A Tourist Guide to Fort Abbas

Fort Abbas

Fort Abbas, previously known as Pholra, is a town located in the Bahawalnagar District within the Cholistan Desert of Punjab, Pakistan. Positioned south of Haroonabad, close to Faqirwali, it sits on the border shared by Pakistan and India. Renowned for its warm hospitality and generous demeanour, the city boasts THQ Fort Abbas, which plays a pivotal role in public healthcare.

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Notable residential areas in Fort Abbas include Nawab Colony, Pakistan City Town, and Gulshan e Naseem. Among the popular dining spots are Zaiqa Hotel and Desi Daira. Graana.com has prepared a detailed tourist guide to Fort Abbas, including history, geography, culture, and more.



Fort Abbas, originally known as Pholra, holds a rich history dating back centuries. The town’s name change to Fort Abbas was likely inspired by its strategic significance and to honour a notable figure or ruler. Historians speculate that the area might have been inhabited since ancient times due to its location near the Cholistan Desert, home to various civilisations throughout history. Pholra might have been a small settlement or outpost, serving as a stopover point for travellers and traders crossing the desert.

Over the centuries, Fort Abbas witnessed various historical events that contributed to shaping its identity. The town might have been part of the ancient trade routes connecting the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia and the Middle East.

Additionally, the region’s proximity to the border with India might have played a role in its historical significance, with various conflicts and migrations affecting its development. Landmarks such as old forts, temples, and mosques might have been constructed during different periods, serving as symbols of power, faith, and culture for the inhabitants.

As time progressed, Fort Abbas evolved from a modest settlement into a thriving town. Factors such as changes in trade routes, advancements in agriculture, and political developments influenced its growth and development. The town might have experienced periods of prosperity and decline, depending on various socio-economic factors.

With the establishment of modern infrastructure, such as roads and utilities, Fort Abbas likely saw further expansion and urbanisation. Today, it stands as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its people, blending ancient traditions with modern amenities.


Geography and Environment


Fort Abbas


Fort Abbas is situated amidst the vast expanse of the Cholistan Desert, lending it a unique and picturesque backdrop. The Cholistan Desert, also known as the Rohi Desert, spans across the districts of Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, and Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab, Pakistan. Characterised by its arid climate and sparse vegetation, the desert is known for its shifting dunes, dry riverbeds, and scattered scrub vegetation. Despite its harsh environment, the Cholistan Desert supports a diverse ecosystem, including desert wildlife such as foxes, jackals, and various bird species.

Fort Abbas experiences a desert climate, characterised by hot summers and cool winters. During summer, temperatures can soar to extreme levels, often exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Conversely, winters are relatively mild, with daytime temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit).

The region receives minimal rainfall, primarily during the monsoon season from July to September. Dust storms and occasional thunderstorms are common during the summer months, adding to the dynamic nature of the desert climate.

Despite its seemingly barren landscape, Fort Abbas and its surroundings boast several notable geographical features and landmarks. One such feature is the presence of ancient water reservoirs known as “kunds” or “tobas,” which were crucial for sustaining life in the desert. These traditional water harvesting structures collect and store rainwater for agricultural and domestic purposes.

Additionally, the desert is punctuated by occasional oasis-like patches of greenery, where date palm groves and other crops thrive. Fort Abbas itself may have unique landmarks such as historic forts, wells, or shrines that hold cultural and historical significance for the local community. Exploring these landmarks offers visitors a glimpse into the rich heritage and natural beauty of the Cholistan Desert region.


Culture and Tradition


Ruins of Fort Abbas


One of the defining characteristics of Fort Abbas is the warm hospitality and generous spirit of its residents. Visitors to the town often remark on the welcoming nature of the locals, who take pride in extending hospitality to guests.

Whether it’s inviting strangers into their homes for a traditional meal or offering assistance to travellers in need, the people of Fort Abbas exemplify the true spirit of hospitality. This tradition of welcoming guests with open arms reflects the cultural values of kindness, compassion, and community that are deeply ingrained in the fabric of society.

