Saturday, 4 June 2011

Rohtas Fort Pakistan



Rohtas Fort

Rohtas Fort (Urdu: قلعہ روہتاس Qila Rohtas) is a garrison fort built by the great Afghan king Sher Shah Suri. This fort is about 4 km in circumference and the first example of the successful amalgamation of Pukhtun and Hindu architecture in the Indian Subcontinent.

Name of fort

Sher Shah Suri named Qila Rohtas after the famous Rohtasgarh Fort in Shahabad district near Baharkunda, Bihar which he captured from the Raja of Rohtas Hari Krishan Rai in 1539. Rohtasgarh is situated on the upper course of the river Son, 20 37’ N and 85 33’E. It was built by Harish Chandra of the Solar dynasty and was named after his son Rohitasva after whom the fort (Rohtasgarh) was named.


Reasons of construction

Sher Shah constructed Qila Rohtas to block Emperor Humayun's return to India after defeating him in the Battle of Kanauj. This fort lies on the old GT road between the North (Afghanistan) to the Plains of Punjab. It blocked the way from Peshawar to Lahore. The other reason was to suppress the local tribe of this region Potohar called Gakhars who were allies of Humayun and refused their allegiance to Sher Shah Suri. The Emperor instructed the local Janjua Rajput tribe to help construct the fort to crush the Gakhars[1] when the latter became openly defiant and persecuting labourers who attended the construction.
The Fort was built by Todar Mal under orders of Sher Shah.
Sher Sháh threatened to construct such a fort in that country that it should not only effectually restrain the Ghakkars, but also the passage of the Mughals. He therefore himself made a tour through the hills of Girjhák Ninduna [mountains circumjacent], * and finding a fit spot, he laid the foundations of the fort, which he called Rohtás.
Besides that, he sent a large force against Ráí Sárang, the Ghakkar, and not only was the country subdued, and the hill of Balnáth plundered, which was then the residence of the Dárogha of that tract, but the daughter of its chief was taken prisoner, and conducted before Sher Sháh, who presented her to Khawás Khán; upon which Ráí Sárang, they relate, sent a quantity of [hemp] blankets and millet to Sher Sháh, with the remark that in such only consisted their raiment and food, besides which they could afford nothing; according to others, he sent a lion's skin and some [arrows] spears, which he said was their only property. With this conduct, however, Sher Sháh was by no means satisfied. Sárang [Sárang's troops] being weakened by [skirmishes] the attacks of the holy warriors, and greatly reduced and straitened, submitted himself in person to Sher Sháh, who ordered him to be flayed alive, and his skin to be filled with straw, and so pay the penalty of his misdeeds.
Sher Sháh issued farmáns to complete the fortifications of Rohtás; but Todar Khatri represented that the Ghakkars, to whom that country belonged, would not allow any one to work for wages; and that they had agreed amongst themselves, upon oath, to expatriate every person that should contravene their wishes. Sher Sháh, in answer, told him [that he should not be allowed to give up that work, which he only wished to do in consequence of his greediness for gold]* that the work did not seem to advance under his superintendence, and that a man who was fond of money, and was alarmed about disbursing it, would never accomplish the king's designs.
Todar, on the reception of this fresh command, fixed first a golden ashrafí as the enormous remuneration for one stone, which induced the [Kakers] Ghakkars to flock to him in such numbers that afterwards a stone was paid with a rupee, and this pay gradually fell to five tankas, till the fortress was completed.*[2]

Location

Qila Rohtas is situated in a gorge approximately 16 km NW of Jhelum and 7 km from Dina. It was constructed on a hillock where the tiny Kahan river meets another rainy stream called Parnal Khas and turns east towards Tilla Jogian Range. The fort is about 300 feet (91 m) above its surroundings. It is 2660 feet (818 m) above sea level and covers an area of 12.63 acres (51,100 m2).

The gates

The Rohtas Fort has the following 12 gates. All of them are built in ashlar stone.

