History of Bahawalpur (تاریخ بہاولپور)
Area-City: 2,372 km2 (915.8 sq. mi)
Elevation: 461 m (1,512 ft.)
Population (2007)-City: 798,509
Density: 838/km2 (2,170.4/sq. mi)
Time zone: PST (UTC+5)
Summer: (DST) PDT (UTC+6)
Bahawalpur City is located in southeastern Punjab province, Pakistan. Bahawalpur is 889 kms from Karachi.
Saraiki is the local language of the area. Urdu, Punjabi and English are also spoken and understood by most of the people.
Bahawalpur originally was a vassal of the great Sikh empire built by Maharajah Ranjeet Singh. In 1936 Bahawalpur stopped paying tribute and openly declared independence. In the Anglo Sikh wars Bahawalpur supported the British and this guaranteed its survival. The founder of the State of Bahawalpur was Nawab Bahawal Khan Abbasi I. The Abbasi family ruled over the State for more than 200 years (1748 to 1954). During the rule of the last Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V, Bahawalpur State was merged with Pakistan. During the 1960's (1954) the Nawab agreed (Agreement Dated 3rd October, 1947) for Bahawalpur to be absorbed into modern Pakistan. He was however given special privileges including the right to import several cars duty free each year. Bahawalpur was formerly the capital of the state and now is the District and Divisional Headquarters of Bahawalpur Division.
The Nawabs of Bahawalpur originally came from Sindh; they formed a princely state and assumed independence in 1802.
The City, which lies just south of the Sutlej River, was founded in 1748 by Muhammad Bahawal Khan and was incorporated as a municipality in 1874. It is the site of the Adam Wahan (Empress) Bridge, the only Railway Bridge over the Sutlej River in Pakistan, and has rail links with Peshawar and Karachi.
The region surrounding Bahawalpur to the west, called the Sindh, is a fertile alluvial tract in the Sutlej River valley that is irrigated by floodwaters, planted with groves of date palms, and thickly populated. The chief crops are wheat, gram, cotton, sugarcane, and dates. Sheep and cattle are raised for export of wool and hides. East of Bahawalpur is the Pat, or Bar, a tract of land considerably higher than the adjoining valley. It is chiefly desert irrigated by the Sutlej inundation canals and yields crops of wheat, cotton, and sugarcane. Farther east, the Rohi, or Cholistan, is a barren desert tract, bounded on the north and west by the Hakra depression with mound ruins of old settlements along its high banks; it is still inhabited by nomads. The principal inhabitants of the region surrounding Bahawalpur are Jat and Baluchi peoples. There are many historical sites in the area, including Uch, southwest of Bahawalpur, an ancient town dating from Indo-Scythian (Yüeh-chih) settlement (c. 128 BC to AD 450). Pop. (1981) City, 180,263; (1981 prelim.) metropolitan area, 695,000.
Bahawalpur is also an important agricultural training and educational center. Soap making and cotton ginning are important enterprises; cotton, silk, embroidery, carpets, and extraordinarily delicate pottery are produced. Factories producing cottonseed oil and cottonseed cake were built in the 1970s. It is an important marketing center for the surrounding areas and is located on the crossroads between Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta and Karachi. Bahawalpur is also known for its distinctly embroidered slippers and shoes and the filigree pottery which is made here.
The City is located favorably for commerce, lying at the junction of trade routes from the east, south-east, and south. It is a center for trade in wheat, cotton, millet, and rice grown in the surrounding region. Dates and mangoes are also grown here. Canals supply water for irrigation. The principal industries are cotton ginning, rice and flour milling, and the hand weaving of textiles.
Sutlej (Chinese, Langqên Zangbo or Xiangquan He; Indian, Satlej), chief tributary of the Indus River. It rises in Tibet, flows south-west through Himachal Pradesh State, India, and then passes through the great arid plains of Punjab Province, Pakistan, joining the Indus after a course of about 1,450 km (900 mi.). The Sutlej is the south-easternmost of the five rivers of the Punjab, the other four being its two main tributaries, the Beâs and the Chenab, together with two branches of the latter. Below the confluence of the Beâs, the river is sometimes called the Ghara, and its lowest course, after receiving the Chenab, is called the Panjnad ("five rivers").
