dera ismail khan

Things to do in Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan), KPK

Dera Ismail Khan is a strategic city in Pakistan that has long been denied its due place in development activities. The result is that the bridgehead city to the Western Flank of the Indus River became a boon for Pakistan’s security when Taliban terrorists, born out of indifference, bombed the remnants of civilization in this remote city.

DI Khan is linked to Zhob, Bannu, Tank, Mianwali, and Bhakkar towns, all spurs in the semi-tribal belt.

DI Khan was so important to British security that they established a cantonment in 1891, with infantry and cavalry here called the Derajat Brigade.

This town was directly taken over by British officers from the Sikh in 1849 and they left their mark in the town center.

Before the British, Sodozai Durrani ruled for one century 1750 AD.

The long-term rulers of the DI Khan region were Baloch mercenaries. Ismail Khan Baloch, son of Malik Sohrab Dodai was said to have settled here in 1471.

A very intriguing fact about DI Khan is that Babar didn’t mention this town in his travelogue of 1506AD

dera ismail khan
Early Morning D I Khan

DI Khan had always fascinated me because it was so remote and raw.

The minute I heard The CPEC corridor road has reached the city, I packed up and left to check it out.

These are the things worth seeing in DI Khan.

dera ismail khan
South Kafir Kot

 

Northern Kafir Kot Fort ruins

On the road from DI Khan to Chashma Barrage lies the Northern Kafir Kot Ruins. This fort was said to have been established by the Hindu Shahi Raja Till in the 7th century. Raja Till was the brother of Raja Bill, who had his own fort down south. There are no markings of this fort and very few remains of it above ground, so you’d have to keep an eye out for it along the highway.

Southern Bilout Kafir Kot Fort ruins

Established by Hindu Shahi Raja Bill in the 7th century, these ruins still have the temple and harem buildings intact somewhat. These buildings are typical of Hindu Shahi structures spread along the Khushab – Salt Range –Chakwal, on the West-East Axis. Sandstone is the typical rock used in these structures because it can be carved easily to reveal staggering idols.

The only difference between Bilout Fort, Amb Sharif, and Malot Fort in Chakwal is that Malot has red sandstone carvings on temple walls that are probably built by the same architect. The style of construction is the same, inspired by Buddhist temples of Thailand, but they are actually Hindu temples.

dera ismail khan
Harem Ruin of Hidu Shahi

The grave of Mortimer Durand

Mortimer Durand carved out the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderline and is buried in DI Khan city. 

Mortimer Durand

The colonial British civil servant died while riding an elephant when his head struck an overhead beam of the local chieftain’s hujra.

Town Hall Museum

The country club and museum

Situated inside the DI Kahn Cantonment, the old country club is where the white folks would get together and enjoy the company of ladies, away from the locals. Presently, it has been converted into a museum, which is quite interesting.

Fort Akalgarh

Gurdwara of DI Kahn

The Chota Bazar Gurdwara of DI khan is a reminder of the days when the British tied to make the city a mixture of all religions.

Lots of Hindus from the Sahni family of DI Khan have settled in Delhi, India after partition.

Gurudwara

Fort Akalgarh (now fort Iqbal)

Right at the boundary of DI Khan is the old Sikh Fort Akalgarh, with its buildings and some portion of walls still intact. Unfortunately, it is within the walls of Army camp Iqbal, so the general public cannot see it.

dera ismail khan
Lal Marha Tombs

Lal Marha tombs

Since the Baloch families ruled these far-off lands for several centuries, in complete peace, large tombs were built by dynasties and their descendants at Lal Marha town, 2 hours drive from DI khan on the DG Khan road.

The road is in terrible condition so keep your entrails tight.

The sandstone tombs and unmarked graves are arranged tastefully in a wide necropolis about 500 meters square.

There is evidence of blue tiles and carvings that have origins in Multan, which is relatively close by.

Painting of Sheikh Badin Hills

Sheikh Badin Hills near Pezu Pass

Sheikh Badin was the summer office complex for the British, but now there is hardly anything left there besides a cool breeze.

Sheikh Badin Hills near Pezu Pass

Sheikh Badin was the summer office complex for the British, but now there is hardly anything left there besides a cool breeze.

 

Takht I Sulemani

The high cliff and rock face of Takht I Suemani is along the Zhob road 92 km and 2 hours away from DI khan. The last part of the climb to the top of this table-like mountain is quite dangerous. Very few people venture there because of its remoteness.

Ibn e Battuta mentioned this mountaintop and said that there is darkness as you peer toward the East.

Solomon’s peak has another interesting reference to Qais, a local mercenary who is known to have fought along with prophet Muhammad (PBUH) companions.

Takht e Suleiman is accessed through Darazinda of Raghasar.

dera ismail khan
Site of Rehman Dheri

Rehman Dheri

The archeological mound of Rehman Dheri is said to be the original settlement of Indus Valley dated 3300 BC. It is still un-excavated and there are potshards and archeological items littered all-round the mound.

We are waiting for some foreign mission to fund excavation because we are used to handouts.

A simpler way to excavate archeological sites is to fund the archeological department of universities.

Dhakki Date trees Near D I Khan

National Club Hotel

National Club Hotel has an excellent view of the Indus River when there is water in it. Now Indus looks more like a stream.

The cost of one triple bedroom per night is Rs 6500 in total.

Sohan Halwa of DI Khan

The desi ghee Sohan Halwa of DI is very addictive. I had to give it away to avoid eating all the 5 packs I brought from there. East half kg pack costs Rs 1000.

Fresh Gur on the roadside

Mewa wala Gur (Jaggery)

In the month of December, the local sugar cane crusher factories come alive and there are several roadside plants making Gurr or Jaggery.

One KG costs Rs 1000.

Weather at Dera Ismail Khan

DI Khan is usually hot in the summer and moderate in winter.

dera ismail khan
Lal Mahra Tombs from the inside

Honorable mentions near Dera Ismail Khan

  • Gomal Zam Dam
  • Zhob
  • Angor Adda Pakistan – Afghanistan Border

PRO TIP

DI Khan is still a conservative town and prone to sudden bursts of violence from outsiders. So, keep a weapon with you at all times.

Conclusion

Visit DI khan if you love archeology and history otherwise stick to Islamabad.

If you want me to plan your visit, do inbox me.

Sugar Cane D I Khan

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