Fort Lakhpat that lies on the north-west corner of Kutch is an almost dilapidated old town that speaks of a glorious past. Like Lothal, Lakhpat too was struck by nature’s fury that brought about its downfall, the only difference being that the downfall was as recent as early 1800s. Lakhpat, the literal meaning of which is city of millionaires is now nothing, but a small village that is inhabited by a few hundreds and serves as an outpost of the India Border Security Force facing Pakistan.
An important trading port, situated on the banks of a tributary of the Indus River, Lakhpat used to be bustling with commerce and activity estimated to be in millions. However an earthquake in the year 1819 resulted in the Indus changing its course and the port town descended from prosperity to decay.
Though no longer economically important, religiously and geo politically Lakphat has some amount of significance in present day which has prevented a total wipeout.
Built sometime in mid 18th century and later expanded to look as what it does today by Fateh Mohammed – a Kutchi General to defend the kingdom as well as the port from invasions by Sindhi rulers, the walls of the fort are still intact for the most part. And it still serves a similar purpose on the India Pakistan border along the northern part of the state of Gujarat. Once you climb the ramparts and walk to the northern walls you could see an Indian BSF post as a tiny white dot in an overwhelmingly arid landscape of the Great Rann of Kutch. The landscapes across all the directions though similar with no souls for miles and miles, cannot hold you back from being in awe of the stunning landscapes. And the wildlife that you spot only add to the beauty – herd of nilgai grazing, birds of various species for the trained eye, monitor lizards and within the walls of the fort Lakhpat itself – dozens of peacocks. In fact wake early in the morning at Lakhpat Gurudwara (the only option to stay overnight) and you will see dozens of them roaming the grounds of the Gurudwara.
The Gurudwara assumes a religious significance owing to the fact the Guru Nanak stayed at a small house here during his visit to Mecca. The same house today is now quite a big Gurudwara with newly laid garden, and a dining hall that can serve upto 50-75 people at least in one setting.
Other religious important monuments are the Pir Sayyed’s Tomb and the Tomb of Ghaus Mohammed. Ghaus Mohammed was a mystic who became a fakir at the age of twelve. His tomb constructed of stone is located next to a small water body which is believed to have healing powers. Sayyed Pir Shah was another mystic who stayed at Lakhpat and his mausoleum has 9 domes with the largest on in the center. The carvings on the both the tombs are very finely detailed.
Rest of the structures in the village though suffering from decay however you can definitely notice the beauty with which they shone in their glorious heydays.
Its hard to imagine that this place was once a vibrant and busy port town with silk, jewels and opium as all that left now is a few ruins and dilapidated houses or small settlements of its residents set close to each other as a group. However a walk through the village of Lakhpat is definitely a must for all those who wish to see a few signs of the glory and prosperity that this town exhibited centuries earlier.
Other Information :
- Fort Lakhpat can be done as a overnight trip which lies 120 kms to its South East. There is only one bus daily to Lakhpat from Bhuj and the same bus comes back the next day. Enquire at the Bhuj bus stand for the timings
- One needs to get permit from Supritendant office in Bhuj to visit Lakhpat. The permit is valid for two days only.
- It is recommended that you stay a night at the Gurudwara in this peaceful old village. The stay will be in dorm rooms which have nothing more than an mattress thrown on the floor and blanket to cover yourself . The toilet and bathroom facilities are communal.
- Meals and stay at the Gurudwara are free. However you can donate if you wish to. You will be provided a receipt for your donation.