Sindh (Sindhi: سنڌ), the historical home to the Sindhi people is the second most populated administrative unit of Pakistan after Punjab, with a population of over 45 million people. Sindh is known as Bab-ul-Islam (the gateway of Islam), as it saw the first spread of Islam into South Asia. It has its own culture and traditions, and has its roots in one of the world's oldest civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilisation, which Sindh was home to.
Sindh is endowed with coastal access, and is a major centre of economic activity in Pakistan. Karachi, the country's largest city at the southwestern tip of Sindh, is the main financial hub of the country as well one of the most populous cities in the world and has both the country's largest airport and largest seaport.
The Sindh, Pakistan is a fairly small province, with 2 regions and 7 administrative divisions:
|Northern Sindh (Sukkur, Larkana)|
Home to Mohenjo-daro, a fascinating archaeological site containing the best-preserved ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the world's oldest
|Southern Sindh (Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas)|
Important to the whole country because of its coastline, and home to Pakistan's huge, most diverse and cosmopolitan city – Karachi – and Sindh's only national park. Has several archaeological sites of great interest and significance
- 1 Karachi – coastal port city, provincial capital, the financial capital and largest city of Pakistan
- 2 Hyderabad – second largest city of Sindh, rich both historically and culturally
- 3 Sukkur – third largest city of Sindh
- 4 Larkana – famous for its proximity to Mohenjo-daro
- 5 Khairpur – famous for KotDiji, Faiz Mahal
- 6 Mirpur Khas
- 7 Nawabshah
- 8 Thatta – historic town famous for the necropolis at Makli
- 9 Umerkot — known for its impressive fort and birthplace of Mughal emperor Akbar
- 10 Mithi
- 1 Mohenjo-daro – an ancient city not to be missed by history buffs
- 2 Kirthar National Park – Sindh's only national park offers great natural beauty and a good variety of wildlife
- 3 Keenjhar Lake – a vast freshwater lake, perfect for picnicking and boating
- 4 Sehwan – town of the great mystic poet, saint and scholar Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
- 5 Nagarparkar
Sindh is bounded to the west by Balochistan, to the north by Punjab, the east by the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan and to the south by the Arabian Sea. Many of the settlements in Sindh are located on, or close to the River Indus. This is similar to Egypt, where many settlements are located on the Nile.
Sindh is home to one of the earliest cities in the world, Mohenjo-daro which was one of the most advanced of its time, and one of the main cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC). IVC was one of the great civilisations of the ancient world, and one of the earliest Bronze Age civilisations. In 6th century BC, Sindh was conquered by Persian based empire Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire. Around the fall of Achaemenid Empire in the late 300s BC, Sindh was conquered by a army of Kingdom of Macedonia led by the lord of Asia, Alexander the Great. Sindh remained under the control of Kingdom of Macedonia till the death of Alexander and then Sindh came under the control of Maurya Empire.
The Islamic era began when the Islamic forces under the leadership of general Muhammad bin Qasim entered Sindh in 711 AD, defeated the ruling Raja Dahir of Rai dynasty and conquered Sindh and neighbouring regions along the Indus River for the second Islamic caliphates Umayyad Caliphate. Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Islamic caliphates established after the death of Muhammad and at its greatest extent, was the largest empire in the world at that time. Sindh was made easternmost province of the Umayyad Caliphate and Mansura, which lies some 70km north-east of Hyderabad was established and made the regional capital. The conquest brought South Asian societies into direct contact with Arabs and Islamic civilization and hence, started the mass religious conversion when millions of local people of Sindh were converted to Islam. Later when Umayyad Caliphate was succeeded by the third of the Islamic caliphates Abbasid Caliphate, Sindh remained an integral part of the Abbasid Caliphate who continued to rule over Sindh until the Siege of Baghdad in 1258 AD when the Mongol Empire captured the Abbasid capital Baghdad and ended its reign. The Baghdad siege marks the end of the Golden Age of Islam during which much of the Muslim world experienced a scientific, economic, and cultural boom. In 1339 AD when Jam Unar founded the Samma dynasty, locals replaced the Arab rule by Samma. Samma dynasty ruled the Sindh as well parts of Punjab and Balochistan between 14th-16th century AD, and developed the cities of Thatta and adjoining Makli Hills. Both were greatly expanded and local Sindhi art, architecture, music and culture was promoted.
