Whoever said there are n o worthwhile places to visit in Sindh has been sorely mistaken and misled. Sindh isn’t just barren hills with a few green fields to break the monotony of the brown of the earth. Sindh has also lush green forests, cascading waterfalls ….
Whoever said there are no worthwhile places to visit in Sindh has been sorely mistaken and misled. Sindh isn’t just barren hills with a few green fields to break the monotony of the brown of the earth. Sindh has also lush green forests, cascading waterfalls, fascinating ancient architecture, and perhaps the most religiously diverse population than anywhere else in Pakistan.
Though a tour through Sindh might not be ideal during the hot summer months, if you know when to go and where to go, you might just discover that Sindh is no less beautiful than the gorgeous Northern mountain valleys in Pakistan, though in its own distinct way.
As it so happens, right about this time of the year, is the perfect time to pack your backpack and go exploring into the wilderness of interior Sindh. This time, let’s take a virtual trip to Nagarparkar, a small town in the Tharparkar district and a sight to behold after the monsoon rains have ravished the area. So, if you’re a Karachiite desperate for a weekend getaway, this just might be it for you. Oh, did I mention that it’s dirt-cheap?
NextGENi 4th Roadtrip of 2022
Back in 2019, a colleague from Islamkot recommended that we visit the Tharparkar region. Ever since then, we have returned to surrounding areas around the same time every year to witness Sindh in all its post-monsoon glory!
Ever-ready for an adventure, and for a much-needed breather from work, the #NextGENi team set forth on the trip. We planned the entirety of the trip ourselves, with no external travel agents involved. Since we pulled off such a pleasant trip within such a reasonable budget, why not help other adventurous souls out? Read on to find out all the how’s and what’s and where’s for a wholesome trip to Nagarparkar.
At 12:01am on Saturday 6th August, a high-spirited team of 23 #serioustravellers gathered at the office in PECHS, Karachi. Clad in our most comfortable sweatpants, we boarded the bus and were off. While the night owls chatted and sang throughout the way, the rest caught up on some beauty sleep as the journey ahead was long.
Badin: We made our first stop at Badin at 3AM for some much-needed tea and to refuel our rides before continuing.
Nagarparkar: Come 7AM, we reached Nagarparkar. Sleepy-eyed but awed, we looked out the window at the glorious views surrounding us. Who would have thought Sindh could be this green?
Thar Hotel: Around 8AM, we offloaded and checked into the Thar Hotel to freshen up. Fresh-faced and invigorated, we were ready to take on the day. But first, breakfast! We had a delicious nashta of omelettes, dahee and parathas and karak chai at a local dhaaba nearby.
If our nashta spread looks appetizing to you, you can go over and order one for yourself as well.
Zahid Hussain: 0343 66 50 892
St. Nicholas Church: Right across the road from our breakfast tables, we spied the St Nicholas Church of Tharparkar. After having the morning chai, we crossed over and entered the church. For most people, it was the first time entering a church. The construction was a surprise; instead of the traditional towers, it was a more localized gumbad based architecture. Some of us prayed or paid their respects, while others looked at guest book and spoke to the chaplain.
Bhodesar: A little way off at Bhodesar, we stopped at yet another place of worship, the Bhodesar mosque, constructed in the 1500s.
Situated alongside the mosque was also the recently constructed Bhodesar dam. Slightly ahead, we visited Jain Temples, some of the oldest standing Jain temples in Pakistan. There were 3 that still withstood despite seemingly very much needed heritage protection.
While the temples were in ruins, with many bricks missing from its structure, the temple was still a sight to behold. History and architectural enthusiasts would love to treat their eyes to these gorgeous temples, built back in the 9th century.
Here, we couldn’t help but marvel at the rich cultural and religious complexities in the region of Sindh. Within a kilometer of each other, we had witnessed worship places of four different religions. The province might not be as developed as some of the other provinces, but it has such deep cultural and religious heritage.
Karoonjhar Mountains and Maya Dam: We made our way to the Karoonjhar mountains and Maya Dam next, which is a picnic spot for the locals and tourists, but also serves as a nice hike and waterfall during the rainy months.
At 1PM, we set camp near the dam. Those who were up for a hike, trekked 45 minutes to the Maya Waterfall, (though the more experienced and physically fit of the lot took half the time). The hike wasn’t easy, and there were some small injuries along the way. The waterfall was a refreshing sight after the tough walk up to it. You could stand in the middle of the waterfall, and let the water flow over you. If you are feeling particularly gutsy, you could even climb up on the rocks and dive down into the deepest end, which was approximately 10 feet.
By 3PM, the adventurous returned from the Maya Dam, bodies bruised but spirits high, and together we headed back towards Nagarparkar. We switched from coasters to jeeps; the journey ahead wasn’t going to be so smooth.
