|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)|
Rohtasgarh is situated on the upper course of the river Son, 24° 57′ N, 84° 2′E. It takes around two hours from Sasaram to reach the foot of the hill over which is the Rohtas fort. It can be reached easily from the Dehri town, which has very good road network. One can also easily reach Rohtas fort via Rasoolpur. The fort is situated at about 1500 feet above sea level. The 2000 odd limestone steps were probably meant for elephants. For the visitor, they are exhausting climb of an hour and a half. At the end of the climb, one reaches the boundary wall of the fort. A dilapidated gate with a cupola can be seen there, which is the first of many gates provided for well-guarded entrances to the fort. From here one has to walk another mile or so before the ruins of Rohtas can be seen.
The early history of Rohtas is obscure. According to the local legends, the Rohtas hill was named after the Rohitāśva, a son of the legendary king Harishchandra. However, the legends about Rohitāśva make no mention of this area, and no pre-7th century ruins have been found at the site.
The oldest record at Rohtas is a short inscription of "Mahasamanta Shashanka-dava", whom John Faithfull Fleet identified with the Gauda king Shashanka. The Chandra and Tunga dynasties, which ruled in Bengal and Odisha regions respectively, traced their origin to a place called Rohitagiri, which may possibly be modern Rohtas. However, no evidence has been found at Rohtas to confirm this theory.
A 1223 CE (1279 VS) inscription suggests that Rohtasgarh was in possession of one Shri Pratapa. The inscription states that he defeated a "Yavana" army; the "Yavana" here probably refers to a Muslim general. F. Kielhorn identified Shri Pratapa (Śrī-Pratāpa) as a member of the Khayaravala dynasty, whose inscriptions have been found at other locations in the Rohtas district. The members of this dynasty ruled the Japila territory as feudatories, possibly that of the Gahadavalas. The Khayaravalas are probably represented by the modern Kharwars.
In 1539 CE, the Fort of Rohtas passed out of the hands of the Hindu kings into those of Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah Suri had just lost the Fort at Chunar in a fight with the Mughal emperor Humayun and was desperate to gain a foothold for himself. Sher Shah requested the ruler of Rohtas that he wanted to leave his women, children and treasure in the safety of the fort, while he was away fighting in Bengal. The king agreed and the first few palanquins had women and children. But the later ones contained fierce Afghan soldiers, who captured Rohtas and forced the Hindu king to flee. During the Sher Shah's reign 10000-armed men guarded the fort.
Haibat Khan, a trustworthy soldier of Sher Shah built the Jami Masjid in 1543 AD, which lies to the west of the fort. It is made of white sandstone and comprises three domes. There is a mausoleum of perhaps Habsh Khan, the daroga or the superintendent of works of Sher Shah.
In 1558 AD, Raja Man Singh, Akbar's Hindu General, ruled Rohtas. As the Governor of Bengal and Bihar, he made Rohtas his headquarters in view of its inaccessibility and other natural defenses. He built a splendid palace for himself, renovated the rest of the fort, cleared up the ponds and made gardens in Persian style. The palace was constructed in a north-south axis, with its entrance to the west with barracks for soldiers in front. The fort is still in a fairly good condition.
After the death of Man Singh, the fort came under the jurisdiction of the office of the Emperor's wazir from where the governors were appointed. In 1621 AD, the Prince Khurram revolted against his father Jahangir and took refuge at Rohtas. The guardian of the fort, Saiyyad Mubarak handed over the keys of Rohtas to the prince. Khurram once again came to Rohtas for safety when he tried to win Avadh, but lost the battle of Kampat. His son Murad Baksh was born to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. During Aurangzeb's reign the fort was used as a detention camp for those under trial and housing prisoners sentenced for life.
In 1763 AD, in the Battle of Udhwa Nala, the Nawab of Bihar and Bengal, Mir Kasim, lost to the British and fled with his family to Rohtas. But he was not able to hide at the fort. Finally the Diwan of Rohtas, Shahmal handed it over to the British Captain Goddard. During his two-month stay at the fort, the Captain destroyed the storeroom and many of the fortifications. Goddard left, keeping some guards in charge of the fort, but they too left after a year.
There was peace at the fort for the next 100 years or so, which was at last broken at the time of the First War of Independence in 1857. Amar Singh, the brother of Kunwar Singh, together with his companions took refuge here. There were many encounters with the British where the latter were at a disadvantage, for the jungles and the tribal in them were of great help to the Indian soldiers. Finally, after a long drawn out military blockade and many clashes, the British overcame the Indians.
विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर ने लेख किया है .....रोहतासगढ़ (AS, p.805): बिहार में सहसराम के निकट, कैमूर पहाड़ पर और सोन नदी के तट पर यह प्राचीन ग्राम स्थित है, जो अपने सुदृढ़ गढ़ के लिए प्रसिद्ध है। कहा जाता है कि महाराज हरिश्चन्द्र के पुत्र रोहिताश्व के नाम पर प्रसिद्ध हुआ था। प्राचीन काल में इनका एक मंदिर भी यहां स्थित था जिसे औरंगजेब के शासनकाल में तुड़वा दिया गया था. रोहतासगढ़ से बंगाल के महा सामंत शशांक देव (सातवीं सदी ई.; ये महाराज हर्ष के समकालीन थे तथा इन्होंने हर्ष के भाई राज्यवर्धन का युद्ध में वध किया था) का एक अभिलेख प्राप्त हुआ था. मुसलमानों के समय में यह नगर बंगाल का दूसरा नाका समझा जाता था (पहला नाका चुनार में था). रोहतासगढ़ कुछ काल तक शेरशाह के अधिकार में रहा था. राजा मानसिंह ने 1597 ई. में किले की मरम्मत करवाई थी. इस समय वे बंगाल-बिहार के सूबेदार थे. मानसिंह का अभिलेख किले के अंदर पाया गया है (देखे जनरल ऑफ एशियाटिक सोसाइटी ऑफ़ बंगाल 1839, पृ. 354, 693)
Confusion regarding Rohtasgarh and Rohtak
Some people are confused about names 'Rohtasgarh' and 'Rohtak'. They think that Rohtak is a corruption of word Rohtasgarh. They sometimes argue that Rohtak city in Haryana was named after Raja Rohtas, in whose days the city was founded. But this theory is just an imagination by somebody who linked the name Rohtak with Rohtas. Famous historian Swami Omanand Saraswati has explained this fact in his book Veerbhoomi Haryana. Actually, Rohtak city derives its name from the Rohira (रोहीड़ा) tree called Rohitaka (रोहीतक) in Sanskrit. It is said that Rohtak town was built after clearing a part of forest of Rohtika trees, and hence its name Rohtak.
- Devendrakumar Rajaram Patil 1963, pp. 486-487.
- Devendrakumar Rajaram Patil 1963, p. 487.
- Devendrakumar Rajaram Patil 1963, p. 488.
- Roma Niyogi (1959). The History of the Gāhaḍavāla Dynasty. Oriental. OCLC 5386449. p. 118.
- Roma Niyogi 1959, p. 119.
- Roma Niyogi 1959, p. 99.
- Devendrakumar Rajaram Patil 1963, p. 488.
- Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.805