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Punjab Cholistan Jeep Safari
 
Best Time November – February
 
ITINERARY
 
Day-1 RAWALPINDI
 
Arrive and transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnite.
 
Day-2 RAWALPINDI / MANGLA / ROHTAS
 
After breakfast departure for ROHTAS. Our first stop will be Rawat Fort which was built by Sultan Sarang the famous Ghakkar chief in
the domed Mosque and the grave of Sultan Sarang. A few miles ahead we will visit the Buddhist Stupa of Manikyala which was founded
by Ashoka in the 3rd Century B.C. to house some original body relics of Lord Buddha. Continue ahead passing Gujar khan along the Grand Trunk Road and after climbing the Taraki hills we drive down to dina and turn left to Mangla Dam. This Dam is built on river Jehlum and has a lake 62 sg miles in area and is the third largest earth filled dam in the world. Picnic lunch at the lake side. After lunch visit Mangla fort built originally by the Ghakkars in 16th Century and altered by sikhs in the 18th Century. The Fortoffers a good view of the lake. Afterwards departure for the famous Rohtas Fort which was built in the 1540 's by Sher Shah Suri. It is one of the most imposing historical monuments in Pakistan epecially attractive for anyone with a taste for castles in the most romantic tradition. Sher Shah Suri built this fort to keep the Ghakkar tribe in check and kept 12000 men here. The fort also guarded his famous Frand Trunk Roadon which you will travel. This road was also built by sher Shah Suri. arrive and take aleisurely tour of the forts as tonight you will be staying at the Rohtas Rest house.
 
Day-3 ROHTAS/KALAR KAHAR-KETAS/KHEWRA
 
After brealfast departure for KHEWRA-Eroute visit the beautiful Salt Water Lake of Kalar Kahar which is a haven for the migrating water birds in winter and see TAKHT-I-BABRI(BABARS THRONE) Continue on and after taking a side road reach the Hindu temple of Malot which was built in the Kashmiri style and dates back from 8th to 10th Centuries. Spend some time at Malot and return to the main road. Continue on to Ketas which houses ancient Hindu temples and was an important centre of pilgrimage for Hindu's before 1947. Here there is a sacred poll which is supposed to be bottomless. The temples here were built around 8th to 10 th Centuries. Spend some time exploring the temples and then continue on to Khewra. Khewra is famous for the largest salt mine of the world having 88 miles of tunnels and is the second biggest producer of rck salt in the world. It is estimated that if mining here is continued at present rate, there is enough salt to last another 365 years in the existing mine alone. These mines lie in the salt range which is unique in that its rocks record 600 million years of earth's history. The salt here was left behind when the sea which extended over the Indus plains and the Potowar plateau evaporated 600 million years ago. The existence of this mountain of salt in this area was known to the ancient Greek geographers and the importance of salt explains to some extent the number of ancient sites and he historical importance of the area. Arrive and transfer to the rest house for, overnite and dinner.
 
Day-3 KHEWRA
 
After breakfast we will take a trip into these ancient mines of salt. This trip is exciting for adults and children alike. We take a small electric train straight into the heart of the hill where you will be given a guided tour of the old and new workings. The rock salt here looks like glass and comes in the most beautiful shades of red and pink. Inside there is a small mosque built of transparent bricks of salt with lights concealed in its walls which gives a good idea of th variety of colours there are. You will also see various stalactites made of dripping water which has solidified. In the old part of the mine you will see the places where salt was excavated in enormious blocks, leaving supporting pillars of the same size. Some of the chambers thus created areextremely high. In the tallest chamber, excavated in Moghul times (16th century) you will have a good idea of its size when the guide lights up a flare. Some chambersin the mine are partially filled with clean water and it carries resounding echoes. Rest of the day is free to explore the area. Overnight at the rest house.
 
Day-4 KHEWRA/PIND DADAN KHAN-KHUSHAB
 
After an early breakfast departure for Khushab. Passing through Pind Dadan Khan we reach Khushab. Todays drive will take you through the salt range down into the plains. Passing through guaint little villages and green fields you will be able to observe the leisurely pace of village life of Punjab. On the road you will see cars and trucks side by side with bullock carts fully laden Camels and horses which show a unique combination of the old and the new. A good day to photograph the real village life of the salt range, the life style of its people, their dresses and the mud plastered dwellings all of which will give you an impression of how peaceful the village oife is where no one seems to be a hurry for anything. Driving through the hills you will see several coal mines where minning is done in the old style. Arrive at Khushab which lies at the foot of the Salt range and transfer to the rest house for avernite. Rest of the day free to explore the bazars of Khushab. Khushab in persian means sweet water, It is said that when the Moghul Emperor Babor come t this place and tasted the sweet water he named it Khushab.
 
