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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 20, p. 150.


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150 PIR AM
Piram is a reef of rock covered in part by brown sand, its dimensions
at high water being one mile by about half a mile. It is included in
the estate of the Gogha Kasbdtis, to whom it was assigned by one of
the Delhi emperors. Except on the south, it is surrounded by rocky
reefs rising to the surface from a depth of from 6o to 70 feet. Past
the island the tide runs with extreme force. To avoid the chopping
sea and sunken reefs, boats crossing from Gogha to Piram stand out
as if ,making for Dehej Bara at the mouth of the Narbada. In the
east of the island millet is grown and the low sand-hills are covered by
asclepias. Beyond these are some nim trees (Melia Azadirachia) and
a fringe of mangrove bushes. The island is uninhabited in the rains,
but contains a few families of husbandmen and fishermen in the fair
season. On the ruins of an old bastion there is a dioptric light of
the fourth order, visible for 17 miles.
Piram is the Baiones Island of the Periplus. Till the fourteenth
century it would seem to have remained in the hands of Bariya Kolis.
Then under their leader Mokharji, the Gohel Rajl>uts, who about
a century and a half earlier had retired from Marwar to Gujarat,
passed south from Ranpur near Dhandhuka and took Gogha and
Piraul. Strengthening himself in his island fortress, Mokharji became
a great pirate chief; but his power was short lived. About the year
1300 complaints of his piracies were laid before Muharnmad bin
Tughlak, who was then in Gujarat duelling a revolt. Advancing in
person he attacked Piram, slew Mokharji, and took his fort. The
island was then deserted, and an attempt to colonize and fortify it
failed. The Hindu seamen of the Gulf of Cambay still cherish
Mokharji's memory, seldom passing Piram without making him an
offering. Of his stronghold there remains, skirting the shore, a ruined
wall, with, below high-tide level, a gateway ornamented by two rock-
cut elephants 1o feet long and 8 or 9 feet high. No further attempt
would seem to have been made to fortify Piram, till, on the decay of
Mughal power, about the middle of the eighteenth century, the
ambitious Surat merchant Mulla Muhammad Ali built a fort on the
island and tried to establish himself as an independent chief. Afraid
of the climate his people forsook him, and the Mulla, giving up Piram,
built a fort at Athva on the Tapti, a few miles below Surat. The lines
of the Mulla's fortress, from whose ruins the lighthouse tower was
built, may be seen near the centre of the island stretching across its
entire breadth. Besides traces of fortifications there are remains of
temples, one of them with a rudely cut sitting figure of Buddha. The
local story that Mokharji built a mole from the mainland to Piram
has, perhaps, no better foundation than the half-sunk wall and gate-
way and the reefs that, at low water, stand out like a giant's causeway.
Its large store of fossils gives a special interest to Piram. Besides
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