Shigar Fort, a Royal Fort Locally Known as The Palace on Rocks.

Shigar Fort Photo by Dr Omar Mukhtar Khan
Shigar Fort Photo by Dr Omar Mukhtar Khan

Shigar Fort The Palace on Rocks, Brief History.

Shigar Fort is locally known as Fong Khar, which is the local baltic language that means the palace on rocks. It was built by Hassan Khan, the 20th ruler of the Amacha Dynasty, in the early 17th century. The Amacha family has ruled Shigar for thirty-three generations, with origins in the “Hamacha” tribe of Ganish, Hunza. When the Hamacha tribe was massacred in Hunza, a few of its members managed to flee to Shigar across the Hispar glacial pass, where they gained power and were recognized as the Amacha Dynasty in the 13th century.

The Destruction of Khar-e-Dong and the Construction of Fong-Khar.

Fong-Khar is the last remaining structure associated with the ruling Amacha family. The oldest of them was Khar-e-Dong, the fort whose ruins can still be seen high up on the cliffs overlooking the present site. It is thought that Khar-e-Dong was captured and destroyed by Mughal forces sent by Shah Jehan, in aid of Hassan Khan to regain his throne which was lost to marauding invaders. In all probability, the destruction of Khar-e-Dong necessitated the construction of the present Fong-Khar.

The construction and unique architecture of the Fong Khar.

Hassan Khan brought a variety of artisans, goldsmiths, carpenters, stone carvers, and textile weavers from Kashmir to Shigar to build his Fort Palace. This resulted in a blend of Kashmiri-influenced carving and details with local Balti architecture, one of the unique features which make Fong-Khar a significant historical and architectural treasure.

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Shigar Fort residence
Shigar Fort Residence

The Fort Palace is situated in a powerful natural setting, full of dramatic contrasts. The raw natural quality of this scenery, softened by a human settlement that began at least two millennia ago, offers strong contrasts between rocky cliffs and cultivated terraces, as well as between the continuous thunder of the rushing river and the quiet spaces within the garden site and buildings themselves. The steep rocky escarpment forming the background of the palace, the stream passing in front of the complex, and many of the irrigation channels meandering through a well-preserved and authentic settlement, all account for the unique charm of the site.

Shigar Fort as a Museum and Luxury Hotel.

The fort has been restored by Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP-P), the Pakistan arm of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Program. After restoration, the Fort was converted into a museum and luxury hotel managed by Serena Hotels. The restoration process took place from 1999 to 2004 and cost approximately US$1.4 million

The Fort Location.

Shigar Fort is Located on the legendary route to the world’s second-highest mountain K-2. It is located in oasis-like surroundings, irrigated by the waters from the glaciers of Baltistan – one of the most impressive regions in the high Karakoram ranges and unsurpassed in natural beauty and cultural richness.

Discovering the Route: A Guide on How to Reach the Magnificent Shigar Fort.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) operates a Boeing 737 flight daily, from Islamabad to Skardu. A spectacular one-hour flight treats passengers to dramatic views of the Karakoram, Himalayan, and Hindukush mountain ranges, with views of five 8000+ meter peaks, including the famous K-2 and Nanga Parbat. Shigar is located 45 minutes by road from Skardu airport. Driving from Gilgit takes roughly five hours by car. Those visitors arriving by helicopter are met at the Shigar helipad and escorted to the residence.

Activities you can enjoy and things to do at Shigar Fort.

While many visitors choose the Shigar Fort Residence for its beauty and tranquillity, there are a variety of activities in the area. These range from hiking to the old Shigar Fort or trekking to K-2 base camp; day hikes to remote valleys and other points of interest such as the Deosai plateau; visits to cultural sites that reflect the unique mix of Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic influences, including the “Buddha Rocks” and the nearby settlements of Khaplu, Kiris, and Kharmang; a short hike to the “organic” village of Nangasoq, near Skardu; a visit to the hot springs at Chutron (two hours from Shigar); or perhaps a polo match in the birthplace of the game. The staff at the Residence can help arrange these and other excursions.

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Fort:

What is Shigar Fort?

Shigar Fort is a historical landmark and former palace located in the Shigar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. It was built over 400 years ago by the Raja of Shigar and was recently restored and transformed into a luxury hotel.

How can I get there?

Shigar Fort is accessible by road from Skardu, which is the nearest airport. It is also possible to reach the fort via public transport or private car.

Is the Fort open to the public?

Yes, Shigar Fort is open to the public as a hotel and tourist destination. Visitors can explore the fort, stay in one of its luxurious rooms, and learn about the history and culture of the region.

What amenities are available at the Fort?

Shigar Fort offers a range of amenities for its guests, including a restaurant serving traditional and international cuisine, a spa, a gift shop, and outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing.

What is the best time to visit Shigar Fort?

The best time to visit Shigar Fort is during the summer months (May to September), when the weather is mild and the surrounding landscape is green and lush. However, the fort is open year-round and visitors can enjoy its beauty in any season.

Can I book a tour of Shigar Fort?

Yes, it is possible to book a tour of Shigar Fort through a local tour operator or through the hotel itself. Guided tours can provide additional insight into the history and culture of the region.

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