Sunday, September 18, 2011

FIRST BLOG ON HERITAGE, CULTURE AND TOURISM IN PAKISTAN

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Derawar is a fortified structure – the true manifest of the massiveness and glory of the ancient times when technology was just toddling to know how to stand and walk. Even then the engineers of those bygone days were able to evolve a concept of strength – strength that lay in the huge walls which they thought should be the best solution for protection against vagaries of weather and evil eyes of their adversaries. The time proved their efficacy and the fort even after a span of more than 1100 years stands as fast as from the day one.
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THE GATEWAY TO CHOLISTAN

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WoP Research Desk

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Pakistan can rightly take pride in its legendary, colorful and traditional life style, a heritage that transcends since ages into the psyche of its people, right from the prehistoric period.

The fossils found in the salt range talk about the homo-erectus (the early ‘man’ in the development of humanity’s social habitat and the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization, starting right from Mehrgarh in Balochistan to Moenjo Daro and Harappa, respectively in Sind and Punjab provinces hint on emergence of civilisation on this planet right from Pakistan the land of eternity.

The early civilized way, the peace loving nature of its people enabled them live in a style in contrast to other parts of the globe who lived deep in extreme slumber and darkness in those days.

Here on one side in the north, are the snow-capped mighty mountains with unmatchable grace embracing the blue skies, yet on the other side the sometime shining blue, another time muddy brown azure waters of its five rivers along with the mighty Indus, invigorate the fertility of its plans, which in most of its central part are dotted with lush green fields which reach up to south where they ultimately meet the breathtaking coastline of the Arabian Sea – playing a very vital role in the economy and exquisiteness of its centuries old mother earth.

In contrast southern desert part of Pakistan glitters with the fiery romance of Cholistan, the harbinger of traditional folklore, the warmth & love which strives against the thirst of burning sands, a thirst that arises from the scorching heat clouds are barely able to quench.

Located here in Cholistan is the huge Derawar Fort right in this desert locale, frequently called “The Gateway to Cholistan”

Derawar is a fortified structure – the true manifest of the massiveness and glory of the ancient times when technology was just toddling to know how to stand and walk. Even then the engineers of those bygone days were able to evolve a concept of strength – strength that lay in the huge walls which they thought should be the best solution for protection against vagaries of weather and evil eyes of their adversaries. The time proved their efficacy and the fort even after a span of more than 1100 years stands as fast as from the day one.

Though the grandeur of the fort is still intact, some parts are decaying because of the cruel hand of time which does not spare anything, any body. Immediate attention, therefore, is required to save this centuries old fortress that has seen many swords striking against each other and its walls still smell the blood of soldiers that tried to conquer this massive structure.

Derawar is the oldest fort and the singular perpetual source of water in the vast desert of Cholistan. The huge fort with its powerful towers is unique, impressive and awe inspiring – you can sight it from many miles of distance.

Huge buttresses add to the glory and the sense of protection that was in the mind, Prince Dew Rawal when he ordered construction of this structure in 852 AD.

Dev Rawal was a Bhatti Raja from Jaisalmir who, as the legend goes, built this colossal fort around a tree which was believed to be sacred and protected the cattle from attacks of the wolves when they were nearby. The Jaisalmir Prince “Enwalled” the mystery tree for the sake of protection of this sacred shrub which could still be found in the courtyard of the fort. Apart from the legend, the fort served with all of its protective gears and helped the enthroned rulers to thrive.

Architecturally, this fort is more exterior-oriented as compared to other forts which depict the lavish attitude of the rulers who were obsessed with grandeur and extravagance. There the interior was as vital as the defense and the decorative elements inside presented a panoramic view to the souls resting within.

In construction of Derawa Fort, the burnt bricks were used on the exterior walls. It’s believed they were brought from Uch Sharif but were not transported but carried from hand to hand, a symbol of workers collaborative activity and also as devotion to their ruler. Ten battlements on each side were made out of thin burnt bricks which not only added to the fortification of the wall but also gave a subtle look to the fort; a unique feature of this citadel. Scaled at the pedestals in the garrison patio, there were two classic guns. The western side with small underground cells embodies the true features of a fortress. Although there is another legend also with regard to the under ground mine which was buried after a Yogi had revealed the secret of converting normal metals into gold to the Prince Dew Raj who proceeded as per yogi’s advice. After that the legend becomes totally silent over what happened with the alchemy of converting ordinary metal into gold and whether yogi still found the favours of the Prince upon failure of that alchemy.

Legendary tales apart, there are some very important, some highly unique historical structures which can be taken as historic landmarks, the denk-mals as observers of different civilizations and the ups and downs fort underwent through its 100 years old existence..

The Abbasids of the Punjab are believed to have taken over the Fort in 1735 from the Jaisalmir family; however, in 1747 the Fort went out of Nawab Bahawal Khan’s hands due to his pre-occupations at Shikarpur. It was Nawab Mubarak Khan who then took the stronghold back in 1804.

Nawab Bahawal Khan built a mosque with cupolas and domes of delicate marble in 1849. It is a replica of Moti Mosque in Delhi with three domes and four corner-minarets; the typical Mughal architecture with beautifully decorated Mehrabs.

As is usual with old historic monuments, the Fort too is loaded with many myths and legends. One such says there are some graves near the fort which are said to be of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the other Muslim reformers who devoted their lives to spread the words of Quran, Islam in this area. These persons are believed to have embraced their death at the hands of the Hindu rulers who were against these proselytisers.

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Nearby the fort there is a marble mosque modeled after the one in theRed Fort of Delhi. There is also a royal necropolis of the Abbasi family, which still owns the stronghold. The area is rich in archaeological artifacts associated with Ganweriwala, a vast but as-yet-unexcavated city of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Nearby the fort there is a marble mosque modeled after the one in the Red Fort of Delhi. There is also a royal necropolis of the Abbasi family, which still owns the stronghold. The area is rich in archaeological artifacts associated withGanweriwala, a vast but as-yet-unexcavated city of the Indus Valley Civilization.

The fort is relatively in good condition though, but the pitiless hands of time never spare a material object and to a good extent it has taken its tolls. The desert has already seen the decay of getting things sinking into sand particles.

There is an urgent need to listen to the sands of Cholistan, where the desert breeze touches the great walls of the Derawar and wails,

“SAVE ME IF YOU CAN!.”

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