Badakhshān is the first district to the south of the Amu. In the age of Bābur it was considered as being bounded on the south by Kaferistān, on the east by Upper Kāshghar, on the north by Khutlān, and on the west by Kunduz and Anderāb. It is chiefly mountainous, and appears to be formed by the course of two considerable rivers that unite to form the Amu. That river of the two which has the longest course and the greatest body of water is the Panj, called also the Hammū,* which appears to be the Harat of the Arabian geographers. It has lately been ascertained to rise in the high grounds east of the Belūt-tāgh range, issuing from under the snow of the lofty mountains of Push­tekhar, and working its way by the lower grounds of Shighnān and Derwāz. The second river, which is called the Kokcha, or Badakhshān river, is inferior in magnitude and length of course to the first, rising to the south of it, in that high mountainous ridge of Belūt-tāgh, which separates Badakhshān from Chitrāl, and the course of the Kāshkār or Cheghānserāi river; and on the north, divided from the course of the Panj by a chain of lofty hills, which intervene and form the ridge of the opposite valleys. Badakhshān Proper lies along the Kokcha river, though the dominion of the King of Badakhshān generally embraced all the country south of the Panj. The country north of the Panj belonged to Khutlān. The mountainous tracts near its source still called Wakhān, and by Marco Polo, Vochan, are probably part of the Wakhsh of the Oriental geographers. Besides the two great valleys which run along the river, through all the extent of the country, there are numerous others which wind among the hills, particularly on the south, towards Kaferistān, and which transmit several streams of considerable size to the larger rivers. The Panj and Kokcha unite just below the Badakhshān territory.

The soil in the valleys is fertile, and the country has always been famous for producing precious stones, especially rubies and turquoises. It was visited in the thirteenth century by Marco Polo, whose account of this and the neighbouring provinces is far more correct than has been generally supposed. It belonged to Bābur in the latter period of his life, but was not the scene of any of his more eminent exploits. He mentions that its native king claimed descent from Sikander, or Alexander the Great; a claim which is continued down to the present day. The family may, perhaps, be descended from the Grecian dynasty of Bactriana, which subsisted so long unconnected with the empire of Alexander’s successors.