Forget New York or Paris, take a trip to Thatta, Bhambore and Makli

Published: April 22, 2015
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Those who aspire to travel spend a lot of time planning trips to foreign lands. But what they don't know is the fact that the same time, what also exists are whole new worlds within one’s own country.

I am glad that the first post I will be writing here will be about one of my trips within Pakistan. Those who aspire to travel spend a lot of time planning trips to foreign lands. But what they don’t know is the fact that the same time can be used to explore the unique worlds that exist within Pakistan.

I got such a chance this March, when I joined a small group of travel and photography enthusiasts led by Jibran from Tangerine Media and Sanam from Funverks on a day trip to the out skirts of Thatta. This entailed a combo of visits to Makli and Bhambore, both of which are situated near this small city.

Makli is one of the largest necropolises in the world, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. It is approximately a two-hour drive from Karachi and is perfect for a day trip where you can go early in the morning, see the place and get back home by evening.

Hundreds of years old it looks mostly like a desert but a closer look reveals many beautiful monuments and structures weathered away by time. Photo:Urooj Hussain

I had no idea that such a famous site existed in my very own backyard. The place, although being mostly dry and barren, is very serene and peaceful. Essentially, one is hiking through what in simple terms is a very large and ancient graveyard; the open roads and clear landscape make up for a very calming experience.

I don’t know if it was the weather that day or simply just the way that place was, but the light scattered everywhere in the most beautiful way and it helped me take some really good photographs with just my camera phone.

An ancient tomb in Makli. Photo: Urooj Hussain

Look at the man in the turban sitting in front of this tomb in the picture above. He was just sitting there motionless with no expression. He looked pretty awesome to me.

Walls intricately carved with Quranic verses hundreds of years old. Photo: Urooj Hussain

The remains of a beautiful wall? near the tomb of “Mai Makli’ the female after whom the necropolis is apparently named after. Photo: Urooj Hussain

The open landscape was just breath-taking here. The winds were so strong that at times, they would not even let you walk in a straight line (or maybe it was affecting me so much because I am kind of tiny).

A word of advice, take the ‘scenic’ route and walk through the cemetery rather than driving through it. It will be a bit of a walk but it is definitely worth it. Just make sure you go during a time when it is not too hot.

Once we got through this area, our tour bus took us to see the famous Shah Jahan Mosque  in Thatta.

I took this picture while hiding behind a pillar. I thought he might get offended if he saw me taking a picture of him while praying. Photo: Urooj Hussain

Inside one of the many domes. Photo: Urooj Hussain

Our last stop was Bhambore, an ancient city now in ruins, near the bank of the Indus. Being closer to the port, it was also near to where Muhammad bin Qasim had arrived in the subcontinent. The ruins themselves are quite interesting remnants of forts and mosques.

Sadly, it is not as well preserved as it deserves to be.

Photo: Urooj Hussain

The last bit of the trip was a small traditional boat ride on the creek. We had to take off our shoes and walk through the clay-like mud to sit in the boat. It was a great experience.

Photo: Urooj Hussain

Photo: Urooj Hussain

Photo: Urooj Hussain

By the end of the trip, I was badly sun-burnt, had walked about 16,000 steps (as per my iPhone pedometer), had gotten a bad cut on my foot, and had also – accidentally – eaten a bug or two; but for all the beauty that I came across in this trip, these problems were worth it.

I saw some amazing artifacts of history and it made the experience awe-striking. Not to mention, I had some really fun people to travel with.

The dos and don’ts I learnt from this trip were:

– Take lots of pictures

– Take a mini first-aid kit (pain killers, bandages – but nothing too heavy)

– Sun-block (it is a must)

– Wear proper walking shoes

– Take an extra pair of socks

– Take sunglasses

– Take some chocolate or candy along to keep your energy levels up while walking

– Keep a small bottle of water – just enough to keep hydrated

– Keep a tube of lip balm and a tiny bottle of lotion – it can get a bit dry out there

– Take a scarf to cover your head (some places are sacred – it can look disrespectful)

– Don’t drink too much water (you will not find a good and clean bathroom in the middle of ancient ruins)

My trip to Thatta was very rewarding and I look forward to visiting more such hidden treasures in Pakistan’s culturally diverse landscape.

