After our visit to Derawar earlier that day, we are on our way west, to Uch Sharif. We want to press on, but the driver and armed guard insist they need something to eat, and who are we to deny them food. When we arrive at the town, the sun is already hanging low in the western sky. Some claim that Uch was founded by Alexander the Great when he invaded the Indus valley in 325 BCE, while others say there already was a settlement here when the Greek king spent a few weeks here. We drive to the western outskirts of town, and walk up a hill, to arrive at a slightly elevated plain where we see various marvellous buildings. These are 14th to 16th century tombs, or mausolea, and even from a distance, they look attractive and impressive. We walk closer, to find that they are all badly damaged on their northwest side. A flood in 1817 did severe damage to these beautiful structures, and are in desperate need of repair.
We walk around the tomb of Ustad Nuriya, supposedly built in honour of the architect of the tomb of Bibi Jawindi. Unlike the other tombs, it is more or less rectangular, and smaller, since it was not built for a religious leader but an architect. The backside of the building is gone. When we continue, we find that also the tombs of BAha'al-Halim and Bibi Jawindi are beautiful from the outside, but when we walk around them, we see the damage that the flooding and the onslaught of time have done. Crumbling walls, half the building missing, the dome almost gone, most of the tiles washed away. When we walk to the exterior that is still intact, the contrast could not be bigger. Brilliant tile work, intricate decorations giving the buildings a rich and magnificent look, well fit for the important Sufi leaders that were buried here.
The tomb of Bibi Jawindi is the best preserved, and when you see it from the eastern side, it looks like a compete tomb as you cannot see the missing western side. It is perfectly symmetrical, with turrets at each corner of the octagonal building, and a dome on top. There are several horizontal bands of blue on all turrets. It was supposedly financed by an Iranian prince. When we move closer, we see the details of the building, the blue and white tiles also known as faience that embellish the building. After admiring this undisputed masterpiece, we walk towards the shrine of Jalaluddin Bukhari, passing many small, modern graves. Jalaluddin Bukhari is the most important Sufi saint buried here. Born in Bukhara, currently Uzbekistan, he was nicknamed the Traveller of the World, since he travelled extensively in search of enlightenment, bringing him to Mecca, Egypt, Syria and other places, before settling in Uch Sharif. We walk through the dark hall full of caskets to the big shrine, encased in a glass structure. The ceiling is painted in bright colours. Adjacent to the shrine, we find the mosque in the name of the same saint. It is a rather austere building, lacking the attractive decorations we have seen in the tombs. When we are out on the courtyard again, we see a small group of men sitting under an enormous tree which was supposedly planted by Jalaluddin himself, waiting in the last sunlight of the day, getting ready for their prayers. It is time to leave this special place behind, and drive back to Bahawalpur.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Uch Sharif tombs (Pakistan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Uch Sharif tombs. Read more about this site.