After arriving in the dark of night at the bus station of Bahawalpur, we discover that hotels will not accept us. After talking to a manager on the phone, who promises to come and help us out, we see a police pickup arrive instead with several soldiers, who tell us they will take us to the police hotel. It sounds like a joke, like a synonym for prison, but there is not much choice, so we load our bags in the vehicle and are on our way through the deserted streets of the Punjabi city. To our surprise, we are escorted into a building which indeed looks like a hotel, and offered a room with bathroom. We discuss our wish to visit Derawar Fort. After a night on a bus, we have a few hours sleep, before having breakfast. We are surprised again when a guy walks in and, showing the car keys in his hand, tells us he is our driver. Ten minutes later, we are on the way in his car after we pick up a uniformed policeman with an AK-47.
The drive towards Derawar is nothing special until we exit the highway, and drive countryside roads towards the south. The driver has to stop and ask several times for directions. Then, with kilometres still to go, we see it right ahead: the massive walls of Derawar Fort rising from the arid Cholistan Desert surrounding it. We drive all around it, park in the shade, and walk in through the massive gate. Once inside, we walk up to a large terrain, on which we see ruins of buildings. On our way to the southwestern bastion, we see remains of herringbone pattern bricks on the floor, but mostly see loose bricks which have crumbled from the defensive towers. We are on the highest point of the fort, and see that the top of the sturdy bastions have decorative elements. Yes, there is much maintenance needed, but even so, we can grasp the idea of the formidable defence this fort must have been.
The first fort was built here in the 9th century; the current one was constructed in 1732. We walk down to the vast open space, where a large cannon stands. We visit several buildings which from a distance look like ruins, but closer up, appreciate the fine decorative details on the walls and ceilings. This must have been a beautiful fortress in its heydays. It now becomes clear that the driver has never been here: he happily takes selfies at every spot, with or without us, and confirms it is his first time here. After exiting through the main gate, we pay a visit to nearby Abbasi Mosque, constructed in the same design as Moti Masjid in the Red Fort in Delhi in 1849 by the nawab, the local Muslim ruler. Our armed guard walks into the mosque for his afternoon prayers with his Kalashnikov while we explore the elegant white marble building from the outside. A short drive takes us to the southwestern point of Derawar Fort, where the formidable building, with a 1500m circumference, rises up from the Cholistan Desert: the best view of the fortress.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Derawar Fort (Pakistan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Derawar Fort. Read more about this site.