Rewat Fort

 

Click for price of each stone  and also click for Neglected Fort




  • The Ghakkar Fort of Rewat is right beside the Grand Trunk Road, on the western side, just past the village of Rewat, about two kilometers south of the junction with the Islamabad road. The Ghakkars built the fort to defend themselves against the invading armies of the Afghan Sher Shah Suri who had built a fort in Rohtas to fight Gakhars.
  • The Ghakkars were the most powerful people with a strong army on the Potwar Plateau.  They were probably indigenous to the area and were converted to Islam in the 13th century.  They also built forts at Pharwala and Mangla. The Ghakkars defeated first Mughal king Babur in his first attack but they lost in the second. After the battle they negotiated with Babur and became loyal allies of the Mughal emperors. In return they were allowed independent rule and free hand in running their territory.  The last independent Ghakkar chief, Mukarrab Khan (1739-65), extended the territories from the Chenab to the IndusIn 1765, the Ghakkars were defeated by the Sikhs at Gujrat, and their territories taken from them by sikhs.
  • What remains of the Rewat Fort - the mausoleum, three domed mosque, two gates and outside wall -  in good condition.  Inside the fort it is surprisingly charming and peaceful; it makes good place for a winter picnic.  The fort stands on a long low ridge of black rock which extends in a crescent from Kahuta to the east, around the south side of Rawalpindi, to Kushalgarh on the Indus and beyond.  From the top of the mausoleum, or the main gate, you have an excellent view of the ridge, with the Salt Range behind.  To the south you can see Manikyala Stupa and clumps of banyan trees that resemble other stupas.
  • The undecorated mausoleum is similar in shape to those in Multan.  The outside walls of the fort are lined with chambers that were once the sleeping quarters of the army.  Graves in the center of the fort house the remains of Ghakkar chief Sultan Sarang Khan and his 16 sons who died in battle with Sher Shah Suri.  It is marked by a modern inscription in English.  Sarang Khan and his daughter were captured by Sher Shah in 1543, and the chief was flayed alive and his skin stuffed with straw;  Sarang Khan was rather unlucky; he lost no fewer than 16 of his sons  in battle against Sher Shah; only two were left to carry on the line. The Gakhars (Kianians) in their history of thousands of years sided with their friends and allies at all times.
  • Sher Shah Suri was turned out by his family and he joined the army of Babur. When Babur died his son Humayoon succeeded the throne at the age of 22. Sher Shah Suri revolted and fought against Humayoon and forced him to go into exile in Iran. Sultan Sarang Khan was related to Iranian King and his official language was persian. When Humayoon reached Iran, he was given grand reception by the Iranian King Shah Tahmasab (1524)-76), who provided Humayoon with the necessary troops to recapture Kandhar, Kanul and India. Humayoon  as commander of allied forces of Iran and Gakhars recaptured the throne but unexpectedly died at the age of 48 when he fell down the steps of his library in his haste to obey the muezzin's call to prayers.  During the period, he was in exile, his wife Hamida Begum, daugher of Sultan Sarang Khan according to some historians gave birth to Empror Akbar, who was the future king of India.
  • It was in this context that Gakhars built forts at Rewat and Pharwala.  Although Sher Shah was cruel to Gakhars, however he was a very good ruler of India, who did remarkable things during his five years rule of India. He built GT road from Peshawar to Bengal.
Pharwala Fort

Most Pakistanis have not even heard the name Pharwala. Few, other than the locals, have seen it. The latter because it lies not very far from Kahuta and therefore out of bounds for all of us 'spies'. But for those who can visit it, it's a wonderful place -- a sort of a Rohtas on a smaller scale. Within the crenellated fortification that snakes over the verdant hills, there is a small village and just below the walls a small tributary of the Soan.

