BAHAWALNAGAR-Bahawalnagar district has been the centre of ancient Hakra civilization with tehsil Fortabbas as cradle of the civilisation once green and thriving area but now in is dilapidated condition speaking volumes about the official negligence.

As per a survey of Cholistan region from 1974 to 1977, Hakra ceramics are dated back 5000 BC. Archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein was first the person who brought the antiquity of the area into limelight in early 1950s. The centre of ancient culture and civilisation of about 5,000 BC era with various forts is needs immediate attention of the authorities concerned.

Its tehsil Fortabbas which exists in desert Cholistan was cradle of the civilisation as it was commonly known as Hakra valley which was very rich and fertile land. The Hakra River has been mentioned as Sarasvati in Hindus Vedas. Bahawalnagar is located at the bank of the Sutlej River. According to some historians, it was the passage of Hakra as per Rig Veda, a sacred book of the Hindus. Two ancient rivers Sarasvati and Sattdari are thought to be the old names of Sutlej (Sattdari) and Hakra/Ghagra (Sarsvati). The major source of irrigation was water of Hakra/Ghagra River but when dried, it caused the desiccation of the area and the civilisation became extinct with the whips and scorns of the time especially with the neglect of human being.

However, the relics speak volumes about its splendour of times and present state of neglect. Among those relics of great civilisation, forts of tehsil Fortabbas present true picture of neglect. Among them, Marot Fort once had been a “symbol of splendours of ancient rulers” though major portion of the fort has now disappeared. Marot Fort was founded by the Ruler of Chitto. It was existed when the River Sarasvati was alive. It was given the name of “Marot” by Aryans after Hindus God Marot that belonged to the court of Indira and was “God” of windstorm. India manufactured a jet plane “Marot” in 1960. Marot, Hakra, Ghaggra and Pholra names were derived from Sanskrit language which proves its connection with ancient Indian history. “Marot Fort” was built at the bank of Hakra/Ghaggra River. Ancient books described the splendor and ampleness of “Marot Fort”. During the reign of Sher Shah Suri these forts were repaired as they were situated along the passageway linking Multan and Delhi. In addition, Humayun also got shelter at Marot Fort after the death of Sher Shah Suri when the Mughals reoccupied the throne and Akbar came to power.

Marot Fort got more importance when Akbar stayed here and the remains of his presence have been found as a mosque was constructed by him. The mosque namely Mardan Majid still exists. An inscription on the mosque tells, “The mosque was built by Jalaluddin Akbar in 926 Hijri”.

Kilns with 1 to1.5 inch width and 4.8 inch to 6.12 inch length were used in its construction. Circular flower leaves were embossed on its wooden doorways that show the handwork of the then artisans. Likewise, the relics of Pholra Fort have turned into heaps of mud with the passage of time.

Karam Khan, son of Qaim Khan, repaired the fort and strengthened it. With water well along its Westside wall and three other wells, the fort was named after Hindu Raja Phool Singh Thakar. Meergarh Fort was founded by Noor Muhammad Khan in 1799 AD. A persian language inscription is seen at the gates of the fort. Noor was a disciple of Gillani Makhdooms of Uch Sharif. Like other forts, Meergarh is also in dilapidated condition. The distance between Meergarh Fort and Fortabbas is 21 kilometres. Constructed with beautiful burnt-brick, Jamgarh Fort is 9 km away from Meergarh Fort. It was built in 1788 by Jam Khan Maroofani.

Its square is of 114 feet on each side while walls are of 28 feet high and strengthened by circular bastions at the corners. Founded by Muhammad Maroof Khan Kehrani in 1743, the Moajgarh Fort was decorated with glazed tiles and surmounted by a single dome of about 400 yards south of the fort. The fort is at a distance of 32 km from Marot Fort. The outer and interior bricks facing the fortification wall have disappeared from several places exposing the mud brick core. The fort is almost square measuring 325, 312, and 238 feet on the southern, western and northern sides respectively. The walls were strengthened with a series of semi circular bastions.