World's largest fort - Ranikot, Pakistan

Shaheen

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,566
Sweden
Impressive structure. Any background info on who built this and against what threat?
 
Dec 2015
518
Newburg, Missouri
Awesome! Bleak landscape! Not worth defending! So, a frontier fort, I guess.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,374
Italy, Lago Maggiore
It's rare I use the word "WOW" [I consider it something similar to a symptom of a bit of mind insanity ...], but now it's the time:

WOW!

Now, a part the sheep, what were they going to defend with so impressive fortifications?
 
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Feb 2015
2,038
UK
Okay guy's I guess this needs some context. Ranikot is not one single structure but lots of walls, forts etc all part of elaborate complex to secure the entrance to the valley and create a bubble in the middle which effectively controls east west movement from the high Baloch plateau on the way from Iran to the fertile Indus River basin in Sindh province of what is now Pakistan. It could be used as refuge or blocking incoming force from both directions. Have look at the map below to get the strategic horizon.





Below is a closer look at the location. There is north south mountain range which acts as a barrier to any east west movement. Along the mountain range there are gaps. Ranikot stands as a sentinel on one of the major breaks in the mountain range.





Below is overview. The red lines designate the proximate line of the fortified wall. On the east you have between (1) and (3) the entrance gates at the valley floor at (2) where the main road or track enters the complex. At (4) you have a fort in middle of the valley with a small stream flowing by providing fresh water in what is arid land. At (5) you have another huge fort almost on the crest of the mountain spur on the west side.




Main entrance at (2)





Main entrance at (2) with walls on the mountain crests on both sides (1) and (3) with fort visible beyond at (4)






The fort (4) in the middle of the valley







On the western side. Huge fort on the crest of the hill (5) with the fort in the valley (4) visible below.









Those who want to "fly" over the sight please

click > https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Ranikot+Fort+Wall,+Pakistan/@25.8844673,67.9324973,163m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x394b13ddf1648d55:0xef1474dce3f103ed?hl=en

or click > https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Ranikot+Fort+Wall,+Pakistan/@25.8629751,67.90576,520m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x394b13ddf1648d55:0xef1474dce3f103ed?hl=en



It's obvious no single ruler built this. There appears to have been fortifications going back centuries. Over time it has been built up with the last major input having been in 1790-1810 by the Mirs of Sindh. Mirs is related to Emir or ruler. Sindh in the past has been mostly indepandent kingdom going back to days when it was 20th satrapy of Archaemenid Persia called "Hendush" by Persians on account of River Indus. Alexander the Great would have moved just south of this point on his way from the Indus Valley to Gedrosia. Today Sindh is one of the four provinces of Pakistan.

The compex is great example of nature being used in order to create a defence complex. By building walls, forts over and around hills a natural rampart has been created. However all this would prove useless when the British attacked from the east through the Thar desert.

The Mirs of Talpur lost their kingdom to the British when a force led by Sir Charles Napier invaded their land and at the battle of Miani they were defeated in 1843. In 1947 Sindh province became the first to elect to join the federation of Pakistan as the British Raj came to end.

Source > Battle of Miani | Sind-British conflict | Britannica.com


Battle of Meanee, (17th February 1843) by George Jones. Conquest of Sindh.​

 
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Dec 2011
40
India
Sounds interesting, but somehow did not found enough sources to prove that it is largest fort of world.

I know these two sources below are not much sufficient either. But no where they mention Ranikot. Another important aspect is Fort technology is of pre 14th century. So majority of forts which were built world over date back prior to it.

The architecture of the fort is not substantially medieval, specially looking into the region of Sindh. As region of Sindh was ;agely influenced by the architecture of Rajputana.

Its well known Fort architecture of Rajputana, surpassed the regional history from downsouth of Chenab till the Indus river estuary in Gulf of Kutch and Sindh.



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Feb 2015
2,038
UK
To appreciate the size please have a look at the Google Earth imagery below. Between the highlands of the Baloch Plateau extending further into Iran on the west and the fertile valley of the Indus River there is a natural amphitheatre which is fortified by Ranikot. Multiple forts line the crest of hills with the wall extending all around barring the north where the cliffs provide protection.







The image below helps to understand partly why the location is strategic. Maurauding horsemen from the Baloch/Iranian highlands had since ancient times descended on the rich fertile Indus River tract (similar to Nile) which had been the location of Indus Valley Civilization. Mohenjo Daro in fact is just further east on the fertile floodplain of the Indus. Ranikot effectively plugged that gap and restricted west east movement through the Mohan Gate and Sann Gate.

The image below also shows how the Indus Valley region in fact is arid to semi arid and almost entirely dependant on the River Indus floodplain for agriculture. On both sides of the rich fertile floodplain vast deserts stretch out into the horizon.

All this would prove futile when the British arrived not from the west but from east of the Indus River. Beyond the Indus looking east towards the horizon you can see Thar Desert. That's the direction from where Sir Charles Napier came and defeated the Mirs of Talpur. Sindh came under British rule in 1843 until freedom in 1947.





As regards size I think I need not say much. You can appreciate the scale from the Google Earth imagery. This was vast undertaking. All that effort would go to waste.
 
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