Sindh

Travel Guide Asia Pakistan Sindh

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Introduction

Sindh is the southeastern province of Pakistan. It is rich in history and culture. The largest city of Sindh, Karachi, is a melting pot of all cultures of Pakistan. It is the commercial as well as the cultural capital of Pakistan. The word Sindh comes from the Sindh (Indus) river which ends in the Arabian Sea in this province. The words India and Indus valley are also derived from the same word. With an area of 140,914 square kilometres, Sindh is the third largest province of Pakistan by area, and second largest province by population.

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Geography

Sindh is situated in the southeast of Pakistan and is bordered by Balochistan province in the west and Punjab province to the north. While the south of Sindh is bordered by the Arabian Sea and the east by Rajasthan, India. Sindh's landscape consists mostly of alluvial plains flanking the Indus River, the Thar desert in the eastern portion of the province bordered with India, and the Kirthar Mountains in the western part of Sindh.

The province is mostly arid with scant vegetation except for the irrigated Indus Valley. The dwarf palm, Acacia Rupestris (kher), and Tecomella undulata (lohirro) trees are typical of the western hill region. In the Indus valley, the Acacia nilotica (babul) (babbur) is the most dominant and occurs in thick forests along the Indus banks. The Azadirachta indica (neem) (nim), Zizyphys vulgaris (bir) (ber), Tamarix orientalis (jujuba lai) and Capparis aphylla (kirir) are among the more common trees.

Mango, date palms and the more recently introduced banana, guava, orange and chiku are the typical fruit-bearing trees. The coastal strip and the creeks abound in semi-aquatic and aquatic plants and the inshore Indus delta islands have forests of Avicennia tomentosa (timmer) and Ceriops candolleana (chaunir) trees. Water lilies grow in abundance in the numerous lake and ponds, particularly in the lower Sindh region.

Although Sindh has a semi arid climate, through its coastal and riverine forests, its huge fresh water lakes and mountains and deserts, Sindh supports a large amount of varied wildlife. Due to the semi-arid climate of Sindh the left out forests support an average population of jackals and snakes. The national parks established by the Government of Pakistan in collaboration with many organizations such as World Wide Fund for Nature and Sindh Wildlife Department support a huge variety of animals and birds. The Kirthar National Park in the Kirthar range spreads over more than 3000 km2 of desert, stunted tree forests and a lake. The KNP supports Sindh ibex, wild sheep (urial) and black bear along with the rare leopard. There are also occasional sightings of The Sindhi phekari, ped lynx or Caracal cat. There is a project to introduce tigers and Asian elephants too in KNP near the huge Hub Dam Lake. Between July and November when the monsoon winds blow onshore from the ocean, giant olive ridley turtles lay their eggs along the seaward side. The turtles are protected species. After the mothers lay and leave them buried under the sands the SWD and WWF officials take the eggs and protect them until they are hatched to keep them from predators.

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Sights and Activities

Sindh has numerous tourist attractions, with the most celebrated ones being ruins of archaeological sites and the country's most popular beaches. Most visitors to Sindh end up in Karachi, a real mega-city, home to 23 million people. Karachi is a modern, bustling and multicultural metropolis and as the country's most developed urban area, provides a glimpse of modern life in Pakistan. It offers a remarkable variety of attractions and has a collection of beautiful buildings of varied architectural styles largely dating back to the British period. However, Sindh has much more to offer to its visitors than just a great city.

Culture

Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and its heritage, Sindh is dotted with well-known archaeological and historically significant sites which, despite extensive neglect, have been surprisingly well preserved. The most prominent are the ruins of earliest advance urban city of Mohenjo-daro and historical monuments at Makli, which is one of the world's largest necropolises. Both sites are designated as cultural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Other sites of archaeological and historical significance are awaiting a listing, such as the Shah Jahan Mosque of Thatta, the ancient city of Bhambore, the 15th and 18th century Chaukhandi Tombs and the gigantic fortification of Ranikot Fort, which can be said the Great Wall of Sindh and is believed to be the largest fort in the world.

Islamic architecture is quite prominent in Sindh as well and the region is dotted with numerous cultural shrines and beautiful mausoleums. They are visited throughout the year by devotees from all over the country. Some fine examples are the very old Shrine of Shahbaz Qalander, the Shrine of Abdul Latif Bhittai in Bhit and the Shrine of Sachal Sarmast near Ranipur. The most iconic mausoleum of the country can be found in Karachi, and is the modern and beautiful mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan.

Nature

Due to the coastline, Sindh is bestowed with country's busiest sea port and is fringed by beaches, especially silver and golden sand beaches scattered on its southwestern coastline, with the exceptions being some important areas of mangrove forest in the south-east. Sindh forms the basin for the Indus, Pakistan's longest river, which has created a number of freshwater lakes in the province with the most popular one being Keenjhar Lake which serves as a perfect spot for a picnic as well as for fishing and boating. The central-western part of Sindh is home to the Kirthar mountain range, which consists of a series of parallel rock hill ridges where Sindh's highest peaks are located. The mountains occasionally receive snowfall during the winters, with the most popular being Gorakh Hill station situated at an elevation of 5,688ft, and the vast and rugged Kirthar National Park. Kirthar Park, located in the midst of the barren rocks, is the last bastion of a wide variety of the region's wildlife. Although Kirthar mountain range is not nearly as exotic or scenic as the plateaus of northern Pakistan, at is still well worth visiting for its natural beauty.

