Sindh is the third largest provinces of Pakistan with Karachi being the capital city. Locally known as Mehran, the region covers an area of 54,407 square miles (140,914 square km) inhibiting some 47,886,051 (as per 2017 census) people following a unique culture with 52.02% urban population.
Geographically Sindh is located to the southeast of the country making up the lower Indus Basin. The entire landscape of Sindh province is flat except the Kirthar range making the western border with Balochistan province. Punjab is located to the northeast, the Indian state of Rajhistan and Gujrat to the east, and the Arabian Sea bordering the entire south.
The province of Sindh has 29 districts including 5 in Karachi. Major cities of Sindh are Karachi, Thatta, Hyderabad, and Sukkur, where most of the tourist attractions are located.
The name “Sindh” has been derived from a Sanskrit word “Sindhu” which essentially means “ocean, river or stream” referring primarily to “Indus River”. The term “Sindhu” was phonetically transformed into Hindu in old Persian and with a slight further modification, it was then called Indu by the Greek who conquered Sindh under the command of Alexander the great. The word Indu was further extended to the word Indus to feature a broader concept, basically a name given by the British to an entire region of South Asia and called it India.
The land making up today’s Sindh has been a cradle of successive civilizations. The first known village settlements to the human on this land dates as far back as to 7000 BCE when the Mehrgarh settlements of Baluchistan expanded westward to Sindh. It then gave rise to the Indus valley civilization which was known as a highly developed society ever existed in the region from about 3000 BC to 1500 BCE.
Sindh was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century BC before Alexander the Great conquered the region in 326 and 325 BC. Following his death, Sindh came under the dominance of the ancient Greek Seleucids Empire for a brief period and then Mauryan Empire lead by Chandragupta. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka spread the Buddhist religion in Sindh during his rule and later it was replaced by Hinduism which introduced the caste system. The 17 years old Arab conqueror Mohammad Bin Qasim invaded Sindh in 711 AD to spread Islam which is still deep-rooted in the region.
Form 9th to 19th century the province hosted seven successive dynasties named as Sumras, Sammahs, Arghuns, Tarkhan, Mughals, Kalhoras, and Talpurs.
In 1524 the Mughal Empire was welcomed into Sindh and the empire became more powerful in the region gradually. During the reign, Mughals produced various scholars but after the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire and its institutions began to decline. The British came through East India Company in the 19th century and divided it into districts and assigned the Wadera system to collect taxes. The British ruled the area for a century before it became part of Pakistan in 1947.
Sindhis are the most colorfully dressed people. The women in the cities wear the Shalwar kameez or the sari and those in the rural deserts dress in long red skirts and bright tie-died shawls. The men in the urban wear the traditional shalwar kameez or the kurta with pajama and typical Sindhi colorfully cap embroidered with glittered tiny mirrors. In the rural areas, the men wear traditional long-tailed shirts over Lungis and embroidered slippers with upturned pointed toes.
Sindh is also known as “Bab ul Islam” meaning “the gateway to Islam”. Most of the rural Sindhi cultural life revolves around the Shrines of Sufi saints where devotional songs and religious music makes up the major part of religious ceremonies.
Arts and crafts
The tradition of Sindhi craftwork has roots dating back to 5000 years of invaders and settlers. The graceful floral and geometrical patterns that can be observed in everyday objects from clay to fabric and from wood & stone to metal traces the Muslim influence in the region.
Sindh is world renowned for its arts and handicrafts. The province was historically a large producer of traditional indigo and cotton cloth and the produce was sold in ancient markets of Damascus, Baghdad, Basra, Istanbul, Cairo, and Samarkand. Sindhi blue shade Ajrak has existed in Sindh since the birth of its civilization and is a mark of respect when it is given to an honored guest or friend.
The Sindhi language is the major provincial language and the identity of the province yet there are other regional languages like Kutchi, Lari, and Saraiki are also spoken in the different parts of the province. Karachi, the provincial capital, is a melting pot of diverse cultures and languages where Urdu is spoken as a major source of communication while English is the official language in the entire province.
