‘Mori Araj Suno’ by Tina Sani for Coke Studio

This song is one my favourites, partly because it is a brilliant complaint to God by Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-1984), one of Pakistan’s premier poets, and partly because it was sung by Tina Sani. This song was a part of Coca-Cola’s Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 3. It was composed by Rohail Hayat and features the vocals of Arieb Azhar as well as the legendary Tina Sani.

The lyrics of this awesome Urdu/Punjabi song, in Arabic and Roman script, along with translation are below, for your pleasure.

موری ارج سنو دست گیر پیر
mori araj suno dastageer peer
hear my plea – O protector, O Pir!

مائی ری کہوں کاسے میں اپنے جیا کی پیر
maai ri kahoon kaase main apne jeeya ki peer
O mother, how do I describe the anguish of my soul!

ربّا سچّیا توں تے آکھیا سی
rabba sacchiya toon te aakhiya si
O true Lord – well, you had said

جا اوئے بندیا جگ دا شاہ ہیں توں
ja oy bandiya jag da shaah hain toon
go, O servant – king of the world are you

ساڈیاں نعمتاں تیریاں دولتاں نیں
saadiyaan ne’mataan teriyaan daulataan nen
my bounties are all for your benefit

ساڈا نیب تے عالیجاہ ہیں توں
saada naib te aali-jaah ey toon
my viceroy and of exalted rank are you

ایس لارے تے ٹور کد پچھیا ای
ais laare te tor kad puchiyaa ey
after this false promise, did you ever take any notice

کیہہ ایس نمانے تے بیتیاں نیں
kih ais nimaane te beetiyaan nen
what a miserable time we have been passing through

کدی سار وی لئی او ربّ سائیاں
kade saar wi laee o rab saaiyaan
did you bother to ever inquire – O Lord Master

ترے شاہ نال جگ کیہہ کیتیاں نیں
tire shaah naal jag keeh keetiyaan nen
what the world has done to your king

کِتّے دھونس پولیس سرکار دی اے
kitte dhauns polis sarkaar di ey
in one place, there is the menace of police and state

کِتّے دھاندلی مال پٹوار دی اے
kitte dhaandli maal patwaar di ey
in another, there is cheating over land and money

اینج ہڈّاں چ کلپے جان مری
ainj haddaan ich kalpe jaan miri
my very being aches to the bone in such a way

جیویں پھاہی چ کونج کرلاوندی اے
jeeven phaahi ich koonj kurlaaundi ey
as the Koonj (crane), caught in the snare, shrieks!

چنگا شاہ بنایا ای ربّ سائیاں
changa shaah banaaya ee rabb saaiyyaan
a fine king you have made – O Lord Master

پولے کھاندے وار نہ آوندی اے
paule khaande waar nah aaundi ey
keeps bearing the humiliations of shoe-beatings

مینوں شاہی نئیں چاہیدی ربّ میرے
mainoo shaahi naeen chaeedi rabb mere
I don’t want kingship, my Lord

میں تے عزت دا ٹکّر منگناں ہاں
main te izzat da tukkar mangnaan haan
I ask just for a piece of bread, honourably-earned

مینوں تاہنگ نیئں، محلاں ماڑیاں دی
mainoon taahng naeen mahlaan mahaariyaan di
I have no desire for grand things like palaces

یں تے جیویں دی نکّر منگناں ہاں
main te jeeven di nukkar mangnaan haan
I ask just for a corner to subsist in

میری منّیں تے تیریاں میں منّاں
meri mannen te teriyaan main mannaan
heed me and I will heed you

یری سونہہ جے اک وی گلّ موڑاں
teri sounh je ik wi gal moraan
I swear to you that I’ll never refuse a single command

جے ایہہ سودا نیئں پجدا تیں ربّا
je eih sauda naeen pujda tain rabba
if this bargain is not acceptable to Thee, O Lord

فیر میں جاواں تے ربّ کوئی ہور لوڑاں
fer main jaavaan rabb koi hor lauraan
then I shall go and get some other Lord

موری ارج سنو دست گیر پیر
mori araj suno dastageer peer
hear my plea, O protector, O Pir!

