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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shah Jahan

¤ Shah Jahan-The Favorite Grandson of Emperor Akbar


The scene of history shifts to Delhi again with Shah Jahan (of the
Taj Mahal fame), the son of Jahangir ascending the throne. Shah Jahan
was the grand old emperor Akbar’s favorite grandson. In fact, at
one time there was a genuine fear that the sovereign would name him,
instead of his son, as the successor. This was largely because Akbar
regarded Jahangir as a bit of a bounder who whiled away his time with
wine and women from a startlingly young age. One of the most famous
movies in Indian cinematic history is Mughal-e-Azam (a must-see)
which, if you take away the romantic trimmings, is all about Akbar
saving Jahangir from his romantic excesses.





¤ Shah Jahan's Strain Relations With His Father Jahangir




Jahangir got a taste of his own medicine when he was king and his son
Shah Jahan (then Prince Khurram) revolted against him. Jahangir had to
eventually resort to the extreme measure of kidnapping his own
grandchildren away to Kashmir with him to shut his son up. What drove
Shah Jahan further away from his father was the intense court intrigue
with the calculating Nur Jahan at the hub. Jahangir, while being every
inch an autocrat, was completely dependent on his extremely capable
and shrewd wife, Nur Jahan. The queen had a daughter from a previous
marriage, and she wanted to see her daughter’s husband safely to
the throne. Nur Jahan, who could not have expected to win any
popularity contests in Agra, went alone in this choice. A major chunk
of the nobility was with Shah Jahan. However it was she who had, as
they say, the king’s ear. So despite the fact that Jahangir
agreed to forgive and forget Shah Jahan’s misadventures in 1625,
the tension could not be defused entirely.





¤ Shah Jhan Chosen As A Successor of The Throne



When Jahangir died in 1627 in Lahore, the Queen tried all the tricks
in the book to put her candidate on the throne. But it was all in
vain. Shah Jahan ascended the throne on popular demand, Nur Jahan
retired from public life and her son-in-law was imprisoned.






¤ The Golden Period of The Mughal Dynasty.



The reign of Shah Jahan has been widely acclaimed as the golden
period of the Mughal dynasty. There are many reasons for this. Thanks
to the firm base left by his grandfather and father, Shah Jahan’s
reign was relatively peaceful and hence prosperous. Except for a
drought in 1630, in the areas of Deccan, Gujarat and Khandesh, the
kingdom was secure and free from poverty. The coffers of the state
were brimming with the right stuff. So it’s no wonder that Shah
Jahan was the greatest and most assiduous builder of the Mughal
dynasty.





¤ Shah Jhan- Undoubtedly A Great King




In 1639, he decided to shift his capital to Delhi and construct a new
city on the banks of the Yamuna, near Ferozabad. It was to be called
Shahjahanabad. Work on the fort and city commenced in 1639 and it took
10 years to build the Red Fort and palace. The spectacular peacock
throne (the one that Nadir Shah took away) was transferred from Agra
to the Red Fort, the new seat of the Mughal rulers, on April 8, 1648.



Jahangir had built a great reputation for himself as a dispenser of
justice and Shah Jahan carried forward the good work and took a
personal interest in the judiciary. He demanded a high standard of law
and order and even petty thieves were not spared. The age was pretty
dynamic in the sense that there was intense interaction with foreign
countries and travellers poured into India from Persia, France, Italy,
Portugal and England. Which is very interesting for the scholar, for
one gets accounts of people from myriad nationalities during the Shah
Jahan’s reign.



Shah Jahan was undoubtedly a great king. He had shown evidence of
being a great general even under his father’s reign. Military
genius apart, his capacity for hard work is also legendary. A good
administrator, he saw to it that the government machinery moved on
oiled wheels. Within a year of his becoming king, the revenue of the
state had shot up meteorically.






¤ The Breathtaking Constructions of Taj Mahal



Shah Jahan was an aesthete and loved building. His greatest
achievements of course were the breathtaking Taj Mahal, which he built
in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, and the magnificent city of
Shahjahanabad, which remained the capital of India till well into the
19th century.



There was a downside, of course. He was a bigoted Muslim and a
confirmed nepotist. He provided for the imperial princes before anyone
else in the matter of administrative and judicial postings regardless
of age, capability and talent. He also started the practise of
bestowing each prince with an important office. For instance, Dara
Shikoh was made the governor of Punjab and Multan while Aurangzeb was
appointed governor of all the four provinces of the Deccan. This might
have just been a clever way to keep them occupied but that was not how
the nobility saw it. The nobles viewed the practice as an obstacle in
the path of their prosperity and promotions.






¤ Emperor's Devin Love For His Wife Mumtaz Mahal



It is said that Shah Jahan died in spirit the day his Queen Mumtaz
died. Stories are told of how he shut himself up in a room after her
death and when he came out next morning his hair had turned white. A
nice romantic tale, but the truth is that for all his love, Shah Jahan
did not hesitate to expose Mumtaz to the rigours of travel in all
states of health so that she died at the young age of 39 after giving
birth to their fourteenth child. Also he was quick to seek consolation
elsewhere and married several other women after Mumtaz died. However
the love for Mumtaz must have been enduring, for when he was old and
dying he began missing his queen all over again. By that time however,
the power equation had changed once again.





¤ The Peacock Throne




The fantastic Peacock Throne of the Mughals is now only a blurred
memory in the collective imagination of Indians. It is now only
alluded to illustrate the splendour and riches of India and all our
lost glory. Painstakingly created by skilled craftsmen and artisans
between 1628 and 1635, it was carried away to Persia by the marauding
Nadir Shah in 1739. There are however still some miniature paintings
that depict Akbar and Jahangir sitting proud on it. Shaped as a golden
bedstead with golden legs and an enamelled canopy supported by 12
pillars, it looks breathtakingly fabulous. Each of the 12 emerald
pillars bore two peacocks encrusted with gems and a tree with
diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls nestled between each pair of
birds. Just look at the picture - can you guess how much it cost?

A whopping 10 million rupees, equivalent then to a million and
quarter pound sterling.

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Swat fighting as deadly as Iraqi insurgency


Map of Swat. Click map to view.



More than two months after the Pakistani military launched an operation to clear the district of Swat in the Northwest Frontier Province, pockets of Taliban forces and safe havens remain. The Pakistani military and police have taken casualties comparable to the combined US and Iraqi forces have fighting the insurgency in Iraq, according to an Interior Ministry report obtained by the Daily Times.

Military and police casualties in Swat comparable to Iraq over past year

The most telling information from the Interior Ministry's status report on Swat is the casualty data. The Pakistani security forces operating in the small district lost 195 soldiers, policemen, and Frontier Constabulary paramilitaries over the past year.

