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, but 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 Spring) 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.
- 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