Islamabad - The Department of Archaeology and Museums has got the final nod from the relevant authorities to initiate work on repair, maintenance and development of the majestic historical Rawat Fort which was in dilapidated condition for the last many years. Rawat Fort is originally an ancient Sarai (Inn) situated about 11 miles from Rawalpindi towards Jhelum close to the Grand Trunk road and appears to have been built during the Sultanate period in early 15th century AD.

Talking to APP, Director (Archaeology), DOAM, Abdul Azeem said, “the PC-I for repair, maintenance and development of Rawat Fort has been approved with the cost of Rs. 28 million and the work will be started after fulfilling all the modalities and completed within the three years”.

He said the preservation of cultural heritage and archaeological sites, not only relives a nation but also promotes tourism, thus bringing monetary benefits to a country. The biggest problem, he revealed, is of the encroachments from three sides of the fort which is sheer violation of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) law which prohibits construction within 200 feet of the historical monuments premises.

He said, “We will hold meetings with the CDA officials to resolve this issue.”

According to an official source, Rawat Fort had 45 rooms, out of which 19 ram-shackled rooms exist and others have fallen prey to intentional vandalism of private constructors who have merged the major parts of the rooms into their houses. These rooms were once used by travellers of the ancient era for staying.

The fort has a three-domed altered mosque, crumbling graves and a deserted mausoleum. According to the description board outside the fort with half omitted words, the fort is associated with the name of Masud, son of famous Mehmood of Ghaznavi in 1039 AD where he was arrested by his rebellious soldiers and eventually murdered in the fort of Giri near Taxila.

The fort is also associated with the name of Ghakhar tribe chief Sarang Khan who fell with his sixteen sons fighting against Sher Shah Suri and buried within the precinct of this monument, it said The historical mosque and the mausoleum of Sarang Khan in the fort were altered by the locals of the area from their original architecture, violating the law which prohibits damaging or altering the historical monuments. The graves of 16 sons of Sarang Khan and others are also in a dilapidated condition as usually locals pull the bricks of these graves out when they need it. The site was protected by DOAM, Islamabad under Antiquities Act 1975 but after devolution under the 18th amendment of the constitution, it was acquired by Punjab government, the source revealed.

The DOAM Islamabad again acquired the site a few months ago and started initial working on a plan for its maintenance and preservation after removal of encroachments. The road linking the historical site with Grand Trunk Road was purchased by the archaeology department but encroached by shopkeepers and roadside hawkers.