Ranikot Fort: The Great Wall of Sindh

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Ranikot Fort: The Great Wall of Sindh

Ranikot Fort is an ancient fort near the area of Sann, Jamshoro District in the province of Sindh in the state of Pakistan. Ranikot Fort is also called as The Great Wall of Sindh and is considered to be among one of the world’s greatest forts with a circumference of nearly 26 kilometers. Kumbhalgarh Fort with over 38 kilometers long wall in the area of Rajsamand District of Rajasthan  in the area of western India has the 2nd greatest wall in the globe after the Great Wall of China a World Heritage Site involves in the Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Chittorgarh Fort is greater than the Kumbhalgarh. The castle has been compared to the Great Wall of China. Since the year 1993, nominated by the Pakistan National Commission for the UNESCO, Ministry of Education under the cultural scenario, it has been on list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The castle is listed as an ancient site under the Antiquities Act 1975 and its consequent amendments and is given protection.

Location of Ranikot Fort

Ranikot Fort is ninety kilometers to the north of the city Hyderabad on the national highway. There is also a convenient approach of about an hour’s journey from the city of Karachi to Sann on the Indus Highway. A diversion road, initiating a little distance away from the area of Sann, the nearest town, heads to the castle along a rugged 21 kilometers route and reaches the eastern gate of the castle, called as the Sann Gate. Sann is a rail head on the place of Kotri-Larkana line of the Pakistan Railway.  It is inside the area of Kirthar National Park, the 2nd greatest national park in the state of Pakistan.

History of Ranikot Fort

The original intentions and architects of Ranikot Fort are strange and unknown. Although, it is considered that the castle was constructed during the era of the Sassanians, the Scythians, the Parthians or the Bactrian Greeks. Archaeologists point to the 17th century as the period of its 1st construction but the archaeologists of Sindh now agree that few of the current structures were restored by Mir Karam Ali Khan Talpur and his brother Mir Hassan Masood Jatt in the year 1812 at a price of 1.2 million rupees. The battlements of Ranikot made the last capital of the Amirs of the province Sindh, when they were brought under the colonial era of the British Empire. Radiocarbon experiments were performed at the Sann Gate on the charcoal embedded in the mortar of a ruined pillar of the eastern gate of the castle. These experiments have confirmed that this gate was possibly restored between the initial part of the 18th century and the previous part of the nineteenth century, prior to Britain attacking the castle when the Kalhoras, or most likely the Talpur Mirs of Sindh ruled over the place.

Features

The fort is large, linking various bleak mountains of the Kirthar hills along the contours, and measures thirty-one kilometers (19 mi) in length. The castle is interspersed with various bastions in between and 3 are of semi-circular form. The northern part of the castle’s perimeter is a natural huge hilly formation while on the other 3 sides it is covered by castle walls. Within this primary castle there is a smaller castle called as the “Meeri” which is about five to six miles from the entry gate of the main castle, and is reported to have facilitated as the castle of the Mir royal family. The whole fort structure has been constructed with stone and lime mortar. The castle is constructed in a zig-zag shape, with 4entry gates in the form of a rhomboid. 2 of the gates, confronting each are crossed diagonally by the area of Sann River; the 1st gate is on the direction of western side and is skirted by the river water and is complicated to access. The direction of southern entry gate has double doors. Within the gates there are 2 niches which have floral decoration and carved stones. The Sann gate is well secured and can be climbed to reach the top of the castle from both the sides to get a picturesque view of the terrain around the castle. This beautiful gate is also the entrance to the Meeri.

Restoration

Restoration works were implemented on the castle, specifically on the Sann Gate structure, the fortification wall expanding south involving the mosque and the small Meeri castle or palace within the main castle. These were executed by the Archaeology department of Pakistan, the Department of Culture of Sindh and the Dadu district administration. Following blamed of worse construction and favoritism in award of contracts an enquiry was made in the year 2005. The Enquiry Commission’s report demonstrated that the restoration works were implemented so poorly with cement and latest stone work without conforming to the “Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites” and suggested stoppage of more work on the castle. Deployed on this report further restoration work was suspended and delayed in the year 2006.

 

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