Following his defeat of the Mughal emperor Humayun in 1541, Sher Shah Suri built a fortified complex at Rohtas, a strategic site in the north of what is now Pakistan. It was never taken by storm and has survived intact to the present day. The main fortifications consist of the massive walls, which extend for more than 4 km; they are lined with bastions and pierced by monumental gateways. Rohtas Fort, also called Qila Rohtas, is an exceptional example of early Muslim military architecture in Central and South Asia. For those who have a strong knack of investing their time into historical places, should definitely be enjoying and indulging in the wonders of what is known as Rohtas Fort. It is located near Jhelum in Punjab, which is about 4 hours from Lahore and 2 hours from Islamabad. The fortress is one of the largest in the Subcontinent and has remained in remarkable condition despite its age. Hours can be spent roaming around the massive structure, a beautiful relic that almost seems to transport visitors back in time.
By Shah Iqbal
Walk Back in Time
Rohtas Fort, built in the 16th century at a strategic site in the north of Pakistan, Province of Punjab, is an exceptional example of early Muslim military architecture in central and south Asia. A blend of architectural and artistic traditions from elsewhere in the Islamic world, the fort had a profound influence on the development of architectural style in the Mughal Empire.Sher Sha Suri, founder of the Suri dynasty, commenced construction of Rohtas Fort in 1541. Irregular in plan, this early example of Muslim military architecture follows the contours of its hilltop site. An interior wall partitions the inner citadel from the remainder of the fort, and an internal water supply in the form of baolis (stepped wells) gives the fort’s garrison self-sufficiency in water. A beautiful mosque known as Shahi Masjid is situated near the Kabuli Gate, and the Haveli (Palatial House) Man Singh was constructed later in the Mughal period. Rohtas Fort represented a new form of fortification, based essentially on Turkish military architecture developed in reaction to the introduction of gunpowder and cannon, but transformed into a distinct style of its own.
Rohtas Fort blended architectural and artistic traditions from Turkey and the Indian subcontinent, thereby creating the model for Mughal architecture and its subsequent refinements and adaptations (including the European colonial architecture that made abundant use of that tradition). Most noteworthy are the sophistication and high artistic value of its decorative elements, notably its high- and low-relief carvings, its calligraphic inscriptions in marble and sandstone, its plaster decoration, and its glazed tiles. The fort remained in use during the Mughal era, and was used almost continuously until 1707, though it was not popular with the Mughal rulers. The Afsharid ruler Nadir Shah camped at the fort during his attack on the Mughal Empire. Also the Afghan chieftain Ahmed Shah Abdali had used the fort in his expeditions in the Punjab during the waning days of the Mughal empire. In 1825, the Sikh forces of Gurmukh Singh Lamba conquered the fort from the Gakhar chieftain Nur Khan. Rohtas was also thereafter used for administrative purposes by the Sikh Empire until its collapse by the British in 1849.
A mesmerizing location, a treasure of wonders, this fortress is one which needs to be explored in depth so as to be understood well. It is one of our epic locations which defines how historically enriched our country really is. If you are still slumped over the fact that you couldn’t make those international trips, fret not. It is time to start exploring and discovering all the riches from within!