Before proceeding to make any remarks on this district, it is necessary to point out, in a few words, the course taken by the branches of the Asfera mountains, when they diverge, somewhat to the east of the longitude of Khojend, as has been already mentioned. All along the south of Fer­ghāna, their summits are everywhere covered with perpetual snow. As they approach Uratippa, they appear suddenly to lose their height, and to divide into three or perhaps four branches. One of these, running south by Derbend or Kohlūgha (the Iron Gate), under the name of Kara-tāgh, or the Black mountains,* divides the country of Hissār from that of Késh. The northern part of this range, as described by Bābur, is lofty and precipitous in the extreme; but it evidently declines in height as it approaches the desert along the Amu, where it probably altogether disappears. The second branch, running south-west from Karatigīn, extends to the south of Samarkand and Bokhāra, though much inferior in height to the former, and seems, like it, to die away in the desert towards the Amu. This may be called the Késh branch, and the country between it and the Kara-tāgh forms the territories of Késh and Karshi. The hill between Samarkand and Késh is, by Sherīfeddīn, called the hill of Késh. Ibn Haukal tells us* that the mountain of Zarkah, as he calls the same range, runs from Bokhāra, between Samarkand and Késh, joins the border of Ferghāna, and goes on towards the border of Chīn. The Arabian geographer, therefore, evidently considered the range south of Samarkand as connected with the Asfera, and probably with the Muz-tāgh ranges. The third range, called the Ak-tāgh, or Ak-kāya, the white mountains, and by the Arabian geographers* Butum, or Al-Butum,* extending to the westward, runs to the north of Samarkand and Bokhāra, and declines down to the desert. Where it leaves the Asfera mountains it forms, with the Kara-tāgh and Késh hills, the country of Yār-ailāk, and, lower down, one boundary of the celebrated valley of Soghd. This branch is lofty, and bears snow in its hollows all the year. The fourth branch is that which appears to run, but very ruggedly and uncertainly, to the north-west, through the country of Uratippa. It slopes down towards the sea of Aral, and a portion either of this, or of the last branch, crosses the Amu below the cultivated country of Khwārizm, before that river works its way into the sea of Aral. This may be called the Uratippa branch, as that country lies chiefly among its offsets, and towards the Ak-tāgh hills. The Uratippa hills approach very closely to the Sirr, or Jaxartes.

The country of Hissār, which was often traversed by Bābur, and which, for some years in the middle period of his life, formed his head-quarters, is by the Arabian geographers denominated Saghāniān, while the Persians called it Cheghāniān and Jeghāniān, from the city of that name which lies on the Cheghān-rūd, more frequently, how­ever, called the river of Cheghāniān. This country received, in later times, the name of Hissār (or the Castle), from the fort of Hissār-Shādmān, which was long the seat of govern­ment of all the neighbouring regions. At the present day, this country is known by the name of Deh-nau (or New-Town), from a town of that name, where the chief resides; and in general it may be remarked that all over the East, where the governments are fluctuating, there is a disposition to desig­nate the government rather by the name of the city where the king or governor resides, than by a general name taken from the whole country which he governs. And, in like manner, as to rivers, and ranges of mountains, it is seldom, except in books, that they have any general name; the former are usually described by the name of the nearest large town, the latter by that of some remarkable summit, and consequently change their denomination many times in their course. Frequent instances of this kind will be found in the Memoirs of Bābur.

Hissār, on the south, was bounded by the river Amu or Oxus, on the east by the hill country of Wakhsh and Khutlān, from which it was divided by the Surkhrūd or Karatigīn river, formerly called the Wakhshāb, on the north by Karatigīn, and on the west by the Kara-tāgh mountains. It is hilly, but not mountainous, in its chief extent. The soil is in general sandy, and inclining to degenerate into desert; but, being on the whole well watered, is capable of high cultivation. The river Weish or Wakhshāb, which proceeds from the north-west, joins the Oxus considerably to the east of Kobādiān. The river of Cheghāniān, and that of Hissār or Kafernihān, are the other streams of chief note in this district. In the days of Bābur, the most important places in this division were Hissār, Cheghāniān, Kobādiān and Termez. The city of Termez or Termed has always been famous as covering the best passage over the Amu; but somewhat higher up is the passage of Ubāj, lying between Cheghāniān and Khulm, which is several times mentioned, both in Bābur’s Memoirs and in the History of Taimūr. The country towards Weishgird, where the natives were protected by the sudden rise of the hills, was the scene of many bloody battles between the ancient inhabitants and the Arabs, during their conquest of Māweralnaher. The inhabitants of the hill countries were never fully subdued. Bābur gives a very particular account of his passage up one of the long valleys of this country, called the valley of Kāmrūd, which he ascended in his flight from Hissār to Yār-ailāk, after his defeat near Samarkand. The valley of Kāmrūd leads up to the summit of the Kara-tāgh range.