Ramkot FortRamkot Fort is a major landmark of Mangla city. The fort, located on the top of a hill and surrounded by River Jehlum from three sides, presents a picturesque landscape. The fort is accessible from Mangla Lake which is about 20km away from Mangla city. Most of the fort was demolished during the creation of Mangla Dam; a part remains and serving as public amusement place.
Muslim Rulers of KashmirMuslim rulers of Kashmir built numerous forts in 16th – 17th century AD in order to protect their boundaries. Ramkot Fort sitting at the top of hill is said to be one of them. The Sikh Maharaja of Kashmir further fortified Ramkot. The fort was built over the site of an old Hindu temple, and during excavations remaints of one of temple found here. Relics of the 5th – 9th century AD also have been near the temple.
Ramkot Fort Historical Facts
Exotic LocationLocated on top of a hill and surrounded by the river Jhelum on three sides, the Ramkot Fort presents a beautiful landscape. The site of the blue river in the background of the fort provides a majestic view from the top.
Architecture and DesignThe Structure of Ramkot Fort epitomizes the Muslim military architecture, being filled with war mechanism. The single entrance to the fort demonstrates smart war strategy. There is a water tank at the front against the background of a building on a raised plinth. A museum was built here in 1992 by the Government of Pakistan. It contains artistic models, paintings and several specimen of rocks.
Ramkot Fort Mangla Lake
To reach Azad Kashmir
By planeThere are no direct flights to Azad Kashmir.
- Islamabad International Airport in Islamabad is currently scheduled to be expanded and modernized to meet future passenger needs, as the demand for air travel has increased dramatically. There are many airlines flying into and out of Islamabad, including Ariana Afghan Airlines, British Airways, and China Southern Airlines. When the Islamabad airport is used by local government officials and foreign diplomats, however, other travelers might find the airport temporarily closed to them for security reasons.
- Traveling by road to Azad Kashmir is itself an attraction as you come across the most beautiful scenes of winding rivers and hills. It takes about 4 to 5 hours from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad in a car or van. You also pass through the beauty of hills the Murree during the journey. This is the shortest route to this city.
- Buses and MPVs leave from Islamabad, Pakistan approximately every 20 minutes for different destinations in Azad Kashmir.
Ramkot Fort The crumbling giant of Azad KashmirIn the 16th and 17th centuries, the Muslim rulers of Kashmir built numerous forts, one of which is the Ramkot Fort, now surrounded by the water of the Mangla Lake.
Rivers Jhelum and PoonchThe fort is located on the confluence of Rivers Jhelum and Poonch, on a vertical cliff looking over the shiny blue waters. Due to its peculiar architecture, the Ramkot Fort is distinct amongst fortresses built in the Kashmir region. Identical to the architectural characteristics of the Mangla and Muzaffarabad Forts, Ramkot was very likely built in the same period.
Mangla DamTo approach the fort, you have to take a boat from the water sports club at the Mangla Dam, which, after an almost 10-minute ride, would reach the northern extremity of the reservoir. Here, you will find a gigantic fort structure located on the summit of the hill.
- Even the governments, neither the Azad Jammu Kashmir government or the federal government (which operates the Mangla Dam) seem to be taking any interest in the restoration and development of this heritage.Although most of the fort lies in ruins, signs pointing to its past life and grandeur are still alive.For example, the gateway, which is strategically designed with firing sits on every angle. It is the only entry/exit point into the fortified area. Ramps run from the ground floor to the parapet, which were obviously used to bring artillery in position.
- About the water tanks, historians are not sure why such a relatively small fortress used such large tanks.
- Although the fort is ruined, there are marks of its past grandeur, for example, the gateway which is strategically designed with firing sits on every angle.
- The ramps and crenellations for cannons are alterations of the time when Dogra of Kashmir held this fort in 19th century.
- The ramps from the ground floor to the parapet were used to bring artillery in position.