7-seater Jeeps (1 driver, 6 in back) cost around Rs. 4000-4500 for Chooriyo with 3 hour driving time, and 2–3 hours waiting.
Contact: 0342 2717342
Ranpur Dam: The jeeps took us through off-roading to our third dam of the trip, Ranpur Dam. Having already seen Maya dam a while ago, most of us were unimpressed. Plus, at 4PM, the sun was beating down hard, draining people of their energies to do much more.
Sheera Wali Mata Mandir: Onwards and off-road, we pressed for 1.5 hours. At 6PM, we reached the Sheera Wali Mata Mandir at Chooriyo. After exploring the mandir, build in between cave style rocks, the team helped itself to tea & snacks. This location is probably as unique than Wagah border but doesn’t have the same publicity. Since it as at the tip of India Pakistan border, one is surrounded by India border on both sides while standing at this mandir. The area was lush green, with the rains having done their magic and we took in the panoramic views with steaming cups of chai in our hands. Someone even commented that the area was richer in greenery than Scotland. After sunset, as the lights came on on the Indian side of the border, it made for a breathtaking sight.
Though we kept looking for a place to stop for lunch, we hadn’t found any yet, and most of us were starving by 7pm. The Pandit (Pujaari) of the Sheera Wali Mata mandir realized our predicament and out of sheer kindness and generosity offered us Parsad or Bandhara, which in Hindu culture is much like our niaaz. Everybody, regardless of religion, wholeheartedly accepted the spiced aloo chawal parsad and thanked the wonderful pandits.
Thar Hotel: By 10PM, after the 1.5 hours jeep ride back, we returned to Thar Hotel to shower and freshen up. At 11PM, we enjoyed a dinner of Chicken Karahi, Daal, Drinks and Tea. The prices were unbelievably low; the same meal in Karachi would have cost at least 2x more, even at a dhaaba! The cost per person for a hearty dinner here was about Rs. 325.
Here are a few other hotels and guesthouses who’d love to host you in Nagarparkar. Rates vary from Rs. 3K-5K for nonAC and 5K-8K for AC
Rooplo Hotel: 0345 3406755
Thar Guesthouse: (0342 2060186), (03322603312) ,(03473207110)
STDC Motel: Contact STDC
We retired for the night here. Some were too tired to stay up any longer, while some stayed up playing board games and sipping late-night tea.
Sunday dawned. We were out of the hotel and done with breakfast by 9 AM.
Saldoro: By 10am, we reached Saldoro, where there were 153 steps to climb to the top to take in the panoramic view of the Karoonjhar mountains.
There were several mandirs in the area, thanks to the abundant Hindu community. For those interested, there is also another waterfall, Ghau mukh dam, though we did not attempt it as we really liked Maya Dam and wanted to stop at it once again on the way back.
Anchlesar Mountains: At 11AM, we stopped for a bit at Anchlesar Mountains, in search of another waterfall, but we did not find anything meaningful.
Maya Dam: At 12PM, we arrived back at the much-anticipated Maya Dam. Finally it rained as we were hiking up the canyon. Some people stayed back for safety but 9 of us cracked on! You can smell the freshness in video below.
Though the rain lasted only 30 minutes, the canyon started flooding, leaving some of us stranded on high rocks. We waited for an hour for the water levels to go down and then we made our way back down. Unfortunately we did not have the cameras to capture how human chains were used to rescue one of our comrades.
Engro Coal Mines: At 3PM, we departed for Engro Coal Mines,
where we had exclusive access to the observation deck. We witnessed the Phase 1 and Phase 2 mines, and saw the future areas for Phase 3 and 4. We then toured the outskirts of the power plant. Though we were lucky enough for someone to put in a good word for us which allowed us access, visits are restricted to the power plant and you might not be able to get in without a reference. A police vehicle escorted us from Islamkot to the coal field, then to the power plants, and finally back to Islamkot — and for a few blissful moments, we lived the VIP life!
Mithi: On our way back, we stopped for an early dinner at 6.30PM at Diamond Hotel, Mithi.
The meal once again, was about half the price it would have cost us in Karachi. On full stomachs, we braved a continuous 5.5 hours of drive back to Karachi and arrived at the DotZero headquarters at 1AM.
After the weariness of the trip had worn off, everybody was gushing about the trip, and full of wonder. It had been an unexpectedly pleasant surprise for most, who had not expected to enjoy Sindh as much as they did.
“I had some reservations about traveling to interior Sindh as a woman, but I felt completely comfortable and safe the entire time.” remarked Tehreem, one of the 9 females who joined us on the trip.
The weather’s still pleasant across Sindh for the remainder of the month, so if this blog made you put Nagarparkar in your travel list, you better plan a trip in the next few weeks, before the greenery starts dying down and the weather starts acting up.