The Truckers of the Indus Highway: It’s Harvest Season!

November, Sindh Province when wheat and millet harvest season begins. We regularly saw these trucks, filled beyond capacity with wheat, along the National Highway (N5) and the Indus Highway (N55).
As you head south on the Indus Highway, there were many trucks carrying their harvest from the Dadu Region.

 

According to the truck driver, the packed material was not the actual wheat but the straw leftover after the wheat was harvested. Each truck can carry about 8,000 kilograms (8 tons) from Dadu down to Karachi’s livestock feed factory. Selling one truckload can pay about 2.5 million rupees (~$15,000 USD ).

 

The long line of trucks that wait at the check post.

 

While waiting in line, some of the truck drivers graciously allowed our Japanese tourists to take a commemorative photo from inside the truck. These eye-catching trucks are not only nice on the outside, but the colorful interior is also elaborately decorated as well.

 

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Nov 2019, Indus Highway, Dadu, Sindh

 

Category : - National & Indus Highway > ◆ Sindh
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Necropolis of Mian Nasir Mohammad Kalhoro

On the way along the Indus Highway, a villager showed us the second largest in Sindh, the Necropolis of Mian Nasir Mohammad Kalhoro.

 

This group of tombs of the 17th Century Sindh Clan, from the Kalhoro Dynasty, is made up of groups of tombs for the royal families, priests, and on the outside, surrounded by the villagers’ tombs. It makes me wonder if perhaps this is how the World Heritage Site, Makli Hills might look if it was still expanding.

 

The graveyard is an interesting atmosphere, but the visitors also took in a good view from the Indus Highway of the ‘inland Sindh.’ It is a nostalgic and warm place to see this side of Pakistan.

 

Are they carrying wheat? Between the cars and trucks, there are donkey drawn carts carrying goods.

 

You can only see this kind of scene during the harvest season, the wheat being carted by the donkeys.

 

Harvesting from the fields. After the wheat harvest, the rice harvest begins.

 

This small truck is loaded down with luggage and people as it is heading towards a village out of the city. These Sindhi villagers kindly exchange smiles with us as they pass.

 

Photo & Text: Mariko SAWADA

Visit: Nov 2019, Necropolis of Mian Nasir Mohammad Kalhoro, Dadu, Sind

Category : - Monument / Heritage of Sindh > ◆ Sindh > ◇ Heritage of Pakistan
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The largest city in Pakistan, Karachi’s Empress Market

Karachi is not the capital city, but it is the largest city in Pakistan with a population of 16 million but it is said to unofficially be home to 20 million people. In the past, Karachi was an unsafe place due to ethnic conflicts and crime, but in recent years that has changed and things are starting to settle down.

It has transformed itself from a town that was dirty, poor and a place you didn’t want to look at to a really fashionable place with elite neighborhoods. If you compare it to Islamabad, the people are more open minded and the daily cost of living is cheaper so the people who live in the rural areas like  Hunza would rather come to Karachi.
Karachi’s historic and exotic bazaar is the Empress Market.

 

The name “Empress” comes from the market being built between 1884 and 1889, during the reign of the British Indian Empire, so it was named in honor of Queen Victoria.
Located in Saddar, the open air building and clock tower are visible from afar.

The historic architecture is beautiful backdrop for the market.

 

This specialist makes all kinds of oils from various things like coconuts and sunflower seeds.

 

Some young boys in the vegetable market.

 

A boy delivers us some Chai tea from the back of the market.

 

A man cuts pieces of meat off for a kitten. Near the meat market, there are so many cats.

That reminds me that I saw an article in 2015 saying that illegal wildlife sales were happening in this market. Just a few days ago, I saw people catching raptors illegally on the Balochistan coast and trying to sell them to the rich Arabs. It would be nice if the Pakistani Wildlife Department would work harder to stop these activities.

 

All around the market, there is the hustle and bustle of traffic in Saddar.

If you compare it to before, the security is much better, but it’s still important to be careful about keeping your valuables and cell phones safe.

 

Photo & Text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Feb 2020, Empress Market, Karachi, Sindh

Category : - Karachi > ◆ Sindh
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Mohenjo-daro

This is the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization, the city of Mohenjo-daro (also Moenjodaro).

