In Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh lies one of the largest necropolises in the world — the Makli graveyard, home to nearly half a million tombs and graves of royals, sufi saints and others, spread over an area of approximately 8km.
Famous kings, queens, governors, saints, scholars, and philosophers are buried here in brick or stone monuments. The unique structures found in this cemetery are notable for their intricate designs, motifs and tile-work.
The main credit for establishing Makli as a holy place for worship goes to the Samma dynasty, when Jam Tamachi ordered for the construction of a mosque here.
Among the outstanding monuments constructed in stone are the tombs of Jam Nizamuddin II, who reigned from 1461 to 1509. This unusual building is roughly laid out as a cube.
Tombs at Makli are embossed with Holy scripture of Quranic Verses. Male graves have weapons dagger and swords embossed on it while the female graves are differentiated through jewellery and block printing embellishments.
The integrity of the property is threatened by the significant decay caused by the local climatic conditions (earthquakes, variations in temperature, winds containing salts and humidity, heavy rains, natural growth) and the shift of the riverbed.
Today, Makli is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but is in dire need of conservation and maintenance.
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Thatta is considered as one of the oldest city of Sindh. It is situated on the west of the Arabian Sea and Indus River, East of the Karachi city and spread over the area of 98 Kilometers. ‘Thatto‘ is the name of the Thatta city in Sindhi language. The chief crop grown here is Sugar cane, and because the area is mostly deserted, Camel breeding is common.
Thatta has a very important and rich history. It has rich Muslim heritage since 17th and 18th century. It was the Sind’s capital in past and Sindh was ruled by the four Muslim Dynasties from the early fourteenth century from Thatta. It was the centre of Islamic arts and due to its great importance, it was also called the ‘El Doran do’ of the east.
The Makli hill in Thatta is a great Historical asset. It is one of the largest necropolises of the world. The graveyard covers an area of about 16 kilometers having millions of graves where Kings, Queens, Governors, Scholars, Soldiers of different eras and civilizations, all lie and having their eternal sleep. It is also believed that when Alexander the great came to old Sindh rested here with his army after a long journey.
The Makli Hill Graveyard is also important because it holds a significant piece of art. The cravings of stone on the tombstones and the mausoleum are of great historical importance. The different designs on the monuments specify the different dynasties of Thatta. Mostly used stones are the marbles and the granites.
The most beautiful and impressive tombs of all, is the Tomb of Isa Khan. He was a cruel ruler. It is said that before his death, he ordered the craftsmen to construct his tomb, and before the completion of the tomb he cut off the hands of the most talented craftsman so that no one could copy the beauty of his tomb. He died in 1644 and still his tomb is present in Makli Hill and considered as the best art heritage.
Among the millions of graves, people believe that almost 125,000 Sufi saints of the past rest here, which urge pilgrims to visit Makli Hill Graveyard.
Today, Makli hill is a visiting site for both pilgrims and tourists and also a World Heritage Site for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) but the government of Pakistan do not pay attention towards the maintenance and conservation of this beautiful Islamic and Art heritage, which is in fact a drawback and deterioration of Islamic history, art and Craft.