This post originally appeared here.

Urooj Hussain

Urooj Hussain

Media Planner by profession, and a wanderer at heart, she works to fulfill her dreams of seeing the world,meeting new people, having new experiences and writing about it in hopes to entertain, amuse and inspire. She tweets @suno_Urooj

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://thoughtsandotherthing.blogspot.fr/2015/09/vegetarianism-ritual-killings-et-al.html Supriya Arcot

    Wish to visit one day but then if wishes were horses ….Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi

    Excellent blog. Great advice. However, MUST drink water to keep yourself
    hydrated. In Bhambore there are public restrooms. Near the ticket office and
    museum. People were very nice. We were late, so the museum was closed.
    but they opened it for the two of us ! In Makli, they have bathrooms at the
    entrance offices. Maintenance buildings [?] you can ask to use them, if needed.
    Very important you wear reasonable shoes. Personally, wore Peshawari Chappals,
    one with the truck tire soles, they did the job well. A little stiff, but good and sturdy.
    Been there done that.Recommend

  • Hamdani

    You forgot to mention the pair of handguns that are also needed…Recommend

  • Parvez

    For stuff like this you have to have age on your side……my wife and I visited these places some 40 years ago. The thing we remember was having lunch at Makli in a mud hut, the chicken was FRESH because we waited well over 40 minutes for it and the chapatti’s were made over an upside down tawa where the cook kept spinning the dough in the air and making it fall exactly on the tawa, all done on a wood coal fire….brilliant meal and doable once in your lifetime.Recommend

  • Queen

    Awesome :) Have been to Makli and it twas truly amazing to see the magnificent calligraphy done in the necropolis. The visit to Shahjahan Mosque was too good. I must say the people of Thatta and Makli are extremely hospitable. Glad to see that the author had a wonderful time :)Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi

    You might need a handgun in the middle of New York. Specially in and
    around Times Square or 42nd. Street. If you are lucky, they will just beat
    you silly, and just take your wallet. On the other hand, police normally
    shoot to kill, [if they suspect you of something],..in the back, if you are
    running AWAY from them. Or the police will beat you so badly that you may
    die on the way to the police station. Should we talk about Chicago? How many ways the police can torture and kill you? Specially the Southside of Chicago?
    In Los Angeles a 16 year old punk, gang banger shot and killed an 83 year
    old woman in the parking lot of a restaurant. For $3 dollars. Because she would
    not let go of her purse. That’s all she had left in her purse, after paying for her
    meal. All of this is in the cities ! Not outside !Recommend

  • Sham

    Go to Thatta, Makli and Bhambore…only to get robbed and kidnapped.Recommend

  • Billal Akber Mangi

    Been there 6 times, never got robbed or kidnapped Alhamdulillah.
    Stop generalizing.
    How would you feel if I say “Come to Karachi…. and get robbed and Killed” ?Recommend

  • Alice In Wanderlust

    Thank you. I am glad you liked the post :)Recommend

  • Alice In Wanderlust

    Thank you Fareed :) Really glad you liked the post.
    We did a lot of walking through Makli for a couple of hours so washrooms were not that accessible. However, agreed that generally staying hydrated while travelling is very important :)Recommend

  • Alice In Wanderlust

    Really hope you get your wish soon :)Recommend

  • Alice In Wanderlust

    By the way, I am @suno_urooj. I am commenting here from my blog account ID.Recommend

  • US CENTCOM

    Makli has been added to my list of must see places now.

    Ali Khan
    Recommend

  • siesmann

    So Bhambore goes the way of Sassi-Punnu.-lorn.
    ni sassiye beqadre! tera lut giya shahr Bhambore ?Recommend

  • Sarfaraz Abbasi

    Like you are all safe in Karachi, huh… ??Recommend

  • Sarfaraz Abbasi

    Lovely stuff… Thanks for promoting rich image of history of Sindh.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz Abbasi

    I doubt it.Recommend