In the 16th century, Akbar the Great conquered Sindh and incorporated it into the Mughal Empire. Akbar was born in 1542 AD in Umerkot, where his parents had been given refuge by the local Hindu ruler. During the rule of the Mughals, Sindhi literature greatly flourished. Shahjahan Mosque in Thatta was constucted when the Shah Jahan, the grandson of Akbar and then the fifth Mughal Emperor visited Thatta. Mughal rule lasted until when the Durrani Empire invaded Sindh in 1747 AD. The Talpur established government in Sindh in 1783 AD and remained the ruling elite until Britishers under the leadership of Sir Charles Napier, who later became governor of Sindh, defeated them, ended their reign and began the colonial era on the entire subcontinent. Britishers initially came as traders in the subcontinent but become so powerful that virtually the entire subcontinent fell to their hands. During British rule, railway lines were laid in Sindh and the infrastructure of Sindh was improved, particularly in Karachi where major developments were taken.
Sindh lies in a subtropical region; it is hot in the summer and mild to warm in winter. Temperatures frequently rise above 45°C (103°F) between May and August, and the minimum average temperature of 2°C (35°F) occurs during December and January in the northern region. The northern part is hotter in summer and colder in winter whereas the southern part has more moderate seasonal changes. Rainfall is concentrated in the monsoon season, from July to August.
The native language of locals is Sindhi (سنڌي). Almost all locals are bilingual in provincial language Sindhi and the national language Urdu which is spoken throughout the region. English is an official language of Pakistan and is widely spoken and understood in Karachi whereas in other bigger cities of Sindh and even in rural areas, everyone know at least basic English and you will be able to get by with English, as most people you will encounter can communicate in broken English at the very least.
Most visitors to Sindh arrive at Jinnah International Airport, in the southern city of Karachi. The airport is the country's largest and busiest and works as the main gateway to Pakistan. It is served by many international airlines such as Air Arabia, Air China, Cathy Pacific, Etihad, Emirates, Gulf Air, FlyDubai, Iran Air, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Saudia, SriLankan Airlines, Thai Airways, and Turkish Airlines. The airport is the main hub of the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines and other local airlines of Pakistan such as Shaheen Air, Air Blue and Air Indus. Sukkur Airport in the northern part of Sindh handles only domestic flights, but can be useful when coming into northern Sindh.
Sindh is well connected with the rest of the country by Pakistan Railways. The busiest railway station is in Karachi in southwest Sindh and plenty of trains (both economical and air-conditioned class) bound for Karachi originate daily from major Pakistani cities such as Lahore, Rawalpindi, Quetta and Peshawar.
Karachi railway station, more commonly known as Cantt. station, is actually the final destination station of virtually all trains travelling into Sindh, while Hyderabad and the northern railway station of Rohri near Sukkur are important railway junctions where the majority of the trains make brief stops.
Mostly people travel to Karachi and trains for Karachi are abundant so you should have no difficulty to find one that suits you. For travellers from Punjab, the air-conditioned accommodation class trains Tezgam or Shalimar Express are preferred. Tezgam originates from Rawalpindi, and travels via many major cities of Punjab such Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan and Bahawalpur. Shalimar Express originates from Lahore and via Faisalabad, Multan, and Bahawalpur enters Sindh. Both travel to Karachi, stopping briefly at Rohri and Hyderabad.
The Khyber Mail is recommended for the journey between Sindh and the north-western region while the Bolan Mail is the best choice for those travelling from Balochistan. The Khyber Mail is Pakistan's oldest and most prestigious train have both economy and air-conditioned class accommodation. It has the longest running route in Pakistan and runs through many major cities in Punjab to Karachi after briefly stopping at major railway stations in Sindh. The Bolan Mail has air-conditioned class and is the country's most historic train and travels via many cities and towns in Sindh before reaching Karachi.
An international train link connects Sindh with the neighbouring Indian state of Rajasthan. Thar Express is a weekly train run every Friday. Its termini are Karachi in Pakistan and Bhagat Ki Kothi near Jodhpur in India. The border crossing takes place between Zero Point (Khokhrapar) in Pakistan and Munabao in India which are the two last railway stations of the India-Pakistan border and this is the point where passengers had to change trains.
Sindh is well connected with the rest of Pakistan via network of multiple-lane highways and can be reached easily by driving your own car.
National Highway # N-5, originates from border town of Torkham (Pakistan-Afghanistan border) and runs via many major cities such as Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Multan, before crossing into Sindh where it passes through Hyderabad, Khairpur and reaching Karachi. It is 1756 km long which makes it largest highway in the country and is the most used way in Pakistan for getting around. National Highway # N-55 (Indus Highway) is a 1264-km long highway that originates from Peshawar and runs via Kohat, Dera Ghazi Khan enter Sindh and travels up to Hyderabad.
