It is true that the Indian government interferes as little with the internal jurisdiction of the tribal chiefs amongst the Pathans of the Suliman Range as it does with that of the northern chiefs; but the occupation of a line of posts on the Zhob river, which flanks that range almost from end to end on the west, places the doors of communication with Afghanistan in British hands, and gives command of their hills. It thus tends to the maintenance of peace and order on the southern frontier to a degree that does not exist in the north.
The central range of the Suliman hills is the dominant feature in the geography of northern Baluchistan. The central line or axis of the range lies a little east of the meridian of 70° E., and it is geologically composed of one or more great folds of the Cretaceous series. Towards the northern extremity of the range occur a group of peaks, which together form an oblong block or "massif" amongst the neighbouring ridges known as "Kaisargarh" amongst the Sherani clansmen who occupy it; and as the "Takht-i-Suliman" (Solomon's throne), generally, on the frontier, from the fact of a celebrated shrine of that name existing near its southern abutment. The massif of the Takht is a high tableland (about 8000 ft. above sea-level), bounded on its eastern and western edges by high, rugged and steep parallel ridges. The western ridge culminates on the north in the peak of Kaisargarh (11,300 ft.), and the eastern in a block, or detached headland, on the south, where rests the immortal "zirat" or shrine (11,070 ft.). This tableland is formed by a huge cap of coral limestone, estimated by Griesbach at from 4000 to 5000 ft. in thickness.
At each end the tableland is rent by gorges which deepen, amidst stupendous precipices, to the channel of the Draband or "Gat" on the north, and of the Dhana on the south. These two channels carry the rush of mountain streams from the western slopes of the massif right across the axis of the mountains and through the intervening barrier of minor ridges to the plains of the Indus. The plateau is covered with a fairly thick growth of the chilghosa or "edible" pine, and a sprinkling of juniper, on the higher slopes. It was ascended and surveyed for the first time in 1883.
From the summit of the Kaisargarh peak a magnificent view is obtained which practically embraces the whole width of northern Baluchistan. Westwards, looking towards Afghanistan, line upon line of broken jagged ridges and ranges, folds in the Cretaceous series overlaid by coarse sandstones and shales, follow each other in order, preserving their approximate parallelism until they touch the borders of Baluchistan. Immediately on the west of the Kaisargarh there towers the Shingarh Mountain, a geological repetition of the Kaisargarh ridge, black with pines towards the summit and crowned with crags of coral limestone. Beyond it are the grey outlines of the close-packed ridges which enclose the lower reaches of the Zhob and the Kundar. As they pass away southwards this grid-iron formation strikes with a gentle curve westwards, the narrow enclosed valleys widening out towards the sources of the rivers, where ages of denudation have worn down the folds and filled up the hollows with fruitful soil, until at last they touch the central water-divide, the key of the whole system, on the Quetta plateau.
Thus the upper parts of the Zhob valley are comparatively open and fertile, with flourishing villages, and a cultivation which has been greatly developed under British rule, and are bounded by long, sweeping, gentle spurs clothed with wild olive woods containing trees of immense size. The lower reaches of the Zhob and Kundar are hemmed in by rugged limestone walls, serrated and banded with deep clefts and gorges, a wilderness of stony desolation. Looking eastwards from the Kaisargarh, one can again count the backs of innumerable minor ridges, smaller wrinkles or folds formed during a process of upheaval of the Suliman Mountains, at the close of a great volcanic epoch which has hardly yet ceased to give evidence of its existence. On the outside edge, facing the Indus plains, is a more strictly regular, but higher and more rugged, ridge of hills which marks the Siwaliks. The Baluch Siwaliks afford us strange glimpses into a recent geological past, when the same gigantic mammals roamed along the foot of these wild hills as once inhabited the tangled forests below the Himalaya. Between the Takht Mountain and the Siwaliks, the intervening belt of ridge and furrow has been greatly denuded by transverse drainage - a system of drainage which we now know to have existed before the formation of the hills, and to have continued to cut through them as they gradually rose above the plain level.
Where this intervening band is not covered by recent gravel deposits, it exhibits beds of limestone, clays and sandstone with fossils, which, in age, range from the Lower Eocene to the Miocene. Beyond the Siwaliks, still looking eastwards, are the sand waves of the Indus plain; a yellow sea broken here and there with the shadow of village orchards and the sheen of cultivation, extending to the long black sinuous line which denotes the fringe of trees bordering the Indus. Such is the scene which Solomon is said to have invited his Indian bride to gaze upon for the last time, as they rested on the crags of the southern buttress of the Takht - where his shrine exists to this day. To that shrine thousands of pilgrims, Mahommedans and Hindus alike, resort on their yearly pilgrimages, in spite of its dangerous approach. All this country, so far, is independent Baluchistan within the jurisdiction of the Baluchistan Agency, with the exception of certain clans of the Sheranis on the eastern slopes of the Takht-i-Suliman, north of the Vihowa, who are under the North-West Frontier Province administration. Wedged in between the railway and the Indus, but still north of the railway, is a curious mass of rough mountain country, which forms the southern abutment of the Suliman system.