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Rohtas Fort
About 10 km. from Deena lies the great fort of Rohtas. It is one of the most imposing historical monuments which represents the Pathan period of architecture style in Pakistan. The fort is the symbol of strength and determination of its builder Sher Shah Suri who ruled over India only for six years, 1540-45 A.D., but even during that short period he created many splendours including Rohtas fort and the Great Grand Trunk Road, connecting Kabul with Calcutta.

Today it may look very odd, rather out of the way, to any one visiting Rohtas that the site once had so much of importance and a great strategic value from the military point of view. Yet no one will be able to deny the fact that the Ghaan gorge, which the fort dominates, was the only practicable route from the mountainous country north of the salt range to the southern plains. The gorge was exploited certainly by the Ghakhars and later on by the Mughals.

In fact Sher Shah recognised the strategic importance of Rohtas immediately after expelling the Mughal Emperor Humayun in 1542 A.D. from India and he considered it necessary to take measures against Humayun's return and his friends 'Ghakhars". After visiting the Jhelum hills, Sher Shah ordered construction of this great fort. The 'Ghakhars' who lived around Rohtas persuaded the people not to allow any supply of raw-material such as bricks and stones etc. to the builders of the fort. They also blocked various tracks leading to the site. But Sher Shah declared that any one who brings a stone will get a Rupee. People thought that Sher Shah's men will not honour their announcement but once they tried to supply the stones they were paid one rupee for each stone. As such the raw material for the fort was received in abundance as one rupee was a considerable amount of money at that time. As such all efforts of the Ghakhars failed and the fort was completed in 1543

The fort is not associated with any important historical event but it is remarkable for its size and massiveness. Sir Olaf Caroe described his initial impression of this fort in the following words-

"There it stands, sprawling across a low rocky hill a few miles north of Jhelum. Its great ramparts growing from the cliff like the wall of China, looking north a sandy stream bed to the low hills of the salt range and beyond them, to the snows of Pir Panjal. The circumference is large enough easily to hold a couple of Divisions of troops. As you approach the fort, the crenellations look like ominous rows of helmeted warriors watching you with disapproval. It is an awe-inspiring sight".

The plan of the fort is adapted to suit the terrain and it is defended by a number of deep ravines as well as the river Ghaan, which breaks through the low eastern spur of the Tilla range. The fort is about six km. in perimeter and surrounded with a massive wall and twelye gates. Its most striking feature is its majestic wall strengthened with 68 bastions. Besides providing strength to the wall, these bastions give a touch of elegance and grandeur to the fort. The wall, usually composed of two or three terraces, varies in thickness at different points, the maximum being 36 feet near the Mon Gate. The terraces are interlinked with each other by way of stairline and the top most terrace is the line of the merion shaped.

The height of the fortification wall ranges from 30 to 40 feet and a considerable number of galleries have been provided in the thickness of the wall for the soldiers and for use as storage space. The wall is built in sand stone coarse rubble masonry laid in lime mortar mixed with granular brick grit.

Although built for purely military purposes, but some of its twelve gates were exceptionally fine examples of the architecture of that period. One of these gates, that is, Sohal gate guarding the south west wall is in fair condition even today and it is being used as a rest house. This gate is an example which illustrates that how a feature built for strength could also be made architecturally graceful. As it is more than eighty feet in height so it provides a grand entrance to the magnificent fort complex. Every part of its structure has been carried out in broad and simple manner, each line and plane has a sober and massive elegance, while the whole is aesthetically competent.

Within the fort a small town has developed and several thousand people live here. The size of this town can be judged from the fact that there are more than ten schools and twelve mosques. So much vast areas are available within the fort even today that more than two towns of similar size could be developed.

The fort is approachable from the main highway if one turns right at Deena, which is a railway station as well as one of the busiest bus stops also about 100 km. from Islamabad. It is, however, difficult to reach Rohtas Fort during the rainy season as there is no bridge on the river Ghaan. Fortunately the river is not veiy deep and travellers can wade through. In the old days the G.T. Road used to pass by the Rohtas Fort but it was shifted during the British period to its present position and now it passes through Deena. Efforts are however being made for the development of a link road upto the fort.

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