Makli-- The City of the Dead

culture   Nov 29, 2018

Deep in the heart of Sindh lies one of the largest necropolises in the world. The massive Makli graveyard, spanning over 10 km and housing an astonishing half a million tombs and graves, is the final resting place of ancient royalty, Sufi saints and scholars from the Samma (1335-1520), Arghun  (1520-1555) and Tarkhan (1555-1665) dynasties.

Walking amongst the graves and the ancient monuments, a testament to the civilisation of Sindh from the 14th to the 18th centuries, is incredibly humbling.

The Makli necropolis lies at a 3 hours’ drive from Karachi. The journey is usually undertaken in air-conditioned vans along the National Highway. It is perfect for students and history enthusiasts eager to explore the rich and diverse culture and architecture of ancient Sindh. Well-informed tour guides are present at all sites.

Since this is a private tour, groups gather at a meeting point of their choice. The journey begins at 6 am, with breakfast provided along the way. It is recommended that visitors carry sunblock, hats and water bottles to make walking around a more pleasant experience (the Sindh sun is intense and it is not recommended that you pass out in a cemetery).

First stop is the Chaukhandi graveyard, a smaller necropolis an hour away from Karachi.  (Also believed by some to be haunted!) It contains sandstone tombs belonging to warriors of Saloch families that had inhabited the area during the 17th and 18th centuries. Sarcophagi with intricately carved designs unique to the Sindhi culture and headstones adorned with Arabic calligraphy are lined around in rows all over the place. The calligraphy on the stone graves in both Chaukhandi and Makli is in the style of the Arabic scripts Naskh and Nastaliq— an expression of the faith of their occupants.

A sarcophagus at Chaukhandi carved in a typically ornate ancient Sindhi style with Arabic calligraphy on the top. Credits: Emmanuel Guddu 


The next stop is the Bhambore museum which houses archaeological finds and artefacts believed by some to be from the ancient port city of Debal. A few scholars claim the city was abandoned around 1250; strolling through the ruins of Bhambore gives you an eerie feeling of being transported into the past. A past of great romance—the tale of the famous lovers of Sindhi folklore, Sassui Punnu, had its origin in Bhambore. Sassui’s grave is also found along the highway to Kech Makran.

From there on it is a 1.5 hour drive to Makli. Before exploring, there’s a lunch of either biryani or fast food to fuel up.


The Makli necropolis is the final home of various cultures that once thrived in ancient Sindh. Its monuments are carved in a fusion of styles of Hindu, Mughal, Persian and Central Asian architecture. Some of the monuments that stand out due to being remarkably preserved are the splendid tombs of the rulers Jam Nizamuddin II (the great Sultan of the Samma dynasty) and of lsa Khan Tarkhan II (a celebrated noble from the Tharkhan dynasty).

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The tomb of Dewan Shurfa Khan, a bureaucrat during the Mughal era, still stands remarkably preserved to this day. Credits: Emmanuel Guddu

Spiritual devotees also frequent the place to pay their respect to the Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ashabi at his tomb. Shuttles, provided for by the Sindh government, make the entire site accessible.

Part of this beautifully constructed archway has stood the rest of time. Credits: Emmanuel Guddu

As evening approaches, it’s time to step out of the past and return to Karachi. After leaving at 5pm, the group arrives back around 8-10pm, depending on the amount of traffic on the way back.

Everyone should pay Makli a visit at least once in their lifetime. To cross it off your bucket list, call FindMyAdventure now at 0333 0596362 and customise your group trip!

To book a tour for a group of 3 people for Rs. 5,500 per head:

For 5 people for Rs.6,500 per head: