Engraving published in The Graphic, 9 November 1878
TOMB OF SEVEN MAIDENS, SUKKUR, 1876 Engraving published in The Graphic, 9 November 1878
Overlooking the Indus at Sukkur lies a group of tombs datable to the first half of the seventeenth century. On the southern side of the escarpment is a suite of rooms which have been associated with seven virgin sisters (sat bhain) who vowed never to see the face of any man. The building is more correctly known as the Than Kasim Shah, after Mir Kasirn Shah Sabzwari who was regarded as having been buried there in 1608.
‘From certain points the hill is very picturesque, and forms a favourite subject for amateur sketchers’ Cousens (1929),157.
TAKING SOUNDINGS FROM A STEAMER ON THE INDUS, 1876
Engraving published in The Illustrated London News, 1 April 1876.
The Illustrated London News, when publishing this engraving, described this rather primitive method of river navigation as : ‘The Indus is navigable, indeed as far up as Attock, nearly a thousand miles from the ocean, though still eight or nine hundred miles from the source of this wonderful stream in the Himalayas of Thibet. But its channel is in most parts greatly obstructed by shifting sands, and it undergoes frequent alterations of the bed and rapid variations of the currents, which make it needful to observe the greatest care with the steamboats of very light draught now employed on its broad waters. A passenger by one of these vessels will often hear the cry “Charr Fo-oo-t!” “Four feet!” This is the monotonous exclamation of the man with the sounding rod, in the bow of a river steamer which has gone aground, and has stuck fast. It is an accident that happens, perhaps, two or three times a day in the dry season, when little water is in the channel, and it occasionally causes a delay of several hours.’
WAZIRIS CROSSING THE INDUS, 1864 Engraving published in The Illustrated London News, 13 February 1864.
PALA FISHERMEN ON THE INDUS, 1876 Engraving published in The Illustrated London News, 19 February 1876.
‘The method adopted by the Muhanos, or fishermen of Sind, in catching the “pala” is novel and peculiar. Provided with a large earthen vessel having a wide aperture, known as a a coati, together with a kind of dagger knife, and a forked pole, 15 feet or so in length, with a net attached to it, and a checkstring from the net to his girdle, the fisherman places his stomach on the aperture of the coati, in such a way as to prevent any water getting inside, and paddles out into the stream. Here he thrusts his net into the water, and by means of the checkstring is at once made aware of the capture of a fish, which always swims against the current. The net is then drawn up, the “pala” killed with the knife and consigned to the coati, and so he continues to float down the stream’, (Hughes (1876), 270).
THE LANDING OF SIR WILLIAM MANSFIELD AT SUKKUR, c.1865
Engraving published in The Illustrated London News, c. 1865.
Of particular interest in this engraving i s the paddle-steamer from which Sir William Mansfield alighted.
The first steamer was put into commission on the Indus in 1835. By 1847 the flotilla had increased to ten vessels and forty-three barges. With the opening of the Indus Valley Railway, the volume of traffic on the river diminished until it was no longer economically viable for the Indus Flotilla Company to operate. ‘Its headquarters were at Kotri where the company had workshops for repairs. Upto 1862 the government worked the flotilla, but it being no longer necessary to have a naval force, the government of India ordered that it should be broken up, and five of its steamers, with flats and barges, were made over to the Sindh railway.’ (Ross (1883), 41.)
Another abortive attempt was made to launch another steamship company – the Oriental Inland Steam Navigation Company – in 1862 but this too foundered as it was discovered that the strength of the Indus stream was too great.