Compiled by Asghar Khan on World Tourism Day
The old palace of the Mirs of Hunza stands guard over the whole valley. This Tibetan style fort was build about 700 years ago, when a princess of Baltistan married with a prince of Hunza and brought with her some Baltistani masons to build Baltit Fort part of her dowry. The fort is made of mud and stones and was in a very bad shape almost to collapse, when the Aga Khan Culture Services decided to rehabilitate it in 1996 and converted it to a museum, which is now the main attraction for the national and international visitors.
The Fort is even more impressive than Baltit and is probably 1000 years older, as it has more intricate wood carving and better-preserved rooms. From the roof you down a 300 meters (1,000 feet) drop to the Hunza River, turning the other way, you look out over the rooftops of Altit village and on up to the Ultar /glacier and Baltit. The Aga Khan Culture Service Pakistan has almost rehabilitated the fort in 2010.
Khaplu Palace & Residence
Khaplu Palace and its complex of ancillary buildings and agricultural terraces are built on the site of the meander outflow of the Ghangche Nallah, the source of sustenance for Khaplu. The Palace building in Khaplu manifests all of these indigenous and exogenous influences.
Yabgo Khar (Khaplu Palace) was built by the Yabgo Raja Daulat Ali Khan in 1840. It replaced an earlier fort constructed 600 metres above the present location, of which little now remains. Its significance lies in its cultural importance as a former seat of royal government in the area, and in its quality as a building, both aesthetically and as an exemplar of traditional building typology.
Khaplu Palace & Residence now offers guests the privileges of experiencing a unique complex of historical buildings dating back to 1840s, while enjoying the amenities and services of a luxury 21-room guest house. The Aga Khan Culture Service Pakistan has almost rehabilitated the fort in July 2011.
Shigar Fort Residence
Located on the legendry route to the world’s second highest mountain K-2, and known as Fong-Khar, which in the local language means the “Palace on the Rock”. This was restored by Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP-P) in 2005. Shigar Fort Residence is a unique heritage guesthouse that offers guests the opportunity to experience the restored original architecture of the 17th Century Raja Fort Palace, while enjoying the modern amenities and services of a luxury guest house.
The complex at Shigar comprises the 400-year-old Fort/Palace and two more recent buildings, the “Old House” and the “Garden House”. The former Palace of the Raja of Shigar has been transformed into a 20 room heritage guesthouse, with the grand audience hall serving as a museum of Balti culture and featuring select examples of fine wood-carving, as well as other heritage objects.