Geography and Climate
The city, which lies just south of the Sutlej River, is the site of the Adamwahan Empress Bridge, the only railway bridge over the Sutlej in Pakistan. It is situated 90 km from Multan, 420 km from Lahore, 122 km from Burewala, 90 km from Vehari, 270 km from Faisalabad and about 700 km from the national capital, Islamabad. The west region of the city is called the Sindh. It is a fertile alluvial tract in the Sutlej River valley that is irrigated by floodwaters, planted with groves of date palm trees, and thickly populated forests. The chief crops are Wheat, gram, cotton, sugarcane, and dates. Mango, sheep and cattle are raised for export of wool and hides. East of Bahawalpur is the Pat, or Bar, a tract of land considerably higher than the adjoining valley. It is chiefly desert irrigated by the Sutlej inundation canals and yields crops of wheat, cotton, and sugarcane. Farther east, the Cholistan, is a barren desert tract, bounded on the north and west by the Hakra depression with mound ruins of old settlements along its high banks; it is still inhabited by nomads.
The climate is mainly hot and dry. In the summer the temperature reaches the high forties (Celsius) during the day and the nights are slightly cooler. Since the city is located in a desert environment there is little rainfall. Weather conditions reach extremes in both summer and winter. The average temperature in summer is 33 °C(91 °F) and 18 °C (64 °F) in winter. The average rainfall is 20 to 25 cm annually.
Bahawalpur is one of the largest districts of Pakistan covering an area of 24,830 km2. It has peculiar demographic, topographic and geographical characteristics. The district is situated almost in the center of the country at an elevation of 152 meters from the sea levels. The population of Bahawalpur district increased from 1.453 million in 1981 to 2.411 million in 1998, showing a growth rate of 3.88% per year and population density has increased from 59 in 1981 to 97 in 1998. The majority of Bahawalpur's residents speak Punjabi and Saraiki, while Urdu, and English are common languages used in various educational and government institutions.
Flora and Fauna
The most commonly seen animals in the city include the hog deer, ravine deer, black buck and blue bull. Fox, jackals, hares, wild boars, porcupines, mongoose, arks, owls and hawks are also found in large numbers.
The Bahawalpur Zoo, is located in Bahawalpur. Spread over an area of several acres inside the city, it contains a variety of animal species, including Asiatic lions, Bengal tigers, hyenas, leopards, and peacocks. The zoo has a collection of 130 animals and 700 birds from tropical regions, particularly those found in the Cholistan region. The zoo occasionally breeds and supplies animals to other zoos in the country. It also has an aquarium and zoological museum with stuffed rare birds and animals. Located 35 kilometres east of the city is the Lal Suhanra National Park housing large animals including lions and rhinoceros.
Bahawalpur lies at the junction of trade routes from the east, south-east, and south. It is a center for trade in wheat, cotton, millet, and rice grown in the surrounding region. Dates and mangoes are also grown here. Canals supply water for irrigation. The principal industries are cotton ginning, rice and flour milling, and the hand weaving of textiles.
Soap making and cotton ginning are important enterprises; cotton, silk, embroidery, carpets, and extraordinarily delicate pottery are produced. Factories producing cottonseed oil and cottonseed cake were built in the 1970s. It is an important marketing center for the surrounding areas and is located on the crossroads between Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta and Karachi. Bahawalpur is also known for its distinctively embroidered slippers and shoes and filigree pottery.
Bahawalpur has only one railway bridge, the Adamwahan (Empress) Bridge, over the Sutlej River, and also has rail links with Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtoonkhawah Province (KPK) and Karachi, the capital of Sindh (which is 899 km from Bahawalpur), making it an important rail centre. The surrounding area is mostly agricultural, which allows agricultural exports to many parts of the world. There is also a large market town for mangoes, dates, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton that brings in continuous demand all year round. It has soap making and cotton spinning factories, as well as enterprises producing silk and cotton textiles, carpets, and pottery. Bahwalpur has sugar mills that provide some of the export market out of the country.
Punjab is Pakistan's most fertile province, rich in both agriculture and ancient history. It is also one of the more stable of the country's regions. The prosperous and hospitable town of Bahawalpur is a gentle introduction to the area, which makes the city an ideal tourist destination. From here one can journey into Cholistan - a sandy wasteland dotted with nomadic communities and windswept forts - or the Lal Suhanra National Park, an important wildlife reserve. Further north is Harappa, which is an important site of the Indus Valley Civilization. Bahawalpur is the most southerly town in the Punjab. There are daily flights from Islamabad about 555 km (344 mi) away. Most of the major destinations in the Punjab can be reached by car, bus, coach, and train. According to PSMA(Pakistan Sugar Mills Association about 22% of Sugar is produced in Bahawalpur division (including Bahawalnagar and Rahimyarkhan).
The city of Bahawalpur has a rich heritage and is an important hot spot for historians as well as archeologists. Bahawalpur is known for its cotton, silk, embroidery, carpets, and extraordinarily delicate pottery. The Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC) has established a Craft Development Center for Cholistan area, outside Farid Gate, Bahawalpur from where handicrafts manufactured in Cholistan can be purchased. Some of the souvenirs produced in the city include:
- Flassi - 4 ft by 7 ft, made of camel hair and cotton yarn; it is used for wall hanging, as a decoration piece and a carpet.
