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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Mansura (Arabic: منصورہ‎) is a city in Western Pakistan,which was the historic capital of the Arab empire in Sindh.

Variants of name


The Mansura city now lies in Western Pakistan and is usually known as Brahmanabad in Sindh, situated about 13 km south-east of Shahdadpur railway station, and 69 km north-east of Hyderabad.

Origin of name

Mansura was named after the second Abasside Khalif Al Mansur, who reigned from A.D. 753 to 774.[1]



अवंद (बिलोचिस्तान, पाकिस्तान) (AS, p.47): अवंद पश्चिमी पाकिस्तान के बिलोचिस्तान के निकट स्थित एक प्राचीन स्थान है। चीनी यात्री युवानच्वांग की जीवनी में इस स्थान का उल्लेख है। युवान सिंध प्रदेश से होकर अवंद पहुंचा था। वाटर्स के अनुसार अवंद की स्थिति क्वेटा के निकट थी। युवान के वृत्त से ज्ञात होता है कि अवंद में भेड़ों और घोड़ों की बहुतायत थी। उसने लिखा है कि, "यहां के विहारों में 2000 भिक्षु निवास करते थे।" सियूकी से सूचित होता है कि युवान अवंद से लौटकर दोबारा नालंदा गया था।

Alexander Cunningham on Mansura

Alexander Cunningham[2] mentions that ....Speaking of Mansura, which we know was quite close to Brahmanabad, Ibn Haukal adds that the Sindhians call it Bamivan3 which Edrisi alters to Mirman. But in

3 Sir Henry Elliot, ' Muhammadan Historians of India,' p. 63.

4 Jaubert's ' Edrisi,' i. 162.

[p. 271]: his list of places in Sindh, Edrisi adds after Mansura the name of Wandan, or Kandan, 1 which I take to be only a various reading of Bamanwa, or, as the Sindhians would have pronounced it, Vamanwa, and Vanwa. The Chinese syllable fan, which is the wellknown transcript of Brahma, is a notable example of this very contraction, and tends to confirm the opinion that Avanda is but a slight variation of Bahmanwa, or Brahmanabad.

Shortly after the Muhammadan conquest Brahmana was supplanted by Mansura, which, according to Biladuri, was founded by Amru, the son of Muhammad bin Kasim, the conqueror of Sindh, 2 and named after the second Abasside Khalif Al Mansur, who reigned from A.D. 753 to 774. But according to Masudi 3 it was founded by Jamhur, the governor of Sindh, under the last Omnicad Khalif, a.d. 744 to 749, who named it after his own father Mansur. The new city was built so close to Brahmanabad that Ibn Haukal, Abu Rihan, and Edrisi, all describe it as the same place. Ibn Haukal's words are, " Mansura, which in the Sind language is called Bamiwan." 4 Abu Rihan states that it was originally called Bamanhwa, and afterwards Hamanabad, for which we may read Bahmanabad, by simply adding an initial 'B', which must have been accidentally dropped. It was

1 Jaubert's 'Edrisi,' i. 160.

2 Reinaud, ' Fragments Arabes ; ' and Jaubert's ' Edrisi,' i. 162.

3 Sir Henry Elliot's 'Muhammadan Historians of India,' p. 57.

4 Sir Henry Elliot's ' Muhammadan Historians of India,' Dowson's edition, p. 34; and Jaubert's 'Edrisi,' i. 162. " Le nom de la ville (Mansura) est en Indien Miriman." In Gildemeister's 'Ibn Haukal,' this name is Tamirman, which is an obvious mistake for Bamiwan, or Bamanwas.

[p. 272]: situated on the eastern branch of the Mihran, or Indus, and was 1 mile in length, and the same in breadth, or just 4 miles in circuit. Its position is approximately fixed in the neighbourhood of Hala, by the number of days' journey in the routes to different places. It was 12 days from Multan, 8 from Kandabil, via Sehwan, and 6 days from Debal, via Manhabari, which was itself 4 days from Mansura. It was therefore at two-thirds of the distance from Multan to the mouth of the Indus, or very nearly in the same parallel as Hala.

