Have you ever visited Rawat Fort Islamabad, Pakistan? If not, then you are missing out on a lot! This ancient Fort has a lot of history and charm to offer visitors. This old Fort is believed to date back to the 12th century. Built as a Caravanserai, the Rawat fort was a roadside inn. A Caravanserai is where weary travelers can rest and recover from their journey. And that’s precisely what Rawat Fort provided for those who passed through this area. It was a welcome respite from the long journey on the road.
In recent years, Rawat Fort Islamabad has developed into a tourist attraction. The Fort offers a fascinating glimpse into the past of the local nobility and kings of the Potohar Region. It is now open to the public and gives visitors a glimpse into Pakistan’s rich history and culture. So, if you’re ever in the area, stop by and check it out!
History of Rawat Fort
Rawat Fort comes from the Arabic term Rabat, meaning a Caravanserai or inn for traveling caravans. In the 15th century, Delhi Sultanate founded this Fort as a Caravanserai. However, the Caravan was constructed on top of a fort from the Ghaznavid era built in 1036 CE. To protect the Pothohar plateau from Sher Shah Suri’s forces, the local Gakhar warrior clan, who were supporters of Mughal emperor Humayun, later fortified the Caravanserai. The Mughal Emperor Humayun and the Afghan King Sher Shah Suri engaged in a fierce battle at the Rawat Fort in 1546.
Mas’ud I of Ghazni, who ruled the Ghaznavid Empire from 1030 to 1040, is reportedly related to the Fort, according to some historical evidence. It confirms that Mas’ud was detained here by insurgent forces working for him before being killed in the nearby village of Giri near Taxila.
Who built Rawat Fort?
According to historians, the ruler of the Gakkhar Tribe, Sultan Sarang Khan Gakkhar, built the Rawat Fort in the late 16th century. The Gakkhars were a warrior tribe that ruled the Potohar Plateau at one time and were renowned for their high, fortified cities. They fortified the Fort and turned it into a Caravanserai. It was common during the Gakkhar period; every time they conquered a new territory, they would build a Caravanserai to serve as a resting place for weary travelers and their animals.
History tells us that the Gakkhar tribe enjoyed very cordial relations with the Mughal emperor Humayun and their relationship grew even more potent during the battles with Sher Shah. The Gakkhar tribe appeared on the political scene as a valiant tribe, and they played a prominent role in the fight between Mughal emperor Humayun and Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah Suri built the mighty Rohtas Fort near Rawat Fort to keep an eye on the activities of Humayun. Sultan Sarang Khan left no stone unturned to stop the construction of the Rohtas Fort. But Suri built it anyway. Sarang Khan always assisted Humayun against the attacks of the Suri Dynasty.
The Architecture of Rawat Fort
The fact that a desolate architectural complex of stone and lime mortar standing prominently in Rawat Town, Islamabad, tells us that the Fort formerly held enormous historical significance. The Fort has high walls and is nearly square, measuring 93.5 x 106.3 meters. The high walls include panels and arched openings. The remnants of the foundations of the two towers are still present in the northern and southern corners of the building. The Fort surrounds a courtyard that is around 10,000 square meters in size. Standing in the center of the yard, you can have a mesmerizing view of the entire fortress. Entrance into the Fort is through four arched gateways leading to the central courtyard. Only the eastern and the northern gateways provide access into the Fort, while the southern one is blocked. Eastern Gateway is three-storied, with guardrooms on either side. There is a tower on the left in the form of a vast mass of stone masonry.
The northern gateway is smaller than the eastern one, with guardrooms and circular towers on each side. On the inner side, stairs give access to the upper Storey.
To preserve Rawat Fort’s historical legacy and take into account its historical significance, the Department of Archaeology and Museums launched a restoration program in 2017. The Government of Pakistan recently provided roughly Rs. 5.6 million under the Public Sector Development Program’s 2020-2021 Budget for preserving and restoring the Rawat Fort.
Tomb of Sarang Khan
The most prominent area of the entire Rawat Fort is the Sarang khan tomb, an octagonal tomb measuring 16.6 meters in diameter. Built-in three stages, the lower octagon supports the second octagonal drum, which in turn carries a Low hemispherical dome. The tomb is the final resting place of Sultan Sarang Khan, a Gakkhar ruler who ruled the entire Potohar Plateau from 1520-46.
Additionally, Sarang Khan’s grave is in the Fort’s courtyard, though it is not the actual grave but rather a fictitious one. Sher Shah Suri killed Sultan Sarang in the bloody battle with the Mughals. However, many historians believe that it was a cousin of Sultan Sarang who killed him.
