Compiled By: Rtn. Gangaram Shamdas Purswani (P.H.F.)
Bhambhore is situated on the northern bank of Gharo creek, about 65 kilometres east of Karachi in the Thatta District of Sindh, Pakistan. It is also known as “Bhambra” among Khudabadi Sonara Community. Bhambore was the original village of families of Bhambrai Bradri. Bhambhore is a city dating to the 1st century BCE. It holds the “Remains” of three civilizations: (a).It dates back to the Scytho-Parthian era.(b). Hindu Buddhist period. & (c). Islamic period.
The French archaeologist Mrs. Monique Kevran confirmed in her finding that Bhambore and Debal were in fact two names of the same place. Some archaeologist and historians suggest that Bhambhore is the historical city of Debal which the Arab general Muhammad Bin Qasim connquered in 711–712 after defeating Raja Dahir the last Hindu ruler of Sindh and was later controlled by Muslims from the 8th to the 13th century, after which it was abandoned. Remains of one of the earliest known mosques in the region dating back to 727 AD are still preserved in the city.
Dr N.A. Baloch, who carried out substantial research on this issue, argues that in the name of ‘Bhambore’ there appears to be a convincing philological clue to the name of the old Buddhist temple at Deebal, namely (Bhanmbor = Ban-Bahar) Vana-Vihara which probably may have been the name of the Buddhist temple that stood at this site which should be Deebal. Buddhist temples are known as ‘Viharas’. The accounts of Debal speak of the temple which stood approximately 14 yards high. At Bhambore, high on the hillock stand some old foundation of walls eight to 10 feet wide with bastions. This high platform may have been the site of the temple and later on of the mosque that Bhambore is largely known for. It is also said Raja Bhambo Ruled this city in 10th Century and therefore the City is named “Bhambore”. The city reached the height of its fame as the most important crossroad of the ancient trade route to China and Middle East.
Preliminary excavations in the area were first done by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar in 1928 and later by Leslie in 1951. Pakistani archaeologist Dr F.A. Khan conducted extensive studies and excavations in the site from 1958 to 1965. In March 2012, the Culture Department of Government of Sindh organized the first International Conference on Bhambhore, where different experts and archaeologists presented their research on the site. The remains of the mosque were discovered in 1960. Remains of houses, streets, and other buildings have been found both within and outside the citadel. Contemporary stone buildings from the three periods are also uncovered in the area including a palatial stone building with semi-circular shape, a Shiva temple from the Hindu period, and a mosque. Three gateways to the citadel were also uncovered during excavations.
Archaeological findings show that the city consisted of an enclosed area surrounded by a stone and mud wall. The citadel was divided into eastern and western sections by a fortified stone wall in the center. The eastern part contains ruins of a mosque with an inscription dating to 727 AD, sixteen years after the conquest of Sindh, indicating the best-preserved example of the earliest mosques in the region. The evidence of the reuse of carved stone from earlier Hindu structures suggests that the site had undergone a major shift in cultural rituals.
It is believed that Bhambore, which is 35km from the open sea today, was only 20km from the sea during the 13th century, and when Alexander came here in 324 BCE, it was probably on the sea itself or a mile or two in land on the Kalri branch of the Indus. The ancient fort existed much before the Arab conquest but was repaired periodically. The sandstone used in its construction, and also of houses came from hillocks just outside the settlement mud bricks were used for the poor men’s quarters and in core fortification. The settlement occupies about 55 Acres, though only 10 per cent of the conspicuous area has been excavated and much cannot be known about the life of common man. There are numerous versions regarding the destruction of this ancient city. Some believe that a major change took place in the course of River Indus and the city was situated on the bank of river was deserted. Another reason that is given is that the city came to a sudden end following violent earthquake around 1250CE. Some historian believes that the city was put to fire in the event of civil war or a foreign invasion. Another account says that the destruction of Bhambore could have been caused when during the mid-13th century CE, Jalal al-Din Khwarzim Shah invaded Sindh and devasted and conquered many coastal areas of Sindh.
According to Sindhi folklore, the story of Sussui-Punhun is associated with the region spread from Kutch valley to southern Sindh. This region is generally considered a part of the ancient trade route towards Iraq on which Bhambore seems to be situated 37 miles south-east from Karachi. There are three reasons that substantiate this assumption. First, the ruins of Bhambore are situated on the old course of River Indus; second, in the north west of the ruins, the quarters of textile dying workers are found that are associated with the story of Sussui-Punhun; and thirdly, Sussui took this route while looking for Punhun after he was kidnapped by his brothers and the place where her monument has been erected is situated in north-west of Karachi near the hills of Pubb and valley of Sanghar.
Bhambore is associated with the story of “Sassui – Punhun” that was immortalized in the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. It is believed that Bhambore was destroyed around 1250 CE, but it still lives in the world of romance and folklore. Sassui’s grave lies at a site known as “Sassui waro chodo”, 14 miles from Karachi on the road to Kech Makran.
The story of Sussui – Punhun owes its origin to Soomro period (1024-1351 CE), which is known as the period of chivalry and romance. Through the Bhats and the Charans, this story spread far and wide.
Museum: An Archaeological Museum is established at the site, where the artefacts so far discovered during the course of excavation are displayed in chronological sequence. These include Pre-Islamic Pottery, Unayyad Pottery, Abbasid and latter period pottery. Chinese pottery, Unglazed household pottery, Pre-Islamic and Islamic period coins, Minor Antiquities i.e. Sculptures, Inscriptions, Iron, Copper and Ivory objects etc.