Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Dhonra Hingora: not a soul was left living

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The rich farmlands and mango orchards of the canal-fed plains of lower Sindh give way to a saline tract overgrown with mesquite bushes and peelu trees. In this flat land, there rise above the vegetation three domed buildings. On closer inspection one also notices vestiges of scores of brick and lime mortar foundations and walls as well as remnants of houses, some of them smothered by the growth.


Lore preserves the tale of a pious man much given to the pleasures of the marijuana drink bhung, who was one day visited by troopers from the court of the Mughal king Aurganzeb. The purpose of their call being to confiscate the pitchers of the intoxicant that the saint reportedly always had at hand. The pitchers were there all right, but when the soldiers looked in, they found them brimming with yogurt. Now the Sindhi word for yogurt being dhonra and because it had been established by the Hingora tribe, the town came to be known as Dhonra Hingora.

That is the legend, but the District Gazetteer of Hyderabad tells us that ‘Hingorani was a former seat of a family of powerful Syeds which was among the places wrecked by the Afghan Sardar Madad Khan in or about 1775.’ It was, in fact, in the year 1781 that Abdul Nabi, the last Kalhora ruler and a man of remarkable ineptitude, sought the help of Taimur Shah, the king of Afghanistan, against the Talpurs.

In consequence and lured by the promise of a substantial portion of the Kalhora treasure, Madad Khan was dispatched from the Afghan highlands at the head of a large army. As he crossed into Sindhi territory, Abdul Nabi sent a message to Madad Khan saying he had no treasure to offer. Instead, the Afghan was advised to make good his expenses by plundering the land. That was precisely what the rapacious man did: scores of Sindhi cities were looted and sacked. Hingorani was one among them.

Lore recalls that this large and opulent city made for so great a conflagration that for a day it was impossible to pass nearby because of the heat and for a full night the eerie glow lit up the landscape. And so great was the slaughter that not a soul was left living in Hingorani. When the smoke finally cleared away, pestilence descended upon the land and though the country did recover from the visitation of Madad Khan, the once-glorious city of Hingorani tamely passed out of human memory.

The domed buildings consist of two mosques and a simple mausoleum; the latter believed to be the last resting place of the bhung-quaffing saint. The two mosques are remarkable however because their architecture goes back the latter years of the 15th century, putting them among the oldest surviving mosques not just in Sindh, but in the whole of Pakistan.

Their sturdy construction and the artistic embellishment on both mosques show that no expense was spared in their making. This could only have been possible in an affluent city. Moreover, the numerous ruined houses, among which the corner pillars of one still stand and the bulky remains of the bridge that spanned a minor branch of the Indus show every sign of meticulous construction.

Lying on an old road connecting the rich marts of upper Sindh with Cutch and Kathiawar, Hingorani seems to have earned respectable revenues from passing caravans to become a city of rich traders. When the end came, those who had strived to make her what she was, perished by the sword. Their wealth removed to enrich the rulers of poverty-stricken Afghanistan.


How To Get There: Village Seri lies 21 km southeast of Hyderabad on the highroad to Badin. From Seri turn northeast for the village of Shaikh Bhirkio and drive 10 km. The ruins lying by the road just cannot be missed.

Note: Sights Less Seen is part of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) book of days series.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 8:55 AM,

3 Comments:

At April 12, 2015 at 10:06 AM, Blogger Zaheer Chaudhry said...

Your witting never gives the feel of "Sights Less Seen" each word like a step towards the journey you are taking us. thank you, Sir.

 
At April 12, 2015 at 4:37 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you very much, Zaheer. We stil have to visit the graves of Salt Range that you have photographed.

 
At June 29, 2016 at 2:11 PM, Blogger Shabran Shah said...

basically we belong to the hingorani Syed’s family in ancient times our very power full syed’s families were living there,our four fathers were living ,this was village in olden times & this is ownerd to us & near 1 km these mosques there is dargah named Sakhi Mahawali is also of ancient times dargah of which we are now Sajjada Nasheen Of It Thanks.

 

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days