BY ASIM SHAHZAD
The Punjab government took a number of initiatives to promote South Punjab Tourism as per the directions of the Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and to further strengthen the economy to increase the importance of the historical, religious and cultural sites located in South Punjab.
In a recent visit to the South Punjab historical and cultural sites, this scribe talked to locals and observed the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan which has now been promoted at the global level as well.
Recently, Punjab tourist sites were virtually showcased along with other historical places at the Pakistan Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2021.
South Punjab comprises three divisions including Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan.Locals in Cholistan told this scribe that the word Cholistan is derived from the Turkic word chol, which means ’desert’—Land of the Desert.
The people of Cholistan lead a semi-nomadic life, moving from one place to another in search of water and fodder for their animals. The dry bed of the ancient Hakra River is also present in the desert. Cholistan desert also has an annual Jeep rally, known as TDCP Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally—biggest motor sports event in Pakistan.
In this regard Special Assistant to Chief Minister Punjab Hassan Khawar has said that in the last 20 years, South Punjab Tourism has not got the place it deserved.
The Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) has started tour services for Kartarpur and South Punjab as part of efforts to highlight the glory of less popular tourist destinations of the province.
Talking to the first batch of tourists and media persons visiting Kartarpur and South Punjab, Hassan Khawar conveyed best wishes from the Punjab CM.Centuries old Qila Darawar and Abbasi Jamia Masjid are real pearls of the Cholistan desert, after that the mightiest sprawling desert is present.
Cholistan desert also hosts Fort Maujgrah, and fort Islamgrah.Pertinent to note that alone Multan has 38 sites including the tomb of Shah Ruknuddin Aalam, Sawi Masjid, shrine of Bahauddin Zakariya and many more. Bahawalpur has scores of sites including the tomb of Bibi Jawindi in Uch Sharif, tomb of Jalaluddin Surkhposh, Noor Mahal and multiple historical architectural sites of Nawab of Bahawalpur era.
Hassan Khawar said that the promotion of South Punjab Tourism will also restore the lost identity of Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) and many hidden places are being brought to the fore in regards to South Punjab Tourism.
“In this regard, for the promotion of tourism, the past experiences are being used to improve the sector,” he added.
The SACM said that most of the new locations are being identified and declared in Kotli Sattian, Fort Monroe and Son Valley, while Cholistan, Changa Manga and many other existing places are also being upgraded.
Cultural value of different places is being increased to ignite the interest of local tourists.
Khawar further said that tours are also going to be started to promote religious tourism to tap this ignored area of touristic importance. While this program will promote tourism in Lahore, Kasur and other cities, tourists will also be introduced to the Sufis here.
On the other hand, attention is also being paid to the promotion of ecotourism and agri-tourism.
He said that agri-tourism would provide an opportunity for the culture of agriculture to flourish.
Hassan Khawar said that promotion of tourism is the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Chief Minister of Punjab, and TDCP has a key role to play in strengthening this vision.