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Clockwise from top: View of the Makli Necropolis, Tomb of Isa Khan Hussain at the necropolis, exterior and interior views of the Shah Jahan Mosque
Clockwise from top: View of the Makli Necropolis, Tomb of Isa Khan Hussain at the necropolis, exterior and interior views of the Shah Jahan Mosque
Nickname(s): The City of Silence
Thatta is located in Sindh
Thatta is located in Pakistan
Location in Sindh, Pakistan
Coordinates: 24°44′46″N 67°55′28″E / 24.74611°N 67.92444°E / 24.74611; 67.92444Coordinates: 24°44′46″N 67°55′28″E / 24.74611°N 67.92444°E / 24.74611; 67.92444
Country Pakistan
Province Sindh
District Thatta District
 • Total 220,000
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
Highways N-5

Thatta (Sindhi: ٺٽو‎; Urdu: ٹھٹہ‎) is a city in the Pakistani province of Sindh. Thatta was the medieval capital of Sindh, and served as the seat of power for three successive dynasties. Thatta's historic significance has yielded several monuments in and around the city. Thatta's Makli Necropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is site of one of the world's largest cemeteries and has numerous monumental tombs built between the 14th and 18th centuries designed in a syncretic funerary style characteristic of lower Sindh. The city's 17th century Shah Jahan Mosque is richly embellished with decorative tiles, and is considered to have the most elaborate display of tile work in South Asia.[1][2]


Thatta is located near the Keenjhar Lake.

Thatta is located in lower Sindh, on the N-5 National Highway, about 100 km (62 mi) east of the provincial capital of Sindh, Karachi. The historic town of 220,000 inhabitants is also located near the Indus River, and the Keenjhar Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan.


Some suggested the name derived from the word Thab implying closeness of population, while others find its origin in the common word Thatta, a crowd or assembly of people.



Thatta may be the site of ancient Patala (Πάταλα in Greek), the main port on the Indus in the time of Alexander the Great,[3] the site of Patala has been subject to much debate. According to historian Ahmad Hasan Dani, director of the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations in Islamabad, Patala may refer to ancient Thatta based on Greek descriptions of the ancient city.[4]

Muhammad Bin Qasim captured the region in 711 CE after the 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,[5] 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 region.


Thatta's Makli Necropolis features several monumental tombs dating from the 14th to 18th centuries.

Under the rule of the Ghaznavids the local chieftain Ibn Sumar, then ruler of Multan, seized power in the Sindh and founded the Sumra dynasty, who ruled from Thatta beginining around 1317. In 1351, the Samma dynasty, of Rajput descent, seized the city and made it their capital as well, it was during this time that the Makli Necropolis rose to prominence as a funerary site.

In 1520, the Samma ruler Jam Feroz was defeated by Shah Beg of the Arghuns, more precisely the Tarkhun dynasty, which ruled the Sindh as part of the Multan province until the end of the century, the Tarkhuns fell into disarray in the mid 1500s, prompting Muhammad Isa Tarkhun (Mirza Isa Khan I) to seek aid from the Portuguese in 1555. 700 Portuguese soldiers arrived in 28 ships to determine, at the time of their arrival, that Isa Tarkhun had already emerged victorious from the conflict. After the Tarkhuns refused to pay the Portuguese soldiers, the Portuguese plundered the town, robbing its enormous gold treasury, and killing many inhabitants,[6] despite the 1555 sack of Thatta, the 16th century Portuguese historian Diogo do Couto described Thatta as one of the richest cities of the Orient.[7]

The Tarkhun dynasty ruled over the southern part of Sindh, but eventually lost their power to Moghul Emperor Akbar in 1592.


Thatta's Shah Jahan Mosque features extensive tile work that displays Timurid influences introduced from Central Asia.

The city was destroyed by Mirza Jani Beg in the 16th century.[5] Beginning in 1592, Thatta was governed by the Mughal Empire based in Delhi, which lead to a decline in the city's prosperity as some trade was shifted towards other Mughal ports.[7]

Shah Jahan, while still a prince, sought refuge in the city from his father Emperor Jahangir. The city was almost destroyed by a devastating storm in 1637,[8] as a token of gratitude for the hospitality he had received in the city while still a prince, Shah Jahan bestowed the Shah Jahan Mosque to the city in 1647as part of the city's rebuilding efforts, although it was not completed until 1659 under the reign of his son Aurangzeb.[8] Emperor Aurangzeb himself had also lived in Thatta for some time as governor of the lower Sindh.

