Pharwala Fort

Pharwala Fort Rawalpindi last bastion of Gakhar

Pharwala Fort is in near the Aliot village of Kahuta, near Rawalpindi Pakistan.

Pharwala Fort distance from Islamabad

This Fort is 33 km from Islamabad center and it take one hour to get there on a clear metaled road.

Pharwala Fort Kahuta distance from Islamabad
Pharwala Fort Kahuta distance from Islamabad

Significance of Pharwala Fort

It was Pharwala fort Rawalpindi Pakistan, the last bastion of Gakhar where Muqarrab Khan in 1826, made his unsuccessful stand to protect 700 years of Gakhar Rule against the Sikhs.

History of Gakhar and Pharwala fort

This was a long time coming since Mughals, the Masters of Gakhars were on a decline by then.

Pharwala Fort

The story of the Pharwala fort starts in the tenth century with the arrival of Kai Gohar Gakhar with Mahmud of Ghazni to the area. Pharwala Fort was then established upon an old Hindu fortification. Even now there are several carved boulders inside the fort that have no reason to be there.  Pharwala Fort was chosen as a site at the foothills of the Himalayas, overlooking the plateau of Rawalpindi up to Kallar Syedan.

Mughal Babur and Pharwala Fort of Gakhar

Fast forward to 1516 and Babur launches a surprise attack at the Pharwala fort to evict Hathi Khan Gakhar, the troublesome, scheming ruler at the time. Hathi Khan had earlier assassinated his cousin Tatar Khan, the saner Gakhar and kicked Janjua’s out of Kallar Syedan. Janjuas’ went crying to Delhi and Babur smashed Pharwala.

Many of Gakhar generals were killed, their graves are all around Kahuta and Rawat. Babur gave back Pharwala fort to Gakhar after they acquiesced to his rule. Babur thought as I did too, that the fort is not correctly sited and is indefensible. He raised the walls 10 feet after taking over.

Pharwala Fort
old mandir of Pharwala

Sher Shah Suri and Gahkhar

Gakhars stayed loyal to Mughals and irritated Sher Shah Suri who built his own Rohtas Fort and let them live their marauding ways. Eventually Sikhs’ took over and evicted all the significant Gakhars’ from their bastion.

English took over from the Sikhs’ and Gakhars lost their power completely.

See the Sangini Sikh Fort

Now the remnants of Gakhars inside the dilapidated fort compound still relive the stories of the forefathers’ valor in battle.

Brave Sarang Khan Gakhar of Rawat Fort

Sarang Khan Gakhar lost seven of his sons in one battle of Rawat Fort alone and was flayed himself – what’s the bravery in that? What’s now left is a poorly educated village of has-beens’ living in abject poverty – but they are hospitable to a fault.

Location of Pharwala Fort

We had planned to visit the place for several months now. When we got there last time from Aliot turn on Kahuta road, 25 km from Rawalpindi, the locals told us to use the Chakian turn on japan road. They said the people of Pharwala are ‘dacoits, drug dealers, bootleggers and very bad with women’.

When we got there from Chakian turn the next time, another dude told us to turn back. When we finally got to the end of the road and started descending into the Soan stream with the fort on the opposite bank, a few local Gakhars’ stopped and asked about our intention.

Pharwala Fort

Gakhar and their Superior Race

I told them I know something about Gakhar’s history and want to know more. They asked incessant questions about my origin and line of work. Eventually satisfied that I am from an ‘Ucchhi (higher)’ race, they took us to their home and treated us like royals.

The Gakhar villagers’ say themselves that they are ‘kora (fierce)’ people that’s why neighboring ‘kammi (low caste)’ don’t like them. I wouldn’t know anything about that except that the trip was worth it.

