Sanghani Fort – a neglected heritage awaits restoration

The fort was built during Ranjit Singh’s rule for security and tax collection purposes

The structure of the Sanghani Fort is falling apart due to negligence of the authorities. PHOTO: JAVED CHISHTI/ EXPRESS


Heritage sites and structures across the country have by and large been neglected by successive governments. Most of them are in need of restoration and preservation work.

Sanghani Fort, built during Dogra rule, is one such structure currently in a dilapidated state and desperately needs government attention.

The fort is located in Kallar Syedan Tehsil, about 50 kilometres from Islamabad. The fort is of historical significance. The area came under Ranjit Singh’s rule in 1814. The fort was built by the Sikh ruler. The fort, on occasions, also served as a prison for those who tried to revolt against the rulers.

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Built on top of a mountain, the fort is surrounded on two sides by deep valleys. From the defence point of view, the fort is of utmost importance. There still exist check-posts built along the only way leading up to the fort.

Due to neglect, ceilings of the fort have collapsed.

The fort, built using traditional black stones, is an example of excellent architectural work by expert artisans.

A water spring still flows at the bottom of the fort. An old banyan tree still stands inside the fort. In the lawns of the fort is the shrine of Sahibzada Abdul Hakeem, a Sufi elder.

There are a number of views as to what gave the fort its name.

Locals Raja Muhammad Arif and Master Karamat shared with this correspondent the various views popular in the area about how the fort got its name.

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It is said the fort got its name from a nearby village named Sangani which in turn was named after a Hindu pandit named “Sangnay”. Another view holds the name comes from “sang” meaning “stone”. Still another view holds that the name relates to the word “sangum” meaning “meeting point”. Since two streams meet near the fort, hence the name “Sanghani” for the fort.

Some locals also argue since the fort was built by Sikhs that was why the fort was now known as “Singhani” from Singh, popular Sikh surname.

The fort is currently in a dilapidated state. If concerned provincial departments place adequate attention, the fort has the potential to attract a large number of tourists. Locals have requested the National Assembly member from the area, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan to ensure the preservation of national heritage.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2016.


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