Shikarpur (Sindh)

SHIKARPUR is situated about 18 miles from the right bank of the Indus, with a station on the North-Western railway, 23 M. N.W. of  SUKKUR in Larkana division. Shikarpur has always been an important as commanding the trade route through the Bolan Pass, and its merchants have dealings with many towns in Central Asia. It had a large market and manufactures of carpets, cotton cloth and pottery. Shikarpur was formerly the headquarters of a district of the same name. In 1901 two sub-divisions of this district were detached to form the new district of Larkana, and the two other subdivisions were then constituted the district of Sukkur but regain its status as district again.

The present day city of Shikarpur was hunting ground of Daood Potans. Near by village Lakhi and some other villages were inhabited. In the year 1617, Mahrans, rulers of Lakhi, were defeated by Daood Potans, who built Shikarpur in remembrance of their Victory. The city was constructed inside a Fort. During the rule of Kalhoras, Ahmed Shah Dorani took control of Shikarpur after defeating Miya Noor Mohammadd Kahloro (abbasi) and affixed it to his territory. It is also claimed that Amir Bahadur Khan II Abbasi, Amir of Shikarpur, son of Firuz Khan Abbasi. Founded Shikarpur in 1690. Since those days, Caravans from Afghanistan started visiting Shikarpur and many Hindus and Muslims started visiting the city. Many Shikarpuris are from Arorvanshi family. Others do not think so. They point out that Shikarpur was admittedly there before the shikar-loving Talpurs arrived on the scene; for another, Shikarpur has always been a trading centre, and never a hunting lodge. Also, the Muslims named their cities as "Abad'' and never "Nagar'' or "Pur''. These experts think that Shikarpur is really Shakaripur the "town founded by the vanquisher of the "Shakas'', the Scythians. In this connection they point out that "Quetta'' is known in Persian records as "Shakari Kot" "the (border) fort built by the vanquisher of the "Shakas''. Later, on the Indian side, it came to be known simply as "Kot'' or "Koita'', which the British corrupted into "Quetta''.  

The old city has narrow streets, and some of the old houses still have the intricate woodwork on jharokas and bay windows the city was once famed for. The Shahi Bagh, a public garden, is pretty neglected as well. At one time Shahi Bagh had a zoo with large population of lions, cheetahs, bears and wild boars. These animals were later shifted to Karachi Zoo. The garden had a wooden pavilion that was designed by Perston Phel and constructed by Sir W. Merewether in September 1871. There are six gates (called dar in sindhi) Hathi dar, Hazari dar, Lakhi dar, Karan dar, Siwi dar, Wagna dar and one window sidique marri.

Shikarpur: The city of  SAAMI: Beloved Sindhi Mystic Poet

"Ram remains in him, the fool goes out find,
Rolls rosary like a Sadhu, Sami has no abode,
He looks so sad, 'cause he denies himself."

Saami (A Sindhi form of Swami) was a born in Shikarpur, Sindh. He was one of the three most beloved Sindhi sufis  (1743-1850)and the greatest poets that the ancient land of sindh has ever produced. Saami (1743-1850 AD) his full name is Bhai Chain Roy. He was a rich merchant in the heyday of Shikarpur, one who traveled far and wide but lived a simple life with few possessions, giving away his wealth in good works. Some pearls and diamonds of Saami's lilting and enchanting poetry are given below:

"How boastful is he,
Believing he is a Pundit!
To the lessons of the Vedas he listens,
But humility he does not acquire,
The Lord lives within,
That the blind cannot see,
Only the pure of heart, o Sami!
Shall find the Supreme."

"Lafaan lak harnhani, pandit jaarne paarna khe,
Ggalihiyuun vedani juun bbudhi, maramu na rakhani manu,
Thakuru vase ghara men, so andhaa kiina ddisani,
Lakhiyaa lahani, 'Saamii' supiriian khe."