اس صورت سے
is soorat se
in this manner

عرض سناتے
arz sunaate
presenting the plea

درد بتاتے
dard bataate
recounting the anguish

نیّا کھیتے
naiyya khete
rowing the boat

مِنّت کرتے
minnat karte
making entreaty

رستہ تکتے
rasta takte
waiting expectantly

کتنی صدیاں بیت گئی ہیں
kitni sadiyaan beet gai hain
so many centuries have passed

اب جا کر یہ بھید کھلا ہے
ab ja kar yih bhed khula hai
at long last has emerged this secret

جس کو تم نے عرض گزاری
jis ko tum ne arz guzaari
the one you had petitioned

جو تھا ہاتھ پکڑنے والا
jo tha haath pakarne waala
the one who used to grasp your hand

جس جا لاگی ناؤ تمھاری
jis ja laagi naao tumhaari
the place your boat found its mooring

جس سے دکھ کا دارو مانگا
jis se dukh ka daaru maanga
the one you sought the cure for grief from

تورے مندر میں جو نہیں آیا
tore mandir men jo naheen aaya
the one who came into your temple not,

وہ تو تمہیں تھے
woh to tumheen thay.
that was none other than you.

وہ تو تمہیں تھے
woh to tumheen thay.
that was none other than you.

The original Coke Studio video can be seen here.

Mangho Pir – The Saint with Crocodile Disciples

Image000After our brief trip to Rani Kot, which appeared in the April edition of this magazine, my trusty Civic rode into Karachi, through Sohrab Goth. Once, my cousin Imran and I had rested up, we went over our list of places to see in this huge metropolis of Karachi, and decided to visit the Shrine of Mango Pir, also known as Sufi Sheikh Sakhi Sultan, before everything else. Getting there was easier said than done, since neither of us knew our way about the city. Conveniently enough, one of my college friends, Ahmed Fasih Qureshi, volunteered the services of his driver along with his official car to facilitate us in this little excursion, to ensure that we wouldn’t drag him along on the trip.

The next morning, at around 10 am, we left the house near National Stadium, we were staying in, for the Manghopir. The route to the shrine was to take us through areas dominated by Muhajirs and the Pakhtoon, which were at odds with each other for control over territories, and this made our driver a little antsy about his safety. Lucky for us, both the parties had recently declared a ceasefire, which was at best tenuous. After an hour or so, we reached the area, after driving over Karachi roads of varying quality. As we turned a corner, there it stood – the structure of the shrine behind a few date palms and a few graves. The building, itself, seemed neither imposing nor impressive, as most mausoleums we had seen, from a distance, but as we approached it, we realized that the structure was relatively new. A sign posted at the Shrine informed us that the building had been recently renovated largely due to the efforts and donations of Aqeel Kareem Dhedhi, one of the leading financial moguls in Pakistan. With a fresh coat of paint, intricate mirror inlay work on the ceilings and calligraphy, the shrine of Mangho Pir looks brand new, despite the shrine being over 700 years old!

Image006Legend has it, that Maango Wassa was a Hindu and notorious for looting caravans in the area which is now Karachi. On meeting Hazrat Farid-ud-Din Ganj Shakkar, Maango converted to Islam and devoted the rest of life to serve Islam and humanity. He became a disciple of Hazrat Farid-ud-Din Ganj Shakkar, who gave him the title of Pir because of his devotion and meditation. Mangho Pir’s Urs (death anniversary) is observed in the month of Zil-Hajj, and is known as the Sheedi Mela (Sheedi Fair) because a major portion of Mangho Pir’s devotees belong to the Sheedi community.

