Banbhore – Ancient Commercial Metropolis


Ancient Identify of the town: Debal

Modern title of the city: Banbhore

Province: Sindh

State: Pakistan

Debal became an significant Arab regional professional metropolis and premier port town in Sindh in the course of the interval of Arab rule in Sindh. The web-site the place this flourishing port town was positioned was positioned is presently regarded as Banbhore. It is positioned on the proper lender of Gharo Creek, 64 kilometres in direction of the east of Karachi.

Recognised by different names at different instances, Banbhore served as the premier port of Sindh for much more than two millenniums from fourth century BC until the beginning of 17th century. It was at the height of it glory in the next 50 percent of eighth century and early ninth century (Abbasid interval). In this interval its position was noticeably improved owing to institution of long-haul trade routes among the Persian Gulf and China, and enhanced interactions with different regions of the powerful Abbasid Empire. It served not only as a port town, but also as a major garrison city, and an significant industrial and professional centre.

Like a lot of good ancient and medieval towns, the metropolis of Debal was produced at two degrees. The Citadel was positioned on a hill struggling with the seafront on one particular side and a sweet water lake on the other the Reduce Metropolis was the place most of the common citizens lived and the place the industries and agricultural farms were being positioned. All through medieval instances Debal was related by means of a branch of the Indus River with the inland river ports.


 The Citadel of the ancient town of Debal was positioned on a 15-meter large mound. It was unfold more than 2.5 hectares. It was a fortified settlement in the pre-Arab interval. After Arab profession the fortifications were being noticeably strengthened in different periods of Arab rule. The Arabs employed weighty blocks of semi-dressed limestone and thick mud plaster in the building of the partitions. To give extra strength and grace and to the whole construction, the abutments were being strengthened and 46 semi-circular formed bastions were being crafted into the partitions at small, regular intervals.

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

The Citadel was divided into two sectors, which were being divided by a mud brick wall.

 One sector contained the Palace and offices of the Governor of Debal as effectively as massive Buying and selling Residences. Vital Community structures, including the Grand Mosque and Assembly Halls, were being also positioned in this Sector. A gateway on the japanese confront of this sector opened up in direction of the harbour, when one more gateway in direction of the west led to the Industrial Estate

The other Sector was positioned in direction of the north. A gateway was provided at the centre of the northern wall of the citadel. Stairs from the outer side of this gateway led to the sweet water lake.

The northern sector was divided into quite a few blocks of residences, intended for individuals in different money groups. The residences on the Citadel were being intended exclusively for Federal government workforce and these functioning in the buying and selling residences.

Household SECTORS

 There were being two household sectors in Debal town. 1 of them was positioned on top rated of the citadel, when the other one particular was on the plains encompassing the citadel hill on the northern side.

For a inhabitants approximated at all over 150,000, there ought to have been 25,000 residences in and all over the Banbhore Citadel. About 10 p.c of the residences were being most likely positioned in the Household Sector of the Citadel, when the remaining 90 p.c ought to have been positioned in the decrease town all over the lake.

Even though the grid structure sample was not adopted, some diploma of preparing and command was exercised by the civic authority, resulting in a quite neat arrangement of residences. A network of large roads and slim lanes divided the place into massive and smaller blocks and inspite of the large density of inhabitants, there were being adequate quantity of open spaces and general public squares.

 There was a good deal of variation in the measurements of the residences and in their high quality of building. The greater residences quite frequently occupied an overall block they were being invariably provided with a spacious courtyard and limestone blocks were being generally employed in the basis of the residences as effectively as for the partitions. The smallest residences, on the other hand, were being usually positioned in a cluster with common side and rear partitions and they were being generally produced with mud bricks.

In the Household sector adjacent to the lake, perhaps no need to have was felt for a precise structure strategy as there no such restriction for room as on top rated of the citadel. Significantly less tough components, clay and wooden were being used in the building of residences in this sector, which is why quite couple of continues to be of residences have survived. Reviews of Arab travellers show that clay and wooden were being the components frequently used in the building of residences in this sector.


 The Grand Congregational Mosque of Debal has the singular honour of getting the initial major Congregational Mosque in South Asia. An inscription found in the continues to be of the Mosque indicates a date of 109 AH (727 C.E.). This was most likely the date on which the extended strategy and attractive operates at the Mosque were being accomplished. The foundations of the first Mosque produced at the web-site were being laid by Muhammad bin Qasim himself shortly following he conquered the town in 711 C.E.

The included place of the Grand Congregational Mosque inside 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 type, which became well-known in the course of Umayyad rule in Syria and elsewhere. The nave comprised of the included prayer chamber and an open courtyard measuring 25 meters by 20 meters. On possibly side of the Prayer Chamber and courtyard, there were being the included aisles. At the rear end of the Mosque (the place amenities for ablution were being most likely provided), the building was identical to that of the side aisles.

