All art is about inspiration and for me, nothing inspires like Pakistan. Part of it is pure aesthetics -- it is a photographer's paradise. But another part is emotional. I really sincerely believe in the potential of this place.
And I can't think of any other place I've been to, that screams untapped potential more than this 9th century fortress with 30 meter high walls and 40 majestic bastions. How intimidating it must have appeared in the distance, in its glory days.
But before we talk about the fortress, let's talk about where it's located. Approaching from the Punjab, the lush farmlands gradually giving way to a more barren terrain are the first hint that something is in the air. And then, abruptly, a dramatic transformation ...
Boom! Welcome to the Cholistan desert. The full scale of the change does not sink in until you climb to the top of the fort and take in the world beyond.
For all you know, you could be in the Maghreb. And I mean Maghreb Maghreb .. like Morocco/Tunisia/Algeria Maghreb.
Back to the fort: it was rehabilitated and took on its current form in the 18th century under the Abbasi rulers of Bahawalpur. It is a massive structure with breathtaking views in every direction.
I just couldn't get over this view of the Abbasi Masjid (Mosque) and its surroundings.
Here's the sad part. The fort, despite it's massive, massive potential, is actually in a state of terrible neglect. The inside is actively crumbling. A major conservation effort is urgently needed.
Visiting Derawar was quite a detour and I was a little apprehensive it would underwhelm. Instead it left me feeling ambivalent. I'm glad I got to see it -- I can't help but imagine everything it could be. But I'm left a little down by the state I found it in.