Fort Abbas boasts a rich tapestry of customs and traditions that are unique to the region. These customs are often rooted in the town’s historical and cultural heritage and passed down through generations. From traditional wedding ceremonies and festive celebrations to religious rituals and folk dances, each aspect of Fort Abbas’s culture reflects a blend of indigenous practices and influences from neighbouring regions.

For example, the annual Urs celebrations at local shrines attract devotees from far and wide, offering an opportunity to witness traditional music, dance, and spiritual rituals.

The culture of Fort Abbas is not isolated but rather influenced by the customs and traditions of its neighbouring regions. Being situated near the border with India, the town shares cultural similarities with the neighbouring regions of Rajasthan and Punjab. This cross-cultural exchange is evident in various aspects of daily life, including cuisine, language, music, and attire.

For instance, the influence of Punjabi cuisine can be seen in the rich flavours and aromatic spices used in local dishes, while traditional Rajasthani music and dance forms add vibrancy to cultural festivals and celebrations. Despite these influences, Fort Abbas maintains its distinct cultural identity, blending elements from different regions to create a unique and diverse cultural tapestry.


Local Cuisine

Fort Abbas offers a delectable array of traditional dishes that tantalise the taste buds with their unique flavours and aromas. The local cuisine is characterised by its rich and robust flavours, influenced by the region’s cultural heritage and culinary traditions.

Staples such as wheat, rice, and lentils form the foundation of many dishes, complemented by a vibrant assortment of spices and herbs. Common ingredients include cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chilli peppers, which lend depth and complexity to the cuisine. From hearty meat dishes to savoury vegetarian fare, Fort Abbas’s culinary repertoire reflects the diversity and ingenuity of its people.


Must-Try Dishes in Fort Abbas


Desi dishes served on a table


There are many dishes that you should try during your visit to Fort Abbas.

  • Sajji: A traditional dish made from marinated whole lamb or chicken, skewered and slow-roasted over an open flame until tender and succulent. Sajji is often served with naan bread and a tangy tomato-based sauce.
  • Desi Murgh: A flavorful chicken curry cooked with a medley of aromatic spices, tomatoes, onions, and yoghurt. This hearty dish is best enjoyed with freshly steamed rice or roti.
  • Bhindi Gosht: A mouthwatering combination of tender mutton and okra cooked in a spicy tomato gravy, infused with flavours of ginger, garlic, and green chillies.
  • Cholay: A popular chickpea curry simmered in a fragrant blend of spices, tomatoes, and onions. This hearty dish is often served with fluffy puri or naan bread for a satisfying meal.
  • Halwa Puri: A beloved breakfast dish consisting of deep-fried puri (fluffy bread) served with sweet semolina halwa and tangy chana masala. This indulgent combination is a favourite among locals and visitors alike.

Dining in Fort Abbas offers a culinary adventure filled with authentic flavours and vibrant ambience. Local eateries, ranging from humble roadside stalls to bustling restaurants, beckon visitors with the promise of mouthwatering delights. Whether you’re craving traditional Pakistani fare or seeking to indulge in regional specialities, this place has something to satisfy every palate.

Enjoy a leisurely meal at a town’s family-owned dhabas (roadside eateries), where you can savour freshly prepared dishes in a casual and convivial setting. For a more upscale dining experience, explore the town’s restaurants and cafes, which offer a diverse menu of local and international cuisines. Whether you’re dining amidst the bustling streets or enjoying a meal under the open sky, the culinary experiences in this charming town are sure to leave a lasting impression.


Transportation Options to Reach Fort Abbas


Matyana movers bus


Road: Fort Abbas is accessible by road from major cities in Punjab, Pakistan. Visitors can travel by car, bus, or hired taxis from cities such as Bahawalpur, Multan, and Lahore. The town is well-connected by paved highways, offering a smooth and scenic journey through the picturesque countryside.

