Cholistan Desert (Urdu: صحرائے چولستان), also locally known as Rohi) sprawls thirty kilometers from Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan and covers an area of 26,300 km². It adjoins the Thar Desert extending over to Sindh and into India.
The word Cholistan is derived from the Turkish word Chol, which means Desert. Cholistan thus means Land of the Desert. The people of Cholistan lead a semi-nomadic life, moving from one place to another in search of water and fodder for their animals. The dry bed of the Hakra River runs through the area, along which many settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation have been found.
The Desert also has an Annual Jeep Rally, known as Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally. It is the biggest motor sports event in Pakistan.
Culture and traditions
The language of Cholistan also reflects a number of features of its historical and geographical background. The Saraiki language is an Indo-Aryan speech, and is spoken in Cholistan as well as in a large part of central Pakistan. Though once a neglected language, It is no more a neglected. Once attributed to the camel-driving Jats and semi-nude Baloch tribes. It has always been as orthodox and conservative as the people who speak it. Khwaja Ghulam Farid was a Sufi poet, who through his mystical writings and poetry not only developed the language a lot, but also gave it a boost. The language suffered a great loss when the Saraiki-speaking Hindus migrated to India during the Partition, and were replaced by the Muslim refugees from there. However, the majority of them lived in the cities and a very few in the Greater Cholistan. During the Partition, they moved to the safety of the neighboring Hindu states of Bikaner and Jaisalmar.
Arts and crafts
In a harsh and barren land where rainfall is very sparse and unreliable, Cholistanis rely mainly on their livestock of sheep, goats, and camel. However in cold nights of winter they huddle indoor and engage themselves in various arts and crafts such as textiles, weaving, leatherwork, and pottery.
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