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The secrets of Potohar

Shahab-ud-Din Ghauri and General Sher Ali Pataudi — both in one compound

The secrets of Potohar
Ghauri's mausoleum

About one hour’s drive from Islamabad on the GT road is the turning for Chakwal, just before the town of Sohawa. Exactly opposite, a narrow winding road through the fields takes you to the tomb of Shahab-ud-din Ghauri, the early 13th century Muslim ruler of India.

Having heard about it a few times, I decided to take the GT road on my journey from Islamabad to Lahore. Being used to the somewhat monotonous motorway drive, driving on the GT road feels like doing car racing in a video game with all your senses awake and tense. I, along with my hostage friend Javed Malik, got off the GT road at Sohawa to see the tomb of Ghauri. The tomb, about 13 kilometres from the main road, is an impressive piece of architecture, surrounded by green fields and rolling mountains.

In 1180s, Ghauri, from Ghor in Afghanistan, conquered Multan and Uchch Sharif and then decided to march on Delhi. Ghauri faced Prithvi Raj Chohan at the first battle of Terain, was given a bloody nose and forced back to Ghor in Afghanistan. In 1192, Ghauri made a comeback and after a hard fought battle, Prithviraj Chohan was taken prisoner, shifted to Ghaur and killed.

There is a Rajasthani folklore about Prithviraj where he was asked by Ghauri to show his skill of archery — by listening to sound while being blindfolded. Prithviraj killed Ghauri during this entertainment episode and was killed by Ghauri’s guards instantly.

While Prithviraj was indeed killed at Ghor, there is a different account as to the assassination of Shahab-ud-Din Ghauri.

It was actually in 1206 when Ghauri was heading back from one of his expeditions in India that he camped at Dhamak in the present day Sohawa area. Taking the benefit of night and the fatigue of Ghauri’s army, some local khokhar tribes ambushed and killed Ghauri and his three loyal guards while he was saying his evening prayers. Ghauri along with his three guards, is buried at Dhamak.

Apparently, Ghauri’s was a dilapidated tomb or grave. However, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, of the atom bomb fame, decided to reconstruct the tomb in mid-1990s, once we had launched our Ghauri missile against the Prithvi missile of Indians.

Our prayers for the departed soul, our attention was caught by another grave in a separate compound but within the main mausoleum complex.

General Sher Ali's grave.

General Sher Ali’s grave.

This grave belongs to Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi ,son of Nawab Ibrahim Pataudi and Begum Shehr Bano. General Pataudi belonged to cavalry and was a decorated soldier. After retirement, he served as Pakistan ambassador to Malaysia and Yugoslavia. He was an avid polo player and led Pakistan polo team abroad a number of times. He died in 2002.

While General Pataudi migrated to Pakistan in 1947, his elder brother Nawab Iftikhar Ali became the 8th Nawab of Pataudi. Both Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan and his son Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan led the Indian cricket team. The latter’s family gained prominence in Bollywood with Sharmila Tagore, Saif and Soha Ali Khan.

Dhamak is a typical scenic Potohar village endowed with both archaeological sites as well as heritage and has all the credentials to be on the itinerary of history buffs and nature lovers. While Saif and Soha Ali Khan owe a visit to their grandfather’s grave one day, the government may also consider better maintenance of the mausoleum complex besides putting up prominent road signs pointing towards the mausoleum.

Omar Mukhtar Khan

Omar Mukhtar Khan
The author is a development professional with a passion for travelling. He may be contacted at [email protected]

3 comments

  • Great article with so much historical importance .we always tend to forget that how historical rich our land is ..very well done omer mukhtar.your writings are always wonderful and inspiring. .keep up the good work sir

  • Good article. Very Informative.

  • Thanks guys however I must mention that though the mausoleum is there, Salman Rashid who is Pakistan’s best travel cum history writer suggests that Ghauri’s viscera were buried in Dhamak along with his slain body guards while his body was taken to Ghazni for burial. There are different versions of the story as is common with history but if I have to bet, I ll bet on Salman’s version.

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