It is the site of the largest urban archeological settlement, with its most active period between 2500 to 1800 BC. It is believed that up to 40,000 people inhabited this area, in the east is a fortified section (There is a Gandhara stupa, Ritual bath believed to have been used for religious ceremonies, bathing or purifying, and for political gatherings) and divided on the western side (there were houses for the nobles, shops and commoners homes also). So far, only 10 percent of the area has been excavated, and scattered all around are unexcavated mounds.

Meaning “Mound of the Dead people” in Sindhi the local language, back in the old days, this burial place was a site that locals were afraid to come close. In 1921 an Indian archeologist excavated the site calling it the “2nd and 3rd Century Gandhara” but upon exploring it, they had uncovered a city ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization, much older than they thought.

Extensive excavations were carried out by the Archeological Survey of India (A.S.I)  during the British India period until 1947. In 1980 it was designated a World Heritage Site. It is still unclear what might have caused the decline of the city. During the survey, a seal was discovered, but because the text of the Indus script that is engraved on the seal has not been deciphered yet, the true name of the town is unknown.

 

This Mohenjodaro  SD Area’s Gandhara Stupa, which dates back to 2nd or 3rd Century AD. There is a monastery surrounding the area which is built using bricks from the Indus Valley Civilization.

 

The famous “Great bath” area is 12m x 7m and 2.5m deep, and there are remain of  waterproofing on the elaborate wall made of bricks. It is said  that some religious ceremony was held here.  The stepped ghats (terraces) descending to the surface of the water are supposed to lead to Hindu features later.

 

A sewage system in the SD Area. It is covered with limestone rocks. Some of the DK area is built entirely underground.

 

This is also the sewage system in the SD area. Water from the Great Bath and other dwellings are directed through this channel to the Indus river. During that time, the Indus River ran very close to the town of Mohenjo-daro.

 

In the corner of this DK area home, is a “Rubbish Bin.” Similar efforts for “Trash collection” areas are also seen in the SD areas as well. Unfortunately, this concept of managing their garbage wasn’t carried into modern pakistan.

 

In the Urban DK area, an aristocratic house was a two story building, with access to the well even from the second floor.

 

“The Old Street” as it is called is the Main Street. On both sides it was lined with shops.

Recently, many domestic tourists of Pakistan have increased in visiting this site. Particularly at sunset, you will see many people.

Unfortunately, the time I visited Mohenjo-daro it was too cloudy to catch a good sunset. But my personal recommendation is to visit early in the morning, when you can enjoy “the deserted city of Mohenjo-daro.” without other tourists.

Photo & Text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Feb 2020, Nov 2019,  Mohenjo-daro, Sindh

Category : - Monument / Heritage of Sindh > ◆ Sindh > ◇ Heritage of Pakistan
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Excellent Fishing! Kund Malir Fishing Port (Balochistan)

While camping around Kund Malir, there was a night with no waves or wind and we could see the fishing light thru the darkness of night. The next morning of such a calm night, we visited the fishing port.

 

Kund Malir is a really small fishing port. The system here is that the larger fishing vessles off load their catch to the smaller fishing boats to bring them into the beach. When we arrived at the beach, there were already many boats out gathering off the harbor.

 

This is the fishing boat. They had already caught so many fish. As I was wondering what fish that was…I found out it was a largehead hairtail (or beltfish). They say that these adult beltfish come to the surface of the sea in the early morning hours.

 

The smaller fishing boats offload their catch onto the beach for transport.

 

Locals carry the fish to the trucks. Even in such a small fishing village there is an Ice Factory. The fish are packed in ice and transported directly to Karachi.

 

The local people all pitch in to help with the haul. They were kind enough to allow us to see their catch for today.

 

These are the largehead hairtail. Now that we have seen them, we cannot resist buying a little. Such a fresh catch! We loaded it in our cooler and took it to camp. Working with our cook Noor, we prepared the 15 beltfish and made sashimi. We grilled some with salt over the charcoal and ate our Fish Nanban (escabeche). It turned out to be a gourmet meal with our steamed Japanese rice and all kinds of prepared fish for dinner.

 

At our campsite, we dined on our fresh fish sashimi with the beer and wine we brought along with us.

 

This really amazing beltfish grilled with salt…was beyond delicious. This night, there were 7 Japanese people to gorge themselves on the 15 fish that were prepared. In my many long years of travelling thru Pakistan, it turned out to be the best dinner I ever had.