Sindh, one of the ancient cities of the world, has a number of tourist attractions ranging from historic ruined cities to contemporary edifices. Mohenjo Daro, Sukkur bridge, The Talpur-era Kot Diji Fort, Noor Mahal Palace in Khairpur, the gigantic Ranikot Fort, Shah Jahan Mosque, Makli Necropolises, Heliji Lake, Keenijhar Lake, Sindh Museum, Karachi port, and tourist attractions in Karachi are the places make Sindh a destination of choice.
Sindh also has a rich legacy of traditional handicrafts evolved over the centuries. Its tradition of Lacquered woodwork; paintings on woods, tiles and pottery; and hand-woven textiles and Ajraks is a tradition alive today and is a source of living for many hardworking Sindhis.
The economy of Sindh is largely agriculture-based and depends entirely on Indus River as a prime water source. Major produces include cotton, rice, wheat, and sugarcane besides the production of dates, bananas, and mangoes which are sold in the international markets. The province also has a reputation for producing polished ornaments including pottery, leatherwork, textiles, carpets etc. and the craftsmanship of Sindhi people since the Indus Valley Civilization.
Sindh lies in the tropical and subtropical regions of Pakistan; the climate of Sindh, therefore, ranks among the hottest during summers (30 to 50 degrees) and mild during winter (10-30 degrees). The northern territories are mostly hot and humid being mostly desert plains while the southern regions annexing the Arabian sea enjoy cool breezes in the evenings and nights.
Best time to visit
November to March is the best time to visit Sindh as summers are hard to travel particularly in the interior parts of the province.
Things to do
Sindh has a rich cultural, architectural, and natural heritage. Its several thousand years old ancient ruins, holy shrines, Palaces, Forts, British era Gothic-style buildings, Lakes, and its rich wildlife heritage in the Kirthar national park provides with a range of options to choose from. Karachi is base, one can enjoy tourist attractions in Karachi and day excursions from Karachi.
Sindh is accessible both by air and by road. Jinnah international airport in Karachi is the major international airport besides several domestic airports at major cities. One can also fly from Islamabad International airport and Lahore International airport by making a domestic connection with an international flight. By road, Sindh is accessible from other major cities of Pakistan either by train or by private buses.
Karachi, the city of lights, is the largest city on the Arabian coast, a prominent industrial and marine port of Pakistan. Tourist attractions in Karachi are as abundant as the enormous city itself is, providing immense activities for the visitors. Major tourist attractions in Karachi include cultural, architectural, and archaeological heritage, top of the line food outlets, entertainment centres, besides plenty of educational institutions.
Quaid e Azam mausoleum
Standing graciously atop a 54 square meters platform with a commanding view, the Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum in the heart of Karachi is the final resting place of the father of nation and Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The monumental mausoleum was built by a Pakistani architect Yahya Merchant in 1958-68. The exterior is decked using white marble and interior is adorned with a four-tiered Chinese crystal chandelier adorned with an Iranian silver railing. The mausoleum also houses the graves of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah (sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah) and that of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, in its basement. Bearing a fusion of traditional and modern Islamic architecture, the mausoleum was inspired by the Samanid Mausoleum in Uzbekistan.
The Wazir Mansion in Karachi is the birthplace of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. After partition, this house was sold to a landlord who gave the name Wazir Mansion to this facility. It was purchased by the government of Pakistan in the 1970s and turned into a heritage site. The protected national monument is a three-story building situated in Kharadar, Karachi, and attracts thousands of devoted Pakistanis to pay homage. The ground floor of the mansion currently serves as a museum while the upper floors exhibit the personal belongings of Jinnah.
The Mohatta Palace in Karachi was built by a Marwari businessman, Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, in 1925 as his summer residential palace covering an area of around 18,500 sq. feet. Defining distinctive features of Rajasthani architecture, the palace was built using pink Jodhpur stone and local yellow stone from Gizri. It was dedicated to Hindu God, Lord Shiva, situated on the terrace of the Palace. He could use the palace only until the partition and left for India. Following Pakistan’s independence, the two sisters of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah & Shireen Jinnah, subsequently occupied the palace until 1980. However, after the death of Shireen Jinnah, the palace was converted into a museum. It is now used as an art gallery and museum and the premises are used for exhibitions.
