Umerkot, Emperor Akbar’s birthplace, is rich in cultural diversity, a place where Tharis, desert natives, converse in Hindi, Sindhi, Sanskrit or Thari but not in Urdu
9/2/2017 6:25:07 PM
|written By : Reema Abbasi|
To be in Tharparkar is to trip on an ancestor’s memories.
The great white of entwined cliffs and scorched earth presents myriad illusions. Paths, caught in merciless elements, seem in search of destinations.
A long, five-hour road trip from cosmopolitan Karachi ends at a place steeped in the past -- Umerkot. Thar has now begun to unfold. And its spell is cast on adventurers and seekers of history.
Once known as Amarkot, this is the birthplace of the most majestic of Mughals, Emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar. As a fragile 15-year-old, his mother, Hamida Bano Begum, gave birth to him under a tree here. The historic spot is honoured with a red brick chauburji (four-sided, arched enclosure) on a brick platform nestled in dense gardens, beside a signboard with an ode to the king’s exemplary 50-year reign and conquests.
Few know that the newborn prince was sent to Kandahar from here till the time his father, Humayun, returned to Lahore in 1551.
Further on, arid dunes heave as warm winds breathe into them; herds of camels and cows often block your way, the tinkle of their bells fuse with snake-charmers’ flutes. Thatched cone-roof settlements lie among dull greens of Acacia Arabica and silver bushels that are like heaps of curling fireflies.
Flashing shades of temples, homes and women wrapped in radiant traditional ghagra, choli (long skirt and blouse) and sarees break the monochrome of sand; nose rings and bangles glimmer on dusky skin as they saunter with carafes of water or piles of wood.
As the sun comes alive, warrens of lanes pulsate with old world energy – morning mist is tinted with colourful women sweeping paths; cows and camels heaped with hay amble along breaking the sleepy silence with chiming bells, temples and mosques surge with activity and mounds of vivid spices and dew-soaked vegetables come into view when shutters are flung open.