Sindh is well connected to the country's southwestern region of Balochistan. National Highway # N-25 (RCD Highway) is 813 km long, originates from border town of Chaman (Pakistan-Afghanistan border) and runs via Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar and Bela on its way to Karachi. National Highway # N-65 (Indus Highway) is 385 km long, originates from Quetta and runs via Sibi to enter Sindh and travel up to Sukkur. The 653-km long National Highway # N-10 (Makran Coastal Highway) runs from Gwadar and later merge with N-25 for Karachi.
Sindh is well connected with rest of Pakistan and Karachi, being the country's most important city, is the main hub for all means of transportation. There are bus services (both air-conditioned and non-airconditioned) to all major cities in Sindh from other parts of the country and mostly for Karachi. Daewoo Sammi can be a good option if travelling from Punjab. They're popular bus operator in the country and operate more clean, air-conditioned, spacey, secure, and modern fleet of buses.
A large part of travel between cities in Sindh is by bus. Travel by bus is the cheapest, most convenient, and most common way to move from place to place. Buses and minibuses travel around Sindh but quality can vary a lot. You can find buses to all major cities and towns. Air-conditioned buses run between major cities of the Sindh while non-airconditioned for both from the major cities to small towns but the only drawback is comfort in non-airconditioned buses. Buses are the only cheap way of reaching places not covered by railway.
The one-way fare on a Daewoo air-conditioned bus between Karachi and Sukkur is Rs. 1,500. The buses run throughout the day at one-hour intervals and the ride takes seven hours while the one-way fare on a normal air-conditioned bus for travelling between Karachi and Hyderabad is around Rs. 300.
Sindh has a good railway network by Pakistani standards, and it's more than adequate for travel between major cities and towns. Plenty of trains travel back and forth daily, stopping at many railway stations along the way. Although major cities are well connected, you will need to use buses, taxis or your own car to reach many of the attractive tourist sites.
Awam Express and Khushhal Khan Khattak Express are economy class only trains but have a good network in Sindh. Awam Express runs on the main line (between Karachi and Rohri) while Khushhal Khan Khattak Express operates on the branch line (between Karachi and Jacobabad). Sukkur Express and Bolan Mail have air-conditioned class accommodations. Bolan Mail runs on the branch line, while Sukkur Express on the main. Sukkur Express is the only regional train, and travels through many major cities and towns of Sindh. It runs on the main line until Rohri but later changes onto a branch line for Jacobabad.
Marvi Passenger and Saman Sarkar Express travel from east to west and back in the southern part of Sindh. Badin Express travels between Hyderabad and Badin.
Sindh has a rather good road network and all cities and major towns are well connected with each other by multi-lane highways and arterial roads. Many settlements are located on, or close to, the National Highways # N-5 and N-55. Karachi and Hyderabad, the two largest cities, are connected to each other by both a multi-lane highway and a motorway, which reduces the distance to 150 km and the travel time to 2 hours.
Getting around Sindh by plane is very uncommon. Several commercial airports remain closed for most of the year and only become operational occasionally. Pakistan's national carrier PIA is the only carrier that flies between Sindh airports. Currently, they have direct but non-daily flights between Karachi and the northern cities of Sukkur and Mohenjo-daro, as well as direct flights between Sukkur and Mohenjo-daro.
A one-way ticket in economy class between Karachi and Mohenjo-daro or Sukkur should cost no more than Rs. 10,000 and the journey takes one hour. The journey between Sukkur and Mohenjo-daro takes half an hour and a one-way ticket in economy class costs approximately Rs. 5,000.
Sindh has numerous tourist attractions, with the most celebrated ones being ruins of archaeological sites and the country's most popular beaches. Most visitors to Sindh end up in Karachi, a real mega-city, home to 23 million people. Karachi is a modern, bustling and multicultural metropolis and as the country's most developed urban area, provides a glimpse of modern life in Pakistan. It offers a remarkable variety of attractions and has a collection of beautiful buildings of varied architectural styles largely dating back to the British period. However, Sindh has much more to offer to its visitors than just a great city.
Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and its heritage, Sindh is dotted with well-known archaeological and historically significant sites which, despite extensive neglect, have been surprisingly well preserved. The most prominent are the ruins of earliest advance urban city of Mohenjo-daro and historical monuments at Makli, which is one of the world's largest necropolises. Both sites are designated as cultural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Other sites of archaeological and historical significance are awaiting a listing, such as the Shah Jahan Mosque of Thatta, the ancient city of Bhambore, the 15th and 18th century Chaukhandi Tombs and the gigantic fortification of Ranikot Fort, which can be said the Great Wall of Sindh and is believed to be the largest fort in the world.
Islamic architecture is quite prominent in Sindh as well and the region is dotted with numerous cultural shrines and beautiful mausoleums. They are visited throughout the year by devotees from all over the country. Some fine examples are the very old Shrine of Shahbaz Qalander, the Shrine of Abdul Latif Bhittai in Bhit and the Shrine of Sachal Sarmast near Ranipur. The most iconic mausoleum of the country can be found in Karachi, and is the modern and beautiful mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan.