Dating back to 1865, the Frere Hall building recalls the time of British rule in the subcontinent. It is a well-preserved beautiful structure surrounded by lush green gardens. The building serves as a library and an art gallery today. Designed by Henry Saint Clair Wilkins, the unique building of Frere Hall is located in the Saddar district, which is also home to many other picturesque colonial architectures. It was built in honour of the then commissioner of Sind (1851-1859) Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere who promoted some economic development in Karachi. This yellowish Karachi limestone edifice has two floors comprising a hall, an orchestral gallery and the Liaquat Municipal Library on the ground floor
Sindh High Court
The Sindh High Court building in Saddar is an iconic colonial building built from1923-1929. This beautiful Renaissance architecture building was built using the reddish tinged Jodhpur sandstone and embellished with cupolas, balconies and tall Roman-style columns. The building was declared open by His Excellency Sir Frederick Hugh Sykes, Governor of Bombay. The Sindh High Court is one of the very few well-preserved heritage buildings of Karachi. Tourist can visit 8:30 till 5:00 Monday to Saturday without any ticket or permission.
Karachi Metropolitan Development Corporation Building (KMC)
KMC is a historic building located at M. A. Jinnah road. Its foundation stone was laid in 1927, construction work completed in 1930, and it was inaugurated in 1932. Karachi has an abundance of architecturally fascinating buildings built during British Raj and many of these intriguing buildings are now public offices and aren’t so easily accessible for sightseeing. This includes the impressive Karachi Metropolitan Development Corporation Building built in 1935 to mark George V’s Silver Jubilee. The building has pointed Oriental cupolas rising at its four corners and has a prominent clock tower that’s also domed in the same style.
Three Swords Monument
Three Swords or Commonly known as Teen Talwaar is one of the oldest monuments in Clifton, Karachi. The swords convey Jinnah’s creeds Unity, Faith, and Discipline. It was commissioned by Pakistan’s former President and Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and built by the great Pakistani architect Mr. Mistri in early 1970. When it was first built on Karachi’s Clifton Road, it was a prominent landmark.
Hindu Gymkhana (National Academy of Performing Arts)
The Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi is a major tourist attraction on Sarwar Shaheed Road in Sadar. It is a colonial-era building established as a club for the Hindu elite class in 1925 and stretched over a leased area of around 47,000 sq. yds. Its 100 years lease will end in 2020. The condition the Gymkhana was deteriorated and was almost demolished in 1984 but was protected by Heritage Foundation of Pakistan. Its architecture is an amalgamation of both the Mughal and Hindu style. The Hindu Gymkhana houses the National Academy of Performing Arts – an institution established to conserve and teach performing arts and music.
Quaid-e-Azam House Museum
The Quaid-e-Azam House Museum is an important National Monument in the heart of Karachi also used to be the residential place of Quaid-e-Azam from 1944 till his death in 1948 and his sister Fatima Jinnah lived till 1964. This place is also known as “Flagstaff House” because the British Indian Army rented it and allotted it to senior officers including General Douglas David Gracy, who later served as the second commander in chief of the Pakistan Army. The building was designed by a British architect, Moses Somake. This gorgeous yellow stone double story house consists of arched openings, carved pillars, semicircular balconies and six spacious rooms. It was purchased by Quaid-e-Azam in 1943 at the cost of Rs. 1,15,000 and it was acquired by the Pakistani government in 1985 and conserved as a museum.
National Museum of Pakistan
National Museum of Pakistan
Established in 1950, the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi is the richest museum of the city that houses a diverse range of artifacts including paintings, relics, sculptures, coins, manuscripts and much more associated with all aspects of Pakistani culture. Its eleven galleries showcasing a set of 58,000 coins, 70,000 books and other antiquities its collection from the Indus Valley & Gandhara Civilization, the collection of Islamic art in the form of rare manuscripts of the holy Quran and its information of economy to the political history of Pakistan. The major purpose of creating this museum was to promote people and history of Pakistan through the rich collections it holds.
PAF museum in Karachi is a renowned museum houses planes, jets, radars, and weaponry that have been used by the Pakistan Air Force through the course of years, particularly during the 1965 war with India. Moreover, there are also WW 1 and WW2 scale models and some modern planes on the display as well. The Museum is located next to the PAF Base Faisal on the main Shahrah-e-Faisal. It was inaugurated on the 14 August 1997 and opened to the general public in October 1997.