Interestingly enough, the Sheedi are the descendants of East African slaves brought by Arab armies and traders over the centuries. Most Sheedis claim descent from the slaves, which accompanied and fought for the army of Muhammad bin Qasim. These people were called Zanji or natives of the East Africa (consisting of territories of Somalia, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania) by the Arabs and were known for their loyalty, bravery, endurance and hard work. The origin of the word Sheedi unclear, but most historians believe it is a derivative of the word “Syed” which is Arabic for prince, a nobleman and is also used for the descendants of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), as well. You can still see the Sheedi, mostly known as Makrani’s living all over southern regions Sindh and Balochistan.

Image015Enough of history. Lets move to the major attractions. Near the shrine of Mangho Pir are the natural sulphur springs which are warm in winters and cold in summers. These springs are said to be a gift of the famous Sufi saint Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar who came to this area for meditation. Image020His “Chillahgaah”, or the place where he meditated, is barely a few yards from the shrine of Mangho Pir. When we visited in December, the spring water was warm enough to tempt me into taking a dip in one of the pools there! Image022These springs are very popular among the locals for their curative powers and are said to cure not just the physical ailments, but also the spiritual ones, as well, thanks to the blessings of Mangho Pir. Over the past years, proper covered bathhouses have been built in the vicinity of the shrine, which pump waters from the springs into indoor pools where people from all over Sindh come to cleanse themselves. Of course, there are separate bathhouses for ladies, to ensure their privacy and modesty.

Image010 Image011The other thing that brings people to this shrine are the crocodiles. There are several stories about the origin of these crocodiles, as per tradition. Some say that these crocodiles were a gift from Hazrat Farid-ud-Din Ganj Shakkar to Mangho Pir. Others believe that when Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar gave the area the springs, the lice in his head which he gifted to Mangho Pir and they subsequently turned into crocodiles once they were placed into the pond adjacent to the springs. Yet, others believe that the saint Mor Mubarak brought the crocodiles to Mangho Pir from a cave in Korangi. The oldest crocodile is still called “Mor Sahib” – a 12-foot 100-year old croc – in the saint’s honour, giving credibility to this theory.

Even though, these crocs are huge carnivores, they’ve become docile and do not harm people, as they are frequently fed fresh meat paid for by the offerings of the many devotees of Mangho Pir. We wanted to have our picture taken with them inside the enclosure next to the 400’ by 200’ pond, but we weren’t allowed to. “You never know anything with these animals”, said one of the keepers, as he went to on explain that their teeth aren’t the only weapons they have with which they can inflict injury on people and animals. Not being Steve Irwin The Crocodile Hunter or Crocodile Dundee, we decided to heed his advice.

Travel advisory

  • Best season to visit: You can visit any time of the year. However, it gets pretty warm in the summers, here.
  • Ideal for: Day trips
  • Fastest route: Ask a local driver to take you. Negotiating Karachi’s traffic and roads in a tough ask.
  • Drive time (point to point):
  • Cellular coverage: Complete

Request: DO NOT TRY FEEDING THE CROCS YOURSELF!

The Salt Range Odyssey – II

“The Tears of Shiva and the Patron Saint of Peacocks”

Another marvel awaits you after your trip to the salt mines of Khewra, and the pleasant drive through the Salt Range.

On the road from Khewra to Kalar Kahar, lie the Hindu Temples of Katas Raj, a few kilometers beyond the small town of Choa Saidan Shah. The Katas Raj Temple Complex is considered to be one of the holiest places by the Hindus.

The complex is said to be as old as ancient Hindu holy epic Mahabharata and is also known as “Satgraha” – the Seven Sacred Temples. This complex has featured in several music videos, documentaries and telefilms etc. because of its ancient architecture, isolation and the famous pond, around which the Satgraha is built. Legend has it that the Satgraha’s pond was formed when Lord Shiva’s cried for several days on the passing of his beloved wife Satti. The word Ketas (Katas) is said to have been derived from the Sanskrit word “Ketaksha”, which means,”raining eyes”. A dip in this sacred pool is said to cure physical and spiritual illnesses. The depth of this pool is yet unknown, so it is not recommended that you do not try to “cure” yourself in it. According to another legend, the five Pandava brothers spent four of their fourteen-year exile here.

