Banbhore – Historic Commercial Metropolis


Historic Name of the town: Debal

Modern day identify of the town: Banbhore

Province: Sindh

State: Pakistan

Debal turned an important Arab regional industrial metropolis and premier port town in Sindh through the interval of Arab rule in Sindh. The internet site exactly where this thriving port town was located was located is presently identified as Banbhore. It is located on the right lender of Gharo Creek, 64 kilometres towards the east of Karachi.

Regarded by distinct names at distinct occasions, Banbhore served as the premier port of Sindh for a lot more than two millenniums from fourth century BC until the beginning of 17th century. It was at the height of it glory in the second half of eighth century and early ninth century (Abbasid interval). In this interval its status was substantially improved owing to establishment of long-haul trade routes among the Persian Gulf and China, and amplified interactions with distinct locations of the highly effective Abbasid Empire. It served not only as a port town, but also as a key garrison town, and an important industrial and industrial centre.

Like lots of wonderful historical and medieval cities, the metropolis of Debal was produced at two degrees. The Citadel was located on a hill dealing with the seafront on one particular facet and a sweet drinking water lake on the other the Decreased Town was exactly where most of the popular citizens lived and exactly where the industries and agricultural farms ended up located. In the course of medieval occasions Debal was linked as a result of a department of the Indus River with the inland river ports.


 The Citadel of the historical town of Debal was located on a 15-meter large mound. It was spread about 2.5 hectares. It was a fortified settlement in the pre-Arab interval. After Arab profession the fortifications ended up substantially strengthened in distinct periods of Arab rule. The Arabs employed hefty blocks of semi-dressed limestone and thick mud plaster in the building of the partitions. To provide more power and grace and to the full composition, the abutments ended up bolstered and 46 semi-circular formed bastions ended up created into the partitions at shorter, typical intervals.

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

The Citadel was divided into two sectors, which ended up divided by a mud brick wall.

 One sector contained the Palace and places of work of the Governor of Debal as nicely as massive Buying and selling Houses. Significant Community buildings, including the Grand Mosque and Assembly Halls, ended up also located in this Sector. A gateway on the jap deal with of this sector opened up towards the harbour, when an additional gateway towards the west led to the Industrial Estate

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

The northern sector was divided into various blocks of houses, meant for folks in distinct cash flow groups. The houses on the Citadel ended up meant completely for Authorities staff members and those working in the buying and selling houses.

Residential SECTORS

 There ended up two household sectors in Debal town. One particular of them was located on major of the citadel, when the other one particular was on the plains surrounding the citadel hill on the northern facet.

For a populace believed at all over 150,000, there should have been 25,000 houses in and all over the Banbhore Citadel. About 10 per cent of the houses ended up probably located in the Residential Sector of the Citadel, when the remaining 90 per cent should have been located in the decrease town all over the lake.

Although the grid layout pattern was not adopted, some degree of scheduling and management was exercised by the civic authority, resulting in a rather neat arrangement of houses. A network of vast roadways and slender lanes divided the region into massive and smaller blocks and inspite of the large density of populace, there ended up enough range of open spaces and public squares.

 There was a wonderful offer of variation in the sizes of the houses and in their good quality of building. The greater houses very often occupied an full block they ended up invariably delivered with a spacious courtyard and limestone blocks ended up typically employed in the foundation of the houses as nicely as for the partitions. The smallest houses, on the other hand, ended up commonly located in a cluster with popular facet and rear partitions and they ended up typically produced with mud bricks.

In the Residential sector adjacent to the lake, maybe no need was felt for a specific layout approach as there no these kinds of restriction for area as on major of the citadel. A lot less sturdy materials, clay and wood ended up made use of in the building of houses in this sector, which is why very several stays of houses have survived. Reviews of Arab travellers point out that clay and wood ended up the materials frequently made use of in the building of houses in this sector.


 The Grand Congregational Mosque of Debal has the singular honour of getting the first key Congregational Mosque in South Asia. An inscription located in the stays of the Mosque implies a date of 109 AH (727 C.E.). This was probably the date on which the extended approach and attractive performs at the Mosque ended up finished. The foundations of the unique Mosque produced at the internet site ended up laid by Muhammad bin Qasim himself shortly right after he conquered the town in 711 C.E.

The covered region 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 pattern – a design and style, which turned well-liked through Umayyad rule in Syria and in other places. The nave comprised of the covered prayer chamber and an open courtyard measuring 25 meters by 20 meters. On possibly facet of the Prayer Chamber and courtyard, there ended up the covered aisles. At the rear conclude of the Mosque (exactly where facilities for ablution ended up probably delivered), the building was comparable to that of the facet aisles.

