Rohtasgarh Fort in SasaramThe historic fort of Rohtasgarh is situated in Rohtas district. The ancient and glorious fort is located at the top of Kaimur hills. In Bihar it is said that the historic fort derived its name from the son of King Harischandra, Rohitashwa. Historians states that the king stayed in the fort for several years followed by the threat on his life by enemy kingdoms. The fort is constructed at the top of hill at 1500 feet above the sea level. To reach the top of the hill, there are 2000 limestone cut steps. At the end of the limestone steps a huge gate is located that provides entry in the glorious fort.
The main structure in the fort lies 2 km away from the main entrance gate. The fort also had another advantage, being surrounded by several stream made the soil very productive. The majestic fort made in such a way that the king and his family could say inside for months against an enemy besieging the fort. The huge hills, dense forest and wild animals provided a natural barrier to abstain the foes. The position for building the fort was wisely chosen so that it can give strategic advantage to the king ruling the kingdom.
Location of Rohtasgarh FortThe famous Rohtasgarh fort is situated on the top of Kaimur hills with several streams flowing through the area. The longitudinal and latitudinal location of the majestic fort is 24° 57' N, 84° 2'E. It was built 1500 feets above the sea level. Generally it takes maximum time of 2 hours to reach the giant fort from Sasaram and from the Dehri region one can reach the Rohtasgarh fort in maximum of three hours. The government in Bihar has done a lot to revive the tourism in Rohtasgarh fort. As a part of enhancing tourism scheme, government has building a good road network from various cities to the fort. The 2000 giant limestone steps were meant for elephants to travel inside the fort during the ancient times. The fort has a well guarded strong gate that provides entrance to majestic fort. Now archeological survey of India has taken over the ruined fort and taking care of the fort to prevent future deterioration.
Brief History of Rohtasgarh fortThe history of the majestic fort is very vast and chequered. An ancient scripture Harivamsa Purana mentions that the giant structure was built by the King Harishchandra for his son Rohitasva. The inscriptions also mentions that the fort was built in the town of Rohitapura with a view of consummation of his dominion. Even the scripture mentions the construction of giant fort by the solar dynasty king but there are no historical remains to corroborate the existence of early kings on the fort.
In the year of 1539, the majestic fort came under the rule of Sher Shar Suri. The Afghan emperor conquered the fort after he lost his Chunar fort to Mughal emperor Humayun. Sher Shar Suri requested the Hindu King of Rohtas fort to take care of his wives, children and treasure while he was leaving for the battle in Bengal, the Hindu king agreed. Few historians mentioned that during the reign of Sher Shah Suri, the fort was guarded by 10000 armed soldiers. A trustworthy advisor of Sher Shah Suri, Haibat Khan built Jama Masjad near the fort in 1543 A.D.
During the period of 1558 A.D the Hindu general of Mughal emperor Raja Man Singh captured the fort. Raja Man Singh declared the fort to be administrative headquarters of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. He also built a Ganapati temple inside the fort for worship. Raja Man Singh renovated the fort and built Persian styled garden surrounding the main palace. He also constructed new barracks for the soldiers in the fort. In 1763 A.D when the Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Mir Kasim lost the battle of Udhwa Nala to the British, he fled with his family and took refuge in the Rohtas fort but could not stay here for a long time. Finally, Shahmal, the Diwan of Rohtas handed over the fort to then British lord Captain Goddard. Goddard stayed for two months in the fort and destroyed many significant buildings inside the fort. After Goddard left the fort stayed in peace for next 100 years. But during the first war if Independence in 1857 A.D, Amar Singh, the brother of Kunwar Singh along with his soldiers took shelter in the fort. The fort helped the Indian soldiers to prepare for the battle secretly. But finally British soldiers defeated the Indian soldiers and reclaimed the fort. Since then the fort lied neglected and forgotten.
Structures Inside the Fort
Hathiya PolThe main gate that provides entrance in the majestic fort is known as Hathiya Pol which means elephant gate. From the foot hill up to the gate 2000 steps made up of limestone were laid for the elephants to travel inside the fort. The gate also poses a huge statue elephant statue on the wall of the gate. It is one of the largest gates in the fort that is made in 1597 AD. Later the gate was fortified by the Mughal governor Raja Man Singh. The huge walls of the fort were bright yellow in color as they were constructed with sandstone.
Aina MahalThe original Rohtas fort did not have this Mahal. It was built centuries later after the construction of Rohtas Fort. The Aina Mahal was built by Mughal governor and trustworthy of Mughal emperor Akbar for his chief wife. An ancient inscription mentions that the Palace was surrounded by Persian styled gardens and fountains. The mahal lies in the middle of fortified walls to provide safeguard to the royal ladies. The Mahal was square shaped with small domes at each corner. The Mahal also has several windows to offer good ventilation system inside the palace.
Takhte BadshahiTakhte Badshahi was also built by the governor Raja Man Singh Mughal period. Historians say that Raja Man Singh constructed the lavish building for him. The building is inscribed with expensive structures made from precious stone which were later looted by the conquerors of the fort. The building was four storey building with a central huge dome. The building is made up of several pillars with expensive inscriptions on them. The third floor has a tiny cupola, which opens into the women' quarters where the women stayed in royal Haram. From the fourth floor one can get a bird's eye view of the surrounding area.
BaradariBaradari was known to be the gateway through which the ladies room is connected with residential quarter of Raja Man Singh. To the west of Baradari, the Diwan-i-Khas or audience hall was located where Raja Man Singh used to discuss the serious matter with the court members. The pillars in the hall were decorated with etchings of flowers and leaves. The hall had huge open verandah where people used to seek justice from the governor of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. The building had two huge domes on extreme corners that made the structure elegant.
Ganesh TempleThe Ganesh temple was built by Raja Man Singh and it was located 3 km away from the main palace . The sanctum of the temple faces two porch-ways. The tall pillars in the temple premises reminds of the Rajpuana style. Especially of Ossian Temple near Jodhpur built in the 8th century AD and the Mira Bai temple of the 17th century AD at Chittor. The temple also had a water stream nearby where the governor used to take bath before prayers. Once beautiful temple now stands in ruin but the architecture was magnificent.
Structures Outside the FortFansi Ghar or Hanging house is one of the prominent structures outside the fort. It is located toward the west. There has been no evidence that the structure was actually built with what purpose but locals calls it Fansi Ghar. The tribal’s believes that once a Muslim fakir was thrown 1500 ft down from the building thrice but every time he escaped unhurt, later he was buried alive. Outside the fort, Jama Masjid built by Haibat Khan stands in ruins. Habsh Khan's Mausoleum and the Makbara of Shufi Sultan are also located outside the Rohtas fort.
The Chaurasan temple located outside the premises also stands in ruins. It is actually the ruins of two temples. On temple is dedicated to lord Shiva, the temple’s roof has been destroyed during the foreign annexation. The main mandap in the temple has a sacred lingam. The ancient temple is said to be constructed by Hindu King Harishchandra. Another temple near the lord Shiva temple is dedicated to Devi and posses a central dome. The temple is still in better condition than the Shiva temple but the idols have been destroyed. Now Archeological survey of India takes care of the ruined Rohtasgarh fort and the adjacent structures.