Bahawalpur (also Bhawalpur, Bhawulpore) is a city of (1998 pop. 403,408) located in Bahawalpur District, Punjab Pakistan. Bahawalpur is located south of the Sutlej River and it lies in the Cholistan region. It is situated 90 km from Multan, 420 km from Lahore and about 700 km from the national capital Islamabad. It was the capital of the former princely state of Bahawalpur. The city of Bahawalpur is famous for its kind-hearted people known as the Saraikis. Bahawalpur is small and its easy to find your way around the town. Its a nice place to spend a few days if you are tired from being in big cities like Lahore and Multan, or tired of being in the middle of nowhere in Cholistan. The central bazar still feels quite historical, although a bit ramshackle. The Cantt area is nice and relatively green. Architectural monuments include the former royal family's palaces namely Darbar Mahal, Gulzar Mahal and Noor Mahal. All Mahals are now under military control.
The Bahawalpur State was the largest Mahommedan State in the Punjab. The Bahawalpur State lay to the south-west of the Punjab and to the north-east of Sindh. It was bounded on the north-west by the rivers Sutlej, Chenab and Indus. On the north-east of it lies the District of Ferozepur, and to the south the States of Bikaneer and Jessalmir. It was one of the largest as well as most important States of the Punjab. Bahawalpur occupies a narrow strip of land extending for 300 miles along the left bank of the Satlej ; Chinab and Indas successively. The soil is fertile near these rivers; but the eastern part is covered by a sandy plain which runs over nearly half the length of the country. The area was 22,000 square miles, and the population 500,000 souls.
The Rulers of Bahawalpur belonged to the Daudpotra Scion of the great Abbaside dynasty, receiving their tribal name from Daud Khan II., a lineal descendant of Sultan Ahmad II. Abbasi who, about the year 1317 A.D., with a number of attendants, marched into Sindh, entering India through Kech and Makran. Rai Dhaurang, the Ruler of Sindh, met these aliens in the field ; but being defeated, had to purchase peace by giving up one-third of his territory. After the death of Sultan Ahmad II. his successors gradually assumed great power in Sindh and their possessions comprised a considerable portion of the country. The head of the tribe was then known by the title of Amir, and the seat of his power was Shikarpur, founded by Amir Bahadur Khan.
Early in the eighteenth century the Abbasi settlers were divided into two rival families : Daudpotras and Kalhoras (cousins to each other). The territory under their control being too small for their requirements, and the portion of the country to the north (the Bahawalpur State) being mostly in a waste condition, Amir Sadiq Mohammad Khan, the head of the Daudpotras, marched out to it to make it the field of his future activity.
Within a few years of his settling there he succeeded in subjugating the surrounding tribes by force of arms. In 1729 he founded the town of Allah Abad. In 1733 he wrested the fort of Derawer from Rawal Aghi Singh, the ruler of Jessalmir. His reign was remarkable for the several new towns which were founded by him. Amir Sadiq Mohammad Khan I. was therefore the first ruler of the Principality now known as the Bahawalpur State. He died in 1746, and was succeeded by his son Mohammad Bahawal Khan I.
During the brief rule of this chief several new towns were built, the principal among them being the town of Bahawalpur (which has given its name to the whole territory governed by the Nawabs of Bahawalpur) which the Nawab built in 1748 and fixed it as the seat of his government. In 1749 Bahawal Khan I. died, and being without male issue, his younger brother, Mubarak Khan, took his seat. Mubarak Khan succeeded in including the town of Pakpattan, Mails!, Duniapur and Karor in his dominions. These were the days of the rapid rise of the Sikh power in the Punjab. Jhanda Singh and Hari Singh accordingly invaded Bahawalpur on that side of the Sutlej, but they were compelled to retire on terms of peace. Ahmad Shah Durrani also sent a force under Commandant Jehan Khan, but the latter failed to effect any conquest. Mubarak Khan died in 1772, leaving his seat to his nephew Bahawal Khan II.
In 1779 Bahawal Khan II. was granted by Shah Alam, Emperor of Delhi, the title of "Rukn-ud-Daula, Nasaiat-i-Jang, Mukhlis-ud-Daula, Hafiz-ul-Mulk," which title the Nawabs of Bahawalpur continued to hold. In spite of the internal feuds and external attacks from his enemies, the Nawab succeeded in consolidating his dominions. The Rulers of the Bahawalpur State are rightly proud of the fact that fidelity to the British Crown has always been one of the most cherished principles of their government. Nawab Bahawal Khan II. died in 1809, and was succeeded by his son Sadiq Mohammad Khan II. The brief rule of this Nawab, disturbed by constant dissensions, terminated by his death in 1825. His successor was his son Nawab Bahawal Khan III. so well renowned in the history of the time.
In 1833, when an invasion of Bahawalpur by Maharaja Ranjit Singh seemed imminent, the Nawab sent a representative of his to the Court of Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General of the day, and reminding His Excellency of the amicability established in 1808, requested that the British Government should dissuade the Maharaja from his intentions. The Governor-General acceded to the request of the Nawab and the Maharaja abandoned his scheme. From then the river was fixed as the boundary between the province of Punjab and the Bahawalpur State.
The Nawab of Bahawalpur ranked third in order of precedence among the Punjab Chiefs and was entitled to a salute of 17 guns and to a return visit from the Viceroy of India. As to the administration of affairs the Nawab was entirely independent in the exercise of sovereign rights over his subjects.
Al-Haj Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V Bahadur, Nusrat Jung, Amir of the God gifted kingdom of Bahawalpur, GCSI (1.1.1941, KCSI 1.3.1929), GCIE (3.6.1931), KCVO decided to join Pakistan at the time of independence in 1947. The state maintained its sovereignty until 1955.
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