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City District / Divisional Capital
Clockwise from top: Noor Mahal Palace,Gulzar Mahal, Sadiq Dane High School, Darbar Mahal Palace, Sadiq Mosque, Fareed Gate
Clockwise from top: Noor Mahal Palace,Gulzar Mahal, Sadiq Dane High School, Darbar Mahal Palace, Sadiq Mosque, Fareed Gate
Municipal Corporation Bahawalpur
Municipal Corporation logo
Bahawalpur is located in Punjab, Pakistan
Bahawalpur is located in Pakistan
Coordinates: 29°23′44″N 71°41′1″E / 29.39556°N 71.68361°E / 29.39556; 71.68361Coordinates: 29°23′44″N 71°41′1″E / 29.39556°N 71.68361°E / 29.39556; 71.68361
Country  Pakistan
Region Punjab, Pakistan Punjab
District Bahawalpur
Tehsil Bahawalpur City
Union councils 36
 • Type Municipal Corporation
 • Mayor Aqeel Najam Hashmi
 • Deputy Mayor Malik Munir Iqbal Channar
 • Total 237.2 km2 (91.6 sq mi)
Elevation 181 m (702 ft)
Population (2017)[2]
 • Total 681,696
 • Density 2,900/km2 (7,400/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+5 (PKT)
Postal code type 63100
Area code(s) 062
Bahawalpur / Punjab Portal

Bahawalpur (Urdu: بہاولپور‎), is a city located in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Bahawalpur is the 11th largest city in Pakistan with an estimated population of 798,509.[3] Bahawalpur is part of South Punjab, a distinct region historically influenced by the ancient cultural centres of Multan and Uch Sharif.[4]

Founded in 1748, Bahawalpur was the capital of the former princely state of Bahawalpur, ruled by the Abbasi family of nawabs until 1955. The nawabs left a rich architectural legacy, and Bahawalpur is now known for its monuments dating from that period.[5] The city also lies at the edge of the Cholistan Desert, and serves as the gateway to the nearby Lal Suhanra National Park.


The Noor Mahal was the seat of the city's ruling Nawabs.
Darbar Mahal was built by Nawab Bahawal Khan V in 1905 as a palace for his wife.[6]


The area known as Bahawalpur was home to various ancient societies. The Bahwalpur region contains ruins from the Indus Valley Civilisation, as well as ancient Buddhist sites such as the nearby Patan minara.[7] British archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham identified the Bahawalpur region as home of the Yaudheya kingdoms of the Mahābhārata.[8][9]

Prior to the establishment of Bahawalpur, the region's major city was the holy city of Uch Sharif - a regional metropolitan centre between the 12th and 17th centuries that it is renowned for its collection of historic shrines dedicated to Muslim mystics from the 12-15th centuries built in the region's vernacular style.[10]


Bahawalpur was founded in 1748 by Nawab Bahawal Khan I,[11] after migrating to the region around Uch from Shikarpur, Sindh.[12] Bahawalpur replaced Derawar as the clan's capital city.[13] The city had initially flourished as a trading post on trade routes between Afghanistan and central India.[14]

In 1785, the Durrani commander Sirdar Khan attacked Bahawalpur city and destroyed many of its buildings on behalf of Mian Abdul Nabi Kalhora of Sindh.[15] Bahawalpur's ruling family, along with nobles from nearby Uch, were forced to take refuge in the Derawar Fort, where they successfully repulsed attacks.[15] The attacking Durrani force accepted 60,000 rupees as nazrana tribute, though Bahawal Khan later had to seek refuge in the Rajput states as the Afghan Durranis occupied Derawar Fort.[15] Bahawal Khan returned to conquer the fort by way of Uch, and re-established control of Bahawalpur.[15]

Princely state[edit]

The ruling Abbasi family regarded the nearby Derawar Fort as a traditional bastion of their power.
Bahawalpur's central library dates from the princely state period.

