September 22, 2023


Had Edwards investigated a few miles east of Rohri, close to the ancient ruins of Alor, he might


Fort of Bukkur seen from Rohri, 1838

FORT OF BUKKUR SEEN FROM ROHRI, 1838 Lithograph published in Sir K.A. Jackson Views of Affghaunistan (London, 1841), plate 6.

Jackson’s descriptive notes on the historic fort of Bukk a r, located midstream in the Indus as it flows between the Rohri and the more recent town of Sukkur, read: ‘The fort of Bukkur is built upon a rocky (limestone) island, in the Indus; it is about eight hundred yards long, and three hundred broad, and is situate between Roree and Sukkur. The walls of the fortress enclose the island, and slope to the water’s edge, excepting on the northern side, where then,. } a small space nearly covered with date trees. There is a gateway on each side, opposite to Roree and Suk.kur, and in the interior, numerous houses and in ,:,.glues. The fort was given up to the British by the 11 r.eer of Khyrpoor, Meer Roostum, after a length. lied and difficult negociation, conducted by Sir Alexander Burnes, who had been munificently entertained by him in 1831, on his way to Lahore, with presents for Runjeet Singh, from the King of England. By the arrangement entered into with that officer, it was agreed that the fort should remain in the occupation of the British, so long as the character of our external relations to the westward rendered it necessary for the general security. It was made the general depot of the army of the Indus, in conse­quence of its important situation.’

A Gateway of Bukkur fort, 1838.

The island of Bukkur achieved prominence early in its history. In 1327, the Delhi king Muhammad Tughlaq sent only trustworthy governors to com­mand Bukkur. The fortifications were rebuilt by Shah Beg Argun using material taken from the an­cient Alor fort five miles away. During the reign of Akbar, the fort was handed over to his representa­tive Keshu Khan. In the struggle between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb, the sons of Shah Jahan, for the Mughal throne, the two grandsons of Dara Shikoh were murdered in the fort of Bukkur.


Lithograph published in Sir K.A. Jackson Views of Affghaunistan (London, 1841), plate 8.

The fort presents a fine appearance from the river,’ a chronicler observed, ‘and has a show of great strength, which in reality it does not possess.’ It was used as a jail to lodge Baluchi prisoners from 1865 until 1876.

A GATEWAY OF BUKKUR FORT, 1838 Lithograph published in Sir K.A. Jackson Views of Affghaunistan (London, 1841), plate 9.

Fort of Bukkur and Rohri seen from Sukkur, 1838


Lithograph by Charles Haghe based upon a sketch by William Edwards,1844. Published in W. Edwards, Sketches in Scinde (London, 1846), Plate 8.

Edwards described the location of Rohri he town of Rorree is situated on an eminence on Left bank of the the Indus, opposite to Bukur. Bukur is a fort on a rocky island exactly between the two former places, wherein we have a large arsenal. Rorree is larger than either of these, and contains a population of 8000 inhabitants. Like most of the towns in Scinde it is composed of unseemly mud houses, square.and flat roofed, interspersed with banyan and date to trees.

The siteof Rorree is flinty rock, of an elevation of nearl, forty feet, and some of the houses near the

River are lofty.

Had Edwards investigated a few miles east of Rohri, close to the ancient ruins of Alor, he might

Have encountered an extensive paleolithic site, same kind of flint rock.


Lithograph by Louis and Charles Haghe from a drawing by James Atkinson, published in J. Atkinson,

Sketches in Afghaunistan (London, 1842), plate 2.

Fortress of Bukkur, 1838.

The jutting out of Roree into the stream, and the centre space being so extensively occupied by the fort of Bhukkur and the other islands, esteemed of peculiar sanctity, it has but two comparatively nar­row channels, and over which the bridge of boats was thrown to enable the British troops to pass. One of the islands is consecrated to the renowned saint, Khaja Khizzer’ (Atkinson, notes to Plate 2).

