Sunday, September 13, 2009

The ancient city of Banbhore.

This is the article i wrote few years back which was published in DAWN'S "young world".I count it as one of my achievements therefore want to share here.


Ancient cities are of major importance for everyone. They describe old civilisations, traditions and cultures. Centuries ago, these cities too had a civilisation and culture of their own, yet now they are mere excavation sites. However, even then a lot can be learned from these places.

There are many ancient and historical places in Pakistan. Each one is of great importance, but today we will talk about a city “Banbhore” situated in Sindh.

Banbhore is more than 2,100 years old. Around the 10th century Banbhore was the capital of a chief Bamboo Raja and was named Bhambor after him. The city was later destroyed in 1250AD. It is an ancient city through which Islam entered the sub-continent when Mohammad Bin Qasim invaded it. The first mosque of South East Asia was also built during this period. After the young general conquered the city, Muslims built more mosques, other residential buildings and fifteen walls around the town.

Banbhore is situated at a distance of about 64 km east of Karachi. It’s an archaeological site and reveals that it was once a well-planned city.

Some scholars identify Banbhore with Debal, the port city where the 17-year-old Arab Conqueror Mohammad Bin Qasim landed in 712 AD. He was a general in the army of Hajjaj Bin Yousuf. Hajjaj Bin Yousuf was the governor of Iraq and was known for his strict administrative qualities. At that time Sindh was ruled by Raja Dahir, a Hindu Raja who was notorious for his cruelty and oppressive rule. Muslims were the most oppressed class in Dahir’s domain and were treated in a cruel and barbaric manner.

However, Hajjaj sent two expeditions under Ubaidullah Nibhal and Budial Bin Tahfa, which ailed when their commanders died in battle against Hindus.

Hajjaj then decided to send another army under the leadership of Mohammad Bin Qasim who was only 17 at that time. He attacked India on 10 Ramazanul Mubarak, 92 Hijri, October 28, 711 AD, and laid a strong siege around Debal, which was the strong fortification of Hindu armies. A catapult (manjaniq) known as Al Aroos was used to dislodge the Hindu armies. Eventually Debal was conquered and Dahir was killed. Mohammed Bin Qasim then occupied the delta towns, marched north up the Indus and within a few weeks reached Multan.

Banbhore was first inhabited by central Asian Sythians and Parthyans; later this site became the last conquest of Alexander the great from where he went back westwards and died on his way to Iran.

Banbhore is also associated with the famous romance of Sassi and Punnu. Sassi belonged to Banbhore, but their graves are in “Othal” in Balochistan.


Just after entering the museum you can find a model map of Banbhore enclosed in a glass case. There are many guides appointed by the Pakistan government who provide loads of information to the tourists on the age-old civilisation.

The museum at the site also displays pottery, china ware, beads, coins and many other articles used by the people of this ancient land. When we walk around the museum we learn that Banbhore was a well-planned and advanced city. The people had nice tools and equipments to cope up with the daily challenges. For cooling the water, they had a mud-clay-cooler with a long stem at the bottom of the same material. The stem was used to fix in the sand, which kept the water cold. You can also find toys, needles, buttons, etc. These objects take you back in time and one even forgets to bat an eye while observing.


Now, after getting information from the museum, one moves towards the archaeological site. You can hire a guide here too; he will lead you to the site and tell you about different discoveries. You can find the excavations of the first mosque of South East Asia, the bricks which have been used are very modern and remain cool in summer and become hot in winter.

Temple ornaments

Other than the mosques there were other places of worships such as temples too. During excavations certain objects and statues were found that hailed the presence of temples in this age-old civilisation.


Market places in this area consisted of huge areas of land. Road networking and the drainage system are other aspects of the city that signify the high level of intelligence that the people of the area possessed.

These discoveries shed light not only on the Muslim era but also on pre-Muslim times. These tell the tale about the civilisations of early centuries of the Christian era. Some human skeletons have also been found in streets and houses. The Hindu temple of the pre-Muslim era has also been unearthed along with coins belonging to the Khilafat period. Other stone, glass and ivory objects, pottery, jewellery, arms and certain human skeletons with arrows in their heads show that this town came to a violent end.

