Home > Bihar, Bihar History, General > Rohtasgarh Fort, mighty citadel near Sasaram, Bihar

Rohtasgarh Fort, mighty citadel near Sasaram, Bihar

July 15, 2020

Rohtasgarh Fort

Mighty citadel near Sasaram, Bihar

Also see: Sher Shah’s Tomb and other monuments of Sasaram and Sasaram Street Food

Rohtasgarh or Rohtas Fort is a mighty citadel on the banks of River Son. The fort located on a plateau of height of about 1500 feet and provides an bird eye view not only of the surrounding but also of advancing armies.

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Palace complex Rohtasgarh Fort

The fort is located on an outlying spur of Kaimur Hills and has a circumference of 45 km. It stretches 6.5 km on east – west direction and the distance in north – south is about 8 km.

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The fort is presently located in the Rohtas District of Bihar and is 100 km from Sasaram and 76 km from Dehri On Son .

It is best approachable from Sasaram as it houses the mighty Mausoleum of Sher Shah Suri and several other monuments (Also see: Sher Shah’s Tomb and other monuments of Sasaram)

Sasaram also serves an amazing assortment of street food (Also see: Sasaram Street Food)

The Rohtasgarh Fort was built my several dynasties spanning over a period of several centuries. According to legend the fort was built by Rohitaswa, son of the legendary King Harishchandra, but there are no historical records to support the myth.

Long walk to Rohatasgarh Fort

Some historians also opine that the early portions were built by the tribes of Kharwars, Oraons and the Cheers. A historical seal connects Rohtasgarh with Sasanka, the King of Gouda.  

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Ghora Ghat (northern gate)

The fort passed through several Hindu dynasties and it is believed that it was under the Brahmin Raja, Chandra Ban in the mid 16th century.

The first recorded history of Rohtasgarh fort dates back to 1539 when Sher Shah Suri lost Chunar Fort to the Mughal Emperor Humayun

Sher Shah requested the Hindu King Chandra Ban to provide shelter to the royal women and children in the Ratasgarh Fort, while he continues his fight with Humayun in Bengal.

The king agreed and the first few palanquins that arrived in the fort indeed contain royal women and children but the later had soldiers from Sher Shah’s army. Leaving with no option the king fled leaving the control of Rohtasgarh Fort with Sher Shah.

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A chatri near the north gate

With Sher Shah taking control of Delhi the fort became an important citadel and several extensions were carried out. Sher Shah’s general Haibat Khan constructed the Jami Masjid in 1543.

With the fall of the Suri’s, Humayun took back the control of Delhi and during Akbar’s time, the fort came under the control of his trusted general Raja Man Singh.

Man Singh extended the fortification of the fort and build a huge palace complex and still today the palace complex is the most preserved portion of the Rohtasgarh Fort. The palace complex complete with a huge courtyard and topped with chatris is the most accessible and visited part of the fort.

Walk continues inside the fort

After Man Sing, during the reign of Jahangir, the fort provided shelter to Prince Khurram (later Shahjahan) who revolted against his father Jahangir.

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Rohtasgarh Devi Mandir

Later during the British period in 1863 Mir Kasim, the Nawab of Bengal was defeated in the Battle of Udhwa Nala and took shelter with his family in Rohtasgarh Fort. But he was soon captured and the British took control of the fort. The Britishers demolished various structures of the fort and left soon after.

Long stairs to the Rohtasgarh Shiva Temple

Again Rothasgarh Fort played an important role during the Revolt of 1857. Amar Singh, the brother of Kunwar Singh, along with a band of followers took refuge in the fort. The British tried to capture the fort and were driven out several times.

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Rohtasgarh Shiva Temple

Finally, the Britishers emerged victorious and Rotahsgarh was captured and soon abandoned.

Later the fort served as a stronghold for local decoits and in 1980s it was a stronghold of the local Maoist.

The Maoist were finally driven out in 2011 -12 and Rohtasgarh finally emerged as a tourism prospect. 

But sadly nothing much has been done to develop tourism. The fort still lacks a proper approach road. There is no signage and there are no proper guide facilities. Moreover, the place has no toilet facilities.

The handful of tourist who visits Rohtasgarh approach it through the western gate of Mendra or Bheda Ghat. Cars can come all the way up to Mendra Ghat and lead to the Palace Complex the most visited part of the fort.

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Backside of Rohtasgarh Shiva Temple

Adventure and trek lovers can approach the Mendra Ghat through a series of 2000 odd limestone steps. For those who want to explore the fort in detail, a complete traverse is recommended. But this is difficult as there are no proper guides.

During my trip to Sasaram with Pranajit (Sher Shah’s Tomb and other monuments of Sasaram and Sasaram Street Food), we have planned out a conventional visit to the Rohatasgarh Fort via the Mendra Ghat, but a chance meeting with Sidnath Pandey (Pandey ji) at the Tara Chandi Madir changed everything.

Pandey ji, who drives his own car, has been working with the Geological Survey of India and have explored the area extensively. He knows the entire area around Rohtasgarh Fort very well.

He offered, to take us for an extensive tour of the Rothasgarh Fort the next day. (Sidnath Pandey mobile number: 98016 88451). The plan was chalked out and it involved a 7 hours long trek and we need to do it fast as we had a night train to catch.

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North entrance of the Palace Complex courtyard, Rohtasgarh Fort

The next morning we started at 6:30 am and with a short and quick breakfast on the way we reached Akbarpur (google map location) located at the foot of the Rothasgarh Fort. We picked up our packed lunch and Pandey ji’s nephew Hariom Pandey also joined us.

