The fort is known for its large defensive walls, and several monumental gateways. Rohtas Fort was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997 for being an "exceptional example of the Muslim military architecture of Central and South Asia.
The fortress was built during the reign of the Pashtun king Sher Shah Suri between 1541 and 1548 in order to help subdue the rebellious tribes of the Potohar region of northern Punjab that were loyal to the Mughal crown. The fort is one of the largest and most formidable in the subcontinent. Rohtas Fort was never stormed by force, and has survived remarkably intact.
Sur period : Construction of the fort began in 1541, under the direction of Todar Mal Khatri working for the Sur Empire, and was completed in 1548. The fort's construction was initially slowed by the refusal of local Gakhar tribes to work as labourers at the site. Mughal directors eventually increased wage rates, causing a number of Gakhars to join the fort's construction efforts.
Mughal period : The fort was soon ceded to Mughal emperor Humayun in 1555, after the local governor, Tatar Khan Khasi, deserted the fort ahead of the Mughal army's advances.
The fort lost much of its significance as the fort's purpose of subduing pro-Mughal Gakhar tribesmen, as well as the preventing the return of Emperor Humayun, was no longer required. Further, the construction of the nearby Attock Fort in the 1580s by the Emperor Akbar better served Mughal interests. Rohtas Fort, ironically, came to serve as capital of the Gakhar tribes that it had initially been designed to subdue, and was not required as a military garrison as the local Gakhar tribes remained loyal to the Mughal crown.
Post-Mughal: The fort remained in use during the Mughal era, and was used almost continuously until 1707, though it was not popular with the Mughal rulers since it lacked large gardens and the sort of grand architecture found at Mughal-era forts, such as at the Lahore Fort. Remilitarization of the fort occurred in the waning days of the Mughal empire, as the rival Sikh Empire began to expand in the region. Nadir Shah of Persia and Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Abdali had both camped at the fort in their expeditions in the Punjab during the waning days of the Mughal empire.