Home Archaeology Kot Diji Fort: A Hidden Heritage Site in Khairpur

Kot Diji Fort: A Hidden Heritage Site in Khairpur

Kot Diji Fort: A Hidden Heritage Site in Khairpur

The fort was built by the Sohrabani Talpurs of Khairpur. They stopped the Durranis of Afghanistan from ransacking Sindh and developed the area.

By Dr. Saba Noor

During the rule of the Talpur dynasty, many buildings of significant architecture were constructed in Sindh. Kot Diji Fort, one of these great archeological buildings built during the Talpur era, remains the site of attraction to date. It was built by the Sohrabani Talpurs of Khairpur. They stopped the Durranis of Afghanistan from ransacking Sindh and developed the area. Besides forts, Mir Sohrab and His Talpur dynasty built canals for agriculture, network of schools and madrassahs for education and roads to connect different parts of Sindh. It was for the safety of this region and his dominance in Burahan (which he renamed Khairpur) that prompted the Mir to build an invincible fort on the hills of Rohri in Kot Diji, a small town in Khairpur district. The fort was constructed in the late 18th century and it took a decade for the fort to be fully constructed, from 1785 to 1795. Mir Sohrab Khan lived in the fort for the last few years of his life and after his demise, the throne was passed to his eldest son, Mir Rustam Ali Khan Talpur.

Kot Diji
The way to the main gate of the Fort

It takes five hours to drive from the city of Hyderabad to this great architectural monument, situated in the Khairpur district of Sindh. Some locals call it the “fort of the daughter” as well. The history behind this name remains unknown.

The fort has one main entrance gate. It is well known as the “Shahi Dar” which means the royal gate. The mighty gate is quite distinctive in its structure as the gate is made of wood with numerous iron spikes projecting from it, which further enhances its protective features. In addition to the Shahi Dar, the fort has 3 secret entrances. The main entrance leads to an inclined quadrangle area which leads to the second gate. The second gate further guides one to a broad space guarded by the mighty fortifications, serving the purpose of defense against enemies. After which, there is the third gate. The main portion of the fort starts after the third gate.

Kot Diji Gate
Gate of Kot Diji Fort

The fort, divided into three parts, is constructed with burnt bricks. The first part of the fort was reserved for Talpur rulers who ruled Hyderabad, the middle portion was under the Talpur rulers in power in Mirpur Khas, and the third portion belonged to the Mirs of Khairpur.

Kot Diji Sheesh Mahal
Inside the Sheesh Mahal

The fort has an ammunition store referred to as the “Barood khano”, a pond that served the purpose of a water reservoir for the military officers, 3 main towers that are about 50 feet tall, living quarters for the accommodation of soldiers and officers, a Zindaan (prison) and a courtroom called Mir Haram, where the rulers and judicature used to have meetings. It also has tombs of a few of the Talpur rulers. The fort consists of several bastions projecting from the giant walls for defense against the invading parties. These bastions have been named after the Talpur rulers to recognize their efforts in building the fort. One of the bastions is named Fateh Thul, named after Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur, the first ruler of the Talpur dynasty and uncle of Mir Sohrab Khan Talpur.

Kot Diji Defence Walls
Fort’s defensive walls

The fort is confined to an area of 2 kilometers. Moreover, the hill on which the fort is constructed is 110 m above the level of the city and the walls of the fort are 30 feet high. The date palm trees and the green fields of Khairpur district can be seen from the towering fort.

While the Imam Garh Fort in district Tharparkar, which was also constructed by Mir Sohrab Khan Talpur, was successfully assailed by Charles Napier and his British troops, no army could enter this mighty fort of Kott Diji because of its long walls and location on top of a hill. Hence, it was regarded as one of the safest forts of that time.

Kot Diji-1
The long walls of Kot Diji Fort

The fort has been declared as a national heritage by the government of Pakistan and is administered by it, yet some portions of the fort are under the control of the influential local families of Kot Diji.

Kot Diji - A view
A view from the Fort

Despite its rich history and great architecture, Kot Diji Fort is yet to attract tourists. It might be because the road to the fort is quite difficult to traverse. The lack of mobile signals, restaurants and rest houses nearby may also be a likely reason behind the lack of tourists. Moreover, Khairpur also has the tomb of the great Sufi saint Sachal Sarmast where there is a large influx of tourists. However, if the government markets the fort adequately and facilitates the visitors by improving the infrastructure, the Kot Diji fort with its rich historical and architectural value can attract tourists from inside and outside of the country.


Courtesy: Youlin Magazine, a cultural journal of Pakistan and China (Posted on: February 25, 2022)


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