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Hatipol, gate of Palace Complex

According to plan, we will be approaching the fort through the northern gate of Ghora Ghat and then traverse the entire fort and exit through the southern gate of Raj Ghat (Sahi Darwaza).

We started our walk through the winding roads of Akbarpur village and at the end of the village is Akbarpur Eidgah, just opposite to it is a small stepwell along with an ancient dargah (google map location). 

The stepwell is narrow and is devoid of any ornamentation. It is overgrown with vegetation. The dragah is a walled complex with several graves. There are four bastions at the four corners.  They are said to date back to the time of Sher Shah.

The area is said to offer a grand view of the Rohtasgarh Fort towering above the Akbarpur village, but sadly an unexpected mid-December overcast sky robbed us of the grand spectacle.

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Diwan – i – khas, Rohtasgarh Fort

We continued with our trek and soon the trail started meandering up the hill. The steps lead us up the hill and lose pebbles made going difficult but after about two hours of trek, we finally made it to the Ghora Ghat (northern gate) (google map location).

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Inscription, Rohtasgarh Fort

The gate is complete with bastions, battlements and chatris. After spending some time at the gate we started moving southwards and as we were on the top of the plateau the trail was along level ground.

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Raja and Rani Mahal, Rohtasgarh Fort

After about an hour’s walk from the north gate, we reached the twin temples of Rohtasgarh Devi Mandir and Rohtasgarh Shiv Mandir (google map location). The Rohtasgarh Devi Mandir is a domed structure with a large central dome. The central dome is flanked on four sides by minor domes. Stairs on three side leads to the temple interior.

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View of Rohtasgarh Fort from Diwan – i – khas terrace, Rohtasgarh Fort

The Shiva Temple also is known as Rohtasan or Chaurasan Temple is located on a small hill just behind the Devi Mandir and is approached by a long flight of stairs. The top part of the temple has long collapsed. Beautiful stone artwork can still be seen on the outer wall of the temple.

Details of Rohtasgarh Fort

It was past noon and we decided to settle down for lunch. There was a big well next to the temples and we used the water to wash ourselves, which was very refreshing. The simple lunch of puri sabzi was very filling and we hit the road once again.

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Ganesh Temple, Rohtasgarh Fort

The walk was again along plain land past battlements and fortified walls. After about an hour of trek we finally made it to the Raja Man Singh’s Palace Complex (google map location), the most sought after area of the fort.

The Palace complex extends in the north-south direction with a walled compound on the western side. The compound has three gates in the northern, southern and western side and the palace complex is complete with massive bastions, towering chatris and decorative battlements.

At the very southern end is the Hati Pol a gate decorated with elephant statues and provides entrance to the Palace complex. The L – shaped gate houses an inscription on the inner wall. The gate leads to the Diwan – i – khas, the royal audience hall.

Battlements of Rohtasgarh Fort

The two-storied Diwan – i – khas has a pillared hall in the ground floor. The second floor probably served as a residence quarter and the terrace with two domes provides a great view of the entire complex.

A complex maze of passageways and stairs leads one from one section of the fort to the other something which can only be negotiated with the help of a good guide. Pandey ji provided us with excellent service leading us from one section to the other.

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Hanging House or Fansi Ghar, Rohtasgarh Fort

The main attraction of the Rohtasgarh Fort is the personal palace of Raja Man Singh known as Takhte Badshahi. It is a four-storied building topped with a chatri. There is an assembly hall on the second floor and a gallery resting on strong, engraved stone pillars. The third floor has a tiny cupola, which opens into the women’s quarters. From the fourth floor, one can get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area.

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Raj Ghat or Sahi Darwaza (South Gate)

The women’s quarters or Rani Mahal stand on an elevated platform and the second floor has oriel windows on all four sides. The terrace has for domes in four corners. From the Rani Mahal a complex maze of passageways lead us back to the Diwan – i – Khas complex and final lead to the exit through the Hati Pol.

We left the palace complex through the south gate and travelled south to the Ganesh Temple (google map location). The front portion fo the temple has collapsed but the section housing the idols has remained intact. The temple is approachable through a gate and a set of stairs passes beneath a collapsed dome into the interiors of the temple.

The trail continued southwards past ruined mosques and battlements and leads to the Hanging House (Fansi Ghar). Although called the hanging house victims were not hanged but rather thrown off the vertical cliff with an uninterrupted fall of 1500 feet. A short distance south of the Hanging House is the Raj Ghat or Sahi Darwaza (South Gate) (google map location), which also has an elaborate defensive mechanism complete with guardhouse, bastions and battlements.

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A bird eye view of the Palace Complex, Rohtasgarh Fort

From the south gate, a long zig-zag stairs lead to the plain land below. and finally to the main road. We took an auto back to Akbarpur and Pandey ji drove us to the Dehri On Sone station for our night train back home.

 

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  1. Dr PC Sarkar
    July 15, 2020 at 1:15 PM

    Very nice write-up. Keep up the good work.

  2. Pallabi Paul
    July 15, 2020 at 2:53 PM

    Your writing inspires me a lot. Thanks Sir.

  3. July 16, 2020 at 1:04 AM

    Wonderful.Would love to visit it as soon as these Covid days are over.

    • July 16, 2020 at 2:10 PM

      Great place, please do visit. Hope things get normal soon.

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