Now in this very position the ruins of a large city have been discovered by Mr. Bellasis, to whose zeal and energy we are indebted for our knowledge of this interesting place. The ruins are situated near an old bed of the Indus, at 47 miles to the north-east of Haidarabad, 28 miles to the east or east-north-east of Hala, and 20 miles to the west of the eastern Nara. 1 The place is known as Bambhra-ka-thul, or " the Ruined Tower," from a broken brick tower which is the only building now standing. The present appearance of the site, as described by its discoverer, is "one vast mass of ruins, varying in size according to the size of the original houses." Its circumference, measured by a perambulator, is within a few yards of 4 miles. But besides the great mound of Bambhra-ka-thul, there is, at a distance of about 1-1/2 mile, "the distince and ruined city of Dolora, the residence of its last king, and 5 miles in another direction is the ruined city of Depur, the residence of his Prime Minister, and between these cities are the ruins of suburbs extending

1 Journ. Asiat. Soc, Bombay, v. 413; and Thomas's Prinsep, ii. 119. Eastwick's ' Handbook for Bombay,' p. 490.

[p. 273]: for miles far and wide into the open country." The great mound of Bambhraka-thul is " entirely surrounded with a rampart, mounted with numerous turrets and bastions." In the time of Akbar there were "considerable vestiges of this fortification," which Abul Fazl 1 says "had 140 bastions, one tanab distant from each other." The tanab was a measuring rope, which the emperor Akbar ordered to be changed for bambus joined by iron links. Its length was 60 Ilahi gaz, which, at 30 inches each, give 150 feet for the tanab; and this multiplied by 140, makes the circuit of the city 21,000 feet, or very nearly 4 miles. Now it will be remembered that Ibn Haukal describes Mansura as being 1 mile square, or 4 miles in circuit, and that Mr. Bellasis's measure of the circumference of the ruined mound of Bambhraka thul was within a few yards of 4 miles. From this absolute correspondence of size, coupled with the close agreement of position, which has already been pointed out, I conclude that the great mound of Bambhra ka thul represents the ruined city of Mansura, the capital of the Arab governors of Sindh. The Hindu city of Brahmana, or Brahmanabad, must therefore be looked for in the neighbouring mound of ruins now called Dilura, which is only 1.5 mile distant from the larger mound.

Mr. Bellasis, the discoverer of these ruins, has identified the great mound with Brahmanabad itself ;

1 ' Ayin Akbari,' ii. 115. Gladwyn's translation has 1400 bastions, which. would give to the city a circuit of 40 miles ; the MSS. have 149. The Ilahi gaz contained 41.5 Sikandari tanghas, and as the average breadth of 62 Sikandaris in my collection is 7234 inches, the length of the Ilahi gaz will be 30.0211 inches. Mr. Thomas, ii. 133, found exactly 30 inches.

[p. 274]: but to this it has been justly objected by Mr. Thomas1 that amongst the multitudes of mediaeval coins found during the excavations, " the number of Hindu pieces was very limited, and that even these seem to be casual contributions from other provinces, of no very marked uniformity or striking age." The local coins consist exclusively of specimens of the Arab governors of Sindh, with the name of Mansura in the margin ; and so far as I am aware, there is not a single piece that can be attributed to any of the Hindu rajas of Sindh. It is therefore to be regretted that Mr. Bellasis did not make more extensive excavations in the smaller mound of Dilura, which would probably have yielded some satisfactory evidence of its superior antiquity.

