Rahim Yar Khan: History, Famous Places, Personalities & Economy

Rahim Yar Khan is an important agricultural, and commercial centre of South Punjab, with Bahawalpur District in the east, Rajanpur District in the west, and the river in the north. While Jaisalmer district of the Indian state of Rajasthan and Ghotki district of Sindh province are located in the south.

The district is also called the “Gateway of Punjab”, because not only is it located at the confluence of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan, but all the main routes from Punjab to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa pass through here. Covering an area of ​​11,880 sq km, the district Rahim Yar Khan has a population of about five million and includes four tehsils, Khanpur, Liaquatpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Sadiqabad. A small part of the district (Machhka, Sadiqabad) is located within the Ghotki district of Sindh province, surrounded by the province of Sindh.

History Of Rahim Yar Khan

The old name of this city was Nowshera which was later renamed as Rahim Yar Khan after a close relative of the Nawab of Bahawalpur.

If we look at the history of Rahim Yar Khan, it goes way back in time. Rahim Yar Khan is one of the few historical cities in the world that is always inhabited since its inception. The city has been given many names in different periods including Alwar, Patan, Pholwada, and Nowshera. The reason for the current name of Rahim Yar Khan is that when the state’s ammunition depot caught fire in 1881, the prince of the state, Rahim Yar Khan, was killed in the accident after which the city was named. 

Secondly, a large city called Nowshera already existed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which necessitated the renaming of the city. It was made a town committee in 1905, a municipal committee in 1993, and a district instead of Khanpur in 1943.

When Muhammad bin Qasim and his forces set out to conquer Multan 800 years ago, they passed through this area. This Islamic army used to throw palm seeds brought from Arabia wherever it encamped, and as a result of which today there is an abundance of magnificent varieties of date palms in the area. Among them, the demand for “Jajja Abbasis” dates is all over the country.

Location & Geography Of Rahim Yar Khan

In terms of physical features, Rahim Yar Khan district can be divided into 3 parts. In the west, along the borders of Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh, the “Indus River” flows, the lower part of which is also called the “Kacha Area”. The riverbed here is very wide and many small islands can be seen in it.

Then there are the fertile plains of the district in the south which are irrigated by the canals (Panjnad Canal, Abbasia Canal, Ab-e-Hayat, Abbasia Link Canal) flowing from Panjnad Headworks. The Manchin Dam separates this area from the Kacha area. This region is one of the few fertile areas of Punjab where almost all types of crops are produced.

The southern part consists of the desert which extends to the Pak-India border and forms a quarter of the entire area. It is also called “Cholistan” and “Rohi”.

 It is said that “Cholistan” was not always a desert. About 1000 years ago, it was a very lush region, irrigated by the ancient “Hakra River” Which was a tributary of the Sutlej and Saraswati rivers. On rainy days, it sometimes starts flowing like streams. Today, many parts of Cholistan are being drained and made cultivable.

In terms of wildlife and flora, the region is divided into two parts. The northern part of the country has the typical wildlife of other riverine and plain areas, while the southern part has the abundance of wildlife, including wild cats, foxes, foxes, deer, camels, hawks, wild peacocks. (Small burrowing animal), a variety of snakes, wild rats, chakras, eagles, pigs, wild bulls and many unique reptiles. Sheiks from the UAE and Qatar come each year during hunting season for the hunt in “Cholistan Desert”.

Historical & Famous Places of Rahim Yar Khan

The city of Rahim Yar Khan is a beautiful combination of ancient and modern civilization. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has a great hand in the modernization of this city. It is the favourite city of the sheiks of Abu Dhabi where they come every year for hunting. Following are few famous places of Rahim Yar Khan that are reflections of modernization.

  • Rahim Yar Khan’s Abu Dhabi Palace
  • Sheikh Zayed Airport
  • Khawaja Farid Engineering University
  • Sheikh Zayed Medical College 

Here are some historical places of Rahim Yar Khan that are part of the ancient history and glorious past of this city.

  • Bhong Mosque
  • Baghala Fort
  • Sassi’s proposed city Bhatta Vahan
  • Mau Mubarak’s Fort
  • Ancient Patan Minara
  • Islamgarh Fort
  • The tomb of Bibi Karam Khatun
  • Forts of Bijnot and Machhki 

Bhong Mosque

The Bhong Mosque, one of the most famous places of Rahim Yar Khan to visit which is included in the Guinness Book of World Records, is of international renown and is located in Bhong, a town near Sadiqabad.

Sardar Raees Ghazi Muhammad started the construction of this mosque in 1932. Raees Muhammad Ghazi was also an honorary magistrate and a member of the Bahawalpur Assembly. Despite having a lot of wealth, he lived a pious life. Raees Ghazi Muhammad instructed the construction of the Bhong Mosque near his family palace-like house in 1932 and provided a large sum of money.

Bhong Masjid Rahim Yar Khan

He took a personal interest in each phase of construction. For the construction of the mosque, red stone, marble stone, salt stone, gray stone, and black stone were imported from Austria, Hungary, Italy, and other countries. Hundreds of craftsmen were hired to cut and carve these stones, make flowers on tiles, engrave and calligraphy, fine and fine work on sandalwood, glaze and make gold flowers. 

