Thatta, Sindh, November 21st: Day four brought forward a unique learning and recreational opportunity for over 50 participants at the RSC 9. A daylong fieldtrip was planned where the visitors could enjoy the ancient carvings at the Makli necropolis, have lunch at the Keenjhar lake and spend some quiet, reflective moments at a 16TH century Mughal era monument - the Shahjehan Mosque. After three days of the riveting discussions in the environs of a local hotel, the participants seemed happy to explore the unique heritage and ecology of the country.
An early afternoon autumn breeze greeted the visitors when they arrived at the Makli Hills, of what is known to be the largest necropolises in the world, with a diameter of approximately 8 km. It is the burial place of some 125,000 local rulers and Sufi saints, and some of the ancient tombs have magnificent designs and carvings dating back to over thousand years. Makli necropolis has been on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage List since 1993.
After a brief stop over at a 12-acre patch of freshwater Avicennia marina, the visitors then proceeded to have tea and lunch at the picturesque Keenjhar Lake. Keenjhar Lake commonly known as Kalri Lake, is the second largest fresh water lake of the Pakistan. It is an important source that provides the drinking water to the Thatta District and Karachi city. It’s been declared a Ramsar site, a wildlife sanctuary and is a favorable wintering area for migratory birds like Ducks, Geese, Flamingos, Cormorants, Herons, Egrets, Ibises, Coots and Gulls and breeding area of Night Heron, Cotton Teal and Pheasant Tailed Jacana.
Followed by a quick boat ride around the lake, the Livestock and Fisheries Department of Sindh hosted a scrumptious lunch prepared in traditional spices. There was a beautiful musical performance by the local musicians who held the audience captive with their rendition of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s poetry. Highlighting the rich cultural heritage of Sindh, Director General Fisheries, Mr. Ghulam Mohammad Meher thanked the delegation for visiting the area and taking their keen interest in local crafts and music. Ms. Maeve Nightingale, Head of the Coastal and Marine Programme IUCN Asia and Ms Janalezza Morvenna A. Esteban, MFF Regional Knowledge Management Officer acknowledged the local hosts for their warm hospitality.
After a quick stop at the Chillya fish hatchery of the Livestock and Fisheries department of Sindh, the delegation was taken to the architectural jewel of Sindh, the Shahjehan Mosque, built in 1647 during the reign of Mughal Kin Shahjehan. It has been built keeping acoustics in mind, so a person speaking inside one end of the dome can be heard at the other end when the speech exceeds 100 decibels. It is said that Shahjehan built the mosque as a gesture of gratitude to the people of Thatta for sheltering him during his youth, after his father banished him from Delhi. The visitors admired the red bricks and blue glazed Hala tiles used in the construction of the mosque and the beautiful interplay of light inside the mosque.
As the sun started setting in behind the majestic domes of the Shahjehan Mosque, the visitors bid adieu, slowly and reluctantly to the ancient town of Thatta.