The princely state of Bahawalpur was founded in 1802 by Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan II after the break-up of the Durrani Empire, and was based in the city. In 1807, Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire laid siege to the fort in Multan, prompting refugees to seek safety in Bahawalpur in the wake of his marauding forces that began to attack the countryside around Multan.[15] Ranjit Singh eventually withdrew the siege, and gifted the Nawab of Bahawalpur some gifts as the Sikh forces retreated.[15]

Bahalwapur offered an outpost of stability in the wake of crumbling Mughal rule and declining power of Khorasan's monarchy.[15] The city became a refuge for prominent families from affected regions, and also saw an influx of religious scholars escaping the consolidation of Sikh power in Punjab.[15]

Fearing an invasion from the Sikh Empire,[16] Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan III signed a treaty with the British on 22 February 1833, guaranteeing the independence of the Nawab and the autonomy of Bahawalpur as a princely state. The treaty guaranteed the British a friendly southern frontier during their invasion of the Sikh Empire.[16]

Trade routes had shifted away from Bahawalpur by the 1830s, and British visitors to the city noted several empty shops in the city's bazaar.[14] The population at this time was estimated to be 20,000,[14] and was noted to be made up primarily of low-caste Hindus.[14] Also in 1833, the Sultej and Indus Rivers were opened to navigation, allowing goods to reach Bahawalpur.[15]

By 1845, newly opened trade routes to Delhi re-established Bahawalpur as a commercial centre.[15] The city was known in the late 19th century as a centre for the production of silk goods, lungis, and cotton goods.[17] The city's silk was noted to be of higher quality than silk works from Benares or Amritsar.[14]

Sadeq Mohammad Khan V served as the last Nawab of Bahawalpur.

An 1866 crisis over succession to the Bahawalpur throne markedly increased British influence in the princely state.[18] Bahawalpur was constituted as a municipality in 1874.[19] The city's Noor Mahal palace was completed in 1875.[13] In 1878, Bahawalpur's 4,285 foot long Empress Bridge was opened as the only rail crossing over the Sultej River.[13] Bahawalpur's Sadiq Egerton College was founded in 1886.[13] Bahalwapur's Nawabs celebrated the Golden Jubillee of Queen Victoria in 1887 in a state function at the Noor Mahal palace.[17] Two hospitals were established in the city in 1898.[13] In 1901, the population of the city was 18,546.[13]

Bahawalpur's Islamia University was founded as Jamia Abbasia in 1925. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Bahawalpur's Nawab was the first ruler of a princely state to offer his full support and resources of the state towards the crown's war efforts.[20]


British Princely states were given the option to join either Pakistan or India upon withdrawal of British suzerainty in August 1947. The city and princely state of Bahawalpur acceded to Pakistan on 7 October 1947 under Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V Bahadur.[21] Following independence, the city's minority Hindu and Sikh communities largely migrated to India en masse, while Saraiki Muslim refugees from became India settled in the city and surrounding region. The city's Quaid-e-Azam Medical College was founded in 1971. While much of southern Punjab's Saraiki population in Multan support the Pakistan Peoples Party, the region around Bahawalpur is known for its support of the Pakistan Muslim League.[22]


Alluvial plains form much of the immediate region around Bahawalpur.

The main crops for which Bahawalpur is recognised are cotton, sugarcane, wheat, sunflower seeds, rape/mustard seed and rice. Bahawalpur mangoes, citrus, dates and guavas are some of the fruits exported out of the country. Vegetables include onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes and carrots. Being an expanding industrial city, the government has revolutionised and libertised various markets allowing the caustic soda, cotton ginning and pressing, flour mills, fruit juices, general engineering, iron and steel re-rolling mills, looms, oil mills, poultry feed, sugar, textile spinning, textile weaving, vegetable ghee and cooking oil industries to flourish.[23]


In 2007, the city's population was estimated to have risen to 798,509 from 403,408 in 1998.[3] No census has been conducted in Pakistan since 1998, although one will be completed in 2017. The Bakhri are a clan found in the Shabr Farid ilaqa of Bahawalpur claiming Rajput origin. They were previously converted to Islam but fearing to return to their Hindu roots they settled down in Multan as weavers.[24]


The Darbar Mahal mosque was built in an exuberant style.