Due to the coastline, Sindh is bestowed with country's busiest sea port and is fringed by beaches, especially silver and golden sand beaches scattered on its southwestern coastline, with the exceptions being some important areas of mangrove forest in the south-east. Sindh forms the basin for the Indus, Pakistan's longest river, which has created a number of freshwater lakes in the province with the most popular one being Keenjhar Lake which serves as a perfect spot for a picnic as well as for fishing and boating. The central-western part of Sindh is home to the Kirthar mountain range, which consists of a series of parallel rock hill ridges where Sindh's highest peaks are located. The mountains occasionally receive snowfall during the winters, with the most popular being Gorakh Hill station situated at an elevation of 5,688ft, and the vast and rugged Kirthar National Park. Kirthar Park, located in the midst of the barren rocks, is the last bastion of a wide variety of the region's wildlife. Although Kirthar mountain range is not nearly as exotic or scenic as the plateaus of northern Pakistan, at is still well worth visiting for its natural beauty.
Sindh has a coastline of 300 km, thus offering plenty of water-based activities such as deep-sea fishing, boating, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving or simply swimming and relaxing in a beach hut. Most of activities are concentrated in and around Karachi. In fact, Karachi is heaven for water babies in Pakistan and there are plenty of opportunities to cool down in either the water of the Arabian Sea or in some of the country's biggest water-parks.
Kirthar National Park offers some key activities in this region. Driving through rugged, hilly and unpaved dirt roads of Kirthar National Park is an adventure and a thrilling experience, while hiking is worth it to experience the incredible landscape of the region.
Sindh is a region of artisans and is known all over the world for its various crafts and arts and is home to a myriad of small markets and to traditional bazaars, to modern upscale and high-end shopping malls of Karachi and you will not be short of options.Ajrak — a block-printed shawl — and Sindhi topi — a hat — are unique to Sindh and thus are the most popular souvenirs. Both are integral and essential parts of Sindhi society and have been symbols of Sindhi culture, traditions and nationalism for hundreds of years. The shawl displays special designs and patterns made using block printing by stamps while the Sindhi topi is cylindrical except for a portion cut out in the front to expose the forehead. Intricate geometrical designs are embroidered on the hat, with small pieces of mirror are sewed into it also. Both are made and sold all over Sindh and are worn predominantly by people of Sindh. Their usage is evident at all levels of society, and is held in high esteem, with the utmost respect given to them. According to Sindhi traditions, both are often presented as gifts of hospitality to guests and presented to the person who is utterly respectable.
The bazaars of Sindh are known for hand-printed fabrics, glass bangles and Sindhi embroidery work in laid with tinny mirrors, one of the more world known handicrafts of Pakistan. The ralli is a patchwork quilt, is another Sindhi icon and part of the Sindhi heritage and culture. It is made with small pieces of cloth of different geometrical shapes sewn together to create intricate designs. They may be used as a bedspread or a blanket.
Due to being a coastal region, seafood is widely available and popular in Sindh. Most of region's food is based on Pakistani cuisine and composed of the same dishes you'll find elsewhere in the country. Some local delicacies and regional Sindhi cuisine are available, but your best chances of finding them is in rural and suburban localities. Sindhi biryani is a version of biryani and considered the speciality of Sindh. It is rich in texture and taste and popular throughout the country but there's no better place to eat it than in Sindh.
Sindh has an unlimited supply of cheap basic restaurants and dhabas but the best places to eat are obviously in larger cities. Karachi diners are iconic and the capital has the country's best upmarket dining scene hands down.
When it comes to alcohol, Sindh is liberal and it is much more easily available than it is elsewhere in the country. Nonetheless, it is considered a taboo and drinking alcohol in public areas is strongly discouraged. Only legal liquor stores are allowed to sell. Those are usually marked with blue and red coloured stripes, have no area to sit and drink, mostly sell the locally produced brand Murree Brewery and are usually closed on Fridays. Usually the large cities have a number of such places.
The best place to slick your thirst is certainly Karachi, where the café culture is on the rise and the city has plenty of excellent café to spend beautiful evenings drinking great coffee or enjoying a delicious shisha all under one roof.
Crime exists as anywhere in the country. Armed robbery is not uncommon so it is very important to keep a low profile wherever you go in Sindh. Some cases of kidnapping have been reported recently as well. Crime in large cities like Karachi is at a rate you could expect from most mega cities of this size. Use common sense and avoid unpopulated parts of the region. You should always keep the emergency telephone contact numbers of your country's foreign mission in Karachi.