According to the native histories and traditions of the people, Brahmanabad was destroyed by an earth quake, in consequence of the wickedness of its ruler, named Dilu Rai. The date of this prince is doubtful. M'Murdo has assigned a.h. 140, or A.D. 757, 2 as the year in which Chota, the brother of Dilu, returned from his pilgrimage to Mekka ; but as Mausura was still a flourishing city in the beginning of the tenth century, when visited by Masudi and Ibn Haukal, it is clear that the earthquake cannot have happened earlier than A.D. 950. Dilu and Chota are said to have been the sons of Amir, the Rai or ruler of Brahmanabad. But it is difficult to believe that there were any Hindu chiefs in Brahmana during the rule of the Arab.-; in Mansura. The fact is that the same

1 Prinsep's Essays,' vol. ii. p. 121, where all the local coins are most carefully described and attributed,

2 Journ. Royal Asiat. Soc.. i. 28.

[p. 275]: stereotyped legend is told of all the old cities in the Panjab, as well as of those in Sindh. Shorkot, Harapa, and Atari, are all said to have been destroyed on account of the sins of their rulers, as well as Alor, Brahmana, and Bambhura. But the same story is also told of Tulamba, which we know to be false, as I have been able to trace its downfall to its desertion by the Ravi, at a very recent date. The excavations of Mr. Bellasis have shown conclusively that Brahmana was overwhelmed by an earthquake. The human bones " were chiefly found in doorways, as if the people were attempting to escape ; others in the corners of the rooms ; some upright, some recumbent, with their faces down, and some crouched in a sitting posture." 1 The city was certainly not destroyed by fire, as Mr. Richardson notes that he found no remains of charcoal or burnt wood, and that the old walls bore no traces of fire. On the contrary, he also found the human remains crushed in the corners of the rooms, as if the terror-stricken inhabitants, finding their houses falling about them, had crouched in the corners and been buried by the falling material. 2 Mr. Richardson also picked up a brick which had " entered cornerways into a skull, and which, when taken out, had a portion of the bone adhering to it." His conclusion is the same as that of Mr. Bellasis, " that the city was destroyed by some terrible convulsion of nature."

The local coins found in the ruins of Bambhra ka- tul belong to the Arab governors of Mansura, from the time of Jamhur, son of Mansur, the reputed founder of the city, down to Umar, the contemporary of

1 Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bombay, v. 417.

2 Ibid., V. 423.

[p. 276]: Masudi 1 It was therefore in existence during the whole of that time, or from A.D. 750 to 940, or even later. This agrees exactly with what I have already noted, that the city was still flourishing when visited by Masudi and Ibn Haukal in the first half of the tenth century ; and I would therefore assign its destruction to the latter half of that century, and not earlier than A.D. 970.

It is true that Mansura is mentioned by Abu Rihan in the beginning of the next century, and at a still later period by Edrisi, Kazvini, and Rashid-ud-din ; but the last three were mere compilers, and their statements accordingly belong to an earlier age. Abu Rihan, however, is entirely original, and as his knowledge of the Indian language gave him special facilities for obtaining accurate information, his evidence is sufficient to prove that Mansura was still existing in his time. In speaking of the itinerary of Sindh, he says, 2 " From Aror to Bahmanwa, also named el Mansura, is reckoned 20 parasangs; from thence to Loharani, at the mouth of the river, 30 parasangs." Mansura therefore still existed when Abu Rihan wrote his work, about A.D. 1031 ; but as it is mentioned by only one author in the campaigns of Mahmud of Ghazni, it is almost certain that it no longer existed as a great fortress, the capital of the country, otherwise its wealth would have attracted the cupidity of that rapacious conqueror. I conclude, therefore, that Mansura was already very much decayed before the accession of Mahmud, and that the earthquake -which levelled its walls and overthrew its houses, must have happened some time before

1 Thomas in Prinsep's ' Essays,' ii. 113. 2 Reinaud, ' Fragments Arabes,' etc. p. 113.

[p. 277]: the beginning of the eleventh century. It is probable that most of the inhabitants who escaped the great catastrophe would have returned to the ruined city to look after their buried property, and that many of them again reared their houses on the old sites. But the walls of the city were fallen, and there was no security ; the river was gradually failing, and there was a scarcity of water ; and the place was altogether so much decayed, that even in a.h. 416, or A.D. 1025, when the conqueror of Somnath returned through Sindh, the plunder of Mansura was not sufficient to tempt him out of his direct march ; so he passed on by Sehwan to Ghazni, leaving the old capital unvisited, and even unnoticed, unless we accept the solitary statement of Ibn Athir, that Mahmud on this occasion appointed a Muhammadan governor to Mansura.

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