Oct 14, 2009

Bhambor or Banbhore Sindh, Pakistan

Bhambore is an archaeological site in Sindh Province, situated at 65 km east of Karachi between Dhabeji and Gharo, on the  National Highway. It is also known as Bhambra among Khudabadi Sindh Swarankar community. It holds the remains of three civilizations: the Scytho-Parthian period, Hindu-Buddhist Period, and Islamic Period.

Bhambore was also an important trade route and a military post during these eras. The city was later abandoned due to a change in the Indus River's course. History also reveals that it was devastated by an earthquake in 893 AD. The young Arab warrior Muhammad Bin Qasim landed his armies in 711 AD and destroyed the castle. At the time of his invasion, the population of the Bhambore was mainly Hindu with a Buddhist minority. The city was originally the sea-port of Debal and the French Archaeologist MRS Monique Kervran confirmed in her findings that Bhambore and Deal were, in fact, two names of the same place. Bhambore had trading links between Arab and South Asian nations of the times. The ruins of the Bhambore castle can be seen covering an area of 14 acres with three gates. According to archaeologists, Bhambore influenced other civilized centers of its times. It was a hub of the trade from the 8th to 12th century AD.
Artifacts and pottery of Bhambore have also been discovered from Africa, Iran, and Central Asia. Glass-making, pottery, and coins making were common in Bhambore. Colorful glassware, glass lamps, small perfumery bottles, and beads have also been unearthed. All these various types of glassware discovered here can now be seen in the local museum. Bhambore is also famous for the folk love story of Sassi and Pannu, one of the seven tragic tales from Sindh. Sassi was the daughter of the Raja of Bhambore. Upon the birth, astrologers predicted that she was a curse for the royal family's prestige, so the Raja ordered that the child is put in a wooden box and thrown in the Indus.  A washerman of Bhambore found the box and having no child of own, he felt it was a blessing from God and decided to adopt her. As Sassi grew up, she became an extremely beautiful woman. As Bhambore laid on the trade route to Thatta, Caravans would pass through it regularly and stories of Sassi's beauty reached the young prince of Makran, Pannu. He traveled to Bhambore and in order to catch glimpse of her, he sent home of his clothes to the washer man. When Pannu visited the latter's house, he came face to face with the young girl and both fell in love at first sight. But as the prince was not from their caste, Sassi's father refused this alliance. He eventually decided to test Pannus's worth and gave him clothes that needed to be washed. While washing, the prince tore the clothes as he had never been assigned such a task. Before returning them, though, he did gold coins in their pockets, hoping this gesture would keep the villagers quite. The trick worked, and Sassi's father gave his consent to the marriage. 
Pannu's father was however against this dishonorable relationship, so the man's brother traveled to Bhambore. They first threatened Pannu but when he did not relent, they elaborated a devilish plan. They pretended to have had a  change of heart and celebrated the first wedding night of their brother with fake enthusiasm. They made him drink heavily and once he got intoxicated they carried him on a camel's back and returned to their hometown of Makran. The next morning, when Sassi realized Panuu had been cheated, she became made with the grief of separation from her lover and ran barefoot towards Makran. She crossed miles of desert and kept going on despite exhaustion and injuries, while Pannu's name was on her lips throughout the journey. She eventually got thirsty and saw a shepherd coming out of a hut. He gave her some water but, mesmerized by her beauty, dirty thoughts came to his mind and he tried to force himself on the young girl. Sassi ran away, praying to hide and to save her chastity. God granted her prayers: the land shook, split, and Sassi found herself buried in the valley. When Pannu regained consciousness in Makran, he ran back to Bhambore, calling out of his beloved. On the way, he met the shepherd who recounted him the whole story.
The prince prayed to get back to the woman he loved, and God listened to him. The hillock parted again and he too found eternal refuge in its womb, alongside Sassi. The shepherd, repentant, became the caretaker of their grave. This legendary grave still exists in the valley and can be found at Lasbela. According to myth, it is placed exactly at a spot where the lovers disappeared underground. Needless to say, it is proudly protected by the locals, who are always more than happy to narrate its story to visitors. As for the ruins of Pennu's fort they are located even further, in Turbat. 


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