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The Hyderabad which fascinates me is the one that once was, not the one that is now.

It’s only when you look closely and cross the thin portals into the glorious Hyderabad of before that you realise what this city truly holds behind its current facade.

Way back in 2004 I learnt about these old tombs in the city through a friend. Obviously, I was more interested in their obscurity then.

Explore: The Talpur tombs

It took me quite a few years to finally visit the place — January of 2012, to be precise.

I have been a frequent visitor since.

The tombs are located adjacent to the Jail Road in Hyderabad. Though there’s a board placed at the start of the lane which leads to the complex, it is becoming increasingly easy to miss it with all those banners people keep pasting over it.

Upon entering the lane, there is a metallic gate right up front. A hundred steps or so and you’ll be standing next to it.

A board on the right placed by the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan will confirm that you have indeed reached the complex of the Tombs of Talpur Mirs.

The Talpur Mir tombs are commonly known as Kubbay (Sindhi for tombs). Once inside, you’ll see two giant tombs, and a few smaller ones. There are some other graves too without any sort of covering. Sadly, there are no names marking any of these graves.

The Talpur family has hired a caretaker who supposedly maintains the complex.

Used by local youngsters to play cricket during the day, and by drug addicts and drifters for resting in the night, the complex lies in ruins.

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The tombs that were once complete have fallen into a state of complete disrepair over the years. However, with the appointment of the caretaker, the complex is only open till 4pm for visitors. This has at least curbed the vandalisation.

Talpur Mirs started there rule here, after they defeated the Kalhora dynasty in the battle of Halani. The conflict finally came to an end after Mughal emperor Akbar Shah II issued a firman (order) in year 1783. The firman declared that Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur was the new Nawab of Sindh.

The end of the Talpur reign arrived when they lost the battle of Miani in the year 1843 against the British forces, led by General Charles James Napier.

The tombs reflect the distinct architecture associated with Sindh in those days. The color and the shape of the domes and everything else appear to be in perfect harmony. Quranic carvings on the walls and on the graves leave lasting impressions on the mind long after.

Some of the tombs also carry striking sculptures on them.

However, once inside the tombs, you’ll quickly realise the extent of the decay. The walls appear to crumble and disintegrate at the slightest touch.

The tombs tell a wondrous tale, one of historic resilience.

They speak quietly of all that has evolved around them. They tell all that they have witnessed.

It is important for us to realise the worth of our heritage, and how recklessly we’ve been handling it for this long.

A lot of us are even willing to forget. The Pakistani authorities and citizens alike need to ascertain that we don’t by restoring the complex.

Let us not move into the future without ensuring that the past is realised.

The tombs in 1900. — Photo courtesy of the British Library Archives
The tombs in 1900. — Photo courtesy of the British Library Archives