Work on repair and conservation of a broken down segment of Derawar Fort will begin this month, Archaeology Sub Divisional Officer Ghulam Muhammad said on Wednesday.
He said arrangements for the construction were complete. The provincial government has given the Archaeology Department Rs6 million for the restoration of a damaged boundary wall and some bastions of the historic fort.
Ghulam Muhammad said that he had visited the site last week and had monitored the preparation of special bricks that would be used in the conservation work. “These bricks will be fixed with lime and red-brick powder and the inner portion of the wide wall will be buttressed with sun-dried bricks,” he said.
Officials of the Archaeology Department explained that a portion of Derawar Fort had been damaged by rain and natural wear and tear. Three bastions and two segments of the fort’s 75-feet high and five-foot thick boundary wall had been damaged a while back. “We had told the government about it when the damage occurred but the funds were only recently approved and released.” They said that a bastion on the south-eastern part of the fort and a 23-foot long, five-foot thick and 75-feet high portion of the wall would be conserved.
Derawar Fort lies on the border of Cholistan desert and to the south-east of Dera Nawab in Bahawalpur district. According to a report by the Archaeology Department, there has been a fort at this site for almost 5,000 years as part of a chain that provided security to travellers along an ancient trade route from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. The report says that the fort was captured by the Abbassi family from Raja Rawal Singh of Jaisalmir in 1733. The fort, in its present form was built circa 1733, the report says.
In recent years, the Tourism Development Corporation of the Punjab has put the site on the map after it made it the venue for the annual Cholistan Jeep Rally. The TDCP has also publicised the fort as a popular site for picnics and holiday-making. Officials of the Archaeology Department said people mostly visited the site in winters. The SDO said the conservation work would be completed in 45 days after the work began.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2016.