Sukkur is my beautiful hometown, and I am deeply in love with it. The city is situated on the right bank of the river Indus. It is the third biggest city of Sindh and has a glorious past. In the year 1843 when the British annexed Sindh, they made Sukkur part of district Shikarpur. During British sway, Sir Charles Napier, realising the importance of a port at Sukkur, elevated it to the district headquarters in 1883. It was Mr. Mewo, the Collector, who endeavoured hard and transformed the fate of this forest into the lovely city of Sukkur. In the year 1889, Sukkur was linked by rail with Multan and Karachi, where the railway track was already at work since 1878. It was the Lansdowne Bridge which connected Sukkur with Rohri. Sukkur was declared a full-fledged district in 1901.
Originally Sukkur, Rohri and Bukkur were all connected by land. A great earthquake during the 11th century changed the course of the river Indus from Arror to a different side of Rohri, with the result that the land, which connected Sukkur, Rohri and Bukkur, was divided into three parts and the river flowed in between. Sukkur was on one side, Rohri on the other and Bukkur was in between.
There are various versions as to how Sukkur was given its name. The popular version is that there were fields of sugarcane and sugar factories in the vicinity of Sukkur. So, Sukkur seems to be the distorted version of the word “Shaker” which means “sugar.”
There is another version, which seems to be more authentic and convincing: that because there was plenty to eat and plenty to enjoy, things were inexpensive, and people at large were comfortable and happy, so the word Sukkur seems to have been derived from the word “Sukh” which means “comfort.”
Sukkur is the third most important town of Sindh. It was an important commercial and industrial centre of upper Sindh. It is said that Sukkur became a very important shipbuilding port, and two important ships were built here – one in the year 1835 named Indus and the other in the year 1843 named Satellite. Sukkur assumed great importance in business, trade and other activities especially after the conquest of Sindh by the British in 1848.
The following are the places in Sukkur which I consider truly worth visiting.
1. Minaret of Mir Masoom Shah
Prominently situated on a hill in the heart of the city is a magnificent and majestic monument that towers above all the structures in Sukkur. It is a piece of Muslim architecture of great artistic value. The foundation of the minaret was laid in 1003 A.H, by Mir Muhammed Masoom Shah, a famous soldier and author of the history of Sindh. Emperor Akbar appointed him as Governor of Bukkur.
The monument took fourteen years to complete. Mir Masoom shah died when the work of construction was in full swing, and this mammoth work of archaeological and historical importance was completed by his son Mir Buzrug in 1027 A.H. after twelve years of his father’s death. The monument is less conical in shape and built of red bricks and surmounted by a dome to which an internal stone staircase gives access. It is 84 feet in circumference at the base and about 100 feet in height.
The lofty minaret is supposed to have built as a watchtower. It commands a panoramic view of the city and the majestic landscape that surrounds it.
2. Lansdowne Bridge/Ayub Bridge
This railway bridge over the Indus connects Rohri with Sukkur and is a place of significant interest for tourists. It was the first ever cantilever (suspension) bridge. It was completed in 1889 A.D. the total spans being 790 feet and is considered a great engineering feat. After the construction of Ayub Bridge, the train traffic has been diverted from this bridge. However, it has been converted into a road bridge, which has resulted in reducing the distance between Sukkur and Rohri and has facilitated traffic. The government has recently declared it as a national heritage.
Lying alongside and even dwarfing the Lansdowne Bridge is a massive structure of steel called the Ayub Bridge, named after in then President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan This bridge was designed by Dr. D.D. Steinman of New York and is the third biggest railway arch bridge in the world coming after the Sidney Harbour of Australia and Hell gate Bridge of USA, costing about Rs. 20 million (2 crore). Its construction was started in November 1959 and was completed in December 1961. The distance between the lower bearings of the bridge is 186 feet and nine inches. The maximum height at the crown of arch above the bearing is 204 feet, which is 50 feet more than the old Lansdowne Bridge.
