Thursday, March 24, 2016

Pre Ghal پریغال [South Waziristan]



"From Piaza Ragzha towards Pre Ghal, South Waziristan, 1919. Photograph by R.B.Holmes



The mountain has often incorrectly been called Pir Gul or Pir Ghal by the British. They wrongly translated it as "the thieves's saint". The correct name is Pre-Ghal  (پریغال). The Mahsuds say this name has nothing to do with the word "Ghal" (غل) , meaning in Pashto a thief.  Pre-Ghal  is a term denoting a very holy man , and they say that the tomb on the summit of the Pre-Ghal is that of a saintly Faqir who in very ancient times led a hermit's life in the forests of the mountains. The shrine of Pre-Ghal is enclosed by rough wall of stones with the usual tall poles surmounted by little white flags ; attached to the shrine is a small square building for the shelter of the pilgrims. There is no custodian of the shrine, which is chiefly frequented by sinless men and barren women , as prayers offered there are said to be efficacious for the production of the offspring , especially male offspring. ["Pre-Ghal in Waziristan", by W. R. Hay, The Geographical Journal, Oct.1928]

Pre Ghal peak (11,533 feet)) is highest point of the Sulieman mountains range, it lies 9½ miles south east of Razmak camp. It is entirely in Mahsud territory. It is normally covered with snow from October to May. Pre-Ghal and Shawal are coldest parts of Waziristan.

On the 7th and 8th of May 1881, during the Mahsud expedition, a large party of British-Indian men and animals ascended to its summit from the base camp at Kaniguram, via the Trikh Konr algad ; heliograph communication was opened up with other portion of the British force at Razmak Narai, Vezhda Sar and Shaikh Badeen. 

Except for the actual summit and a few precipitous faces, the whole mountain is well-wooded with spruce, silver fir, deodar, oak, wild cherry, etc. Many varieties of herbs are found there and these are in great demand by the tribesmen for medicinal and other purposes. Bears and oorials were plentiful; and panther and markhor were also found there in 1935. [ "Brief Gazetteer of Most Important and Useful Place Names in Waziristan District", 1935, p-99].