The Pakistani military has been keen to report the killing or capturing of Taliban forces in Swat, but has withheld data on military and police casualties. While hundreds of Taliban were reported killed or captured, only a fraction of the security forces casualties were reported.

The Taliban insurgency in Swat is as dangerous as the Iraqi insurgency at this point in time. The Iraqi security forces and the US military lost 2,840 soldiers and police in Iraq from between January 2007 through 2008, compared to 195 in Swat. Taking into account Swat's size and population compared with Iraq - 684 square miles and a population of 1.5 million compared to Iraq's 169,234 square miles and nearly 27 million - the insurgency in Swat extremely dangerous. Adjusting for population, the rate of casualties is higher in Swat than in Iraq.

These numbers do not include data from the South Waziristan and Orakzai tribal agencies, where Pakistani troops are currently fighting the Taliban in active, open battles, as well as South Waziristan, Tank, Bannu, Bajuar, where numerous attacks occur on a daily basis. Factoring the South Waziristan and Orakzai numbers, as well as the attacks against police, paramilitaries, and soldiers throughout Pakistan, and the Taliban insurgency is very likely the hottest conflict in the Long War.

Swat's safe havens

The Taliban still maintain four "major" safe havens and 14 "small hideouts," in Swat, the Interior Ministry report stated. "The majority of militants were hiding in Kabal, Khawanza Khola, Matta, and Minogra," the Daily Times reported. The Taliban are also sheltering in "14 valley suburbs" in Totano Bandi, Bagh Dehrai, Manja, Salanda, Sarkhorai, Manosar, Guli Bagh, Shakardara, Sambat, Namal Gat, Shawar, Pewchar, Chupriyal, and Manglawar.

While the military classified Kabal, Khawanza Khola, and Matta as cleared on Dec. 3, 2007, these areas are stilled considered "remaining militant hideouts." The Pakistani military claimed Swat would be cleared and its resorts would be reopened by Dec. 15, 2007.

The neighboring district of Shangla, which was overrun by the Taliban on Nov. 14, 2007, was "secured and reoccupied" on Nov. 29, according to the report.
Swat is only part of the problem




Map of the northern regions of the NWFP, including Swat.



The Pakistani government and military hope to regain control of Swat by continuing military operations, establishing local security forces, providing services, and strengthening the justice system, according to the Interior Ministry report. But while Pakistani security forces focused on Swat during the past two months, adjacent districts and tribal agencies in the North remain under the sway of the Taliban. The Taliban remain strong in the districts of Dir, Chitral, Kohistan, Malakand, and Buner. In order for the Pakistani Army to move forces through Malakand, it had to impose a curfew in the district.



The Bajaur tribal agency remains a stronghold of Faqir Mohammed, the 28-year-old radical leader of the local al Qaeda-linked and outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM - the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law). Faqir has close connections to al Qaeda's Ayman al Zawahiri. Bajaur is an al Qaeda command and control node for operations across the border in eastern Afghanistan. The TNSM is also referred to as "the Pakistani Taliban." This banned terror group sent over 10,000 of its fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces in 2001 and 2002 before the fall of the Taliban.



The Pakistani military has failed to capture the leader of the Swat insurgency. Swat TNSM leader Maulana Fazlullah has so far eluded the Pakistani security forces and routinely broadcasts on his illegal FM radio channel to incite violence. While many of Fazlullah's aides have been captured, the military has begun to release some of his lieutenants. Eight of Fazlullah's deputies were freed on bail on Feb. 2.



The release of Fazlullah's aides indicates the government may be looking for a political settlement. At the onset of the Swat offensive, the Pakistani government released Sufi Mohammed, the ideological leader of the TNSM in the Northwest Frontier Province, and promised it would allow for the imposition of sharia law. Sufi's release was endorsed by General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director General of military operations in the region. "Shuja calls [Sufi's release] part of the 'political effort' needed to accompany the military campaign," Time reported in November 2007. "Brute use of force alone would only take us backwards," said Shuja. The release of Sufi and the declaration of sharia were two of Fazlullah's demands to end attacks against the government.



Pakistani government reacting to the Taliban in the Northwest Frontier Province



The military is currently fighting on three active fronts in the Northwest Frontier Province: South Waziristan in the South, Orakzai in the Center, and Swat in the North. The fighting in Swat, South Waziristan and Orakzai has been initiated by the Taliban after they attacked military and government facilities and took open control of territory. The Taliban have been reported to have plans to launch an offensive against Peshawar in the spring of 2008.



Without a comprehensive plan to address the rise of the Taliban and extremism in the Northwest Frontier Province, the recent military gains in Swat may be short lived. As repeated peace agreements in North and South Waziristan, Swat, Bajaur, and Mohmand demonstrate, cutting deals with the Taliban only gives them the time and space to consolidate their control and expand outward.





Correction: This article initially stated the Pakistani security forces encountered 195 casualties in January 2008. The numbers were actually from January 2007 through January 2008. The number of security forces killed in Swat is still comparable to the number of US and Iraqi forces killed in the insurgency when adjusting for population.

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Aurangzeb Alamgir




¤ The Death of Shah Jhan

Now the great emperor was in the custody of his son Alamgir Aurangzeb. At the end of his life, Shah Jahan found himself right in the middle of one of the messiest battles for succession in Indian history and certainly the worst in Mughal history. It all began on September 1657 when Shah Jahan fell ill. The prognosis was not very optimistic and things deteriorated at such speed that the emperor felt compelled to make his will and testament. The air was rife with rumours; everyone had a different version about the emperor’s health. and then came the day when they started whispering that Shah Jahan was dead. All the four claimants to Shah Jahan’s throne were the children of the same mother – although one would never have guessed it from their temperaments and their determination to make it to the throne.

¤ The Four Competitor To The Throne

In 1657, Dara Shikoh was 43, Shah Shuja 41, Aurangzeb 39 and Murad 33. All of them were governors of various provinces: Dara was the governor of Punjab, Murad of Gujarat, Aurangzeb of the Deccan and Shah Shuja of Bengal. Two of them emerged as clear frontrunners in the race: Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb.


¤ Dara, The Eldest Son

Dara, the eldest and most famous of them all, was a celebrated and popular scholar. Manucci tells us that he was handsome man of ‘…dignified manners… joyous and polite in conversation, ready and gracious speech of most extraordinary liberty.’ Dara’s spiritual quest led him to both Sufis and Vedantists. He had the Upanishads translated into Persian and took active part in religious debate – a fact that made orthodox Muslim clerics denounce him as a heretic. The major problem with Dara was that he was of uncertain disposition. His temper was violent and his general manner with people was haughty and supercilious. Dara’s track record in battle however did not match up with his intellectual prowess. He wasn’t much of a statesman either. The only sound he liked to hear was ‘Yes’. But what mattered, however, was that Dara was his father’s favorite.