Many Graves Inside Fort
According to legend, Sultan Sarang and Sher Shah Suri engaged in a bloody fight near Fort grounds in 1546 AD. The Afghan King defeated Sultan Sarang and executed him. The graves of 16 sons of Sultan Sarang and his allies, who died defending their home from Suri’s invasion, are reportedly located in the courtyard inside the Fort.
A Beautiful Mosque with three Domes
A massive, three-domed mosque that measures 29.5 x 12.1 meters dominates the western boundary wall. It is one of the oldest and most impressive structures in the Fort, and it’s still in use today. The construction materials of the Mosque are a combination of red bricks and limestone. The prayer chamber is a vast rectangular hall with three compartments, each with an arched entrance. False merlons made of lime plaster delineate the facade’s parapet. Located in the central bay are the newly built mihrab and a minibar. The interior is simple but stunning, with white walls and a black marble floor. It’s worth taking a look inside if you get the chance.
Old Style Stairs
As you climb the old-style stairs at Rawat Fort, Islamabad, you can feel yourself being transported back in time. Each step is a reminder of the bygone era when these fortifications served as a garrison for the Mughal army.
The stairs are sturdy wood with ornate railings carved with intricate designs. A heavy metal gate is shielding the main entrance of the Fort. As you climb the stairs up to the rooftop of this historic fortress, you will have the privilege of experiencing the stunning panoramic view.
A Big Courtyard
A big courtyard is the first thing you’ll see when entering Rawat fort. It’s an awe-inspiring sight and the perfect place to relax and take in the surroundings. The courtyard is covered in a thick blanket of green grass and is teeming with vegetation. The yard is surrounded by a series of arches, with rooms on either side. The ceilings are high, and there are a lot of intricate carvings on the walls. It’s easy to lose yourself in all the details.
Multiple Rooms Inside Fort
Various small rooms line the surrounding high walls. Each room has an arched entryway, a dome-shaped ceiling, and a rectangular vestibule in front of it leading to the central courtyard. There are 15 rooms in their original condition along the walls of the Fort. Each room has its unique character and story, and it’s a fascinating glimpse into what life was like back in the day.
An old well in the Rawat Fort courtyard is an excellent example of Mughal architecture, and it’s one of the Fort’s most popular tourist attractions. Well is made of red sandstone. It’s about 30 feet deep, and an aquifer is underneath the well. It’s a beautiful sight, and it’s easy to imagine what it would have been like to draw water from it centuries ago.
View of the Mankyala Stupa from the top of the Mosque
Standing at the top of the Mosque, you can view the Mankyala Stupa of the Gandhara civilization, built during the rule of Kanishka between 128 and 151 CE. According to some Jataka tales, the Buddha called Prince Sattva sacrificed his life to feed seven hungry tiger cubs in this stupa. The Mankyala Stupa houses the ashes of the Buddha.
How to Reach Rawat Fort from Islamabad?
Rawat Fort Islamabad is close to the Islamabad Expressway, with a maximum of 10 minutes by car from the Main Islamabad expressway. The Rawat Fort, about 18 km east of Rawalpindi on G.T. Road, is one of the numerous abandoned relics scattered across the dry land of the Potohar Plateau. Access is far too simple. It is within 500 meters of G.T. Road by the side of the road. It’s just a small slide off the road if you’re coming from Lahore. If leaving from the Rawalpindi side, you must travel along the western side of GT ROAD on a service road-type Smaller road.
Rawat Fort Timings
Rawat Fort Islamabad remains open for visitors from 6:15 AM to 7:30 PM. The Rawat Fort should be your next stop if you’re interested in archaeology and like to go on adventures. Despite having homes and shops all around it, this Fort is well-maintained.
Location of Rawat Fort Islamabad
A few miles south of the Sawan river, in the town of Rawat, on the southeast corner of the Islamabad capital territory, is where you’ll find Rawat Fort.
Frequently Asked Questions
How old is Rawat fort?
Rawat fort Islamabad is a 350-year-old Fort that served as a Caravanserai for the Mughal emperor Humayun. The poor quality of the restoration work led to replacing some of the original boundary walls with modern, inexpensive cement and brick construction.
Is the Rawat Fort worth visiting?
Despite the government’s well-known shortcomings, the Rawat Fort Islamabad is still worthwhile to visit, especially with children—a much more enlightening and healthy place.
After years of neglect, the Fort is now an attractive tourist destination. The Fort has been restored and is now open to the public. The Fort has a beautiful garden and several other attractions. A beautiful location with much history where you can stroll, talk, relax, and enjoy the scenery. The architecture and surroundings make it the perfect spot for a wedding or any other photoshoot! It is quiet and peaceful and is an excellent place for families to visit. If you are in the area, visit Rawat Fort Islamabad and enjoy its charms.