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Rohtashgarh Fort                                                                                     


It is hill place called series of Kaimur hill and situated at 1490 fit above from sea level and 45 KM far from Dehri On-Sone and 39 KM from Sasaram. It now occupies a part of the plateau about 4 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south, 28 miles in circumference. It is considered one of the largest and strongest hill forts in India. this fort served as a safe shelter for treasures and families of Sher Shah Suri, Shah Jahan, maan singh, Mir Qasim (and others during the revolt of 185). Records suggest that there are 84 passages to the hill with 14 main gates entry. However 10 were closed by Sher Shah Suri.

There are several villages on the plateau and there are various kinds of cultivation and these yield sufficient provision for the garrison. There are abundant springs of good water, and though the fort is on the top of a hill which neighbours the sky, and on the sites of which well-water is found at great depth, yet inside the fort sweet water pours out on a little digging.

In troubled times of war, Rohtasgarh fort served as the safe shelter for the treasures and families of Sher Shah, Shah Jehan, Maan Singh, Mir Qasim and others, and during the Revolt of 1857, the fort became the rallying point of defense. Price Shah Shuja (governor of Bengal and Orissa) preferred the fort of Rohtas together with the suba (Province) of Bihar in lieu of the provinces of Bengal & Orissa put together.

As per legends, Rohita also called Ruidas, the son of King Harischandra, realizing danger to his life, stayed here several years in exile. The fort is named after this prince. The early history of Rohtasgarh is steeped in strange legends. One such Puranic story claims that childless Raja Harischandra was granted a son on a condition that he would kill him as an offering to the gods. The child named Rohita, realising danger to his life thus evaded his father as well as the gods. Rohtasgarh is believed to be named after this prince, Rohita who stayed here for serveral years in exile.

Legend gives way to history by the end of 15th century and the fort springs to life with the advent of the great Pathan, Sher Shah Suri, who was in revolt against his Mughal adversary, Humayun. Sher Shah is believed to have seized the fort from a Brahman Raja in 1538 as it was an ideal place for refuge and military operations. It was the time when Sher Shah was consolidating his power in Eastern India. He had defeated the Sultan of Bengal and acquired immense treasure from Bengal which included the Chatr (umbrella) and the throne. He was, therefore, looking for safe refuge for his family and new found wealth. Rohtasgarh suited his purpose and he was keen to attach it. Some historians consider it to be a negotiated deal while others discount it as Sher Shah’s inglorious seizure. It is believed that Raja of the fort was persuaded to give shelter to Sher Shah’s family. Hundreds of covered dolis (litters) with armed Afghan soldiers dressed as women entered the fort. When a few leading dolis in the train were examined at outer gate and found containing only women, the remaining were not checked and soon a considerable Afghan force gained entry. The hosts were taken by surprise and were soon overpowered. The Raja had to flee, leaving the fort to Sher Shah. Historians attribute this callous mentality, devoid of moral scruples, that characterised the Afghans of Hindustan. Sher Shah is further held guilty of deception and ingratitude to the Raja who had earlier given shelter and hospitality to his other family members for 18 months.

The fort sprawls across the rocky hill with its ramparts growing from the cliff. As befits the work of military fortification, these overpowering gates and bastions are devoid of Mughal embellishments but the ashlar is finely joined, even holding together the fallen rocks, the masses that, with time, have toppled from the structure. Throughout the Suri period the Rohtasgarh fort was guarded by a strong garrison of 10,000 matchlock men .

With the fall of Afghans, Akbar acquired the fort in 1587 and bestowed it upon Raja Maan Singh, who was appointed the Governor of Bihar. Rohtas became the provincial capital of the Mughals and Maan Singh remained here till 1607. Later in 1621, Prince Khurram rebelled against his father and sought refuge here in Rohtasgarh, together with his family and the Commandant of the fort Syed Mubarak surrendered the fort keys to the prince. Around this time, Khurram’s younger son, Murad was born here to his wife Arjamand Bano (Mumtaz Mahal). When Khurram became emperor Shah Jehan, he placed the fort under the command of Ikhlas Khan and during the reign of Aurangzeb, Ikhlas Khan was appointed the Governor of Bihar and the fort served as a state prison ranking next to Gwalior and Ranthambor. However, Rohtasgarh fort prison was exclusively for the nobles and princes of royal blood who were condemned to life imprisonment from where very few returned home.

Following the battle of Udhwanala in 1763, Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal was defeated by the East India company and he took shelter with his family in the rohtasgarh fort. A year later he once again lost his luck in the battle of Buxar and had to leave the fort. The British finally occupied the fort and Captain Goddard remained here for two months during which he destroyed all the military stores. Thereafter, the fort was abandoned and lost in the mists of time and even today it is innocent of mass tourism. However, the masterpiece of Pathan architecture and a display of their talents will always justify a trip to Rohtasgarh and Sasaram. Steeped in history, Rohtasgarh Fort, now in a ruined state, was once the largest and strongest forts in India.



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