(November 11, 2011) Taking advantage of the long Eid weekend I took a couple of days break and drove all the way to Umerkot, South Western city of Pakistan, which is the Eastern gateway to the Thar Desert, or the Great Indian Desert.
The city is rich in culture and heritage and has the following to attract an inquisitive traveler:
* Umerkot Fort with impressive entrance, high watch tower, and colonial structures
* Birthplace of Akbar, the most famous of Mughul Emperors
* Religious aspects because of significant Hindu population, alien to other Pakistan cities
* Refresher drink: Thadal
* Red Chili and Cottonseed crops
* Priceless handicrafts and Thari bangles
* Adjoining Thar Desert
* Wild Peacocks
Please click here for pictures and trip details.
Instead of writing dozens and dozens of tips I will write one list that is easy to read and to the point.
1. Khyber Pass - depending whether or not the security situation is stable this journey has to be one of the most incredible , dangerous and pulse quickening rides you can go on , period. If you get to Peshawar go the Rose Hotel and ask about going and ask about the security situation. You will love it!
2. Lahore - Lahore has too many good things to mention from Mughal architecture to gardens to zoos to Islamic singing. Lahore is def one of the most fascinating cities in South Asia. It was an absolute pleasure to visit.
3. Peshawar - Afghans in the bazaars, burkas everywhere,storybook markets, smugglers bazaar on the doorstep not to mention the Khyber Pass is near makes this city one of favorite travel experiences ever.
4. Wagah - You can feel as though you are watching an international cricket match at the border closing making this place a great place to see nationalism in action.
5. Pindi and Islamabad - Visit these twin sisters cities that geographically are only kms apart but in reality leaps and bounds apart. Pindi is traditional and poor in a lot of areas but Islamabad is posh and wealthy.
6. The Himalayas - Dont have to describe this one, if you have seen them from Nepal or India you know what I mean.
7. Uch Sharif - Incredible shrine and great setting makes this place an easy day trip from Multan.
This is my list for now and when I return to Pakistan next year I will go to the Kalash valleys to see the unique culture and old city bazaar and to the Northern areas along the KKH.
Uch Sharif is one of the beautiful historical sites in Pakistan,75 km away from Bahawalpur. Located at the confluence of the Sutlej and Chenab, Uch Sharif is a wonderful tourist destination.Some of the famous shrines in Uch Sharif include Hazrat Jalaluddin Surkh Bukhari, Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht, Hazrat Bahawal Haleem, Shaikh Saifuddin Ghazrooni and Bibi Jawandi. The tomb of Bibi Jawinidi is a wonderful monument that is beautifully designed and is covered in a number of tiny blue tiles that present wonderful sight when sunrays fall on them.one of the Uch's most famous tombs, Bibi Jalwindi (a noble woman who lived in the area a few centuries back).On the foreground is a fragment of a Muslim cemetry. Yes, these are graves also. Not so majestic as the tomb at the back.
Makli Hills, or little Mecca is reputedly the largest neropolis in the world. With a million graves, tombs & mausoleums, it is an impressive & eerie place. For over ten centuries, the Sindhi People have held Makli sacred, & a spiritual atmosphere persists to this day.
Atmosphere apart , Makli gives some idea of the self-importance & staggering wealth of the elite of nearby Thatta, capital of Lower Sindh(province) from the 14th to17th century, & a prosperous port & a great centre of Islamic learning. The larger tombgs belong to to royalty & militry commanders, Saints & Scholars, Philosophers & Poets, & were probably built to their occupants' own desings.The hill is long & low stretching for about five miles north to south & crossed in the middle by National Highway. The grave-stones and mausoleums at Makli are masterpieced in stone-carving and netted stone work, representing different eras and dynasties, distinguishable by the styles of their ornamentation, the mountains cover the Summa period (14th to 16th centuries). The Tarkhan & Arghun period (16th century). and the Moghal period (16 to 18th centures).Here in eternal sleep lie kings and queens saints and scholars philosophers and soldiers of a by-gone era-an-era renowned for its culture and learning.
Cholistan is locally known as Rohi. This famous desert is 30 Km from Bahawalpur and comprises of an area of 16,000 sq.km. which extends upto the Thar desert extending over to Sindh. The word Cholistan is derived from 'Cholna' which means moving. The people of Cholistan lead a semi-nomadic life, moving from one place to another in search of water and fodder for their animals.
Derawar Fort is located 48 Km from Dera Nawab Sahib. It is still in a good condition. The rampart walls are intact and still guarded by the personal guards of the Amir of Bahawalpur. The tombs of the ex-rulers of Bahawalpur and their families are located in this fort. The tombs have nice glazed blue tile work. Prior permission of the senior Amir of Bahawalpur is required to enter the fort. The fort was built in 1733. The fort with decoratively carved sandstone walls, which take your breath away, as they rise magnificently from the flat desert wasteland like something so grand it's difficult to imagine.It is extremely photogenic, but is best seen in the morning or evening before or after the desert's midday sun takes hold.
The largest desert is found in western Balochistan. This is an area of inland drainage and dry lakes (hamuns), the largest of which is Hamun-i-Mashkhel, which is 54 miles long and 22 miles wide. The surface is littered with sun-cracked clay, oxidized pebbles, salty marshes and crescent-shaped moving sand dunes. The area is known particularly for its constant mirage and sudden severe sand-storms. Being outside the sphere of monsoon current, Balochistan receives scanty and irregular rainfall (4 inches); the temperature is very high in summer and very low in winter.
The desert covers most of the Gawadar Area that's why its called Gawadar Desert as well. The people living in the deserts are very hospitial & friendly. You must arrange a Camel Safari to the desert.
1:Cholistan is in tact the biggest desert in Pakistan covering an area of 26.000 Sq.-Km. Its dunes as the name Cholistan signifies (Cholistan -derived from Cholna or walking) as they go on shifting with the tune of time and meteorology. The fascinating barren landscapes of the Cholistan desert covers 26.000 sq. km and extends into the Thar Desert in India. The whole area was once well watered by the river Ghaggar now called the Hakra in Pakistan and known in Vedic times as the Sarasvati. All along the 500-km of dried up river are over 400 archaeological sites, which date back to the Indus civilization 4500 years ago and are clustered around Derawar Fort. The only perennial water hole in the desert. The desert has an average rainfall of 5 inches a year and there is very little cultivation.
2: The origin of the Thar desert is a controversial subject. Some consider it to be only 4000 to 10,000 years old, whereas others state that aridity started in this region much earlier. Also known as The Great Indian Desert, it is spread over four states in India, namely Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, and two states in Pakistan and covers an area of about 4,46,000 square kilometres. Thar Desert, the huge unending expanse of burning hot sand is spread over four states in India, namely Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, and two states in Pakistan covering an area of about 446,000 square kilometres. Deriving its name from 'thul' denoting the sand ridges of the region, Thar stands divided between Sindh region in Pakistan and Rajasthan in India
In Cholistan the derawar fort worth all the effort u need to get there from bahawalpur. All of a sudden in the middle of nowhere a fort
protected by a wall with rounded towers attached to it every 15 m astonish u.It's brick built and some geometrical designs adorn the wall and the towers. Nearby a marble mosque and the graveyard of the abassi family .The mausoleums with white domes, brick walls and sky-blue tile decorations transports u back to the persian and afghan styles of decoration.
Deserts have their own charm and beauty. They offer very interesting and strange lanscapes.
Some tour companies offer exciting camel safaris through cholistan desert.