¤ Aurangzeb-The Ablest of Shah Jahan;s Sons

Aurangzeb was without doubt the ablest of Shah Jahan’s sons. His credentials both in battle and administration were impeccable. Time and again he had demonstrated that he could keep a cool head under crisis. In matters of planning he believed in keeping secrets from even his best friends. He was also an orthodox Muslim - of the oldest school possible - which made him a hot favorite with the clergy. However like most over-competent supermen, Aurangzeb seemed to suffer from a lack of sense of humour and took himself entirely too seriously. According to one contemporary observer, his life was, ‘…austere and laborious and he never seems to have indulged in a holiday.’

¤ Shah Shuja and Murad Not Serious Contenders

The other brothers, Shah Shuja and Murad, were never serious contenders to the throne. Shah Shuja has been likened to Dara Shikoh. Minus the haughtiness and plus the single-mindedness of purpose. Unfortunately, that single-mindedness often manifested itself in the pursuit of wine and women. Shuja further weakened his case by converting to Shiaism. Murad, though a fearless and doughty warrior, was far from intelligent.



¤ Aurangzeb's Move Towards The Throne

As stated earlier, the actual events that unfolded around Shah Jahan’s illness were confused. Aiding and abetting the confusion with every word and gesture was the favorite son Dara Shikoh, who had his own axe to grind. The news, as Aurangzeb got it, was that the old emperor was dead and that Dara was acting with great speed to ensure that he ascended the throne. Aurangzeb moved with his customary caution and secrecy towards the capital. He, along with Murad, were met in battle twice by the Mughal armies, acting on Dara Shikoh’s behalf. He beat them each time while moving on relentlessly towards Agra where Shah Jahan was convalescing.

When Shah Jahan heard of Aurangzeb’s advance, he expressed a wish to meet Aurangzeb and talk to him. It was the emperor’s belief that upon seeing him alive, his son would turn back. Clearly the old king had been ailing only in body and not in mind, for certainly the appearance of Shah Jahan himself would have laid to rest the whole issue of succession. Even the most ardent of Aurangzeb’s supporters would have had second thoughts about openly defying the great Mughal’s authority.

However Dara Shikoh did not share his father’s belief. He was not so sure that Aurangzeb would meekly go back once the king had reassured him. In panic he let on that he was the heir apparent. Within a year Aurangzeb had all his brothers out of the way, his father permanently in custody at the Agra Fort (Shah Jahan hung on for eight years before dying in 1666) and was firmly entrenched on the Mughal throne.


¤ Scholars Write About Aurangzeb

If Shah Jahan has been over-romanticized by scholars, his son and successor Aurangzeb has been unduly denigrated. Aurangzeb, it seems, could do nothing right. Later writers were to contrast his bigotry with Akbar’s tolerance, his failure against the Marathas with Akbar’s success against the Rajputs - in fact he has been set up as the polar opposite of everything that earned one the Akbarian medal of genius. One writer has said about him, ‘His life would have been a blameless one, if he had no father to depose, no brothers to murder and no Hindu subjects to oppress.’


¤ Aurangzeb-A Ruler of Single Largest State In India

This picture of him has left such an impact on popular imagination that even today he is regarded as the bad guy, the evil king of the Mughal regime who slayed all Hindus and Sikhs. Hardly anyone remembers that he governed India for nearly as long as Akbar did (over 48 years) and that he left the empire larger than he found it. In fact Aurangzeb ruled the single largest state ever in Indian history, with the exception of British India.


¤ An Efficent Ruler of Statecraft

Aurangzeb’s rise to power has been criticized as being ruthless. However it was no more so than that of others of his family. His brothers wouldn’t have spared him if he had spared them. He succeeded not because he was crueler but because he was more efficient and more skilled in the game of statecraft and dissimulation.

Once established he showed himself a firm and capable administrator who retained his grip on power till his death at the age of 88. True, he lacked the magnetism of his father and great-grandfather, but he commanded an awe of his own. In sharp contrast to the rest of the great Mughals, Aurangzeb was simple and even austere in private life. He was an orthodox Sunni Muslim who thought himself a model Muslim ruler.


¤ Two Major Era's of His Rule

Aurangzeb’s reign can be divided into two almost equal portions. The first 23 years were largely a continuation of Shah Jahan’s administration with an added footnote of austerity. Marathas, Jats, tribesmen in the far northwest were all kept firmly in check. The emperor sat in pomp in Delhi or progressed in state to Kashmir for the summer. From 1681 he virtually transferred his capital to the Deccan where he spent the rest of his life in camp, superintending the overthrow of the two remaining Deccan kingdoms in 1686-7 and trying fruitlessly to crush the Maratha rebellion. The assured administrator of the first period became the embattled, embittered old man of the second. Along with the change of occupation came a dramatic metamorphosis of character. The scheming and subtle politician became an ascetic, spending long hours in prayer, fasting and copying the Quran, and pouring out his soul in tortured letters. Yet he remained very much the grand Mughal and never lost his grip on power. It was said that his eldest surviving son in Kabul never received a letter from his father without trembling. The Mughal ogre of popular historians was in fact both an able statesman and a subtle and highly complex character.


It was in the second or the Deccan phase of his career that Aurangzeb began to drift towards complete intolerance of Hindus. Earlier his devotion to Islam had very rarely taken the form of religious bigotry. He had done things like sending and receiving emissaries from far flung Muslim countries and dignitaries and prohibiting the use of the kalima (sacred verse) on coins (so that non-Muslims may not touch it). Aurangzeb discontinued the practise of jharokha darshan (lit. window view; the emperor used to present himself at a window from where he would listen to his subjects who could address their grievances directly to him) which Akbar had started because he thought that it promoted human worship. But so far there was nothing that actively harmed the Hindus.


¤ Aurangzeb Developed A Complete Intolerance To Hindus.

The Deccan, however, took its toll on him and he seemed to have permanently lost his temper there. Aurangzeb actively started adopting measures to oppress Hindus. It was now that he began having Hindu temples destroyed. This was a very different king from the one who had ordered in February 1659: ‘It has been decided according to our cannon law that long standing temples should not be demolished… our Royal Command is that you should direct that in future no person shall in unlawful ways interfere with or disturb the Brahmins and other Hindu residents in those places.’


