An almost unknown historical fort near capital
Friday, January 23, 2009
by Faisal Kamal Pasha
Located almost at the centre of Potohar region occupying a pivotal position that overlooks the whole area, Pharwala Fort near the village of Bagh Jogian at a distance of some 17 kilometres from Islamabad Highway is a historical place of particular interest for the students of archaeology and lovers of nature.
Hathi Khan, a ruler of the Rajput Gakhar tribe, built the fort on the bank of Soan River in the sixteenth century. His descendents are called Hathial, living in some areas of Potohar.
Potohar always remained a strategically important region in the past for the invaders from central Asia and Afghanistan.
With the ultimate goal of capturing the throne of Delhi, the invaders had to first consolidate their position in this region. So the area always remained under attack by the rulers of states in central Asia.
In order to secure their position and defend themselves from the foreign onslaughts, locals in some areas built forts.
Pharwala Fort and the Fort of Rawat are the two prominent forts of the regions built to defend the area from foreign invaders.
It is said that the Gakhar chieftain Sultan Sarang who built the Fort of Rawat was the grandson of Hathi Khan who constructed Pharwala Fort.
Pharwala Fort is situated at a high place in the mountains of Potohar, from where one can keep an eye over the whole region. The fort was built on an area of about four square kilometres. There are two watercourses around the fort whereas one of its northwestern sides has an access to the difficult mountainous terrain. Blocked from two sides by the watercourses must have been strategically very important. Moreover the proximity of water was also good for the consumption of humans, agricultural use and for the use of animals.
According to some people residing inside the fort, there were seven gates of the fort whereas now ruins of only three gates can be traced. An aged man residing inside the fort for many years told that the three gates are Lashkri Darwaza, Hathi Darwaza and Dadan Khan Darwaza. Hathi Khan Darwaza was the main entry gate of the fort. The Kyanis and Ghakhars inhabited the fort in sixteenth century and only a few of the families of these clans survive.
The fort was invaded by the Mughal emperor Zaheeruddin Babar around 1526 when he launched his military expedition to south Asia. The locals gave him a tough fight but he succeeded in subduing them. After being defeated at the hands of Babar these locals inflicted heavy losses on the Mughal army through guerrilla war. However they owed allegiance to the second emperor of Mughal dynasty Naseeruddin Humayun. It is also mentioned in history that they supported Humayun against Sher Shah Suri.
The fort has some very interesting features like the masjid of Mai Qamro and the tomb of a Mughal soldier. It is said that the masjid of Mai Qamro is one of the oldest mosques in South Asia. The mosque is in a dilapidated condition. The roof of this mosque has caved in and the brick walls are also in a bad state. There is a dense growth of wild grass and shrubs in the lawn of the mosque. This mosque has three domes and those too are in a dilapidated condition.
According to an archeologist, Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro, the mosque has a three-dome architecture, similar to the mosque in Rawat Fort. That shows that these two forts and their mosques were built almost in the same period of time. The tomb of the Mughal soldier, is also an important thing to mention here. It is said that when Babar invaded this fort a soldier of his army might have laid down his life fighting against the army of the opponent and the tomb might have been built to honour the brave soldier.
There are many banyan trees inside the fort under which there are ruins of some very old graves with carving of the names buried there.
With an alluring and breath taking natural beauty mingled with its historical importance the place is still undiscovered by the so many people who may love to visit it for the sake of gaining knowledge.