In 2006, on a visit by the former Indian deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, the Government of Pakistan announced a three phased multi-million Rupees restoration project. The project is already underway and sever parts have been reconstructed and renovated. If you want to see Satgraha in its wild and original state, I suggest you do it as soon as possible.

Driving on from there, you reach the famous Lake Kalar Kahar. Recently a new road was constructed around it, making it possible to drive along the circumference of the lake. Lake Kalar Kahar is a major haven for migratory birds, with several rare and endangered species stopping over on their annual seasonal pilgrimage. What do now that you’re here? Well, you could start by taking a ride on the boat in the lake, and then get on the swings in the lakeside amusement park. Or you could take a short walk up to “Bagh-e-Safa” and sit on the “Takht-e-Babari” – which was hewn out of rock by Mughal Emperor Babar’s Army, as he marched to Delhi to conquer India. The spot offers a unique panoramic view of the Lake Kalar Kahar.

Another must see site is barely five minutes’ drive away from the Lake. Hazrat Ahoo Bahoo is the local patron saint and was the grandson of the great Muslim saint Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jailani. The shrine of Hazrat Ahoo Bahoo is renowned for the amazing mirror mosaic on its dome, which made it gleam in the moonlight. On any given day, you can spot peacocks roaming around in the courtyard. Just below the shrine of Hazrat Ahoo Bahoo, is the “Chillaagah” or the meditation area. This is the spot where two of the greatest Muslim saints of Punjab stayed for meditation in a tiny cave. Devotees throng to these two sites, even today, in the hundreds.

You must be starving after all the exertion, by now. You can end the day sipping tea with hot samossas at the PTDC Restaurant by the Kalar Kahar Lake, while you recharge before heading home.

Travel advisory

  • Best season to visit: Fall to Spring (September – April). However, the Monsoons aren’t a bad time to visit, either.
  • Ideal for: day trips/picnics. (Bring your own food & do not litter!)
  • Fastest route: M2 Lillah and Kalar Kahar Interchanges
  • Drive time (point to point):
    • Lahore/Islamabad – Lillah Interchange: 2 1/2 hours
    • Lillah – Khewra: 1/2 hour
    • Khewra – Katas Raj/Satgraha: 1 hour
    • Katas Raj/Satgraha – Kalar Kahar: 1/2 hour
    • Kalar Kahar – Lahore/Islamabad: 2 1/2 hours
  • Cellular coverage: Complete

Request: Graffiti may be an art form, but on historical buildings, it’s an eyesore.

The Salt Range Odyssey – I

UntitledEver found yourself wondering about going some place outside the city but not too far? Some place you could visit in a day? With friends and family? Here’s a suggestion: Go explore the Salt Range! Here’s a plan you could do in a day.

Salt Range is the southern boundary of the Potwar Plateau and holds many centuries old tales and even older secrets. This range was formed by the collision of the Indian Plate with Eurasian Plate, a couple of million years ago. It’s called the Salt Range, primarily because of the extensive salt deposits found in and around it, among other minerals such as coal, gypsum, oil and gas. The recent claim to fame of this region is the discovery of pre-historic (read: Dinosaurs!) fossils found here around the village of Choa Saidan Shah. It is, also, one of the oldest inhabited regions of the word, as well, with the Stone Age artifacts found here, to have been dated between 100,000 to 500,000 years.

IMG_0051Lets get down to business, shall we? Lets start with the Khewra Salt Mines.