¤ Hindu's Started Concerting Themselves Into Muslims

Sometimes the fanaticism took absurd forms. For instance, a diktat was issued that no Hindu, except Rajputs and Marathas, could ride an Iraqi or Turani horse. However in the end it was re-imposition of the infamous jaziya (tax on infidels) that hurt the Hindu and Sikh subjects of Aurangzeb the most. The idea was to hurt the so-called infidels enough to make them convert to Islam. Those who did convert were welcomed to the Mughal fold and rewarded with high offices. In fact a sizeable chunk of Hindus in the government converted. They did so not only because their jobs were in danger (Aurangzeb, to break the Hindu monopoly over the revenue and other departments, banned hiring of Hindus), but also to escape various taxes levied on non-Muslims, especially the jaziya. In the latter half of Aurangzeb’s reign there were few Hindus in high offices.


¤ Aurangzeb Developed Enemies For Himself.

In his misguided zeal to promote Islam, Aurangzeb made many fatal blunders and needless enemies. He alienated the Rajputs - whose valuable and trusted loyalty had been won so hard by his predecessors - to such an extent that they revolted against him. Eventually he managed to make peace with them but he could never be easy in his mind about Rajputana again, a fact that hampered his Deccan conquest severely. Next he made bitter enemies with the Sikhs and the Marathas. Things came to such a head that Guru Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Guru of the Sikhs, was first tortured and then executed by Aurangzeb for not accepting Islam; a martyrdom which is mourned to this day by the Sikh community. The 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Govind Singh, then raised an open banner of revolt against Aurangzeb.


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Bahadur Shah Zafar





¤ Bahadur Shah Reign lasted For A Very Small Tenure

Aurangzeb’s son Bahadur Shah, who is commonly neglected because his reign lasted just five years, completes the gallery of the great Mughals. He was an old man of 63 when he came to power but his achievements in those five years would have done credit to most men in their prime. He made settlements with the implacable Marathas, tranquilized the Rajputs, decisively defeated the Sikhs in the Punjab, and took their last Guru into his service. He was travelling throughout his reign and only came to rest in Lahore in the last few months of his life.

¤ The Decline of Mughal Dynasty

From there on, the Mughal dynasty began to crumble at an amazing speed. Many historians blame Aurangzeb and his destructive policies for eroding the common man’s faith in the dynasty. However this is by far an overstatement. Whatever the policies of Aurangzeb, he was very much the emperor till his dying day in 1707. Though his policies did lead to resentment; the blame for the decline of the Mughals must definitely be shared.

If one agrees with the theory that after every golden period a decline must inevitably follow, then the disintegration of the Mughal Empire becomes easy to explain. The golden period of the Mughals is said to be the reign of Shah Jahan. By the end of his reign, the signs of rot setting in were clear for all to see. Aurangzeb is best remembered as a zealot who broke temples, but a closer look reveals that he was no different from his father, Shah Jahan, a bigot who followed an active anti-Hindu policy. However we look at the Taj Mahal and forgive Shah Jahan everything. Shah Jahan, who had the most peaceful reign of all, bought trouble for himself by needlessly starting an expensive Balkh campaign to win back Samarkand. and if he had been firmer with Dara Shikoh, the much-hyped battle of succession would have ended right there. But Dara was his weakness and Shah Jahan let him rule the roost leading to disastrous consequences. So the first part of the blame falls squarely in Shah Jahan’s shoulders.

The golden rays which seemed to be fading at the end of Shah Jahan’s rule were brightened to a large extent by Aurangzeb in his initial years. But the Deccan wringed Aurangzeb the man, the king, the father and the believer of all softer emotions and decorum. He simply lost his sense of balance. He alienated a sizeable portion of his subjects, allies and employees and made unnecessary enemies which cost his successors dearly. During his lifetime, he tried to put down rebellions all over his empire (the Marathas, the Sikhs, the Satnamis and the Rajputs) with one hand while trying to take Deccan by the other. However it was like trying to put out wild fire. Ultimately it was these alternative power blocks that sped up the fall of the Mughals. Not to mention the foreign powers who were already among those present: the British stretching their legs in Calcutta, the Portuguese in Goa and the French testing waters in the South.

of course it did not help matters that the successors of the great Mughals were weak and unworthy of their forefathers. But that was bound to happen some or the other time wasn’t it? So, from the late-18th century the field was wide open for any new power that wanted to try to set up shop in India.


¤ British Take Over The Mughal Reign

A confused state of affairs reigned supreme till the British finally took control. It is hardly surprising that the more insular Brits thought it was the White Man’s burden to set the house in order for the natives who seemed to be their own worst enemies. Clearly it was the twilight zone, when dynasties just linger on for want of something or someone better. But there was yet time, and many invasions, before the British emerged as a power to reckon with in Delhi.

The first of these was led by the famous Persian king Nadir Shah in 1739. At this time the court in Delhi was busy fighting the Marathas and one of their best generals, Nizam-ul-Mulk, was in war against them. Nizam met Nadir when the latter arrived near Delhi and succeeded in changing his mind about sacking Delhi by offering him a booty of 50,00,000 rupees. However here again court politics had the upper hand - one of Nizam’s rival generals convinced Nadir he was settling for too little and that the fabulous riches of Delhi were to be seen to be believed. Naturally Nadir marched over to Delhi in time to have a khutba read in his name.

Unfortunately, around this time a rumour began doing the rounds that Nadir was dead, which was not only celebrated by the inhabitants of Delhi, but also made them bold enough to actually attack a few Persian soldiers. The result? On March 11, 1739, on an order from Nadir Shah his soldiers plundered Delhi and massacred its citizens. The areas of Chandni Chowk, the fruit market, the Dariba bazaar and the buildings around Jama Masjid were burnt to cinders. Each and every inhabitant of the area was killed to make an example. The people of Delhi will still point at the Khooni Darwaza (Bloody Gate) in the old city and tell you about the massacre that took place as if it were just yesterday. The royal treasury was sacked and its contents seized. When Nadir Shah left Delhi after 57 days, he also took along the fabulous Peacock Throne of the Mughals and the Koh-i-noor with him. Along with them went the last vestiges of Mughal pride and splendour.

Moved to much sorrow and tears, Mir Taqi Mir, a famous contemporary Urdu poet wrote about what was left of Delhi:

Once through this ruined city did I pass
I espied a lonely bird on a bough and asked
‘What knowest thou of this wilderness?’
It replied: I can sum it up in two words:
‘Alas, Alas!’


¤ Delhi Rocked by the Afghans

The next invasion that rocked Delhi was led by the Afghans, with Ahmad Shah Abdali, an ex-general of Nadir Shah, as their commander. Abdali led as many as seven invasions into India between 1748-1767. After the drubbing that Delhi got by Nadir Shah the Mughals seemed to have just given up. Abdali was all over the place ransacking Lahore, Punjab and so on, but it seemed like the Delhi court couldn’t care less. It was left to the Marathas to face the Abdali challenge but they lost. In January 1757, Abdali captured Delhi. After pillaging Delhi the Afghans marched on to overrun most of Northern India. It is said that following the ransacking of the cities of Mathura, Brindaban and Gokul, for ‘seven days the waters of the Jamuna flowed of a blood-red colour.’

