Rawat Fort

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The Pothohar region in modern-day Pakistan was strategically important, an important position between the trade routes of Central Asia and India and a number of forts were built here by rulers to consolidate their power. Rawat Fort, located on the Pothohar Plateau, 17 km east from the city of Rawalpindi on the Grand Trunk Road, is one of these forts.

There is some contradiction as to the historical construction of the fort. Although some historians consider that Sultan Masood erected the fort in 1036 AD, information supplied by the archaeology department within the fort it was built in the early 15th century by Salteen-e-Dehli. However, more prevalent discourses argue that the Sarang Khan, the leader of the Gakhar triber in Pothohar, built Rawat Fort in the 16th century.

During the reign of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun, Sultan Sarang Khan gained much power and prominence, going so far as to strike his own currency and refusing to recognise Sher Shah Suri as the new sovereign of India after Humayun’s defeat and exile. Further acts of rebellion and hostility enraged Shah Suri who personally led an expedition against the Gakhars, resulting in their subsequent rout at Rawat Fort in 1546 AD, and the execution of Sarang Khan who was buried there.

The square shaped fort measures over 300 feet with semi-circular bastions on the four corners. It has two gates with the main gate opening eastwards and a smaller second gate facing north. The western side of the fort consists of a mosque made up of three dome shaped rooms and an octagonal building with a single dome, which some say this structure is actually a mausoleum. There are many small identical cells along the inner side of the four walls overlooking a courtyard, originally as many as 76. A magnificent view of the Pothohar Platuea is promised from the upper echelons of the fort, although one does have to brave the dilapidated stairs. The centre of the fort is littered with graves, among them the tomb of Sultan Sarang Khan and his 16 sons who died fighting with him.

Currently, the fort is in a state of disrepair; rubbles of sandstone, sprinkled with bricks, offer a hint as to the imposing structure it would have been during peak of the Gakhars.

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