BAHAWALPUR, or Bhawalpur, a native state of India, within the Punjab, stretching for more than 300 m. along the left bank of the Sutlej, the Punjnud and the Indus. It is bounded on the N. and E. by Sind and the Punjab, and on the S. by the Rajputana desert. It is the principal Mahommedan state in the Punjab, ranking second only to Patiala. Edward Thornton thus described the general aspect of the state:—
“Bahawalpur is a remarkably level country, there being no considerable eminence within its limits, as the occasional sand-hills, seldom exceeding 50 or 60 ft. in height, cannot be considered exceptions. The cultivable part extends along the river line for a distance of about 10 m. in breadth from the left or eastern bank. In the sandy part of the desert beyond this strip of fertility both men and beasts, leaving the beaten path, sink as if in loose snow. Here, too, the sand is raised into ever-changing hills by the force of the wind sweeping over it. In those parts of the desert which have a hard level soil of clay, a few stunted mimosas, acacias and other shrubs are produced, together with rue, various bitter and aromatic plants, and occasionally tufts of grass. Much of the soil of the desert appears to be alluvial; there are numerous traces of streams having formerly passed over it, and still, where irrigation is at all practicable, fertility in the clayey tract follows; but the rains are scanty, the wells few and generally 100 ft. deep or more.”
The area covers 15,918 sq. m.; pop. (1901) 720,877, showing an increase of 11% on the previous decade; estimated gross revenue, £146,700; there is no tribute. The chief, whose title is nawab, is a Mahommedan of the Daudputra family from Sind, and claims descent from Abbas, uncle of the Prophet. The dynasty established its independence of the Afghans towards the end of the 18th century, and made a treaty with the British in 1838 to which it has always been loyal. The benefits of canal irrigation were introduced in the ’seventies, and the revenue thus doubled. The territory is traversed throughout its length by the North-Western and Southern Punjab railways. There are an arts college and Anglo-vernacular schools.
The town of Bahawalpur is situated near the left bank of the Sutlej, and has a railway station 65 m. from Mooltan. It has a magnificent palace, which is visible from far across the Bikanir desert; it was built in 1882 by Nawab Sadik Mahommed Khan. Pop. (1901) 18,546.