Jakhi Bandar and fort
By: Aziz Kingrani
The shoreline of Sindh had remained very busy regarding trades with eastern and western countries by sea routes from prehistoric period. Along seashore at Indus delta many seaports were center of trades from ancient times up to early nineteenth century as well. The traders used to live at seaports with families under the supervision of appointed officials of government of the time. The forts and fortresses were constructed for defense relating to possible attacks of foreign invaders. Jaki or Jakhi Bandar port including fort is one of them.
Jakhi Bander and fort is unexcavated archaeological site of Sindh, Pakistan. Rarely has been written in details with historical and archaeological evidences about this ancient archaeological site yet. The historians are of the opinion that historically it is Lahri or Lari Bandar but it is now locally known as Jaki or Jakhi Bandar. The journal “Pakistan Archaeology” by Archaeology Department of Pakistan, “Journal of Asian Civilisation” by Texila institute of Asian Civilisation (2002: 47), a book “Archaeology of seafaring” by Himanshu (1996: vi)and book “Ships and Maritime Development Technology on Indian Ocean” by Ruth and David have written that “this is Lahori or Lahri or Lari Bandar mentioned by al-Beruni and Ibin Batuta. It was busy port from ninth century AD to fourteenth century AD but now it is called Jaki or Jakhi Bandar by local fishermen” (2015:67). Mir Ali Sher Qa’anie writes in Tuhfatul Kiram “In old times Jakhi Bander was called Debal” (2004: 168).
At present, it is situated at a travel of approximately 50 kilometers from Karachi towards east-south and about 20 kilometers from Banbhore towards south-west while it is sited at a distance of 14 kilometers from latte town of taluka Mirpur Sakro of Thatta District towards west. It can be found on an island surrounded by huge water of sea. Jakhi Bander can easily be visited with the help of motor boat from Derya Pir sea harbor or seaport. The motor boat gets one a half hour up to Jakhi Bander from Derya Pir anchorage. Jakhi Bander fort is at a distance of 10 kilometers through watery route From Derya Pir seaport towards west in deep sea. I visited it by motor boat from Derya Pir harbor.
The above refrences of historians make it obvious that today’s Jakhi Bandar is earlier Lahri or Lari Bandar. According to point of view of some historians that Lahri or Lari Bandar was Debal. In Chach Nama (2004: 138) it is also written that when Debal was conquered by Bin Qasim, Raja Dahir wrote him letter that, “If you have conquered Debal which is neither strong fort nor there live powerful or strong force or army. You have conquered such a fort where only live traders and lndustrial people. If there lived strong person (General), you would be defeated”. The view of Jaki or Jakhi Bandar Fort supports the statement of Chach Nama. Possibly, later after burning of Debal by Jalaluddin Khuwarzmi, it re-occupied with name of Lahri or Lari Bandar. For instance, prior to name Jakhi Bandar, it was called as Lari Bandar in past. However, Jakhi Bandar was ancient city and seaport of Sindh. It is believed that when al-Beruni and Ibin Batuta had visited Sindh, the Jakhi Bandar (lahri Bander) was already existed. Evidently, Jakhi (Lahri or Lari) Bandar was very busy port and prosperous city before their visit. Jakhi (Lahri) Bandar might have been established as a sea harbor or port before the visit of al-Beruni and Ibin Batuta. Secondly, the ancient inscriptions are inscribed on the burnt bricks of the fort. Probably, these inscriptions are engraved on backed bricks either in Brahmi script or other prevalent earlier local scripts. The inscriptions inscribed on most of the bricks used in the construction of the fort at port are evident to believe its oldness and existence prior to Muslim period. In my opinion Jakhi Bander fort (Lari Bandar) is pre-Islamic archaeological site. Anwar Pirzada has opined that Jaki or Jakhi Bandar Fort is possibly earlier Debal. Meanwhile, Badar Abro calls it desputed site. However, it is not confirmed that it is Debal but maybe later, from time to time the invaders occupied it. Thus, the remains of later attackers have been found from the site of Jakhi Bandar and fort.
Jakhi Bander fort is constructed over an area of about four acres. Its walls are about 5 feet in width. It is built with red bricks. The measurement of some bricks is one squire foot. Some bricks are larger than foot. The base of fort is built with large stone slabs. The main gate of the fort is towards east. Two basins or entrenchments are built at main gate while entrenchments are also built at every corner of the fort. In the premises of the fort the other types of constructions were observed but all have been demolished by sea erosion. Some constructions have been traced at outside of the fort as well towards south-east which seemed the residence of common people like a village. Here, the basin is too built. The terracotta of different periods is scattered at a large scale near these outside constructions. All the walls of fort are now destroyed. Many early inscriptions were found inscribed on bricks. Most probably, in oldest times the fort was along sea shore at Indus delta. Subsequently, the sea eroded the area and fort was surrounded by sea. It seems defensive fort for trader’s community at harbor. Earlier Lari Bandar and now known as Jakhi Bander fort is fighting with the powerful tidal force of sea but unfortunately it will be defeated and in nearest future it will be completely sunk into sea and will disappear for ever.