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Weather

Weather ranges from mild winters (13 °C to 25 °C) to hot summers (28 °C to 40 °C). Coastal areas have high humidity. Precipitation tends to be quite low, though the monsoon season in July-August sees heavier rainfall in some areas. Inland areas can get much hotter, up to 50 °C in June and July.

Sindh lies between the two monsoons - the southwest monsoon from the Indian Ocean and the northeast or retreating monsoon, deflected towards it by the Himalayan mountains - and escapes the influence of both. The region's scarcity of rainfall is compensated by the inundation of the Indus twice a year, caused by the spring and summer melting of Himalayan snow and by rainfall in the monsoon season.

Sindh is divided into three climatic regions: Siro (the upper region, centred on Jacobabad), Wicholo (the middle region, centred on Hyderabad), and Lar (the lower region, centred on Karachi). The thermal equator passes through upper Sindh, where the air is generally very dry. Central Sindh's temperatures are generally lower than those of upper Sindh but higher than those of lower Sindh. Dry hot days and cool nights are typical during the summer. Central Sindh's maximum temperature typically reaches 43-44 °C. Lower Sindh has a damper and humid maritime climate affected by the southwestern winds in summer and northeastern winds in winter, with lower rainfall than Central Sindh. Lower Sindh's maximum temperature reaches about 35-38 °C. In the Kirthar range at 1,800 metres and higher at Gorakh Hill and other peaks in Dadu District, temperatures near freezing have been recorded and brief snowfall is received in the winters.

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Getting There

By Plane

Most visitors to Sindh arrive at Jinnah International Airport, in the southern city of Karachi. The airport is the country's largest and busiest and works as the main gateway to Pakistan. It is served by many international airlines such as Air Arabia, Air China, Cathy Pacific, Etihad, Emirates, Gulf Air, FlyDubai, Iran Air, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Saudia, SriLankan Airlines, Thai Airways, and Turkish Airlines. The airport is the main hub of the national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines and other local airlines of Pakistan such as Shaheen Air, Air Blue and Air Indus. Sukkur Airport in the northern part of Sindh handles only domestic flights, but can be useful when coming into northern Sindh.

By Train

Sindh is well connected with the rest of the country by Pakistan Railways. The busiest railway station is in Karachi in southwest Sindh and plenty of trains (both economical and air-conditioned class) bound for Karachi originate daily from major Pakistani cities such as Lahore, Rawalpindi, Quetta and Peshawar.

Karachi railway station, more commonly known as Cantt. station, is actually the final destination station of virtually all trains travelling into Sindh, while Hyderabad and the northern railway station of Rohri near Sukkur are important railway junctions where the majority of the trains make brief stops.

Mostly people travel to Karachi and trains for Karachi are abundant so you should have no difficulty to find one that suits you. For travellers from Punjab, the air-conditioned accommodation class trains Tezgam or Shalimar Express are preferred. Tezgam originates from Rawalpindi, and travels via many major cities of Punjab such Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan and Bahawalpur. Shalimar Express originates from Lahore and via Faisalabad, Multan, and Bahawalpur enters Sindh. Both travel to Karachi, stopping briefly at Rohri and Hyderabad.

The Khyber Mail is recommended for the journey between Sindh and the north-western region while the Bolan Mail is the best choice for those travelling from Balochistan. The Khyber Mail is Pakistan's oldest and most prestigious train have both economy and air-conditioned class accommodation. It has the longest running route in Pakistan and runs through many major cities in Punjab to Karachi after briefly stopping at major railway stations in Sindh. The Bolan Mail has air-conditioned class and is the country's most historic train and travels via many cities and towns in Sindh before reaching Karachi.

An international train link connects Sindh with the neighbouring Indian state of Rajasthan. Thar Express is a weekly train run every Friday. Its termini are Karachi in Pakistan and Bhagat Ki Kothi near Jodhpur in India. The border crossing takes place between Zero Point (Khokhrapar) in Pakistan and Munabao in India which are the two last railway stations of the India-Pakistan border and this is the point where passengers had to change trains.

By Car

Sindh is well connected with the rest of Pakistan via network of multiple-lane highways and can be reached easily by driving your own car.

National Highway # N-5, originates from border town of Torkham (Pakistan-Afghanistan border) and runs via many major cities such as Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Multan, before crossing into Sindh where it passes through Hyderabad, Khairpur and reaching Karachi. It is 1,756 kilometres long which makes it largest highway in the country and is the most used way in Pakistan for getting around. National Highway # N-55 (Indus Highway) is a 1,264-kilometre long highway that originates from Peshawar and runs via Kohat, Dera Ghazi Khan enter Sindh and travels up to Hyderabad.

