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After a much needed kip I had a long trail out directed by compass through streets swarming with activity until I found my goal, the mighty Indus River. On reaching a series of major bridges the armed sentries were quick to warn me not to take photos, but they wanted their snap taken all the same. I was very fortunate to stumble upon what I could only presume was a wedding celebration here, a few young men danced wildly to a hypnotic drum ensemble as many women in bright saris looked on. The river flowed serenly, almost imperceptibly between wide mudflats, many of which had been harnessed for cultivation. Sukkur itself was an important irrigation centre and the crops had been sown in alternating ranks of greenery sheltered behind lines of wheat. Massive lumbering water buffalo and birds of prey with a very large wing span overhead and occasional rudimentary punts crossing the river completed the scene. The air was full of songbirds too, quite idyllic. Bukhar Island, meaning "The Dawn" had been an important centre in ancient Sindh, and it was here right by the bridges that I came across the scant remains of a 7th century fort and curious locals. A walk back along the river took me through a really poor manky neighbourhood where bare arsed kids covered in filth played amongst the litter and cattle strewn wasteground. A woman washed her pots out onto the mudflats at the point where her "yard' fell away into them and I found boatbuilders busy constructing more of the small waggle paddle boats I had already seen. They vaguely resembled shoes with their flat but notched undersurface, the side beams tacked on with large headed nails like studs. They always made the effort to carve flower motifs into the wood and the borders were sometimes similarly decorated. As an oarsman dropped off his load of 2 passengers carrying heavy sacks across their shoulders, birds of prey tangled with each other overhead and random breaks in the water could only have been due to a fantastic surprise, the elusive and endangered Indus River dolphin.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Pakistan

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