Thursday, May 26, 2011

World’s largest fort (RaniKot fort) PAKISTAN-SINDH


RaniKot fort is world’s largest fort. Rani fort is situated in Sindh province of Pakistan. The fort is in Lakki Mountains of the Kirthar range at a distance of about 30 kilometers away from town of Sann. The way leads through Kotri and the town of Sann.  It is located approximately 270 km from Karachi and 90 km north of Hyderabad.

This magnificent and well-designed fort is symbol of best architecture a by gone era. It is reputed to be the largest unexplored fort in the world. Its walls are about 26 km or 16 miles in circumference. The walls of fort are made of gypsum and lime cut sandstone. Some walls are of crest stones Different types of bricks are used to build the wall which indicates its construction in different period of time. Its huge undulating walls weave and immerse over the hills are built with dressed sandstone and reinforced with 45 bastions along the outer wall, of which 7 are rectangular and the remaining are round.  Its wall is divided into two parts. First portion is 8.25 km long wall, which is man-made, built with yellow sandstone and 30 ft high. While other twenty six kilometers long wall is made of natural cliffs and mountains which at places rise as high as two thousand feet above sea level. A mountainous ridge, Karo Takkar (Black Hill), running north to south, forms its western boundary and the 'Lundi Hills' forms its eastern boundary.

The majestic fort is visible at glance from the distance.  Some of the walls bear a resemblance to the Great Wall of China as they weave through the hills. Therefore the fort’s wall is also called “The Great Wall of Sindh” and “Deware Sindh by locals.

Within Ranikot, there are two more fortresses; Meeri and Shergarh, each have five bastions. Meeri is small fortress. Meerikot have entrances, curved and angulated with a safe tortuous path. From the military point of view, Meerikot is located at a very safe and central place in the very heart of the Ranikot with residential arrangements including a water-well. The second fort looks like a giant eagle’s nest called Shergarh fort (house of lion) is roughly 15km. It can be seen from Meerikot. Shergarh is built with whitish stone, it too has five bastions. Though its location at 1480 feet above the sea level makes this fortress a unique structure, it also makes it equally hard for available of water, which can only be had from the brooks and rain streams, hundreds of feet below. The steep climb up to Shergarh gives a commanding view down over the whole fort and its entrance and exit points. On a clear day one can even see Indus, 37 kilometers away to the east.

A rain stream named “Mohan Nai” enters the fort from its rarely utilized western 'Mohan Gate'. It runs through it, fall downs in a series of turquoise pools to irrigate fields and leaves the fort from its most used 'Sann Gate' on the eastern side. It then floods about 33 kilometers more to enter the Indus River .A spring coming out from underground near the Mohan Gate is named as 'Parryen jo Tarr'  Another spring is Waggun jo Tarr or "the Crocodile Spring", named so as crocodiles were resided there.

The terrain inside the fort is plentiful with greenery, hills, valleys, streams, ditches, ponds, collections, fossils, building structure, bastions, watchtowers, ammunition depots, fortresses. The streams are abundant in tropical fish. Every structure in the Ranikot has its own uniqueness and beauty. Some of the area of the fort has been cultivated. Scattered animal skeletons and prehistoric fossils can be found on the top of Lundi Hills.  

The original aims and causes to build this marvel fort are unknown. There is no trace of any old city inside the fort and the present construction has little evidence of prehistoric origins. The present structure was reconstructed on the site of a much older fort by Mir Karam Ali Khan Talpur and his brother Mir Murad Ali in in the early 19th century, probably for the purpose to protect the trade route from Thatta through the Khirthar hills to Central Asia.

Beside the Mohan Gate and the Sann Gate, there are two more gates, rather counterfeit gates. One is towards the side of ancient town of Amri. This 'gate' is called the 'Amri Gate'.  There is a bridge over rain stream 'Toming Dhoro' exiting from the fort called 'Budhi Mori'. The breach in fort wall due to the river stream has been referred as a gate. Similarly, the Shahpir Gate to the south also appears to be a pseudo gate taking its name from a limestone rock with a rough shape of sacred foot imprinted on it presumed some religious personality .It seems to be a later breach in the fort wall instead of a formal gate because one can't find any bastion or watchtower or their remains at the site, needed to guard any formal entrance or exit points. A mosque found in the fort appears to be a later modification of a watchtower or a later construction.

