Thursday, October 7, 2010



Once a famous center of learning, arts and commerce and provisional capital for about four centuries in the past, Thatta is an historic town of 22,000 inhabitants in the Sindh province of Pakistan, near Lake Keenjhar, the largest freshwater lake in the country. Today, it is notable for the Jamia Masjid built by the Moghal Emperor Shah Jehan, and the Makli Tombs (15th - 17th centuries), a vast necropolis spread over 15.5 km², depicting exquisite specimens of architecture, stone carvings and glazed tile decorations. Makli is truly the place where history starts to speak about its immaculate past and the legends and myths it has undertaken.


Thatta is only 100 Kilometres from the metropolis of Karachi and proximately 100 Kilometres from Hyderabad. Thatta is probably Rome of Pakistan but unfortunately due to the central government's policies and lack of education in locals this city as less known now just as much know was it in the past.

Thatta's has probably largest number of monuments listed among the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. It was the abode of the Alexander the great as well as a city favoured and inhabited by the scholar’s poets and rulers.


The city, formerly commanding the delta of the Indus, was the capital of Lower Sindh from the 14th century. During the ruling period of Soomro Tribe Thatta was the capital of Sindh for 95 years. Between 1592-1739, it was governed in the name of the Mughal emperors of Delhi. In 1739 however following the Battle of Karnal the province was ceded to Nadir Shah of Persia, after which Thatta fell into neglect.

Thatta may be the site of ancient Patala, the main port on the Indus in the time of Alexander the Great. Salutation has caused the Indus to change its course many times since the days of Alexander, and the site of Patala has been subject to much conjecture. Ahmad Hasan Dani, director of the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations, Islamabad, concluded: “There has been a vain attempt to identify the city of Patala. If ‘Patala’ is not taken as a proper name but only refers to a city, it can be corrected to ‘Pattana’, that is, city or port city par excellence, a term applied in a later period to Thatta, which is ideally situated in the way the Greek historians describe”.


Thatta's monuments include the Jama Mosque (also Shah Jahan Mosque and Badshahi Mosque), built by Shah Jahan in 1647-49 and lined with glazed tiles. This edifice has 101 domes and is designed in such a way that imam's voice can reach every corner of this building without the help of any loudspeaker or other device. There are also the tombs of Jam Nizamuddin, Satihoo Seven Soomro Sisters (reigned in 1461-1509), several Tarkhan rulers and Mughal officials. A vast old necropolis with thousands of graves may be found at the nearby Makli Hills.

Thatta is historically an important region of Sindh which has served as a centre of literature, religious ideologies and socio political clashes. Makli, the heart of interior Sindh is counted among one of the largest necropolis in the world. Located a few kilometers away from Thatta. Makli is a vibrant archaeological site in Pakistan; it covers about 15-1/2 square kilometres. The mausoleums and [[tombs in Makli are one of the greatest ruins of Sindh and also dictate a lot about Sindh's communal structure from 14 to 18th century. Apart from the mausoleums of Jam Nizam al-Din and Jan Beg Takhan, Makli has undertaken a lot of Sufis, warriors, poets, intellectuals. The artistic monuments at Makli show proof of Islamic ideologies and the Hindu mythology.

The huge graves are made of solid rock and the mausoleums of the sun baked brick with different kinds of Quranic verses embossed on them. Another historical landmark that resides in Thatta is the Shah Jahan Masjid built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. This mosque was built on the orders of Shah Jahan, for the people of Thatta because they welcomed him with open hearts when his father died.

The Shah Jahan Mosque is a great example of highly defined tile work. In total this mosque has 33 arches and 93 domes which are of different sizes which add the flavour to its beauty. White and Blue tiles of glowing texture have been put together in such a manner that it looks like a beautiful mosaic. The most surprising fact about this mega structure is that unlike other Mughal buildings such as Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, this building has negligible amount of pink sandstone in it. The characteristic that makes this mosque unique is that it has no minarets in it and it only has one dome which lies in the central prayer hall.

The 2010 Flood:

In August 2010 Thatto was one of the worst affected districts of Pakistan as a result of devastating floods. The sea was on high tide when flooded river water reached it multiplying the damage manifold. By August 28, 175,000 people had left their homes camping on the main road under open sky. The effected still wait for the aid which comes in heaps and travels all the way to Islamabad and never seems to be coming.

Irony of Thatta is that donations from Karachi are also not reaching Thatta although it being only 100 Kilometres instead it goes straight to the South Punjab or noshehra.

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