Sunday, 1 January 2017

Rawat Fort



Rawat is a small town on GT road, only a few kilometers away from Rawalpindi, falling in the Islamabad Capital Territory. While travelling from Rawalpindi to the direction of Lahore, you probably can take a glimpse of big gates of a fort, about a hundred meters away from the road, behind a busy bazar and a bus stop. It is Rawat Fort. It is the only fort to be found in the capital territory. Pharwala fort is also very near to Islambad but is situated just outside the boundary of the capital territory. Though not as imposing and large as the Pharwala Fort, but nonetheless it is a considerably big and historically important structure. It is located at  33° 29' 53.24" N,  73° 11' 39.23" E.

It is a perfect square with each side measuring 105 meters, with an area of about 2.7 acres, surrounded by houses. Its best feature, in my opinion, is its main gate, on the eastern side of this fort or sarai (inn), we shall discuss it later. Other two important structures are inside, which are a big octagonal tomb and a big mosque with three large dooms. Walls are not very high and are in a dilapidated condition. In addition to the main gate there is a small gate in the northern wall of the fort / caravanserai.  


Main Gate of the Rawat Fort: 14.12.2016.

A portion of the wall: 14.12.2016.

Another view of the main gate, with a collapsed bastion. 14.12.2016.

My friend Muhammad Munir: 14.12.2016.

Some details about this fort or sarai: 14.12.2016.

Rawat a corruption of an Arabid Word "Rebat", meaning Sarai (inn) seems originally to be an ancient Sarai. Situated 18 kilometers from Rawalpindi towards Jhelum, close to the Grand Trunk Road. the present small fortress - sarai, appears to have been builto during the Sultanate period in early 15th century AD. the elegant small stone fortress is however,, also curiously associated with the name of Masud, son of the great conqueror Sultan Mahmood of Ghazna (1036 AD), where he is said to have been arrested by his rebellious soldiers and eventually murdered in the Fort Giri near Taxila and subsequently with the name of famous Gakhar Chief Sarang Khan. Who fell with his sixteen sons, fighting against Sher Shah Suri and buried within the precinct of this monument. The fort in its present condition contains two gateways, the main gate open towards East while small one on North. A three domes mosque in the middle of western wing, an octagonal single domed mausoleum on the north western corner, partly obstructing the frontage of the mosque and numerous scattered graves inside. There are regular rows of identical living cells along the four sides of the quadrangular inner face of the defense walls ............................... courtyard.
روات عربی زبان کے لفظ ربات (رباط) کی بگڑی ہوئی شکل ہے۔ ربات کے لفظی معنی سرائےکے ہیں۔ اس سے اندازہ ہوتا ہے کہ موجودہ قلعہ ایک قدیم کاروان سرائے تھا۔ جو کہ جرنیلی روڈ کے ساتھ مسافروں کی سہولت یا سرکاری اہلکاروں کے ٹھہرنے کے لیئے بنائی گئی تھی۔ اس کا فن تعمیر اس بات کی غمازی کرتا ہے کہ یہ قلعہ نما سرائےپندرہویں صدی کے اوائل میں سلاطین دہلی کے زمانے میں تعمیر ہوئی  تھی۔ لیکن اس قلعے کو سلطان محمود غزنوی کے بیٹے مسعود کے ساتھ بھی منسوب کیا جاتا ہے۔ جس کا زمانہ 1036ء ہے اور کہا جاتا ہے کہ اس کے لشکر کے باغی سپاہیوں نے اسے اس قلعے میں گرفتار کیا اور بعد میں ٹیکسلا کے نزدیک گڑی کے قلعے میں لے جا کر قتل کردیا۔ یہ قلعہ بعد میں گکھڑ قبیلے کے سردار سارنگ خان کے قبضے میں آیا جو کہ اپنے سولہ بیٹوں کےساتھ شیرشاہ سوری کے ہاتھوں قتل ہوا اوراسی قلعے میں دفن کیا گیا۔
موجودہ قلعہ فصیل اور دو دروازوں پر مشتمل ہے۔ صدر دروازے کا رخ مشرق کی جانب ہے۔ جبکہ عقبی دروزہ شمال کی جانب کھلتا ہے۔ فصیل کے اندر چاروں اطراف میں ہجرے بنے ہوئے ہیں۔ فصیل کے اندر دیگر تاریخی عمارتوں میں ایک ہشت پہلو مقبرہ، ایک مسجد اور چند قبریں ہیں۔  

The story of Sultan Masud Ghaznavi is correct in details. After losing battles against Slejuks, Ghaznavis were indeed shifting towards Lahore, as the capital of their empire. After losing the battle of Dhadaqan in 1040, near Merv, Masud retreated towards this part of his empire and was captured by rebellious faction, led by his brother and imprisoned at Giri and subsequently executed.

Now let us examine the second story, about a battle between Sher Shah Suri and Sarang Khan Gakhar, which was supposed to be fought in 1546 AD. But the Sher Shah had already died in May, 1545, but that is a minor inconsistency. After the the defeats at Chausa and Kannauj, Humayun and his large family, along with thousands of supporters fled to Lahore and when Sher Shah Suri approached they all fled in panic towards river Jhelum. Near Khushab they all split into two groups, one fled to Kabul and while other, in command of Humayun, marched towards Multan. Sher Shah too pursued Humayun up to Multan. So I am not sure, whether Sher Shan came as far north as Rawat, as he became busy in other campaigns in central India. One more point we should bear in mind that most of the action associated with this small fortress, most probably took place at Pharwala, about 17 kms in the north east. Which is very big fort and certainly had had great importance in this region.

Courtyard of the fort: 14.12.2016.

Two graves: 14.12.2016.

Cemetery in the middle of the courtyard: 14.12.2016.

The second gate of the fort: 14.12.2016. 

I, in front of a tomb: 14.12.2016.

Inside the tomb: 14.12.2016.

Inner side of the dome: 14.12.2016.

Inner view of the tomb: 14.12.2016.

A big mosque inside the fort: 14.12.2016.

Another view of the tomb: 14.12.2016.

سلطان سارنگ خان
بن سلطان تاتار خان
چیف آف گکھڑان حاکم منطقہ پوٹھوار
شہادت 1546ء معہ 16 پسران در جنگ روات سلسلہ شاہان کیانیان ایران

Sultan Sarang Khan
son of Sultan Tatar Kan
Chief of Gakhars, ruler of Pothowar Region
Martyrdom 1546 AD, with 16 sons in the battle of Rawat, (of) Kayan dynasty of Kings of Iran. 
Picture: Wikipedia

This was my second visit to this place which is almost certainly not a fort but a caravanserai. The first being on 30th July, 1993. I do not remember any change. It is in the same mostly dilapidated condition. However, there is a good news, as per a news item, Department of Archaeology and Museums has finally started taking steps to repair it. So wait and see. 

Tariq Amir
January 1, 2017.
Doha - Qatar.