Nagarpaker - Farthest City in South of Pakistan

“You have itchy feet” shouted Rao when I suggested Nagarparker. When he didn’t agree to go there, I had to set sail all by myself. The recent rains had turned desert into green. There was no better time. For decades, Islamkot and Nagarparker were fascinating places I dreamed about, only this time ‘the dream came true’.

Early in the morning, I boarded a bus for Mithi, a small town in the midst of the desert. The bus went straight to Hyderabad, Sindh and then turned east. It passed through cultivated fields of rice, maize, sugarcane, cotton and fruit-farms producing the sweet-smelling and tasty mangoes.

The area was well-populated with many bustling towns like Tano-Allahyar and Mirpurkas. Their old buildings were still topped by ‘ducts’ to catch the cool breeze. Buffaloes still roam the streets; giving it medieval look. Tea-stalls were in abundance clogging the roads. It seems gossiping with friends was the favorite pass-time of the people living around.

Source
Source

Gateway to Thar

About midday, Naukot was in sight. It was a gateway to desert. The topography changed miraculously, cultivated fields turned into barren tracts of sand dunes, crops into thorny bushes. The costumes changed to ‘ghaghara, choli & odhni’ for female and ‘doti, kurta and turban’ for males’. A common sight was women laden with bangles upto their shoulders.

The desert is known as Tharparkar. It is harsh and wild but not entirely empty. In between the sand hills, there are some valleys with rich growth of trees, plants and shrubs. Wild grass grows after every rain and it results in a migratory culture as many tribes chase the greenery. Perhaps, it was the only fertile desert in the world.

There was not much wildlife but lot of domesticated animals like cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, camels, horses and donkeys. Further, some birds were spotted like peacocks, pigeons, sparrows and crows.

The bus briefly stopped before a road-side café. There was a wedding party nearby; some men were dancing with a small stick in one hand and silk handkerchief in the other. Dhol and dafli, kamacha and shahnai were elevating the tempo and mood.

The bus reached Mithi at 2 p.m. I stayed for the night at Hotel Dawn. Though the room was rather small, it had all amenities such as TV, telephone, air-conditioner and attached-bath. Not a bad deal for only 5 dollars. (May in summer, the room-rent goes up due to use of air-conditioner).

Early in the morning, I took a bus for Nagarparkar, my final destination. The bus continued on black-topped ‘pucca’ road constructed when a politician hailing from the area became Chief Minister of Sindh. There was a visible change from the old days of camels and junk trucks known as ‘kakharas” or crabs.

Soon the usual sign of modernity were visible: boosters of mobile companies, satellite dishes, electric poles and signboards for bottled water. The bus had reached the farthermost point in the south of the country.

Jain Temple in the Nagarparker town
Jain Temple in the Nagarparker town

Nagarparker

The moment I stepped out of the bus, I looked for a motel but found none except one still incomplete. It took me some time to locate the owner. Finally, I succeeded to secure a room with smell from freshly painted walls and veranda. The owner had jeeps for hire and suggested two to three spots in the evening and a trip to coalmines in the morning for about 50 dollars plus 5 dollar for the night stay. I had to accept it as I had no choice.

Nagarparkar is a small town, nestled between low hills. It has a Hindu majority and rich historical background, an embodiment of Jainism and Hindu Mythologies. It is dotted with temples.

First, I went to the Karoonjhar range, a cluster of egg-shaped hills, reddish in color. It looked like a piece from Red Rock Canyon of Nevada, USA. Zigzagging with the contour of the terrain, the jeep went for about 4 km and stopped when the track was abruptly cut by a steep ravine. I asked the jeep driver, Ghulab Chandio, to go back and braced myself for a long walk back to the town.

A stroll on a sand track was a wonderful experience. I passed by a variety of rock structure. The stones had unique colors - rare combinations of red, black, brown and green. I felt like moving in an open-air museum, reminiscent of Cappadocia in Turkey.

It was a pleasant experience, indeed. I recalled a story which says ‘the mountain looks wonderful and the songs of peacocks echoing in the vales add tremendous charm to its adorning beauty.’

In the previous rain, the pouring water had made many streams. Though these were dry, their marks were clear. Perhaps the rain streamlets could be converted into dams which would be bringing lot of comfort to the people and cattle in the area. Also, there was a sparse presence of gum-tree. But these trees are being ruthlessly destructed by making a cut on their trunks to draw entire gum which withers the tree in no more than six months.

On return from the hills, I visited ‘Nagar Bazaar Temple’. Perhaps because of its location behind the main market, it got such an unusual name. It was remarkable for its grace and elegance; richly decorated with sculptures and paintings. Magnificent carving was done on the pillars and on entrance of the temple. But unfortunately, it was desecrated and chipped at many places.

The Government has now declared it as a national heritage but I did not see any guard or caretaker.

