Calotropis Gigantes
Yandawana --
Waghs Juglans Regin
Warawuna (small tree) Rilus
Warmandai Vitex
Wula Salix
Warak Rhamnus Virgatus
Wuraskal Dodoncea Burmannians

For the spelling of the Pashto names, Dr. Cleghorn was indebted to Rev. J. Loewenthal, and for the identification of the Botanical names, to Dr. J.L. Stewart's Memoranda on the Peshawar Valley (Journal As. Soc. Beng. 1863). A short list of plants found in Kafiristan with Pashto names is given by Griffith (It. Notes, pp. 441-442), but it contains numerous typographic errata.

The preceding list may be usefully supplemented by the following, taken from Mr. Tucker:

Maimani Sageretis Brandrethiana
Masrai Ohaneorop Humilis
Shini Xanthoxylon Sp. P
Pastawanai Growia Oppositifolia
Marwandaz Vitex Negundo
Kendra Zaren Euonymus Sp. P
Shamshad Dodoncea Barmanmasia (Deane)
Buxus Sempervirens (Powell)
Rohira or Rebdun Trecona Undulata
Gurgulla or Gurgura Reptonia Buxifolis
Tagha Celtis Onucassica
Amlok Dionpyrow Lotus
Kharinja Fious Glomerata


View of the Kohat Wildlife Sanctuary

Wolves and leopards are common in this district, the former in the plains, the latter in the mountainous tracts. During the heat this year rewards have been given for the destruction of 80 leopards and 94 wolves. Jackals and foxes are fairly abundant everywhere. Wild pig are found in Miranzai and in the Samari and Borakka valleys. Bears occasionally come down to Miranzai from the Samana range, when the maize is ripe, and are now and then found in the Mir Khweli hills.

Owing to the number of men possessing guns, deer are very scarce. A few ravine deer only are to be found in the wilder tracts. Urial are met with chiefly in the Khwarra and Shakardarra. The Markhor has practically disappeared. Hares used to be numerous and are still abundant in Upper Miranzai.

As regards game birds, the common grey partridge is to be found everywhere, though diminishing in numbers owing to constant hawking and netting. Black partridge are getting scarce. They are still plentiful in parts of Upper Miranzai and Kachai. Chakor and Sisi are common through the hills. A few snipe are to be picked up near Dhodha and one or two other places where the water is held up by dams in ravines with low-tying banks. An occasional woodcock is driven down by the winter cold into the gardens of Kohat and Kachai. Quail are plentiful in their season. Obara and sand grouse visit the district in the cold weather. Duck are not numerous. The only good place for them is the Dhaud lake near Shakardarra. Kulan (Grus cinerea) pass through the district on their way south, but hardly ever stop in it. The common blue pigeon is common, and in Miranzai there is also the prang or variegated pigeon, which comes from Tirah. On the whole the district is a bad one for sport.

In the Kuram and the Kohat toi the principal fish is the mahasir. In the toi it seldom reaches more than three or four pounds in weight. In the Kuram it grows larger. In the Indus the usual fish are to be found, but these are not caught to any large extent. The river is rapid, and there are none of those land-locked lagoons left by the retreating floods so loved by the fisher-men of the lower Indus.

Snakes are not numerous, and scorpions and most of the reptiles and insects common to the Punjab are to be found here also. Locusts, though not uncommon visitants, are less destructive than in the southern Punjab.


  1. Very precise details regarding the boundaries will be found in Mr. Tucker's Settlement Report of the district. They are still indeterminate in parts, the area to dispute being probably between 100 and 200 square miles,
  2. A local word meaning a dependent village.
  3. These seem to be different pronunciations of the same name. Dr. Stewart notes the former as Edwardsia Mallis, and the latter as Cratorgus Oxyacantha.