Pakistan Maritime Museum
Pakistan Maritime Museum
Pakistan Maritime Museum is a Navel museum ranked among the city’s best attractions. Stretched over 28 acres the museum building comprises of 6 galleries and an auditorium. It is a very educative place for visitors – galleries inside it and an auditorium along with exterior marine displays. The park outside provides the visitors most relax environment and helps build up the knowledge about Aircraft. It gives visitors a chance to see a real submarine, along with several aircraft and different artillery of the previous years that were used by the Pakistan Navy.
PIA Planetarium KarachiPIA Planetarium in Karachi is a Pakistani planetarium contains a Sky-Dome and a Boeing jet plane standing in a park. It was established in 1985 and is a good source of education to students of science. Special shows for school and college student groups are arranged. A special documentary on tourist attractions in Pakistan is shown in the plane while a documentary on the solar system can be watched in the Planetarium. This planetarium is working under Pakistan International Airlines. A short visit to the Planetarium.
State Bank Museum
The State Bank Museum in Karachi is the best kept and informative Art Gallery. There are information panels presented all around. It begins with the trading and bartering all the way up to present day currency. It has a very big collection of stamps, coins, and notes on the lower floors of the museum. The upper floor central hall has frescoes by Sadequain on both sides – the smaller room on one side has smaller artwork while the other side has the larger paintings of Sadequain. The impressive building is constructed in the 1920s with red stone like other British era buildings in the city. Its architectural resemblance is like that of Greek’s with four column façades of the entrance. The building stands out elegantly amongst the other concrete buildings, mostly banks, on I.I. Chandrigar road close to the Karachi city Railway station. The only problem is the parking as the surroundings lack parking area. To enter, it is mandatory to prove the identity and you are required to carry the CNIC.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick CathedralSt. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral Church in Karachi is the first worship place in Karachi situated on Shahrah-e-Iraq near Empress Market, Sadar. It was initially built in 1845 and was design by the famous architect Father Karl Wagner. It was destroyed by a storm in 1885 and later the new improved and huge space building was beautifully designed and intelligently constructed under the architect Kausar Ali. The Church can accommodate about 1500 worshippers at a time. Under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Protection Act, the cathedral was declared as a protected monument in 2003 for its outstanding architectural beauty.
Masjid-e-Tooba or Defence Housing Authority Mosque
Masjid-e-Tooba or Masjid-i-Tuba is listed amongst the major tourist attractions of Karachi for the unique architectural design it holds. Locally, the mosque is known as Gol (round) Masjid or Defence Housing Authority Mosque. The mosque is built of the pure white marble with a dome measuring 236 feet in diameter and supported by a low surrounding wall and no central column. Its thermally proofed interior is insulated with thousands of mirror tiles, giving the impression of twinkling stars. It is the 18th largest mosque in the world and can accommodate up to 5000 worshippers at a time. The mosque is located in the Defence Housing Society of Karachi and was designed by a Pakistani architect named Dr. Babar Hamid Chauhan in 1969.
Ziarat of Abdullah Shah Gazi
The shrine with green dome overlooking the Clifton Beach in Karachi is the mausoleum of the 9th century Sufi, Abdullah Shah Ghazi. It used to be a tiny shaky hut on a sandy hillside and was renovated in the 1960s during Ayub’s regime thereby drawing more and more believers. Weekly Qawwali and Dhamaal (devotional singing) take place almost every Thursday which is believed to have mystical healing qualities. Moreover, there are still many people believing that Shah Ghazi’s spirit remains Karachi’s best deterrent against cyclones rampant in the Arabian Sea.
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the only Swaminarayan temple in Pakistan built in 1849. The Mandir is located at the centre of a Hindu neighbourhood on the M. A. Jinnah Road in Karachi. It was built in the honor of Shri Swaminarayan who was an incarnation of God and lived his life in Ahmedabad, Gujrat. Several temples have been dedicated to him around the world but the temple in Karachi is the only one in Pakistan. The temple has served as a refugee camp in 1947 during partition. The original images of Lord Swaminarayan were taken to India during the times of independence. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is notable for its size and front, over 27,012 m sq. Its 150th anniversary was celebrated in April 2004. Not only Hindus but also Muslims visit the temple which adds to its notability. There is a sacred cowshed within the premises of this temple.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Gothic style Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral at Fatima Jinnah Road, near Zainab Market, was built in 1855 to meet British spiritual needs. The garrison church was designed by Captain John Hill of the Bombay Engineers as the garrison church – the first major churches of Karachi – housing some fascinating plaques inside erected to the memory of British soldiers who died in various campaigns in Sindh. Its original unusually tall tower, which was later reduced by two stories in 1905 for safety, worked as a lighthouse for the ship arriving at Karachi Harbor. Services offered at 09:00 every Sunday.