Sohail Gate

This gate is the best example of masonry in use in the time of Sher Shah. It derives its name from a Saint names Sohail Bukhari buried in the south-western bastion of the gate. Others say that it was names after the Sohail Star which rises on this side of the fort.
It is a double gate rectangular in shape. It is 21.34 meters (70 ft) high, 20.73 meters (68 ft) wide and 15 meters (50 ft) deep. The central archway is 4.72 meters (15 ft) wide. It has an inner and an outer arch which is decorated with beautiful and simple motifs of sunflower. This decoration is repeated in all parts of the Qila.
Sohail Gate
There are balconies on either side of the central arch. These balconies have a small dome and their sides and bottom are also decorated. Unlike other parts of the Qila which has been built in Afghan-Persian style, the balcony is an example of Hindu architecture. These same balconies can be seen in Haveli Man Singh. There is a small window in the middle of the outer arch. This window is different from the two balconies to either side of the outer arch. It is much simpler that these two balconies.
Sohail Gate Closeup
There are seven merlons on this gate. The bastions are with battlements which have loopholes. These bastions have three levels on the inside. These can be seen if one zooms in the Sohail Gate picture.
Sohail Gate Balcony
The inner side of the gate mirrors the outside but has less decoration. There are no battlements towards the inside and no balconies either. The rooms in the upper storey of this gate have windows that open towards the inside of the Qila. Like the outer arch there is a small window in the middle of the inner arch. The gate now houses a Visitors information center and a Museum set up by the Himalayan Wildlife Foundation.

Shah Chandwali Gate

This gate links the citadel to the main fort. It is named after a Saint Shah Chandwali who refused to get his wages for working on this gate. The saint died while still on work and was buried near the gate. His shrine still stands to this day.

This gate is also a double gate. The outer gate, the entrance of which is from the citadel is 13.3 meters wide and 8.23 meters deep. The inner gate is a simple archway which is 3.66 meters wide.

Kabuli Gate

This gate opens to the west and is named “Kabuli” because it faces Kabul. It is a double gate and its opening is 3.15 meters (10 ft) wide. It has two bastions on each side. The gate has 5 battlements on top and has stairs leading up to it from the outside. On the southern side of the gate is the Shahi (Royal) Mosque because of which many people also call it Shahi (Royal) Darwaza (Gate or Door). There is a Baoli near this gate

Shishi Gate

he gate derives its name from the beautiful glazed tiles used to decorate its outer arch. These tiles are the earliest examples of this technique which was later refined in Lahore. These tiles are blue in color. An inscription on the left side of the gate gives the date of construction of the fort. The inscription is in Persian and is translated as follows
In the Hijri Year 948 came the exalted
At that time constructed the great fort
The emperor is Sher, with long life
There is no match to his good fortune
It was completed by Shahu Sultan
The Hijri year 948 is 1541 CE.

Langar Khani Gate

It is a double gate 15.25 meters (50 ft) high, 3.5 meters (11.5 ft) wide with a central arched opening. The oouter arch has a small window like the Sohail Gate. The outer opening leads to a Langar Khana (Mess or Canteen).
There are two bastions on either side of the gate which have kitchen, stores and a well for water. The opening of this gate is L shaped. As soon as one enters from the outer gate one has to turn right.

Talaqi Gate

This gate is 15.25 meter high and 13.8 meter wide with two bastions on either side. This gates name derives from “Talaq” (divorce). According to a legend, Prince Sabir Suri entered the gate and had an attack of fever which proved fatal. This was regarded as a bad omen and the name became “Talaqi”.








How to visit

From Islamabad

The dual-carriage Grand Trunk Road takes you past Gujar Khan and Sohawa, to the small town of Dina 130 km away. Just past Dina you will drive over a railway overpass, stay to the right of the road and take the first U-turn to drive back towards Dina. After about 100 meters to your left you will find a signpost, which indicates the way towards the road leading to Rohtas Fort which is 8 km away, past the small holy village of Muftian home to the Mufti Tribe. Drive on the road to enter into the fort and keep driving till you reach the parking area.

From Lahore

Drive on G.T road past Gujranwala, Wazirabad and the city of Jhelum. About 10 minutes drive beyond the Jhelum bridge just short of the city of Dina, you will find a signpost to the left directing you to Rohtas Fort.
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