An outbreak of Cholera in the army forced Adbali to withdraw; but not before he had made the Delhi court cough up around 1,20,000,000 rupees (that the Delhi court could still raise such a phenomenal amount post-Nadir Shah speaks for the unbelievable riches that the Mughals had accumulated). Apart from the money, Abdali also demanded and got Kashmir, Lahore, Sirhind and Multan. It was only on his sixth invasion of India that the Sikhs challenged him in 1764. Later in 1767, they even managed to inflict defeat on him and took Lahore and Central Punjab. However the areas from Peshawar up remained with Abdali. The Urdu poet Mir taqi Mir was witness to the unfortunate and barbaric invasions of Abdali too. He laments:

There once was fair city,
Among cities of the world the first in fame;
It hath been ruined and laid desolate,
To that city I belong, Delhi is its name.


¤ British Got Exhausted India

The India that the British took over was an India exhausted with war and battle; an India badly in need of, and indeed glad of, someone who could take charge. She had gone a round circle in the cycle of history. It was great leap too – from the cultured, sophisticated and erudite civilization under the Mughals to the power hungry and superstitious dark ages of the late 18th and 19th century. The status of women in society fell like never before: Sati, huge weddings which were a drain on the bride’s family, oppression in the form of a rigid caste system (even with the Muslims) and so on which were never a part of Indian ‘culture’ became so now.

No, we were not putting on out best faces for the firangis (colloquial; foreigners).

Most of the action of the British rise to power in India happened offstage, as it were, as far as Delhi was concerned. Delhi comes into the picture as late as in 1911 when the famed Delhi Durbar was held and the shift of the capital to Delhi was announced. This was when Sir Edward Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker were roped in as architects of the famed New Delhi, also called Lutyen’s Delhi, the ninth city of Delhi.


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Raziya Sultan






¤ The First Women Who Ruled India

Altamash was the first king to appoint a woman as his official successor. However, the Turk nobility was not going to have any of this liberal stuff and after Altamash’s death his eldest son Rukn-ud-din Feroze Shah was raised to the throne. Soon it became apparent why Altamash had chosen his daughter above his many sons. Rukn-ud-din left all the hard work of governing to his scheming mother Shah Turkaan and whiled away his time with nautch girls. When not smoking opium, he could be found riding an elephant on the streets of Delhi, scattering gold coins to all and sundry. Unfortunately for him Shah Turkaan used her position to avenge all real and supposed insults handed to her in the days when she was a handmaid (before Altamash married her). Very soon rebellion occurred from all sides and the upshot of it all was that Shah Turkaan and Rukn-ud-din were put to death. He had lasted precisely six months and seven days.
Now the nobility turned to Sultana Raziya, the successor Altamash had selected. Raziya Sultan is a much-romanticized figure in Indian history. As late as three centuries later, the legal aspect of her accession was still a matter of heated theological debate. of course, what makes her more interesting was that she had an affair with her Assyrian slave, Yakut.


¤ Raziya Proved To Be A Capable Ruler

By all accounts Raziya vindicated her father’s faith in her. She was a very shrewd ruler, and for all her feminine beauty an autocrat who kept the nobility in their place. The army and the people of Delhi were solidly behind the queen. She needed all the support she could get for many of her most powerful governors were in revolt against her. It was in tackling them that Raziya gave evidence of her immense sagacity. She played such a skilful game of political intrigue that very soon the rebels were fighting each other. On the military front, she defeated one of their principal leaders Wazir Muhammad Junaidi so convincingly that he retired from active politics. Soon she was successful in winning over most of the remaining nobles to her side.


¤ Sultana's Unacceptable Love

In hindsight it seems that nothing could have stopped Raziya from becoming one of the most accomplished rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. Except love. What undid her was her relationship with Yakut. Though it happened behind many veils and doors, their relationship was no secret in the Delhi court. The thought of a woman of pure Turkish descent consorting with an Assyrian slave must have been poison for the insular Turkish Maliks.

The governor of Lahore was the first to react but Raziya sharply put him in his place. Hot on his heels came a more serious threat in the shape of Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda, who refused to accept Raziya’s suzerainty. The story goes that Altunia and Raziya were childhood friends. As they grew up together, he fell in love with Raziya and the rebellion was simply a way of getting back at Raziya for preferring a slave.


¤ The Love Tragedy

Tragedy followed swiftly. Yaqut was murdered and Altunia imprisoned Raziya. To save her own head, Raziya sensibly decided to marry him. While all of this was happening, Raziya’s brother Bahram had been named Sultan in Delhi. Raziya marched with her husband towards Delhi but to no avail. On October 13, 1240, she was defeated by Bahram and the unfortunate couple was put to death the very next day.

Raziya’s reign was followed by Bahram Shah (1240-42), Ala-ud-din Masud Shah (1242-1246) and Nasir-ud-din Mahmud (1246-66). However skipping these virtual unknowns let’s come to the next Sultan who mattered in the scheme of things.

Accounts by court flatterers would have us believe that Nasir-ud-din Mahmud was a very pious, simple and modest man. Don’t believe a word of this – just a cover up for his vacillating, indecisive and unassertive ways. Court politics and intrigue continued unabated. Clearly the need of the hour was a king of blood and iron. By a happy coincidence Delhi got one rather quickly.


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Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur




¤ Babur's Early Days

Babur, who was to lay the foundation of the most enduring and enriching dynasty of Indian history, was born of a family that had the great fighting blood of Timur from one side and Chingez Khan from the other. He was a stripling of 12 when his father Sultan Umar Shaikh Mirza died, leaving the kingdom of Farghana (of Samarkand fame) for him to govern. As is with most young rulers, his uncles and cousins ganged up and usurped the throne.


¤ Babur Grew As A Great Military Leader

But Babur was showing all the signs of growing up into a great military leader. It took him five years to strike back and take his kingdom. However this was not the end, but just the start of a long battle. Between the period of 1497 to 1502 after being in and out of Samarkand several times, Babur was finally forced to leave home and set up kingdom elsewhere. This had important bearings on not only Babur’s character, but filtered down into the subconscious of the entire Mughal dynasty. Right down to Shah Jahan, the Mughals never gave up the idea of a Central Asian empire.
Babur now set out for Kabul to start afresh. He was busy building a kingdom for himself when the Indian princes asked him to help them get rid of Ibrahim Lodi. Had the Rajputs and Dilawar Khan known him slightly better, they would have had second thoughts about inviting him to India. It was only when he was amongst them in Delhi and showed no signs of leaving that they woke up to their gross miscalculation.


