Rohtas Fort, or Qila Rohtas as the natives call it, is a garrison fort with great historical value. It is located in Pakistan’s most populated province, Punjab, on the GT road. It is at a distance of approximately 8 km from the city Dina in district Jhelum. The Afghan king, Farid Khan, more commonly known as Sher Shah Suri, had Todar Mal build this fort in the 16th century. Farid Khan is the founder of the Suri Empire. The circumference of the fort is 4 km. Its construction took as many as 8 years for completion. Meanwhile, Sher Shah Suri died on 22 May 1545 during the siege of Kalinjar Fort due to a fire erupted in result of a gunpowder explosion in his store room.
The fort with its distinct architectural style, massiveness and historical significance is enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 A.D.
The Mughal Emperor, Humayun, had fled from India along with his family, when Sher Shah Suri took over the empire. However, Humayun still posed a threat to Suri. One of the reasons why Suri had the fort built was to suppress Potohar, the local tribes of the area. They were extremely loyal to Humayun. The Gakhars were not native of the region. They had helped Humayun and his family to escape from India after the battle of Kanauj. In order to reward them, Humayun aided Gakhars in occupying Potohar, which was owned by the local tribes. Even though these tribes were supporters of the Mughal Emperor Babur, they refused to swear allegiance to Humayun, because he had helped the Gakhars against them. They allied with Suri who ordered them to fight and crush the Gakhars and take over their lands. The Rohtas Fort was built for the purpose of crushing the Gakhars.
Ironically, the Afghans were eventually defeated and so, the fort came into the hands of the Gakhars. The Afghans lost the support from the locals of Northern Punjab consequently. Humayun captured the fort in 1555. Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler, captured the Qila Rohtas in 1825. He used the fort for administrative purposes.
Todar Mal Khatri started work on Rohtas fort in 1541. Gakhars refused to help with the construction and attacked the laborers during the construction phase. Because of the opposition by the Gakhars, the fort cost much more than it should have.
The outer wall’s height varies between 10 and 18 meters and thickness varies between 10 and 13 meters. This wall has two or three terraces which are connected by staircases. The wall is built with sandstone, limestone and mortar. The gates are ashlar masonry:
The gate is named after Saint Sohail Bokhari. It is a double gate. It is 70 ft high, 68 ft wide and 50 ft deep. The archway has an inner and outer arch, and is decorated with sunflower motifs. On either side of the archway, there is a balcony. The balconies each have a dome.