Bahawalpur is 889 km from Karachi. The founder of the state of Bahawalpur was Nawab Bahawal Khan Abbasi I. The Abbasi family ruled over the State for more than 200 years (1748 to 1954). during the rule of the last Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V, Bahawalpur State was merged with Pakistan in 1954. Bahawalpur was formerly the capital of the state and now is the District and Divisional Headquarters of Bahawalpur Division.
Southern Punjab of Punjab province of Pakistan has many a historical places that narrate the history of Pakistan, much before it emerged as an independent country in 1947. Of these besides the historical city of Multan that is considered to be the oldest living city of the world, Bahawalpur is a major city in the southern Punjab, that existed as an independent state for some 200 years (since 1748). The state was founded by Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan Abbasi I. The state was spread over an area of 45,911 square kilometres (17,494 sq mi) and divided into three districts: Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalnagar. The state acceded to Pakistan on 7th October 1947 and was merged into the province of West Pakistan on 14th October 1955 by Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V. There are a number of royal palaces reminding the glory of the rulers of the sate, the main palace "Noor Mehal" (above right) has now been converted into an officers' mess for the Bahawalpur garrison. Being an independent state, the Nawabs of Bahawalpur maintained their own army and an efficient economy with a firm grip on the affairs of the state. The army consisted of two battalions; 1st Bahwalpur Infantry (raised 1827), 2nd Bahwalpur Light Infantry (raised 1827). The state ruler was known as the "Farman rawai mumlukat khudadad Bahawalpur" (Ruler of the God-Gifted Kingdom of Bahawalpur". Pelican is the state mascot, which appears on its State arms seal and on all palaces. Bahawalpur used the postage stamps of British India until 1945. On 1st January 1945, it issued its own stamps. On 1st December 1947 the state issued its first regular stamp, a commemorative stamp for the 200th anniversary of the ruling family, depicting Mohammad Bahawal Khan I, and inscribed "BAHAWALPUR". A series of 14 values appeared 1st April 1948, depicting various Nawabs and buildings. A handful of additional commemoratives ended with an October 1949 issue commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union. After this the state adopted Pakistani stamps.
The city lies just south of the Sutlej River, and is the site of the Adam Wahan (Empress) Bridge, the only railway bridge over the Sutlej River in Pakistan. Today, Bahawalpur city is a thriving city of southern Punjab, famous for its white silver jewelry, embroidered shoes and the pottery. The surrounding area is mostly agricultural, and the city is a market town for mangoes, dates, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton. The city is connected to the rest of the country through rail, road and air link. Bahawalpur district covers an area of 24,830 square kilometres and comprises six tehsils (sub-districts) - Ahmadpur East, Bahawalpur, Hasilpur, Khairpur Tamewali and Yazman with a total population of about 2.5 million. Approximately two-thirds of the district is covered by the Cholistan desert, which extends into the Thar desert of India. The Bahawalpur was once also known as Baghdad-ul-Jadid (New Baghdad). Saraiki is the local language of the area, while Urdu, Punjabi and English are also spoken and understood by most of the people.
The city also has a Zoo which is one of its kind. it has a big population of lions, including Bengal tigers. Sometimes lions are bred here to be sent to other zoos of the country. The city is the seat of Islamia University (1975) and the Qa'id-e A'zam Medical College and is also an important agricultural training and educational centre.
Bahawalpur Museum is yet another place of interest for the visitors. This small museum has a collection of old coins, medals, postage stamps of former state of Bahawalpur, manuscripts, documents, inscriptions, wood carvings, camel skin paintings, historical models and stone carvings etc. of Islamic and pre-Islamic period. There is a complete set of medals of all classes issued by the ex state to its military officers civilians and to other important citizens of the ex state.
It is an important marketing centre for the surrounding areas and is
located on the cross roads between Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta and Karachi.
Saraiki is the local language of the area.
The Cholistan Desert:
East of Bahawalpur is the Cholistan Desert which covers an area of about
15,000 square km and extends into the Thar Desert of India. The region
was once watered by the Hakra River, known as the Saravati in Vedic
times. At one time there were 400 forts in the area and archaeological
finds around the Darawar Fort, the only place with a perennial waterhole,
indicate that it was contemporaneous with the Indus Valley Civilization.
Suhanra National Park:
The best attraction is the lion safari to see the lions in their natural habitat from close quarters. One lion with four lionesses roam freely and one can go as close as the photograph above. But one is not advisable to get out of the vehicle since these lions are wild and can devour on anything live and close.Black Buck and Nilgai are being bred in this Park. There are around 400 black bucks in the park