The travel of an Ottoman admiral (Seydi Ali Reis) through Pakhtunkhwa in 16th century

In 1556 AD Seydi Ali Reis, an Ottoman Admiral, travelled through the Khyber Pass and saw two rhinos there.

In his book “Mirat ul Mamalik”, Seydi Ali Reis writes : “After crossing the rivers Khushab and Nilab (Indus) in ships, I set foot upon the shore of Bakhtar (Kabulistan). In the beginning of the month Jumada al-Awwal we left the river Nilab and turned toward Kabul. For fear of the Afghans (Pashtuns) under Adam Khan, we made a quick march through the night, and at daybreak we arrived at the foot of the mountain. So far the Afghans had not seen us, but by the time we had reached the top there were thousands of them gathered together. We seized our guns, and with God’s help managed to get out of their way, and came to the town of Pershuer, i.e., Peshawer. Soon after, we crossed the Khaiber Pass, and reached Djushai (?). In the mountains we saw two rhinoceroses (Kerkedans), each the size of a small elephant; they have a horn on their nose about two inches long. In Abyssinia these animals are much more plentiful.” 

Seydi Ali Reis describes Kabul city as follow : “we entered Kabulistan and its capital, Kabul. Here I visited the two sons of Humayun, Mohammad Hakim Mirza and Farrukh Fal Mirza; I also saw Munim Khan, and after presenting the ferman from Humayun, I was treated with much honour. Kabul itself is a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains covered with snow, and pleasure-gardens with running brooks. Pleasure and merriment prevailed everywhere, feasting and banqueting were the order of the day. In every corner were gaily dressed, slender Lulis enticing one with music and song to join the merry crowd; the populace, in fact, seemed to have no thought for anything but for pleasure and enjoyment.

 “Who would long for Huris and the Paradise, whose good fortune has brought him amongst the Lulis of Kabul?” 

Translator’s footnote: “Luli is, in Central Asia, the name given to the Gipsies, to which tribe the dancing and singing damsels and the prostitutes generally belonged. This used also to be the case in Turkey”. 

Source: “The Travels and Adventures of the Turkish Admiral Sidi Ali Reïs”, translated into English by A.Vambery. 

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