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13th century watchtower to be included in forest park

July 03, 2015

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SAHIWAL: A square hole in the centre of the tower’s ceiling. — Dawn
SAHIWAL: A square hole in the centre of the tower’s ceiling. — Dawn

SAHIWAL: A 13th century watchtower, called Kos Minar, located near Piple Pahar, Depalpur, is set to be included in the Shahbaz Sharif Forest Park.

The forest park project, spreading over 80 acres forest land, will be completed in 2017.

The watchtower, made of mud bricks, most probably built in Balban era, got the attention of the authorities during the preliminary land survey for the forest park when they heard the locals talk of a historical “watchtower”. It is in a dilapidated condition due to centuries of neglect and digging by the locals for stealing historical artifacts.

The watchtower was used by the Mughals and the British as defence line for the Depalpur Fort, said Hasan Khokhar, curator of the Harappa Museum, who recently visited the site for archaeological investigation.

In August 2014, the Okara forest department asked Mr Khokhar to determine the historical value of tower to make it a part of the forest park if it had historical significance, added a senior forest department official.

A team of four archaeologists and two volunteers, led by Mr Khokhar, did initial archaeological investigation and excavation at the site from May 17 to June 10.

Mr Khokhar said it’s a monument having a 20x20square platform, raised with sun-dried and baked bricks. A central arched chamber/tunnel measuring about 3x6 foot on ground level has also been found.

The arched chamber/tunnel has a small square hole in its centre in the ceiling that goes upwards to the top of circular tower made of sun-dried bricks. Apparently, the purpose of this hole seems to provide an air duct to fireplace on the top of circular tower for the guidance of travelling caravans at night. A staircase six-foot wide staircase leads to the top of platform.

SAHIWAL: Excavation work going on at mud-brick watchtower. — Dawn
SAHIWAL: Excavation work going on at mud-brick watchtower. — Dawn

Mr Khokhar said the watchtower was not alone but there were 84 watchtowers around the Depalpur Fort.

“Out of them only two others survived, one near Chowk Sikander, district Pakpatan, and the other at Satgarha,” he said.

The watchtower at Piple Pahar, Depalpur, is in a very poor and perishable condition. A portion of it has already been washed away while the treasure hunters of the surrounding localities have played havoc with it by digging various portions up to considerable depth leaving small ponds/ depressions where rainwater accumulates.

While visiting the site, Mr Khokhar informed this correspondence that there was immediate need of archaeological excavation of the monument for determining its actual extend/dimension and collection of artifacts and other historic evidences.

“After completion of excavation, restoration of the monument and the site will be done,” said Nawaz Sandhela, divisional forest officer, Okara, adding that Rs2m had been reserved for the preservation and conservation of monuments.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2015

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