The ancient fort of Kharan holds within a fascinating chapter of historical facts and events. In the historical context where it shares the story of its habitant’s warfare, it also tells a captivating tale of spiritual occurrence.

Kharan is a town in Kharan district, Balochistan. According to the historian Istakhari, the primeval name of it was Karan or Qaran meaning “barren mountains”. In linguistic manner, Kharan is a Balochi word which means yellow color (Yellow Mountain). The state of Kharan was established in about 1697 as a vassal state of Kalat (a princely state back then) until 1940. On March 17, 1948 Kharan acceded to Pakistan and on October 3, 1952 it joined the Balochistan States Union. The state was dissolved on October 14, 1955 when most regions of the western wing of Pakistan were merged to form the province of West Pakistan. When the province was dissolved in 1970, the territory of the former state of Kharan was organized as Kharan District of the province of Balochistan.

Kharan was conquered in 1789 by Azad Khan Nosherwani. According to early history, the Nowsherwani tribes migrated from Iran to Kharan and were later bound to Sistan Balochsitan.

Azad Khan Nosherwani was the mastermind behind the Kharan fort. He built eleven fortresses around the city to secure it politically from Afghanistan, the State of Kalat and foreign traders of that time, but from a military point of view it was necessary to build a central fort. The construction of the main fort was stopped while it was underway each time due to inadequate water supply. Despite the numerous efforts, the water crisis made the construction of the fort impossible. Wells and Karez were excavated many times but water became impossible to obtain.

Local stories stated that a famous spiritual personality who was in close ties to the Chief called upon to settle this problem. He took Azad Khan from the present Kharan town to the north on the point of Dilkasha, a famous place of that time, and marked the location of Karez and the fort with his supernatural wand. It is reported that from that time onwards, the water of the Karez flows in the same quantity, neither less nor more, till date.

Moreover, the history tells us that after the prayers of that spiritual soul, the construction of the fort was again planned under a new strategy. The fort was architecturally built on the Iranian style layouts, where solid burnt bricks were used and dome shaped structures were built around for security measures. It is said that the building blocks for the fort were brought 6km away through a human chain.

Inside the fort, a three room kitchen was built along the southern wall of the fort. An Iranian style anchorage and military parade contingents’ rest rooms were constructed adjacent to the exterior wall, while a beautiful arcade shaped masque was built on the east side of the fort which can be still used today.

There can be found a well exactly in the middle of the fort as well. Window motifs were erected on all sides of the fort to keep an eye on the enemies. Externally, the fort had forty shops that became center of the trading activities in the region and trade occurred with neighboring countries like Afghanistan and Iran. The fort was brilliantly fortified that overlooked the whole Kharan city.

After the death of Azad Khan Nowsherwani, his son Sardar Nawroz Khan Sherwani used the place for defense purposes and later by Sardar Yaqub Khan Nowsherwani (last Chief of his tribe) who died in the same fort. The remains of the fort still tell the story of its rise and fall. While Kharan is historically considered to be the oldest part of Balochistan, it can certainly increase the heritage value of the province. Better care for remnants of the fort can attract the attention of archaeologists and tourists.

Where in the past there was less focus on tourism in Pakistan, now with the establishment of a tourism industry in the region, timely maintenance of such historical and heritage assets of Balochistan can further strengthen the provincial tourism department.


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