Bahawalpur emerged as a centre of Chisti Sufism following the establishment of a khanqa by Noor Muhammad Muharvi in the mid 18th century.[25] Deobandi Islamism was established in the Bahawalpur area during colonial times in an effort to counter the strong Sufi influence in the area. After Partition, a number of Deobandi institutions from Jalandhar and Ludhiana areas relocated to Pakistani Punjab, including to the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur. In recent years, there have been a growing number of Deobandi institutions, from which jihadis recruit a considerable number of militants to fight in Afghanistan and Kashmir.[26]

There are 500 to 1000 madrassas in Bahawalpur belonging to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith orientations..[27]

Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of Jaish-e-Mohammad, was born in Bahawalpur in 1968. He established a 4.5 acre walled complex outside the city that serves as a headquarters for JeM.[27]

Civic administration[edit]

Bahawalpur was announced as one of six cities in Punjab whose security would be improved by the Punjab Safe Cities Authority. 5.6 billion Rupees have been allocated for the project,[28] which will be modeled along the lines of the Lahore Safe City project in which 8,000 CCTV cameras were installed throughout the city at a cost of 12 billion rupees to record and send images to Integrated Command and Control Centres.[29]


Bahawal Stadium or The Bahawalpur Dring Stadium is a multipurpose stadium, home to Bahawalpur Stags. It hosted a sole international match, a test match between Pakistan and India in 1955.Motiullah hockey stadium is in Bahawal Stadium which is used for various national and international hockey tournaments in country. Aside from the cricket ground, it has a gym and a pool facility for the citizens.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "MC Bahawalpur". MC Bahawalpur. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  2. ^ "DISTRICT AND TEHSIL LEVEL POPULATION SUMMARY WITH REGION BREAKUP: PUNJAB" (PDF). Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. 2018-01-03. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  3. ^ a b Bahawalpur: Area & Population Archived 9 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Official Bahawalpur Government Website, Retrieved 2009-09-17
  4. ^ Vandal, Sajida. "Cultural Expression of South Punjab" (PDF). UNESCO - Islamabad. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  5. ^ Dar, Shujaat Zamir (2007). Sights in the Sands of Cholistan: Bahawalpur's History and Architecture. Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ "A century later, Bahawalpur's Darbar Mahal stands tall - The Express Tribune". 21 April 2017.
  7. ^ Auj, Nūruzzamān (1987). Ancient Bahawalpur. Caravan Book Centre.
  8. ^ Gupta, Parmanand (1989). Geography from Ancient Indian Coins & Seals. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 9788170222484.
  9. ^ North Indian Inscriptions volume III: Inscriptions of the Early Gupta Kings. p. 23.
  10. ^ "UNESCO Office in Bangkok: Uch Monument". Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  11. ^ Wright, Arnold, ed. (1922). Indian States: A Biographical, Historical, and Administrative Survey. Asian Educational Services. p. 145. ISBN 9788120619654.
  12. ^ Gilmartin, David (2015-06-05). Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History. Univ of California Press. ISBN 9780520285293.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Cotton, James Sutherland; Burn, Sir Richard; Meyer, Sir William Stevenson (1908). Imperial Gazetteer of India ... Clarendon Press.
  14. ^ a b c d e The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and Its Dependencies. Black, Parbury, & Allen. 1838.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Álī, Shahāmat (1848). The History of Bahawalpur: With Notices of the Adjacent Countries of Sindh, Afghanistan, Multan, and the West of India. James Madden.
  16. ^ a b Burki, Shahid Javed (2015-03-19). Historical Dictionary of Pakistan. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442241480.
  17. ^ a b bahādur.), Muḥammad Laṭīf (Saiyid, khān (1891). History of the Panjáb from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Time. Calcutta Central Press Company, limited.
  18. ^ Minahan, James (2012). Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598846591.
  19. ^ "Bahawalpur | Pakistan". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  20. ^ Javaid, Umbreen (2004). Politics of Bahawalpur: From State to Region, 1947-2000. Classic.
  21. ^ Christopher Buyers, Royal Ark website. "Bahawalpur: The Abbasi Dynasty". Archived from the original on 15 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  22. ^ Bianchi, Robert (2004-09-09). Guests of God: Pilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 9780195171075.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 September 2010. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
  24. ^ Denzil Ibbetson, K.C.S.I. (1911). A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier province: a-k, volume 2. p. 93.
  25. ^ Jones, Justin; Qasmi, Ali Usman (2015-04-13). The Shi‘a in Modern South Asia: Religion, History and Politics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781316338872.
  26. ^ Talbot 2015, p. 6.
  27. ^ a b Shah, Saeed (13 September 2009). "Terror group builds big base under Pakistani officials' noses". McClatchy newspapers. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  28. ^ "After Lahore, six others to become 'safer cities'". Express Tribune. 20 February 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  29. ^ "Punjab Safe City Project inaugurated". Dawn. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2017.


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