¤ Mughal's Arrival In India

In 1526, Babur had written in his Tuzuk-i-Baburi, ‘From the time I conquered the land of Kabul till now, I had always been bent on subduing Hindustan.’ That very year he crossed over the Indus to reach Panipat, where he defeated Ibrahim Lodi in one of the most significant battles of Indian history. It was curtains now for the Delhi Sultanate. The Mughals had arrived.

In retrospect, the Delhi Sultanate was very much just that – a monarchy which ruled Delhi and its environs. Initially, the Sultans of the Slave dynasty certainly toyed with the idea of an empire which embraced all India. The biggest hurdle in this proved to be that old trouble spot – the Deccan. Ultimately, it was the Sultanate’s failure to hold the Deccan that led to their reluctantly abandoning the idea of the Great Indian Empire. But the idea was never entirely given up. It was eventually revived and given concrete shape when the Mughals came to India in the 16th century.


¤ The First Mughal's Tenure - Brief and Battle-Scarred.

Rana Sanga, who was stung by Babur’s refusal to budge from Delhi, took him to battleground in 1527 in an attempt to take over Delhi himself. In fact Rana Sanga’s first attack was so successful that he was able to repel Babur’s advance guard. Here again that curious Rajput psychology of regarding a battle won as the end of war came into play. While Babur was making an emotional appeal to his soldiers to go to battle again, Rana Sanga was already celebrating victory.


¤ Babur Firm His Feet On Indian Soil

This was one of Babur’s finest moments and he displayed his formidable ability as a leader. In a passionate appeal to his soldiers, which involved his swearing off wine for the rest of his life, he said, ‘With fame, even if I die, I am contented; Let fame be mine, since my body is death’s.’ Rana Sanga was defeated.

Many more battles followed in Chanderi, Ghagra, Kanwah and so on. By the end of it all, Babur had managed to firmly establish the Mughals in India. He died in controversial circumstances - some say he was poisoned. There is a more romantic version, however. Apparently, his son and successor Humayun had taken ill. Babur appealed to God to spare the son and take his life instead.

Miracle or poison, that was precisely what happened. Babur was undoubtedly a great man – a brave fighter, poet, scholar and visionary. No one who has read his remarkable autobiography and understood how he carved out an empire out of nothing can doubt his sagacity and his military shrewdness.


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Humayun




Emperor Humayun


Unfortunately, his sons were not half the men that Babur had been. His successor Humayun was the most capable of them, and that’s not saying much. Humayun inherited his father’s poetic and scholarly side, but was unfortunately no fighter. Besides he was an opium addict to boot. The problem was accentuated by the fact that he hadn’t come to a safe and secure empire – there were many battles to be fought. His own brothers were up in arms against him, the empire needed consolidation and an administrative system had to be set up. In face of such odds, Humayun seemed to just give up.
¤ Humayun- A Charming Person But No Warrior

To be fair to the poor fellow, he was not king material at all. Contemporary accounts describe him as an affable, charming person – excellent at making parties go, a great friend and a good companion. But definitely not a warrior. Left to himself Humayun preferred to dream away his time in an opium haze, ‘while his enemies thundered at the gates’. Blood and war was distasteful to his rather erudite nature.

When the call came though he did lead his army to a few successful battles. However his luck couldn’t last long. In the end he was defeated and chased out of India by Sher Shah Suri. Humayun gave up opium and spent the rest of his days trying to get his kingdom back. Ultimately he went for help to the Shah of Persia and eventually managed to work his way back to Delhi, upon Sher Shah Suri’s death. Although he regained his kingdom with great effort and luck (which is probably why he was named Humayun, ‘the fortunate’), he was not destined to rule it for long. In January 1556, he met his tragic end by slipping from the stairway of Din Panah as he was coming down the library. Dinpanah, the city he started building was finished by and Sher Shah Suri.

Humayun’s troubled life seemed to in the end justify a couplet which he often quoted:

"Oh Lord, of thine infinite goodness make me a part;
Make me a partner of the knowledge of thy attributes;
I am broken-hearted from cares and sorrows of life;
O call to thee thy poor madman and lover;
Grant me my release."


¤ Sher Shah Suri-The Interim Sultan

Sher Shah Suri, the interim sultan between the reigns of Humayun and Akbar, was altogether a much better king and administrator than Humayun. The shrewd Babur had once remarked about Sher Shah: ‘…keep an eye on Sher Khan. He is a clever man and the marks of royalty are visible on his forehead…’ Without a doubt, Babur must have wished for a son like him to succeed him. In his short reign, Sher Shah Suri showed remarkable talents as an administrator, diplomat, builder and reformer. A gentleman too, it seems. When Sher Shah defeated Humayun in the Battle of Chausa, the Mughal did not have time to save his queens and was himself saved by a water carrier. Sher Khan ensured that the royal ladies were treated with respect and returned to Humayun. He was an excellent statesman; the revenue reforms, administrative system and social welfare schemes he devised and carried out actually worked well for many years to come.


¤ Formation of The Seventh City of Delhi

Humayun and Sher Shah Suri, the defeater and the defeated, both built the seventh city of Delhi. Humayun started it as Dinpanah or Purana Qila and Sher Shah Suri finished it as Delhi Sher Shahi.

Probably the romantic in Humayun made him select the ancient city of Indraprastha as the site for his new capital. Work began on the fort and the new city in 1533. By 1538 the major construction was over. During this time, Humayun also built a rest house for travellers called Nili Chattri, which is now next to the Nigambodh Ghat cremation grounds.

In 1540 Sher Shah Suri took over the reigns of Dinpanah. It took 15 years and Sher Shah’s death for Humayun to defeat and regain control of his city.


¤ Construction of Dinpanah

But for now let’s get back to Dinpanah, or Dehli Sher Shahi as it was called under Sher Shah Suri. While Humayun built the body, the soul of Dinpanah was Sher Shah’s work. He built a number of buildings within the fort with material from the cities of Siri and Ferozabad, which, thanks to frequent invasions, were even then in ruins.

¤ Sher Mandal Tower

Sher Shah had built the Sher Mandal a two-storeyed octagonal tower in red sandstone and the Qila-i-Khona Masjid, an exquisite mosque inside the Purana Qila. The mosque probably best exemplifies Sher Shah’s sophisticated taste and love for buildings. It is said that originally the entire interior was to be built with marble but they ran out of it and so made do with red sandstone instead. But the mosque didn’t lose much by this - its quintessential charm is because of the clever use of the stone. A plaque outside the mosque reads, ‘As long as there are people on this earth, may this edifice be frequented and people be cheerful and happy in it.’ Well, the mosque is not in worship now, but it is certainly frequented by many lovers of architecture and history.


