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Sangni Fort — a reminder of the Mughal, Sikh period

October 19, 2014

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Sangni Fort is located on the border between Kashmir and Gujar Khan. During the Sikh period it was used as a garrison checkpost.
Sangni Fort is located on the border between Kashmir and Gujar Khan. During the Sikh period it was used as a garrison checkpost.
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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 Historical references are unable to exactly name the ruler who built the fort but it is assumed that the fort was built during the era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.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.

View of the northern side of Sangni Fort which covers an area of almost 36 square yards.
View of the northern side of Sangni Fort which covers an area of almost 36 square yards.
Shrine of saint Sahibzada Abdul Hakim built in 1993. It has four minarets and a central dome - typical of Muslim architecture.
Shrine of saint Sahibzada Abdul Hakim built in 1993. It has four minarets and a central dome - typical of Muslim architecture.
The inner view of Sangni Fort. The courtyard is well maintained by the devotees.
The inner view of Sangni Fort. The courtyard is well maintained by the devotees.
A stream that flows near the Sangni Fort. (L) Pieces of cloth tied to branches of an old Banyan tree. This practice known as ‘Mannat’ is common among devotees of the saint. (R)
A stream that flows near the Sangni Fort. (L) Pieces of cloth tied to branches of an old Banyan tree. This practice known as ‘Mannat’ is common among devotees of the saint. (R)

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2014