The Land of the Desert is located in the southern part of the province of Punjab, Pakistan. This is called “Cholistan” commonly and it is known locally as “Rohi“. This arid zone is spread over an area of 27,000 Sq. Km which is mainly the part of Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and Rahim Yar Khan districts. Cholistan has very harsh climate with a very low rain fall annually and this has resulted the most of its part to remain barren. The people of Cholistan pass a nomadic life and they move continuously in search of water and feed for their cattle. They are mostly dependent upon the domesticated animals including camels, sheep and goats.
The people of Cholistan speak Saraiki language and their main wealth is their livestock. The livestock breeding helps to overcome the need of the milk and meat of the surrounding region. However, the Cholistani people have some other professional activities like clay pottery, weaving, creating the wool products and leather works. Sculpturing and pottery is actually the gift from the nearby Indus civilization to the people of Cholistan. The wool produced in Cholistan is considered very refined which is mainly used in the carpet knitting. They also prepare many other woolen goods. The local textile industry of Cholistan is involved in the making of the traditional clothing items like Ajrak, Chunri, Sufi, Gargas, turbans and shawls which are designed on tremendous patterns and colors. Another famous product of Cholistan is “Khussa” which is prepared by the local shoemakers with exquisite compositions. The women of Cholistan are particularly famous for their traditional ornaments which are also their specialty. The bangles, nose pins, necklaces and anklets are the fundamental feature of the Cholistani fashion.
Although the people of Cholistan are suffering from the basic necessities of life for centuries, they have amazing richness in their culture. Their life is full of colors as they use bright colors not only in formal but in normal wear. Their customs and traditions are also very unique and attractive for the outer world. The Colors of Cholistan are exceptionally prominent in the festive occasions where many musical and dancing theatres are organized. Special traditional food like “Saag – ( Spinach ) ” and ” Khunmbi ” are prepared. Camel Dancing and Snake Charming are also very enticing for the visitors. The craftsmanship of the artisans at work is very distinctive and it is expressly admired.
Here are some glimpses of the Colors of Cholistan which are captured in the eye of camera superbly by some eminent photographers.
Generally the Cholistani people live in the mud houses having walls of unbaked earth; The mud house is often constructed of molded sun-dried blocks of mud slush.
Colors are so important in the clothing of the people of Cholistan. Even the males wear bright colors. Look at this Man from Cholistan ;
The women of Cholistan remain busy in their household tasks. They also help their men in the daily business. This woman of Cholistan is engaged in her daily routine ;
Water scarcity is the main issue in Cholistan. Many ponds of water have dried up and the long dry spells are the main threat for the people of Cholistan. The women normally bring water from the water wells which are the underground water resources.
The women of Cholistan go to the water ponds together in form of groups, fill their pitchers with water and bring them back to their homes.
The livestock breeding is the main job of the Cholistani herders. Their herds normally consists of precious cattle genetics ;
The inhabitants of Cholistan love camel. A special breed of camel is known as Mareecha breed and this name is associated with the local tribe, Mareccha.
The Snake Charmers of Cholistan travel and explore this fantastic desert; they visit different places and show their dancing snakes to the spectators. This is the main source of their earnings and they remain in the search of snakes during the entire summer.
Derawar Fort is a fortified structure in Cholistan which is famous for the tourists for its magnificent location. This glorified fort stands erected with its amazing towers in the golden sand of Cholistan but some parts of Derawar Fort are decaying rapidly due to negligence of authorities.
The City Mosque is also named after Darawar Fort.
The camels are used by the people of Cholistan as the main mode of transportation.
The folk culture of Cholistan is very rich. The land of the desert has produced many legends in the fields of folk music and performing art. This is a photograph of the local Cholistani singer.
Chanan Pir is a famous saint of Cholistan and his burial place is also named after him as Chanan Pir village. Annually, thousands of people from distant places come to celebrate the Chanan Pir Festival.
Colors of Cholistan
The male folk dancers dress up themsleves as female while performing publically in many festivals. This is their thousands of years old tradition, as they dislike their females to perform as dancers.
The ancient ruins of Mauj Garh Fort in Cholistan
In the Cholistan desert, an Annual Jeep Rally, known as Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally is also oganized. It is the biggest motor sports event in Pakistan.
A documentary on Cholistan ( Courtesy PTV )