¤ Sher Garh--The Citadel

Sher Shah also built Sher Garh, the citadel of his city whose ramparts were completed by his son Islam Shahi. The only remains of the fort now are the Lal Darwaza and the Kabuli Darwaza. The southern gate of Sher Shah’s city has been identified as the Lal Darwaza, which is now known more popularly as the Sher Shah Gate near Purana Qila. The Kabuli Darwaza was the northern gate. The Purana Qila itself has three gates, the Humayun Darwaza (Humyaun’s Gate), Talaqi Darwaza (Divorce Gate! Nobody knows why it was named thus.) and Bara Darwaza (the Big Gate). The Bara Darwaza is the one you would use to enter the fort today.


¤ Dargah--Tomb of Sufi Saint

Sher Shah built a lot of other monuments around Delhi. In 1541 he built the dargah (tomb of a Sufi saint) over the grave of the sainted Bakhtiyar Kaki, popularly known as Qutub Sahib, near the Qutub Minar. The loud mirror-and-marble domed pavilion over the tomb however is not to be attributed to Sher Shah who would have probably reeled at the sight of such ostentation. His taste was clearly towards the understated, as is evinced by the ethereal marble jaali screens from which the women may sneak a peek at the famed saint’s grave; for they are not allowed in.

Sher Shah’s son Islam Shah, in his short rule, managed to build a mosque in the same complex and the fort of Salimgarh. Those are his only important contributions to the landscape of Delhi. His reign was cut short by Humayun’s return.


¤ Construction of The Magnificent Humayun Tomb

Humayun started living in Dinpanah again. He converted the Sher Mandal into his library, again an ill-fated decision, since he slipped to his death from the stairs of this pavilion. The king’s grief-stricken wife Hamida Banu undertook the construction of Humayun’s Tomb in 1565. Legend has it that the design of the Taj was inspired by this tomb. In pure architectural terms, this building is probably superior and much more beautiful that the stunning Taj. Sacrilege? Blasphemy? Not really - the only thing this building lacks is the showy marble.

It took nine years to complete the complex and the tomb itself is a dazzling landmark in the evolution of Mughal architecture in India. Hamida Begum is said to have spent one and a half million rupees on it. The plan of the building is brilliant and absolutely mathematical. The tomb is set bang in the middle of large square-patterned typically imperial Mughal-style garden which is neatly divided into sub-squares by paved lanes. The fourth side of the tomb was not walled because the river was supposed to make up for it, but the river flows there no more. The place is studded with fountains which were the rage in those days. The intricate and delicately beautiful latticework on the tomb remained the trademark of Mughal architecture down the ages.


¤ Power Passed Over To Akbar After Humayun

With the passing away of Humayun, the political power passed completely out of Delhi’s hands. The greatest kings of the Mughal dynasty, Akbar and Jahangir, spent comparatively less time in Delhi. Akbar, arguably the most important king that India produced, preferred to stay in Agra. He built another capital city, Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra. But it had to be abandoned because of a water crisis. Jahangir preferred to divide his time between Agra, Lahore and Kashmir where he built many gardens.
However there are a few monuments in Delhi which date to Akbar’s time. One such structure is Adham Khan’s tomb near the Qutub. Also there is a mosque that Akbar's mother Mahim Anga built, located opposite the main entrance of the Purana Qila.


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Places of historical interest





The Gorakh Hill is Highest Hill Point in Sindh among the Kerthar Mountain Range. Gorkah Hill is located in North-west of District Dadu along with Balochistan Border. Gorakh Hill is an under develop project. You reach Gorkah Hill Top from Dadu City with 4x4 Vehicles, which are available from Dadu and Johi. Gorakh Hill Top is 93Km from Dadu City, at the milestone of 17Km you reach the small city of Johi which is the Taluka of District Dadu, and Starting Point of kacho Area and the milestone of 41Km you reach the last small town before Gorakh Hill, Wahi pandi which is settled in the lap of Kerthar Mountain Range. After Wahi Pandi the Road is towered slowly at the milestone of 53Km you are enter in Yaroo Pass (Yaroo Sain Jo Luck) after crossing Yaroo Pass 2500ft above sea level and the journey continue in mountains and at the milestone of 76Km you reach the Base camp of another Highest Pass of Kerthar Mountain Range it is Khanwal Pass the base camp is on elevation of 3000ft and the Top of Khanwal pass on the Elevation of 5000ft above Sea Level. The Distance Between Khanwal Pass Base Camp To Khanwal Pass Top is 4Km. The 4Km journey is too zigzag. After reach the Top of Khanwal Pass Drive continue to Gorakh Hill Top which is the 13Km. At the Top Of Gorakh Hill you can stay in Rest House or Camping at top Because the Gorakh Hill is Under Development Sindh Govt. have some project Like Hotel, Restaurants, and a chair lift at Top.


Ranikot

It is the largest fort of its kind in the region and in the world. It is situated in the Kirthar Range about 30 km southwest of Sann, Jamshoro district of Sindh, approximately 90 km north of Hyderabad, in Pakistan. It has an approximate diameter of 9 km. Its walls are on the average 6 meters high and are made of gypsum and lime cut sandstone and its total circumference is about 29 km of which 8 km walls are man-made. While originally constructed for bow and arrow warfare it was later expanded to withstand firearms.

Bhambore

About 64 km east of Karachi, on the National Highway, is an interesting archaeological site, Bhambore, originally the sea-port of Debal where the young Arab warrior Mohammad Bin Qasim landed his armies in 711 AD.Three different periods in Sindh history coincide here: the Scytho-Parthians, the Hindu-Buddhist and the early Islamic. There is a museum and a rest house at the site.

Chaukundi Tombs

The Chaukundi Tombs are attributed to Jokhio and Baloch tribes and were build between 15th and 18th centuries. It is situated 20km east of Karachi.It is situated 29 km east of Karachi on N-5 National Highway near Landhi Town.The Chaukundi tombs are remarkable for the elaborate and exquisite carving; the style of architecture is not only typical to the region of Sindh but unique in the sense that it is no where else to be found in the Islamic world.



Thatta

Once a famous center of learning, arts and commerce and provisional capital for about four centuries in the past, Thatta is an historic town of 22,000 inhabitants in the Sindh province of Pakistan, near Lake Keenjhar, the largest freshwater lake in the country. Today, it is notable for the Jamia Masjid built by the Moghal Emperor Shah Jehan, and the Makli Tombs (15th - 17th centuries), a vast necropolis spread over 15.5 km², depicting exquisite specimens of architecture, stone carvings and glazed tile decorations. Makli is truly the place where history starts to speak about its immaculate past and the legends and myths it has undertaken.

Keenjhar Lake

Some 24 km north of Thatta, is the large man-made Keenjhar Lake, which is 30 km long and 10 km wide. The lake has facilities for angling and boating. PTDC motels offer food and accommodation.

