Bahawalpur was founded in 1748, in a region near the historical city of Uch, which was once a stronghold of the Delhi Sultanate. The princely state of Bahawalpur was founded in 1802 by Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan II after the break-up of the Durrani Empire, and was based in the city. Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan III signed a treaty with the British on 22 February 1833, guaranteeing the independence of the Nawab and the autonomy of Bahawalpur as a princely state.
The city and princely state acceded to Pakistan on 7 October 1947 when Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V Bahadur joined Pakistan at the time of the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Following independence, the city’s minority Hindu and Sikh communities largely migrated to India en masse, while Muslim refugees from India settled in the city and surrounding region.
Bahawalpur lies immediately south of the Sutlej River, and is the site of the 4,250 foot long Empress Bridge – the only railway bridge over the Sutlej in Pakistan. The city is situated 90 km from Multan, 420 km from Lahore, 122 km from Burewala, 90 km from Vehari, 270 km from Faisalabad and about 700 km from the national capital, Islamabad. The region is primarily arid desert with low annual rainfall totals. Regions to the west of the city are fertile alluvial tracts irrigated by the Sultej River. East of Bahawalpur is the Pat, or Bar – a tract of land at considerably higher altitude than the adjoining valley. Farther east, the Cholistan, is a barren desert tract, bounded on the north and west by the Hakra depression with mound ruins of old settlements along its high banks; it is still inhabited by nomads.
The main crops for which Bahawalpur is recognised are cotton, sugarcane, wheat, sunflower seeds, rape/mustard seed and rice. Bahawalpur mangoes, citrus, dates and guavas are some of the fruits exported out of the country. Vegetables include onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes and carrots. Being an expanding industrial city, the government has revolutionised and libertised various markets allowing the caustic soda, cotton ginning and pressing, flour mills, fruit juices, general engineering, iron and steel re-rolling mills, looms, oil mills, poultry feed, sugar, textile spinning, textile weaving, vegetable ghee and cooking oil industries to flourish.
Near the city the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park is being erected, a photovoltaic power station named after Quaid-e-Azam, the founder of Pakistan. It is the first ever utility scale solar power plant in the country and is to have a capacity of 1,000 MW when finished in 2016. A first phase was brought online in April 2015 and opened by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President, Xi Jinping
Bahawal Stadium is the multipurpose stadium, home to Bahawalpur Stags. It hosted a sole international match, a test match between Pakistan and India in 1955.