Our very own Wall of China. Our very own Grand Canyon. Our very own Wonderland. Our very own story of Apathy. Who built it? Why did they build it? These questions baffle us all. “The size of Ranikot defies all reasons. It stands in the middle of nowhere, defending nothing” writes Isobel Shaw. Ranikot, with a circumference of about 30 km, is the largest fort in the world. However, such a distinction is not enough to convince authorities to develop it as a major tourist attraction. Therefore go there with all the goodies especially with water in your backpack.
Its very much accessible from Karachi by National Highway. After leaving from Karachi turn left to Jamshoro before toll plaza and head to Dadu on Indus Highway. The road is in excellent condition. It should take you an hour to reach San, the home of Sindhi nationalist, GM Syed. A little further from the town you will reach a diversion. A rusty board announces that Ranikot is some thirty km away. The road is in pathetic condition but you should be able to cover the distance in thirty forty minutes. You will reach eastern side of the fort through this road and the passage is known as “Sann Gate”. The walls here are in better condition. Climb up on both sides as it offers a panoramic view of the landscape. The metal road twist and turn and takes you till “Meeri” which is a small fortress within the fort, housing royal quarters. From there you could see “Shergarh” another fortress, up in the mountain. Visiting Mohan Gate is a must. You have to drive first from the diversion leading to Meeri and after couple of km, abandon the car and take a walk on treacherous path. The passage is through canyons and you can take dip here and there in the rain-stream which also is a life line to the gabol villagers residing inside the fort. after three or four km walk, you will reach ‘paryun jo talao’, ‘the pond of fairies’. It is quite deep at few places and the stones surrounding it are quite slippery so watch your steps carefully. Take a dip in the pond and head to Mohan Gate. Stick to the the route used by resident pedestrian. After couple of km, you will reach Mohan Gate. The rain stream disappears here. It is connected with other reservoirs through tunnels. Villagers say that the flow of waters has increased after some seismic activity in the region. Scattered animal skeletons and prehistoric fossils are rumored be found here and there. The local guide Sadiq Gabol can show you one or two in his office.
The million dollar question. Is it safe for a Karachi Walla to visit the fort? The answer is quite complex. We saw families, karachites and goras. Locals insist that its safe. But there are no guarantees. Police is no where to be seen. But on the positive side, You can visit it and come back in a single day (You can’t cover Shergarh though). Go there early morning, spend the noon there and get back to Hyderabad before sunset. Hope it will be safe and promising. Inshallah. God willing.