St Andrew’s Church
The Gothic style Saint Andrew’s Church in Saddar, Karachi – also known as the Scottish church – was built in 1868 by the architect T G Newnham for the Presbyterian (Scottish) mission in British India. The church was used by foreigners until 1947 and services were offered in English. However, in 1969 Urdu services were started by the Christians living in the Saddar area. Following the union of Protestant churches across the country, it was affiliated with the Church of Pakistan in 1970. The Anglican St Andrew’s Church has services at 09:00 every Sunday.
Located about 29 km east of Karachi near Landhi town, the Tombs of Chaukandi are famous for their artfully designed pyramid-shaped sandstone tombs decorated with exclusive geometrical patterns, symbols, flowers, swastikas, and diamonds. Tombs of the female buried have carvings of bangles and necklaces and are easy to identify. These uniquely decorated sandstones are built by Baluchi and Burpat tribes between 15th to 18th century and typical to the Sindh region.
Dolmen Mall Clifton
Dolmen Mall in Karachi is one of the modern shopping malls of international standards houses all famous brands besides a variety of restaurants. It can simply address most of the shopping needs besides a source of great outing with family and friends. The mall can be visited at any time, yet Saturdays are only allowed for families. The shopping mall has ample space for car parking.
Zainab Market is a name synonymous to the residents of Karachi, but visitors must also know that this market is famous for all kinds of export leftover, imported stuff, and local causal & fashion wear including everything related to clothing. Now the market is annexed with some other shopping choices including the Rex centre, international market, Atrium Mall, and Madina Mall. The market is located near the very old and famous shopping area called Zaibunissa Road in Sadar near Avari Towers Hotel.
Empress Market Karachi
Colourful yet chaotic, Empress Market in Sadar, Karachi, is a marketplace that sells all imaginable groceries, live animals, pets, stationery, textile and much more. Its origin dates to the British era between 1884 and 1889 and was named to commemorate Queen Victoria, Empress of India. It is a major tourist attraction also has a historic significance. Empress Market was situated on the grounds where a number of spoys were executed ruthlessly after the Indian rebellion of 1857 and the spoys had their heads blown off by cannibals in an attempt to suppress the feeling of mutiny among locals.
Arabian Sea Country Club
The Arabian Sea Country Club is an ideal place for a quick getaway from the city centre. This golf course and the sports club has a lot to try by your hand – be it a shooting spree or riding horseback. Many of the other facilities include cricket, squash, tennis, snooker and swimming.
Ibne Qasim Park
Stretched over 130 acres of land, the Bin Qasim Park in Clifton, Karachi, is the largest urban park visited by over 10 million people each year. The beachside park is also called Bagh Ibne Qasim named after the Arab conqueror Muhammad bin Qasim. The park has an accommodation capacity of about 300,000 people at a time. It has a green landscape with hundreds of trees and jogging trails for health-conscious residents. The park is equipped with stone benches, lighting towers, footlights for visitors’ convenience and has a turtle pond, washrooms, canopies for shades, dinosaur murals and a rose garden that make it an ideal place to visit for families. It remains open 24/7.
Beaches and Harbors
The popular Clifton Beach in the Arabian Sea near the Sadar town is the busiest beach in Karachi. Many locals and tourists flock to stroll on holidays and weekends. Evenings are always colourful here. Its golden sands, amusement park and an array of food stalls encircling the beach attract tourists like a magnet. Camel and horse ride on the sands are the most popular activities to keep the tourists busy.
Sandspit, a name derived from the pits where turtles lay their eggs. It is a popular beach and a tourist spot in Karachi after Clifton Beach situated near Hawks Bay in the southwest of Karachi. The Sandspit beach is a nesting ground for the Green and Olive Ridley Turtles during winters. It is also home to a variety of algae and crabs. The shallow waters here are ideal for swimming and sunbathing. The beachside has an unusual rock formation that is unique to this place. Besides, like Clifton Beach, Sandspit also has horse and camel rides for tourists.
