UMERKOT: Restoration work at the Umerkot Fort is in the final stages and its likely to be completed in another 10 days, Daily Timeshas learnt. The restoration project is being undertaken by the Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department of the Sindh government. The project had been launched by Sindh Culture Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah and US Counsel General Grace Shelton in December last year. A budget of Rs73.246 million was set aside for restoration of three boundary walls of the Fort. Later, the project was expanded to cover renovation of a British era circuit house and construction of a museum at the site. Speaking to Daily Times, Ali HaiderGadhi, the conservator for the project, said that restoration work had been completed for the northern and the eastern walls. Work was underway for restoring the western wall and would likely be completed in another 10 days, he said. He said each of the three walls would be 45-feet in height and 17-feet in width following restoration. Regarding the decision to establish a museum at the site, the culture minister said that the facility would promote culture and values indigenous to the region. As it existed today, the Fort had imprints of just the Mughal era. The museum would showcase handicrafts and other cultural products associated with the Thar region, he said. “The department’s mission is to restore the Fort to its past glory and to transform it into a tourist attraction,” he said. Activist Abdullah Khoso welcomed the restoration of the Umerkot Fort and hoped that the site would draw tourists from across the country. Origins of the fort: There are multiple origin stories associated with the Fort. Mir Hassan Arisar, a noted writer and historian, says that the Fort was built in 559 AD by ParmarSodho who gifted it in dower to his daughter. He said that the Fort had served as the capital of Soomro rulers from 1330-1439. Other historical accounts, however, trace the origin of the Fort to the Soomros who are believed to have ruled the region between 1050 and 1350 AD. After Soomros, the Fort had served as the seat of rule of Sodha Rajput, Talpur and Kalhora dynasties. Mughal Emperor Humayun is believed to have taken refuge in the Fort when he escaped after losing a battle to Sher Shah Suri. HameedaBano, Humayun’s first wife, is said to have given birth to Akbar at the Umerkot Fort. Historical writings about the Fort reveal that three attempts had been made to restore the fort over the centuries. There are also multiple accounts of the origins of the Fort’s name. Some historians believe that the Fort was named after Umar Soomro, a popular character from Umar-Marvi folklore. Others say that Umerkot was a mutated form of Amarkot – named after Amar Singh Rajput of the Sodha dynasty. In its current state, the Fort’s structure has been traced back to Noor Mohammad Kalhoro’s period in the 17th century.