Situated at the foothills of the Salt Range, These mines are the oldest in the salt mining history of the sub-continent. The Khewra salt is transparent, with hues of white, pink, reddish and deep red. There are 18 working levels. The total length of all the mineshafts is more than 40 km. It is said that rock salt was discovered in Khewra area as early as 326 BCE. Legend has it that the Alexander the Great’s was rested in Khewra area after a battle with Raja Porus. The horses of Alexander’s army were then seen licking rock salt in the area, leading to the discovery of salt in the area. Later on, when the exposed salt seams were exhausted, people began looking for it underground.

IMG_0056Pakistan Mineral Development Authority has developed a tourist resort at Khewra to facilitate people interested in seeing this marvelous wonder of human engineering. Inside the mine, there’s plenty to see. Here’s a list of what to do and look for. Walk or take the electric tram ride into the belly of the mine to see:

  • The Badshahi Masjid
  • Assembly Hall
  • The Post Office
  • The Asthma Hospital
  • The Minar-e-Pakistan
  • The Sheesh Mahal
  • Shimla Pahaarri
  • The Brine Pools
  • The “Dewar-e-Muhabat” or Wall of Love (Everybody licks it! I suggest you don’t do that. Unless, well, you’re desperate for love!)
  • Pul Siraat or the Salt Bridge
  • The naturally shaped portrait of Alama Iqbal in the Assembly Hall

Everything inside the mine is made of SALT! A fascinating and surreal environment is created with soothes the senses with the pale red glow from the illuminated salt bricks. The Mine is open for tourist from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day including Sunday and gazetted holidays.

Out of the belly of the mountains and up on their backs. After exiting the Khewra Mines Complex, take a left and head up the winding road. This steep road, twisting and snaking up the hillside takes you through some of the most amazing scenery this area has to offer. From the top, you can see the mighty River Jehlum meandering through the vast Punjab plains fading into the horizon. Possibly, this could be one of the many spots where Al-Beruni sat making measurements, near Pind Dadan Khan. Driving through the changing scenery is a very relaxing experience, although it could be quite the opposite for a driver used to plain roads. There are several picture perfect spots along the road for a small picnic without worrying about security. Along this road you’ll, also, spot several small traditional coal and salt mines. Going down one of them is, however, strongly not recommended.

Travel advisory

  • Best season to visit: Fall to Spring (September – April)
  • Ideal for: day trips/picnics. (Bring your own food & do not litter!)
  • Fastest route: M2 Lillah and Kalar Kahar Interchanges
  • Drive time (point to point):
    • Lahore/Islamabad – Lillah Interchange: 2 1/2 hours
    • Lillah – Khewra: 1/2 hour
  • Cellular coverage: Complete
Gallery

Bab-e-Pakistan

Originally posted on Mattezai's Blog:

A monument to our nation, still up in the air.

b4With the birth of Pakistan, sixty-eight years ago, Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent succeeded in establishing an independent home where they could freely live according to the tenets of Islam as prescribed in the Qura’an and Sunnah. That success came with a price.

The Partition of India sparked one of the largest migrations known to mankind, with Hindus and Sikhs moving out of the areas allocated for Pakistan, and the Muslims going the other way from the new state of India. Most of them carried nothing more than the clothes on their backs and the hope of sanctuary in a new land where they would be free; where the land is there’s; where the people would accept them as their own because they belonged to the same faith. They had left behind their empty home, hurriedly abandoned for a new…

View original 872 more words

Bab-e-Pakistan

A monument to our nation, still up in the air.

b4With the birth of Pakistan, sixty-eight years ago, Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent succeeded in establishing an independent home where they could freely live according to the tenets of Islam as prescribed in the Qura’an and Sunnah. That success came with a price.

