Amongst the many places of which it is difficult to establish the true position in ancient Sind, Nírún or Nairún is one of the most perplexing, for several reasons. Its first syllable, even, is a con­troverted point, and while all the French authors uniformly write it Byroun, after Abú-l Fidá,* the English equally persist in following Idrísí* (p. 78), and writing it Nírún and Nerún. What imparts a presumptive correctness to the French reading is, that it is set down as the birthplace of the celebrated Abú Ríhán al Birúní. But here, in limine, several strong objections may be raised,—that Abú Ríhán was a Khwárizmian, and is so called by the best authorities,—that throughout his descriptive geography of India, he is more deficient in his account of Sind than in any other part,—that he nowhere mentions it as his birthplace,—and that no one ever heard of any Bírún in Sind, though many local traditions speak of a Nírún, and concur in fixing its locality. Abú-l Fidá certainly writes it Bírún, but there is often an assumption of accuracy about him which has been far too readily conceded by the moderns; for he was merely a distant foreigner, who never left Syria except to go to Mecca and Egypt, and he was therefore compelled to copy and rely on the defective information of others. Istakhrí, Ibn Haukal, and the Ashkálu-l Bilád are not quite determinate in their reading, but the Chach-náma and the Tuhfatu-l Kirám never write it in any other form than with the initial N, followed by , which leaves us still in doubt whether the word be Nairún, Nírún, or Nerún; but it is certainly neither Birun, nor Bírún, nor Bairún, nor Byroun.

Other considerations with respect to the name of Abú Ríhán, will be found in the Note devoted to that philosopher, in the second volume of this work.

Under the dynasty of the Ráís, Nírún was included within the government of Bráhmanábád (p. 158). The inhabitants of Nírún solicited from the Arabs a cartel of protection, as their city was “on the very road of the Arabs to Sind” (p. 157). After the conquest of Debal, “Md. Kásim directed that the catapults should be sent by boat towards the fort of Nírún (p. 47), and the boats went up the stream called Sindh Ságara,* while he himself advanced by way of Sisám”* (p. 157). When Md. Kásim went from Debal “to the fortress of Nírún, which is twenty-five parasangs distant, he marched for six days, and on the seventh arrived at Nírún, where there is a meadow which they call Balhár, situated on the land of Barúzí,* which the inundations of the Indus had not yet reached (p. 158), and the army consequently complained of being oppressed by thirst. This drought was seasonably relieved through the efficacy of the general's prayers,—“when all the pools and lakes which were round that city were replenished with water.” He then “moved towards Síwistán (Síhwán) by several marches, until he reached Bahraj or Mauj,* thirty parasangs from Nírún” (p. 158). After his expedition to Síwistán and Búdhiya, he was directed by Hajjáj to return to Nírún, and make preparations for crossing the Indus (p. 163). He accordingly moved back by several difficult marches “to the fort which is on the hill of Nírún,”* where there was a beautiful lake and charming grove (p. 163). This fort was the nearest point to the capital of the Khalif. After crossing the Indus, a garrison was left at Nírún, to keep open the communications in the rear and protect the con­voys (p. 144).

Istakhrí (p. 28) and Ibn Haukal tell us that “Nírún lies between Debal and Mansúra, but nearer to the latter, and that any traveller who wishes to go to Mansúra, must cross the river Indus at Manjá-barí, which is on the western bank, and stands opposite to Man­súra” (p. 37). The subsequent geographers copy these authors, as usual, adding little further information. Idrísí places it distinctly on the western bank (p. 78). Abú-l Fidá says it is fifteen para­sangs from Mansúra, and fixes it in latitude 26° 40', on the autho­rity of the Kánún of Birúní.*

The name of Sákara or Ságara, which is mentioned above, requires a few words of notice. The Chach-náma merely mentions that “the fleet of Md. Kásim came to anchor in the lake of Ságara;” but the Tuhfatu-l Kirám says, “having placed his manjaníks on boats, he sent them to the fort of Nírún, by way of the water of Sakúra, while he himself marched by land.”* Elsewhere, we are informed in the same work, that “Debal, now called Thatta, was in the land of Sákúra.”* Again, Tharra, which was a strong fort near Thatta, was “in the land of Sákúra.”* Again, Dewal, Bhambúr, Bagár, and Tharra were each “excellent cities in the land of Sákúra.”

