Khaplu Fort or Khaplu Palace locally known as Yabgo Khar. It is an old fort and palace located in Khaplu, a city in Gilgit−Baltistan, Pakistan. The palace, considered an architectural heritage site and a significant tourist attraction. In addition it was built in the mid-19th century to replace an earlier-dated fort located nearby. It served as a royal residence for the Raja of Khaplu.

Restoration Of Khaplu Fort :

From 2005 to 2011, Khaplu Palace underwent a restoration project carried out by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture under the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme. The palace now houses a hotel operated by Serena Hotels and a museum depicting the history and culture of Baltistan.

Moreover Khaplu Palace is the second fort in Baltistan to be renovate by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Renovation start in 2005 and complete in 2011. The renovation work was carry out with the help of people from 400 local families.

Location :

The town of Khaplu is located in the eastern part of Baltistan. It has an altitude of about 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) above sea level. River Shyok a tributary of River Indus, passes through the town, along which is the ancient trade route to Ladakh. Khaplu Palace is located north of the Khaplu town and south of the Shyok river in front of the high mountains of Karakoram range. A trek behind the palace in a ravine leads to the village of Pari in Skardu District.

Historical background of Khaplu Fort :

Further more Khaplu Palace was built in 1840 by the Yabgo Raja Daulat Ali Khan of Khaplu after the Dogra of Kashmir. Who captured the region decided to move the seat of government from the old fort. The site of the palace was chose by rolling a large stone down from a nearby cliff. It stop at the Doqsai village, and the palace where the palace locate.

The earlier fort was located near the location of the present-day palace. Khaplu Palace replaced the former fort as the royal residence after its completion. According to Jane E. Duncan, the people of Khaplu used to live inside this fort. As they were not allowed to build their homes outside its premises. This practice was change after Maharaja of Kashmir took control of the area, resulting in a cessation of conflict among neighbouring rulers.

Therefore the former fort was capture by Murad Khan of Maqpon Dynasty, the ruler of Baltistan, in the Conquest of Khaplu in the 1590s by cutting off the water and other supplies to the fort. The troops of Murad besieged the fort for three months, resulting in the surrender of Rahim Khan, the 62nd Yabgo dynasty ruler of Khaplu. The fort again fell to invaders in the 1660s and 1674.

In addition the Yabgo descendants continue to live there even after their kingdom was destroy in 1972. The last Raja of Khaplu who lived in the house was Raja Fatah Ali Khan, who died in 1983. His son Raja Zakria died in 2020.

Architectural work :

The palace was constructed with the help of Kashmiri and Balti craftsmen. Being on the border of multiple regions, therefore the structure of the palace has Tibetan, Kashmiri, Ladakhi, Balti, and Central Asian influences.

The palace building consists of four floors built with timber, mud bricks, clay, and soil mortar. A carved wooden gate that Yabgo Raja Hatim Khan took from a fort in Skardu. After he conquering most of the Baltistan. The passage beyond the main gate, which formerly housed a stable, leads to the front lawn of the palace. Which was use by the musical band during festivities in the reign of Yabgo Rajas.

The wooden ceiling of the palace was make with designs using chisel and paint, without the use of nail. A hall at the top floor that was use as a leisure room overlooks the Karakoram mountain range and the lawns around the palace. Moreover other notable rooms of the palace include the Royal meeting room (Chogoraftal), Royal balcony (Chogojarokh), Princess dressing room (Lainakhang), and Queen room.
Following the renovation of the palace, a section of residential area is use as a hotel. Which operate by Serena Hotels and employing people from 35 local households.

Awards gained by Khaplu Fort/Khaplu Palace :

The palace won the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award as the best project in the “Poverty Reduction” category in 2012. Similarly in 2013 the palace was awarded the Award for Distinction by UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards.
The famous drama serial Dayar-e-Dil was shot at Khaplu fort.

Activities :

Polo game also played in the region since the 17th century. Therefore Guests are invite to attend a Polo match to witness the “Game of the King.” Enquire about half-day or full-day horseback riding excursions to truly soak in the beauty of Baltistan. Visitors also enjoy local festivals like Meyphang, etc.
Visitors also enjoy a most memoriable dining in palace.
Many peoples also perform wedding cermonies in palace with old tradition.

Access from skardu :

As khaplu palace located in khaplu and Khaplu is a city that serves as the administrative capital of the Ghanche District of Gilgit-Baltistan, in northern Pakistan. Lying 103 km (64 mi) east of the city of Skardu.

Hotel Facilities in Khaplu :

If you are planning to take a trip to Khaplu anytime soon, then diffrent types of Hotels and Guest Houses are available to facilitate you.