The column bases in the Prayer Chamber section of the Mosque show that a few rows of eleven wooden columns each individual, supported the superstructure of the Prayer Chamber, which most most likely comprised of finely carved wooden arches spanning the columns, and a flat wooden roof. In just about all the Mosques belonging to the later on interval of Islam, the Mihrab (a market in the Qibla Wall) was a conventional architectural feature, indicating the course of the Kaaba. However, in the Grand Mosque of Banbhore, like some other Mosques belonging to the early interval of Islam, the Mihrab was not provided, which in itself is an indicator of the early interval of building of this Mosque.

Some parts of flooring of the Mosque have survived, which show that semi-glazed monochrome tiles were being used in the floors of the Prayer Chamber and courtyard, as effectively as in the side aisles and ablution chamber. This is perhaps the initial scenario of use of glazed tiles for flooring in this aspect of the earth. It appears to be most very likely that the semi-glazed tiles were being brought to Banbhore from Iraq by masons sent by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muhtasim Billa for carrying out repairs to the Mosque following it was broken by an earthquake.

For the decoration of the Mosque, wooden carvings and calligraphic styles seem to have been extensively employed. Amongst the most spectacular pieces, which have survived in a quite fantastic state, are fourteen dressed sandstone slabs on which Arabic texts are fantastically carved in the weighty monumental Kufic script frequently employed by the Umayyad artisans. These inscribed sandstone blocks adorned the northern confront of the outer wall. Two other Kufic inscriptions found from inside 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.

Aside 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 pieces of flooring paved with lime plaster. There are indications that the partitions of the making were being in the same way plastered. The type of flooring and the spot of the making in the immediate vicinity of the Grand Mosque, show that this flooring was a aspect of a quite significant making, 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 flooring.


 The anchorage on the proper lender of Gharo Creek at Banbhore provided a secure haven to buying and selling vessels from the lurking risk of plunder by pirates functioning in the Indian Ocean in ancient and medieval instances. It also provided guarded berthing amenities in stormy weather. Because of these significant factors, proper upto the 17th century, Banbhore remained an significant port of contact in this area for buying and selling vessels.

All by means of this interval the anchorage place at Banbhore continued to build to fulfill the altering necessities of smaller and massive ocean likely vessels. It provided superb amenities for repair service and maintenance of long-haul vessels, warehousing for convenient offer of buying and selling items to regional markets, refuelling amenities for foods and consuming water supplies in addition to chances for valuable import/ export trade with the Indus basin area.

A good deal of room was accessible for such pursuits in the anchorage place as the mound on which Banbhore Citadel was positioned was at a convenient length from the Creek. The entrance to the Citadel from the Anchorage was by means of the spectacular Eastern Gateway. On the opposite side of the Citadel, the similarly spectacular Western Gateway provided obtain to the Industrial Sector the place producing amenities were being close at hand to give technological help for ship making, repairs and maintenance work at the Anchorage.

Presently swamps address a whole lot of the place the place the anchorage amenities were being positioned in that interval. Thus most of the physical proof has been ruined.  However, Chinese stoneware belonging to the T’ang Dynasty, other imported content, and glazed ceramics and other locally manufactured content, found in the course of the excavations in the Citadel place, show that the prosperity enjoyed by Banbhore in the course of the interval of Arab rule was largely owing to its worth as transportation, professional and conversation centre of the Arab Environment.

These times, the port town, which after provided sustenance to a inhabitants of 150,000 inhabitants, generally by means of economic action produced by global trade, is practically an abandoned settlement. The rules of the activity have transformed. With substantial ocean likely vessels transporting tens of millions of tons of cargo yearly in containers, a modern port with a substantial container terminal, has been created at an appropriate web-site on the identical Gharo Creek, on which Banbhore is positioned. The new port, which is positioned 21 kilometres from Banbhore in direction of the Arabian Sea, is named Port Qasim, following the good Umayyad conqueror.


  North of the Citadel, unfold more than much more than an acre, was an place specially earmarked for spot of craft industries. Damaged pieces of pottery are strewn all more than the spot and each and every now and then one particular will come across deformed metallic objects. Archaeological investigations have discovered structural continues to be of massive troughs, which were being most likely used for dying materials. Also found from this web-site, are continues to be of massive quantity of kilns, heaps of ashes, crucibles, broken glass and ivory pieces.

The massive assortment of content exhibited in the Archaeological Museum show the type of subtle glazed ceramics and luxurious items that were being getting manufactured in the Industrial Estate at Debal (Banbhore).

Source by RAFI SAMAD

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