History


Manora Island (also known as Manoro), is a group of associated islands of the Pakistani coastline along the Arabian Sea. It is a small peninsula (2.5 km²) located just south of the Port of Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. Manora is connected to the mainland by a 12 kilometer long causeway called the Sandspit. Manora and neighboring islands form a protective barrier between Karachi harbor to the north and the Arabian Sea to the south. The western bay of the harbor contains endangered mangrove forests which border the Sandspit and Manora island.


Manora’s lighthouse is the tallest in the country. It was inaugurated on April 1, 1889 and its light is visible from 20 nautical miles. Hyper-radiant Fresnel lens is used to generate the light reaching this distance. The original lighthouse at the same place was erected in 1851 which was replaced by much taller lighthouse in 1891 with increased traffic reaching Karachi port. The current lighthouse is 91 feet tall. The small protestant church right next to it is called the St Paul’s church. It is much older than the current lighthouse and its roof stands on wooden trusses. The place is locked up and the Karachi Walla could not make his way inside. Too bad. Even the chowkidar’s at the lighthouse were not welcoming. You need to know someone to make your way in. Photography is prohibited. There are some sensitivities which a Karachi Walla like me fails to understand. It is beautiful from inside. Bold paint, design and light adds to the flavor. The swirling staircase gets narrower as you reach closer to the top. The place is really old. The optical setup from good old days is intact and maintained well by KPT. The base on which the giant optical setup rotates is not fueled by a generator but is winded using a key! Move out to the balcony and experience the view. Feel the vastness of Arabian Sea. Turn around and witness the vastness of the city. Its rusty skyline, narrow lanes of Manora town, busy Kemari port, fast moving boats, magnificent oyster rocks. Everything looks tiny, pure and free of trouble. You feel like believing in the city again, drowning all its sorrows in your heart

The Qasim Fort was established in 18th century by the dynasty of Talpur when the Karachi’s port used to do trade with Bahrain and Oman. British stormed the fort in 1839 due to the geographical and strategic placement of Karachi. However, the fort is currently buried under the naval base; the lighthouse is the memorable symbol of the presence of British that was developed in 1889 to help vessels accessing the harbor of Karachi. The history of contemporary Karachi initiates from this fort as on 1stFebruary, 1839, the Wellesley (British Ship), captured off the Manora Island. The castle at Kolachi made surrender without attacking a single shot in 3rd February and this minor-ordinary fishing village passed the most critical moment in its life.

Qasim Fort is considered to be one of the most attractive places of Karachi. It is very ancient as before the event of Pakistan Independence. It enhances the beauty of Karachi.

The fort consists of a light house which is very enormous. The presence of cannon at fort makes the whole place more charming. The cannon have never been utilized until now. When Muhammad Bin Qasim was alive, the cannons were deployed here in the ancient times of 80s. The large and gigantic tower of Bin Qasim is also present in the fort. This spectacular Qasim Fort is such a place that should be visited at least once in a life time.

 

Ancient History:

Manora Island was known as Morontobara to the ancient Greeks. The area of Karachi was known to the ancient Greeks by many names: Krokola, the place where Alexander the Great camped to prepare a fleet for Babylonia after his campaign in the Indus valley; 'Morontobara' island (ancient Manora island near Karachi harbor), from where Alexander's admiral Nearchus set sail; and Barbarikon a port of the Indo-Greek Bactrian kingdom. During the rule of the Mughal administrator of SindhMirza Ghazi Beg the city was well fortified the Manora Fort against Portuguese pirate incursions in Sindh. The Manora Island and was visited by Ottoman admiral Seydi Ali Reis and mentioned in his book Mir at ul Memalik in 1554. According to the British historian Eliot, parts of city of Karachi and the island of Manora at port of Karachi constituted the city of Debal.

A small fort was constructed in the 18th century by the Talpur dynasty when the port of Karachi traded with Oman and Bahrain.[2][3] The fort was stormed by the British in 1839 because of the strategic location of Karachi.

On 1 February 1839 a British ship, the Wellesley, anchored off the island of Manora. By 3 February, the fort at Kolachi had surrendered without firing a single shot and this small fishing village reached a turning point in its history. Although the fort is now buried beneath the naval base, the lighthouse is a visible reminder of the British presence having been built in 1889 to assist vessels approaching Karachi harbor.

Manora Island and its fort have served for more than 50 years as the main base of the Pakistan Navy, with berths for naval vessels located along the eastern edge of the island. The island has been governed as a military cantonment despite being located so close to Karachi. The opening of the new Jinnah Naval Base at Ormara, 250 kilometers away, has meant that approximately half of the naval vessels have moved away from Manora.

The area of Karachi was known to the ancient Greeks by many names: Krokola, the place where Alexander the Great camped to prepare a fleet for Babylonia after his campaign in the Indus valley; 'Morontobara' island (ancient Manora island near Karachi harbor), from where Alexander's admiral Nearchus setsail: and Barbarikon, a port of the ino-greek Bactrian Kingdom.

Alexander's writers: Then making their way through two rocks, so close together that the oar-blades of the ships touched the rocks to port and starboard, they moored at Morontobara, after sailing some three hundred stades. The harbor is spacious, circular, deep, and calm, but its entrance is narrow. They called it, in the natives' language, 'The Ladies' Pool,' since a lady was the first sovereign of this district. When they had got safe through the rocks, they met great waves, and the sea running strong; and moreover it seemed very hazardous to sail seaward of the cliffs. For the next day, however, they sailed with an island on their port beam, so as to break the sea, so close indeed to the beach that one would have conjectured that it was a channel cut between the island and the coast.

The entire passage was of some seventy stades. On the beach were many thick trees, and the island was wholly covered with shady forest. About dawn, they sailed outside the island, by a narrow and turbulent passage; for the tide was still falling. And when they had sailed some hundred and twenty stades they anchored in the mouth of the river Arabis.

There was a fine large harbor by its mouth; but there was no drinking water; for the mouths of the Arabis were mixed with sea-water. However, after penetrating forty stades inland they found a water-hole, and after drawing water thence they returned back again. By the harbor was a high island, desert, and round it one could get oysters and all kinds of fish. Up to this the country of the Arabians extends; they are the last Indians settled in this direction; from here on the territory, of the Oreitans begins.

The island was the site of a small fort constructed in the eighteenth century when the port of Karachi traded with Oman and Bahrain. The Kalmati Baloch tribe was settled in Karachi and they raised an army to defend the port from the British invasion. The Kalmati forces were defeated when the Manora Fort was stormed by the British in 1839 because of the strategic location of Karachi. Although the fort is now buried beneath the naval base, the lighthouse is a visible reminder of the British presence having been built in 1889 by the Canadian engineer Alain-Chartier-de-Lotbiniere Joly de Lotbiniere to assist vessels approaching Karachi harbor.