Rawat Fort

Rawat Fort (Urdu: قلعہ روات‎) is an early 16th century fort in the Pothohar plateau of Pakistan, near the city of Rawalpindi in the province of Punjab. The fort was built to defend the Pothohar plateau from the forces of the Pashtun king Sher Shah Suri.[1]

It is 17 km east of Rawalpindi on Grand Trunk Road. The 2nd century Mankiala stupa can be seen from the roof of the fort's mosque. The fort is located approximately 50 miles from the vast Rohtas Fort, which had been built by Sher Shah Suri to establish control of the Gakhar region.

Rawat Fort derives is named from the Arabic word Rabat (Arabic: رباط‎), meaning caravanserai - an inn for caravans.[2]

The fort was founded as a caravanserai in the 15th century by Salteen-e-Dehli, though the caravan itself may have been built atop a Ghaznavid-era fort that was established in 1036 CE.[3]

The caravanserai was then later fortified in the 16th century by the local Gakhar – warrior clan loyal to the Mughal emperor Humayun in order to defend the Pothohar plateau from Sher Shah Suri's forces.[4]

The fort was the scene of a battle between the Gakhar chief Sultan Sarang and Afghan king Sher Shah Suri in 1546.[5] Sultan Sarang was captured, tortured, and then executed at the fort by the forces of Sher Shah Suri, and then buried at the fort.[6]

The fort is almost in square form and has two gates. There is also a quadrangular building with a dome in the fort's inner area – an area which also contains many graves. Along the perimeter are several small cells, which may have originally been small rooms rented out to itinerant merchants.[7]

The fort also contains a mosque with three domes. The grave of the Gakkar chief, Sultan Sarang Khan is present within the fort.[8] His 16 sons, who died there fighting, are also buried inside the fort.

The fort is federally protected as a Cultural Heritage Site of Punjab, and is managed by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage. In November 2016, a conservation plan was commissioned for preservation of the fort.[9] 50 million rupees were allocated in March 2017 towards the first of two phases of conservation of the Rawat Fort.[10]