It was once called the Shahi Sawari, the royal chariot. Today it is called the tanga. And as the last four of its kind in Sanghar city will testify, much of its celebrity status has been stolen by upstarts like the chingchi.
There was a time when there were around 400 tangas in Sanghar. Today the last service runs between Hyderabad Chowk and the Deputy Commissioner’s Office for a fare of ten rupees.
Many of the kochwans or drivers of the dual horse-drawn carriage have since switched to the motorized chingchi to make a living. “My father used to drive the tanga and so did my brother,” says Khamiso Marri. He is one of the last remaining four tanga-wallahs here and says he has been one for forty years. “My family is among the old tanga drivers. Our relatives had tangas but they sold them and bought chingchi rickshaws.”
The chingchi is faster and can take more people. It has also became harder to maintain a tanga because the spare parts are only available in Sukkur and Ghotki.
Nevertheless, men like Marri cannot imagine doing any other work. He earns about Rs600 a day like this. “This is Sindh’s culture. As long as I have the strength I will keep this tradition alive,” he says. “Tangas are peace of mind for us. Even if they [the horses] were idle at home and not work, we would still feed them. Whatever is in their fate, they will get, as will we. Allah gives us our bread and butter through these horses.”