Pharwala was the headquarter of the turbulent Gakkhars of the Potohar Plateau. Babur, who fought against them here in 1519 noted, that the fort was difficult to attack and win over. He noted that its walls though without 'breast-work or battlement' rose no less than ten metres above the ground. The present crenellations on the walls, I deduce therefore, are a more recent addition.
The first attack of the Moghuls was beaten back, but the second succeeded. The defeated Gakkhars melted away into the wild gorges to the north. However, peace was subsequently made and the Gakkhars proved to be the most resolute and steadfast of allies. Much as Sher Shah Suri wanted to win them over, he failed for they remained loyal to Humayun -- whose father they had professed friendship. Pharwala is a symbol of their trustworthiness.

The first attack of the Moghuls was beaten back, but the second succeeded. The defeated Gakkhars melted away into the wild gorges to the north. However, peace was subsequently made and the Gakkhars proved to be the most resolute and steadfast of allies. Much as Sher Shah Suri wanted to win them over, he failed for they remained loyal to Humayun -- whose father they had professed friendship. Pharwala is a symbol of their trustworthiness.



Rohtas Fort

  • Rohtas is remarkable. It is remarkable for all the effort and finance that went into its making and that in the end not a battle was fought around its walls. The structure is extravagant and impressive. High, loop-holed walls, massive towers, enormous timber gates in lofty gate-houses topped with crenellations, rounded merlons below which run sets of machicolations with beaky hoods from which boiling oil or water could be poured on attackers below to kill them.It was built on the technology used by Sultan Sarang Khan for Rewat fort. Here are all the trappings of a fort made to defy the strongest army. Here was a fort that would have resisted the strongest escalade.

  • Sher Shah Suri ordered its building to hold the Gakkhars at bay. But when work began here the Gakkhars mounted attack after attack, harrying the builders and carrying away Pathan soldiers and their families to sell them into slavery. Things came to such a pass that Toder Mal Khatri, the superintendent of works , was hard put to procure required stones and offered up to One Gold Ashrafi, which was equal to one gold dinar for each stone that was to be laid! It was an exorbitant undertaking for the Pathan king of Delhi, (Sher Shah Suri) yet he did not withhold finances for building of the most expensive fort.

  • And when the end came after the death of Sher Shah and Humayun's return, not a shot was fired. The Pathan garrison of Sher Shah Suri fled upon seeing the allied forces of Mughals and Gakhars. Rohtas became just another monument of the Punjab landscape and free fort for Gakhars for which they had taken one gold ashrafi for each stone.



