Rural Scenes from Thatta District, Sindh, Pakistan - January 2011
Thatta (Sindhi: ٺٽو, Urdu: ٹھٹہ) is a historic town of 220,000 inhabitants in the Sindh province of Pakistan, near Lake Keenjhar, the largest freshwater lake in the country. Thatta's major monuments especially its necropolis at Makli are listed among the World Heritage Sites. The Shah Jahan Mosque is also listed separately on the tentative list since 1993. Located 62 miles (98 kilometeres) east of the provincial capital of Sindh; Karachi, it makes for a practical escape for people from the city seeking to visit the picturesque old town.
HistoryThe 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. Siltation 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”.
The geographer Strabo (c.64 BC–c.24 AD) had said: “The Indus falls into the southern sea by two mouths, encompassing the country of Patalênê, which resembles the Delta in Egypt”. He noted: “All these [nations] were conquered by Alexander, and last of all he reduced Patalênê, which the Indus forms by splitting into two branches… Patalênê contains a considerable city, Patala, which gives its name to the island”. In the late second century BC Agatharchides of Cnidus recorded merchants from Patala, or as he called it, “Potana”, coming to the island of Socotra to trade with Alexandrian merchants.
SightsThatta'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 kilometers. 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 mosuleums 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 adds the flavor 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.
2010 Pakistan flood
In August 2010 Thatta 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 due to another levee being breached and forced to camp on the main road under open sky.