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Gwadhar: An excerpt from History

'Persia and the Persian Question by the Hon. George Nathaniel Curzon, M.P.'

Page 431 - 432

-European Telegraph, and is sometimes spoken of as the possible maritime terminus of a railway line from Seistan, or British Beluchistan. The town is quaintly and even picturesquely situated 
on a long and low spit of sand, projecting into the sea, and narrow 
ing to an apex, not more than half a mile in width, between two bays. Upon this low neck of land is built the port of Gwadur, with a population of about 4,000, and a trade in wool and cotton from 
the interior, and in fish from the coast. On the southern side, 
and immediately below the town, which is not at first visible from 
the sea, the narrow spit suddenly bulges into a rocky promontory, 
from 100 to 300 feet in height, the latitudinal section of which is 
perhaps six miles in length, and which, presenting its broad face to 
the sea, is exactly like the head of a hammer into which the haft 
is fitted at the point where is built the town. The anchorage is in 
3^ fathoms of water, at about three miles from, the shore, along 
which a nasty surf is heard booming. Gwadur was once one of the 
most popular stations of the Telegraph Line, and was regarded as the 
sanitarium of the Gulf ports, the temperature being very equable, 
and existence quite endurable even in the summer months. Prom 
some unknown cause, however, attributed by some to the sea-water, 
which is here so strongly impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen 
that the fish are often killed in great numbers—a malarial fever has 
developed itself, which attacks every new-comer; and the place is 
now as much shunned as it was once sought. Till a few years ago, 
Gwadur was also the residence of a British political agent . But 
the increasing unhealthiness of the spot has led to the abandonment 
of the agent's bungalow as a permanent residence, and the political 
work along the Mekran coast is now discharged by an officer who 
pays an occasional visit in the course of a tour of inspection. It is 
highly probable that the climatic conditions may also lead to the 
abandonment of the telegraph station, which appears not to be 
essential to the efficient working of the line. 
Upon the eastern side of the Gwadur Bay, where the spit 
joins the mainland, a stately cliff, called Jebel Mahdi, rises sheer 
Coast from the sea to a height of 1,360 feet, its cloven summit 
scenery being shaped at one point into two projections, that have 
procured for it from the compilers of the old charts the expressive 
title of the Asses' Ears. A neighbouring rock is known as the Cathedral Rock, from its fantastic natural outline of pinnacles and 
spires; and the entire coast line is here so strangely fretted and 
moulded by nature, that we are reminded of Scott's description in 
the £ Lady of the Lake ':— 
Their rocky summits split and rent 
Form'd turret, dome, and battlement. 
Or seem'd fantastically set 
With cupola or minaret. 
Wild crests as pagod ever deck'd, 
Or mosque of Eastern architect. 
Traces either df Portuguese or of some foreign occupation are 
visible at Gwadur, in the ruins of a vast reservoir on the flank 
of the hill overlooking the town ; while a rude archaic 
History ram p ar t dominates the same elevation. Nor is it alto 
gether unknown in English history. For here it was that, in 
1613, Sir Robert Sherley, returning from his embassy on behalf 
of the King of Persia to the Christian powers of Europe, in the 
good ship £ Expedition' (Captain Christopher Newport), and pro 
posing to march overland to Isfahan, narrowly escaped a plot to 
murder both himself and the whole ship's crew, that had been 
formed by the 'Viceroy of Guader or Godel,' who is elsewhere 
described as £ a revolted duke from the Persians.' 1 The port and 
district are now governed by a Vali, or deputy of the Sultan of 
Muscat. The circumstances under which the latter potentate 
became possessed of the place occurred at the end of the last 
century, when a free gift of Gwadur and its surroundings, as well 
as of Chahbar, was made by Nasir Khan, the ruler of Kelat, to 
Seyid Sultan bin A.hmed, of Oman, who had retired from Muscat 
to the Beluch coast, after an unsuccessful attempt to oust his elder 
brother, Seyid Said. From that period the place was ruled by 
deputies of the reigning Sultan, until in 1871 Abdul Aziz, the 
younger brother of the late Sultan, with whom he was perpetually 
at war, on the occasion of one of his numerous exiles, installed 
himself at Gwadur and seized Chahbar, which had lately been 
occupied by local chieftains. The Persians, delighted at an 
opportunity of asserting their authority over Chahbar, expelled 
Abdul Aziz, who was also turned out of Gwadur by his brother; 
and the latter port has since remained in possession of the reigning Sultan. From the small Gwadur district he derives an annual 
revenue of about 2,0001. 
I have now completed the survey of the northern coast of the 
Persian Gulf , and have exhibited the Persian Government as 
Survey exer cising along its shores and over its islands a more 
extended and emphatic authority than at almost any 
previous epoch during the last 300 years. This authority is only 
enforced at the cost of a good deal of discontent, the result of 
corruption, misgovemment, and oppression; but it is not likely 
to be seriously disputed in the future, owing to the want of 
cohesion among the subject races, and to their inability to make 
any stand even against Persian regulars. The Oriental, moreover, 
is familiar from long experience with old orders yielding place to 
new, while his creed disposes him to a placid acceptance of the 
doctrine that God fulfils himself in many ways. He shrugs his 
shoulders and submits ; it is only in cases of outrageous provoca 
tion that he actually rebels. Though it is upon the opposite coast 
of the Gulf that the responsibility of the British Government as 
guardian of the peace is chiefly called into action, yet disputes 
seldom occur, even on the northern side, in which the friendly 
offices of the British Resident at Bushire are not appealed to on 
one side or the other; and he is thereby enabled to exercise an 
influence which is both honourable to the nation that he represents 
and useful to the power to whom he is accredited. 
In crossing to the Arab coast of Muscat, the mention of the 
internal politics and domestic broils of the reigning family of 
History of 
Oman, which the description of Gwadur has elicited, 
leads me to preface my account of that coast and its 
capital hy a brief tbsutyig of the recent history of this still 
independent Arab kingdom. 1 The Portuguese, in the eastward 


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