Ranikot Fort (also known as Rannikot) is a historical Talpur fort near Sann, Jamshoro District, Sindh. Qila Ranikot Fort is also known as the Great Wall of Sindh and is considered to be the largest fort in the world with a circumference of approximately 32 kilometers (20 mi). The walls of the fortress have been compared to the Great Wall of China.
The site was nominated in 1993 by the Pakistan National Commission for UNESCO World Heritage status and has been on the provisional list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since then. The fort is listed as a historic site under the Antiquities Act 1975 and its subsequent amendments and is protected.
Location of Qila Ranikot Fort
Ranikot Fort is 90 kilometers (56 mi) north of Hyderabad on the Indus Highway (N55). There is also easy access about an hour’s drive from Karachi to Sann along the Indus Highway. A diversion route, starting a short distance from Sann, the nearest town, leads to the fort along a rough 21 km long road and reaches the eastern gate of the fort, known as Sann Gate.
The rampart of the gigantic Rani Kot fort is 35 km long and connects barren hills. The fortress was built in the first quarter of the 19th century. The castle wall, which follows the natural contours of the hill, has fixed semicircular bastions at intervals. A fortification wall runs from three sides of the area, on the northern side the high peaks of higher hills serve as a wall.
The small fort, about 5-6 miles from the main gate, seems to have been the royal residence for the ruling Mir family. The double-winged gate lies to the south of the fortress. Inside the gate are two niches decorated with floral designs and carved stones. The entire architecture of the fort is limited to stone and lime.
About Ranikot Fort
Ranikot Fort, a historic fort built by the Pakistani Talpur dynasty, is also known as the Great Wall of Sindh and is considered the largest fort in the world. Measuring 20 miles in circumference, the fortifications have been compared to the Great Wall of China.
In 1993, Ranikot Fort was nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status.
History of Ranikot Fort
The great fort was built under the Talpurs during the reign of Prime Minister Nawab Wali Muhammed Leghari in the 17th century. The vast structure was strengthened around 1812 at a massive cost of 1.2 million rupees and formed the last capital of the Amirs of Sindh before they were brought under the control of the British Empire who invaded the fort.
Ranikot Fort today
This huge fort connects several bleak mountains in the Kirthar Hills and is interspersed with several bastions surrounding a central smaller fort known as Miri Fort. Miri Fort once served as the palace of the Mir royal family.
Today, there is a well-preserved Sann Gate that can be climbed to the top of the fort for a beautiful view of the surrounding area. As you wander around, don’t forget to also look out for the beautiful alcoves, carved with floral designs.
Arrival at the Ranikot Fort
Ranikot Fort is located at 56 miles north of Hyderabad on the Indus Highway (N55). Or you can take the easy access route from Karachi to Sann via the highway. The fort is located in the Kirthar National Park, Pakistan’s second-largest national park.
At first glance, the sprawling Ranikot Fort near Jamshoro in Sindh may look like a dilapidated structure atop a hilly area with crumbling stone walls stretching as far as the eye can see. However, this great fort is much more than just another historical military stronghold in a region that saw several invasions and battles before finally becoming part of the sovereign state of Pakistan.
Ranikot Fort has a somewhat mysterious history, meaning no one is sure why it was built in the first place. Of course, there are several local legends associated with this historical site in Sindh, which is fast becoming one of the most popular tourist attractions in Pakistan, but the secret origin story, awe-inspiring structure, and peaceful location of this mysterious fort certainly add to its charm.
The fort is also known as the Great Wall of Sindh, due to its resemblance to the Great Wall of China. However, unlike its well-maintained and extremely popular Chinese counterpart, Ranikot Fort has only now started attracting the attention of tourists, historians, and adventure seekers in Pakistan.
Moreover, Ranikot is considered to be the largest fort in Pakistan due to its entire circumference of about 32 kilometers. In fact, it is one of the largest forts in the world and has been on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage List since the 1990s. Therefore, some also refer to this fort as the Great Wall of Pakistan.
Ranikot Fort, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Sindh, is protected as a historical site under the Antiquities Act, of 1975.
Here are some details about the mysterious Ranikot fort in Sindh.
LOCATION OF RANIKOT FORT
If you visit this historical place from Karachi, you will have to take the well-paved Karachi-Hyderabad highway, more commonly known as M-9. It will take you about 1.5 hours to travel through Jamshoro Toll Plaza. After that, you have to turn to Indus Highway (N-55) and drive another hour and a half to reach Ranikot Fort Road.
Soon you will come across a rusty sign announcing that the fort is only 30 kilometers ahead. Just a few minutes later you will arrive in the town of Meeri. Here you can leave the car and cover the rest of the distance on foot. The journey to the fortress will take you about half an hour.
Ranikot Fort takes just over 3 hours to visit Karachi, making it the perfect weekend getaway for those living in the City of Lights. The distance from Hyderabad to Ranikot Fort is even shorter.
Distance of Ranikot Fort from Karachi: Approximately 261 kilometers via Karachi-Hyderabad Highway, and Indus Highway.
Distance of Ranikot Fort from Hyderabad: Approximately 120 kilometers via Indus Highway and Ranikot Fort Road.
HISTORY OF RANIKOT FORT
The history of Ranikot Fort in Sindh is largely shrouded in mystery. Initially, historians believe that the fortified complex was built during the Sasanian, Scythian, or Parthian Empire. However, recent evidence has led archaeologists to believe that the fort dates back to the first quarter of the 19th century and was built by the Talpur Mirs who once ruled the region. Although some of the structures present inside the great fort of Ranikot are believed to predate the actual complex.
Although not much has been written about the Ranikot fort in Sindh, it is said that the Mirs commissioned this giant fort to serve as a military fort and shelter them in case British forces took over the area. Records indicate that the fort was built under the supervision of Nawab Wali Mohammad Khan Leghari in 1819.
It is said that the British Empire took over Sindh and subsequently Ranikot Fort before the construction was completed.
FEATURES OF RANIKOT FORT
The sprawling fort of Ranikot is located in a hilly area and is surrounded by fortified walls on three sides. The historical complex consists of three relatively smaller forts namely Meeri Kot, Shergeh, and Mohan Kot, each located at some distance from the other. The fort is built in a sinuous formation and has four entrance gates, some of which are preserved and in good condition.
However, if you do visit the site, we recommend that you enter the fort complex through the Mohan or Sann Gate, the latter of which will take you to Meeri Kot, which was supposed to serve as the royal residence of the Mirs. The other two gates are called Amri Gate and Shah Peeri Gate.
While travelers can easily explore Meeri Kot on their way to Ranikot Fort, you will need to dedicate a full day to visit Shergeh, located in the mountains of the Kirthar range. There are also three ancient cemeteries in the complex along with several watch towers, bastions, and smaller forts.
The walls and other structures in the magnificent Ranikot Fort are characterized by intricate carvings and floral decorations. Additionally, the fort connects several hills in the Kirthar range and measures about 31 kilometers in length.
Ranikot Fort has become one of the most famous forts in Pakistan over the past few years and attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists. Although the weather around the Ranikot Fort remains dry for most of the year and the surroundings of the fort are mostly barren, the view of the enchanting landscape from the top of the fortifications is simply breathtaking. This place is also perfect for photography.
Moreover, a number of local tour groups have started touting Ranikot Fort as a perfect destination for day trips from Karachi, offering travelers a range of activities such as musical evenings, camping, and bonfires.