Makli Hill or Makli Tombs

One of the largest necropolises in the world, with a diameter of approximately 8 kilometers, the Makli Tombs are supposed to be the burial place of some 125,000 Sufi saints. It is located on the outskirts of Thatta, the capital of lower Sind until the seventeenth century, in what is the southeastern province of present-day Pakistan.

Kirthar National Park

Located about 48 km from Karachi in the midst of the barren rocks of the Kirthar Range in Dadu district, near Thano Boola Khan is Kirthar National Park. Designed and planned with the help of the research and planning group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the park is approved and recognized by international wildlife bodies. It is the last bastion of a wide variety of the region's wildlife that includes Sindh ibex, urial, deer, leopard, gray partridges and Houbara bustard. The Sindh Wildlife Management Board plans tours and provides transport from Karachi.

Hyderabad

Situated at about 164 km northeast of Karachi, Hyderabad was the capital of Sindh during the reign of the Talpur Mirs in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, it is known for Mehran University of Engineering & Technology (MUET) and Sindh University, Jamshoro; the provincial museum; the Institute of Sindhology and the Sindhi Adabi Board and also for colourful handicrafts such as glass bangles, glazed tiles, lacquered wood furniture, handloom cloth called 'soosi', block-printed 'Ajrak', leather shoes, etc. Historic monuments include old Mud Fort, Sheikh Makai Fort, Kalhoro Monuments, Talpur Monuments and Miani Forest.

Mir Shahdad jo Qubo

Tomb of Mir Shahdad Talpur (who is regarded as one of the finest military commanders of Sindh) one of the historical heritages of Sindh is at Shahpur Chakar Distt: Sanghar. This is a graveyard of the family members of Mir Shahdad Talpur. Shahdadpur a big city of Province Sindh is named behind Mir Shahdad Talpur, whereas Shahpur Chakar is named behind his son Mir Chakar Talpur.

Hala

Hala is famous for its glazed pottery and enameled wood work.Situated on the National Highway about 56 km from Hyderabad, it is frequently visited by hundreds of devotees of Hazrat Makhdoom Noah (10th century Hijra), a contemporary of Mughal Emperor Akbar and a religious divine, who converted a large number of people of Islam and also translated the Quran into Persian which is one of its earliest Persian translations in South Asia.

Bhitshah

Situated at about 56 km from Hyderabad on the National Highway, Bhitshah is the resting place of Sindh's renowned saint and mystic poet Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai (1689 - 1752). He is remembered for the compendium of his poetry called 'Risalo', a treasure house of wisdom as well as romantic folklore and fine pottery. He also founded a musical tradition of his own which is still popular. Devotees sing with fervor and frenzy his love-intoxicated Kafis to the strains of ek-tara (single string instrument) mainly on the occasion of his "Urs" held every year between 13th and 15th of Safar, the second Islamic lunar month.

Sehwan

Situated on the right bank of River Indus at a distance of 135 km from Hyderabad, Sehwan is an old town of pre-Islamic period. Here are the remains of Kafir-Qila, a fort reported to have been constructed by Alexander the Great. Sehwan is famous for the resting place of the great mystic poet, saint and scholar Shaikh Usman Marvandvi (1117 - 1274), popularly known as Shahbaz Qalandar whose mausoleum is visited by thousands of the devotees throughout the year. During the Urs celebrations (18th Shahban - the eighth Islamic lunar month), devotees dance rhythmically and with total abandon to the beat of drums (Naqqara Dhamal), finally ending in a spiritual trance.

Manchar Lake

About 16 km from Sehwan, Manchar, the largest fresh water lake in Asia, is as old as the Indus River. Spread over 254 km², it is a perfect spot for relaxing and the best location for duck-shooting during winter.

Daraza Sharif

Daraza Sharif, a small village, some 52 km from Khairpur, is known for the tomb of Sachal Sarmast who was a great master of Islamic learning, lived a pious life and composed poetry in Sindhi, Seraiki, Persian and Urdu. Sachal Sarmast's Urs is celebrated on 14th of Ramzan (9th month of Islamic lunar calendar).

Kot Deji

Kot Deji is regarded as one of the world's most important archaeological sites, dating back to 3000 BC, older than Moen-jo-daro and Harappa. Excavations made in 1955 unearthed an astoundingly well-organized city with a citadel that testifies to its being the finest fortified town in South Asian subcontinent.

Moen-jo-Daro

About 563 km from Karachi off the Indus Highway lie the world-famous ruins of Moen-jo-Daro (the Mound of the Dead), now being preserved with UNESCO's help. The museum at Moen-jo-Daro is unique and a visit takes you centuries back when the location was a civilized city and a busy river Port. Air and train services from Karachi and an air-conditioned rest house have been built there.

Other places

Among other historical sites are Amri, Umerkot (the birthplace of Emperor Akbar) and the legendary Arab city of Mansura near Shahdadpur in Sanghar district. Other interesting places include Matiari, town of old beautiful mosques and one of the centers of 'Ajrak'. On its outskirts lie the ruins of a Buddhist stupa. Nasarpur is famous for 'Khes', exquisite embroidery, decorative pottery, and wood work. It is also a holy place for the Hindu community.

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Mercedes Benz Built in White Gold

*Note: This is a re-post, requested by few of the visitors. I really thank all visitors and appreciate your valuable comments and feedback.

MERCEDES BENZ FULLY BUILT IN WHITE GOLD Body (Abu Dhabi registration).


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The Next Batman Car

Well I doubt it, but you have to admit if this tuned up Smart would be the next Batmobile everyone's jaws would hit the floor. I'm not holding my breath for this ever happening, but a guy can dream. The Batsmart concept was presented at SEMA 2008 auto-show.


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Hong Kong International Airport: World's Best

The Hong Kong International Airport was named the world's best for the seventh year in an annual survey of passengers, with Asian airports dominating the top positions in the list. The annual survey conducted by Skytrax, a U.K. based consultancy, judges airports on more than 40 categories, ranking them after collecting 8.2 million questionnaires completed by passengers over a 10 month period. The passengers judged 190 airports on factors like shopping, dining, staff courtesy, baggage delivery and wait-times at security, reports the Age.com.au. Hong Kong, with its reputation for efficiency and comfort, bested airports in Singapore and Seoul, South Korea, which ranked second and third respectively. Also in the top 10 were airports in Kansai, Japan, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Airports in Europe - Munich, Germany; Copenhagen, Denmark; Zurich, Switzerland; and Helsinki, Finland - took most of the remaining top spots. Cape Town, South Africa rounded out the list at No.10. Missing from the list were any airports in the United States.


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Difficult But Amazing Airports

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Who needs a House Then?

Why we need a house
if a bus like this is available with you.......

Check this out....

















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