Thatta regained some of its prosperity with the arrival of European merchants.[7] Between 1652 and 1660, the Dutch East India Company had a small tradingpost (comptoir or factory) in Thatta,[9] this competed with the English one, which was established in 1635 and closed in 1662. Thatta'a revival was short lived as the Indus River silted in the second half of the 1600s, shifting its course further east and leading to the abandonment of the city as a seaport.[7]

Despite the abandonment of the city as a port, its Hindu merchants continued to play an important role in trade, and began using their own ships rather than relying on European ships for trade.[7] Traders were particularly active in the region around Masqat, in modern Oman, and members of Thatta's Bhatia caste established Masqat's first Hindu temple during this period.[7]

Sindh remained an important economic centre during this period as well, and Thatta remained Sindh's largest economic centre, and its largest centre for textile production.[7]


While the Mogul rule was established in lower Sindh, the Kalhora dynasty began to gain influence as a dynasty of feudal lords in the upper Sindh, from where they ruled beginning in the middle of the 16th century, they eventually extended their territory from Multan to the south, bringing Thatta under their control in 1737 - after which they moved their capital here before eventually moving it to Hyderabad in 1789.

In 1739, however, following the Battle of Karnal, the Mughal province of Sindh was fully ceded to Nadir Shah of the Persian Empire, after which Thatta fell into neglect, as the Indus river also began to silt. The city then came under the rule of the Talpurs, who seized Thatta from the Kalhoras. A second British comptoir was established during the Kalhora period in 1758, which operated until 1775;[10] in the early 19th century Thatta had declined to a population of about 18,000.


The rule of the Talpur was ended in 1843 on the battlefield of Miani when General Charles James Napier captured the Sindh for the British Empire, and moved the capital of the Sindh from Hyderabad to Karachi; in 1847, Thatta was administered as part of the Bombay Presidency.


The city serves as capital of Thatta District, on 23 April 2014, the government announced the formation of Sindh's sixth division, Banbhore Division, with Thatta as capital.[11][12] These sources reveal that this formation is made to improve governance in Thatta.[13]


Climate of Thatta:[14]

The average annual rainfall is 210mm, The average annual temperature in Thatta is 26.8 °C.

Monthly rainfall:

January: 5mm, February: 8mm, March 5mm, April: 3mm, May: 5mm, June: 17mm, July: 98mm, August: 50mm, September: 15mm, October: 1mm, November: 2mm, December 3mm.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shah Jahan Mosque, Thatta". UNESCO. UNESCO. Retrieved 17 July 2017. 
  2. ^ Khazeni, Arash (2014). Sky Blue Stone: The Turquoise Trade in World History. Univ of California Press. ISBN 9780520279070. Retrieved 16 July 2017. 
  3. ^ James Rennell, Memoir of a map of Hindoostan:or the Mogul's Empire, London, 1783, p.57; William Vincent, The Voyage of Nearchus from the Indus to the Euphrates, London, 1797, p.146; William Robertson, An Historical Disquisition concerning the Knowledge which the Ancients had of India, A. Strahan, T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies; and E. Balfour, Edinburgh, 1799, p.47; Alexander Burnes, Travels into Bokhara: containing the narrative of a voyage on the Indus [...] and an account of a journey from India to Cabool, Tartary, and Persia, London, John Murray, 1835, Volume 1, p.27; Carl Ritter, Die Erdkunde im Verhältniss zur Natur und zur Geschichte des Menschen, Berlin, Reimer, 1835, Band IV, Fünfter Theil, pp.475–476.
  4. ^ A.H. Dani and P. Bernard, “Alexander and His Successors in Central Asia”, in János Harmatta, B.N. Puri and G.F. Etemadi (editors), History of civilizations of Central Asia, Paris, UNESCO, Vol.II, 1994, p.85.
  5. ^ a b Ali, Mubarak 1994. McMurdo's & Delhoste's account of Sindh Takhleeqat, Lahore, p. 28-29.
  6. ^ Wynbrandt, James (2009). A Brief History of Pakistan. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816061846. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Markovits, Claude (2000). The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750–1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139431279. Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  8. ^ a b Asher, Catherine (1992). Architecture of Mughal India, Part 1, Volume 4. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521267281. Retrieved 16 July 2017. 
  9. ^ Floor, Willem, 1993-4. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) and Diewel-Sind (Pakistan) in the 17th and 18th centuries. Institute of Central & West Asian Studies, University of Karachi.
  10. ^ Ali, Mubarak, 2005. The English Factory in Sindh, Zahoor Ahmed Khan Fiction House, Lahore
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Pakistan flood victims flee Thatta. Guardian, Retrieved 2010-12-27.

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