Makli Necropolis – The Largest Funerary Site in the World
This post sheds light on Makli Necropolis, the largest funerary site in the world which is located in present-day Pakistan.
Spread over 10 kilometers, Maki Necropolis is the largest funerary site in the world. It is located near the city of Thatta in the Sindh province of Pakistan with 0.5 to 1 million tombs built between the 14th – 18th centuries. The site hosts tombs of rulers, Sufi saints, celebrated scholars, etc. that are of great architectural importance. Because of its archeological significance, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared the Makli necropolis as its World Heritage site in 1981.
How the site came to be known as Makli?
One of the great Sufi saints of Sindh, Sheikh Hamad Jamali is said to have named the site ‘Makli’ which meant little Makkah. He named the site Makli after he heard a story of a pilgrim who is said to have experienced a spiritual ecstasy at the site. During his ecstatic condition, the pilgrim is said to have declared the site Makkah for him.
How did the site start to be used as a burial site?
The Sufi saint, Sheikh Hamad Jamali was buried at Makli where he used to live in a Khanqa he had established in his last days. Jam Tamachi, a 14-century ruler of the Samma dynasty of Thatta venerated the saint and was interred near the saint as per his will thus setting the tradition of using Makli as a royal funerary site for centuries to come.
What were different dynasties that used Makli as a funerary site?
Thatta was the capital of three successive dynasties that used Makli as their funerary site which included Samma (1335-1520), Arghun (1520-1555), and Tarkhan (1555-1665) followed by Mughals who left their footprints as they contributed to the funerary architecture at the site and Thatta.
What is the historical significance of Makli?
Makli has a great historical significance as it hosts the biggest necropolis in the world with a number of architectural monuments. It contains four different schools of architecture reflecting an art using stone to brick and glaze. The funerary monuments reflecting a syncretic architecture of Hindu, Islamic, and Persian styles. Mughals as the last of the rulers, contributed to architectural style when they were ruling Thatta through their governors. The most prominent monument that still exists with its all beauty and splendor is the Shah Jahan Mosque, constructed in the latter half of the seventeenth century.