3. Sadhu Belo Temple
There is hardly a temple or place of pilgrimage in Sindh which occupies such a picturesque site, or which appeals so much to the imaginative as well as devotional instinct of Hindus as the magnificent island temple of Shri Sadh bello at Sukkur. Situated on the Maonak Parbat and washed on all sides by the gurgling waters of the river Indus, the temple of Shri Sadh bello commands a view not easily paralleled anywhere. Shri Swami Bankhandiji Mahraj (1763-1863 A.D.) occupied this place in 1823 A.D. The great Kumbh Mela was observed on the banks of Indus River since ancient times. The mela was later shifted to Sadhbelo.
Sadhu Bela Mandir can easily be an eye-catching structure for tourists as it lies between Rohri and Sukkur alongside the Indus River. It covers the whole island with its beautifully built formation of several other temples.
Along with the temples, there is a dining hall, a garden and to add to the charm of it, the island also has a library.
About five miles southeast of Rohri and close to the eastern Nara Supply Canal is the small village of Alore or Arore, comprising a few hundred inhabitants. It stands upon a part of what was the capital of Sindh more than a thousand years ago. This was a town adorned with various kinds of royal buildings, villas, gardens, fountains, streams, meadows, and trees and was situated on the bank of the river Mehran or Indus. In this splendid city, there lived a king whose name was Sahiras, son of Sahasi Rai. At the time of the conquest of Sindh by the Arabs under Muhammad Bin Qasim in AD 1711, Alore was the capital of Sindh and the residence of King Dahir. Adjacent to it is a fascinating view of a mountain known as Neehun Jabal.
5. Muhammad Bin Qasim Masjid
After appointing governors in all districts of Sindh, Muhammad Bin Qasim left Brahmanabad on 3rd Muharram (AH 711) and proceeded towards Arore where Fofi, the son of Raja Dahir fortified his position. Muhammad Bin Qasim called his forces to a halt opposite the fort and build a masjid over there on the top of the hill at the very site of ARORE. It is attributed to Muhammad Bin Qasim perhaps built in the 8th century A.D. At present only two walls are remaining of the structure.
The Masjid has load bearing structure which is constructed of burnt bricks with mud mortar, chiroli and lime. The mosque consists of two entrances, decorated with Tudor arches and Tudor arched rectangular panels are designed symmetrically on the left and right side of the open arch. Tudor arched ventilators are also constructed on above of opening arch. Newly constructed area for prayers is made with cemented material. There is only one window on the western side wall and decorated with bricks jali. The limestone blocks were found in large quantity in various parts of the site where the cultural materials were seen embedded in the section of a burrow.
6. Lloyds Barrage
The most important place for visitors is the Sukkur Barrage or the Lloyds Barrage, an imposing structure of yellow stone and steel. The gigantic barrage over the River Indus is the biggest irrigation system in the world and controls the entire agriculture economy of the upper Sindh region. The construction of this project started in 1922. Lord Wellington, the then Viceroy of India, on the 31st of January 1932 performed its inauguration at Sukkur and the irrigation commenced in June 1932. The whole scheme cost over 200 million (20 crores) of rupees. The river Indus passes through the gates of the Lloyds Barrage. The bridge has 66 gates, and each gate is 60 feet wide. Three major canals take off from the Barrage on the right bank such as, the Northwestern (Khirthar), the Rice and Dadu canals and four canals namely, Khairpur Feeder West (Abul Wah), Khairpur Feeder East (Mir Wah), Rohri and Nara canal on the right bank. All these canals are perennial except one i.e. the rice canal, which is non-perennial.
Sukkur Barrage is used to control water flow in the River Indus for the purposes of irrigation and flood control. This barrage which is the backbone of the economy of the entire country enables water to flow through what was originally a network of seven canals 9,923 kilometres (6,166 mi) long, feeding the largest irrigation system in the world, with more than 7.63 million acres of irrigated land which forms about 25% of total canal irrigated area of the country. The retaining wall of the barrage has 66 spans (outfall gates), each 18 metres (60 ft) wide and weighing 50 tons.
