Sindh was an independent country until
1843 when it was captured by the British and then was annexed to the British
India. Currently it forms the southernmost part of Pakistan. It derives its name
from River Indus - the same great river which gives India its name.
Topographically Sindh is divided into
three ‘S-shaped bands’ running from North to South. The western part is hilly,
the central part is formed by the River Indus and its lush, fertile, irrigated
plains and the eastern band is desert. Rainfall is too little and the economy of
the area depends on the water brought by the Indus River - its lifeline! The
River Indus falls into the Arabian Sea and at its estuary, one can find great
mangrove forests and the swamps of the Indus Delta.
Most of the Sindh is flat, rising on
the western edge to the Kirthar Hills, which separate it from Balochistan. Most
pleasant climate for travelers is winter when temperatures ranges from 07° C to
30° C. to 86°. Its very hot in summer with temperatures between 25° C and 50° C.
The alluvial soil of Sindh, irrigated
by the Indus River is perhaps Pakistan's best agricultural land. Wheat, rice,
millet, pulses, oilseeds, cotton, sugarcane, chilies and fruits like bananas,
mangoes and dates are grown in areas fed by canal water from the Indus River.
About two-thirds of Sindh’s rural population is dependent on agriculture
The deserts begin immediately the
irrigation ends: a striking contrast between green garden and sandy scrubland
can be seen at Umerkot and Naokot areas near Mirpurkhas.
Some desert tribes are settled around
wells whereas others pass nomadic lifestyle. They breed camels and goats, grow
pulses and millet, and work as migrant laborers in the nearby irrigated areas.
The vast marshy area stretching from
Karachi for 250 kilometers southeast to the Indian border forms the Indus delta.
The river estuary comprises of myriad of sluggish channels that meander round
thousands of mangrove islands, depositing millions of tons of silt every year in
the Arabian Sea.
The main occupation of the coastal
people is fishing. Karachi restaurants are famous for their seafood.
Sindh’s history goes back some 5,000
years, when the Indus Valley Civilization, which was contemporary with the
civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, stretched from Kabul to Delhi. On the
banks of the Indus, was one of the great cities of the ancient world - Mohenjo
Daro - which had with a remarkably advanced urban organization and centralized
It was in 326 BC the Alexander the
Great came to Sindh and captured the main towns along the river. The great
Maurya Dynasty ruled Sindh in the third and second centuries BC. Buddhism
flourished here during this time. Buddhism was gradually replaced between the
sixth and eighth centuries by the Hinduism which introduced the caste system.
Arabs invaded and conquered Sindh in AD
711 in the expedition led by Muhammad bin Qasim. This marked the beginnings of
the Islamic era in the subcontinent.
Arghuns from Afghanistan took power in
1524 followed by Tarkhans in 1545 first independently then as governors under
the Mughal emperors. With the waning of Mughal power, the Kalhoras from Upper
Sindh took control in 1736, ruling the region from Khudabad (near Dadu). The
Kalhoras were overthrown by the Talpurs from Balochistan in 1784. Hyderabad was
the capital of Sindh during the Talpur period. In 1843 the British defeated the
Talpurs at the battle of Miani and Dubbo and ruled the territory until 1947.
When British left India, they divided the country on the basis of religion into
Pakistan and India and Sindh became a province of Pakistan. During the British
Raj the Karachi grew from a small fishing village to a large industrial city.
Both rural cottage industries and
large-scale factories are now rapidly developing in Sindh. For some 4,000 years
cotton and textiles have been Sindh's major industry (cloth in ancient Greek was
sindonion, and in Latin sindon). Textiles and carpets are still
the province's most important industries. More recent additions to the
industries include sugar, oil, flour and rice mills. Also factories producing
steel, fertilizers, cement, electrical goods, pharmaceuticals and rubber have
been established more recently.
Most famous items from Sindh are its
handicrafts, , particularly its textiles, pottery and lacquered woodwork. Quilts
with patchwork, block-printed cloth and striped woven cloth are best items to
buy in Sindh. Hala town is famous for is the center for Pakistan's woodworking
industry and blue glazed tiles which decorate most shrines and mosques. Mithi, a
town in Thar is famous for handicrafts, carpets and hand made clothes.
The Sindhis are no doubt the most
colorfully and exotically dressed of people of the country. The favorite color
for men's turbans in central Sindh is shocking pink. The embroidered caps, which
Sindhi men wear, are adorned with tiny mirrors. They also wear brightly colored
long shirts and lunghis (pieces of cloth wrapped round the lower half of
the body instead of trousers). Some still wear traditional embroidered slippers
with long, pointed, upturned toes. The dress of the women in desert consists of
long red skirts and bright tie-dyed shawls.
