Umerkot - most populated Hindu city in Pakistan (Sindh)
Umerkot, also known as Amarkot, is situated at a distance of 308 km from Karachi and is accessible via Mirpur Khas on the National Highway N-120. Umerkot has its importance due to the birthplace of Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, in Umerkot Fort. It has majority of non-Muslim population in Pakistan.
Umerkot district is bounded by Mirpur Khas, Tharparkar, and Sanghar districts. It also has a few kilometers boundary with India with Rajasthan with one of the famous crossing between India and Pakistan called Khokhropar border. The Mirpur Khas - Umerkot road N-120 runs across the center of the town and leads toward the Khokhropar border between India and Pakistan. It is also connected with railway track that can also be used to cross Indian border. Khokhrapar Railway station was established by the British in 1916 and used to transport between Hyderabad Pakistan and Ahmedabad India. After 1947, it was the last railway station in Pakistan on Hyderabad Pakistan - Jodhpur India railway line. Recently it is an active railway station between India and Pakistan for customs and immigration.
The name of the region is derived after a local ruler of Sindh Umer Soomro of the Umar Marvi story. Umar Marvi is a famous folktale from Sindh. There was a village girl called Marvi Maraich who abducted by the ruler of Amarkot named as Umar. He wanted to marry her. She was imprisoned in the Umerkot Fort for seven years upon her refusal, as she preferred to live simple life instead of a queen in the palace. She became a symbol of love with her soil and homeland.
Umerkot was ruled by the Sodha Rajput, a clan of Hindu Rajputs during the medieval period. Rans Parshad, the ruler of Umarkot, gave refuge to Humayun, the second Mughal Emporer when he was ousted by Sher Shah Suri. His son Akbar, who was the third Mughal Emporer, was born in the Umarkot Fort. Umarkot was a part of Jodhpur State in 1779 and it was handed over to the British in 1843 by Jodhpur ruler to reduce the tribute imposed on Jodhpur State. It was a princely state before 1947 and called Amarkot at that time. Umerkot is the only district in Pakistan where more than 52% population is Hindu. The Umarkot Shiv Mandir is one of the oldest and sacred temples in the Sindh province.
Most of the land of Umerkot is part of the Thar Desert but some part of its land is irrigated with the Nara Canal and produce various crops such as wheat, cotton, and sugarcane. The other areas of the Thar Desert are barren and just moving sand dunes, but it is homeland for various wild animals living in desert areas.
Amarkot Fort is located near the National Highway N-120 in the Umerkot district. It was the ruling place of the Sodha Rajputs of Parmar Dynasty. It was built in 11th century by Rana Amar Singh Sodha. It is also a birth place of Akbar, a powerful ruler of the Mughal Empire. The place was on open area that is now marked a small pavilion in the fort. The fort was still under the influence of Rana family living in the Umerkot district.
Umarkot Shiv Mandir is located near Rana Jaageer Goth in the Umarkot district. It was oldest Hindu temple in Sindh and considered as most sacred Hindu place in Sindh. Three-days festival, known as Maha Shivaratri, is conducted annually when thousands of Hindus from Sindh provinces come here to participate in that event. It is one of the biggest Hindu festivals in the country.
The weather of Umerkot district is extreme hot in the summer seasons, whereas it becomes moderate cool and pleasant in winters. It also receives negligible amount of rainfalls in the monsoon period.