I didn’t know Pakistan held such vast treasure, lifestyle and tradition that spread over centuries until I started travelling extensively from the last one year. From snow-capped graceful mountains to the glitzy golden deserts, there is so much to look around, so much to take pride on. It strengthens your faith in your country and renews your love for your home. Derawar Fort – Cholistan is one worth-watching place.
Located at the entrance of Cholistan Desert, amidst the glittering golden sand, is the Derawar Fort – that signifies magnificence, royalty and above all perseverance and might.
It took us one and half hour of wait before the gate keeper appeared and agreed to unlock the fort for the tourists saying it was a private property of Nawab of Bahawalpur which bars public from entering without a special permission note from His Highness.
Initially it does come off as non-sense but when you are moving in the one of the states of nawabs – in this case Bahawalpur – you would not be surprised because they own practically everything there – you name it. Be it fish market, forts, palaces, plazas, livelihood, hotels, resorts or anything, everything belongs to the Nawab saab. Entering Derawar Fort though, which looks magnificent and glorious from the exterior, we were extremely disappointed to see what was in it – N.O.T.H.I.N.G!
There was absolutely nothing in the fort with its walls crumbling, interior collapsing and bats flying aimlessly. The fort looked well-dug as though someone has been trying to tunnel it in pursue of treasure. Disappointed by the nothingness that prevailed there, we decided to call it the day when the tour guide started telling us of the fort legend. Legend has it that there is indeed a massive treasure hidden deep within the fort’s chamber of secrets.
♣ Legend #1: Mountain of Riches Hidden by the Hindu Prince
The fort is believed to house a large amount of treasure – so large that it is beyond the wildest dreams of the richest king in the world – hidden by the Prince Dev Rawal – the prince who built this fort in 850 AD. When Sir Sadiq Khan Abbasi took over the fort from the Rajputs in 1730s, the then treasure keeper agreed to take only one (blindfolded) man down to the treasure through the hidden labyrinths. One coming back, the subordinate confirmed seeing an eye-splitting and unbelievably large amount of gold and precious stones but years of search and mining by the nawab himself could not unearth that gold despite repeated attempts. At last, the nawab ordered the execution of subordinate suspecting him of greed and treachery. To this day, though, the Abbasi family believes that the fort has some secrets that only time will answer.
♣ Legend # 2: Alexander the Great & His Hidden Treasure
The second legend comes from the treasure trove of late Obaidullah Baig’s knowledge – the eminent scholar & novelist. This legend connects to Alexander the Great – who while crossing the region paused in Sehwan. There, he ordered his general to carry and burry the treasure laden on 100 camels to the midst of the Great Sandy Desert at the distance of 6 days journey. As per Obaidullah Baig sahib, a 6 day journey on the given bearing makes Derawar Fort the prime suspect.
♣ Legend # 3: Treasure – Lost & Found
The 3rd tale emanates from a historic book titled Tareekh-e-Masoomi which gives both good and bad news in that the treasure was indeed found by the Mongol ruler of Sindh Shah Hasan Arghun who marched towards the fort in 1525 on hearing the news of its large treasure and immense riches. He cordoned and conquered the fort, got clue of the treasure, found and distributed it amongst his army keeping considerable sums for himself.
The nawab of Bahawalpur though presses that there still lies huge gold somewhere in the chamber of secret beneath the fort. This explains for the rather deserted and terrible state of the fort that bespeaks only digging and tunneling especially when so much more could be done. The legends of hidden treasure make real sense because history tells us forts have been used for the same purpose by the rulers etc. Recent news of Treasure Trove of Staggering Riches found in the 16th century temple in India adds a lot of sense and curiosity to the Derawar Fort Legend. I just hope it is found one day and the nawab family bestows this magnificent fort to government of Pakistan for cultural & heritage preservation and tourism promotion.