- The 1841 Arrow Smith map of Kashmir makes no mention of Ramkot Fort.
- The fort had lain neglected till the late '90s, when Dr Anis ur Rehman, head of the Islamabad-based NGO Himalayan Wildlife Foundation, first came across Ramkot on a fishing trip to Mangla. Dr Anis ur Rehman told me that the day he first entered this fort, it was entirely ruined and inaccessible, and piles of mud and thick vegetation had taken over every inch of the fort.
- Being identical to the architectural characteristics of Mangla and Muzaffarabad Forts, Ramkot was very likely built in the second half of 16th century.
- Narrow loopholes for musketry are alterations of the time when Dogra Maharaja of Kashmir held this fort in 19th century.
- Historians are not sure what to make of water tanks this big in a relatively small fortress.
- Dr Rehman contacted the Federal Ministry of Archaeology and was surprised to find that the ministry had no record of this fort. He succeeded in obtaining official permission to voluntarily work on its restoration.
- In this mission, Professor Abdul Rehman of the Archaeology Department of Peshawar University and architects Sohail Akbar Khan and Raja Khalid joined the efforts and after one year of continuous work, they brought up an impressive fort out of the ruins.
- Dr Anis ur Rehman, who later devoted his effort for the restoration work of this fort, says the day he entered the fort for the first time, in the summer of 1999 it lay in complete ruin.
- A roof and door were installed at the main entrance, water tanks were cleared of soil, wild vegetation which had bred a host of snakes, was cleared, and old canons were arranged in place on the artillery crenellations.
- Dr Anis ur Rehman said that he contacted the army, which provided two old model canons brought in specially from Quetta for the Ramkot Fort.
- Like many other heritage sites, Ramkot has its own share of myths surrounding its establishment. It is said that the fort was built over the site of an old Hindu Shiva temple, but looking at the present structure of the fort, no one can doubt that its is a construction of the 16th century.
- According to archaeologist Dr Saif ur Rehman Dar, this fort, being similar to the Muzaffarabad Fort, was very likely built in the second half of 16th century, whereas the ramps, the crenellations for cannons and narrow loopholes for musketry are alterations of the time when Dogra Maharaja of Kashmir held this fort in the 19th century.
- Like other fortresses in Azad Kashmir (such as Mangla, Muzaffarabad, Barjhan and Throtchi), the Ramkot Fort could not make much of a place in historical records. The 1841 Arrow Smith map of Kashmir makes no mention of it. But according to eminent travel writer, Salman Rashid, Frederic Drew, the appointed geologist to the Maharaja of Kashmir, casts some light on Ramkot in his work The Jummoo and Kashmir Territories: A Geographical Account, published in 1875. It was built, he records, by a Gakkhar named Toglu. After the Gakkhars, the fort was ceded to the Dogras.
- In the last decade, the Ramkot Fort has been fast-forwarded on the path of its destruction. The restoration work which Dr Anis ur Rehman had done has lost a lot of its impact due to the lack of day-to-day supervision and maintenance. The earthquake of October 2005 also seriously damaged the fort, and the dire neglect on the part of the AJK authorities is not helping either.
- Dr Rehman told me that few years ago, a UK-based Kashmiri expatriate had shown interest in developing this fort as tourist spot, but he has been unable to execute the project in all this time.
- Once fully restored and provided with necessary facilities, the Ramkot Fort is sure to attract many visitors and generate handsome revenues for the AJK government. It would also add to the history, heritage and culture of the land and the people of Kashmir.
- However, if the example of Fort Barjhan is to be taken into account, there is not much reason to hope for preservation.
- The AJK Prime Minister C. H. Abdulmajid could not safeguard the Fort of Barjhan which was located at some distance from Ramkot. According to media reports, relatives and voters of the prime minister demolished this fort and sold out its brick stones. The government took no action of any kind against the culprits; rather, the centuries old stone bricks of the fort were used in the houses of senior minister and even the prime minister of Azad Jammu Kashmir.
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