The city ruins lie on the N-5 National Highway, east of Karachi. Banbhore is situated on the northern bank of Gharo creek, about 65 km east of Karachi in the Thatta District of Sindh, Pakistan. The city ruins are located on the N-5 National Highway between Dhabeji and Gharo.
It dates back to the Scytho-Parthian era and was later controlled by Muslims from 8th to 13th century after which it was abandoned. Remains of one of the earliest known mosques in the region dating back to 727 AD are still preserved in the city.
In 2004, Department of Archaeology and Museums Pakistan submitted the site for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Archaeological records reveal remnants of three distinct periods on the site; Scytho-Parthian (1st century BC to 2nd century AD), Hindu-Buddhist (2nd century AD to 8th century AD), and early Islamic (8th century AD to 13th century AD).
The city was gradually deserted after the 13th century due to change in the course of the Indus.
Some archaeologist and historians suggest that Banbhore is the historical city of Debal, which the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered in 711-712 after defeating Raja Dahir, the last Hindu ruler of Sindh. However, this identification has not yet been confirmed, though numerous research and excavation works have been carried out to link the two cities. Preliminary excavations in the area were first done by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar in 1928 and later by Leslie Alcock in 1951. Pakistani archeologist Dr F.A. Khan conducted extensive studies and excavations in the site from 1958 to 1965. In March 2012, the Culture Department of Government of Sindh organized the first International Conference on Banbhore, where different experts and archaeologists presented their research on the site.
Archaeological findings show that the city consisted of an enclosed area surrounded by a stone and mud wall. The citadel was divided into eastern and western sections by a fortified stone wall in the center. The eastern part contains ruins of a mosque with an inscription dating to 727 AD, sixteen years after the conquest of Sindh, indicating the best preserved example of the earliest mosques in the region. The remains of the mosque were discovered in 1960. Remains of houses, streets, and other buildings have been found both within and outside the citadel. Contemporary stone buildings from the three periods are also uncovered in the area including a palatial stone building with semi-circular shape, a Shiva temple from the Hindu period, and a mosque. Three gateways to the citadel were also uncovered during excavations.
Banbhore was a medieval port city deriving its wealth from imported ceramic and metal goods, an industrial sector, and trade. The city was strategically located at the mouth of the Indus, linking it with rest of the Scytho-Parthian empire and international traders in the Indian Ocean. Archaeological findings show a half-submerged anchorage structure with solid stone foundation, which may have been used for berthing cargo boats. However, the port was abandoned when the Indus river shifted its position and the creek was silted.
- Kit W. Wesler (19 April 2012). An Archaeology of Religion. University Press of America. p. 253. ISBN 978-0761858454.
- "Port of Banbhore". World Heritage Sites, Tentative List. UNESCO.
- "Banbhore". Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. ArchNet.
- http://www.culture.gos.pk/index.php/govt-of-sindh-museums-galleries/banbhore-museum, Culture Department. Govt. of Sindh.
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