The Partition of India sparked one of the largest migrations known to mankind, with Hindus and Sikhs moving out of the areas allocated for Pakistan, and the Muslims going the other way from the new state of India. Most of them carried nothing more than the clothes on their backs and the hope of sanctuary in a new land where they would be free; where the land is there’s; where the people would accept them as their own because they belonged to the same faith. They had left behind their empty home, hurriedly abandoned for a new land, tearing up their roots and centuries old links at a moment’s notice.

b3Communal rioting in cities and towns across India had begun well before the Partition was announced, making things extremely dangerous if you were a member of the minority in a specific area. Fleeing these difficult circumstances, on foot, by ox-drawn carts or by train, these refugees, braved searing summer heat, dehydration, starvation and the ever-present threat of slaughter and robbery at the hands of marauding zealots out for blood. Many reported attacks by Hindu mobs and kirpan-weilding Sikh Jatha’s and seeing rotting, barely clad, mutilated bodies by the hundreds littering the roadsides, wells and fields.

b1These events left a deep festering wound on the hearts and minds of the generations that witnessed it. But the hope of a new beginning drove the broken Muhajireen families on to rebuild their lives in the Land of the Pure.

Remembrance

To most of my generation, the oral narratives and stories in the history books constantly remind us of how Pakistan was made with the sacrifices by millions on Muslims fighting against oppression by the British and their Hindu allies. There are a handful of monuments to the creation of Pakistan across the country; even monuments to the wars fought to preserve its integrity; even monuments to our great (and some not so great) leaders. But, there are no monuments marking the memory of those who actually paid the debt of our freedom with their own lives.

When I found out about the Government of Pakistan’s plans to build a monument at the site of Walton Hijrat Camp, I thought to myself, “Finally, someone’s thought of doing something decent to honour those souls who died for the freedom of our nation.” But it has been years since General Musharaf laid the foundation stone of the “Bab-e-Pakistan” – the Gate of Pakistan, and, yet, the concrete skeleton mocks me whenever I drive along Walton Road, in Lahore Cantt.

It is a shame that despite six, albeit tumultuous, decades of independence, we have not been able to give a truly decent monument to our ancestors who, in words of Quaid-e-Azam, himself, had “been displaced by the cataclysm that attended the birth of Pakistan. Most of them have lost all their worldly belongings as also their means of livelihood.”

The story of “Bab-e-Pakistan” is as complicated as the history our nation. The project was originally conceived by the late Lt. Gen. Ghulam Jillani, Governor of Punjab, in 1985 and was immediately approved by General Zia-ul-Haq, the then President of Pakistan. With the demise of General Zia’s regime, the project was frozen, until 1991 when Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif came to power. An estimated budget of Rs.100 million was allocated for the construction of a 400-acre park on land in the possession of Punjab Board of Revenue. In 1991, the late Ghulam Haidar Wyne, the Punjab Chief Minister, with the consent of the then Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Iftikhar Ahmad Sahrohi and former Corps Commander Lahore, Gen. Muhammad Ashraf had laid “first” the foundation of Bab-e-Pakistan.

When Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif returned to power, he and his brother, Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, the then Punjab Chief Minister, again, tried to breathe life into the project with little effect, until Gen. Pervez Musharaf took over the country after a coup-d’état. And then, it was forgotten and the land was leased to the Army, the Pakistan Boy Scout Association, Punjab Education Department and Police. Some of the dedicated area of the project also became occupied by illegal slums due to apathy on part of the government bodies, further jeopardizing the construction of the monument.

In 2004, the Punjab Chief Minister, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi took up the challenge of finally realizing the Lt. Gen. Ghulam Jillani’s dream by reactivating the Bab-e-Pakistan Project which will cover an area of 110 acres, and will include the Monument, Chehar Bagh, Linear Dek, Boy Scouts Association Headquarters, High Schools for girls and boys, at the cost of Rs.800 million. Under the “guidance” of Gen. Pervez Musharaf, who was designated as the patron-in-chief, the Bab-e-Pakistan Project was to be completed in two and a half years (i.e. 2007). Finally, on 14th August 2005, Gen. Pervez Musharaf laid the “second” foundation of Bab-e-Pakistan and construction started to stop once again, because of political turmoil in the country.