Sindh is well connected to the country's southwestern region of Balochistan. National Highway # N-25 (RCD Highway) is 813 kilometres long, originates from border town of Chaman (Pakistan-Afghanistan border) and runs via Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar and Bela on its way to Karachi. National Highway # N-65 (Indus Highway) is 385 kilometres long, originates from Quetta and runs via Sibi to enter Sindh and travel up to Sukkur. The 653-km long National Highway # N-10 (Makran Coastal Highway) runs from Gwadar and later merge with N-25 for Karachi.

By Bus

Sindh is well connected with rest of Pakistan and Karachi, being the country's most important city, is the main hub for all means of transportation. There are bus services (both air-conditioned and non-airconditioned) to all major cities in Sindh from other parts of the country and mostly for Karachi. Daewoo Sammi can be a good option if travelling from Punjab. They're popular bus operator in the country and operate more clean, air-conditioned, spacey, secure, and modern fleet of buses.

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Getting Around

By Plane

Getting around Sindh by plane is very uncommon. Several commercial airports remain closed for most of the year and only become operational occasionally. Pakistan's national carrier PIA is the only carrier that flies between Sindh airports. Currently, they have direct but non-daily flights between Karachi and the northern cities of Sukkur and Mohenjo-daro, as well as direct flights between Sukkur and Mohenjo-daro.

A one-way ticket in economy class between Karachi and Mohenjo-daro or Sukkur should cost no more than Rs. 10,000 and the journey takes one hour. The journey between Sukkur and Mohenjo-daro takes half an hour and a one-way ticket in economy class costs approximately Rs. 5,000.

By Train

Sindh has a good railway network by Pakistani standards, and it's more than adequate for travel between major cities and towns. Plenty of trains travel back and forth daily, stopping at many railway stations along the way. Although major cities are well connected, you will need to use buses, taxis or your own car to reach many of the attractive tourist sites.

Awam Express and Khushhal Khan Khattak Express are economy class only trains but have a good network in Sindh. Awam Express runs on the main line (between Karachi and Rohri) while Khushhal Khan Khattak Express operates on the branch line (between Karachi and Jacobabad). Sukkur Express and Bolan Mail have air-conditioned class accommodations. Bolan Mail runs on the branch line, while Sukkur Express on the main. Sukkur Express is the only regional train, and travels through many major cities and towns of Sindh. It runs on the main line until Rohri but later changes onto a branch line for Jacobabad.

Marvi Passenger and Saman Sarkar Express travel from east to west and back in the southern part of Sindh. Badin Express travels between Hyderabad and Badin.

By Car

Sindh has a rather good road network and all cities and major towns are well connected with each other by multi-lane highways and arterial roads. Many settlements are located on, or close to, the National Highways # N-5 and N-55. Karachi and Hyderabad, the two largest cities, are connected to each other by both a multi-lane highway and a motorway, which reduces the distance to 150 kilometres and the travel time to 2 hours.

By Bus

A large part of travel between cities in Sindh is by bus. Travel by bus is the cheapest, most convenient, and most common way to move from place to place. Buses and minibuses travel around Sindh but quality can vary a lot. You can find buses to all major cities and towns. Air-conditioned buses run between major cities of the Sindh while non-airconditioned for both from the major cities to small towns but the only drawback is comfort in non-airconditioned buses. Buses are the only cheap way of reaching places not covered by railway.

The one-way fare on a Daewoo air-conditioned bus between Karachi and Sukkur is Rs. 1,500. The buses run throughout the day at one-hour intervals and the ride takes seven hours while the one-way fare on a normal air-conditioned bus for travelling between Karachi and Hyderabad is around Rs. 300.

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Eat

Due to being a coastal region, seafood is widely available and popular in Sindh. Most of region's food is based on Pakistani cuisine and composed of the same dishes you'll find elsewhere in the country. Some local delicacies and regional Sindhi cuisine are available, but your best chances of finding them is in rural and suburban localities. Sindhi biryani is a version of biryani and considered the speciality of Sindh. It is rich in texture and taste and popular throughout the country but there's no better place to eat it than in Sindh.

Sindh has an unlimited supply of cheap basic restaurants and dhabas but the best places to eat are obviously in larger cities. Karachi diners are iconic and the capital has the country's best upmarket dining scene hands down.

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Drink

When it comes to alcohol, Sindh is liberal and it is much more easily available than it is elsewhere in the country. Nonetheless, it is considered a taboo and drinking alcohol in public areas is strongly discouraged. Only legal liquor stores are allowed to sell. Those are usually marked with blue and red coloured stripes, have no area to sit and drink, mostly sell the locally produced brand Murree Brewery and are usually closed on Fridays. Usually the large cities have a number of such places.

The best place to slick your thirst is certainly Karachi, where the café culture is on the rise and the city has plenty of excellent café to spend beautiful evenings drinking great coffee or enjoying a delicious shisha all under one roof.

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This is version 13. Last edited at 10:04 on Nov 3, 17 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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