Bahawalpur, the City of Nawabs is undoubtedly one of the understated gems when it comes down to the beauty of Pakistan. Remaining a princely state up till the time of Independence, it tends to boast some of the grandest architectural wonders of the country, including some of the most ancient and unique ones as well. Being the 13th largest city in Pakistan, its overall population spans to be around 1.4 million. The tourist attractions present therein, have the potential to attract people of interest from all around the world. Here is our list of the top 10 places to visit in Bahawalpur, the Land of the Nawabs:
- Noor Mahal
- Derawar Fort
- Darbar Mahal
- Abbasi Mosque
- Tomb of Bibi Jawaindi
- Lal Sohanra National Park
- Central Library
- Farid Gate
- Cholistan Desert
- Abbasi royal Graveyard
1. Noor Mahal
Situated close to Canal road, the Moor Mahal is an amalgamation of Italian architectural work at its very best. Built in 1872 as the residence of the wife of Nawab Bahawal Khan V, the palace is known for its huge and beautiful fountains and gardens as well as the marble work and intricate carvings that form another important constituent therein. As of now, it is partially open to the public, alongside being used as a state guesthouse.
2. Derawar Fort
Built in the 9th century, the Derawar Fort is a large square fortress located 130 kilometres southwards of the city. Being first built by a Hindu Rajput Rai Jajja Bhatti, it later was taken over by the Muslim Nawabs of Bahawalpur. Due to its immense structure and rich history buried deep within the drive to the spot is well worth it. Withstanding the tests of times with it five feet thick walls, it has forty bastions that are visible from miles around the Cholistan Desert. Each bastion is named after the Amir of the state and is a great tourist destination for all.
3. Darbar Mahal
Sitting near the edges of Darbar Road, this is one of the many beautiful royal palaces in Bahawalpur. Built in the 19th century, this also was commissioned by Bahawal Khan V for his wife. Despite not having opened to the public in 1971, the exquisite exterior is a fine piece of architecture that one can marvel at for hours. Being a blend of European and Indian influences, the palace is surrounded by many gardens.
4. Abbasi Mosque
Built in 1815, the Abbasi mosque is a historical monument that the city hosts. Popular owing to its unique architectural style, the mosque’s exquisite cupolas and domes were built of the highest quality marble in 1849 by Nawab Bahawal Khan, who was known for his dedication towards the beautiful architecture of Bahawalpur. While the mosque is standing imagery of Indian and Islamic influences, the intricate tile work and calligraphy further add to the beauty.
5. Tomb of Bibi Jawaindi
Built in the 16th century, the tombs hosted in Bahawalpur’s Uch Sharif, are one of the historical monuments of Pakistan. The area founded by Alexander the Great, is famed for its shrines and Sufi culture. It was built in 1493 by an Iranian prince, Dilshad, for Bibi Jawindi, the great-granddaughter of a famous Sufi saint. The calligraphy and tile work is an amazing work of art and despite the damage caused to it as a result of time, conservation efforts are underway to protect its gorgeous interiors and exteriors.
6. Lal Sohanra National Park
Developed in 1972, the Lal Sohanra National Park encompasses an area of over 33,000 acres and is known for the diverse ecosystem present. Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, this is one of the largest national parks in South Asia. The wildlife includes deer, wild boars and various species of birds owing to its unbelievably diverse landscape of desert, wetland, and forest ecosystems.
7. Central Library
Established in 1964, The Central Library is known for its vast collection and variety of books that serve as great resource material for researchers and students. Being the second-largest library in Punjab, it Library is an architectural beauty inspired by Italian designs. Alongside hosting a huge quantity of books, journals and various types of reading material, the library also provides services like photocopying, reference assistance and internet access. It houses an impressive collection of over 100,000 books and even has all the editions of major national newspapers dating back to 1947.
8. Farid Gate
The city historically was a walled city with seven gates, and Farid Gate is one of the only gates that is still standing. Built in the 19th century, it was named after the famous and well-known Sufi saint of that time; Hazrat Farid Shakarganj. The gate is known for its exquisite architectural design and is a blend of Islamic and Indian influences. Conservation efforts are underway to preserve it and the surrounding areas to their former glory.
9. Cholistan Desert
The Cholistan desert is the largest desert in Bahawalpur and is also known as Rohi. Covering an area of 26,000 square kilometres, the desert is known for the unique ecosystem that it serves, due to being home to a wide range of plants and animals. The tombs and forts present therein date back to the Indus Valley Civilization and in case you’re an adventure-seeking tourist, this is the place for you!
10. Abbasi Royal Graveyard
The Abbasi Royal graveyard in Bahawalpur is where the Nawabs of Bahawalpur who ruled the state for about a century, is laid to rest alongside their loved ones. The blend of Islamic and Indian architecture makes this graveyard even more attractive and is open to tourists and visitors. Due to being a private cemetery of the Nawab Family, no ordinary man is allowed burial therein.