Bodsar Mosque
Bodsar Mosque
Bodhesar Temples
Bodhesar Temples

Bodhesar

I returned to the motel after the walk. The jeep driver was waiting for me and took me to another place known as Bodhesar.

About 5 km away, Bodhesar has many attractions, a beautiful mosque, a dam and a cluster of three temples.

Naturally, first I went to the mosque. It was built in 1505 by Sultan Mahmood Begra, the Ruler of Gujarat. It was a white and shining mosque though small in size. Legend says that the Sultan constructed it at the site where his queen was saved from dacoits by the local people.

The mosque is located by the side a dam which itself is in the foothill of Karoonjhar. The tank, locally called ‘talao’ adds to scenic and historical value of the area.

On the opposite side is a cluster of three temples, not far away as one can see their images glistering in the water. These temples were reportedly built between 1375 AD to 1449 AD. Raised on a high platform, these temples can be reached by a series of large steps. These were built with red stone but were in poor condition – their back walls fallen down, their idols vanished and a part their stones removed.


Whispering Sands

Ramapir Mandar, (On the first look, it appears to be shrine of a Muslim Saint but is a Hindu Temple because of religious hormoney).
Ramapir Mandar, (On the first look, it appears to be shrine of a Muslim Saint but is a Hindu Temple because of religious hormoney).
Dragon Tree, an old tree at a temple
Dragon Tree, an old tree at a temple
Gori Temple
Gori Temple
Religious harmony, a mosque and a temple in the same vacinity
Religious harmony, a mosque and a temple in the same vacinity

More Jain Temples

In the evening, I went on second leg of the tour and covered some magnificent Jain temples. There are no Jains now and no one is looking after these historic temples: no candles, no fragrance, no pujaris, no devdasi, and no songs.

First, I went about 12 km away to Ramapir Mander, an old Hindu temple. Ramapir was a revolutionary. He fought for the rights of low-caste Hindus called ‘untouchable’. He believed in equality of human beings. History goes that five pious men from Mecca came to test his miraculous powers and after being convinced, paid their homage to him. Consequently, he is loved both by Hindus and Muslims.

He was cremated in Rajasthan but during his life time, he came off and on to Thar area. His devotees had constructed many temples in his memory at places where he had worshipped centuries ago.

Gori temple was far away, about 55 km from Nagarparkar. The jeep went off the road to reach the temple. It is a stunning piece of architecture, constructed entirely from marbles some 300 years ago. Whipped by desert sand for centuries, it stood alone and abandoned, a relic of a time and a culture forgotten long ago.

My visit to Nagarparkar was over when we resumed the journey on the main road. This was a pleasant trip. I observed a complete harmony between Hindus and Muslims. They are living together for centuries and respect each other. But most of rich Hindus have left for India. Those living now are poor and cannot afford to maintain these temples which stand isolated, their bells rusted, wall crumbled and paint fainted.

Only in the rainy season, there is some life when the desert blooms and attracts tourists who also visit these temples. Once rainy season passes away, the temples of Tharparkar resume their silent vigil, waiting for a spring that may never come.

I continued my jeep safari and went to see coalmine. I have written about it in a hub entitled, "Thar Coal - a hope or despair".





When finished with, the driver dropped me at the bus-terminal and in about an hour, I was riding a bus bound for Karachi.

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Comments 37 comments

shahnawaz sheikh profile image

shahnawaz sheikh 5 years ago from karachi

A very nice article sir , thanks for sharing.

take cake & God Bless


Inayat Ali 5 years ago

Thank You for sharing the journey to Thar, a beautiful

article, as I read it, I imagined i was with you, seeing it all.

I just wish I could have accompanied you on this trip.

But Inshallah we will make it some other time.


RAO 5 years ago

Hafeez is a fantastic traveler. His travelogue are beautiful, interesting and also contain good information. I am putting up this comment only to protest that I had suggested just deferment for a day only. I'll read the fantastic article and come back again.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Shahnawaz Sheikh, Inayat Ali and Rao for your comments.


Abdul Basit 5 years ago

Sir its a fantastic and knowledge giving article, which encourages me to not to miss the chance of visiting such a beautiful place.


Hira Fatima 5 years ago

ASA Sir:

Very well written and lucid article.I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you for always sharing your experiences and illuminating us.

Your Student


Munesh Kumar 5 years ago

Salam sir,

u went to tharparker i belongs to this place mithi city is my native place...please share me your experience about the people and place.


BUSHRA MEHMOOD 5 years ago

SALAM SIR

ITS A VERY NICE ARTICLE... VERY WELL WRITTEN... IT GIVES A FEELING OF BEING THERE.... U MUST HAVE SURELY ENJOYED ALOT TO LOOK AT THE CULTURAL PLACES AND PEOPLE THERE....

I WISH I COULD ALSO EXPERIENCE IT ONE DAY...


michael schmidt 5 years ago

There are so many fascinating & beautiful things to see in this part of the world! And it's wonderful to know that people of different religions, of different traditions can live together in harmony. Let them be a model for all of us!


