This article has been extracted from
THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA , 1908.
OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.
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.
A river of Afghanistan which, with its five principal tributaries — the Kaj or Khud Rud, Tirin, Arghandab, Tarnak, and Arghastan — drains all the south-western portion of the State. The Helmand rises at Hazar Kash, in an upland valley called Chaj Hazara, on the western slopes of the Paghman range, and runs for 300 miles in a south-westerly direction through the Hazarajat, the least-known tract of Afghanistan, before it passes Girishk, about 80 miles west of Kandahar. In the Hazarajat the Helmand is joined by the Khud Riid, and in this part of its course it is said to flow in a deep, narrow, and frequently rocky valley, with numerous gorges. Lower down it is joined by the Tirin, and about 35 miles south-west of Girishk by the united waters of the Arghandab, Tarnak, and Arghastan at Kala Bist. From this junction the course of the Helmand is still south-west, through an arid desert, for 75 miles, when it turns west to Band-i- Kamal Khan, and then north, finally losing itself in the Seistan Hamun. That the whole of its lower valley was once the seat of a large and prosperous population is evidenced by extensive ruins. At the present day inhabitants are few, and cultivation is carried on only in the vicinity of the river. The soil is highly fertile, and with more care in the distribution of the water cultivation could be largely extended. 'i'he eastern tributaries of the Helmand — namely, the Tirin, Arghandab, and Tarnak — are rivers of considerable length ; and though their source is not correctly known, it is believed that they rise in the highlands to the west and south-west of Ghazni.