Historical Monuments at Makli, Thatta
Historical Monuments At Makli, Thatta
Cultural Pakistan Asia And The Pacific Province Of Sind

The archaeological site of Thatta and the necropolis of Makli testify in an outstanding manner to the civilization of Sind from the 14th to the 18th centuries. Within the broad family of Islamic monuments, those of Thatta represent a particular type, notable for the fusion of diverse influences into a local style. The effect of the Grand Mosque of Shah Jahan with its complex of blue and white buildings capped by 93 domes is unique.

From the 14th to the 18th centuries, Thatta played an important role in the history of Sind, as the city, which commanded the delta of the Indus, had been successively the capital of the Samma, Argun and Tarkhan dynasties before being governed from 1592 to 1739 in the name of the Mughal emperors of Delhi.

From 1739, when the province of Sind was ceded to the Shah Nadir of Iran, Thatta entered into a period of decadence and neglect. The site preserves, in a state of exceptional integrity, an imposing monumental complex with the remains of the city itself in the valley and especially those of the necropolis, massed at the edge of the Makli plateau, covering a distance of about 12 km.

The four centuries that comprise the golden age of Thatta have left their traces on the form of monuments of high quality in stone and brick. Among those in stone are the tombs of Jam Nizammudin, who reigned from 1461 to 1509, and those of Isa Khan Tarkhan the Younger and of his father, Jan Baba, both of which were constructed before 1644. Among the edifices in brick and glazed tiles are the mosque of Dabgir, that of Shah Jahan (1644-47) and numerous mausolea, and tombs of which the most colourful is that of Diwan Shurfa Khan (died 1638).

If the tomb of Jam Nizamuddin establishes evident ties with Hindu architecture of the Gujerat style and the influence of Mughal imperial architecture, it is in no way a simple copy. At Thatta, an original concept of stone decoration was born, perhaps using glazed tile models. Even in the area of architectural terracotta, the distant examples of Persia and Asia were transposed. Neither in their technique nor in their colour do the monuments of Thatta resemble those of Lahore.

The salt air carried by the monsoons has an extremely harmful and corrosive effect on the brick, rendering the preservation of a large number of monuments of the Makli plateau highly precarious.