KARIMDAD SANDEELO 5 years ago

REALLY IT IS VERY IMPRESSIVE PIECE ON THAR. YOUR DESCRIPTION IN MINUTE DETAILS ABOUT CATTLE,TOPOGRAPHY ,PEOPLE INCLUDING COSTUME & DESCRIPTION OF PLACES IS MARVELLOUS. PLACE CAN BE DEVELOPED AS TOURIST DESTINAION. YOU HAVE DRAWN PARALLEL WITH SIMILAR TURKISH PLACE WHICH IS TOURIST ATTRACTION. BRAVO.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks for your comments: Abdul Rasheed Basit, Hira Fatima, Munesh Kumar, Bushra Mehmood,Michael and Karimdad.


Nancy Guillen 5 years ago

what a beautiful place...wish i could go there and experience what you have shared.


Jalees Faruqui 5 years ago

Dear Hafeez

AOA

Excellent description of Thar. Enjoyable.

Thank you.

Regards

JAF


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia

An extremely interesting article. Much enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Nancy Guillen, Sir Jalees Faruqui and Peter Dickinson for your value comments.


M. Sharif Shafique 5 years ago

Dear Hafeez.

It emensly gives me great pleasure to gp through this wonderfully composed,narrated, elaborated and studded with pictures, article.

No doubt the priece is quite enjoyble reading. It gives the feeling that the reader is accompanying with you. The choice of words is quite appropriate. This is not only entertaining but informative too. Please keep it up.

Sharif


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Sharif for your encourging words.


Syed Ajaz Ahmed 5 years ago

Kia baat hai bha ee. you are great


donna 5 years ago

Wow, Hafeez! Thank you for another wonderful travel article. I am surprised at the amount of temples and mosques in your country. Perhaps, if I would take more interest in my surroundings in the local area, I would find that houses of worship here are in as much abundance as those in Pakistan. Your description reminded me of our tour of Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. Keep traveling and posting!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thank you Donna for comparing it to Red Rock Canyon.I have included it in my article.


agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

Wow that old tree look like a dragon.


Zeshan 5 years ago

I was referred by my friend Nadir Naeem.

But I must say it's really nice to read about the rich cultural history about our country. By the way, did you have any guide book with you to explain all the monuments etc.. or did the guides tell you as you passed ?

Traveling is always an exploration within oneself I'd say since we see and compare ourselves as to how we were and what we've become. Nice reading it. Very enlightening.

Thanks a lot !


Nadir Naeem  5 years ago

Thank you sir for sharing knowledge about such a beautiful location in pakistan.

i feel like i just had a visit to Nagarpaker.

Thank u sir once again.


YAWAR 5 years ago

NICE KNOWLEDGE


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Dear Zeeshan, I collected information from a number of sources such as guides, local people, caretakers of monuments. As far as possible, I confirmed such information from Internet- google-search. In this process, I gathered a heap of data. Since my article has to be sweet and short, I picked up key information and briefly stated it.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Nadir & Yawar for your comments.


Ali Sajid 5 years ago

Mr Hafeez,

Truly, it must have been a memorable trip, exploring different cultures, traditions, Structures and Religious harmony. Thanks for sharing your experiences online.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thank Ali Sajad for your comments.


Carole Saylor 5 years ago

Thanks for directing me to your article. I enjoyed it immensely. I'm an artist and I loved the "Dragon Tree" and the colorful Hindu temple pictures. I liked the way you merged the pictures with what you were talking about.

I appreciated that you talked about the beauty of the area but also how it has fallen into disrepair. That gives a balanced view of the area, rather than a one-sided sales pitch that so many travel articles give.

And it was great to hear about the different religions and cultures existing peacefully together. Maybe the rest of the world could take a lesson from these people.

I look forward to reading other articles written by you.

Regards, Carole


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Carole Saylor for your nice comments.


UBEDULLAH KHAN MAHSOOD 5 years ago

Dear Haeez ur Rehman, ur article is in front of my eyes,really it is very well written,

the reader will never tired during reading and will fell the depth of knowledge,expertness and pleasantness of material, i fell that i am not only reading i am along with you during your journey, it is your kindness for sharing this worthy knowledge and nice information.

my best wishes and sweet felling always with you, hope in future you will continue your act of sharing knowledge,

plz accept my thanks from deepness of hurt.


Kamran100 profile image

Kamran100 5 years ago

it is a good informative hub!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Ubed and Kamran100 for your comments.


naumaan profile image

naumaan 5 years ago from Dubai

This is not only informative but good for tourism point of view. Nice one


salesh kumar 4 years ago

Nangarparkar is very peace full place....and Sir you are correct that over there hindus and muslims lives to gather, and respect to each other. this is the best quality in thari peoples.....


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Salesh Kumar for your comments and feedback.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Naumaan for your comments.

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