Approach to Ali Musjid on the Peshawer Side
Artist: Atkinson, James (17780-1852)
Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink
Drawing executed in pen-and-ink and water-colour of a mountain pass in Afghanistan by James Atkinson (1780-1852) dated 1840. Inscribed on the front is: 'Approach to Ali Musjid on the Peshawer Side'. This is folio 10 from an album of 17 drawings of views in Afghanistan from the Kyber Pass to Kabul by Atkinson.
During the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42) Atkinson served as Superintending Surgeon to the Army of the Indus, a combined force of British and Indian troops. A talented amateur artist, he took the opportunity to complete many sketches en route in which he portrayed the mountain passes, rocky gorges and arid plains so characteristic of the country.
This view was taken within the notorious Kyber Pass, a 33-mile long passage which cuts through the Hindu Kush Mountain Range in the North West Frontier Province (Pakistan). For centuries it has served as the only overland route through the mountains between northern Asia and the Indian plains. At its narrowest point the pass is only three metres wide. Situated at a height of 500 feet, the fortress of Ali Masjid guarded the entrance of the pass, and was therefore of utmost military importance during the Anglo-Afghan Wars.