Derawar Fort

You can make an intersting excursions from Bahawalpur, full day trip requiring a four-wheel drive vehicle to Derawar Fort (Qila Derawar), through the semi-desert of cholistan.

You need a guide to take you to Derawar, and also permission from the present Amir of Bahawalpur to get inside the fort. The drive takes three to four hours through fasinating barren landscape. The cholistan desert covers 26,000 sq km (10,000 sq miles) and extends into the Thar desert to India. The whole area was once well watered by the river Ghaggar, now called the Hakara in Pakistan, and known in vedic times as the Sarasvati. All along the 500 km (300 miles) of the dried-up river are over 400 archaeological sites. Most of these date from the indus civilisation, 45,00 years ago, and are clustered round Derawar Fort, the only perennial water hole in the desert. There is very little to make out today.

The desert has an average rainfall of 12 cm (5 inches) a year, and there is very little civilisation. The underground water is brackish. The few people of the desert dig artificial wells in the troughs between the sand hills and use camels to draw the water up.

In the rainy season the dig artificials ponds, and when these ponds dry up they move out of the desert. Cholistan DesertThe people of the desert live in tall round huts shaped like steeples, which they build on the highest sand hills and which keep out most of the sun. The lean graceful women wear long gathered red skirts. They live by raising cattle and breeding camels. The Amir’s private herds of breeding camels are kept at Derawar. There are some execellent photographs of nomads’ way of life in the Bahawalpur museum.

Derawar Fort (Qila Derawar) is in good condition, its walls are intact and still guarded by soldiers in fezes. Its age is unknown. The tombs of the Amirs of Bahawalpur are also at Derawar, decorated with attractive blue glazed tiles contrasting with the ochre landscape. Some of the cannons which were used times ago by the Army of Bahawalpur are also kept in this fort.

Every year a Jeep Ralley is held in the desert of Cholistan. This Race is so famous that people from all over the world come to the desert to see and participate in the jeep ralley. This jeep ralley is broadcasted live by some local channels of Pakistan. It is really worth it spending every penny to come here and watch the Cholistan jeep ralley Bahawalpur.