Rail: While Fort Abbas does not have a railway station, travellers can reach nearby cities like Bahawalpur or Rahim Yar Khan by train and then proceed to Fort Abbas by road. Train services are available from various cities across Pakistan, providing an affordable and convenient option for transportation.


Accommodation Options for Travelers

Guesthouses: Fort Abbas offers a range of guesthouses and lodges that cater to the needs of travellers. These establishments typically offer comfortable and affordable accommodations, with amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and complimentary breakfast.

Hotels: Several hotels in Fort Abbas provide more upscale accommodations with additional facilities such as swimming pools, restaurants, and room service. Travellers can choose from budget-friendly options to luxury hotels, depending on their preferences and budget.

Camping: For adventurous travellers, camping in the desert outskirts of Fort Abbas can be a memorable experience. Several camping sites offer basic amenities such as tent rentals, bonfire facilities, and access to clean restroom facilities. Camping under the starlit sky amidst the serene desert landscape offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and experience the tranquillity of the desert.


Tips For Planning A Trip To Fort Abbas

Weather: Consider the weather conditions when planning your trip to Fort Abbas. Summers can be extremely hot, so it’s advisable to visit during the cooler months from October to March.

Clothing: Pack light, breathable clothing suitable for warm weather, along with a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect against the sun’s rays. Additionally, carry a sweater or jacket for cooler evenings.

Hydration: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially during outdoor activities like desert safaris or sightseeing tours.

Cultural Sensitivity: Respect local customs and traditions during your visit to Fort Abbas. Dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites, and ask for permission before taking photographs of people or private property.

Language: While Urdu is the official language of Pakistan, English is widely spoken and understood in urban areas like Fort Abbas. However, learning a few basic Urdu phrases can enhance your interactions with locals and enrich your travel experience.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Following are the most common questions and their answers for Fort Abbas.


Q: What is the history behind Fort Abbas?

A: Fort Abbas, formerly known as Pholra, has a rich history dating back centuries. It has been a strategic settlement in the Cholistan Desert, witnessing various cultural influences and historical events.


Q: What are the main attractions in Fort Abbas?

A: Some of the main attractions in Fort Abbas include THQ Fort Abbas, Nawab Colony, Pakistan City Town, Gulshan e Naseem, and the surrounding desert landscape.


Q: How can I reach Fort Abbas?

A: Fort Abbas is accessible by road from major cities in Punjab, Pakistan. Travellers can also reach nearby cities like Bahawalpur or Rahim Yar Khan by train and then proceed to Fort Abbas by road.


Q: What is the climate like in Fort Abbas?

A: Fort Abbas experiences a desert climate, characterised by hot summers and cool winters. Temperatures can soar during the summer months, while winters are relatively mild.


Q: What are some traditional dishes I should try in Fort Abbas?

A: Some traditional dishes to try in Fort Abbas include Sajji (roasted lamb or chicken), Desi Murgh (chicken curry), Bhindi Gosht (mutton and okra curry), Cholay (chickpea curry), and Halwa Puri (sweet semolina with puri bread).


Q: Are there any accommodations available in Fort Abbas?

A: Yes, the place offers various accommodation options including guesthouses, hotels, and camping sites. Travellers can choose from budget-friendly to luxury accommodations depending on their preferences.


Q: What activities can I do in Fort Abbas?

A: Visitors can enjoy activities such as desert safaris, and camel rides, exploring local landmarks, attending cultural festivals, and experiencing the warm hospitality of the locals.


Q: Is Fort Abbas safe for tourists?

A: Fort Abbas is generally considered safe for tourists. However, it’s always advisable to exercise caution, respect local customs, and follow any travel advisories or guidelines issued by authorities.


Q: What is the best time to visit Fort Abbas?

A: The best time to visit is during the cooler months from October to March. The temperatures are more comfortable for outdoor activities and sightseeing during these months.


Q: What cultural events or festivals take place in Fort Abbas?

A: Fort Abbas hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including religious celebrations, Urs festivals at local shrines, and traditional music and dance performances showcasing the region’s rich cultural heritage.

To read about Derawar Fort, visit Graana Blog.

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