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History of Punjab

Its name meaning 'Land of Five Rivers', is the richest, most fertile and most heavily populated province of Pakistan. (Originally the five rivers referred to the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas - but the last is now in Indian Punjab only, so the Indus is now included as Pakistan's fifth river). In Punjab, live over 70 million people - more than half the population of the entire country. Geographically, it is a land of contrasts, from the alluvial plain of the Indus River and its tributaries to the sand-dunes of the Cholistan Desert, from the verdant beauty of the pine-covered foothills of the Himalaya to the strangely convoluted lunar landscape of the Potwar Plateau and the Salt Range.

In the 17th century, Lahore became one of the greatest Mughal cities in the subcontinent. A town near Lahore was the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the 15th century founder of the Sikh religion, and Lahore was the capital from which Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled his 19th century Sikh Empire. The British coveted this fertile region, and overthrew the Sikhs in 1849, annexing Punjab to their Indian dominions, with Lahore as its provincial capital. Finally, it was in Lahore that the All India Muslim League passed, on 23 March 1940, its Resolution for the Creation of Pakistan.
The best time to visit northern Punjab is in the spring, from February to April, and in the autumn, from September to November. Southern Punjab is extremely hot in summer, so Multan is at its best in winter, from November to February. 

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.
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. Urdu, Punjabi and English are also spoken and understood by most the people. There are three palaces, the main one Noor Mehal. Bahawalpur is also known for its distinctly embroidered slippers and shoes and the filigree pottery which is made here. It has a marble mosque in the Fawara Chowk and a few British buildings like the Science College. Bahawalpur has a modest museum having a fine collection of coins, medals, postage stamps of former State of Bahawalpur, manuscripts, documents, inscriptions, wood carvings, camel skin paintings, historical models and stone carving etc. of Islamic and pre-Islamic period. 

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.
The average annual rainfall is only 12 cm, and the little cultivation there is, is made possible by underground wells, drawn up by the camels. The water is stored in troughs, built by the tribes, between sand hills and din waterholes called tobas.The people are racially similar to those in Rajasthan - tall, with sharp features. They live in large, round, mud and grass huts, usually built on the top of sand hills.

On the whole, they are pastoral and nomadic. The main tribes are the Chachar, Mehr, Lar, Paryar, Channar, Chandani and Bohar. The forts here were built at 29 km intervals, which probably served as guard posts for the camel caravan routes. There were three rows of these forts. the first line of forts began from Phulra and ended in Lera, the second from Rukhanpur to Islamgarh, and the third from Bilcaner to Kapoo. They are all in ruins now, and you can see that they were built with double walls of gypsum blocks and mud. Some of them date back to 1000 BC, and were destroyed and rebuilt many times. 

Uch Sharif
Uch Sharif, 75 km from Bahawalpur is a very old town. It is believed that it existed 500 BC. Some historians believe that Uch was there even before the advent of Bikramajit when Jains and Buddhist ruled over the sub-continent. At the time of the invasion by Alexander the Great, Uch was under Hindu rule. Certain historians say that Alexander came to Uch after conquering northern parts of India and spent over a fortnight in they city and renamed it Alexandria. Some have mentioned Uch by the name of Sikandara or Iskalanda. They have described it as the most flourishing and beautiful town perched upon the plateau near the confluence of the Chenab and Ravi rivers. 

They have described it as the most flourishing and beautiful town perched upon the plateau near the confluence of the Chenab and Ravi rivers. the famous shrines existing at Uch include those of Hazrat Bahawal Haleem, Hazrat Jalaluddin Surkh Bukhari, Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht, Shaikh Saifuddin Ghazrooni and Bibi Jawanadi. The shrine of Bibi Jawandi is a central asian design, titled in the blue and white faience.
Uch is a small town today and divided into three different quarters known as (i) Uch Bukhari, after Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari Surkhposh, (ii) Uch Jilani, after the name of Hazrat Shaikh Mohammad Ghaus Qadri Jilani (Bandagi), who came from Halab in 887 AH, (iii) Uch Mughlan after the Mughal rulers. 

Mosque at Bhong Bhong is in the Rahim Yar Khan district and is about 200 km from Bahawalpur. This mosque was built by Rais Ghazi, a local landlord of Bhong. Gold leaves have been used for the intricate decorative work in the mosque which has made it famous for its beauty and the stylish calligraphic work. 

Lal Suhanra National Park
This park is ideal for recreation, education or research but shooting is forbidden. This park, 36 km to the east of Bahawalpur is a combination of a natural lake and forest on 77480 acres of land and spread over on the both sides of Bahawalpur canal. It has watch-towers, catching ground, tourist huts, rest house, camping grounds, TDCP Resort with 6 A/C Bed Rooms and treks for the visitors and lovers of nature. Hog deer, ravine deer, black buck and nilgai are common. Fox, jackals, hares, porcupines, mongoose, larks, owls and hawks are also found. Wild boars are in large number in the forest areas. Lal Suhanra National Park which is actually a wildlife sanctuary worth a visit. 