The Turtle Beach is a breading spot for green turtle species. It is located between Hawk’s Bay and Sandspit. One can easily spot these turtles during winters, usually after dusk. Major attractions of this delightful beach are the blue waters and the turtles which attract visitors.
Hawks Bay or Hawksbay, named after a Governor from the Victorian era, is situated about 25 km southwest of Karachi. It is a popular sandy beach with crystal blue water and attracts beach lovers mostly during summers. Unique and tranquil, Hawks Bay is a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of the busy city life of Karachi. People visiting from outside Karachi must choose a weekday to enjoy the serenity on the beach. Huts are available on rent for the visitors planning to spend the whole day. Camel and horse rides are available on negotiable prices.
At 40 km from the city center, the romantic French Beach in Karachi is a beach mostly visited by Karachi’s upper class and expatriates. It is located between Hawks Bay and Paradise Point. This rocky beach is surrounded by clear waters and is ideal for surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming. Locally it is known as Haji Ismail Goth and is a small fishing village surrounded by a boundary wall and inside there are huts for rent. There are no grocery shops, visitors must bring their own supplies.
Paradise Point at the Arabian Sea is a sandstone rock formation with a natural arch, located about 45 minutes’ drive from the main city center through the Mubarak Goth Road. It is one of the major tourist attractions in Karachi one can enjoy beachside activities including swimming, camel rides, amusement parks etc
About 30 km south of Karachi, along with the shores of the Arabian Sea, is a small fishing village of about 2500 anglers and their families, called Mubarak Village. It is locally known as Mubarak Goth inhabited mostly by Baloch and is accessible in about 1.5 hours. A beautiful beach of jeweled blue waters bordered by golden brown sands is the beach of Mubarak Village, not far from Hawks Bay. It is surrounded by rocky hills and is a delightful escape in Kiamari township. The calm waters of this natural harbor provide a unique spot for fishermen to anchor their boats.
It is a natural harbor strategically perched on the Arabian Sea. It is an entrance to Karachi’s busy port and serves as an economic hub for Pakistan.
Manora Island is a small 2.5 km2 peninsula accessible on a short ferry ride from Kemari Harbor. Karachi’s Talpur rulers surrendered to British at Manora Island and a lighthouse was erected at this place which is still intact. Manora has a great sea breeze to enjoy.
Cape Mount or Cape Monze Beach is shoreline on the Arabian sea located on the beach street near Mubarak village, west to Paradise point. It has been a separation marker for ships moving towards the Karachi Harbor.
The line of these magnificent restaurants goes all the way into the shores of the Arabian Sea. It is a paradise for local food lovers. These restaurants offer almost all the local delights.
Port Grand is where one can find a variety of food in its high-end open-air restaurants annexing the Arabian Sea. Besides the food, the beautiful view of the port and the romantic view of the sunset from the deck is amazing to watch. For people visiting with families, there are places to engage kids and for cultural activities besides the facility of Valet parking.
The gigantic Muslim necropolis of the historical monuments, Makli Necropolis in Thatta, is one of the largest graveyards in the world. The cemetery encompasses an area of 10 km2 and is home to about half a million monuments. Sprawling in a diamond-shaped site, Makli houses alluring tombs and graves of people from all walks of life; notably of kings & queens, scholars & soldiers, philosophers, governors, and saints. It was included in the world heritage sites in 1981.
According to historical accounts, the sleeping city of Makli is the final resting place of over 125,000 saints. The city has historically been an important centre of learning. According to an estimate, there were some 400 educational institutions where students from the Muslim world and Asia learned different disciplines including religion, politics, and philosophy.
However, the fable that who first inhabited this city has remained unresolved. It is generally believed that the cemetery grew around the shrine of the fourteenth century Sufi Hamad Jamali. Likewise, why this place was called Makli is another legend. Two notions hold – the first that locals believe Makli means Mecca-like and the other is the association of the name with the pious women “Mai Makli” whose prayers said to have averted Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s conquest of Thatta until she died. She was also buried in Makli near the tomb of Jam Nizamuddin.
