Some of the tombs have been repaired using white material that has vanished the originality as well as carvings and inscriptions
Rukhsar Achar Khaskheli
There is no doubt that the Sindhu Sabheeta or Indus civilization, as it is known around the world, is one of the oldest civilizations in the world having many sites of antiquity that still exist today and are enough to amaze the human eye and intellect.
Sindhu Sabheeta grew up along the bank of the Indus River and the highest sign of its greatness is Moen Jo Daro, which is a heritage of 5 thousand years old human wisdom, consciousness and architecture. From the perfection of the construction of Moen Jo Daro, we know how advanced our Sindh was even 5 thousand years ago, and at that time our Sindhi people were very skilled, intelligent, experienced, wealthy and enterprising. It is known from the artifacts found in Moen Jo Daro that the people of that time used to go to other countries for trade on bullock carts. The people of that period were quite advanced and lived their lives in the best manner.
Spread over an area of 72 acres, there are many tombs and graves, many of them collapsed leaving some traces of graves
There are many other ancient and historical places in Sindh. Some of them are known, and maintained but many others are victim of neglect. Due to lack of proper maintenance they are decaying. No one has any proper knowledge about their history. A few places that have survived are not being paid much attention due to which they are in dilapidated condition. It is feared that with the passage of time, such sites will vanish erasing the history of Sindh.
Among those ancient and forgotten sites, there is a large cemetery near Jam Nawaz Ali in Sanghar district. According to the official survey, this cemetery covers an area of 72 acres. There are many tombs and graves, many of them collapsed and some traces of graves have been left. These tombs are Tila Shah but actually are Marri tombs built in 1748 to 1843 during the Talpur era. These tombs are known as Tila Shah because the tomb of Tila Shah is also there, and the local people started calling it Tila Shah Tombs. There are currently 11 tombs in Tila Shah Cemetery. The tombs here can be seem in highly dilapidated condition with cracks in the walls and even the bricks have lost their color.
If these tombs are not repaired and rehabilitated with modern preservation methods, they will soon disappear. Each of the tombs here has its own identity. The design of each one is different, there are designs of flowers, plants, peacocks, people and the animals. The names are also written on some of them, of which the best engraving work has been done is in the tombs of Dolat Khan Marri son of Haji Khan Marri and Sultan Khan Marri, which is very obvious. Renowned anthropologist Dr. Zulfiqar Kalhoro, Aziz Kingrani and Amin Joyo have done research on this historical site of Sindh.
The tombs here can been seem in highly dilapidated condition with cracks in the walls and even the bricks have lost their color
During a recent visit in March 2023, it was observed that concerned department had carried out some work for the restoration of these tombs, but unfortunately, as usual, the restoration work has been left incomplete.
Even the restoration work carried out there is not of quality as it has destroyed the originality of the historic tombs. I observed that the carvings on the tombs have been filled with white chalk, which has hidden the carvings, artistic designs and inscriptions. According to the international standards, the tombs should not be renovated by using white pick and stone. Instead, the work should be done in such a way that the ancient fresco painting and ancient inscriptions are saved without any change so that they can depict their history.
If new tombs are to be built, such material could be used in construction, but in the case of historic sites, using white pick on the tombs proves inefficiency and criminal indifference towards rehabilitation of heritage sites of Sindh.
I had previously visited the Marri Tombs two or three years ago. At that time, there were many tombs on which not much work had been done. The recent visit showed that some of the tombs were covered with white chalk and stone, and the stone and other materials were also lying in the tombs. The walls had developed cracks and could collapse anytime damaging the entire tombs. There are still two tombs in their original condition but I fear they will be painted like the rest of the tombs giving a look of newly built tombs.
I request the antiquity department to undertake the work of this ancient site by an experienced team, who have experience of doing this kind of work before. With this, these ancient historical tombs of Marris and the rare and beautiful fresco painting inside them can be saved. More importantly, there is the Persian inscription, with which the names of Dolat Khan Marri, son of Haji Khan Mari and Sultan Khan Marri are written in the tombs! If these names are erased, it would tantamount erasing the history. This would be great injustice to the historical sites and history of Sindh.
Why the antiquity department is bent on erasing the evidence of history of Sindh forever. Actually, these tombs belong to Haji Zai Marri who should come forward and save the tombs of his elders so that the next generation will know how ancient and golden the history of our Sindh was.
Rukhsar Achar Khaskheli is BS 3rd year student at Anthropology and Archaeology Department, University of Sindh, Jamshoro