Ruins and Necropolis of Tatta (World Heritage)
Tatta, about 90 km east of Karachi, was the capital of Sind from the 14th to the 16th centuries and an important cultural and economic center until the 18th century. Numerous buildings from their heyday have been preserved. This is also the case with the Shah Jahan mosque, which was built in the 17th century and is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the Mughal times. The huge necropolis on Makli Hill houses hundreds of thousands of graves, including magnificent mausoleums from the 14th to 17th centuries.
Ruins and Necropolis of Tatta: Facts
|Official title:||Ruins and necropolis of Tatta|
|Cultural monument||capital of three dynasties between the 14th and 18th centuries; 15.5 km² large necrologist on the Makli hill with hundreds of thousands of graves, including Mausoleum of the Samma Sultan Nisamuddin and the Jam Barbar|
|country||Pakistan, see ezinereligion|
|location||Tatta, east of Karachi|
|meaning||a unique testimony to the settlement of Sind|
Ruins and Necropolis of Tatta: History
|1334-47||probable founding period of tattas|
|1347||Mention of Tatta in a report on Muhammad Tughlaqs’ campaign|
|1508||Tomb of Jam Nisamuddin|
|1588||Construction of the Dabgir Mosque|
|1638||fortress-like Diwan Shurfa Khan mausoleum|
|1644||Mirza Isa Khan Tarkhan II Mausoleum|
|1644-47||Construction of the Shah Jahan Mosque|
|1742||Looting by the Persian army under Shah Nadir|
|1858/59||Additions to the Shah Jahan mosque|
Splendor and grandeur in the Indus delta
To decorate the rulers’ mausoleums, the craftsmen of the trading town preferred ceramic tiles and enameled bricks in the 16th and 17th centuries. In doing so, they created imaginative braided ribbons on the brick walls, the effect of which was enhanced by the inlay of geometric, floral and calligraphic decorative fields. For this purpose, Tatta’s craftsmen also used colored tiles that had previously been cut into pieces of mosaic, thus establishing a new technique that was soon adopted by colleagues in the neighboring province of Punjab. It is not uncommon for Tatta’s craftsmen to cover the walls of the final resting places with plaster of paris, in which they cut artistic stone patterns.
Thatta’s lavishly decorated mosques and tombs rise on the Makli hill, which is classified as the largest cemetery in the Islamic hemisphere. These architectural monuments from three epochs form the most impressive architectural heritage of the former trading center in the Indus Delta, ancient India’s river of fate, which separates the subcontinent from the Persian sphere of influence.
Going back to an ancient foundation, Tatta owes its wealth to the Sindhu, as the river is called in the ancient cultural language Sanskrit; because it changed its direction of flow several times over the course of time, the water level in the city harbor began to drop over time. Soon no more ships could call at the port. In the middle of the 18th century, the capital of Sind only offered a glimpse of its former size.
At the beginning of the golden age, the rulers of the Samma dynasty had Tatta’s oldest mosque built from brick. The Afghan Arghune were replaced by the Tarkhan dynasty. One of their rulers, Mirza Isa Tarkhan, was laid to rest in a mausoleum that was decorated with rosette reliefs and sunflower patterns. And Jam Nisamuddin sleeps for eternity in a mausoleum built in 1509, which is decorated with North Indian temple tower motifs alternating with decorative elements from the Middle East. In the style of the Timurid rulers from Central Asia, the tombs are enthroned on a pedestal-like substructure called a “drum”, which enhances the monumental effect of the mausoleum.
With the annexation to the empire of the Mughals, who appointed a governor in Tatta, a final chapter in architectural history began for the port city. The Dabgir Mosque, which was built in the residential area of the wooden box makers from 1588 on, impresses with its mihrab (prayer corner), which was so artistically cut out of the stone that it looks deceptively similar to a filigree woodcut. Floral motifs, surrounded by cloud reliefs, fill the fields on the outer walls of the entrance. Shah Dschahan, during whose reign the Mughal architecture came to full maturity, laid the foundation stone of the Great Mosque in 1644. When the prayer house was completed under his successor Aurangzeb, a square inner courtyard, surmounted by more than 90 domes, stretched in front of the believers. The central dome of the Friday mosque erected over the prayer hall rests on supporting arches that are interwoven. The half-domes of the mosque halls – called “Iwane” – were also connected in this way.
Shah Dschahan, who set new artistic standards and was not stingy with precious building materials, had calligraphic engravings made on the gilded stones of the Friday Mosque. White, yellow and blue terracotta panels, which also decorate the monuments of the Central Asian cities of Bukhara, Samarkand and Herat, served as wall cladding. Tatta’s characteristic decoration technique reaches its climax in the splendid design of the main mosque. While the Great Mosque has recently been thoroughly restored, the rescue of the other architectural monuments in the dusty old town is still a long way off. Together with the salty air of the Indus delta, the monsoon rain continues its work of destruction unhindered.