Banbhore has given our museums a strong archaeological heritage, one that attracts tourists from all corners and all continents of the world.

direct link to dawn


Hasaan Rafique said...
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ReeBz said...

Hasaan thank you so much for appreciation :)

Hasaan Rafique said...
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ReeBz said...

umm hmm actually its difficult to choose the topics.. i myself went Banbhore with family,observed the place and so i managed to write..when you write about historical place you need to be very careful as you are adding to the history record,so it is pretty difficult.. i duuno how i wrote it :P i never knew that it will publish in DAWN. i just sent it :)

Hasaan Rafique said...
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Marzieh said...

Ver well written indeed, with so much to tell. I never knew such a place existed. And the pictures are lovely too and tell their own stories.

It seems that our culturs,past and history have so much to tell, and so much in common; something to be appreciated :)

Hasaan Rafique said...
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Connie L. Nash said...

I read this last night and agree it is so well-done...and am SO glad you posted.

What I am wondering from anyone here is how do we discuss, help preserve and appreciate our cultures past there and mine as well, to learn from our histories and evidence of such and to do so which may highlight the light underneath all the killing, invasions, cruelty, etc. to find the common life, the beautiful life? And use such preserved artifacts, documents and research toward a more peaceful world where the worst of history is not repeated.

Just this am I was reading some history of one of the famous Persian Poets - a Sufi - and wondering over and over how he could have lived through such massacre, famine, war and changing of leaders to write such poetry. How do you imagine this can happen?

Thank You for this post and the discussions.

Is there more on "Debal" somewhere to add to the above? Tell us more?

Connie L. Nash said...

I am somehow just looking for the right kind of introduction from any of you or suggestion to preface this as a first for my:

Upon "Visiting Pakistan" for the First Time post and use ReeBz piece her, per her already given invitation.

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

ReeBz, this is a beautiful piece of work, but I must say that your recent posts which were written after this Dawn article have really shown great maturity and articulation. You are learning very fast, the art and the craft, well done.

Connie L. Nash said...


Per your willingness a LONG time ago, I finally posted this article and if I've made mistakes or you don't want my separate ending comment please let me know.

Connie L. Nash said...

Dear Friend,

Re: my recent posting of your beautiful work:

With the clear reminders of the nature of your piece from another most wise and caring friend, I've decided to leave off my entire earlier commentary except for the possiblities of others commenting on Banbhore and other such sites. I feel really good about doing so. If there's anything I've made any errors with in any way in transporting the piece itself, let me know..

ReeBz said...

Sir Akhtar;
Thanks for appreciation,and for considering leaving your comment here as well.
As far as learning is concerned i think I'm lucky enough to get immediate kind help especially from sir Khurram Shafique and lots of friendly appreciation from Connie which has helped me in gaining confidence.
All these things have made my learning process fast.. :)

just saw your blog,I'm simply loving it :)
It was my desire since long to see my article at your blog-- another achievement for me :)

Marzieh said...

I checked "Debal", and I'm quite sure I had not heard of it before! :P

Hasaan Rafique said...
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Marzieh said...

Hasaan, be I don't!

Hasaan Rafique said...
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Hasaan Rafique said...
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Marzieh said...


Thanks for the information :)

Connie L. Nash said...

What about another such article soon? If you want, you could work with us here at RR with a rough draft in case Sir Khurram Shafique is too busy???

Connie L. Nash said...

Just a note, ReeBz, to say this post has created for me a greater interest in ancient places, their beauty and priceless value.
After a short break, I look forward to seeing what you will surprise us with next here...

filpaki said...

An article worth appreciation!

Namrah Mahmood said...

just read this article Reebz, and I am really enjoying reading it again and again...!
Historic places always have a tendency to attract me...!
I especially liked the part where u discussed its inhabitants and different rulers (mere mention of Alexander made the place more attractive for me) :)
and their life-style (water-cooling system etc) was amazing to know!
Thank you for wiritng such an informative piece. I have come to learn a lot about Banbhoor now! Thanks again!

ali palh said...

Good effort-Reader will enjoy more if you put life in words...ali

Amna Rehman is said...

i enjoy it

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