Pakistan is a land of diversity, culture, history, and countless marvels of nature; it is one of those heavenly places where you can still glimpse the sights from the past days long gone and buried under the dust. Whether the dreamland of castles and forts spread across different cities of the country or the mighty ruins of once brilliant and remarkably extraordinary ancient civilizations, Pakistan has it all. Pakistan’s impeccable and peerless history is preserved in several relics from another time; one of those historically significant wondrous places is known as The Chaukhandi Tombs, a majestic and divine structure located near Karachi. The Tombs are the remnants of an ancient period that signify the history of an early Islamic time frame in Asia’s sub-continent.
Meaning Of Chaukhandi Tombs Karachi
The word ‘Chaukhandi‘ has been taken from the Urdu language and serves as the name for this ancient Muslim mausoleum. It is a widespread belief among the most notable scholars of Sindh that Chaukhandi is the name of a place, while some regard it as a term attributed to the architecture of the tombs. Right atop the Cemetery of ‘Chaukhandi‘ lies the crypt of Jam Murid Bin Haji. Written on the grave is a series of indentations containing the word Chaukhandi alongside the names of the departed folks, which was reason enough for Shaikh Khurshid Hassan to finally put the debate to rest by attributing the word Chaunkandi as the name of a place.
Chaukhandi Tomb Karachi History
The history that underlies the tombs of Chaukhandi is one of a kind, and it is particularly interesting for history geeks who love to study old-age architecture and past events. According to the account of several historians, the tombs were once a particular burial space for an olden tribe from Sindh. This tribe was known as the Jokhio tribe (also called Jokhiya). Jokhio is a Sindhi name, and it shows that this tribe was based in the area of Sindh for a long time, and the tombs were created to honor and bury their dead though many other tribes have been buried there over time, one of which is the Baloch tribe. Detailed research has shown that the tombs of Chaukhandi were most probably built in the Mughal period dating between the 15th to 18th centuries. One thing to be noted here is that this is right after Islam started to gain popularity among the people of the subcontinent. Many people began to embrace the faith of one God, leaving behind the initial practices of faith, which make these tombs a genuinely scarce and significant historical and religious relic from the past. The outstanding sandstones, the multifaceted beige carvings, the embellishments of motifs and geometrical designs, and the artistic figural renditions in the form of straddling horse rides, arms, trinkets, and hunting retreats are things that make the tombs of Chaukhandi Karachi indeed a marvel of a kind.
Architecture of Chaukhandi Tombs
The tombs of Chaukhandi are a marvel to behold and an exemplary structural wonder that will take one’s breath away. The tombs are especially remarkable for their outstanding sandstone carvings that resemble the magnificent architecture of the Makhli Necropolis graves near Thatha. However, the architectural sense of style is similar to the typical standard way of most buildings in Sindh. The tombs of Chaukhandi Karachi are one of those structures like most structures in Baluchistan because of their central north-to-south orientation. One of the most jaw-dropping facts is that despite hundreds of years and the area’s arid climate, most of the graves and intricate, complex works of patterns and sandstones are still preserved and in pretty good shape regardless of how much time may have gone by. The job done on the graves is of utmost complexity and brilliance; the most elegant graves are fashioned and covered with a specific, alluring beige-colored sandstone structure. Tombs seemed to have been created in one single grave or a rather complex network of up to eight graves often placed on a higher but common platform. The study of the inner structure inside the graves has proved the presence of a characteristic old-fashioned sarcophagus. This consists of over six slabs that are placed vertically with an addition of two more extended slabs that point toward the total length of a dead body.
Additionally, two other slabs are placed in a vertical position on the head and foot side of the body. The six slabs are further covered by yet another sarcophagus which consists of six slabs also positioned vertically. The only difference to be noted is the size of these relatively short slabs, which is the main culprit behind the pyramid shape of the tombs of Chaukhandi Karachi. But it doesn’t end here just yet as another structural delicacy covers the graves further up ahead with a total of four or five slabs placed in a horizontal mannerism. The construction at the very top part is often placed in a vertical position with its northern endpoint, mainly carved into a knob with a semblance of a crown or a turban. Overall the tombs are a wonder of a sort.
Discovery And Research at Chaukhandi Tombs
The earliest and most ancient mention of the Chaukhandi tombs in Karachi can be found in a letter written by J.Macleod to H.B.E.FRERE in the year 1851. However, the tomb of Chaukhandi came into a real sharp focus after 1917 when H.D.Baskerville, who was the assistant collector of Thatha, decided to research this ancient site’s history. According to the summary provided by Dr. Salome Zajadacz-Hastenrath, a mausoleum of the same sort was discovered somewhere in Baluchistan at the beginning of the 20th century. In her elaborative studies of the tombs of Chaukhandi Karachi, she mentioned that the tombs were constructed far beyond the level of typical folk architecture. Later another researcher discovered that the tombs were meant for the burial of the followers of Islam. Due to the manner of the graves, Muslims are buried in such a way that they face the holy city of Mecca as it rests on the right shoulder. Now Mecca is situated on the west side of Sindh, and the longitudinal axis of the tombs lies in the north-to-south course, while the head of the deceased always lies in the north.
In his first published paper explicitly written on the tombs of Chaukhandi, Shaikh Khurshid Hassan observed that while most of the buried bodies belonged to the old tribe of Jokhio, several others belonged to the tribes of Burfat and Sheikhs.
Timings And Location of Chaukhandi Tombs
The tombs of Chaukhandi are situated near N-5, Landhi Town in Karachi city, located in Sindh, Pakistan. The graves are located approximately at a distance of 29 km east of the city of Karachi. You can book a car and see the magical site of history and the past days. It is quite an experience to visit the remarkable sights of the old burial sites. Their sandstones and motifs leave a person gawking and staring at the marvelous structure. It is bathed in intricate buff-colored designs of an old-time long passed and forgotten yet preserved for those who want to admire, feel and understand its historical significance one day.
Chanukandi tomb is open from Sunday to Saturday, from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and on Fridays from 7:00 AM to 12:30 PM with a break of two hours and then open from 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM. It is better to book your trip beforehand to avoid any inconvenience.
Booking A Ticket
The good news is that you do not need to buy a ticket to enter the graveyard because it is one of the free sites to be visited in Karachi. However, there is a local guide you can hire on the spot for a more detailed experience of the tombs of Chaukhandi for a relatively small amount of money. There is an official gateway for visitors’ entry and a welcome sign. It is better to book a taxi in advance, which will cost you from 2000 to 3500 rupees from central Karachi to the tombs of Chaukhandi.
Chaukhandi tombs in Karachi are a place totally worth your time and experience and the best thing for those who love to explore and travel around. It is a place for people who are interested in architecture and history. To walk in the beauty of an old worn, out yet amazing place while looking at the amazing wonders of ancient architecture is a dream come true for visitors. It is especially advised for parents to introduce their children to this magical place which can also serve as a strong reminder of the past we have never seen. Still, it is a part of our ancestral legacy nonetheless. Not only will you admire the beautiful and unique structure of the tombs but also, when the sun hits the sandstones of this huge graveyard and tombs, you will find yourself in golden hues which are perfect for a nice photogenic photographic experience.
Who built Chaukhandi tombs?
It is often believed that the Jokhio tribe was responsible for building the tombs of Chaukhandi, Karachi.
Do you need to book in advance to visit Chaukhandi tombs?
There is no entrance fee to visit the Chaukhandi tombs.