Tharparkar – The Heritage of Sindh
Pakistan is a place filled with mysteries and paradoxes. To understand its dynamics, one needs to explore the unchartered territories. In this blog, I attempt to unravel the beauty of Tharparkar – the largest district of Sindh. I have always preferred to discover places in complete solitude, as it gives me more freedom to explore. Having your car is a blessing, especially when you are an ardent fan of exploring places. I wiped the dust off my old Nissan and took to the road.
The Heritage of Sindh
Since I had never been to interior Sindh, I was following my friends’ instructions and guidelines along with Google map. While going through the Hyderabad Motorway, I saw sights that warmed my heart. There was no pollution, no billboards of women selling products I don’t need, and cattle roamed the roads instead of vehicles. The serenity of the place was somewhat unusual. Another thing I noticed was the cold, refreshing breeze. It was August, and yet the sun was not firing on all cylinders, maybe it was because of the extensive plantations.
I finally reached the district and without a moment’s notice, took my camera out and started filming the historical monuments. I remember seeing a mosque that was reminiscent of the Mughal era. The houses were mostly built out of clay bricks, which gave them an old- school feel. Almost everyone was wearing colorful, handwoven Sindhi attire. I was strolling on foot and came across a big tent surrounded by a lot of people. I was tempted see what the fuss was about.
I entered through one of the openings in the tent and found out that it was the annual ‘Mela’ or fair. At a glance, I could see conjurers, magicians, snake charmers, and locals selling potteries. The atmosphere was fun and celebratory. One of the merchants told me that the fair was organized by the locals and that all of the items on sale are home-produced. I bought a beautifully crafted Ajrak for my mother.
Moving ahead, I came across the much-hyped Jain temple. It instantly gave the impression of an ancient Hindu temple. Instead of the traditional dome sanctuaries, the walls and outer boundaries have geometrical marble shapes.
I went inside, and there the temple was pitch dark, and there was a screeching sound of sorts followed by the flapping of wings. At least a hundred bats were clinging to the ceiling. I took snaps of everything, including the inner space, which was carved with numerous archaic inscriptions carved on the walls. I could not explore the temple any further as, beyond a certain point, there was pitch black darkness. I returned to my car with a heart filled with euphoria.
The next day, I was on the road again. This time, I wanted to visit the grandest attraction – the Thar desert. I can understand Sindhi language and can speak some too. So, I asked one of the villagers to guide me towards the desert. Upon listening to my Sindhi dialect, the gentleman was delighted and insisted that I go with him to his place for lunch. It came as a shock since I could never anticipate such a gesture from people back in my city.
His family welcomed me into their small home and asked me about my profession. I spent 2 wonderful hours with simple and caring people. They made me Achaar Gosht and lassi, which I consumed like a madman. They even gave me their number so that I pay them a visit with my family the next time I come.
I revved my car’s engine and went to the desert. The Thar is hailed as the only fertile desert in the world. I parked my car to the roadside and saw the desert gleaming in a bright golden color. I had to cover my face as sand and debris was flying around. It was a very tranquilizing feeling to be part of a desert so unusual.
There were several people riding camels who offered me camel rides. It was an opportunity I seized with both hands. The camels were huge, I could see at a glance the vast trees, plantations, and housings sprawling before me.
I got down from the camel and saw some of the living spaces that the residents had built. The homes were majestic, epitomizing traditional gracefulness. I asked one of the inhabitants as to how they keep their huts cool in hot summers and was told that the construction material of the huts includes palm leaves and husk from fodder which keeps them cool.
Moving forward, I saw the sight I was eagerly looking forward to – the sight of peacocks outside captivity. It was so refreshing to see them roaming about in numbers especially after the 2013 pandemic, which killed many animals.
I had the impression that Tharparkar as a district would be hot, arid, and the inhabitants would alienate themselves from a foreigner. However, all of my perceptions were proven false. I would recommend the place to anyone who has a flair for tradition and culture. It’s safe, it’s beautiful, and it’s full of surprises.