Bara River

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This article has been extracted from



Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Bara River

A small river in the North- West Frontier Province, which rises in the highlands of Tirah, and flows eastward between the Safed Koh and its offshoot the Surghar range on the north and the Torghar or Zia-ud-din range, which divides it from the Mastura valley, on the south. In Tirah the Bara valley is closely confined between these lofty, rugged, and pine-clad ranges ; but it is thickly dotted with fortified homesteads, and the passage by the British force in 1897 was most arduous. Entering Peshawar District near Fort Bara, a few miles south-west of Peshawar city, the Bara takes a north-easterly course and falls into the Kabul river after a total length of about 100 miles.

The water-supply of Peshawar is drawn from this river by a closed masonry flume taking off 2 miles above the fort. The river has cut its way through the soft soil of the Peshawar valley to a considerable depth and now runs far below the level of the surrounding country, but from time immemorial it has been used for irrigation on both banks. The supply of water is, however, small, not exceeding 158 cubic feet per second as a rule, though after rain in the Tirah hills it is greatly increased, and the stream then brings down a reddish silt which is extremely fertilizing. In 1898 a weir was constructed near the Afndi village of Ilm Gudr at a cost of Rs. 20,000. The Bara canal, taking off here on the north bank, has two branches named after the tribes whose lands they command : the Khalil or Sangu, which cost Rs. 23,500 ; and the Mohmand or Shaikhan, which cost Rs. 20,600.

These branches were so designed as not to interfere with the ancient watercourses, over which they were carried by means of aqueducts. Both branches run through tunnels in conglomerate rock immediately above the weir, the Sangu tunnel being 1,600 feet in length and the Shaikhan 710 feet. The head-works are protected by a blockhouse. The canal is managed by the Deputy-Commissioner under the Peshawar Canal Regulation of 1898. It irrigated 57 square miles in 1903-4.

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