One of the three graveyards has about four hundred graves made of Chowkundi like sandstone with engraved motifs of sunflowers and peacocks. Another one appears to be a graveyard of Arabs. The third one had sixteen or seventeen graves earlier but now there are only four graves. The local inhabitants call it the Roman's graveyard.

Ranifort stand in uninhabited terrain of the Kirthar range It is an international tourist site and been on the list of tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. The best way to reach this spectacle site of ancient times is by either jeep or camel. The camel is easily available from Sann Town.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Ansoo Lake is located in Pakistan in the Kaghan Valley, Mansehra District of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. It is a high-altitude lake with the elevation 16,492 feet or 5,027 metres near famous mountain Malika Parbat in the Himalayan range.

Ansoo means “Tear” in Urdu language. The name comes from its drop-like shape. It looks like the shape of tear" from far off place. This Lake also resembles Human Eye with central ice land resembling Iris of Human Eye and a ridge resembling Eyebrow.

The lake is still in pristine state and an unspoiled paradise. Surrounded by majestic mountains of Himalayan range this beautiful Lake is mysterious and isolated. The weather is extremely cold, windy and unpredictable. Frequently it rains, which make the weather more freezing. Best time to trek the lake is from July to mid of August.

Ansoo Lake was discovered just few years back. Pakistan Air Force Pilots who were flying low in this area discovered it. Before its discovery, lake was not even known to the locals. The weather is extremely cold because of very high altitude and not much explored as of its unsafe approach and limited resources in that area.

The lake is accessible through hiking only because no jeep or car could go to Ansoo Lake.  Mules and Horses are hired for some distance but still, they may not be able to walk off all the way. The trek is steep and tough climbing through mountains and one has to travel by his own. Guards and tourist guides are necessary because this lake is in far off, deserted and risky area and at the top of mountains.

The trekking to the Lake is an exhilarating experience. It provides adventurous and challenging track and most fascinating trail through valleys and mountains. This Lake can be reached by two different routes. First one is short but vertical trek from Saiful Mulook Lake. This trek can be further divided into two parts. First half, which is towards Saiful Malook, is valley along the river and it goes up to Malika Parbat base camp. Second half is steeper starting from Malika Parbat base camp and ends with Ansoo Lake. This part is all about difficult climbing on the mountain.

Second hike to Ansoo Lake starts from the village Mahandri, which is 40 km south to Naran Village, and it, goes through Manoor Gali and Kach Gali. This trek takes at least three days of 12 hour trekking to get to Ansoo Lake. Steepness of this trek may be the same as of other one but travel in the valley is lot more. This gives an unforgettable experience and an opportunity to camp along the beautiful rivers, picturesque valleys cascading waterfalls, in jungles, on the top of mountains and in abandoned towns. The beauty of the trek is better seen than described. The whole trek is full of marvelous scenes of mountain peaks covered with snow and it is so beautiful that despite of difficult mountaineering and hiking is thrilling.

Apart from fascinating views of valleys and mountains, the sight of Malka-e-parbat is remarkable in full moon. The moon raising from behind the Malka-e-Parbat it is outstanding. But the air pressure is lower at high altitude and can cause bad breathing problems due to tough hike.  People having Asthma, are not recommended to come to this place. Physical fitness is necessary for such difficult, sturdy and steep trekking. As this area is completely isolated from the outer world, it is recommended to have plenty of water, enough food and other edible source of energy.

Both treks run in opposite direction from Ansoo Lake and are connected via mountains top above the lake waters. From this altitude, there is an amazing scene of lake, on one side and top of Malika Parbat and beautiful skyline of high altitude mountains covered with snow on the other side. The heart warming spectacle is most soothing in the eye. There is no risk free way to reach lake waters because it lies in the hollow with steep snow covered walls. There is no apparent drainage of lake water Mostly it is covered with clouds and heavy fog. But one can get moments to take glorious pictures of it

The whole trek is full of thrill, adventure and lot of undefined beauty, which can not be defined in words. Ansoo Lake is splendid and greatest gift of nature. It is a Paradise for the lover of nature photographers, enthusiastic & adventurer hikers who love thrill and adventures. It is no doubt the superb long trek through greatest mountains of the world and fabulous sights of nature.