ROHTAS FORT, 1839 Lithograph by T.and E. Gibbs from a drawing by Lieut. W. Barr and published in Barr, W. March from Delhi to Peshawur and from thence to Cabul (London,
1844), facing p. 161.
  • In 1839, Lt. William Barr and his detachment of Native horse artillery marched with two 24-inch howitzers via Lahore and Jhelum to Peshawar. Entering the valley, Barr and his small party struggled over the rocks and sand crossing the seasonal river (a tributary of the river Jhelum) until they reached the base of Rohtas fort. His initial sight of it on 7 March 1839 left Barr somewhat despondent:
  • 'Our first glimpse of it was very characteristic, and well calculated to fill the mind with gloom, only one corner, forming the centre of a dismal hollow, enclosed by bleak and barren hills, being visible. Its wall is in a ruined state, and so horribly blackened by time that had we not known otherwise, we should have pronounced it to have been stained by the action of fire; and the surrounding cliffs, dark almost as itself, hideously harmonized with the whole. A narrow path led up to it; but being impracticable for guns, we had to continue ascending the bed of the river. At length we reached an opening in the hills, and a beautiful view of the extensive plain, backed by lofty and irregular mountains, was displayed to our sight.' After a delay caused by an accident in which Barr almost lost some of his horses in quicksand, Barr finally reached the fort and explored it: 'Rhotas is built on not the highest part of a long ridge of hills, and why the spot was ever chosen as a place of defence it is difficult to say, as in many places it is commanded by neighbouring heights; but the wall, which is of stone, is strong, and further defended by numerous bastions. The road leading to the gateway is steep, and by no means calculated for large horses, being nothing more than a bad "puharnie" [hill] track: however, up we went; and though there was a good deal of stumbling over the smooth worn rock...we ma aged to enter the fort in safety. Ascending a ed causeway, inclosed on either side by lofty walls, we passed beneath a second gateway, over which is inserted a Persian inscription, cut in white marble, purporting, I believe, to commemorate the founder.'
    Guided by a 'decent-looking individual', Barr and his companions were conducted around the interior of the fort. It was perhaps this guide who provided the information recorded by Barr about the origins of the fort. 'After Shah Sher had firmly seated himself on the throne of Hindoostan, he conquered the Punjab and issued for the chiefs to come and make obeisance to him. They all did so with the exception of Raja Sareeng Khan, whose dominion extended over the mountainous tract of country situated to the west of the Jhelum, and his absence so exasperated the emperor that he was heard to express his determination" to throw such a wedge into the breasts of the Gakhars that it should stick there till the day of the resurrection".
    According to Barr, who quotes as his source Niamat Allah's History of the Afghans, the work of superintending the construction of the massive fort was done by 'one Toder Khuteri' who managed to pay the hostile but avaricious Ghakkars into building the fort by offering them one gold ashrafi for each stone laid. As the work proceeded, he reduced the rate gradually until the fort was completed.
    Barr toured the expansive area within the fort and noticed particularly the decrepit building associated with Raja Man Singh, the Rajput general who during the reign of Akbar had campaigned as far as Attock. He described it as 'the ruins of the old palace, an edifice constructed of cream-coloured stone, and looking airy and light. It is, however, very much dilapidated, and on one side a complete ruin, the rooms being wholly exposed to the influence of the weather; but the other is more perfect, and being built on the edge of the hill, forms a lofty and noble object, and commands an extensive view of the surrounding country from its upper windows. Opposite to it stands a gateway, which probably formed the "Noubat Khaneh", where the royal band played. [Barr had been misled by the circular platform on the top of the central northern gate and thought it to be a bandstand. It is known nowadays, equally implausibly, as the execution tower.] Our attention was directed to the key-stone of its arch, which has slipped from its position, and appears as if it would momentarily topple to the ground; but our guide assured us it had been thus for eighty years'.
    'Crossing a bridge which spans a ravine filled with brushwood and wild shrubs, we were taken to the entrance in the southern face of the fort, which is built &f similar stone to the palace, and being free from all tawdry ornaments, looks simple, chaste, and massive. Two balconied windows, elegantly and curiously carved above and below, are on either side of the archway, and a smaller one between these stands out in bold relief from the plain surface of the building, and forms a pleasing contrast to the unadorned parts.' (Barr (1844) 161 - 163.)
Rohtas Fort, close to the village of Dma on the main Grand Trunk road, is perhaps the most impressive of the medieval forts still extant in Pakistan. Built between 1540 and 1545 by the Delhi ruler Sher Shah Sun to intimidate the local Ghakkar tribes and as a military base, the fort was completed by his son Ismail Shah Sun. According to Eastwick, an inscription on the eastern Takali gate (one of the fort's twelve gates) read:


"When the following date Had passed from the Hijrah 948 years, The gate of the fort was built In the reign of the Emperor Shir Shah the Pivot of the World. By the good fortune of the 2nd Ayyaz, Shahu Sultan, who completed it."

Eastwick wrote that the fort cost Rs. 7,712,975 and 6 and half annas to construct. It had 68 bastions and 1956 battlements. The fort stands on a hill 130 feet above ground and is set on a ridge protected on its southern side by a deep ravine. The area of the fort extends over almost 5 kilometres in perimeter. With its undulating stone walls and intimidating massive towers, it remains even today a solid gauntlet of weathered stone, a formidable challenge to those who aspire to explore it.