More can be found about this sufi from his writings that has been edited by Prof. B H Nangrani and is available in Sindhi Script online Samii ja salook

Some interesting facts and links of present day city

Civil Hospital built by donations from all over sub-continent nearly 150 years ago    Lakhidar (lakhi gate) once  city was know by its famous 8 gates out side the city. Only names are remained now!    A shrine     Shahi bag mari (Royals Garden resting place) Extension Building of the Government C & S College built by two wealthy Hindus [ Chella ram and Setal das] nearly 150 years a go!  A city old building near girls college on Hathi dar (Hathi Gate: In old days, Prince and Princess used this way to visit the city iusing royal elephent baghi)  A view of ciry Hathi dar (Elephent Gate]  Governebt High School 2 Again build by old natives of town! Map of Shikarpur Sindh

DHAK-BAZZAR (a century old photograph) under construction!

Picture from an old diary: (DHAK-Bazzar work in progress) picture taken during the British Raj in Sindh, Still maintained, even better!  is a typical market which has wooden roof from one end to another end. Estimated length of more than half kilometre.

Following passage is taken from sindhi internet resource

Dhak Bazar
The happy scenes around bazars, Sindh canal, bungalows with bath tanks, gardens with beautiful flowers, food, had always people thronging all over with gaiety and gay. Taj Mohd. bemoans, that neither those people nor those scenes can be seen today. Everything is in ruins and shambles. There were so many other places of interest. The important being 'Dhak Bazar' and ’Shahi Baugh’. In fact, 'Dhak Bazar' was the architectural marvel. It was the longest bazar covered with woodwork (pure teak), creating a feeling of being air-conditioned even in the hottest of summers. ’Shahi Baugh’ was the biggest and the most beautiful garden with thousands of variety of flowers and the pavilion therein on Goethic lines of architecture. 

Lakhi Dar 
Lakhi-Dar was another place where in the evening people would-flock together to roam, stroll, eat, drink (soft drinks-thadal, lassi, milk) and make merry. The Moti kulfi was a famous treat which nobody could omit; it is said that the descendants of Moti still sell that kulfi. As they say, while in Shikarpur, if one does not see Lakhi Dar, one has not seen Shikarpur at all. In fact, it was the nerve centre of the city. 

Cultural Queen Of Sindh
Cultural minded Shhikarpuris were fond of and knowledgeable about classical music. There was a Natak Sabha theatre on the bank of Beggary Canal surrounded by pipal trees where during the days of Holi(seven days) they used to organize ’Hando’ of holi. Renowned and famous artistes from Sindh and India like Waman Rao, Patwardhan, Pandit Vyas, Onkarnath, Khan Sahib Mubarak Ali Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, singers like-Kajari Inayat Bai and Mukhtiar Begum, were invited to sing and the people used to listen to them for days together. They were duly respected and flooded with costly gifts. They were accommodated with due care in the bungalows of accommodated with due care in the bungalows of Hindu seths. The first dramatic society - Dharamupkars Amateurs Society was established by Thakurdas Nagrani, Session Judge, Aga Sfi, Maharaj Tejbhandas and others. 

Education And Literature
In the field of literature also Shikarpur was in the forefront. It produced vedantic titans like Saami, one of the three pillars, ’TRIMURTI’-Shah, Sachal and Saami of Sindhi Poetry. Saami wrote his slokas in popular idioms for the masses. 4000 such slokas were later found by Prof. Jhamandas, though earlier about 2100 were already published in shidhi. Lokumal Dodeja wrote Ramayan and his son Girdharilal Dodeja also entered the field of literature. Shikarpur has produced greatest modern poet of Sindh, ’Sheikh Ayaz’ who is still living and whose contribution is also as unparalleled as it is unconventional. As regards education, Shikarpuris were marching ahead even in 1930. according to one Survey there were about 70 graduates in the city of Shikarpur in 1930; Whereas, in the rest of Sindh there were only 7 graduates then. The first Sindhi college, Chellasingh Satramdas (C&S) College, was also started in Shikarpur. Even today, it is still known as Government C&S degree college.

