Bhambu Raja

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Bhambu Raja was king of Sindh in 10th century whose capital was a city named Bhambura in Lower Sindh, Pakistan. [1][2]


Alexander Cunningham[3] writes about Barbarike-Emporiam, or Bhambura:

[p. 294]: The ruined town of Bambhora, or Bhambura, is situated at the head of the Ghara creek, which is "supposed by the natives to be the site of the most ancient seaport in Sindh." 1 "Nothing now remains but the foundations of houses, bastions, and walls," but about the tenth century Bhambhura was the capital of a chief named Bhambo Raja. According to the traditions of the people, the most westerly branch of the Indus once flowed past Bhambura. It is said to have separated from the main river just above Thatha, and M'Murdo2 quotes the ' Tabakat-i-Akbari ' for the fact that in the reign of Akbar it ran to the westward of Thatha. To the same effect Sir Henry Elliot; 3 quotes Mr. N. Crow, who was for many years the British Resident at Thatha. Writing in A.D. 1800, Crow says, "By a strange turn that the river has taken within these five-and-twenty years just above Tatta, that city is flung out of the angle of the inferior Delta, in which it formerly stood, on the main land towards the hills of Biluchistan." From these statements it would appear that the Ghara river was the most westerly branch of the Indus down to the latter half of the last century. But long before that time,

1 Eastwick, ' Handbook of Bombay,' p. 481.

2 Journ. Royal Asiat. Soc, i. 25. See Map No. IX.

3 Muhammadan Historians of India, Dowson's edition, i. 399.

[p. 295]: according to M'Murdo, it had ceased to be a navigable stream, as both. Bhambur and Debal were deserted about A.D. 1250, on account of the failure of the river. 1 My own inquiries give the same date, as Debal was still occupied when Jalaladdin of Khwarazm invaded Sindh in A.D. 1221, 2 and was in ruins in A.D. 1333, when Ibn Batuta visited Lahari Bandar, which had succeeded Debal as the great port of the Indus.

M'Murdo quotes native authors to show that this western branch of the Indus was called the Sagara river, which, he thinks, may .be identified with the Sagapa Ostium of Ptolemy, which was also the most westerly branch of the Indus in his time. It is therefore quite possible, as supposed by M'Murdo, that this was the very branch of the Indus that was navigated by Alexander. From the latest maps, however, it appears that about midway between Thatha and Ghara this channel threw off a large branch on its left, which flowed parallel to the other for about 20 miles, when it turned to the south and joined the main channel just below Lari-bandar. Now this channel passes about 2 or 3 miles to the south of Bhambura, so that the town was also accessible from the Piti, the Phundi, the Kyar; and the Pintiani mouths of the river. I am therefore inclined to identify Bhambura not only with the town of Barke, which Alexander built on his return up the river, as stated by Justin, but also with the Barbari of Ptolemy, and the Bar- barike Emporium of the author of the ' Periplus.' The last authority describes the middle branch of the

1 Jonrn. Royal Asiat. Soc, i. 25 and 232.

2 Rashid-ud-din in Elliot, Dowson's edition, i. 26.

[p. 296]: Indus as the only navigable channel in his time up to BarbariJce* all the other six channels being narrow and full of shoals. This statement shows that the Ghara river had already begun to fail before a.d. 200. The middle mouth of the river, which was then the only navigable entrance, is called Khariphon Ostium by Ptolemy. This name I would identify with the Kydr river of the present day, which leads right up to the point where the southern branch of the Ghara joins the main river near Lari-bandar.

From this discussion I conclude that the northern channel of the Ghara was the western branch of the Indus, which was navigated by Alexander and Nearchus ; and that before A.D. 200, its waters found another channel more to the south, in the southern Ghara, which joins the main stream of the Indus just below Lari-bandar. By this channel, in the time of the author of the ' Periplus,' the merchant vessels navigated the Indus up to Barbarike, where the goods were unloaded, and conveyed in boats to Minnagar, the capital of the country. But after some time this channel also failed, and in the beginning of the eighth century, when the Arabs invaded Sindh, Debal had become the chief port of the Indus, and altogether supplanted Bhambura, or the ancient Barbarike. But though the Ghara river was no longer a navigable channel, its waters still continued to flow past the old town down to the thirteenth century, about which time it would appear to have been finally deserted.

1 Hudson, Geogr. Vet., i. 22.


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