The mosque was completed in about fifty years from 1932 to 1982. The three generations took part in the construction of this mosque.

Raees Ghazi Muhammad died in 1975 while the mosque was being built. After his death, his eldest son, Raees Shabbir Muhammad, continued the work of the mosque. As soon as the mosque was completed in 1982, it gained international fame. Tourists from all over the world started coming to see this mosque. 

Due to its beauty and uniqueness, it was awarded the Aga Khan Award in the field of construction in 1986. On May 12, 2004, the government of Pakistan issued a stamp with a picture of the mosque. The mosque, with its beautiful carvings, unique floral arrangements, and unique designs, amazes the tourists.

Patan Minara

Another famous place to visit in Rahim Yar Khan is The Patan Minaret (Patan Minara), which is located at a distance of 8 km south of Rahim Yar Khan. The Patan Minaret was known as Patanpur in history. While some believe that the city was inhabited even before the time of Alexander the Great and an ancient river flowing through the Cholistan desert flowed near Hakra or Ghaghra Patanpur, Alexander the Great conquered this city sometime after. He stayed here with his army and at the same time, he built the Patan Minaret.

Patanpur has been a special center of Hinduism and Buddhism in history. The river Hakra flowing along its banks dried up due to climate change. With the drying up of the river, the greatness of Patanpur gradually faded away and at one point the whole area Desolate, according to some traditions, the treasure is buried in the Patan Minaret. In 1849, an English Colonel Manchin tried to find the treasure but failed.

The Patan Minaret on the banks of the Hakra River in Rahim Yar Khan, today only a brick minaret, which is about to collapse at any moment, is the way to the back of a nearby village. Entering the compound, there are old stairs in front, which lead to the top of the minaret. Much of the minaret has sunk into the ground. 

The Archaeological Department has released millions of rupees for the restoration of the Patan Minar, the last vestiges of the Patanpur civilization, but the matter could not go beyond paperwork. If immediate attention is not paid to the protection of the Patan Minaret, its mark may remain in the next few years.

Islamgarh Fort

Islamgarh Fort was formerly known as Bhim War Fort. The fort of Islamgarh was built by Raja Rawal Bhim Singh in 1665 as written on the outside of its gate. The fort’s construction materials and stones were loaded onto carts from the state of Jaisalmer. The bricks were made locally.

 After the conquest of Ikhtiar Khan in 1780, it was renamed as Islamgarh. ”

The fort is located very close to the Indian border, on the other side of which is the Indian city of Kishangarh. Dravida Fort is about 170 km from this fort. It was severely damaged by Indian shelling in the 1971 war. Today only the ruins of this fort remain.

Machki Fort

There are many mysteries of history buried in the vastness of Cholistan which no one has been able to know till date. One such secret is “Fort Machhki”, one of the 22 forts of Cholistan. Located about 30 km southeast of Rahim Yar Khan city, this fort is spending the last days of its life in the golden sands of Cholistan. 

To reach the ruins of this fort, you have to travel in the desert within 9 km from Abu Dhabi Road where you will be greeted by a variety of terrestrial insects. From a distance, you can see the broken gate and two towers of the fort.

Fort Machhi was built in 1777 by Lal Khan, son of Ikhtiar Khan. Its main entrance was on the east side, with small towers on either side. Even today, the broken arch of this door still bends like a lean and crooked old man.

Khairgarh Fort

One of another historical fort is Khairgarh Fort, which stands emaciated in a desert miles away from the population, whose towers are soon to be found in the sands of Rohi. Telling the story of the past, this small fort is located 64 miles west of the fort of Derawar and a few miles south of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed’s Salwali Farm (Tehsil Liaquatpur), which is also close to the mausoleum of an elderly Haider Shah Bukhari. ۔

According to the Bahawalpur Gazetteer, the khairgarh fort was built in 1776 by Haji Khan Mandhani Daud Puta, son of Ikhtiar Khan, and was named Qila Khairgarh. This fort, like other small forts in Cholistan, was built for defensive reasons. Another purpose of its construction may be that there was no sign of a population or an inn in this miles-long desert. Thus, during the long journey of the Khawanis and Rajas, these small forts would have been built for accommodation and other basic human needs.

If this fort was located in the main thoroughfare and in a big city, it would have been the centre of attention of tourist attraction and would have been safe under the patronage of the government, but unfortunately, it is in Cholistan, which is destined to be neglected.

