Derawar fort was first built in the 9th century AD by Rai Jajja Solanki, a Hindu Rajput ruler of the Solanki clan, as a tribute to Rawal Deoraj Bhati, the king of Jaisalmer and Bahawalpur. The fort was initially known as Dera Rawal, and later referred to as Dera Rawar, which with the passage of time came to be pronounced Derawar, its present name.
In the 18th century, the fort was taken over by Muslim Nawabs of Bahawalpur from the Shahotra tribe. It was later rebuilt in its current form in 1732 by the Abbasi ruler Nawab Sadeq Muhammad, but in 1747 the fort slipped from their hands owing to Bahawal Khan’s preoccupations at Shikarpur. Nawab Mubarak Khan took the stronghold back in 1804. 1,000 year-old catapult shells were found in the debris near a decaying wall in the fort.
Nawab Sadeq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V, the 12th and last ruler of Bahawalpur state, was born in the fort in 1904.