The column bases in the Prayer Chamber portion of the Mosque point out that a few rows of eleven wood columns each individual, 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 almost all the Mosques belonging to the later on interval of Islam, the Mihrab (a niche in the Qibla Wall) was a standard architectural aspect, indicating the route of the Kaaba. On the other hand, in the Grand Mosque of Banbhore, like some other Mosques belonging to the early interval of Islam, the Mihrab was not delivered, which in alone is an indicator of the early interval of building of this Mosque.

Some portions of flooring of the Mosque have survived, which point out that semi-glazed monochrome tiles ended up made use of in the flooring of the Prayer Chamber and courtyard, as nicely as in the facet aisles and ablution chamber. This is maybe the first case of use of glazed tiles for flooring in this component of the world. It looks most likely that the semi-glazed tiles ended up introduced to Banbhore from Iraq by masons sent by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muhtasim Billa for carrying out repairs to the Mosque right after it was broken by an earthquake.

For the decoration of the Mosque, wood carvings and calligraphic layouts appear to have been thoroughly employed. Among the most extraordinary pieces, which have survived in a very superior condition, are fourteen dressed sandstone slabs on which Arabic texts are fantastically carved in the hefty monumental Kufic script frequently employed by the Umayyad artisans. These inscribed sandstone blocks embellished the northern deal with of the outer wall. Two other Kufic inscriptions located 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.

Besides the stays of the Grand Mosque, the other most important architectural stays, 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 constructing ended up equally plastered. The variety of flooring and the site of the constructing in the quick vicinity of the Grand Mosque, point out that this floor was a component of a very important constructing, maybe that of the Dar Al-Imara. A hoard of coins belonging to Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphs and some of those minted domestically, was also located in the vicinity of this plastered floor.


 The anchorage on the right lender of Gharo Creek at Banbhore delivered a harmless haven to buying and selling vessels from the lurking threat of plunder by pirates operating in the Indian Ocean in historical and medieval occasions. It also delivered shielded berthing facilities in stormy temperature. For the reason that of these important variables, right upto the 17th century, Banbhore remained an important port of call in this region for buying and selling vessels.

All as a result of this interval the anchorage region at Banbhore continued to produce to meet the transforming needs of smaller and massive ocean going vessels. It delivered fantastic facilities for repair and upkeep of long-haul vessels, warehousing for practical supply of buying and selling products to regional marketplaces, refuelling facilities for foodstuff and consuming drinking water supplies besides possibilities for rewarding import/ export trade with the Indus basin region.

A lot of area was out there for these kinds of routines in the anchorage region as the mound on which Banbhore Citadel was located was at a practical length from the Creek. The entrance to the Citadel from the Anchorage was as a result of the extraordinary Japanese Gateway. On the reverse facet of the Citadel, the similarly extraordinary Western Gateway delivered access to the Industrial Sector exactly where producing facilities ended up near at hand to provide technical assist for ship constructing, repairs and upkeep get the job done at the Anchorage.

Presently swamps cover a lot of the region exactly where the anchorage facilities ended up located in that interval. Therefore most of the physical proof has been ruined.  On the other hand, Chinese stoneware belonging to the T’ang Dynasty, other imported content articles, and glazed ceramics and other domestically created content articles, located through the excavations in the Citadel region, point out that the prosperity liked by Banbhore through the interval of Arab rule was largely owing to its significance as transportation, industrial and interaction centre of the Arab Planet.

These times, the port town, which when delivered sustenance to a populace of 150,000 inhabitants, typically as a result of economic activity produced by international trade, is pretty much an abandoned settlement. The rules of the sport have transformed. With large ocean going vessels transporting tens of millions of tons of cargo annually in containers, a contemporary port with a large container terminal, has been designed at an suitable internet site on the similar 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, right after the wonderful Umayyad conqueror.


  North of the Citadel, spread about a lot more than an acre, was an region specially earmarked for site of craft industries. Broken pieces of pottery are strewn all about the area and each now and then one particular will come across deformed metallic objects. Archaeological investigations have uncovered structural stays of massive troughs, which ended up probably made use of for dying materials. Also located from this internet site, are stays of massive range of kilns, heaps of ashes, crucibles, damaged glass and ivory pieces.

The massive selection of content articles shown in the Archaeological Museum point out the variety of advanced glazed ceramics and luxurious products that ended up getting created in the Industrial Estate at Debal (Banbhore).

Resource by RAFI SAMAD

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