The Fort was constructed in the 9th century AD. It is considered an ancient Fort. According to chronic facts, the Fort was constructed by a Hindu Rajput Rai Daija Bhatti, who was the ruler of Dera Sadda also known as Deo Rawal. The fort was initially named after Deo Rawal. Gradually, Deo Rawal turned into Derawar. The present Fort was built and renovated by Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan 1, the Nawab of Bahawalpur in 1733 AD. Different periods of history remained under the ownership and supervision of the rulers of Bahawalpur State until 1966.
In 2005, keeping in view the historic and architectural significance of the Fort, the Archeology Department of Pakistan declared it a preserved structure under Archeology Act. In 2016, UNESCO included the Derawar Fort in the International Heritage list.
In Qila Derawar, 40 high structure Bastions have been constructed to halt the attack of the enemy. All external walls and bastions are made up of small but solid bricks. It is narrated that during the construction of this magnificent fort, a chain of human hands was established to ensure the smooth supply of bricks from Ouch Sharif. The fort is a significant milestone of the Chaulistan Desert and a great landmark of Architecture and Construction art. The building of fort is a most magnificent square shape, far and wide structure. The surrounding external walls of the Fort are high up to 674 to 684 ft. They are about 100 ft. high above the ground level. While, in the walls’ central sphere, small clay bricks were used for construction. A clay mixture was utilized for the strength of the Bricks.
How to Access the Derawar Fort
Derawar Fort is located in Dera Nawab Sahib, Bahawalpur. The Fort is 100 km away from Bahawalpur. The distance between Dera Nawab Sahib from Bahawalpur is about 50 kilometers. Derawar Fort too is 50 kilo meters away from Dera Nawab Sahib. Almost 2 kilometers before Tehsil Ahmad Pur a road turns left towards Dera Nawab Sahib. Sky Rocketing bastions of the Fort are visible from miles away.
Dilapidation and Restoration of the Fort
In 1966, after the death of Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi the Fifth, due to lack of care and reparation, dilapidation started in the Fort. In 2017-18, the Archeology Department of the Punjab Govt initiated the renovation and restoration work in the Fort. Under this, the restoration work started on Eastern bastions, external walls, plate farms, Baradarri, Main Entrance Gate, Store Room, and ancient mosque.
Important Places Of Derawar Fort
Main Entrance Gate of the Fort
The main gate is so superb. It is designed in a way that enemies’ armies could not enter the fort easily. The elephants used to break the main doors of the forts by striking their heads into them. In Derawar Fort, huge Iron Needles have been installed in the main gate so that elephants could not break it by a head strike. The entry fee is Rs 20 at the main Gate. After the gate, a brick made way goes inside the building along the main bastion walls. These bastion walls are 10 ft. wide.
Sleeping and Rest Rooms of Nawabs in Qila Derawar
In the basements, there were rooms constructed for Nawabs’ relaxation. The rooms were used during the summer season. The summer in Bahawalpur is harsh and scorching. These rooms’ temperatures used to be cool and moderate. A rail-type track was used to get down in the rooms’ section. An iron cart would carry the Nawabs to these rooms. The external path of these rooms still exists. However, the rooms have been dilapidated.
From Bara Dari, the outside weather was enjoyable. As the Fort was constructed along the Hakrha River. Therefore, the river view might have been awesome amid good weather. Through this Bara Dari, there might have been Royal Darshan on particular events. Now, 8 doors exist out of 12.
Royal Mosque and Regal Grave Yard in Qila Derawar
Outside the Fort, towards the Eastern side, a Royal Mosque was constructed with white stones. The mosque was built 175 years ago by the Nawabs. Prayers are asked here 5 times a day. There is a Royal graveyard too near the mosque. In this graveyard, about 10 Nawabs of the Bahawalpur are taking the Eternal Nap. Two graves have been reserved for two alive Nawabs in the graveyard.
A huge lawn was used for the troops’ parade. Crown Wearing ceremonies and Jashans too would be held on this lawn.
On a higher surface, gallows were fixed to award death sentences to criminals. The gallows building is somehow safe.
Some rooms still exist in the Fort, which was used as prison cells. Prior to Abbasi Nawabs, the Rajput rulers too used the same cells to put criminals and political opponents behind bars. The prison cells are rapidly dilapidating. The rooms were partitioned by walls.
Underground Secret Paths and Rooms
Like other forts, Derawar fort too had secret paths for defense purposes. Now, these paths have almost been dilapidated. In order to remain safe from Desert heat, several underground offices and rooms were built. The majority of them have been raised to the ground, with the passage of time.
Two cannons were installed in the fort to combat the enemy. Only one canon is present there nowadays. The other one has been shifted to Bahawalpur City and installed on Farid Gate.
White Stone Graves
Along the wall of the Fort, 3 white stone graves seem. It is said that Abbasi commanders martyred during wars were buried here inside the fort.
A residential section seems in the Fort. Outside a veranda. Inside, the rooms were built on both sides of a gallery. They were airy. Sunlight could easily be reached. The rooms are rapidly dilapidating. The structure is falling day by day. Nawabs and their families used to live here.
Jeep Rally Spot
The famous Chaulistan Jeep Rally is held near the Fort in the desert. The location and spot of the jeep rally are visible from the fort.