Fortress in no man’s land: Lakhpat

A 7 km wide abandoned fortress on the mouth of Kori Creek which spreads its shores and vastness upto the Pakistan border. At the first looks it seems to have been a strategic trading centre and port which unfortunately was deserted after the 1819 earthquake, when the Sindhu river changed its course rendering the port town redundant.

Our driver was goading us whether we should visit this fortress, probably he did not want to admit himself that he is a first time visitor. Our hunch was cleared when he accompanied us to take photographs and selfie in the background of fortress.
Historically this fortress was a important trading center between Gujarat and Sind Province of the current Pakistan. Fateh Muhammed in 1801 enlarged an existing fortress into a massive one. Later Rao of Cutch captured the territory in war. In 1809 Mohim Miyan took control of the fortress. In 1818 the fortress turned into a prosperous rice trading centre generating 8 lakhs revenue. However the history changed course with a massive earthquake when a natural dam Allabund was formed with river Indus changing course. This left the port deserted with mercantile activity coming to a standstill. The population became sparse till the area became a ghost town. During the partition most of the hindus from Pakistan started migration through this corridor in the darkness of the vast desert sands.

Two important landmark buildings inside the fortress are tomb of Pir Ghaus Mohammed and Lakhpat Gurudwara. The conical shaped Tomb is built by the saints brother Bava Mia from the contributions made by the devotees of the Sufi saint who was half hindu and half muslim. The saint was supposed to have possessed miraculous powers healing the sick and downtrodden. The tomb contains passages from Quran and left unfinished. The tank water is supposed to possess healing power.
Guru Nanak resided at Lakhpath fortress before proceeding to Mecca. He has left behind his footwear and palkhi for devotees to worship. This site bore the brunt of the earthquake in 2001 and it was restored being a protected monument by the archaeology department. There is Langar inside the gurudwara for pilgrims to enjoy a decent meal.

There a very few residents inside the fortress, all ruined buildings leave an impression of the abandoned ghost village, one can see an old dargah and temple too. Probably the Chir Bhatti phenomenon or dancing lights can also be seen during clear nights. The skies are clear during night times but it has an hazy atmosphere, during day probably due to thermal and cement plants located around the vicinity
Recent satellite imaging studies have shown that creeks of the Kori mouth has a hidden pathway to river Indus flowing backwards towards Nalsarovar.
Lakhpat is located around 110 kms from Bhuj town enroute one can visit the Mataji shrine which one of the most delicious meal in the afternoon for all the devotees, which is 70 kms away from the main town. Some of the scenes of Raes film is supposed to be shot in this locale along with Refugee movie which showcases the border village of Pakistan. The desolate looks of this place reminds one of smugglers den or a relic for shady acitivities. The place is well protected by BSF patrolling periodically considering its strategic importance.

Lakhpat will definitely recapture its pristine glory if the festival of Rann is extended to cover this fortress in the packages offered.  One can check out whether the GSRTC operates services to Narayan Sarovar via Lakhpat for economical options.

ack : Picture from Wiki of Gurudwara/


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