The region of Potohar remained under the control of different rulers from Ghakhars, Dogras to Mughals, Sikhs and the British. The remnants of these periods can be seen in different areas of Potohar. The Sangni Fort in Gujar Khan is one of them and it is located at a strategic point on the border of Punjab and Kashmir. It is assumed that the fort was built by the Dogras of Kashmir and later turned into a garrison by the Sikh rulers of the Potohar region. Today, it is considered as a landmark of the Mughal and Sikh period. The fort is located near the Bewal union council of Gujar Khan, about 25km off the G.T. Road. It is located on a hilltop at the junction of two small rivers. Historical references are unable to exactly name the ruler who built the fort but it is assumed that the fort was built during the era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The fort was also used to keep prisoners during the Sikh rule. It has four thick pillar-shaped corners, a typical style of the garrison fort. Despite some cracks in the outer walls, the fort still stands strong even after over 200 years. The total area of the fort is about 36 square yards. The fort also houses the remains of a saint, Sahibzada Abdul Hakim, whose shrine is situated on the left side with a mosque on the right at the centre of the courtyard. It is said that Sahibzada Abdul Hakim used to offer prayers on the hill where the fort now stands. He was asked to leave the place by the rulers before the construction of the fort. The saint moved to the nearby village of Chakrali and was buried there after his death. Later, however, the remains of the saint were exhumed and buried inside the fort in early 1900s. The shrine was constructed in 1993 and since then it is being managed by the devotees. Despite the fact that the fort is a reminder of the bygone period and is located in a picturesque area, successive governments have ignored its preservation. People of the area are of the view that the fort should be preserved and highlighted as a tourist spot.
Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2014