Compiled By: Rtn. Gangaram Shamdas Purswani (P.H.F.)
Sukkur is a city in the Sindh, Pakistan. It is located along the western bank of the Indus River, directly across from the historic city of Rohri. Sukkur is the third largest in Sindh after Karachi and Hyderabad. New Sukkur was established during the British era alongside the village of Sukkur. Sukkur’s hill, along with the hill on the river island of Bukkur, form what is sometimes considered the “Gate of Sindh”. Sukkur is home of the Hindu “Sadh Belo” shrine.
The name Sukkur may derive from the Arabic word for “sugar,” shakkar, in reference to the sugarcane fields that have historically been abundant in the region. This may be an allusion to the relative prosperity of the region at the time. Others have suggested the name may derive from the word Sukh, derived from a Sindhi word for “Comfort.”
The region around Sukkur has been inhabited for millennia. The ruins of Lakhueen-jo-daro, located near an industrial park on the outskirts of Sukkur, date from the Mature Harappan period of the Indus Valley Civilization, between 2600 BCE and 1900 BCE. “Old Sukkur” was initially a small village prior to the establishment of a military garrison in 1839. Sukkur was built on a low limestone ridge on the banks of the Indus River. The city was once surrounded by groves of Date Palms that were traditionally believed to have grown from the discarded date-pits from Arab invaders in the 8th century.
The village of Sukkur was directly across from the larger town of Rohri, which served as a busy port along the Indus by the 1200s, and was a major trading centre for agricultural produce. On 86 foot (26 m) tall minaret was built at Sukkur’s shrine of Mir Masum Shah in 1607.
Modern Sukkur, or New Sukkur, was built during British rule alongside what was once a small village directly across from the historic city of Rohri. The British established a military garrison here in 1839, which was abandoned in 1845, though Sukkur continued to grow in importance as a trading center. The Sukkur Municipality was constituted in 1862.
Completed in 1889, Sukkur’s Landowne Bridge connects the Sukkur to Rohri across the Indus, and was one of the first bridges to cross the river. The bridge made the journey between Karachi and Multan easier. The bridge was built with two large pylons rather than a series of pillars extending across the river – a cutting-edge design for such an expansive span. The bridge was also made of metal, and features an unusual design.
The Sukkur Barrage (formally called Lloyd Barrage), built under the British Raj on the Indus River, controls one of the largest irrigation systems in the world. It was designed by Sir Arnold Musto KCIE, and constructed under the overall direction of Sir Charlton Harrison between 1923 and 1932. The 5,001 feet (1,524 m) long barrage is made of yellow stone and steel and can water nearly 10 million acres (40,000 km2) of farmland through its seven large canals.
On the eve of the Partition of British India in 1947, Sukkur’s old town was home to about 10,000 residents, while New Sukkur was home to 80,000.
After the independence of Pakistan most of the city’s Hindu population migrated to India, though like much of Sindh, Sukkur did not experience the widespread rioting that occurred in Punjab and Bengal. Less than 500 Hindus were killed in all of Sindh between 1947-48 as Sindhi Muslims largely resisted calls to turn against their Hindu neighbours. Hindus did not flee Sukkur en masse until riots erupted in Karachi on 6 January 1948, which sowed fear in Sindh’s Hindus despite the fact that the riots were local and regarded Sikh refugees from Punjab seeking refuge in Karachi. The Muslim refugees from India settled in Sukkur.
The Sindh Industrial Trading Estate in Sukkur was established in 1950. The Ayub Bridge was built in 1962, and spans the Indus River alongside the British-era Landsdowne Bridge.
The small Eocene limestone outcropping upon which Sukkur was founded is the most significant land deformation on the vast plains along the Indus Valley in Sindh and Punjab. The outcropping is part of the “Jacobabad-Khairpur High” and Rohri Hills. The outcropping, along with the similar outcropping on Bukkar Island are sometimes referred to as the “Sukkur Gorge,” and has historically served as the traditional northern boundary of Sindh.