THATTA: As we reported in our previous issue, 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 sites situated between Karachi and Thatta.
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The aim of this tour was to inform and present us with the history of different archaeological sites in the province of Sindh. Last week we covered The Chaukhandi tombs and Bhambhor, whereas this week we will be covering the remaining three sites; Makli, Shahjahan Mosque and Keenjhar.
Zeb Travels made excellent arrangements all along the long tour, from clean and comfortable transportation to knowledgeable and experienced tour guides at every location making the experience more delightful, informative and memorable one.
Makli Necropolis is one of the largest funerary sites in the world, spread over an area of 10 square kilometres near the city of Thatta, Sindh. The site houses approximately 500,000 to 1 million tombs built over the course of a 400-year period. The Sufi saint, poet and scholar Shaikh Jamali established a khanqah, or Sufi gathering site, at Makli and was eventually buried there. The site rose to prominence as a major funerary site during under the rule of the Samma dynasty, who had made their capital near Thatta. The most architecturally significant tombs at the site date from around the time of the Mughal era, between 1570 and 1640 CE.
The site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 as an “outstanding testament” to Sindhi civilization between the 14th and 18th centuries. Kings, queens, governors, saints, scholars, and philosophers are buried here in brick or stone monuments, some of which are lavishly decorated with glazed tiles. Among the outstanding monuments constructed in stone are the tombs of Jam Nizamuddin II, who reigned from 1461 to 1509, and of lsa Khan Tarkhan the Younger and of his father, Jan Baba, both of whose mausolea were constructed before 1644.
The most colourful is that of Diwan Shurfa Khan (died in 1638). The unique assemblage of massive structures presents an impressive order of monumental buildings in different architectural styles. These structures are notable for their fusion of diverse influences into a local style. These influences include, among others, Hindu architecture of the Gujrat style and Mughal imperial architecture.
Distant Persian and Asian examples of architectural terra cotta were also brought to Makli and adapted. An original concept of stone decoration was created at Makli, perhaps determined by the imitation of painted and glazed tile models. The historical monuments at the necropolis of Makli stand as eloquent testimonies to the social and political history of Sindh.
Shah Jahan Mosque
The Shah Jahan Mosque also known as the Jamia Masjid of Thatta, is a 17th-century building that serves as the central mosque for the city of Thatta, Sindh. The mosque is considered to have the most elaborate display of tile work in South Asia, and is notable for its geometric brickwork – a decorative element that is unusual for Mughal-period mosques. It was built during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who bestowed it to the city as a token of gratitude, and is heavily influenced by Central Asian architecture – a reflection of Shah Jahan’s campaigns near Samarkand shortly before the mosque was designed.
Keenjhar Lake, formerly Kalri Lake is 24km long, 6 km wide, and has a depth of 8 meters and is spread over 13,468 hectares. It is the second largest fresh water lake in Pakistan. It is an important source of drinking water for Thatta District and Karachi.
Keenjhar Lake has been declared a ramsar site and a wildlife sanctuary. It provides a favorable habitat of winter migratory birds like ducks, geese, flamingos, cormorants, waders, herons, egrets, ibises, terns, coots and gulls. It has been observed as a breeding area of the black-crowned night heron, the cotton pygmy goose, purple swamphen, and pheasant-tailed jacana.
Keenjhar Lake is a popular tourist resort. A large number of people visit it daily from Karachi, Hyderabad and Thatta to enjoy picnic, swimming, fishing, and boating.
The great and legendary Sindhi ruler, Jam Tamachi, is associated with Keenjhar Lake, and today his remains rest in a grave built in a shrine in the middle of the lake. Jam Tamachi was belonged to Samma tribe, the dynasty that ruled Sindh from 1335 CE–1520 CE. Tamachi remained Sultan of Sindh until 1367 CE until 1379 CE after which his son Salah-ud-din succeeded him. The prince fell in love with a charming fisherwoman named Noori who belonged to Keenjhar Lake, and raised her above all the other queens of royal blood. It is a famous romantic tale of successful love and happiness.
Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689–1752), a famous Sindhi Sufi scholar, mystic, saint, and poet who is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the Sindhi language, found both the tale and lake a great source of inspiration and praised in his poetry.