Tombs of Johi

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro on the resting places of warriors who served the Kalhora dynasty and were honoured for it

Tombs of Johi
Johi, a tehsil of Dadu district, is host to a number of archaeological and historical sites. Almost every village boasts a building of historical significance, thus carrying the name and fame of the builder. Various tombs built during the Kalhora (1700-1783) and Talpur (1783-1843) periods dot the landscape of Johi. However, the Kalhora period increasingly witnessed an evolution in tomb construction in the 18th century. They built tombs to commemorate the heroism and chivalry of their soldiers and generals. The following tombs in Johi tehsil are believed to have been built during the Kalhora period: the tomb of Gaji Shah, the tomb of Magan Faqir Laghari, the tomb Ghazi Khan Khoso, the tomb of Meeran Shah Solangi, the tomb of Yaro Faqir Redar (shepherd), the tomb of Bakhar Jamali, the tomb of Alam Faqir Lund, the tomb of Suleman Faqir Lund, the tomb of Mureed Faqir Jamali, the tomb of Bakhshu Jamali, the tomb of Shah Ali Laghari, the tomb of Shadman Leghari, the tomb of Pahar Khan Leghari, the tomb of Jaro Khan Leghari, the tomb pavilion of Ismail Faqir Nizamani and many more.

Nevertheless, it is tombstones and stone canopies that are more prominent here - and they extensively grace the landscape of Johi. Among these the tombstones of the Nuhanis and Rustamanis. Canopies or Chattris of Khosas are quite prominent. Locally these tombs are either called “Pathar Jun  Qabrun” (tombstones), “Chatteyun” (stone canopies) or “Rumi Qabrun” (Roman graves).

Tomb of Shahdad Khoso at Chhini

The tombstones of the Nuhani tribe are located at Wahi Baradi village close to Drigh Bala, a village noted for Talpur tombs. There are four tombstones which lie in a pathetic condition. All the tombstones belong to the Nuhani tribe. One of the tombstones which lie close to bank of Nai Gaj bears the inscription of Umar Yousaf. It is decorated with floral and geometric designs.

Just at walking distance from the tombstones of Umar Yousaf are three other tombstones of the Nuhanis. Unfortunately, these cenotaphs also lie in applying condition. These tombstones belong to a child, a man and a woman respectively. The tombstone of the child is ornately carved.

Stone carved graves on the right bank of Nai Nali, Wahi Pandhi

Nearby is the tombstone of Umar Yousaf. It is amazing that this cenotaph also carries the same name. It is believed that this tombstone belongs to the younger Umar Yousaf. The tombstone is taller than the tombstone of Umar Yousaf the elder. The lower casket of the tombstone carries floral designs. Three covering slabs are undecorated, whereas the gravestone is taller than the neighbouring tombstones and richly engraved.

Close to this cenotaph is the tombstone of Gohar Bibi who was the wife of Umar Yousaf the younger. The tombstone is also elaborately carved, thus indicating the aesthetic and taste of the builder. The people of the Babar tribe look after these tombstones. They have placed cloth covers on these tombstones, believing that they were either the soldiers or generals of the Kalhora army.

Such tombstones locally called “Rumi” tombs are located on the right bank of Nai Nali as well. There are seven Rumi graves located in the necropolis. All the Rumi graves are decorated with geometric designs. One of the Rumi graves bears the name of Notak Yousaf. One can safely argue that these Rumi graves belong to people from a Baloch tribe – either belong Nuhanis or Lasharis.

Stone carved grave at Rustamani Sori

It is believed that the final clash between the Rinds and the Lasharis took place at Nai Nali hill stream. Those Lasharis who died in the battle were buried in various parts of Johi. It is likely that some dignitaries of the Lashari tribe were buried on the bank of the Nali hill stream. The second possibility is that they may belong to the Nuhani tribe. Two encounters between the Kalhoras and the Mughals took place inside the Nali hill stream where the fort of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro was located. In that battle, the Nuhanis, who were the disciples of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro, died fighting bravely. This battle took place in 1668. Later on, tombstones were erected to commemorate their heroism.

A stone carved grave is located near Rustamani Sori, now venerated by the local community. Apart from this there is an impressive stone carved grave at Potho village in Johi. This was possibly erected for Gohram Khan Lashari.

In addition to tombstones, stone canopies also dominate the landscape of Johi. The canopy or Chhatri of Ismail Faqir located on left bank of Haleli river is an impressive structure. It is eight-pillared built in a square plan superimposed by a hemispherical dome with a finial atop. The plaster of the dome has peeled off thus exposing it to further vagaries of weather. The octagonal shafts of the canopy are undecorated whereas the four bracket capitals are ornamented. The chajja (dripstone) and carved kangura (battlement parapet) add beauty to this crumbling canopy. However, some parts of the dripstone and battlement parapet have collapsed. There exists only one grave inside the chattri – which has been vandalized by avaricious people believing that treasure might be hidden underneath.

Besides these, there are three stone canopies at Chhini. All these tomb pavilions belong to the Khosas. Two tomb pavilions have caved in while the third is still in a good condition. These chhatris were erected during the reigns of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro 1719-1753) and Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro (1758-1772). The architectural elements of the collapsed canopies are scattered over the site. An unidentified canopy, which is in rather good condition, still dominates the landscape of the necropolis. This canopy is twelve-pillared and built on a square plan. It is built on a platform. The pillars of the canopy are decorated with floral designs. These are designs that one can observe on various canopies located in the cemeteries of Karachi, Thatta, Sanghar and Matiari districts. The octagonal shafts and capitals of the canopy are decorated with chevron lines and floral designs respectively.

The Khosas were the disciples and soldiers of the Kalhoras. Shahdad Khoso, whose tomb is located in the necropolis was a soldier of Mian Yar Muhammad Kalhoro and Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro. His father Golo Faqir Khoso whose tomb is located about 3 km north of the tomb of Shahdad Khoso was disciple of Mian Nasir Muhammad Kalhoro (1657-1692).

Unfortunately, all the tombstones and stones canopies are crying for renovation. The concerned authorities should arrest any further decay and destruction of the historical heritage and should immediately restore these pieces of fabulous architecture to its past glory.

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

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