Day-5 KHUSHAB/MULTAN
 
Early morning departure for Multan. Passing through the Thal desert which is a startingly different landscape to Thorn trees, camels and high sand hills. We reach the ancient and historic city of Multan. The history of his city goes back thousands of years and it has always been a rich prize for the invaders. At the time of Alexander the Great it was probably capital of the Malloi tribe which shut themselves up in the fortress of Multan at Alexander's approach, but were eventually subduced and Multan taken by the Macedonians. The famous Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Hsuan Tsanh visited Multan in 641 AD and found the city agreeable and prosperous. Multan was taken by Mohd Bin Qasim for the Arab caliphate after a siege of two months in 712 AD. In 1005 Mahmud of Ghazni took multan and then in 1398 it fell to the Mongol Empror Taimur the lame. It became a part of the Moghul Empire, was taken by Nadir shah of Persia in 1739, ahmed shah Durrani in 1752 and by Ranjit Singh the Sikh in 1818. In 1848-49 Multan was taken from the Sikhs by the British after the second Sikh war. This city is also known as the city of "Pirs" due to the large numbers of Shrines in the city. It is also famous for its beautiful and intricate glazed pottery and tiles camel skin work and cotton fabrics. It has now developed into an important market for agricultural produce and is famous for its Mangoes throughout the country.
 
Day-6 MULTAN/BAHAWALPUR
 
After breakfast we will go for a tour of Multan visiting the fort to see the tomb of " RUKHN-I-ALAM" the great religious and political figure of the 14th Century. The tomb is superbly decorted with dark blue, azure, turquoise and white tiles, contrasting with the deep red of the polished bricks. It has also intricately carved woodwork. Afterwards we will visit the tomb of the Saint Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria who was a 13th Century Sufi and spiritual leader with a very large following. Next we visit the shrine of Shams-e-Tabriz the great Sufi Martyr who was murdered in 1247. His tomb was rebuilt in 1780 and has a dome covered with sky blue tiles. Later we will visit the old walled city of Multan where you can buy handicrafts. After lunch departure for Bahawalpur 58 miles away. Bahawalpur was founded in 1748 by Nawab Bahawal Khan at an old site and was an independent state until the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Arrive and visit Nur Mahal built in 1875 and Bahawalpur Mosque. Next visit the Bahawalpur Museum which has an ethnographic exhibition of the Cholistan Deseret with excellent black and white photographs showing the artefacts of the deseret nomads. It also houses a good display of Indus civilization relics from the many Indus civilization sity sites to the south of Bahawalpur along the dry Channel of the Ghaggar river. Bahawalpur is also famous for Bahawalpuri Slippers and Shoes with distinctive embroidry delicate locally made filegree pottery; a piece of pottery large enough to hold a pound of water weighs hardly an ounce. Overnite in Bahawalpur.
 
Day 8 BAHAWALPUR-LAL-SUHANRA
 
Departure for Lal Suhanra Park 22 miles away. This park was developed in 1972 and is the home of many animals and birds including the rare chinkara gazelle and black buck. The total area of the Park is more than 100,000 Acres out of which 24,600 Acres is plantations of Popular and Shesham Trees, 4500 Acres of awater reservoir and the rest is Desert and Semi Desert area. This park is a wildlife sanctuary and has a small zoo where several species of animals including a pair of Rhinos are kept, It also has several animal enclosures which are used for breeding in captivity the rare species of wild animals i.e. Black buck Chinkara gazelle, Nel-Gai etc which used to roam the desert , in a great number only a few decades back but have now almost become ectinct because of indiscriminate hunting. It has a large which is a haven for water birds and fish. Arrive and transfer to your rest house situated inside the park. Rest of the day at liesure.
 
