Farther east, the Rohi, or Cholistan, is a barren desert tract,
bounded on the north and west by the Hakra depression with ruins
of old settlements along its high banks; it is still inhabited by
nomads. It is at a distance of 30 km. from Bahawalpur. The word
'Cholistan' is derived from the word 'cholna' which means moving.
It covers an area of about 16,000 square km and extends into the
Thar Desert of India. The region was once watered by the Hakra River,
known as the Saravati in vedic times.
At one time there were 400 forts in the area and archaeological
finds around the Darawar Fort, the only place with a perennial waterhole.
The average annual rainfall is only 12 cm, and the little cultivation
is made possible by underground wells, drawn up by the camels. The
water is stored in troughs, built by the tribes, between sandhills
and din waterholes called tobas.
The forts here were built at 29 km intervals, which probably served
as guard posts for the camel caravan routes. There were three rows
of these forts. the first line of forts began from Phulra and ended
in Lera, the second from Rukhanpur to Islamgarh, and the third from
Bilcaner to Kapoo. They are all in ruins now, and you can see that
they were built with double walls of gypsum blocks and mud. Some
of them date back to 1000 BC, and were destroyed and rebuilt many
times. Cholistan also boasts of many old forts such as Derawar,Vingrot,
Banwar, Marcot, Wilhar, Maujgharh, Mao, Phuira and Din-gharh etc.
Also worth visiting is the Derawar Mosque, which is 100 years old
and is built with white marble stone. The Derawar mosque of marble
is a thing of beauty, an exact replica of the Moti Masjid of the
Red Fort of Delhi.
From Bahawalpur at a distance of 1 hour drive is Channan Pir in
Cholistan desert. Channan Pir is a shrine of a Muslim saint, which
lies in the desert between Derawar and Din Gargh Forts.
Another interesting place worth visiting here is the Nawab Family
burial ground where many of the old Nawabs and their families are
buried. The tomb here is attractive, built with marble and decorated
with blue glazed style.
Uch Sharif, 75 km from Bahawalpur is a very old town. It is believed
that it came into existence way back in 500 BC. Some historians
believe that Uch was there even before the advent of Bikramajit
when Jains and Buddhist ruled over the sub-continent. At the time
of the invasion by Alexander the Great, Uch was under Hindu rule.
The surviving shrines, sanctuaries, cemeteries, and mausoleums,
including the Bibi Jawandi tomb, incorporate glazed tile and brick
revetments, lime plaster panels, terra-cotta embellishments, brick
structural walls laid in earth mortars, and ingenious corner tower
buttresses. The famous shrines existing at Uch include those of
Hazrat Bahawal Haleem, Hazrat Jalaluddin Surkh Bukhari, Makhdoom
Jahanian Jahangasht, Shaikh Saifuddin Ghazrooni and Bibi Jawanadi.
The shrine of Bibi Jawandi is a Central Asian design, titled in
the blue and white faience.
Uch is a small town today and divided into three different quarters
(i) Uch Bukhari, after Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari Surkhposh
(ii) Uch Jilani, after the name of Hazrat Shaikh Mohammad Ghaus
Qadri Jilani (Bandagi), who came from Halab in 887 AH
(iii) Uch Mughlan after the Mughal rulers.
Mosque at Bhong
Bhong Mosque is in the Rahim Yar Khan district and is about 200
km from Bahawalpur. This mosque was built by Rais Ghazi, a local
landlord of Bhong. Gold leaves have been used for the intricate
decorative work in the mosque which has made it famous. It is a
site worth visiting for its beauty and the stylish calligraphic
Lal Suhanra National Park
This park is ideal for recreation, education or research but shooting
is forbidden. This park, 36 km to the east of Bahawalpur is a combination
of a natural lake and forest. It covers an area of 77,480 acres
of land and is spread over on both sides of Bahawalpur canal. It
has watch-towers, catching ground, tourist huts, rest house, camping
grounds, TDCP Resort and treks for the visitors and lovers of nature.
Hog deer, ravine deer, black buck and nilgai are common. Fox, jackals,
hares, porcupines, mongoose, larks, owls and hawks are also found.
Wild boars are in large number in the forest areas.
Sadiq Garh Palace
In Ahmadpur East is situated another palace called Sadiq Garh Palace.
It is in the use of the ex-royal family's descendants. This palace
can be termed as the prettiest of the other palaces and is embellished
with most delicate and intricate paintings. It displays chandeliers
and a collection of carpets, coming from all over the world, apart
from armaments of European and Asian make and a number of other
gifts that must have been showered on the ex-royal family of Bahawalpur
from time to time.
Dera Nawab Sahib
The palaces of the Amirs are located mainly in Dera Nawab Saheb
at a distance of 22 miles from Bahawalpur; while, Derawar was the
ancestral seat of the rulers of Bahawalpur. It is the gateway to
Cholistan, which comprises 1,000 square miles.
Panjnad Head Works
Panjnad is located 12 km. away from Uch Sharif where all the five
rivers of Punjab meet. It is a nice picnic spot with scenic beauty.
The old fort of Munde Shahid, 50 km. from Bahawalpur and Marot
Fort are considered to be antiquities. A place outside the Marot
Fort is known as 'Baithuk Maula Ali'. The tomb of 'Naugaza' is located
in the Munde Shahid Fort.
Other shrines of Bahawalpur region are that of
» Khawaja Noor Muhammad known as Qibla-e-Alam at Chistian
» Shrine of another saint at Chachran
» Shrine of Hazrat Mohkam Din known as 'Sahib-us-Sair' (great
traveler) at Khanqah Sharif, 20 km. from Bahawalpur.
8 km. east of Rahim Yar Khan railway station is an extensive site
of ruins known as 'Pattan Minara'. There is a tower in the center
of four smaller towers at this place, which are believed to have
been a Buddhist Monastery.
It is 15 km. from Rahim Yar Khan. It is believed to be the birthplace
of 'Sassi', one of the legendary lovers. Also it is believd to be
the birthplace of 'Abu-ul-Fazal and Faizi', the sons of Mullah Mubarak
and famous courtiers of Akbar the Great. But nobody knows the exact
history of this place precisely.
It is at a distance of 30 km. from Bahawalpur. There are seven
tombs known as 'Ali Ashab'. These tombs are said to be of the companions
of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). A fair is held in the village in the
month of May (Jeth) and on Fridays in the month of June (Har).
Hog deer, ravine deer, black buck and blue bull are common. Fox,
jackals, hares, porcupines, mongoose, arks, owls and hawks are also
found. Wild boars are found in large numbers in the forest areas.
Bazaars of Bahawalpur
The main shopping centers of Bahawalpur are Shahi Bazaar, Machli
Bazaar, Farid Gate and the Mall.