The story of Pharwala fort starts in the tenth century with the arrival of Kai Gohar Gakhar with Mahmud of Ghazni to the area. Pharwala Fort was then established upon an old Hindu fortification. Even now there are several carved boulders inside the fort that have no reason to be there. Pharwala Fort was chosen as a site at the foot hills of Himalayas, overlooking the plateau of Rawalpindi up to Kallar Syedan. Fast forward to 1516 and Babur launches a surprise attack at the Pharwala fort to evict Hathi Khan Gakhar, the troublesome, scheming ruler at the time. Hathi Khan had earlier assassinated his cousin Tatar Khan, the saner Gakhar and kicked Janjua’s out of Kallar Syedan. Janjuas’ went crying to Delhi and Babar smashed Pharwala. Many of Gakhar generals were killed, their graves are all around Kahuta and Rawat. Babar gave back Pharwala fort to Gakhar after they acquiesced to his rule. Babar thought, like I did too, that the fort is not correctly sited and is indefensible. He raised the walls 10 feet after taking over. Gakhars stayed loyal to Mughals and irritated Sher Shah Suri who built his own Rohtas Fort (https://how2havefun.com/travel/rohtas/) and let them live their marauding ways. Eventually Sikhs’ took over and evicted all the significant Gakhars’ from their bastion. English took over from the Sikhs’ and Gakhars lost their power completely. Now the remnants of Gakhars inside the dilapidated fort compound still relive the stories of the forefathers’ valor in battle. Sarang Khan Gakhar lost seven of his sons in one battle of Rawat Fort (https://how2havefun.com/travel/mankiala-stupa-rawat-fort-pakistan/) alone and was flayed himself – what’s the bravery in that? What’s now left is a poorly educated village of has-beens’ living in abject poverty – but they are hospitable to a fault. We had planned to visit the place for several months now. When we got there last time from Aliot turn on Kahuta road, 25 kms from Rawalpindi, the locals told us to use the Chakian turn on japan road. They said the people of Pharwala are ‘dacoits, drug dealers, bootleggers and very bad with women’. When we got there from Chakian turn the next time, another dude told us to turn back. When we finally got to the end of the road, and started descending into the soan stream with the fort on the opposite bank, a few local Gakhars’ stopped and asked about our intention. I told them I know something about Gakhar history and want to know more. They asked incessant questions about my origin and line of work. Eventually satisfied that I am from an ‘Ucchhi (higher)’ race, they took us to their home and treated us like royals. We were given a two course desi meal, special sweet dish and an exclusive tour of the fort. We went through the Begum Gate, name after the philanthropic wife Mai Mungo or Kamro of Hathi Khan. Mai Mango built a mosque close by as well. We then walked all the way to the Bohar Gate, with the mystical Banyan tree with hundreds of years old graves and a watering hole, probably for the cavalry. The hill behind the fort is so high that we could see all of Islamabad and Kahuta at the same time. Then came the sentry stations at the periphery walls followed by Hathi Gate. The Hathi gate opened up into another stream. Next we walked up to a very unusual monument – a 10 foot boulder with the edges carved upwards. The local thought these were Hindu temple relics but I wouldn’t know. Further on we reached Lashkari Gate where they hung there dissidents and rivals. Across soan river was the tomb of Muqarrab Khan, withering away. Foreigners used to visit this site in the 70s but have since then stopped coming over as an NOC is now required. There are several sensitive government sites at a certain distance from the place. We had our fill of Desi Chicken and pure wheat bread and bid farewell to our lovely host --- Mehrab Khan Kiyani. The Kiyani is a recent modification made by the tribe to fit in easily. The Gakhar villagers’ say themselves that they are ‘kora (fierce)’ people that’s why neighboring ‘kammi (low caste)’ don’t like them. I wouldn’t know anything about that except that the trip was worth it.
Begum Gate

Where to eat at Pharwala

We were given a two-course desi meal, a special sweet dish, and an exclusive tour of the fort. We went through the Begum Gate, name after the philanthropic wife Mai Mungo or Kamro of Hathi Khan. Mai Mango built a mosque close by as well.

had our fill of Desi Chicken and pure wheat bread and bid farewell to our lovely host — Mehrab Khan Kiyani. The Kiyani is a recent modification made by the tribe to fit in easily.

View from the Inside of Pharawal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then walked all the way to the Bohar Gate, with the mystical Banyan tree with hundreds of years old graves and a watering hole, probably for the cavalry.

The hill behind the fort is so high that we could see all of Islamabad and Kahuta at the same time. Then came the sentry stations at the periphery walls followed by Hathi Gate.

Pharwala Fort

The Hathi gate opened up into another stream. Next, we walked up to a very unusual monument – a 10-foot boulder with the edges curved upwards. The locals thought these were Hindu temple relics but I wouldn’t know.

Pharwala Fort

Further on we reached Lashkari Gate where they hung their dissidents and rivals. Across the Soan river was the tomb of Muqarrab Khan, withering away.

Can foreigners visit Pharwala Fort?

Foreigners used to visit this site in the 70s but have since then stopped coming over as a NOC is now required. There are several sensitive government sites at a certain distance from the place.

Who built Pharwala Fort?

Sultan Kaigohar Gakhar is said to have built some sort of an outpost in the 11th century here, but that is not certain.

Which is the oldest fort of Pakistan?

Pharwala can be thought to be one of the oldest forts of Pakistan, said to have been erected in some form in the 11th century, but without archaeological proof, this theory cannot be proven

Giri fort of Wah and Mir Chakar Mud Forts of Sibi may be older, but Pharwala is more preserved.

Do see the video of Pharawala Fort.

Also see

Rawat Fort

Ramkot Fort

61forts of Pakistan

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