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Channer Pir: The Great Saint of Cholistan

By Dr Asif Channer

March 9, 2024 05:46 PM


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Nestled amidst the sweeping sands of the Cholistan desert lies a sacred shrine that has stood as a beacon of spirituality for centuries: the shrine of Channer Pir. This revered site, revered by both Hindus and Muslims, serves as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and spiritual fervour of the region. Every year, pilgrims from far and wide embark on a journey of faith to participate in the Channer Pir Urs and Mela, a celebration that embodies the essence of tradition, customs, and religious devotion.

The legend of Channer Pir traces back to a time when the desert was ruled by kings and queens, and the land was steeped in mystique and magic. According to folklore, Channer Pir, whose name translates to "moonlight," was born to a childless royal couple, their prayers answered by the birth of a radiant son. However, fate had other plans for Channer, as he embraced a different faith, leading to his exile into the desert sands. The mound where he vanished became a site of pilgrimage, attracting devotees seeking solace and blessings.

The Channer Pir Urs and Mela, spanning seven consecutive Thursdays, serve as a vibrant celebration of the region's cultural heritage and spiritual legacy. As pilgrims traverse the desert landscape on camelbacks, the rhythmic sounds of bells echo through the air, signalling their arrival at the sacred shrine. The Mela reaches its zenith by the fifth week, with festivities enveloping the desert in a kaleidoscope of colours, music, and joy.

At the heart of the Channer Pir Urs and Mela lies the majestic Derawar Fort, a testament to the region's architectural prowess and historical significance. Built by the Abbasi Nawabs, the fort's towering bastions stand as a symbol of strength and resilience, overlooking the desert expanse with timeless grace. The fort's construction, using bricks transported from the nearby town of Uch Sharif, showcases the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the region's artisans.

The cultural richness of Cholistan is palpable at every turn, from the intricate embroidery of local textiles to the soul-stirring melodies of traditional music. As visitors wander through the bustling bazaars, they are greeted by a dazzling array of handicrafts, each a testament to the region's artistic heritage. The Derawar Fort, surrounded by lush greenery and vibrant orchards, serves as a poignant reminder of the region's lush past and promising future.

Despite the desert's harsh embrace, the spirit of Channer Pir endures, offering solace and hope to the faithful. Attempts to construct a mausoleum at his sacred mound have been thwarted by mysterious forces, leaving the site untouched and revered by locals for centuries. The nearby tree, adorned with colourful strips of cloth carrying the wishes of devotees, stands as a silent testament to the enduring bond between man and the divine.

In the words of Greek historian Ctesias, the land of Channer Pir is steeped in celestial mystique, its festivals lasting for 35 days, a testament to the enduring faith of its people. As pilgrims flock to the shrine, drawn by the promise of divine blessings and miracles, they become part of a timeless tradition that transcends the boundaries of time and space.

In conclusion, the Channer Pir Urs and Mela offer a glimpse into the soul of Cholistan, a land where tradition and spirituality intertwine to create a tapestry of unparalleled beauty and depth. As the sands of time shift and the desert winds whisper ancient secrets, the legacy of Channer Pir lives on, a testament to the enduring power of faith and the resilience of the human spirit. This religious cum cultural festivity stretches to seven weeks duration and usually the fifth week  is at peak and a local holiday is always announced on same Thursday in Bahawalpur in his respect and recognition of the great Saint of desert Cholistan.


Dr Asif Channer


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