GUJRAT: The Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP), Archaeology Directorate and Jhelum district administration have made a plan to conserve the historical Nandana Fort in tehsil Pind Dadan Khan of district Jhelum.

The fort has been crumbling since long as it had never been given any attention by the authorities concerned.

Jhelum Deputy Commissioner Rao Pervez Akhtar told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken keen interest in preservation and conservation of the historical fort aimed at converting the site into an international tourism site.

Special Assistant to PM for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari had paid a visit to the Nandana Fort last week along with the officials of tourism and archaeology departments and the Jhelum DC where he was briefed on the project.

The DC said provision of facilities for hiking and families besides creating economic opportunities for the locals had been the main focus of developing the site as a tourist destination.

Nandana Fort has a historical importance. Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni, the Persian scholar and polymath, known for his travels and writings, had come to India with Mahmud of Ghazni when he invaded the sub-continent.

During his stay here in 1017CE onwards, Al-Biruni mentioned Nandana as a great centre of learning in a hill fortress on the eastern most part of the Salt Range.

Nandana gained importance when it became the capital of the Hindu Shahis after they lost Waihind to the invading Mahmud. Nandana was thus the last capital of the Hindu Shahis.

The invader from Ghazni turned his eyes on Nandana and marched on it while the Hindu Shahi ruler Trilochan Pal deputed his son Bhimpala to defend their homeland. A great battle was fought between the locals and the invaders.

The Turks under Mahmud mined the walls of the fort and blew them up. Bhimpala was defeated but he fled and he joined his father in Kashmir where they had taken refuge with their cousin, Singharaja of Kashmir.

A Kashmir force, led by the General Tunga, and Hindu Shahi forces decided to take on Mahmud. And it was again around Nandana that this great battle was fought between the locals and the invaders.

This battle has been detailed in Kalahana’s Rajatarangani, The History of Kashmir. The joint Kashmir and Hindu Shahi forces, protecting their homeland, were defeated by the invading Mahmud’s forces which brought the end of the Hindu Shahi dynasty.

And all that is left behind this dynasty is a legacy of crumbling temples spread across Salt Range near Pind Dadan Khan and Nandana is perhaps most important of them all.

Another battle was fought between Mongols and Mamluks at the place of Nandana in which the former defeated the latter.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2021

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