As things stand today, you still see the concrete hulk on your right, when driving towards Ferozepur Road along Walton Road. Four years ago, I was pleasantly surprised on my last visit to Bab-e-Pakistan site to see some activity going on with rows of bulldozers and heavy construction equipment lining the lot, ready for some action. Upon further inquiry, I was told that work on the monument had started again. My sources could not provide with me a final completion date for the project but they were hopeful. Sadly, the Secretary, Bab-e-Pakistan Project was unavailable for comment. Today, another government is in power, tomorrow, another one which will choose to ignore our heritage.

I hope one day, we finally succeed in honouring those who gave up everything they loved to make this great nation. And I hope we never forget that which brought us here.

Rani Kot – The Jewel of Kirthar

I love travelling. It used to be my passion and my hobby. Not just do you get to see places rarely frequented by most people, you get to experience the culture of the people who live there. In some places, it’s like being in another time, altogether. By 2008, I had seen most of the Northern Areas of Pakistan, and felt that I should change course and explore the South, too. With this sole thought in my head, I planned a trip to Gawadar by road with my cousin, Waleed, for December. Some of southern Punjab I had already seen as some of my relatives owned land near Sadiqabad, Image685 Image659 Image662 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbut it was interior Sindh that really fascinated me. We left Lahore in my cousin’s trusty Civic and head south on Taroo night. What followed is a long story, which, hopefully, I will share in future posts with you. But today, I’m going to tell you about one of my favourite places to see in Pakistan, Rani Kot.

Rani Kot is located around 90km north of Hyderabad, west of the Indus Highway in the Kirthar Range, in Sindh’s Jamshoro district. It is the BIGGEST fort on earth! I bet you didn’t know that. As you drive up the bumpy road, you notice first some strange rock formations running on the crest of the hills approaching you. As you get nearer, you realize that what you thought were rock formations are actually the huge walls of the Rani Kot fort! The scale of these walls is immense, comparable to the Great Wall of China. This huge wall, with an average height of 6 metres encircles an entire valley, with two forts, two small villages, lush green farmland and a stream, all inside it’s 26 kilometres (16 miles for the metric system fans) circumference.

Within the walls of Rani Kot are two more fortresses, namely, Meeri Kot, which has a mettled road leading to it, and Shergarh, atop a steep hill. Meeri Kot was built as the home of “Mir” or ruler. There is even a helipad marked on the gravel outside Meeri Kot! Shergarh or “the Home of Lions” located on a steep hill overlooking the enire fort, at 1480 feet above the sea level. According to local legend, on every full moon, fairies come to bathe at “Parryen jo Tarr” (the Fairy Fpring) or Mohan Spring, near Mohan Gate (main entrance) and at “Waggun jo Tarr” (the Crocodile Spring).

Despite it’s huge size, historians are still confused about the true origins of Rani Kot. Some believe that the Achaemenid Dynasty of the Persian Empire built the original fort in 350 BCE. Some believe that it was built by the Sassanians (Persians) and even the Greeks, whereas, other believe that it was built as an Abbassid outpost. There is, however agreement on the origin of the name of Rani Kot. It is said that the fort is named after the stream, “Rani Nai” (rain stream) that runs through it, which would make Rani Kot the “fort of the rain stream”. Mir Karam Ali Khan Talpur and his brother, Mir Murad Ali, however, reportedly rebuilt most of the present structures, in 1812, according to archeologists. The mystery surrounding its origins and the sheer scale of the structure put Rani Kot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1993.

Rani Kot is definitely one of my favourite places in Pakistan and a must see for all.

Travel advisory

  • Best season to visit: winters (November – March)
  • Distance from major cities:
    • Sann (Jamshoro) – 30km
    • Hyderabad – 90km
    • Karachi – 260km
  • Ideal for: day trips/picnics. (Bring your own food and do not litter!)
  • Cellular coverage: none