THATTA: On the 21st of January 18, Khwaja Jahan Zeb, CEO Zeb Travels, one of Pakistan’s largest domestic and International tour sellers took the initiative of promoting Sindh Tourism by inviting the team of Holiday Weekly along with Seniors of foreign airlines and leading educationists toan Educational/Recreational Day trip to explore the historical richness & depth of the heritage sitessituated between Karachi and Thatta. The aim of this tour was to inform and present us with the history of different archaeological sites in the province of Sindh.
The minister of antiquities department Sindh, Mr. Syed Sardar Ali Shah is takingkeen interest and strong measures to restore the historical sites and also trying to facilitate the tourists, the way never before.We are sure that improved tourism will greatly improve the socio-economic structure of these areas.
Zeb Travels made excellent arrangements from comfortable transportation to knowledgeable and experienced tour guides at every location making the experience a delightful, informative and memorable one.
The tour consisted of five main sites: Makli, Keenjhar Lake, Chaukhandi, Bhambhore and Shah Jahan Mosque.
Situated a 45-minute drive away from Karachi The Chaukhandi tombs form an early Islamic cemeterywhose style of architecture is typical to the region of Sindh. Generally, the tombs are attributed to the Jokhio (also spelt Jokhiya) and known as the family graveyard of the Jokhio tribe, although other, mainly Baloch, tribes have also been buried here.
The tombs are built on raised platforms in a triangular form with decorative stone slabs covered in relief with human and figurative designs. A typical sarcophagus has six vertical slabs with two long slabs on each side, which indicate the length of the body. These six vertical slabs are further covered by a second sarcophagus, but of a smaller size, giving it the shape of a pyramid. The upper box is further covered with four to five horizontal slabs leading to the topmost construction that is carved into a knob.
The carvings on the men’s graves generally show a horseman with his arms; a shield, sword, bow and arrows. While the carvings on the women’s graves represents ornaments such as rings, bracelets, anklets and necklaces. Also in the case of the men’s graves, a vertical shaped projection is provided at the northern end, which intends to hold the turban or crown of the deceased.
Our next stop was Bhambhore which is an ancient city dating to the 1st century BC.
Also famous for the legendary folklore of Sassi and Punnun, the city ruins lie on the N-5 National Highway and it holds the remains of three civilizations: Scytho-Parthian era, Hindu era and later the Muslim era from the 8th to the 13th century and was an important trade route and military post in those eras deriving its wealth from imported ceramic and metal goods, an industrial sector, and trade. The city was strategically located at the mouth of the Indus, linking it with rest of the Scytho-Parthian Empire and international traders in the Indian Ocean. However, the port was abandoned when the Indus River shifted its position and the creek was silted.
Remains of one of the earliest known mosques in the region dating back to 727 AD are still preserved in the city.In 2004, Department of Archaeology and Museums Pakistan submitted the site for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The young Arab Warrior Mohammad Bin Qasim landed his armies in Bhambhore destroyed the castle, invaded Sindh and went ahead to invade the sub-continent.
Archaeological findings show that the city consisted of an enclosed area surrounded by a stone and mud wall. The citadel was divided into eastern and western sections by a fortified stonewall in the center. The eastern part contains ruins of a mosque with an inscription dating to 727 AD, sixteen years after the conquest of Sindh, indicating the best-preserved example of the earliest mosques in the region. Contemporary stone buildings from the three periods are also uncovered in the area including a palatial stone building with semi-circular shape, a Shiva temple from the Hindu period, and a mosque. Three gateways to the citadel were also uncovered during excavations. There is also museum in Bhambore which holds the specimens of the Age-old civilization.
To read about the remaining sites (Makli, Keenjhar Lake and Shah Jehan Mosque), catch our next issue.