Day 9 to 15
 
From today we will begin our week long Desert Safari in the Cholistan Desert which covers an area of 10,000 sq miles and extends into the Thar desert in India. Our route will be along the dry bed of Hakra river which was earlier known as Ghaggar and in Vedic times as Sarasvati. This whole area was once well watered by this river and all along the 300 miles of its dried up bed over 400 archaeological sites have been discovered. Most of these date from the Indus civilization, 4500 ago and are clustered around Darawar Fort, the only perennial water hle in the desert. It is mentioned in the ancient Vidas that this river was the boundry line between the territory of Rashaks and Aryans during the time of Raja Indar. The river stats from Koh Shawalak in Inia and enters Pakistan at Fort Abbas. Chilistan desert has an average rainfall of 5 inches a year and there is very little cultivation.The underground water here is beakesh. The few people of the desert dig artificial wells in the troughs between sand hills and use camels to draw the water up. In the rainy season they dig artificial ponds called Tobas and when these dry up they move on to find other watering holes. These people of the desert live in tall round huts shaped like steeples which they bulit on the highest sand hills with straw and grass. The people are tall and handsome with sharp features and raise cattle, sheep and breeding camels. Their tall graceful women wear long gathered red skirts and look beautiful as they move around doing their every day chores. These people are mainly nomads settling in small villages whereever water is found and are Aryans by race. The main tribes here are Chachar, Mehr, Larr, Paryar, Channar, Chandani and Boharr. There were three main lines forts around and near the Hakara river in olden times. These forts were built after every 12 to 18 miles and they served as a defence line. The first row which was on the left bank of the river started from Phulra and ended in Lera, The second from Rukanpur to Islamgarh and the third from Bicanir to Kapoo. Almost all of these forts have disappeared now and remains of only a few can now be seen. Mostly these forts were built of stone and mud. The stone was gypsum blocks, cut in squre size of 1ft by 1ft and the forts had double walls.These forts date back 3000 years and were built and destoryed many times.
During our Safari we will visit some of these forts and their remains. The first one we visit will be the Mauj Gargh Fort which is in a bad shape but still maintains the outer wall and some buildings inside the walled compound. Here there is a tomb of a holy man dating back to the Moghul period and a mosque which is almost crumbling.. The most impressive fort in this area is the Darawar Fort. Its age is unknown and reputed to have been built by a Rawal prince. The fort was later taken over by the family of the rulers of Bahawalpur who rebuilt the fort with bricks brought from Uch Shariff 40 miles away. The way these bricks were transported to Darawar is very interesting. A human line of men was made right from Uch Shariff to Darawar and the bricks handed from hand to hand were brought to Darawar on this human conveyer belt. At the time when this fort was the seat of the Nawab of Bahawalpur there used to be 250 Guards and about 500 servants to look after it. Here at Darawar there is abeautiful Jamia Mosque built of Marble 150 years ago. The Tombs of the Nawabs(rulers) of Bahawalpur are also in Darawar. These are decorated with attractive blue glazed tiles contrasting with the ochre landscape. All through our week long Safari, we will visit many other remains of old forts like Bara, Din, Garh and Bhogla and several old sites. During this trip through the desert we will visit several Nomad settlements to observe their way of lif and listen to their tales of the desert. These nomads are very friendly and hospitable people and are very interesting to talk to. Our desert Safari will end at Khanpur where we will spend the night camping. Throughout the week long safari we will be camping under the bright stary sky of the desert in peaceful surroundings.
 
Day 16 KHARPUR/UCH/PANJNAD
 
Early morning departure for Panjnad. Our first stop today will be the ancient city of Uch which had its period of glory during the 13th century when it was togather with Multan, a centre of political, cultural and literary activities. To this independent kingdom flocked eminent scholars, peots and saints from central Asia. Uch still has some beautiful Mosques and tombs and their architecture is refreshing and attractive, reflecting a central Asian infuence, with superbe blue and white glazed tiles similar to those in multan. We will visit the tomb of "Bibi Jawandi" which is octagonal in shape and with every inch decorated with faience blue and white tiles. Next we will go to the tomb of "Jaial Surkh Bukhari" which has an unusual and suprb wooden roof painted in lacquer, predominently red and blue. After visiting the blue and white tiled tomb of "Bahaal Halim" we will head for Panjnaad, which means 5 rivers. Panjaan is the place where all the five rivers of Punjab meet. Arrive and transfer to the rest house. Rest of the day free explore. Overnite at the rest house.
 
Day 17 PANJNAAD/MULTAN
 
After breakfast departure for Multan. Driving through the enchanting countryside of the Punjab we reach Multan. Arrive and transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
 
Day 18 MULTAN/ONWARD
 
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. END OF OUR SERVICE