an article from web Inspired by the compliments received from my fellow netizens, I am presenting second article: "SHIKARPUR" - This is translated by me from the book "Uhe Deenhan Uhe sheenhan" (Those Remarkable Days). Vol. I - pp 239-240, published in Sindhi by Sindhi Adabi Board, Jamshoro, and Hyderabad Sindh. Second edition 1987. In this chapter Pir Muhammad Ali Rashidi has described the glory of the city of Shikarpur as he has witnessed himself as a child in the twenties of this century. I am sharing this piece of history with netizens who are unable to read Sindhi. I have tried my best to translate the text and taken care to describe the narration as it is, however if any mis-interpretation of event is derived as a result of inadvertent translation mistake, then it should be attributed only to me. Once again I am seeking forgiveness from Begum Mumtaz Rashidi, for translating this piece without her permission. _Ramesh U. Kateja 

SHIKARPUR …..As I recollect from my early childhood memories, was a paradise for fun-loving wealthy people. The people of Shikarpur, their traditions and the way of life were different from people of other parts of Sindh. The grandeur of city was at its prime best. 'Sindh-warki' Bhaibands (A class of Hindu business community) were dominant; they were engaged in trade with far away regions right up to Samarkand and Bukhara. They would bring all the wealth earned overseas to Shikarpur and spent it there. They owned palatial houses. They would not spare anything to decorate the city and would not hesitate to indulge in charities. Every year they would invite Dr. Holland, an eye specialist to Sindh for free treatment of eye patients. Many were spared from becoming blind. They had set up a very big hospital in Shikarpur. In their last days in Sindh, they had established the only medical college in northern Sindh, in Shikarpur only. All these charitable institutions were run with their finances. Their living was not an ordinary one; they lived a posh and majestic life. They had palaces in city, gardens on outskirts of city and bungalows therein. Evenings were spent in luxury of music and dance; best of the dancers would be invited from Lahore, Bombay and Calcutta. Once in a year they would organize a grand musical feat, where artists from all over India would be invited for competitions where awards and rewards would be showered on them. Motor vehicles were non-existent those days; the rich would travel in Victorias (Big horse driven carriages or buggies), pulled by two mares. Those Victoria saloons and the horses were stunningly beautiful and worth looking at. Riding in those saloons they would pass through Lakhi Daar and reach their garden enclosed bungalows. Liquor (Daroon) would flow, eatables would be made available in abundance, bone-pieces of roasted meat and potato patties would be specially ordered from Hindu chefs of Lakhi Daar. Adequate arrangement of music program would be the order of the evening. Moonlit night, fragrance of flowers, light rythm of drums, soft notes of Sarangi (An indigenous violin), melodious voice of beautiful damsels would indeed recreate a scene out of paradise! Bhaibands would comfortably stretch themselves in swinging 'Peenghas' or cots; they would bring out gold guineas from the folds of their Dhotis (an apparel worn waist downward by Hindus.) and offer to singing courtesans. Those days there was no paper currency; 'Bald' rupee coins were not generally appreciable. Rich Bhaibands would consider silver 'bald' rupee coins as an inferior currency. ('Bald' coins were called so, because picture embossed on the coins was that of Edward VII, who was bald) The only worthy currency for them was guineas or coins made of pure gold. That was the city of Shikarpur. (Translation : Ramesh U. Kateja)

The ignored city of Shikarpur is still famous for few of its local cultural things. Traditional Pickle [in Sindhi we call it AACHAR], Sweets [in Sindhi we call it MAAO] and special desert called FALUDA at Lakhidar. Do not get confused with similar names. There is another City named SHIKARPUR in India.

Some useful links

Shikharpur - Reincarnating Paris

Shikarpur Sculptures

Government of Sindh, Education department Shikarpur

Shikarpur_ page from Local Government of Sindh

Shikarpur Chamber Of Commerce & Industry

Shikarpur bazar in Kandhar Afghanistan: [A paragraph from a book: Source: "Ahmad Shah Durrani" By Ganda Singh - 1959 Page: 339] WED: 5/24/1903: "While passing the Shikarpur Bazar, I noticed many donkey loads and sheep hides full of opium being brought by the cultivators and sold to Sindhi Banias. The Banias are not allowed to sell opium except the license holder. " Note: Shikarpur Bazar (Kandhahar) was populated with Hindus until mid 1980's

Disclaimer: The above page was collected from local and internet pages, which is reproduced only for public awareness and interest to promote culture and diverse ethnicity. No commercial benefits are indented. There may be errors and mistakes in description, please send us email.


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