ISLAMABAD - The renovated 16th century architecture of Rohtas Fort will give a boost to local and foreign tourism and promote the heritage of Muslim history.The fortified complex has been renovated under a project for maintenance and upgrading of heritage structure and visitor facilities at the Fort funded by the USAID’s Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Programme (SGAFP) as goodwill gesture from the American people.The Fort’s control has been devolved to the Punjab’s Archeology Department after 18th amendment however it lacked the resources to execute the task of renovation and preservation of the Fort.The Fort is considered as exceptional Muslim history architecture in Central and South Asia. Though the building is better preserved, some of its areas had been facing neglect decaying the original beauty of the building made of Ashlar stone and bricks. After renovation, Rohtas Fort raised by Mughal Emperor Sher Shah Suri features the high-shooting fountain, restored centuries-old water well, renovated park and pathways.The Fort has been enlisted by UNESCO among the world heritage sites considering its historic importance that blends architectural and artistic traditions from Turkey and the Indian sub-continent to create the model for Mughal architecture.“We had launched work on the project in January this year. The renovation work is almost four months before the deadline,” said Dr Anis-ur-Rehman, Chief Executive Officer Himalayan Wildlife Foundation (HWF), the implementing partner of the project.Under the project, almost all the structures have been given their old traditional look to revive the beauty of the heritage building including the Langar Khani Gate, Visitors’ Information Centre, Visual Park, Suri Museum, Maan Singh Haveli and Shahchandwali area.He said the organization restored the centuries-old stepped water well named `bowlies’ having two approaches. The access points have partially been restored enabling the visitors to have a safe and close look of the well.The CEO said the lime and concrete work has been carried out at Langar Khani Gate that memorizes a food warehouse for Sher Shah Suri’s army as the Fort used to house force of up to 30,000 men.Likewise, a fountain has been made functional after its renovation. The project also featured the provision of gardening equipment at Suri Park, Visual Park and repairing of toilets and arranging water supply to the sites.The museum, parks and pathways now glitter with electric lights at night, which earlier used to turn into dark with the sunset.Dr Anis said the basic objective of the project was to ensure basic facilities at the Fort including signboards to direct and help visitors, walkways, appropriate local roads, parking places, toilets, especially for women visitors, information brochures and booklets, gift shop, information centers for school and college students.He observed that after renovation and preservation work, the local community would benefit with the increased number of visitors that ultimately would enrich business activity in the locality.He said Fort is visited by tends of thousands of school, college and university students from across the country and tourists from all around the world every year.According to a survey conducted by the Department of Archeology in 2010, approximately 150,000 individuals visited the Fort including 5,000 foreigners.The CEO said besides ongoing project, the HWF had also completed other development works including Development of Rohtas Heritage Village, documentation and conservation of Shahchandwali, conservation and illumination of Haveli Man Singh, Rohtas Fort Fund Raising Show, preservation of Sher Shah Suri Museum, Gatali Gate Conservation and Visitor Information Center.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 03-Jun-2013 here.