By Nazar Abbas
Derawar Fort is situated 100 km south of Bahawalpur city in Ahmed Pur Tehsil, Southen Punjab. The fort situated in the heart of Cholistan desert has its own unique history: the walls and magnificent structure of the fort that covers miles of land in the desert are a testimony of past’s great lifestyle and culture. However, if the present declining structures are not paid attention the historical heritage is feared to fall into ruins.
Historians have different views about the construction of Derawar Fort and its name. Some believe that the fort was built by Rai Jajja, a Rajput ruler, in the 9th century. Then it was known as Dera Rawal.
According to other historians, the fort was constructed by Rawal Dev Raj Bhaati , who was also a Rajpoot Ruler of Jaslamir and Bahawalpur States, hence it was called as Dev Rawal Fort.The name later came to be pronounced as Dev Rawar and then came to be known as the present name Derawar. The Fort was part of Jaslamir State.
In 1733, Nawab Muhammad Khan, First Nawab of Bahawalpur, attacked the fort and fortified it after defeating Raja Rawal Singh. The fort then became a part of Bahawalpur State.
Raja Rawal Singh of Jaslamir re-captured the fort in 1747. However, in 1808 Nawab of Bahawalpur re-attacked and defeated Raja Rawal Singh. The Fort was again a part of Bahawalpur State and has been under the domain of Nawab of Bahawalpur ever since.
As tall as 30 meters, swirling square shaped walls of the fort tell us the great story of its magnificence and grandeur. The Fort comprising of 40 bridges, a well, main gate and a big swimming pool has become the centre of tourist’s attraction. However, the pool has now dried up completely.
Walls and roofs of many rooms of the fort have fallen down whereas the main wall has also been weakened with the passage of time and can fall down anytime.
Riaz Baloch, who has an insight on Cholistan’s interesting history, told Pak Voices, “If we continue to treat our national heritage in this manner, and if we don’t take interest and keep disowning it, we’ll also be part of history along with.”
There is also an old canon of historic value in the courtyard of the fort that was used against enemies during war. This canon is also part of historic heritage now. Along the canon, a tunnel was also constructed that led to Jaslamir through hidden passages. It was closed afterward.
Baloch told PakVoices, “Government will have to take emergency steps and measures to make Darawar Fort safe or else a whole civilization will be buried along with.”
Nazar Abbas is working with PakVoices as a citizen journalist from South Punjab.
Edited by Hasan Khan
Translated by Salman Tahir