7. Lloyds Barrage Museum
Sukkur Barrage Museum symbolises the history of its step-by-step-construction. A big and beautiful model of Sukkur Barrage is illuminated with spotlights. Small models of different canals including Rice Canal, Nara Canal and others are also displayed in the barrage. Basically, this museum has aimed to represent the information about making the Museum behind the efforts among visitors in a very professional way such as Crush Stone, Portland Cement, Gravel, models of its Arches, Stone, Gates, Piers etc. Photos of Sir George Ambrose Lloyd, Sir Arnold Albert Musto are also pasted on the walls.
Besides this, the machinery and equipment used for the construction of Sukkur barrage and later for its upkeep and maintenance have also been displayed outside the museum, which include a heavy-duty crane, a boat, a small road roller and a lathe machine for cutting and designing nuts and bolts.
In the heart of the city is located a lofty tower about ninety feet high. This historical tower was constructed in the year 1937 in the sweet memory of Sunderdas and Deyomal – two brothers. Its total cost was Rs 10,000 and the opening ceremony was performed by Mr. Mirchandani, Collector of Sukkur.
Ghanta Ghar Sukkur, the clock tower is believed to be one of the most significant landmarks in the city. Situated in the central hub of the city, it is encircled by Victoria Market. A Hindu businessman, Seth Wadho Mal Nebhau Mal Manjhari, built the tower to mark the silver jubilee of King George V.
It is ninety-feet high with 4 clocks that marked the passage of time on 4 sides. Once upon a time, the sounds of the tower’s bells resounded throughout the city particularly at night, when life slowed down and the buzz of daily life muted.
9. Pir Illahi Bux Tower
Pir Illahi Bux Tower popularly known as Literacy Tower is situated on the top of hill facing Sukkur Eid Gah. It is the result of the efforts of Mr. T.T Kothawalla, the then Collector of Sukkur who built this monument to highlight the campaign of adult education started by Pir Illahi Bux, the then Education Minister of Sindh. It is 110 feet high and 66 feet wide. The tower was founded by Pir Illahi Bakhsh, minister for education in May 1939 and completed in 1940.
110 feet high, this tower seems to be even taller than the other because it is built on a small hill. So far it still has its four clocks, but the hands stopped moving a long time ago. At the time of construction Kothawala had named the tower “Educational Tower” but with the passage to time, people started calling it the Pir Ellahi Bux Tower.
10. Satyun-jo-Astan (Qasim Khani Graveyard)
The site of Satyun-jo-Astan is itself in a state of ruin. “Than Sati,” as is hand-written by Sayyid Mohibullah, in Persian, was famous for being the resting place of seven ladies, up right and pious. The date given is 419 AH (the time of the domination of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi on Sindh). Later, a nobleman of Bukkur, Mir Abul Qasim Namkeen, was buried at this place. This happened according to the writing of Sayyid Mohibullah, in 1011 AH. In later times this place came to be known as the Qasim Khani graveyard.
11. Qadir Bakhsh-ja-Quba
Qadir Bakhsh-ja-Quba is a historic graveyard resembling the world renowned cemetery of Makli (Thatta), situated some 16 miles south of Rohri. It covers an area of 35 acres and contains many ancient graves. The graveyard was built in 1825. Mir Sohrab Talpur, the ruler of Khairpur state, had acquired a piece of land from Faqir Qadir Bukhsh Panhwar in Deh Akbarpur Jagir, Tapa Kandhra, which presently falls in Tehsil Rohri. The principal grave belongs to His Highness Mir Sohrab Khan of the Khairpur Mirs. He died on 27 Rajab AH 1280 (AD 1863) at the age of ninety. Next to it lies the grave of His Highness Mir Rustam Khan his son, who died in 1287(AH) (AD1870) in Poona and his body was brought here for burial.
