Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pacco Qillo - the once Strong Fort of Hyderabad

A sketch of the Pacco Qillo (c. 1845) drawn by Lieutenant Edwards during the British occupation of the city shows the majestic days of the fort when it was mostly intact and in a good state of maintenance (above top and two recent photos at the bottom taken by me from the train). 

Pacco Qillo or the strong fort is a centuries old landmark of the present day Hyderabad city in the Sind province of Pakistan. I had only heard of the place in history books but never saw it till some years before when I happened to have gone to Karachi by train. And there it was vividly visible from the train window, the sadly dilapidated Pacco Qillo, badly encroached, and in poor state of maintenance.

The fort was build by the Kalhora chif Ghulam Shah Kalhora on one of the three hills in the present day Hyderabad in 18th century (1766 to be precise). The fort was built on a higher ground due to the changing course of the River Indus as the official residence of Ghulam Shah Kalhora. The massive half-a-square kilometer (about 36 acres) garrison was completed by 1768, which also served as the court of Ghulam Shah Kalhora as well.

The fort braved the atrocities of time but finally succumbed to its almost demise and present day decayed form when the Muslims migrating from India in 1947 sought temporary refuge in inner premises to make room for their residences. But then they made it their permanent abode and continue to do so till date, turning this famous landmark into a permanent locality.

Pacco Qillo - Days of glory (left) - days of decay and encroachment (right)

 The outer walls (as seen above right) have also been breached to make shops. No one seems to be really concerned about the continuous decaying and encroachment of this important landmark of Hyderabad city and an archeological site of Sindhi culture. 

Read more about Hyderabad (Pakistanpaedia)