The original drawing for this lithograph is in the India Office Library and Records, London, and cata­logued in Archer (1969), 97, WD 2392.


Lithograph published in Sir K.A.Jackson Views of Affghaunistan (London, 1841), plate 7.

Identified by Jackson as a view of ‘Hajee Ka Tau, an island just above the fort of Bukkur on the Indus’, the sketch would appear to be of the tomb of the river saint Khwaja Khizr, regarded as having been built in 925 A.D. (A.H. 341). According to the legend recorded in the Chachnama, the tomb was built in gratitude by a Delhi merchant Shah Husain who, travelling down the Indus with his pretty daughter on their way to Mecca, was called upon by Dalurai (the Hindu ruler of Alor) to surrender the daughter. In her anxiety to avoid such an impious alliance, the girl prayed to Khwaja Khizr for deliverance and as she and her father sought to escape in a boat, the saint diverted the course of the Indus towards Rohri bringing the harassed father and daughter to safety.

Khwaja Khizr, known also as the Jinda or living Pir, is said to be particularly protective of travellers.

Sukkur on the Indus, c. 1841.


Lithograph published in Sir K.A. Jackson Views of Affghaunistan (London, 1841), plate 11.

‘There is another island south of Bukkur, called Sadh Bela, which also possesses a shrine considered sacred to everything Sindhian. The fish of the river, particularly the pals, are said to pay it respect, by never turning their tails when receding from it’ (Ross (1883), 67).


Lithograph by Dean and Munday based on a sketch by Lt. H. Creed (Bombay Artillery), c. 1838. Pub­lished in Dr. R.H. Kennedy Narrative of the campaign of the Army of the Indus, in Sind and Kaubool, in 1838 ­1839 (London, 1840), II, opp. page 170.

Dr. Kennedy’s description of Bukkur, Sukkur and Rohri reads: ‘The view of the river, the island fort, and on the opposite bank surmounted with the fortifications and town of Roree, form the most interesting landscape we saw during the campaign.

The banks of the river on both sides are deep-green with extensive groves of shady date-trees; the larg­est, loftiest, and most shady of their kind I ever saw, and extending for some miles down each bank.

Roree is still a town of importance, and contains near ten thousand inhabitants. Sukkur is quite in ruins; but those ruins indicate a once flourishing, rich, and populous capital’.

The Shrine of Khwaja Khizr, near Bukkur fort,1838.


Lithograph published in E.B. Eastwick, E.B. Dry Leaves from Young Egypt (London, 1851; second edition), facing page 36.

Landing at Sukkur on 11 August 1840, E.B. Eastwick spent the next three ‘grilling’ months in the town. The heat notwithstanding, Eastwick moved around the environs of Sukkur and observed: ‘One sees at a glance how, on this point of the Indus, three towns have grown up. The island of Bakkar, washed on all sides by a deep and rapid stream, was a position which, to Asiatics, appeared almost im­pregnable. It was fortified – became a place of much importance – and was looked on as the key of Sindh and of the Lower Indus, and on either side of it grew up the towns of Rohri and Sakkar. In my leisure moments I was fond of wandering about the mosques and ruins which surrounded these towns.’

The town of Rohri and the fort of Bukkur, c. 1838.


Lithograph published in E.B. Eastwick Dry Leaves from Young Egypt (London, 1851; second edition), facing page 73.

Communication between Rohri and Sukkur across the Indus was by means of row-boats and a boat bridge, probably the one thrown by the Engineers of the Bengal Army component of the Army of the Indus in 1839.

By 1883, a railway steam ferry plied (with re­freshments aboard) between the two banks. In that year it was reported that a cantilevered bridge of steel with a span of 840 feet would be thrown across the river. The bridge was designed by Alexander M. Rendel, Chief Engineer, and opened in 1889.

VIEW OF ROHRI ON THE INDUS, 1878 Engraving published in The Graphic, 9 November 1878

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