12. War Mubarak Shrine
A building about 25 square feet in area was erected in about AH 1154 by reigning Kalhora prince Mian Mir Muhammad, the younger brother of Noor Muhammad – the then ruler of Sindh (1719 to 1753 AD) – for a special reception of a Holy Hair of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The Holy Hair was brought to Rohri from Istanbul by Makhdoom Abdul Baki, son-in-law of Khawaja Nizamuddin Siddiki of Istanbul, a descendant of Hazrat Abu Bakr. It is being exhibited annually on 9th Zil Haj, but visitors may see it at other times also. The building has two doors, one is of wood and was constructed in 1303 A.H. and the other one is of silver strips fixed by Doda Khan Bhutto son of Pir Bux Khan Bhutto in 1306 A.H.
13. Mausoleum of Syed Mir Janullah Shah Rizvi
The mausoleum of Syed Janullah Shah, a prominent religious personality and a great scholar of Persian language, is situated in Janullah Shah’s Kot, near Imam Bargah Shah Iraq. Syed Janullah Shah led the Rizvi Sadats of Rohri. He composed a Diwan (in Persian language) and wrote the Tafseer of the Holy Quran, which was completed on 12 Ramzan 1136 A.H. Both the original manuscripts are preserved with the family. Janullah Shah, also famous as Sufi Janullah, was the ardent follower of Sufi Shah Inayat.
Although the traces of the Kot or fortress do not exist anymore, the area still carries the ancient identity and continues to be known after the same. The shrine complex has been reconstructed in the mid-1990s, reportedly by a Hindu devotee from abroad. It comprises three chambers of varied sizes containing graves of the family members and the khalifas of the revered scholar. The construction of this magnificent mausoleum took 10 years from 1989 to 1999 and the cost of construction is said to be Rs. 10 million (one crore).
The two chambers at the entry point of the mausoleum contain seven graves each. Syed Ghulam Rasool Shah son of Syed Ghulam Shah (great grandson of Syed Janullah Shah) is the custodian of original manuscripts and precious relics of Syed Janullah Shah Rizvi.
A steel bar or Beragi bearing the name of Hazrat Ali (AS), a begging bowl, few pairs of caps and a prayer mate are some of the rare objects belonging to Syed Janullah Shah.
14. Tomb of Adam Shah
On the top of a hill in Sukkur city is the enshrined splendid white tomb of Mian Adam Shah, the great ancestor of Kalhora rulers in Sindh. The Kalhora claim their descent from Hazrat Abbas, the uncle of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). About the middle of the 16th century, Mian Adam Shah emerged as the spiritual leader. He is reported to have occupied the holy seat vacated by the celebrated saint Syed Miran Muhammad of Jaunpur. Adam Shah has remained pioneer of the Mianwal movement with a popular slogan of “land belongs to those who till it.” He died in the year 1598 AD and was burried on a hillock as per his will, which later was known after him as Adam Shah-ji-Takri.
15. Kalka Devi Cave Temple
The Kalka Devi Temple, Kalka Devi Cave Temple or Kalka Devi Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples in Pakistan. It is situated inside a natural cave in the Kalka hills in Rohri, Sindh province, Pakistan. The temple is also known as the Asthan of Kalka Devi. It is visited by both Hindus and Muslims. Moreover, Hindus from India also visit it.
Lakhan-jo-daro is an archaeological site and one of the largest cities of the Indus Valley civilization. The site, which is located in Sukkur District (around 100 km away from the Mohenjo-daro site) on the right bank of Indus River was first discovered in 1985 by Prof Qasid Mallah and his team from Khairpur University and was excavated recently in 2006 by the archaeologists and students of Shah Abdul Latif University. Excavations were also undertaken by Prof. Muhammad Mukhtiar Kazi of the University of Sindh during 1996 and 2000. According to Dr. Mark Kenoyer, it covers an area of more than 300 Hectares, as large as Mohenjo Daro (250 hectares) and was the second largest city of the Indus Valley civilization.
The remains of the settlement area are spread over a large area which occupies more than 50 hectares. Nearly 70% of the site is now covered by factories and most of it has been damaged by machines digging out earth for construction purposes.
