Kharpocho Fort: A Historical Landmark in Skardu

Introduction

Kharpocho Fort, also known as Skardu Fort, is a historic fort located in Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan. The fort is located on a hilltop that overlooks the city and the Indus River. The views from the fort are stunning, providing a wide view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The fort is an architectural wonder, complete with gigantic stone walls, wooden balconies, and beautiful carvings.

kharpocho fort

Kharpocho Fort History

Kharpocho Fort was built by King Ali Sher Khan Anchan in the late 16th century General Zorawar Singh of the Dogra dynasty, who served under Maharaja Gulab Singh, recognized the fort’s strategic value and seized it during his Baltistan campaign in the 1840s.

  • During the First Kashmir War (1947), the Jammu and Kashmir State Forces, led by Lt. Col. Sher Jung Thapa, used the fort as a military base. However, after being besieged by the Gilgit Scouts and rebel troops backed by the Pakistani army, the fort decreased in August 1948 as supplies ran out.

The Architecture of the Kharpocho Fort

Architecture of kharpocho fort

Kharpocho Fort’s architectural design represents an intricate blend of components, especially Tibetan, Islamic, and Kashmiri, resulting in a distinctive and visually striking structure. This entrance served as a choke point, forcing attackers to enter in a single file, leaving them susceptible to the fort’s defenders. It has the “SARFARANGA COLD DESERT” nearby, one of the best tourist spots.

Unique Architectural Elements Of Kharpocho Fort

Seven-Story Structure

The fort’s central building boasted an impressive seven stories, showcasing remarkable craftsmanship in carpentry and local building techniques. This multi-story structure provided ample space for various purposes, including accommodation for soldiers, storage of supplies, and strategic vantage points.

Wooden Balconies and Carvings

The fort incorporated decorative elements like wooden balconies and intricate carvings, adding a touch of aesthetic appeal to the otherwise utilitarian structure. These embellishments, although limited in number, hint at the artistic sensibilities of the builders and the cultural influences that shaped the fort’s design

Kharpocho Fort’s Most Prominent Feature

prominent feature of kharpocho fort

The fort’s most prominent feature is its thick and imposing stone walls, constructed from locally sourced stones and rocks. These walls provided formidable protection against enemy siege weapons and infantry assaults. The fort also incorporated watchtowers, allowing defenders to maintain vigilance. These elevated structures offered a clear view of the surrounding areas, enabling defenders to spot approaching enemies and strategize accordingly.

Features Of Kharpocho Fort

Steep Trekking

The trek to Kharpocho Fort is known for its steepness and can be challenging for those not used to strenuous hikes. The trail winds up a rocky mountainside, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape as you ascend. The trek is considered moderate to challenging due to the steep incline and uneven terrain. The trek typically takes around 30 to 45 minutes. The total distance of the trek is approximately 1 kilometer (0.6 miles).

Beautiful View of the Valley

Beautiful View of the Valley

Standing atop Kharpocho Fort offers visitors a beautiful perspective of the Skardu Valley, highlighting the region’s natural splendor. The gorgeous Indus River and the majestic peaks of Karakoram Mountain form a dramatic view of the valley, creating a breathtaking scene.

Ancient Mosque

There is an ancient mosque located within the ruins of Kharpocho Fort. It is believed to have been built around the same time as the fort itself, in the late 16th century. The mosque is a simple structure made of wood and stone. It is a single-story building with a rectangular footprint.

Apricot and Cherry Trees

While venturing on the trek up to Kharpocho Fort, you might encounter charming sights of apricots and cherry trees painting the landscape with their blossoms, especially during spring. The Skardu Valley is renowned for its abundance of fruit orchards, and apricots and cherries are two of the most commonly cultivated fruits in the region.

Skardu City View

skardu view from kharpochofort

The view from KharpochoFort is a must-see for any visitor to Skardu Valley, offering a unique perspective on the city and its surroundings. It’s a captivating experience that allows you to appreciate the beauty of both the natural and man-made wonders of the region.

FAQ’S

Who Built Kharpocho Fort?

Kharpocho Fort was built by King Ali Sher Khan Anchan in the late 16th century. The fort served as a crucial defense against potential invasions from the Mughal and Tibetan empires, safeguarding the Ladakhi kingdom. KharpochoFort stands as a testament to King Ali Sher Khan Anchan’s foresightful planning.

Which river passes by Kharpocho Fort?

The majestic Indus River flows by the KharpochoFort, adding to the fort’s scenic beauty and strategic importance. The Indus River, one of the longest and largest rivers in Asia has played a vital role in shaping the landscape and history of the region.

Kharpocho Means?

The name “Kharpocho” translates to “King of Forts” in the Balti language, reflecting its historical significance and strategic location.

Kharpocho Fort Map

Distance from Various Cities

  • Skardu: Kharpocho Fort is located within Skardu City itself, so the distance is 0 kilometers (0 miles).
  • Islamabad: The distance between Islamabad and Kharpocho Fort is approximately 442 kilometers (275 miles). This journey typically involves a combination of road and air travel, with several flight options available from Islamabad to Skardu.
  • Lahore: The distance between Lahore and Kharpocho Fort is approximately 800 kilometers (497 miles). Similar to Islamabad, reaching Kharpocho Fort from Lahore usually involves a combination of air and road travel.
  • Gilgit: The distance between Gilgit and KharpochoFort is approximately 240 kilometers (149 miles). This journey can be completed by road, with the travel time varying depending on road conditions and traffic.

Conclusion

Kharpocho Fort stands as a majestic sentinel in the heart of Skardu. Its strategic location, captivating views, and rich history make it a must-visit destination for any traveler. From the breathtaking views of the Skardu Valley to the intricate details of its architecture, Kharpocho Fort offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Whether you’re interested in history, photography or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Kharpocho Fort has something to offer everyone.

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