KHUSHAB: Precious relics found in the 5,000-year-old Tulaja Fort near the Salt Range may be wasted due to lack of interest in exploring them by the departments concerned. Remnants of a large number of artifacts are present in the place that is also called the hidden city by local people.
To reach the fort, one has to walk on a difficult track of two kilometres after taking an 8km rough route in the mountain range to Baba Kachiwala Darbar from a turning about 30km from Khushab.
The Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) has installed signboards to guide the tourists to reach the fort, but since the routes are difficult for visitors, they need a guide to reach the area. Along with thick green trees, a stream is also located in the beautiful mountains of Tulaja in Soan Valley, which meets the water needs of the area’s inhabitants and animals.
The fort is located on the east side of Rakh Khor and southeast of Darbar Baba Kachiwala. Although historians believe that the structures are 5,000 years old, local anecdotes claim the fort was built by Jalaluddin Khwarizm after a battle with the Tatars. The original name of the fort was Til An Ja, which means a high mountain peak.
The buildings of the fort are built with carved stones. Signs of security posts and cemeteries on the southern and northern side of the fort are also seen.
Folklore suggests that the gate of the fort opened in a cave. It was enclosed with a heavy stone so that one could reach the fort only through the cave. Water is brought from the nearby stream for the area. Relics of a mosque are also prominent in the fort.
After Sultan Jalaluddin, his general named Saifuddin Qarlagh ruled the area for a long time and the coins of his era were found in Chatta, a village of Soan Valley.
People of the area are tall and strong and this might have been the strongest military fort in the region. The artifacts can be a treasure of information for future generations but they are not being thoroughly investigated because they are present in an area that is difficult to access. The precious artifacts are being wasted due to lack of interest by the archaeological department.
The artifacts are also being lost because local people have started illegal excavation to find precious relics because of lack of security arrangements by the authorities.
The tourism department has installed signboards to guide the tourists but has offered no other facilities for them. Construction of a wider road in the mountainous area and other facilities will help attract a large number of tourists to the site.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2020.