Chaukandi Tombs, Karachi

15 Jan

Tombs at Chaukundi Graveyard- Karachi Chaukundi tombs are situated at a distance of 29 km (18 miles) in the east on N-5 National Highway near Landhi Town, Karachi. The Chaukhandi tombs are remarkable for the elaboration and exquisite stone carving. The style of graves architecture is typical, which only exists in Sindh. That style is found no where else in the Islamic countries.

That type of construction of graveyard is unique due to its orientation from south to north. The graves are constructed in buff sandstone. The carved decoration’ presents exquisite craftsmanship. Those graves are constructed either as single graves or in a group. More or less a number of eight graves had been raised on a single common platform.

Structurally, primary sarcophagus has six vertical slabs, with two long slabs standing on each side of the grave covering the length of the body and the remaining two vertical slabs covering the head and foot side. All of those six slabs are covered by a second sarcophagus consisting of six more vertical slabs similarly. But, in size, it gives the grave a pyramid shape. The upper (second sarcophagus) is further covered with four or five horizontal slabs and the topmost (third) sarcophagus is set vertically with its northern end carved into a knob known as a ‘crown’ or turban. The tombs are embellished besides geometrical designs and motifs, with figural representations such as mounted horsemen, hunting scenes, arms, jewellery etc.

There are various opinions as to the meaning of the word Chaukhandi. Some scholars believed that Chaukhandi is the name of a place. Others take it to be an architectural term. On the type site of ‘Chaukhandi’, there is the tomb of Jam Murid bin Hail, which contains the word ‘Chaukhandi’, after the name of the deceased, which provides sufficient witness of that place. Banerji visited the Chaukhandi graveyard in 1920. He referred it as “the little village Chaukhandi”. According to Sindhi language, ‘Chaow’ means ‘four’ and ‘Kundi’ means ‘corner’. Chaukhandi thus refers to the four corners (angles) construction, supporting the umbrella shaped dome over the tomb and would apply to all tombs having the same construction. However, all the tombs covered with umbrella shaped domes or with a rectangular pavilion at Chaukhandi have more than four pillars or columns – an angular building construction.

In year 1922, the Chowkundi tombs near Landhi were brought with the pale of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904.

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