Banbhore – Ancient Business Metropolis


Ancient Identify of the city: Debal

Modern-day name of the town: Banbhore

Province: Sindh

State: Pakistan

Debal became an significant Arab regional business metropolis and premier port city in Sindh during the period of time of Arab rule in Sindh. The web site the place this flourishing port city was located was located is presently regarded as Banbhore. It is located on the ideal bank of Gharo Creek, 64 kilometres towards the east of Karachi.

Regarded by distinct names at distinct instances, Banbhore served as the premier port of Sindh for far more than two millenniums from fourth century BC until the starting of 17th century. It was at the peak of it glory in the second fifty percent of eighth century and early ninth century (Abbasid period of time). In this period of time its standing was significantly increased owing to institution of very long-haul trade routes among the Persian Gulf and China, and elevated interactions with distinct areas of the effective Abbasid Empire. It served not only as a port city, but also as a major garrison town, and an significant industrial and business centre.

Like several excellent historic and medieval towns, the metropolis of Debal was built at two levels. The Citadel was located on a hill experiencing the seafront on one particular aspect and a sweet drinking water lake on the other the Lessen City was the place most of the popular citizens lived and the place the industries and agricultural farms had been located. In the course of medieval instances Debal was linked as a result of a branch of the Indus River with the inland river ports.


 The Citadel of the historic city of Debal was located on a 15-meter substantial mound. It was spread around 2.5 hectares. It was a fortified settlement in the pre-Arab period of time. Following Arab occupation the fortifications had been significantly strengthened in distinct intervals of Arab rule. The Arabs used hefty blocks of semi-dressed limestone and thick mud plaster in the building of the partitions. To deliver more power and grace and to the full composition, the abutments had been strengthened and 46 semi-circular shaped bastions had been constructed into the partitions at short, standard intervals.

The hill on which the Fortress of Debal was located later came to be referred to by the locals as Sassui jo Takar (Hill of Sasui) after its affiliation with the heroine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s romantic novel Sassi and Punhun.

The Citadel was divided into two sectors, which had been divided by a mud brick wall.

 One sector contained the Palace and places of work of the Governor of Debal as very well as big Buying and selling Residences. Vital Community buildings, which includes the Grand Mosque and Assembly Halls, had been also located in this Sector. A gateway on the eastern experience of this sector opened up towards the harbour, though a further gateway towards the west led to the Industrial Estate

The other Sector was located towards the north. A gateway was presented at the centre of the northern wall of the citadel. Stairs from the outer aspect of this gateway led to the sweet drinking water lake.

The northern sector was divided into many blocks of houses, meant for people today in distinct earnings groups. The houses on the Citadel had been meant solely for Federal government workforce and these functioning in the buying and selling houses.

Household SECTORS

 There had been two residential sectors in Debal city. 1 of them was located on major of the citadel, though the other one particular was on the plains surrounding the citadel hill on the northern aspect.

For a population believed at all-around 150,000, there ought to have been 25,000 houses in and all-around the Banbhore Citadel. About 10 per cent of the houses had been probably located in the Household Sector of the Citadel, though the remaining 90 per cent ought to have been located in the lower city all-around the lake.

Though the grid format sample was not adopted, some degree of scheduling and management was exercised by the civic authority, resulting in a fairly neat arrangement of houses. A network of broad roads and narrow lanes divided the region into big and little blocks and inspite of the substantial density of population, there had been enough range of open up spaces and public squares.

 There was a excellent deal of variation in the measurements of the houses and in their good quality of building. The larger houses incredibly generally occupied an whole block they had been invariably presented with a roomy courtyard and limestone blocks had been primarily used in the basis of the houses as very well as for the partitions. The smallest houses, on the other hand, had been typically located in a cluster with popular aspect and rear partitions and they had been primarily built with mud bricks.

In the Household sector adjacent to the lake, perhaps no need to have was felt for a certain format system as there no these kinds of restriction for place as on major of the citadel. Much less strong supplies, clay and wooden had been made use of in the building of houses in this sector, which is why incredibly few continues to be of houses have survived. Experiences of Arab travellers show that clay and wooden had been the supplies typically made use of in the building of houses in this sector.


 The Grand Congregational Mosque of Debal has the singular honour of currently being the first major Congregational Mosque in South Asia. An inscription found in the continues to be of the Mosque indicates a day of 109 AH (727 C.E.). This was probably the day on which the extended system and attractive performs at the Mosque had been accomplished. The foundations of the unique Mosque built at the web site had been laid by Muhammad bin Qasim himself soon after he conquered the city in 711 C.E.

The included region of the Grand Congregational Mosque inside of a meter-thick boundary wall of dressed limestone blocks was about 40 meters by 42 meters. The Mosque was laid out on the Basilica sample – a model, which became common during Umayyad rule in Syria and somewhere else. The nave comprised of the included prayer chamber and an open up courtyard measuring 25 meters by 20 meters. On possibly aspect of the Prayer Chamber and courtyard, there had been the included aisles. At the rear close of the Mosque (the place facilities for ablution had been probably presented), the building was identical to that of the aspect aisles.

The column bases in the Prayer Chamber segment of the Mosque show that 3 rows of eleven wood columns every, supported the superstructure of the Prayer Chamber, which most probably comprised of finely carved wood arches spanning the columns, and a flat wood roof. In just about all the Mosques belonging to the later period of time of Islam, the Mihrab (a area of interest in the Qibla Wall) was a typical architectural aspect, indicating the course of the Kaaba. Nevertheless, in the Grand Mosque of Banbhore, like some other Mosques belonging to the early period of time of Islam, the Mihrab was not presented, which in itself is an indication of the early period of time of building of this Mosque.

Some portions of flooring of the Mosque have survived, which show that semi-glazed monochrome tiles had been made use of in the flooring of the Prayer Chamber and courtyard, as very well as in the aspect aisles and ablution chamber. This is perhaps the first scenario of use of glazed tiles for flooring in this aspect of the globe. It seems most possible that the semi-glazed tiles had been brought to Banbhore from Iraq by masons sent by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muhtasim Billa for carrying out repairs to the Mosque after it was destroyed by an earthquake.

For the decoration of the Mosque, wooden carvings and calligraphic layouts look to have been extensively used. Between the most extraordinary items, which have survived in a incredibly excellent condition, are fourteen dressed sandstone slabs on which Arabic texts are superbly carved in the hefty monumental Kufic script typically used by the Umayyad artisans. These inscribed sandstone blocks embellished the northern experience of the outer wall. Two other Kufic inscriptions found from inside of the Mosque refer to Amir Muhammad Ibn Adi and Ali Ibn Musa and have dates inscribed on them 293 AH (906 C.E.) and 109 AH (727 C.E.), respectively.

Apart from the continues to be of the Grand Mosque, the other most significant architectural continues to be, which have survived in this sector of the Banbhore Citadel, are items of flooring paved with lime plaster. There are indications that the partitions of the building had been equally plastered. The kind of flooring and the area of the building in the fast vicinity of the Grand Mosque, show that this ground was a aspect of a incredibly significant building, perhaps that of the Dar Al-Imara. A hoard of coins belonging to Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs and some of these minted locally, was also found in the vicinity of this plastered ground.


 The anchorage on the ideal bank of Gharo Creek at Banbhore presented a harmless haven to buying and selling vessels from the lurking threat of plunder by pirates working in the Indian Ocean in historic and medieval instances. It also presented guarded berthing facilities in stormy weather conditions. Simply because of these significant components, ideal upto the 17th century, Banbhore remained an significant port of get in touch with in this region for buying and selling vessels.

All as a result of this period of time the anchorage region at Banbhore ongoing to acquire to fulfill the altering prerequisites of little and big ocean going vessels. It presented fantastic facilities for repair and upkeep of very long-haul vessels, warehousing for convenient offer of buying and selling items to regional markets, refuelling facilities for food items and drinking drinking water provides moreover chances for worthwhile import/ export trade with the Indus basin region.

Plenty of place was obtainable for these kinds of pursuits in the anchorage region as the mound on which Banbhore Citadel was located was at a convenient length from the Creek. The entrance to the Citadel from the Anchorage was as a result of the extraordinary Eastern Gateway. On the opposite aspect of the Citadel, the equally extraordinary Western Gateway presented accessibility to the Industrial Sector the place producing facilities had been close at hand to deliver complex assist for ship building, repairs and upkeep function at the Anchorage.

Presently swamps deal with a lot of the region the place the anchorage facilities had been located in that period of time. Thus most of the bodily proof has been destroyed.  Nevertheless, Chinese stoneware belonging to the T’ang Dynasty, other imported content, and glazed ceramics and other locally generated content, found during the excavations in the Citadel region, show that the prosperity liked by Banbhore during the period of time of Arab rule was mainly owing to its relevance as transportation, business and communication centre of the Arab Environment.

These times, the port city, which once presented sustenance to a population of 150,000 inhabitants, primarily as a result of economic activity produced by global trade, is just about an deserted settlement. The regulations of the recreation have transformed. With large ocean going vessels transporting hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo annually in containers, a modern port with a large container terminal, has been formulated at an proper web site on the very same Gharo Creek, on which Banbhore is located. The new port, which is located 21 kilometres from Banbhore towards the Arabian Sea, is named Port Qasim, after the excellent Umayyad conqueror.


  North of the Citadel, spread around far more than an acre, was an region specifically earmarked for area of craft industries. Broken items of pottery are strewn all around the area and each now and then one particular comes throughout deformed metallic objects. Archaeological investigations have unveiled structural continues to be of big troughs, which had been probably made use of for dying fabrics. Also found from this web site, are continues to be of big range of kilns, heaps of ashes, crucibles, damaged glass and ivory items.

The big range of content displayed in the Archaeological Museum show the kind of innovative glazed ceramics and luxury items that had been currently being generated in the Industrial Estate at Debal (Banbhore).

Source by RAFI SAMAD

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