 

Photo & text : Mariko SAWADA (Including photos taken from drone footage)
Visit: Nov 2019, Kund Malir, Balochistan

Category : ◆ Balochistan > - Kund Malir
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Visiting the Land of the Baloch (Gorakh Hill, Sindh)

In the Gorakh Hill Station area of Sindh state, we  visited the local villagers of the Baloch. The Baloch people are a minority that make up only 4 percent of the total 200 million people living in Pakistan and are mainly living in the three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The majority of Baloch live in Balochistan making up 50% and in Sindh 40% of the people living there (respectively).

Speaking Balochi, a northwestern Iranian language, the women of Baloch are famous for their elegant clothing and accessories. The Balochi people, are actually made up of as many as 130-150 different tribes. This time we met with the tribe members of the Buzdar clan.

 

Being a very conservative people, simply visiting them in Balochistan  province can be quite challenging, just as daunting was getting their permission to photograph them. It might only be because they are accustomed to Pakistani visitors to Gorakh Hill Station, that (for now at least) we can be welcomed as foreigners to the area.

 

We were able to visit three villages in the Gorakh Hill Station area, and at each new stop we were welcomed by the eldest patriarch. They welcomed us by showing us their homes and introducing us to their family members. Other than the patriarch, the men worked in the fields at the foot of the hills or taking their cattle out grazing. The women gather local plants and work hard to weave sturdy mats from them.

 

Near the Gorakh Hill was a village called Jarra Buthi. The elder was the 6th generation of his tribe who settled here. Women were working to weave their mats and sell them to earn an income. One mat is 500 Rupees.

 

The traditional dress of the Balochi people is beautifully embroidered.

 

The Balochi people somehow make a living in the harsh nature and conditions of the Kirthar Mountain Range. As Pakistan is changing and progressing, these people are still living in their beautiful villages with a very traditional lifestyle.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Visit : Nov 2019, Gorakh Hill, Sindh

Category : - Gorakh Hills > ◆ Sindh
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Encounters On The National Highway NH-5 : Harvest Season !

In November, it is the harvest season for wheat and millet in Sindh State.

 

Travelling along the National Highway 5 from Karachi towards Thatta, we could see the trucks completely overloaded and overflowing as they were heading to Karachi. These trucks are carrying the wheat harvested from the local farmers. They are probably headed towards the livestock feed companies in Karachi.

 

On the way, we could encounter the field workers who were manually carrying the harvest to load the trucks.

 

This grueling work is conducted by about 15 men who work from the early morning hours for 9 hours. The weight the trucks carry fully loaded can be about 24 tons.

 

With the truck loaded, and their work complete, the workers also climb on top of the truck for the ride back. Taking their time, the trucks roll along towards Karachi. This is a typical scene that one might see in Pakistan during harvest season.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Visit : Nov 2019, On NH-5 road from Karachi, Sindh

Category : - National & Indus Highway > ◆ Sindh
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Sunrise at Gorakh Hill Station

Gorakh Hill is a popular tourist destination in Sindh.

Drive to west from N55 (commonly known as the Indus Highway), it is a plateau of 1,700m above sea level in the Kiltar Mountains. View is similar to mountainside of Balochistan and the people who live along the road are Baloch people.

The name of Gorakh is derived from a Hindu devotee who believes in Shiva. Yes, Sindh is the state where 94% of Pakistani Hindus live.

 

The altitude rose from the plains of Sindh and finally we came above the clouds! This is the trail which can be done only by 4WD and it took a lot of time, so we missed the sunset on this day.

 

Despite that bad road, it is a busy place for tourists coming from urban areas such as Karachi on weekends. Since we visited on weekdays, there were only a few groups, but sometimes it could exceed 1000 people. Coming from hot place to a cool plateau, watching sunset and sunrise, campfire at night … such a trip is very popular among young tourists.

 

We went to the Benazir viewpoint to see sunrise.

 

Good Morning, Gorakh hill !

 

A villa-like building was built in a nice view of the plateau. Will it eventually become like Murre in the suburbs of Islamabad? I wanted to leave a magnificent view of the Kirthar Mountains and it’s nature.

 

This is the viewpoint … located edge of plateau.

 

After the sunrise, breakfast was served in a restaurant run by Juman Jamali.
The experience at Gorakh hill …. I couldn’t think that I am in Sindh.

Photo  & Text : Mariko SAWADA * Some photos are taken by drone.
Visit: Nov 2019, Gorakh Hill Station, Dadu, Sindh

 

Category : - Gorakh Hills > ◆ Sindh
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