Heavy rains ‘wreak havoc’ on Pakistan heritage sites

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Torrential rains that lashed the province in recent months have severely damaged some historical and archaeological monuments and affected many others, says a Sindh culture department report. 

Still majestic, Fort Kot Diji has seen almost no repair work since it was taken over by the government in the 1950s [Credit: Zofeen T. Ebrahim]

The report based on a post-rains survey of historical and archaeological sites in the province identified Umerkot, Kot Diji and Satyhan Jo Asthan as those severely damaged by the downpours. 

Culture department officials Qasim Ali Qasim and Mohammad Tanvir, who had been tasked with the survey and submission of recommendations, in the report stated that Umerkot, Kot Diji and Satyhan Jo Asthan were in need of immediate repairs. If the repairs were not carried out, the sites could destroy during winter showers or next monsoon rains. 

The report mentioned Shah Baharo Tomb, Thul Mir Rukan, Tomb of Noor Mohammad Kalhoro, Tajjar Building as the other sites which required repairs to restrict further decay. 

Umerkot 

Located on the fringes of the Great Thar desert, the entire fortification of the 500-year-old Umerkot has been badly damaged and a portion of the eastern gate has collapsed owing to unprecedented rains, according to the report. 

It was Umerkot where Mughal Emperor Akbar was born when his father, Humayun, was on the run after losing battle after battle to Farid Khan, better known as Sher Shah Suri, in the 16th century. 

The report stated that various portions of the fortification had collapsed and rainwater had entered the bastion from holes at the top and loosened masonry. 

The sides of the walls had eroded at many places, it added. 

The saturation and swelling of earth core had caused damage to the inner brickwork lining of the fortification which caused cracks, leakages, bulging and a partial collapse of the wall, it mentioned. 

The report said that the rainwater pressure had damaged the surface due to blockage of original rainwater outlets and rainwater runoffs had created furrows in the open area of the fort. 

Vaulting of three barracks of the British jail had also partially collapsed, it stated. 

Rainwater had also seeped in the masonry of merlons through various cracks that was causing pressure on the walls. If the repairs were not carried out immediately, the walls could collapse, the report added. 

Kot Diji 

Located in Khairpur district, Kot Diji — a Talpur period monument — has badly suffered owing to rains as the recent ‘restoration and development’ work carried out by the district government has blocked the original drains that caused rainwater accumulation at many places, according to the report. 

A portion of Jailkhana roof and barracks had also broken off, it said. 

The rainwater penetrated the cavities and potholes on the surface between the walls and top of the walls which seeped towards the wall and bastion, it added. 

The report also identified masonry joints of a well that had become loose. 

Satyhan Jo Asthan 

Satyhan Jo Asthan — the family graveyard of Mughal governor Mirza Abul Qasim Namkeen — had suffered greatly due to the rains, the report said. 

It added that parts of the parapet on the southern, eastern, and northern sides had bulged out. 

Two pillars decorated with Kashi on the western side at the top of the monument were leaning dangerously. A pillar on the northern side of the monument, located on the bank of the Indus River at Rohri, had already collapsed, the report mentioned. 

It stated that rainwater had penetrated into the entire structure through the cracks between the parapet and flooring, damaging the floor. Joints of glazed Kashi tiles of the graves had become wide open, while carved stones slabs of graves had been displaced from their original position, it added. 

Shah Baharo Tomb 

Located in Larkana district, the surrounding area of the Talpur general’s tomb was inundated with sewage, the report said. 

The stagnant water was causing dampness, leading to deterioration of the foundations and lower portion of the walls. Some parts of the tomb have been damaged as the rainwater has penetrated through cracks in northern and eastern walls, according to the report. 

It said that terracotta tiles on all the nine graves in the tomb were in advanced stage of decay. Several portions of platforms were damaged. The dome and small minarets, including the roof of the tomb, had suffered badly owing to rains, the report added. 

Thul Mir Rukan 

Located in the Moro area of Nawabshah district, the millennium-old Buddhist stupa had suffered greatly in the rains, the report said. 

The top of the historical stupa had been damaged severely and the brickwork on its drum had broken off at many places. The drum ring had corroded in places due to dampness, while a portion of the stupa was missing. 

The flooring of the area had deteriorated and the pillars and plinth of the monument, where the department had not even posted a watchman, had been broken, the report said. 

Kalhoro tomb 

Located in the Daulatpur Saffan of the Moro area, the tomb of ruler Noor Mohammad Kalhoro had suffered severely in the rains and a portion of the southern enclosure wall had collapsed, the report said. The remaining part was leaning dangerously and could collapse any time, it added. 

The western, northern and eastern walls of the complex comprising seven tombs and a mosque were in a bad condition. Three small tombs were in a poor state and the vaulting of these chambers had broken off. The outer tombs, open graves and mosque were also in advanced state of deterioration, the report said. 

Tajjar building 

Situated in the heart of Larkana, the historical building said to be built by Nawab Wali Mohammad Khan Leghari, a prime minister of the Mir rulers, in the early 19th century was in a shambles, the report said. 

It added that there was evidence of dampness in the floor and walls of the Tajjar building surrounded by stagnant rainwater. 

While inner glazed tile work on the parapet was fast decaying, tiles on its exterior were missing, the report mentioned. 

Some cracks had appeared in the ceiling that needed repairs, it said. 

Source: Dawn Com [October 12, 2011]

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