DARDISTAN, a purely conventional name given by scientists to a tract of country on the north-west frontier of India. There is no modern race called Dards, and no country so named by its inhabitants, but the inhabitants of the right bank of the Indus, from the Kandia river to Batera, apply it to the dwellers on the left bank. In the scientific use of the appellation, Dardistan comprises the whole of Chitral, Yasin, Panyal, the Gilgit valley, Hunza and Nagar, the Astor valley, the Indus valley from Bunji to Batera, the Kohistan-Malazai, i.e. the upper reaches of the Panjkora river, and the Kohistan of Swat. The so-called Dard races are referred to by Pliny and Ptolemy, and are supposed to be a people of Aryan origin who ascended the Indus valley from the plains of the Punjab, reaching as far north as Chitral, where they dispossessed the Khos. They have left their traces in the different dialects, Khoswar, Burishki and Shina, spoken in the Gilgit agency.
The question of Dardistan is debated at length in Leitner's Dardistan (1877); Drew's Jummoo and Kashmir Territories (1875); Bidduiph's Tribes of the Hindu-Kush (1880) and Durand's The Making of a Frontier (1899). For further details see Gilgit.
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