- Gindi or Rilli - Made of small pieces of many colors of cotton cloth and needlework; they can be used as wall hangings, bed covers, carpets and blankets.
- Changaries - Like big plaques, these are made of palm leaves in different bright colours with beautiful patterns and geometric designs. These are used for keeping the 'chapattis' and also as a wall decoration.
- Khalti - Like a purse embroidered on top with multicoloured threads.
- Artwork - An attractive type of embroidery done on dupatta, kurta and chaddar, etc.
The main shopping centers of Bahawalpur are Shahi Bazaar, Machli Bazaar, Farid Gate and the Mall. The commercial area in Satellite Town is a newly developed center that is gaining popularity. A few shopping malls, including Bobby Plaza, Takbeer Shopping Mall, Time, and Prince, cater for all kinds of needs. Shopping is a major attraction in the city; the city is bustling with traders and craftsmen selling all sorts of artwork for travellers and tourists.
East of Bahawalpur is the Cholistan Desert, which covers an area of about 15,000 km2 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 Derawar Fort, the only place with a perennial waterhole, indicate that it was contemporaneous with the Indus Valley Civilization. The average annual rainfall is only 12 cm, and the area's scant cultivation is made possible by underground wells, drawn up by camels. The water is stored in troughs, built by the tribes, between sandhills and din waterholes called tobas. The people are racially similar to those in Rajasthan - tall, with sharp features. They live in large, round, mud and grass huts, usually built on the top of sandhills. On the whole, they are pastoral and nomadic. The main tribes are the Chachar, Mehr, Lar, Paryar, Channar, Chandani and Bohar. 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. Built with double walls of gypsum blocks and mud, they are all in ruins now. Some of them date back to 1000 BC, and were destroyed and rebuilt many times.
Even with all the markets and forts, one thing for which Bahawalpur is recognised above all others is the numerous palaces that still remain intact ever since the fall of the Nawabs. There are countless palaces in the city, locally known as Mahals. Some of the most famous include: Noor Mahal, Gulzar Mahal, Darbar Mahal, Shimla Khoti Sadiq Ghar Palace and Darbar Mahal. The city also has a city gate called Farid Gate, which in its heyday provided the only entrance to the city for its rulers. The gate still remains and is now located in a busy market in the inner city. The Bahawalpur Museum and Bahawalpur National Library house various collections of coins, medals, postage stamps of the former state of Bahawalpur, manuscripts, documents, inscriptions, wood carvings, camel skin paintings, historical models and stone carvings from Islamic and pre-Islamic eras. There is a complete set of medals of all classes issued by the ex-state to its military officers, civilians, and other important citizens of the ex-state.
The city also has several mausoleums of prominent leaders who fought and defended the region over several thousands of years. Some of the most prolific include the tombs of Channen Peer Tomb Yazman and Mausoleums of Haugha Sahib. There is also an old fort of Munde Shahid, 50 km from Bahawalpur and Marot Fort, which are considered to be antiquities. A place outside the Marot Fort is known as 'Baithak Maula Ali'. The tomb of Naugaza is located in the Munde Sharif Fort.
The city boasts a number of reputable educational establishments, most notably The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, and Sadiq Public School, which is one of the largest boarding schools in Pakistan. Other top schools include Beaconhouse School Bahawalpur, The City School (Pakistan), Bloomfield Hall Schools, Askari Kids College, Umm al qura school, Progressive Schooling System, Dar e arqam School, Jinnah Public School, Rangers Public School and College, The Climber Public School, Army Public School, Salsaal Public School, and Dominican Convent School. Notable universities and colleges include: Government Sadiq Egertin College (Post Graduate College),Punjab College Bahawalpur, Arrshhouse College, Government Degree College, Government Sadiq Degree College for Girls, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Government College of Technology, Government Sadiq College of Commerce, Government Polytechnic Institute, Government Polytechnic Institute For Women, Government Technical Training Institute,Government Technical High School Bahawalpur, Allama Iqbal College of Commerce and Government Para Medical School.
Bahawalpur is well connected with various cities in Pakistan. The city has its own airport built by the Dubai Civil Aviation Department and the CAA. Bahawalpur Airport links the city with various Pakistani cities such as Dera Ghazi Khan, Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore with the national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines. The airline has launched international flights to Dubai, and plans to introduce more international destinations. There are daily train and bus services from Multan, Lahore, Sukkur and Karachi to Bahawalpur. taxicabs and rickshaws are plentiful in the city. Cars are also available for hire in the city.