Magsi Monuments of Balochistan

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro on grand tombs that are now at the mercy of neglect and robbers

Magsi Monuments of Balochistan
Like other provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan also abounds in archaeological and historical heritage sites across a number of districts.

Many tombs dot the plains of the Kacchi district: the Raisani tombs at Mithri, the tombs of Rinds at Shoran, the tombs of Mian Ghulam Muhammad and his disciple Haji Abdur Rahim at Bhag, dilapidated tombs near Gandava, tombs of Kalhora and Syed nobles at Fatehpur, tombs of Lasharis at Gajan and tombs of Magsis at various places in Jhal Magsi.

Nevertheless, the tombs of the Magsi chiefs at old Jhal, also known as Khanpur, are noted for their erstwhile grandeur and beauty – though most of the tombs have lost their original beauty.

Tomb of a Magsi noble at Khanpur

The tombs of the Magsi chiefs at old Jhal are unique monuments of the past. The town of old Jhal, also known as Khanpur, is believed to have been founded by a Magsi chief. The environs around the newly founded town were under the dominion of Lashari chiefs. The Magsi chiefs snatched the area from the Lasharis after a decisive battle.

Today, the old Jhal is nothing but a site of ruins. The fort that once dominated the landscape of town is in shambles and most of its ramparts have fallen apart. The mosque located inside the ruined fort has crumbled into pieces. Unfortunately, nobody has ever taken pains to restore the mosque to its original beauty.

At a mere walking distance from the fort are located four dilapidated and derelict mausoleums of Magsi chiefs, crying out for renovation. Probably these structures might belong to earlier chiefs and rulers of the Magsi tribe namely Bhoot Khan IV, Ahmed Khan I, Gohram Khan II, Jaffar Khan I and others. All of the tombs are fast falling to pieces. One of the imposing tombs, though in ruins, is built on a podium and is square in shape. It faces an eastern direction. The dome that appears to have rested on the octagonal drum has partially caved in, thus exposing the interior to sunlight and rain. This tomb is bigger than adjoining tombs in the necropolis and conspicuous from a distance. This tomb of the Magsi chief resembles the tomb of Taj Muhammad Mirozai at Shoran in Kacchi. The only line of difference that one can draw between the both structures is the size of the tomb of Taj Muhammad Mirozai. Comparatively, the tomb of Mir Taj Muhammad is bigger than the tomb of the Magsi chief.

Crumbling Magsi monumnets

Old Jhal Magsi or Khanpur was an important town during the reign of the Kalhoras. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb bestowed the Derajat, of which Jhal Magsi was part, upon Mian Yar Muahammad Kalhoro in 1701 AD and thus he was made governor. He laid the foundation of his capital near Khudabad. He was responsible for maintaining law and order in the area by deputing some of his soldiers at the various passes in Kacchi. During the rule of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro, the Derajat was part of Sindh. He had appointed one of his trusted generals Murad Kaleri as governor of Gandava – of which old Jhal Magsi was part.

The landscape of Gandava is dotted with the tombs of those soldiers and generals who served the Kalhora army.

Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro, (1718-1753) killed Mir Abdullah Khan, the Khan of Kalat, in the battle of Kacchi at Jandrihar near Sanni. The tombs of Murad Kaleri and Shah Buhar, two eminent nobles of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro, which dominated the landscape of Gandava, were later razed to ground by the Khan of Kalat when Sibi and Kachhi plains were given back to the Khan of Kalat as compensation for blood (khoonbha) by Nader Shah of Iran in 1740. The remains of both the tombs can still be seen  near Gandava town. Close to the ruins of the tombs of Shah Buhar and Murad Kaleri are located two crumbling tombs of Abdul Qadir Junejo and another noble who served the Khan of Kalat. It is believed that both the tombs were built by Mir Nasir Muhammad Nuri.
Mughal emperor Aurangzeb bestowed the Derajat, of which Jhal Magsi was part, upon Mian Yar Muahammad Kalhoro in 1701

Khanpur is located about 10 km from Gandava in Jhal Magsi district where there are four tombs of Magsi chiefs, all of which are fast falling to pieces. Amongst these, one tomb is located to the northeast of the necropolis, built on a platform. The plaster of the tomb has completely come off. It seems that the tomb was built by adopting the exposed brick style technology, in which brick ornamentation imparts beauty to the structure – a style that was prevalent in eighteenth century in many of the districts of Balochistan.

Another tomb in the necropolis was also built in same pattern of the exposed brick style. This tomb is located south of the previous one and is in an appalling condition. The dome of the tomb has caved in. Some avaricious people have unearthed the graves, believing that the treasure is hidden underneath.

Southwest of this tomb is another structure of Magsi chief which is erected on a raised platform. The dome of this tomb has also collapsed thus exposing the interior paintings to sunlight and rainwater. Much of the paintings which decorated the interior surface of the tomb is in bad state of preservation.

All the Magsi monuments are in desperate need of renovation. The authorities concerned must make serious efforts to save this neglected heritage from further damage and destruction.

The author is an anthropologist. He may be contacted at:

The author is an anthropologist. He tweets at: @Kalhorozulfiqar