Forts of Sindh is a labour of love by Ishtiaq Ansari - a travel enthusiast, civil engineer, historian, archaeologist and research scholar hailing from Larkana, Sindh. In it, he discusses 19 forts extant in the southeast of Pakistan.

The term 'fort' conjures up images of sieges, attacks, patrolling guards and various other machinations associated with battle or war. It is true that, historically, forts were essentially part of defence or military architecture. However, they served many secondary functions as well. For example, in Seljuk times, the ribbat or military outpost on the outskirts of the city served as a caravanserai for the protection of caravans and travellers plying the trade route.

Building a fort is no mean feat. Other than being an expensive exercise, it requires the combined skills of an engineer, architect and defence strategist. The sheer size of walls that are expressly designed not to be scaled, fashioned out of stone or brick, baked or sundried, can also captivate anyone, including much beloved poets. In his preface, author Ansari writes: 'The mention of the fortified cities can be found in many folk stories and songs. The great Sindhi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai also sang of Sindh's forts in different surs, such as Sur Marvi, Bilawal, Sarang, Kedaro, Dhar, Soorth and Samondi.'

Forts can be of multiple types and sizes. Some are small outposts at the border of a larger town, others are a massive construct containing entire settlements and cities within their periphery. For instance, Rani Kot, popularly known as the 'wall of Sindh', is an outer fortified ring that uses the topography of the Kirthar mountain range to its advantage. Three smaller fortresses - Miri, Shergarh and Mohan - are mentioned in the book as dotting the precinct of the larger Rani Kot.

An effortless read that can captivate readers with its textual and visual wealth, an arresting book on heritage documents 19 citadels in Sindh, going beyond the more well-known fortifications

A number of fortified cities, such as Lahore, Agra and Delhi, were established in the Subcontinent during the Mughal era. Sindh is no exception, and Ansari's book illustrates how the cities of Hyderabad, Umerkot, Sehwan and Brahmanabad belong to the same category.

The Dahlil Fort is a perfect circle and plausibly based on Hindu cosmology, the centre being the sun and the bastions being the 12 signs of the Zodiac | Images from the book

The main fort of Hyderabad - now heavily...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT