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The Sulaiman Mountains or Kōh-e Sulaymān (Pashto: د كسي غرونه‎; Balochi/Urdu/Persian: کوه سليمان‎; "Mountains of Solomon"), are a north–south extension of the southern Hindu Kush mountain system, and rise to form the eastern edge of the Iranian Plateau, and the northeastern edge of the Balochistan Plateau.[1] They are located in the Zabul, Kandahar and Loya Paktia regions of Afghanistan, and in Pakistan they extend over the northern part of Balochistan province, and some parts of southwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Bordering the Sulaimans to the north are the arid highlands of Central Hindu Kush whose heights extend up to 3,383 metres (11,099 ft), and to the east are the Indus plains.[2] Together with the Kirthar Mountains in southern Pakistan, they form what is known as the Sulaiman-Kirthar geologic province.[3]

The most well known peak of the Sulaimans is the twin-peaked Takht-e-Sulaiman or "Throne of Solomon" at 3,487 metres (11,440 ft),[4] located near Dera Ismail Khan in Pakistan, close to the border with both South Waziristan and Zhob District of neighboring Balochistan province. The highest peak, however, is Zarghun Ghar at 3,578 metres (11,739 ft) near Quetta, Pakistan. The next highest peak in Balochistan province is Khilafat Hill at 3,475 metres (11,401 ft), which is located in Ziarat district of Pakistan, and is famous for the Ziarat Juniper Forest where juniperus macropoda trees grow.[5]

Geography

The eastern edge of the Sulaiman range runs 280 miles (450 km) from the Gomal Pass in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to near the city of Jacobabad in Sindh province,[6] and further stretches into south-west Punjab.

In Afghanistan, the western edge of the range starts just beyond the northern Loya Paktia province where they meer the Koh-i-Baba range. South from there, they meet the Spin Ghar range northeast of Gardez in Paktia province, but towards west, the mountain range drops gradually in Kandahar southwest into Helmand and the Sistan Basin.

The Sulaiman Range, and the high plateaus to the west of it, helps form a natural barrier against the humid winds that blow from the Indian Ocean, creating arid conditions across southern and central Afghanistan to the west and north. In contrast, the relatively flat and low-lying Indus delta is situated due east and south of the Sulaimans.

Rivers that drain the Sulaimans include the Gomal River which flows eastward into the Indus River, and the Dori River and other small tributaries of the Arghandab River, which flow southwestward into the Helmand River.

Geology

The Sulaimans were formed as a fold and thrust belt as the Indian Plate collided into Eurasian Plate beginning about 30 million year ago.[7] The Indian Plate's counter-clockwise rotation as it collided with the Eurasian Plate resulted in the Sulaiman's having some of the most complex tectonic structures in the world,[7] including "stacking" of thrust faults.[8] The complex fault-system is capable of producing doublet earthquakes that jump to other faults - such as the 1997 Harnai earthquake in which a magnitude 7.1 earthquake triggered a 6.8 earthquake 19 seconds later on a second fault 50 kilometres away.[9]

Areas in the southern part of the range include an Imbricate fan of slices of rocks in close parallel,[7] bounded by faults on either side of each slice.[10] Along the Eastern edge of the Sulaimans is the Sulaiman Fold, an area within the Indian Plate consisting of sediment, alongside which runs the Ornach Nal-Ghazaband-Chaman Fault.[11]

Legends about Takht-e-Sulaiman

One of the highest peaks of the Sulaimans, the Takht-i Sulaiman ("Throne of Solomon") at 3,382 metres (11,096 ft) high, was recorded by Ibn Battuta as the Koh-i Sulaiman.[12] In Pashtun legend, it is associated with Prophet Solomon. According to the legend, Prophet Solomon climbed this mountain and looked out over the land of South Asia, which was then covered with darkness, and so turned back without descending into this new frontier, and left only the mountain which is named after him (as told by Ibn Battuta).[13] According to another legend, Noah's Ark alighted in the Takht-i Sulaiman after the Deluge.

Another legend says that Qais Abdur Rashid, said to be the legendary ancestor of the Pashtun nation, is buried atop Takht-e-Sulaiman, and so it is also locally known as Da Kasī Ghar (د کسي غر, "Mount of Qais"). According to this legend, his descendants migrated west, north, and south from here. Some people visit the place and make animal sacrifices, usually a sheep or a goat, at the tomb of Qais to help feed the poor.[citation needed] Trips to the mountain is undertaken mostly in summer, since from late November until March the snowfall makes it difficult to climb.[14]Al-Biruni, who himself lived a large part of his life in Ghazni located just northwest of the Sulaimans, writes of the mountains in his memoirs as being the western frontier mountains of Asia and the homeland of an Ajami ("non-Arab") tribe known as the Pashtuns.

See also

References

  1. ^ Akroyd, Clarissa (2014-11-17). Pakistan. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-63355-947-9.