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Monday, December 29, 2014

Tour de Rohtas, a Bike Ride

JUST as riding is my passion I love visiting historic places and what could be more exciting than a bike ride to a historic place? Initially when a friend contacted me me and invited to join the gang for the ride I refused as I had to be busy on weekend, but at the eleventh hour I got the opportunity to join them. I was told that we were to visit Rohtas Fort near Jehlum and that it would be roughly a 200km one way trip. It didn't take much to get ready for the ride, the night before I got the tank filled; tyres Check, all lights in working condition Check, licence Check, bike's registration Check, necessary tools Check_ I am ready to ride.
Rohtas fort, located near Jehlum, is a garrison fort built under the orders of Afghan king Sher Shar Suri where work as started in the year 1541. I didn't know much about the history of Rohtas fort before the tour so I googled for some history and got really interesting information. It says that in 1541 when Todar Mal Khatri, the revenue minister in charge of the project started construction he informed Sher Shah that the area belonged to Gakkhars who had refused to provide labour for the construction who wrote in reply, "I know you for a man of business, understanding and intelligence. I see no work can be expected from you, because you consider money as your friend. When I have commanded you to do a thing you ought not to have cared for money in fixing the rate. Whatever be the expenses, shall be borne by my government.” After receiving this reply, he fixed one red ashrafi (gold coin) for each slab on the first day. The rate gradually decreased to one paoli (silver coin) and then to one bahluli (copper coin).Because of the boycott the cost of construction was huge. It would have been much lower had it not been for the Ghakkars. The sources give slightly different estimates of the cost, however, "Waqiat-i-Jahangiri" says the cost was Rs. 34,25,000 Indian rupees. There was a sikh shrine outside the fort, Choa Sahib. The choa (the fountain discovered by Guru Nanak) lies outside the fort. Shershah Suri tried to cover it for the use of water by his military. He built the wall around it to take it inside but every time he tried to cover, the choa miraculously went outside the wall of the fort. He tried seven times and finally gave up.
We were nine riders, all clad in their riding apparel from head to toe. It gets extremely cold in December and January at Lahore and 13th of December, 2014 was not an exceptional day. Our meet point was a gas station at Shahdra. At 6:00am, when it was still pretty dark, I left home for Shahdra and was the fifth one to reach there. We set forth on our journey at 7:00am, it was my second ride in  extremely cold weather and the thought of covering some 200km journey made me shiver a bit. Our route was via Shahdra, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Gujart, through Jehlum to reach Rohtas fort from the G.T. road. We were able to ride smoothly, maintaining an average speed of 90km/h through major cities as the traffic was light for major part of the journey. We stopped thrice, for breakfast, then for some photosgraphs at Tulip and then for a cup of tea at Dina. Our original plan was to go as far as Tilla Jogian till a local guy advised us not to take that track as our bikes were not suitable for the off-road ride.
Khuram and I were the leading riders till about 10:00am when we reached Wazirabad and learnt that others were some 25km behind. We stopped here for tea, our shivering hands made it difficult to grip the cup. Here I took some snaps:

Our next stop was at Tulip restaurant near Jehlum. Took some lovely pics at the parking:

A group photo of all the riders:

At about 12:30am we reached Rohtas fort. Although our original plan was to go as far as Tilla Jogian but a local advised us against it as our bikes were not suitable for the off-road track so we settled for Rohtas fort only, parked our bikes in the parking and hired a guide who showed us around the fort. Just as you enter the main gate you get this breath taking view: 
 Maan Singh havely:

 This is the archer's post during the times of siege:

I reckon this my best shot from the tour:

 Fort's main well that provided water for soldiers and their horses alike:

A view from the bottom of fort's main well:

It was a great trip despite a severely cold weather we enjoyed a lot. I reached home at 10:30 p.m. with an exhausted body and a refreshed soul, ready to ride again when I can.


Anonymous said...

did we went to choa ? the one which mirally went out of wall ?

Talal Hussain Malik said...

No we missed it. Should have read some history before the tour..