RANIKOT: Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah, in a bid to defeat terrorism with tourism, arranged grand New Year celebrations at the Ranikot Fort which flaunts the great wall of Sindh.
Over 1,500 people gathered on the New Year’s Eve at the historic Mirikot Fort, which exists within the magnanimous Ranikot Fort itself.
Mirikot Fort was reserved for the elite historic dwellers of the area inside the entire edifice which spans around 30-35 kilometres according to modest estimates. The whole structure was lit with coloured lights around the outside and a temporary tent on the inside to host the celebrations.
Ghulam Akbar Leghari, Secretary Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities department of Sindh, welcomed everyone at the event and announced the initiation of tour services to this grand historic as well as mysterious site.
In charge of Ranikot site office located at Mirikot, Ghaiyur Abbas informed the public about the resort services developed by the Sindh Government at the fort.
“Sunrise and Sunset at Ranikot are experiences that would keep you in awe for the rest of your life, which is of course priceless. You can trek the range, meet the locals, experience traditional agriculture or even visit Pario-jo-tar [Pond of Fairies],” he told while speaking to The News Tribe.
According to folklore, on a full moon, fairies visit the exotic pond within the mountain range. On a usual day, you can look up to the gazillion brightly lit stars that grace the sky above while enjoying the slow water drift along Nai-Mohan, Pario-jo-Tar, Nai-Rani and Nai-Sun (all names of the same Rivulet inside the fort).
“The wall surrounding Ranikot fort resembles the great wall of China. There is no other structure in the world that looks like it. Not even the Jaipur fort in India or other forts in Pakistan,” claimed Madad Ali Sindhi, a published and well-known researcher associated with the Culture Department, who is also the president of Sindh Historical Society.
“Historians reserve the view that the fort was actually created around 1500-2000 years back. It was a well thought strategic location in the heart of Kirthar Range to protect the fertile lands of Sindh from constant attacks of Iranians and Central Asians,” he further added.
He anticipates that the government will send bricks to the chemical testing facility in France to evaluate the exact timeframe of the fort’s construction, till then researchers are relying on educated guesses developed through the study of building techniques of past centuries.
Syed Mujahid Hussain, who has travelled to Ranikot over ten to fifteen times, said that it is a unique archeological and ecological wonder protected by Mother Nature itself.
“I have visited all four gates of the fort. Mohan Gate got its name as it faces Mohen Jo Daro – Sun Gate faces the sun – Amri Gate looks on to the ancient site of Amri – Pir Sher Gate is known for a foot impression of a local saint, hence its name,” informed Hussain.
His visits allowed him to witness the indigenous flora, fauna, and community in its untouched grace.
“You will see goats, foxes, monitors, jackals, fishes and even snakes. There is nothing to be afraid of, the locals will take care of you,” he said.
Sophya Kanwal, another tourist on the quest to explore the place, was worried that the lack of waste disposal facilities might tarnish the beauty of the fort once it is flooded with tourists.
“Ranikot is the land of fairies, kings, and queens. It should be preserved that way. Before the government allows the influx of over a hundred thousand tourists this year, they should develop proper campsites with toilets, resting areas and dust bins. Eight rest houses are not enough,” she worriedly emphasized.
Assistant Director Sindh Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities department Abdul Razzak Baloch recognized the need to further develop facilities in and around the fort to boost economic as well as tourism based activities.
“We are enthusiastic about promoting the legends, architecture, culture, landscape and history of Sindh. Soon Ranikot would entertain local as well as foreign tourists owing to its unique grace that it has maintained over thousands of years. We also welcome archeological as well as historical researchers to visit Ranikot and help us solve the mysteries that it holds,” said Baloch.
Some people believe that Ranikot fort was built by the Talpurs or Rani Dushaila (wife of Raja Dahir), however, historians refute this view on the basis of archeological findings.
Ranikot is an unexplored marvel of Sindh almost 300kms to the north of Karachi. It has the potential to become one of the most popular tourist destinations for anyone who is on the lookout for exotic and adventurous locations.