View of beautiful Shah Jahan Mosque

The unarguably historical town of Sindh, Thatta, just east of Karachi, is of great antiquity which has remained capital of Sindh for many centuries in the past, has now gained national prominence largely as a result of the imposing necropolis of Makli Hill, which provide a unique view of civilization in Sindh from the 14th to the 18th century.

Not to forget 16th century Shah Jahan Mosque is a marvelous addition to Thattas' unique cultural and architectural landscape.


Shah Jahan Mosque was a gift to people of Thatta by that Mughal King

Some believe Thatta is the same port city which was situated once on the Indus River during Indian campaign of Alexander the Great.

About four centuries ago, Thatta was a famous center of learning, arts and commerce and the capital city of three dynasties: Samma (1335 AD-1520 AD), Arghun (1520 AD-1555 AD) and Tarkhan Dynasty (1554 AD - 1591 AD). The city was later ruled by the Mughal emperors of Delhi from 1592 to 1739. Thatta was a prosperous and flourishing city in those days and the city was an important commercial and cultural centre. Thatta's importance started to decline when Sindh was given up to Nader Shah, the ruler of Iran (1736–1747), and after the capital was moved to Hyderabad in 1768, Thatta fell into neglect. But the three dynasties and the Mughals left their mark in the city in the form of unique architecture such as monuments of Makli and Shah Jahan Mosque, which was built during the golden age of the town.

Get in

Thatta lies on the National Highway # N-5, the longest highway in Pakistan, which travel via Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan, Sukkur, and Hyderabad and continues to Karachi after passing Thatta.

Despite being the country's most important and largest highway, part of N-5 between Hyderabad and Karachi is not used very much nowadays, since the newer M-9 Super Highway has shortened the distance between two major cities of Sindh. Non-air conditioned buses and minibuses are easily available throughout the day both from the bus stations in nearby major cities of Karachi and Hyderabad and can also be hailed from the highway. A trip may cost Rs 150 and the journey can take less than 2 hours either way. Travel distance is 100 km either from Karachi or Hyderabad.

Get around

There are dozens of the ubiquitous rickshaws in Thatta. They can be found on the street, around the main bus stop on N-5 and outside the attraction areas. Rickshaws are generally a cheap mode to travel as well the most available mode of transport in town and most preferred too. The town is not a large town so you should be able to get most places within 30 minutes at the most and Rs 200 should be enough to take you from one place in town to the other.

On the other hand, Thatta is a small town. Most of the restaurants and accommodation are situated on the main bus line on N-5 and distances can be easily covered simply by walking rather than hoping on a rickshaw unless your destination is not near. Some structures of tombs of Makli and remains of old houses are scattered inside the narrow streets of Thatta that are worth exploring on foot. Always ensure you walk on the footpath, or if one isn't available, as far to the side of the road as possible and on the right facing on-coming traffic.


A tip works

The gates of several big mausoleums such as of Isa Khan Hussain II remain closed and only visitors having written permission from Sindh's Archaeological Department are allowed inside. Only large numbers of visitors in groups usually ask for such permission when planning to visit Makli Hill, whereas for individual visitors, this is usually not done. Try your luck try getting in; otherwise, a small tip of Rs 100 to the gate keeper outside the mausoleum building always works just fine.

Tomb of Prince Sultan Ibrahim bin Mirza Muhammad Isa Tarkhan


Congested and busy Shahi Bazaar of Thatta

The Shahi Bazaar of Thatta is a mile long alleyway that houses hundreds of shops selling items including vegetables, clothes, electronics and many other items. The bazaar is the only marketplace of Thatta and can be a good place to hunt down Sindhi handicrafts and souvenirs. The bazaar is known for hand-printed fabrics, glass bangles and Sindhi embroidery work inlaid with tinny mirrors, one of the more world-famous handicrafts of Pakistan. The giant bazaar is considered the oldest and surely gives a good example of a traditional bazaars worth strolling through.


Many basic restaurants are scattered throughout the small town of Thatta, but most of them are on the National Highway N-5 which travels through town, and all serve Pakistani food though not all are hygienic. However, there are also some restaurants really worth eating at such as Mumtaz Bikik Restaurant, Darbar Restaurant and Adam Halo Restaurant. Expect to pay at least Rs 200 for a single dish wherever and whatever you eat. Al Madina Restaurant is another good option in town, also on N-5, but only open in the evening, whereas all other restaurants usually open early in the morning and remain open until late night.

On N-5, you'll see plenty of stalls and shops selling "Rabri" in clay pots. Rabri is a sweet, condensed milk-based dish and is definitely worth trying when you're in town. Rabri of Thatta have their own taste. A normal cup for one person may cost Rs. 100.


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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 11, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.