Famous Personalities of Rahim Yar Khan

Rahim Yar Khan district has been fertile not only for production but also for Sufis, poets, writers, and politicians. Some of the famous personalities of Rahim Yar Khan include: 

  • Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid (famous Sufi saint and Saraiki poet)
  • Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi (founder of Tehreek-e-Reshmi Rumal)
  • Chaudhry Abdul Malik (late)
  • Makhdoom Hassan Mahmood (former Chief Minister of Bahawalpur)
  • Haroon-ur-Rasheed (columnist)
  • Maulana Muhammad Abdullah Darkhasti (Leading Religious Scholar and Important Member of Movement for the End of Prophethood)
  • Maulana Siraj Ahmad Din Puri (Religious and Spiritual Elder)
  • Muneeba Mazari (renowned social worker and artist)
  • Aima Baig (Singer)

Political families of Rahim Yar Khan have an integral part at federal and provincial level. Some of the famous politicians that Rahim Yar Khan produced are:

  • Makhdoom Syed Ahmad Mahmood (Former Governor of Punjab, Politician)
  • Makhdoom Shahabuddin (Former Federal Minister of Pakistan Peoples Party)
  • Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar (Current Federal minister)
  • Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal Gujjar (Senator PML-N)
  • Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht (Provincial Finance minister of Punjab)
  • Maiza Hameed Gujjar
  • Iqra Khalid (Member of Canadian Parliament)

Economy Of Rahim Yar Khan

Agriculture

This district is counted among the most fertile districts of Punjab. Almost all kinds of crops are grown here, including wheat, sugarcane, cotton, rice, millet, gram, sunflower, and onion, while mangoes are the most popular fruit. The royal state of Bahawalpur was known throughout India for its excellent mangoes. 

After mango, the most popular fruit here is the date palm. After Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan is the largest producer of dates in Punjab which is 34% of the total production of Punjab. There are also orchards of guava, java plum (Jamun), canoe, melon, and sour fruit.

Industries

Thanks to a strong agricultural base and located at the confluence of three provinces, there are many factories here today. There are more or less 6 sugar mills in the district. Being part of the cotton belt, there are numerous cotton ginning mills here. In addition, oil, ghee and soap making, marble making, fertilizer making, flour grinding, dry milk making, poultry feed, Coca-Cola Beverage factory, and double bread-making factories have played an important role in the development of the region.

Handicrafts

Cholistani women are very skilled in handicrafts. They are second to none in making ajrak, khes and rivers, making pottery, making mats from palm leaves and bark, making baskets and fans, embroidering, making embroidered sheets and bed sheets with beautiful designs.

People and Culture of Rahim Yar Khan

About 60% of the population of the district is “state” natives, while the proportion of settlers is 40%. The number of Hindus in this district is higher than the rest of the districts of Punjab (except Bahawalpur) which live mostly in the desert area of ​​Cholistan. Here Sindhis, Balochs, and Pathans from Punjabi and other provinces all live in mutual harmony. The major languages ​​spoken here include Seraiki (62%), Punjabi (27%), Urdu (3%), Sindhi (2%), Pashto, Balochi, Marwari, and Dari.

Tehsils of Rahim Yar Khan

There are four tehsils of District Rahim Yar Khan. Rahim Yar Khan, Khanpur, Sadiqabad, and LiaqatPur.

Khanpur

The land of the Sufis and the ancient city of Khanpur is a tehsil which used to be a district but was abolished in 1932 and Rahim Yar Khan was made a district. The city is the birthplace of the great Sufi poet Khawaja Ghulam Farid, renowned religious scholar and soldier of the Khilafat Movement Maulana Muhammad Abdullah Darkhasti, the birthplace of the famous spiritual saint Maulana Siraj Ahmad Din Puri. 

The city is very important in terms of location. Being in the middle of Lahore and Karachi, Khanpur has long been the largest railway junction between Rohri and Khanewal, which was demolished in the 1990s. From here a railway line went to Chachran Sharif which has been the residence of the famous Sufi saint and poet Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid.

The city is famous all over the country for its sweet “Khanpuri pairay”. “Khanpuri Pairay” are made from milk, cream, almonds, and pistachios, and considered as famous gifts of Rahim Yar Khan district. Since there are about 8 cities named Khanpur in Pakistan (Khanpur Tehsil Haripur District, Khanpur Marchanwala District Bahawalpur, Khanpur District Shikarpur, Khanpur Mehr District Ghotki, Khanpur Tehsil Melsi District Vehari, Khanpura District Sheikhupura, Khanpur North District Muzaffargarh, Khanpur District Jaffarabad. Therefore, Tehsil Khanpur is also called “Khanpur Katora”.

There are two reasons for this, one is that the structure of this city is like a bowl (Katora in URDU) and the other is that at one time the bowls made of brass were very popular here. Before the partition, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi passed through this city, the Hindu merchants here presented him with bowls made of brass.

Sadiqabad

Sadiqabad, the last tehsil of Punjab, is famous for its industrial development. Fertilizers, cotton, and sugar factories are very popular here. 

At a distance of 5 km from Sadiqabad city, there is a beautiful garden called “Garden of Paradise” which is the largest garden in the area with an area of ​​more than 75 acres and a variety of plants.

Liaqatpur

Another tehsil of the district Rahim Yar Khan is Liaquatpur which is located near the historical site “Uch Sharif” of Bahawalpur district, while another place, Head Panjnad is also located with this city. Liaquatpur is a town named after Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan. This is the only city in the state of Bahawalpur which is named after a person from outside the state. To the south of the city, there are the ruins of a few old forts.

Weather of Rahim Yar Khan

The climate of the district is hot and humid. Summers are longer than winters. At night, however, the weather becomes pleasant. The average annual rainfall is 100 mm.

 

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