In 1839, Lt. William Barr and his detachment of Native horse artillery marched with two 24-inch howitzers via Lahore and Jhelum to Peshawar. Entering the Kahan valley, Barr and his small party struggled over the rocks and sand crossing the seasonal river (a tributary of the river Jhelum) until they reached the base of Rohtas fort. His initial sight of it on 7 March 1839 left Barr somewhat despondent:
'Our first glimpse of it was very characteristic, and well calculated to fill the mind with gloom, only one corner, forming the centre of a dismal hollow, enclosed by bleak and barren hills, being visible. Its wall is in a ruined state, and so horribly blackened by time that had we not known otherwise, we should have pronounced it to have been stained by the action of fire; and the surrounding cliffs, dark almost as itself, hideously harmonized with the whole. A narrow path led up to it; but being impracticable for guns, we had to continue ascending the bed of the river. At length we reached an opening in the hills, and a beautiful view of the extensive plain, backed by lofty and irregular mountains, was displayed to our sight.' After a delay caused by an accident in which Barr almost lost some of his horses in quicksand, Barr finally reached the fort and explored it: 'Rhotas is built on not the highest part of a long ridge of hills, and why the spot was ever chosen as a place of defence it is difficult to say, as in many places it is commanded by neighbouring heights; but the wall, which is of stone, is strong, and further defended by numerous bastions. The road leading to the gateway is steep, and by no means calculated for large horses, being nothing more than a bad "puharnie" [hill] track: however, up we went; and though there was a good deal of stumbling over the smooth worn rock...we ma aged to enter the fort in safety. Ascending a ed causeway, inclosed on either side by lofty walls, we passed beneath a second gateway, over which is inserted a Persian inscription, cut in white marble, purporting, I believe, to commemorate the founder.'

Guided by a 'decent-looking individual', Barr and his companions were conducted around the interior of the fort. It was perhaps this guide who provided the information recorded by Barr about the origins of the fort. 'After Shah Shere had firmly seated himself on the throne of Hindoostan, he conquered the Punjab and issued for the chiefs to come and make obeisance to him. They all did so with the exception of Rai Sareeng, whose dominion extended over the mountainous tract of country situated to the west of the Jhelum, and his absence so exasperated the emperor that he was heard to express his determination" to throw such a wedge into the breasts of the Kakurs that it should stick there till the day of the resurrection".

According to Barr, who quotes as his source Niamat Allah's History of the Afghans, the work of superintending the construction of the massive fort was done by 'one Toder Khuteri' who managed to
bribe the hostile but avaricious Ghakkars into building the fort by offering them one gold ashrafi for each stone laid. As the work proceeded, he reduced the rate gradually until the fort was completed.

Barr toured the expansive area within the fort and noticed particularly the decrepit building associated with Raja Man Singh, the Rajput general who during the reign of Akbar had campaigned as far as Attock. He described it as 'the ruins of the old palace, an edifice constructed of cream-coloured stone, and looking airy and light. It is, however, very much dilapidated, and on one side a complete ruin, the rooms being wholly exposed to the influence of the weather; but the other is more perfect, and being built on the edge of the hill, forms a lofty and noble object, and commands an extensive view of the surrounding country from its upper windows. Opposite to it stands a gateway, which probably formed the "Noubat Khaneh", where the royal band played. [Barr had been misled by the circular platform on the top of the central northern gate and thought it to be a bandstand. It is known nowadays, equally implausibly, as the execution tower.] Our attention was directed to the key-stone of its arch, which has slipped from its position, and appears as if it would momentarily topple to the ground; but our guide assured us it had been thus for eighty years'.

'Crossing a bridge which spans a ravine filled with brushwood and wild shrubs, we were taken to the entrance in the southern face of the fort, which is built &f similar stone to the palace, and being free from all tawdry ornaments, looks simple, chaste, and massive. Two balconied windows, elegantly and curiously carved above and below, are on either side of the archway, and a smaller one between these stands out in bold relief from the plain surface of the building, and forms a pleasing contrast to the unadorned parts.' (Barr (1844) 161 - 163.)


 

 



Main Gate Rewat Fort




Rewat Fort



Rewat Fort

 


Rewat Fort


 
Graves of Gakhar Chief  - 1547 AD
Sultan Sarang Khan & his 16 sons died in battle with Sher Shah Suri



Troops Quarters



Pharwala Fort


Rohtas Fort




Rohtas Fort



 


Rohtas Fort, 1836





Rohtas Fort, 1836




Rohtas Fort, 1836






Rohtas Fort, 1836