Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Next: Camping at Ranikot Fort

Ranikot Fort
Taking advantage of the long weekend and full moon, we are going to Ranikot Fort with friends (mostly families with kids) for overnight camping. Ranikot is supposed to be the World's largest fortification due to its weirdly expansive circumference. With surrounding Kirthar hills, antique interior structures, mysterious wall, freshwater stream, and a small Gabol village inside, the place is perfect for a wilderness experience.
Plan is finalized and we might have space for 2-3 people. Email: me for details if interested. 
Highlight of the trip is Shergarh hike which is the highest point in the fort.
We will do everything on self help basis, with some local support, which is a lot more fun than a commercial tour. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Trip Report: Mohenjo Daro, Ranikot, Mehar, and Sehwan from Karachi

Mohenjo Daro - Pakistan's Prime Archaeological Site Situated in Sindh

Duration: 2 Days trip in Mid-November, 2017 DIY with local support

Route: Karachi-Ranikot-Mohenjodaro-Mehar-Sehwan-Hyderabad-Karachi

Transport: Hired Toyota Corolla from the Karachi-Mehar route operator – Rs. 16,500

06:15 am Left Karachi. Watched sunrise on the Super Highway

08:30 am Reached Jamshoro. Breakfast at Zaman Hotel: Tandoori parathay, Omelet, Fried eggs, Daal ghutala, Vegetables – tenday, and the ubiquitous wood-fired tea.

10:30 am Ranikot Detour. Visited Mirikot. Met Sadiq Gabol – the unsung legend!

12:00 pm Back to the highway

2:00 pm Namaz break off highway near Mehar

3:00 pm Roadside Lunch at Radhan village near Mohenjo Daro

3:45 pm Reached Mohenjo Daro

5:00 pm Left Mohenjo Daro and reached Mehar where we had night stay in a village courtesy my college time friend Mujtaba Tunio. Witnessed the village life and enjoyed the traditional Sindhi hospitality to the fullest.

7 am Visited Rice fields around the village. Had breakfast.

10:30 am Started the return journey

12:30 pm Visited Sehwan: Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

3:30 pm Reached Hyderabad Latifabad to meet a relative

8:00 pm Back home Alhamdolillah

Could not find enough time to make a detailed Trip Report so resorted to detailed Captions in the below picture (mostly rants) for those who might be interested.

Sun Rising Up: Karachi Hyderabad Super Highway

Watching At Least 1 Sunrise A Month is the Target These Days!

Zaman Hotel Super Highway - Got our Table in the Open to Enjoy the Sunlight Breakfast!

 Sann Entrance of Ranikot Fort: Pronounced Ranni-kot

Inside Ranikot: Mirikot in the Center and Shergarh on Top Left while the Greenery is along the freshwater stream

Mirikot Exterior

From Inside Mirikot: Cultivation by Villagers along the Stream. The Vicinity is inhabited by the Indigenous Gabol Tribe.

Shergarh Calling: Visible in the Top Center

Inside Mirikot: Intricate Carving, Arch, and Stairs

The Incompetent Sindh Government Could only Erect a Lame Unauthentic Gate to Control the Entry at Mirikot to Capitalize in Future on the Growing Popularity of Ranikot Fort Rather Than Doing Something Worth

The Beautiful Ancient Water Supply Well Turning into a Modern Day Garbage Bin

Camel Herds of All Colors; Black, White and 'Camel' are a Common Sight on Ranikot-Sann Link Road

Mehar-Mohenjo Daro Link Road

This Enroute Pump had a Functional Toilet!

My Beautiful Sindh - Rice Roots after the Crop is Taken Out, Red Thrasher Working on the Right of the Bran Mound while the Peeping Green is the Newly Cultivated Wheat

Lunch Time - Roadside but Fresh

Mohenjo Daro's Mound Believed to be an Ancient Buddhist Stupa

The Excavated City of Mohenjo Daro

White Stones Represent the Ancient Sewerage System which is Even Non-Existent in Today's Sindh and Over Flowing in Karachi

"Mujhe Kis Ney Nikala!" Looks Like an Attempt to Put the Controversy to End

An Ancient Well - as per the non-so-ancient White Board 

Excavation of the Other Side of the Site may Bring More Insights

Enlarged Replica of Priest King - the Prized Statue Excavated from Mohnejo Daro

The Original Palm Size Priest King at Karahci's National Museum

"Long Tunia": A Village Near  Mehar Town, District Dadu, Sindh where We Enjoyed the Traditional Sindhi Hospitality

Rice Roots which are Burned Especially in India and Supposedly Cause the Smog. Rice Field Itself Produces Methane Gas. Here I Officially Declare that I am a NonBeliever - in Climate Change!

