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The majestic Rawat Fort

August 17, 2014

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Front view of Rawat Fort’s entrance towards the G. T. Road.
Front view of Rawat Fort’s entrance towards the G. T. Road.

Among the many forgotten relics spread across the dry and arid land of Potohar Plateau is the Rawat Fort, which lies about 18km east of Rawalpindi on G.T. Road. The etymology of the word ‘Rawat’ is said to trace back to the Arabic word ‘rebaat’ which mean ‘sarai’ in Urdu – a roadside inn for travellers. Contemporary historians have also concluded that the building’s design resembles a sarai rather than a fort. Historically, many of these roadside inns lined the G.T. Road and were used by invaders from Central Asia and Afghanistan. According to traditions, Rawat Fort was built by the Ghakkar tribe in 16th century. The region is also said to have been the battleground between the Ghakkar chief Sultan Sarang Khan and Sher Shah Suri in 1546 AD. The central courtyard of the fort contains ruined graves, that supposedly belong to the tribal chief and his two sons, who died fighting Sher Shah Suri. The two main entrances open to the east and the west. The walls of the fort are lined with small rooms, perhaps rented out to travellers. A quadrangular building, resembling a baradari, can also be found within the fort, along with a mosque. However, the original shape of the fort has been modified several times as it has gone under renovation and maintenance.

Rooms at Rawat Fort, which were used as sarai for traveling passengers.
Rooms at Rawat Fort, which were used as sarai for traveling passengers.
The grave of Ghakkar Sultan Sarang Khan at Rawat Fort.
The grave of Ghakkar Sultan Sarang Khan at Rawat Fort.
The view of graves in the middle of Rawat Fort. Sultan Sarang Khan died fighting Sher Shah Suri and was buried at Rawat fort with his 16 sons.
The view of graves in the middle of Rawat Fort. Sultan Sarang Khan died fighting Sher Shah Suri and was buried at Rawat fort with his 16 sons.
A wall of Rawat Fort lined with rooms.
A wall of Rawat Fort lined with rooms.
A sign board outside Rawat fort, stating that it was a sarai.
A sign board outside Rawat fort, stating that it was a sarai.
View of an old structure, which was supposed to be a bara-dari at Rawat Fort.
View of an old structure, which was supposed to be a bara-dari at Rawat Fort.

— Photos and Text by Shiraz Hassan

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2014