Our world is filled with immense beauty. While most of it is discoverable with ease, thanks to the active tourism industry of the 21st century, some of it remains hidden from the public knowledge for reasons that are geographical, political or other. Such is the story of the Ranikhot Fort, Pakistan; a massive fort shrouded by mysteries and paradoxes. With a circumference of 26kms, the fort is visible from a distance of 5 kilometres but no one knows anything about the origin of the fort including why it was constructed and by whom. The fort has natural cliffs, mountains, streams, pools and valleys; all located in its vicinity, enough to defend a city populace against invaders for days but finds itself in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing in miles to defend. Didn’t we mention paradoxes?
Easy Accessibility to the Ranikot Fort
With tourism in Pakistan being at an all time low, and the hesitation of the authorities to promote a fort devoid of history, the Ranikot Fort might have been twice removed from the rest of the world; but it is unfortunate, even shameful, to neglect a structure so massive that it could possibly be the largest fort in the world.
Taking the National Highway from Karachi, one can reach Dadu through the Indus Highway. Once you reach San, there’s a diversion on the road after which it becomes a bouncy ride. The silver lining is that the ride culminates in 50-60 minutes and you reach Sann Gate, the eastern gate of the fort by the end of it. Climb up a wall here and treat yourself to the mesmerising views of the surrounding landscape.
Meeri – A Fortress Within the Fort
Follow the road inward from the Sann Gate and it will lead you to ‘Meeri’, a fortress within the fort, hosting the chambers of the Mir Royal Family that once lived here. The fortress offer a spectacular view of another fortress called ‘Shergarh’, located up in the mountain. It is from here that you can see the admirable circumference of the fort that connects several mountains of the Kirthar Hills.
The Mohan Gate and the Mysteries Surrounding the Fort
Once you reach Meeri, you will have to leave your car, and walk on a road that leads to the Mohan Gate and tests the visitors for their worth to discover the bewildering fort further. After you’ve travelled on the treacherous road for 3 kilometres, you will reach the ‘the pond of fairies’ where, according to the local belief, fairies come and bathe on a full moon night. After you walk further ahead, you reach the Mohan Gate, where you will find scattered animal skeletons, a water spring which creates music that echoes after it touches the rocks.
Standing at the Mohan gate, one is sure to be overcome by a sense of awe on being at a place that contains so much history and is grand by any yardstick you measure it and yet has lingering uncertainty about its own past as also its future. In its ruins and its myths, there are lessons of humility hidden for those with a philosophical bent of mind, and in its absolute beauty, a reward for travellers who dare to come looking for it.