The language of Sindh is Sindhi, which
is both spoken and written. The Sindhi script is based on the Arabic alphabet,
with some additional letters. A number of dialects of Sindhi are spoken in
Sindh, which include Thari in the Thar Desert, Kutchi in the Rann of Kutch, Lari
in lower Sindh, and Seraiki in upper Sindh. The capital of Sindh is Karachi,
however due to massive demographic changes, its central areas now doesn’t appear
to be the representative of the culture rest of the Sindh. However, the rural
and suburban areas of Karachi are still very much reflective of Sindhi
countryside. Most of the inhabitants of the central Karachi are Urdu speaking
Mohajirs (immigrants) from India and their descendants, who came at the time
of the partition in 1947.
The best time to visit Sindh is the winter months, from
mid-November to mid March. During this time, the daytime temperature fluctuates
between 15° C and 25° C whereas in summer it hovers
around 35° C to 45° C. It is very humid in monsoon season (June, July and
August) though there is often little rain.
Places of interest
It is located at the National Highway
from Karachi to Hyderabad on the western side of the Indus at a distance of 22
kilometers from Thatta. It was formerly known as Kalri Lake and is 32 kilometers
and 10 kilometers (six miles) wide It has also been developed as a resort and
offers sailboats for hire, fishing facilities and excellent bird-watching. One
can book the PTDC motel here for night stays. To many it is a good place to
spend the night.
In the lake on a kind of island, there
is the tomb of Noori, a fishergirl from the Mohana tribe who married King Jam
Tamachi of the Sammah dynasty. This romantic rags-to-riches story is very
popular in Sindh. Jam Tamachi is buried at Makli Hill near Thatta, another place
to see and take photographs.
Sonda Graveyard, at 14 kilometers from
Keenjhar Lake on the National High way, has some Chaukundi-style decorated stone
Hyderabad, after Karachi, Lahore,
Faisalabad and Islamabad-Rawalpindi, is the fifth largest city of Pakistan - a
bustling industrial metropolis on the Indus River. Tumbling in all directions
from its central hill, the city is a maze of narrow streets without any
signposts or street signs. So be patient to unravel its mysteries. It would be
better if you take a local guide. Hyderabad's chief attractions are its bazaars,
forts and tombs.
Earlier, the city was known as
Neroon-kot. It may also have been the site of one of Alexander's cities on the
Indus - perhaps the Pattala of Alexander. The present city was laid out by one
of the Kalhora rulers in 1782 to replace the former capital of Khudabad. It was
the capital of Sindh from 1789 to 1843 under the Talpur Mirs (kings) of
In 1838, when the First Afghan War
broke out, the British forces passed en route Sindh to Kabul. Sir Charles Napier
wrote in his private journal: 'We have no right to seize Sindh yet we shall do
so, and a very advantageous, useful, humane piece of rascality it will be.' He
attacked the Talpur Mirs army but they resisted his onslaught. Nonetheless, at
the final battle for Sindh at Miani on 17 February 1843, the British emerged as
victors. Napier subsequently telegraphed to London: 'Peccavi' (or 'I have
Area on the East of Hyderabad
The area from Hyderabad to Umerkot is
irrigated and agriculture flourishes there. Mirpurkhas lies approximately in the
middle of Hyderabad and Umerkot. The area from Mirpurkhas to Naokot is also
irrigated and fertile with rich agriculture fields. The irrigation water is fed
by two of the great canals that leave the Indus at Sukkur. These are Nara Canal
and Rohri Canal. This fertile belt is one of the fruit gardens of Pakistan.
Shady avenues of shisham, acacia and neem trees line the roads from Hyderabad to
Mirpurkhas and other towns in the East of Hyderabad. Rows of eucalyptus
windbreakers can be see dividing the banana gardens from dark green mango
orchards interplanted with wheat, lucerne, vegetables and cotton. One can also
see the sugarcane plantations in all stages of development, from newly planted
reedy spikes to densely packed mature canes. The road and railway run east
together from Hyderabad to Mirpurkhas and passes through Tando Jam (tando
meaning place, mostly founded by Talpurs), a shady, peaceful academic town with
Sindh’s agriculture university. Khesano Mori is located at six kilometers from
Tando Jam and is a popular spot for the young who swim in the canal. One can
have lunch at one of the many local roadside cottage restaurants.
Its at about one and a half hours
journey by road or train from Hyderabad. Mirpurkhas is the district headquarters
town. Known today as the 'City of Mangoes', its name actually means 'Town of the
Mirs'. It was important in the fourth century AD for its Buddhist monastery and
stupa, the sad remains of which (Kahu Jo Daro) are located on its northern
outskirts on the road to Khan town. Many Buddhist treasures were uncovered here.
However, unfortunately, it has been robbed even of its brick facing. A long bare
mound is all that remains.
Mirpurkhas is the jumping-off point for
trips into the Thar Desert. The railway to the border with India is a metre-gauge
track with twice a week service to Khokhrapar just before the border. This
border has remained closed since the war of 1965 but India and Pakistan have
many times hinted about opening this border.
Edited by: mir on 20.06.2004 rehnadil on 07.09.2003