Type of Attraction: Sightseeing, Landmarks, Religious Sites, Lake
Activities: Camping, Stargazing, Fishing, Boating, Swimming, Jet Ski
Check-ins: Gharo, Makli Hill, Shah Jahan Mosque, Keenjhar Lake, Hadero Lake, Haleji Lake, Kalan Kot Fort, Makli Graveyard, Makli Necropolis
Location: Thatta is located in the southern area, locally called Laar, of the province of Sindh, Pakistan.
Importance: Often dubbed as the ‘Rome of Pakistan’, Thatta is an ancient city of Sindh. It served as the capital and a seat of power for three dynasties, then it was later ruled by the Mughal Emperors, and thus it always remained at the center stage, enjoying the status of being one of the most prominent cities in Sindh.
Thatta has the honor of hosting one of the largest necropolises in the world – the Makli Graveyard – which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beautiful blue-tiled mosque built by Emperor Shahjahan speaks volumes about the expert craftsmanship of Sindh’s masons and laborers. Check out this video presented by the Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) before we take you through some of the best tourist destinations in Thatta.
Thatta’s Sindhi name Thatto may derive from the Sindhi words ‘Tatti’, or ‘Tatto’, which all refer to riverside settlements. Villagers in the rural areas of lower Sindh often refer to the city as Thatta Nagar, or simply Nagar.
Thatta may be the site of ancient Patala, the main port on the Indus in the time of Alexander the Great, though the site of Patala has been subject to much debate. Muhammad bin Qasim captured the region in 711 CE after defeating the local Raja in a battle north of Thatta. Thatta is reported by some historians to have been the ancient seaport of Debal that was mentioned by the Arab conquerors, though others place the seaport at the site of modern Karachi. At the time of the Umayyad conquests, small semi-nomadic tribes were living in the Sindh region. The Umayyad conquest introduced the religion of Islam into the hitherto mostly Hindu and Buddhist regions.
The city serves as the capital of Thatta District. On 23 April 2014, the government announced the formation of Sindh’s sixth division, Banbhore Division, with Thatta as its capital. These sources reveal that this formation was made to improve governance in Thatta.
Thatta’s geology is characterized by volcanic and sedimentary rocks that are similar to those in the Indus Plain and the Thar Desert. Soil types in the region are silty, with some clay as well. Much of the soil is exposed to salinization from the Arabian Sea. Vegetation in Thatta is characterized by mangrove forests in the coastal region, with tropical-thorny shrubs elsewhere.
People from all over the world visit Thatta to delve deep into history and marvel at the intricate carvings on stone and tiles that adorn the historical buildings. Let us take a look at some of the best tourist destinations in Thatta in detail.
- Keenjhar Lake
- Haleji Lake
- Museum in Bhanbhore
- Makli Hill Necropolis
- Old Jamia Masjid Thatta
- Soonda Graveyard
- Maqam Qadam Shah Graveyard
- Tomb of Sultan Ibrahim
- Nawab Ameer Khani Mosque
- Shahjahan Mosque
- Dabgir Mosque
- Kalan Kot Fort
If you are visiting Thatta, you might want to carry a token that could remind you of your wonderful time spent in the historic city. The Shahi Bazaar in Thatta is a long alley containing several shops where you could find all kinds of souvenirs and gifts that you could take with you. You can get the inlaid mirror work that Sindh is famous for. The bazaar is famous for hand-printed fabrics, Sindhi embroidery work, and glass bangles.
One of the best souvenirs from Thatta that you shouldn’t miss taking with you are the colorful Kedona Dolls made by local women. There are small to large dolls available. You can get a large doll for PKR 4000 and a small doll for around PKR 1500.
Climate: Thatta has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification). The average annual rainfall is 210mm, the average annual temperature in Thatta is 26.8 °C.
Distance: The total distance between Karachi and Thatta is 85.1 KM (1 hr. 35 min).
Thatta is not only home to Sindh’s historical buildings, but it also provides ample opportunities for watersports activities. People who love jet-skiing and swimming head over to one of the largest freshwater lakes in Pakistan to take a dip in the cool waters of Keenjhar Lake.
Local people also call it the Kalari Lake because they believe that it is not only Keenjhar Lake, but two lakes i.e., Sonehri and Keenjhar are merged into one large lake, which is 24 km long and around 6km wide. The best part about visiting Keenjhar Lake is that you get to see the migratory birds in their natural habitat. Storks, Ibises, Waders, Flamingos, Coots, Geese, and Sea-gulls can be seen swooping down Keenjhar Lake. It has also been termed a Ramsar Site, which means it is a protected wetland site under the international treaty for the conservation of wetlands called the Ramsar Convention.
While some people enjoy the calming atmosphere of the lake, others look for adventure-filled activities like boating deep into the sea. There are plenty of opportunities for those who would rather jet-ski than spend time bird-watching. From boat rides, jet-skiing, fishing, and swimming to bird-watching, Keenjhar Lake offers it all. You can also check out some of the best fishing spots in Karachi.
The charges to book a Keenjhar Lake Resort of Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) are around PKR 8k-10k for a day. You can book a room at the resort using their online booking service. The check-in time is 4:00 PM and the check-out time is 3:00 PM the next day.
Situated on N-5, Keenjhar Lake is located between Thatta and Hyderabad. You can get a public minibus that charges around PKR 150 for a non-air-conditioned bus service between Hyderabad and Thatta.
Once you reach there, you can get a boat ride starting from PKR 500 and going to PKR 2000, depending upon the duration and timing of the boat rides. There are different cabana-style huts that can be rented for as low as PKR 100-PKR 500 for a day, depending upon which day of the week you visit Keenjhar Lake.
One of the famous places to visit in Thatta is the Shahjahan Mosque. This 17th-century old mosque has great historical significance because it was built by Emperor Shahjahan himself. Also known as the Jamia Masjid of Thatta, it is considered to have some of the most elaborate and detailed tiles works in South Asia.
When you walk through the mosque you would be reminded of the glorious Mughal era as each tile in the mosque is carefully designed. The Shahjahan Mosque has an interesting backstory as well. When Shahjahan had rebelled against his father Jehangir, he sought refuge in Thatta. The people of Sindh warmly welcomed him and tried their best to help Shahjahan feel at home. Impressed by the hospitality of the people of Sindh, Shahjahan built a beautiful mosque as a token of gratitude and appreciation.
The detailed tile work in the mosque reflects Timurid influences, Turkic, and Persian styles. The main dome of the Shahjahan Mosque has intricately designed tiles arranged in a stellate pattern, so when you look up you will feel that you are standing under a night sky.
What is unique about Shahjahan Mosque is that there are no minarets and around 93 domes, which is the largest number of domes for any mosque in Pakistan. The mosque was on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It is located approximately 100 km away from Karachi.