Thatta remained a glorious capital of Sindh from 14th to 18th centuries reigned by three successive dynasties – Samma, Argun and Tarkhan – before it was ruled by the Mughal emperors of Delhi from 1592 to 1739. The province was then ceded to the Shah Nadir of Iran in 1739 when Thatta entered into a period of depravity and neglect.
There are monuments notable for their design, size, and artwork. The tombs of Jam Nizamuddin II, who ruled from 1461 to 1509, is an impressive structure square in shape built of sandstone and adorned with floral and geometric medallions. Likewise, the two-story mausoleums of Isa Khan Tarkhan the Younger and also of his father, Jan Baba, was constructed before 1644 – a stone building with majestic cupolas and balconies. The most colourful is that of Diwan Shurfa Khan (died in 1638). All the tombs are different in size, shape, and design. Some of the monuments are built a double-story with covered premises indicating the trademark of the buried inside.
Impressed by the extent and prominence of Makli Necropolis, Dr. Anne Marie Schimmel, the distinguished German Sufi scholar and an authority on Iqbal’s poetry once wished to be buried here. Makli, the city of silence, is an archaeologists’ paradise. It is equally fascinating for domestic and international tourists as well as for pilgrims. Makli, however, became an unsolved legend today in many aspects.
The historical monuments at Makli mark the social and political history of the Sindh province between the 14th and 18th centuries. Most tombs and graves of the upper echelon during the glorious period of Thatta were built with architectural dexterity, displaying a unique art of the time, using a variety of materials including sand bricks, stone, and marble. Some of the monuments at Makli are lavishly decorated with glazed tiles. These monuments feature various designs with arched domes and towers inscribed beautifully of Islamic calligraphy and devotional carving representing motifs drawn from various religious and iconographic traditions.
Most of the monuments of the iconic figures are still standing in good condition today, even after several centuries of exposing to all weather conditions, representing Hindu and Islamic architecture. A considerable renovation, however, is required to pass on the rich heritage to the next generations.
Location and access:
The site making the historical monuments at Makli lies adjacent to the tip of Indus river delta, on the outskirts of Thatta – the ancient centre of Islamic civilization – clustered at the edge of 6.5 km long plateau of Makli. It is about 89kms east of Karachi in the Sindh province, south of Pakistan. Makli Hill is an ideal day trip from Karachi. The entire site of the graveyard is easy to navigate through wide streets giving access to all monuments.
Mohenjo-Daro (also spelled as Mohenjodaro or Moenjodaro), meaning “Mound of the Dead,” is an archaeological site in Sindh province of Pakistan. It was one of the largest and advanced settlements and probably the best known of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) built around 2600 BC. Mohenjo-Daro, however, went to a sudden decline in 1700 BC for unknown reasons. The site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pakistan in 1080. The original name of the city is still unknown.
The melting waters from the mountains flowing southwards merged into the Indus River before meeting the Arabian Sea. About 5500 B.C. settled a nomadic tribe of people into the villages west of the Indus River. They learned to use tools, built small houses, cultivated crop, and domesticated animals. The gradual climate change helped grow jungles and wildlife.
With the passage of time, they grew in population and began to trade with people in the remote areas of Central Asia and in the nearby western regions. Gradually they also improved their skills in making and using sophisticated tools. By around 2600 BC, it turned out to be a civilization almost as modern as that in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
The Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization (also called Indus Civilization or Harappan Civilization) is known to have consisted of two large cities called Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro besides more than 100 small towns and villages. It was the primitive metropolitan culture of the subcontinent.
The population lived prosperously on the flat alluvial plains along the Indus basin from 2600 B.C. to 1700 B.C. It was a literate civilization having their own script of 250-500 characters of the Dravidian language. It is also one of the world’s three great civilizations. It was initially identified at Harappa in 1921 and in Mohenjo-Daro in 1922.
Rediscovery and Excavations
Mohenjo-Daro was discovered in 1922 by R.D. Banerji of the Archaeological Survey of India. Following its discovery, large-scale excavations were carried out at the site under the supervision of famous archaeologists till 1930s. Excavations resumed for a short time in 1964-65 and then banned again due to problems related to conservation.