The cultural repertoire included terracotta beads, miniature pots, spherical and cubical stone weights, copper figurines, copper objects, terracotta semi-precious and copper beads, terracotta and shell bangles, terracotta animal-human and bird figurines, painted pottery, terracotta balls, terracotta cones, terracotta cart pieces, chert core and blades, grinding stones, steatite stones with engraved markings, steatite seals and steatite beads etc.
The major architectural remains unearthed included drains, walls, small chambers, platforms; hearths, well, staircase, a cluster of four large platforms along with a staircase and small chambers. an impression of a floor was also recorded.
17. Bukkur Fort
Bukkur Fort is an island located in Rohri, Sukkur District. Named Bukkur (Dawn) by Sayyid Muhammad Al-Makki in the seventh century A.H., this island is a limestone rock, oval in shape, 800 yards (730 m) long by 300 yards (270 m) wide, and about 25 feet (7.6 m) in height. According to the Superintendent of Land Records and Registration, Sindh, in 1912, the area of Bukkur island was 255,292 sq. yards, or 49 acres (20 ha). Nowadays Bukkur island is occupied by an Army Public School, and the tomb of Sayyid Sadruddin, who was the son of Sayyid Muhammad Al-Makki.
18. Kanaya Lal Cottage, Rohri
Om Kanaya Lal Cottage sits atop a hill in the heart of Rohri, Sindh, at the intersection of Nako Chowk, close to Navy park. This house has survived almost a hundred years. Built in 1930, it is also known as “Sut maar” – Sindhi word for a seven-storey building. The facade is a combination of yellow stone and red bricks with wooden jharokhas, or overhung balconies supported by wooden cornices. The building also has large, interconnected halls with high ceilings that rest on Belgian iron girders. The height of the rooms makes them airy and lends a feeling of spaciousness; one does not feel the suffocation of the peak hot hours of the day despite the lack of air conditioning.
Lab-e-Mehran is situated on the right bank of the river Indus and is a magnificent garden. It is an embodiment of beauty and grandeur, commanding a splendid view of the river Indus and the Sukkur Barrage. This ambitious project was undertaken by the Barrage Division of the Irrigation Department. The inauguration of Lab-e-Mehran was performed in 1965. Sardar Ali Muhammad Khan Mahar, the then Chief Minister of Sindh during his visit to Lab-e-Mehran in the year 2004, announced an amount of Rs. 120 million (12 crores) for its revival, restoration and renovation. The first phase of the project has been completed at a cost of Rs. 10 million (1 crore). The ground-breaking ceremony of the second phase pf the project, costing of Rs. 15 million was performed by Dr. Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Chief Minister Sindh, on 30 January 2006. Lab-e-Mehran is a beautiful family entertainment park, where everyone can come and enjoy a natural view.
There are a number of amusement facilities for children.
The park also has facilities for families to share: a boat ride through flowing fresh water, a small food court, an entertaining fun-land with lots of swings and slides at a very reasonable price. Thus, Lab-e-Mehran Park has plenty of green trees and flowers all around, as well as seating benches for the guests’ comfort, as well as walking and jogging areas. Scenic beauty is further added to Lab-e-Mehran by developing a walking track besides Circuit House Sukkur where a majority of elite people (male as well as female) enjoy morning as well as evening walks. It has another splendid view of a World Globe erected at the roundabout. The architect of the project is Syed Jamal Shah, a renowned artist.
20. Sukkur IBA university
The SIBA at Sukkur is a higher education institute in Sukkur, Pakistan. It was inaugurated in 1994 by Nisar Ahmed Siddique. The university is a public sector degree-awarding institute chartered by the Government of Sindh and recognised by the Higher Education Commission(HEC).
The university was previously started under the name of Sukkur Institute of Business Administration (SIBA) at Public School Sukkur. Later, the institute was shifted to its own building situated at Airport Road, Sukkur, on 07 November 2000. The project, costing Rs100 million in two phases, is spread over 18 acres of land. 50% of third phase of the project has been completed, and the remaining work is nearing completion.
SIBA University is full of greenery, colourful flowers and many trees. It is the first university of Pakistan to have been certified for its Green Office initiative.