Compiled By: Rtn Gangaram Shamdas Purswani (P.H.F.)
Umerkot (Urdu: عُمَركوٹ, Dhatki عُمَركوٹ), Sindhi (عمرڪوٽ) formerly known as Amarkot, is a city in Umerkot District in the Sindh province of Pakistan. The city was the birthplace of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. It is the 68th largest city of Pakistan.
The local language is Dhatki, which is one of the Rajasthani languages of the Indo-Aryan language family. It is most closely related to Marwari. Sindhi, Urdu and Punjabi are also understood by the citizens.
The city is named by its Hindu founder Maharaja Amar Singh who originally built the Amarkot Fort here. The name of the city was later changed after a local Ruler of Sindh Umer Soomro of the Umar Marvi story which also appears in Shah Jo Risalo and is one of the popular tragic romances from Sindh.
Umerkot province was ruled by Sodha Rajput clan of Hindu Rajputs from medieval times until 1947 Partition of British India. The city held prominence during the Mughal Empire Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar and the British Raj. Emperor Akbar was born in Umarkot Fort when his father Humayun fled from the military defeats at the hands of Sher Shah Suri on 15 October 1542. Rana Parasad of Umarkot, who had risen to power had given refuge to Mughal Emperor Humayun, and it was there Hamida Bano Begum gave birth to young Akbar. Later the Mughal Emperor Akbar became the Shahenshah of Hindustan and was a popular figure with both Hindus and Muslims. Akbar brought north western India, including modern day Pakistan under Mughal rule.
Umerkot has many sites of historical significance such as Mughal emperor Akbar’s birthplace near to Umarkot Fort, currently King Akbar birthplace is an open land. In 1746, The Mughal Subahdar, Noor Mohammad Kalhoro, built a fort at the location. Later the British would take over that area.
Amarkot fort was built by Rana Amar Singh in 11th century. It remained under control of Hindu Rajput dynasty known as the Ranas of Umerkot, but later was taken over by the Pakistani Government after the formation of Pakistan. However, Rana family still have their jagir located 16 km away. The governorship of the fort was possessed by Rana Megraj.
Marvi of Umar Marvi love saga was kept here at Amarkot fort. The significant story relating to Umarkot is that of Umar Marvi. Marvi was a young Thari girl abducted by Umar, the then ruler, who wanted to marry because of her beauty. Upon her refusal, she was imprisoned in the historic Umerkot Fort for many years until her ultimate release. Because of her courage, Marvi is an ideal for the local people. Its ruler Rana Ratan Singh was hanged by the British at this fort for standing up for the rights of the Sindhis.
Umerkot was annexed by Jodhpur State in the 18th century and its rulers were reduced to Vassals. Umerkot and its fort was later handed to the British in 1847 by the Maharaja of Jodhpur in return for reducing the tribute imposed on Jodhpur State by Rs.10,000. Due to this the Rana of Umerkot did not have much say in whether to join India or Pakistan, although he expressed his desire to join Pakistan because of his Sindhi roots. Umerkot was the only state with a Hindu majority and a Hindu King, that acceded to Pakistan. Rana Chandra Singh, a federal minister and the chieftain of the Hindu Sodha Thakur Rajput clan and the Umerkot Jagir, was one of the founder members of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan from Umarkot, seven times with PPP between 1977 and 1999, when he founded the Pakistan Hindu Party (PHP). Currently, his politician son Rana Hamir Singh is the 26th Rana of Tharparkar, Umarkot and Mithi.
Umerkot is also referred to as Amar Kot as per old histories, “Amar Kot Itehas” by Tej Singh Solanki. Once, it has been Capital of Greater Sindh Province, including some parts of present Rajasthan state of India.
According to Thakur Deshraj, Panwar clan Jats were rulers here prior to Mughal ruler Humayun. Jame Todd tells it to be a Rajput state confusing Panwar with Rajputs, but it was denied by Cunningham, who wrote it to be a Panwar Jat state referring to the author of ‘Humayun Nama‘.
A Parmara ruler named Bahada Rao, popularly known as Bar Rao, founder of Barmer (Juna Barmer) also known as Raja Dharnivrah of Naukoti Marwar, he had two sons named Rao Sodha and Rao Sankhla also known as “Shankh Kula”, Sodha is derived from the Sanskrit word Sodh that means Brave and Powerful. Sodha moved to Ratakot (a Sindhi language which word means “Red Fort”) modern day Khipro. Sodhas invaded and captured Ratakot from Umra Parmars now Soomra, later on Sodha earned the title of Rana means “Raja” in Sindhi. The lineage of Sodha is given below.
Also known as Rana Jagir, the story of the protection and assistance extended by the Amarkot Ranas to the Mughal Emperor Humayun when he was escaping the Afghan usurper Sher Shah Suri, is legendary and it became the birthplace of Padshahzada Akbar, future Emperor of Delhi.
Rana HAMIR SINGH, 26th and present Rana Saheb of Amarkot since 2009 (Rana Jagir, Pakistan), born March 1957, Minister for Agriculture in the Sindh Government, married Rani Nalini Prabha Kanwar, daughter of Rao Gansham Singh of Tantoti, and his wife, Rani Partap Kanwar, and has issue, one son and three daughters.
- Kumari Deval Sodha, married 10th February 2004, Bhanwar Rudra Pratap Singh, son of Kanwar Gajendra Singh of Auwa, and his wife, Kanwarani Vishalakshi Devi, and has issue, one son.
- Kumari Aprajita Sodha [Yuvrani Aprajita Devi of Awagarh], married April 2004, Yuvraj Ambrish Pal Singh, son of Raja Anirudh Pal Singh of Awagarh.
- Maharaj Kumarani Mahalaxmi Sodha, married February 2008, Maharaj Kumar Jayendra Pratap Singh, son and heir of Maharaja Bahadur Dharmendra Prasad Singh of Balrampur, and his wife, Maharani Vandana Rajya Lakshmi.
- Kunwar Karni Singh Sodha, married on 20th February 2015 to Baijilal Padmini Singh, daughter of Thakur Man Singh Rathore of thikana Kanota and has issue, one son. [TOI] [NDTV] [India-Today] [Asian-Age] [Rajasthan Patrika]
- Bhanwar Vishwaraj Singh Sodha, born 1st April 2017.