Farmers' Gold: Freshly Cut Paddy Destined to the East Asia - Philipines, Malaysia, etc. for Bhaat. In Pakistan We Usually Have a Different Variety with Bigger Grains

A Local with the Fresh Catch from the Village Pond. People in the Village Have Lesser Facilities Than Us in Cities But They Are Happier and Closer to Nature

Impressive Mosque Behind the Enthusiastically Built Shrine in Long Tunia Village Where We Stayed - District Dadu, Sindh

The Shrine of Shah Usman Marwandi, known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar - the Grand Sufi of Sindh

The Sehwan Shrine is the Heavily Frequented and Most Enthusiastically Revered by People of the Region Belonging to Almost All Sects and Religions

The Elaborate Interior of Lal Shahbaz Shrine

Persian-Sindhi Craft is at Best at Lal Shahbaz Shrine

Another Sample of Beautiful Art Work at Sehwan Mazar

Pattern Variety at the Shrine is Amazing

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wilderness Camping at Chandargup Mud Volcanoes – Balochistan, Pakistan

Chandragup Mud Volcano - Hingol National Park, Balochistan Pakistan
Group: 11 people and 4 cars
Expenses: Shared responsibilities since it was on self-help and not commercial – PKR 1,000-1,500 each
Dates: November 11-12, 2017 Saturday-Sunday

11:00 am Met at HUB. Breakfast: at homes before leaving. Lunch: homemade sandwiches on the go.

12:30 pm Re-assembled at Makran Coastal Highway Zero Point

2:30 pm Reached Mud Volcanoes turn on Makran Coastal Highway.

3:00 pm Reached Chandragup Mud Volcanoes. Link road (5.5km)was in good condition with 2 sand dunes which were partially cleared – enough to crossover. Took the wrong track after the road ended but luckily a local boy on the motorcycle guided us back. Lost one of the cars with two people and
tea/BBQ stuff. Tried locating them but was impossible with no mobile signals. Abandoned the search.

3:30 pm Climbed up the tallest of the volcanic hills. It was live at the top and brimming with molten mud, not hot, from at least two points! Some people did the smaller one also which was not active but more picturesque from the top.

4:30 pm Tea served which we got in the thermos from Hub Hotel meeting point. Did another search for the lost car but no avail again. Started setting up camps.

5:30 pm One of the persons in the lost car showed up from the desert. They tried to continue till the beach and got trapped in the sand. Decided to leave the car there till morning and brought the stuff from there. The sun was already down behind the hill. Another car barely escaped getting into the quicksand as they wanted to have some drifting fun in the enchanting desert. Thankfully, none tried the sand dunes although there were ample opportunities.

6:00 pm Had pre-cooked dinner: Aaloo qeema, chicken karhai, and kulchay. Reheated on LPG cylinder – very slow! But sumptuous!! Zeeshan please convey the gratitude on behalf of the whole group. Had post dinner Tea – the case of too many chefs.

8:00 pm Started BBQ, not that anyone feeling hungry but only to kill the time. Every topic was finished and it was still 8pm! Had star gazing session with occasional view of shooting stars. It was surreal!

12:00 am Moonrise. Got really cold.

6:00 am A big group of Hindu devotees showed up and right away climbed the hill chanting slogans: Jay Maata Ki!

8:00 am Had the full range breakfast after the tea finally got done on the coal rather the failing LPG cylinder. One car left for Karachi after the breakfast. Two remaining cars went to bring the stuck one out. Tow rope didn’t help, wooden planks did! Brewed lassi in the meantime – the yogurt one!

10:00 am Decided to explore another beach, Sapat, taking advantage of a local who showed up expecting tips from the Yatris.

12:00 pm Started the return journey

4:00 pm Back home Alhamdolillah

Makran Coastal Highway - Always A Pleasure Drive
Does that Even Need a Caption? Makran Coastal Highway

Milestone for the above Photo! 
(Almost) Love at First Sight!

A Closer Look: Note the Molten Mud Coming Out from the Edges

From Chandragup Top: The Big Car Parking - which Gets Filled in the Hindu Festival

Live Crater of Chandragup Mud Volcano - Balochistan, Pakistan

It was Hard to Navigate Downhill from the Other Side Due to Pitfalls

Crater of the Smaller and Less Active Volcano is Turning into a Garbage Dump - Unfortunate!

The Smaller, Less Active, but more Picturesque Chandragup with Arabian Sea in the Background

High Altitude Climbers - Pun Intended

Setting-up the Campsite

A Camping Night is Incomplete without BBQ

Sun Rising from the Desert Horizon

Hindu Yatris Flocking to Summit the Revered Chandragup

A Young Yatri Observing Other Pilgrims

Some Yatirs Even Made it from India

The Newly Setup Shiv Mandir at Chandragup Foothill

The Virgin Sapat Beach Behind Sand Dunes

Probably a Dog Skull at Sapat Beach