About 966 km from Karachi and more or less right in the centre of the country lies the ancient city of Multan. Multan, the 'City of Pirs and Shrines' is a prosperous city of bazaars, mosques, shrines and superbly designed tombs. It is also a city of dust, summer heat and beggars. It has a long history. Alexander the Great added it to his list of Indus conquests. In 641 AD Xuang Tzang found it 'agreeable and prosperous' - Mohammad Bin Qasim obviously agreed, he was the next to conqueror Multan in 712 AD. Mahmud of Ghazni invaded in 1006, Timurlane in 1398. In the 16th century it was the Moghuls turn, followed by the Sikhs in 1752 and the British in 1849. The old city has narrow colorful bazaars full of local handicrafts and narrow winding lanes. There are many places of historical, cultural and recreational interest in the city. 

The Multan Fort Multan fort was built on a mound separating it from the city and the old bed of river Ravi. The famous Qasim Bagh and a Stadium are located within the walls of the fort. A panoramic view of Multan city can be had from the highest point in the fort. 

Shrines The devastation of Khorasan and Western Iran was to the benefit of this part of Pakistan, for it led to thesettling in this city of a large number of pious and learned men and noble families like Gardezi Syeds and Qureshis from Khawarizm, amongst whom Sheikh Bahauddin Zakaria is a famous saint. About the same time Pir Shams Tabrez from Sabzwar and Kazi Qutubuddin from Kashan came to Multan. Baba Farid Shakar Ganj settled in Pakpattan. Khawaja Qutubaddin Bakhatair Kaki passed through to Delhi and Syed Jalal, the spiritual leader of many family in Multan, Muzafargarh and Bahawalpur, came to Uch, Sultan Sakhi Sarwar's father also emigrated from Bokhara to Sakot in Multan district. These venerable men contributed greatly to spreading Islam in this area. the saints and shrines of Multan have been attracting a large number of devotees all the year round.

The shrines of one of the foremost scholars of Islam, Shaikh Bahauddin Zakaria is located in the fort. The Mausoleum was built by the saint himself. It has a unique style of architecture of that period, the mausoleum of Shah Rukn-e-Alam, the grandson of Shaikh Bahauddin Zakaria, is also located near the main gate of the Multan Fort. He was also a man of great religious and political influence. Besides its religious importance, the Mausoleum has a unique architectural value.

Its dome is considered to be the second largest in the world after "Gol Gumbad" of Bijapur, India. The mausoleum has very rich geometrical patterns, calligraphy and colorful floral, mosaic and glazed tile work. The mausoleum has recently been given the Agha Khan Award for the best Muslim Architecture. The shrine is visited by devotees all the year round. The shrine of Hazrat Shams Sabzwari is located near Aamkhas Garden. Other shrines in Multan include that of Muhammad Yusuf Fardezi near Bohar Gate, Musa Pak. Shaheed inside the Pak. Gate, Total Mai near Haram Gate, Shah Ali Akbar, a descendant of Shah Shams Sabzwari, in Suramiani and Bab Sarfa near Eidgah. 

Fort Munro From D.G. Khan, 85 km on the Quetta Road is the only hill station in southern Punjab in Sulaiman Mountain Ranges. Its altitude is 1800 meters, attracts many people for short stay during the fiery summer. TDCP resort at Fort Munro offers excellent boating on the Dames Lake. the resort provides accommodation, a restaurant and a snack bar. 

This was the first of the Indus Valley Civilization sites to be discovered, but in size and condition it is inferior toMoenjodaro. Located 186 km south-west of Lahore, Harappa is reached via the station at Sahiwal, formerly known as Montgomery. Situated beside an earlier course of the Ravi River, Harappa was discovered in 1920/21, but through the ages the site was quarried for bricks and most of the buildings so far excavated are in poor condition. Like Moenjodaro the excavations have revealed a series of cities, stacked one upon another. The site, with its citadel and great granary, seems similar in many ways to Moenjodaro and like its southern sister-city appear to have thrived around 2000 to 1700 BC with an economy based largely on agriculture and trade. The Harappan society seems to have been egalitarian, pursuing a rather simple way of life. 

The cemeteries discovered at Harappa confirm that the Indus Valley people buried their bead, many of them wearing finger rings, necklaces of steatite beads, anklets of paste bead, earnings and shell bangles. Copper mirrors, antimony rods, sheer spoons and vessels and urns of various shapes and size lay in the graves. Some of the female skeletons had anklets of tiny beads and girdles studded with some-precious stones. Excavations have recalled evidence of some pre-Harappa material which shows strong affinity with the Kot Diji finds. On display at the Museum are excavated material, including terracotta toys, gamesman, jewellery, animal figurines, bronze utensils statuettes etc.

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