KARACHI: If you happen to travel on highway N55, commonly referred to as Indus Highway, you should take pride in the fact that you are treading on the ancient route of the mighty River Indus itself.
Prior to the construction of railway networks, water was central to long-distance travel. Journeys were undertaken preferably through or near water. Merchant vessels anchored in the Indus delta would offload goods, which would then be navigated up the river on barges.
Thus, the majority of the oldest settlements of Sindh are found along the banks of the Indus. The river has changed course through the centuries, shifting to its current route in approximately 1756-1758.
In his book Petroglyphs in the Khirthar, historian and Sindhologist Badar Abro shares details of his discovery of the first petroglyphs in the in the Khirthar Range and the ancient civilisations that dwelled on this land.
“The region encompassing Sehwan, and districts Dadu, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Larkana, Shikarpur and Jacobabad, was known in its entirety as ‘Buddhia’ during the reign of Ashoka from approximately 250BC, as well as during Kushan rule, in the first century AD,” Abro told The Express Tribune. “I am amazed by the number of Buddhist stupas in this region - at Moen Jo Daro, Kandhra, Jhokar, and so on. Prior to 250BC, this region was part of Alexander’s empire and was known as Mousikanos (extending from Rohri and Aurore, all the way to Bahawalpur) and Oxykanos [the Larkana region].”
As Abro delves deeper into the ancient relics and traces of civilisations that he uncovered, he comes across as the Indiana Jones of Sindh. “This is merely an introduction to these sites of interest,” he said, smiling. “It is important to visit these places for oneself - what I call a ‘meeting’ with these sites. One gets acquainted with them like one would with a person.”
The Express Tribune presents below a roadmap of the ancient highway but Abro recommends those living in the cities to take this drive and seek adventures in hidden treasures lying right under their noses.