In the Áyín-i Akbarí Sákúra is entered as a Pergana in Sirkár Thatta; and in the Tárikh-i Táhirí it is also spoken of as a Per-gana, lying under the Makalí hills, in which Thatta itself was in­cluded * (p. 257). Mas'údí speaks of a Ságara or Shákira (p. 24), two days' journey from the town of Debal; and it is added that both branches of the Indus disembogue into the sea at that place. It does not seem improbable that we have the same word in the Sagapa of Ptolemy and Marcianus Heracleotes, for they call it “the first and most westerly mouth of the river Indus.”*

We may consider the stream of Sákúra to correspond with the prolongation of the Gisrí or Ghárá creek, which at no very distant time must have communicated with the Indus above Thatta. Indeed, Mr. N. Crow, writing in the year 1800, says, “By a strange turn that the river has taken within these five and twenty years, just above Tatta, that city is flung out of the angle of the inferior Delta, in which it formerly stood, on the main land towards the hills of Buluchistán.”*

The position here assigned to the Sákúra, points out the direction where we are to look for Nírún, to which, by means of that stream, there seems to have been a water communication—at least approxi­mate, if not direct.

It is quite evident that Nírún was on the western bank of the Indus. Not only do we find Muhammad Kásim going there in order to make due preparations for “crossing” that river, not only do we find Dáhir, on receiving the intelligence of the capture of Debal, directing Jaisiya to “cross over” from Nírún to Bráhmaná-bád without delay (MS. p. 102), but it is also so represented both in the text, and on the maps, of Istakhrí and the Ashkálu-l Bilád. Nevertheless, M. D'Avezac, in the map prefixed to the Memoire sur l'Inde, places it on the eastern bank. His authority stands deservedly high, but can be of no value against the positive testimony here adduced to the contrary.

How then it came in modern times to be considered identical with Haidarábád it is impossible to say, but so it is laid down unhesita­tingly from the Tuhfatu-l Kirám, down to the latest English tourist.* Even if it could be accounted for by supposing that the Falailí then constituted the main stream of the Indus, we should nevertheless find that the distances assigned to Nírún from various places named would not make it correspond in position with Haidarábád.

And here it is obvious to remark, that the establishment of its locality depends chiefly upon the sites which are assigned to other disputed cities, more especially to Debal and Mansúra. I have else­where stated my reasons for considering Debal to be represented by Karáchí, and Mansúra by Haidarábád. Much also depends on the real value of the farsang,* which greatly varied in different places, even in neighbouring provinces. As it was probably modified in Sind by the local kos, we may ascribe to it the small standard of two miles and a half, which we know it to have had upon the Tigris, according to the latest and most accurate investigations. Or, with­out assigning to these roughly estimated distances an accuracy which they were never intended to bear, we may consider the Sindian parasang to vary from two to three miles, so as in no instance to be less than the one, or more than the other. It is usual, and doubtless more correct, to fix the standard at a higher value than even three English miles; but this is evidently quite inapplicable in Sind, and would be even more decisive against the identity of Debal and Thatta, than the present hypothesis.*

Guided by all these considerations, I am disposed to place Nírún at Heláí, or Heláya, a little below Jarak, on the high road from Thatta to Haidarábád. The correspondences in other respects appear exact, in every instance of comparison.

It has a direct communication by a road over the hills with Bela and would be the first place in the valley of the Indus which the Arabs could reach by land, and therefore nearest to the capital of the Khiláfat.

Lakes abound in the neighbourhood, and are large enough, espe­cially the Kinjar, to have admitted Muhammad Kásim's fleet.

Nírún is represented as twenty-five parasangs from Debal. (The real distance is seventy British statute miles between Heláí and Karáchí.)

Nírún was situated on a hill, which would admit of its being identified with very few other places of note near the Indus. It lay between Debal and Mansúra, but was nearer to the latter. (This position also corresponds with that of Heláí). It was fifteen parasangs from Mansúra. (Thirty-five miles is the distance between Heláí and Haidarábád.)

We need scarcely pursue the comparison farther. We may rest assured that Nírún was, if not at Heláí, at least at no great distance from it, and was certainly not Haidarábád. It is worthy of remark that Heláí itself is a place of undoubted antiquity, and there are two remarkable hills in its neighbourhood covered with ruins, repre­senting perhaps the Hyala of Diodorus.*

Next to Heláí, Jarak offers many points of probability. It is only twelve miles from Heláí, and therefore the distances already laid down, with no great profession of exactness, would answer nearly equally well. Its commanding position, on a ledge of rock over­hanging the Indus, necessarily denotes it to have been always a site of importance, and this is confirmed by the evidence afforded by several substantial remains of masonry on the banks of the river, which still arrest the observation of the traveller at that place.