Khaplu Fort is a beautiful cultural and historical tourist destination located in Khaplu, a village in the Baltistan region. Khaplu is also known as; Little Tibet’. The town is the administrative capital of Ghanche district Baltistan.
Located in the eastern part of the region at an elevation of around 8,500 ft the town has a number of stunning scenic places to visit. One of those is the Khaplu Palace which is locally known as ‘Yabgo Khar’ in the Balti language. The palace was built in the mid-19th century and served as a residence of the Raja of the town.
Yabgo Raja Daulat Ali Khan built the palace in 1840 as a replacement for an old fort located nearby. The interesting fact about the fort is the selection of its location. A large stone was rolled down from a cliff nearby the old fort and at the place where the stone stopped the fort was built.
The palace is a building consisting of four floors with Balti, Tibetan, and Ladakhi architecture styles. The craftsman who built the palace belonged to Kashmir and Baltistan region. It was constructed using timber, clay, mud bricks, and soil mortar. The fort was formerly used as a residence of the ruler and their descendants.
The last Raja of the town died in 1983 after which the fort was depleted. Then, the Agha Khan Trust for Culture renovated the fort from 2005 to 2011. The fort got the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism award in 2012 and the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award in 2013. It is considered the finest surviving example of a royal residence in the Baltistan region. After the renovation, a part of the fort was used as a hotel owned and managed by the Serena Hotels.
They employed local people at the hotel as an initiative of enhancing community building. Also, during the renovation of the fort about 400 locals were employed. The hotel is one of the top Skardu Hotels in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. They provide amazing facilities including a well-furnished room, private terraces, Barbeque space, free internet, etc. There are 21 rooms in the fort, six of which are being used as hotels and others serve as a museum.
The museum depicts the culture and history of the Baltistan region and Pakistan. 70 percent of the income earned is used in the development of the village. The hotel provides delicious and fresh Pakistan, Continental, and local foods. Tourists from all over the world visit the Khaplu fort to see its mesmerizing beauty.
It is one of the most visited places in the region. People travel by road or by air from other cities and countries. Those who come by air have to travel by road from Skardu to Khaplu. There is only one airport in the Baltistan region which is the Skardu airport. The distance from Skardu to Khaplu is around 112 kilometers.
You can reach the place by car, jeep, or any other transportation that can be used. Other places to visit in the town are Chaqchan Mosque, Shyok river, Thoksikar Mosque, the organic village of Khaplu Hushe Village, Saling Spangtoq, etc. These are some of the best places to visit in the town.