Remains of a fort discovered near Pak border may unlock secret of the Rann
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A former ISRO scientist and three researchers have found the ruins of a pentagon-shaped fort near the Indo-Pak border that probably sank in a powerful 19th century earthquake. This discovery is likely to shed new light on how the quake of 1819 formed the western borders of one of the most inhospitable terrains on the planet — the Great Rann of Kutch.
In February 2010, P S Thakker, who has since retired from ISRO's Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad, peered over Google Earth images as was his habit, and detected what looked like the ruins of a fort a few kilometres from the international border.
"I discussed it with many people, but they did not believe me at first," Thakker told The Sunday Express. But he did not give up. He spoke to other academics he knew, and they approached the Border Security Force (BSF) for permission to visit the area. It was granted.
The fort of Basta Bandar was briefly mentioned by Englishman T G Carless in his "Memoir to accompany the survey of the Delta of the Indus," in 1837, published after the quake of 1819. The "ruined fort... which formerly belonged to the Raos (princes or chieftains) of Kachchh... was destroyed by the Sindians during their wars with those princes," Carless recorded.
Accompanied by BSF Crocodile Commandos on speedboats, Thakker and three others — N Juyal of the Physical Research Laboratory, M G Thakkar and Mamata Ngangom of Kutch University — reached Basta Bandar on February 4, 2011.
"We spent two to three hours at the site, examining it and taking photographs. We also took some samples," said M G Thakkar, Dean of Sciences and Head of Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Kutch University.
The find has been made public in a paper published in the latest issue of Current Science (July 25) where Thakkar describes the "pentagonal walls protruding 20-40 cm above tidal mud flats... which get flooded during spring tide... The dimensions of the bastions and gate, thickness of the wall suggest that it was a robust structure compared to its modern counterpart at Lakhpat."
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