The ancient fort of Rohtas

Rohtas Fort, (Qila Rohtas) is an excellent example of early Muslim military architecture in Central and South Asia, for it was built essentially for military purposes. Following the defeat of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in 1541, Sher Shah Suri built a strong fortified complex at Rohtas, a strategic site about 16 kilometres north-west of the city of Jhelum.

 

The gigantic fort is founded on steep rocks jutting into the river Kahan, its ramparts protected on the west and north sides by the river and by high hills on its east and south. It was never taken by assault and survives intact to the present day. The main fortifications consist of the massive walls, which extended for more than 4km; they are lined with bastions and pierced by monumental gateways.

 

There are indications that more structures had existed earlier, which either collapsed due to neglect, or were demolished in Mughal or later periods.

 

The Rohtas Fort is now a protected monument under the Antiquities Act 1975, and maintained by the Department of Archaeology, Government of Pakistan. Owing to its marvelous qualities of strength and solidity, and being the finest specimen of medieval military architecture in Pakistan, the fort was inscribed in the World Heritage List, by UNESCO, in 1997.

 

Although built for purely military purposes, yet a few of its twelve gates were exceptionally fine examples of the architecture of that period. The Sohail 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 illustrating 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

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