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15th Century Fort and Oldest Mosque of Potohar Region

15th Century Fort and Oldest Mosque of Potohar Region

January 2020 · 2 min read · District Rawalpindi

Pharwala Fort is a 15th century fort located about 40 km from Rawalpindi in Punjab, Pakistan. The fort is naturally defended from one side by a small Himalayan range and from the other side by the Swaan River. The fort was built by the Gakhars in the 15th century. The Mughal Emperor Babur conquered the fort in 1519 but after reconciliation with the Gakhars the fort was returned to the Gakhars. Under British rule, the Pharwala Gakhars were disbanded and their Jagir grants were taken away after 1857 indipendence war in subcontinent.


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The oldest Mosque of Islamabad (Mai Qamro Mosque at Bagh Joghian). This mosque is located in the small village of Bagh Joghian, Kahuta Rawalpindi. It is located on the right bank of Soan river, while on the left bank is located the Pharwala Fort. The mosque is believed to have been built by Mai Qamro, wife of Hathi Khan Gakhar. It is a great specimen of Gakhar architecture and appears to have been built in the early 16th century. The mosque of Mai Qamro was the prototype for all other mosques in Potohar region. This is the most ancient surviving mosque of the Potohar.

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The fort is in bad condition. Being situated in sensitive area of Kahuta, is only open for Pakistani visitors. Foreigners need a No Objection Certificate to enter the area. A small community of Gakhars still lives inside the fort these days. An old and huge Banyan tree is also found inside the fort. There is no road to the fort. The Fort is not so easily accessible, there is no bridge, you have to cross the river on foot.


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The location and scenery was very beautiful so we decided to do our lunch on a rock over a Swaan River. Being not a public place its natural environment was intact with cold, fresh river water and pure air. As human intervene is limited so many wildlife in form of birds thrive there. The Gakhars still living there are not hospitable and don't welcome visitors so whenever you plan to visit this place accompany some local person with you.


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