The ruins of the city of Mohenjo-Daro lie on the bank of Indus Valley. In a region as wide as 300 hectares (about 750 acres) with a peak population of about 40,000, Mohenjo-Daro was one of the largest and highly developed cities in the world during its time. It was all built with unbaked bricks set on high mounds, the ramparts, and the lower town. The whole construction illustrates an early system of town planning according to a strict rule.
Construction and Planning
Mohenjo-Daro was laid out systematically. It’s planned layout is based on a street grid of rectilinear buildings. Most of the city was built by standardized fire and mortared brick while there is also evidence of unbaked sun-dried brick and wooden superstructures.
The city is divided into two major parts – the 12 meters high Citadel and the Lower City. The Citadel was constructed with mud bricks and had two large assembly halls and attached public baths. The Citadel was believed to a place for religious ceremonies. Its large public residential structure could accommodate about 5,000 people.
The lower town courtyard houses were built for middle class. These houses had brick stairs to the flat roves and had small bathrooms with drains and sanitation. The houses were originally mud plastered to reduce the harmful effect of salts and react to unstable heat and humidity.
The Great Baths
One of the most spectacular structures at Mohenjo is the ‘Great Bath’, which is astonishingly well preserved and measures 180 feet north to south and 108 feet east to west. The outer walls of the Great Bath measure between 7 and 8 feet in thickness and were lined with bitumen.
Other important constructions also included the swimming pool, a waterproof pool of bricks lined with pitchmen, is still in good shape and it may have been used for religious purification. It sizes 39 feet long, 23 feet wide and 8 feet deep.
Water Management system
Mohenjo-Daro had a complex water management system. The city had a central grand marketplace, with a large central well. For households, there were smaller wells to obtain water. There was a complete sophisticated and covered drainage system for wastewaters.
High-status residents had spacious houses with attached baths with the covered drainage system. Most houses had inner courtyards with doors open to side-lanes. Some of the buildings found were a double story.
The people of Mohenjo-Daro had an advanced system of weights and measures using arithmetic with decimals. They produced pottery with fine geometric designs as decoration. They also made figurines as a reflection of their attitudes. Major crops produced included wheat, rice, mustard, dates, and cotton. Likewise, they had dogs, cats, camels, sheep, pigs, goats, water buffaloes, elephants, and chickens.
The west part of the main settlement is fortified with guard towers and the south has defensive fortification. This type of layout indicates that Mohenjo-Daro might have been an administrative centre. Archaeologists believed that the city was successively destroyed and built almost seven times. The cause of destruction was either massive flooding by the Indus or encroaching. Each new construction was carried out on the old one.
Numerous antiquities found during excavation at Mohenjo-Daro include seated and standing sculptures, clay toys, pottery, stone axes, and flake knives, coins, and a number of copper and bronze objects. The famous “Dancing girl”, the 10.8 cm long bronze statue, found here in 1926 is believed to be 4500 years old. The circular space at the statue of the priest-king and the gold disc found from the same location perfectly matching the space on the forehead is suggestive of a third-eye or “Bindi” of Hindu myth.
A variety of copper and bronze objects discovered at Mohenjo-Daro suggest the city witnessed the transition period from stone-age to bronze-age. Some of these antique items are preserved in the Mohenjo-Daro museum. However, many important objects found earlier from Mohenjo-Daro are conserved at the National Museum of India in Delhi and the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi. The artefacts found in 1939 as representative collection excavated at the site were transferred to the British Museum.
Extinction of Mohenjo-Daro
In around 1700 B.C. the whole Indus Valley Civilization, including Mohenjo-Daro, Vanished. The reason for their extinction is still unknown. Speculations behind the cause of extinction are either shift in the Indus River or ruinous flooding of dammed waters. Still, another suspected cause is a possible decline in rainfall which led to agriculture decline and people abandoned the place in search of food.
A dry core drilling conducted in 2015 revealed that the site is larger than the unearthed area.
Location and Access:
The archaeological ruins of Mohenjo-Daro are located about 510 km north-east from the metropolitan city of Karachi, 110 km to the southwest of Sukkur city, and about 28 km from Larkana. The city can be reached by road from Karachi, Bahawalpur, and Multan in one day.
The ruins of Mohenjo-Daro are just adjacent to the Mohenjo-Daro airport. One can fly from Karachi for an overnight stay and return the same way. There is another possibility of flying to Sukkur from Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore and proceed by road to Moenjo-Daro.