In the north of Pakistan, the Skardu Valley is the epitome of beauty, with its abundance of resorts, lakes, fortresses, and frigid deserts. The Kharpocho Fort, another name Skardu Fort, is of great architectural importance and is one of the most important tourist destinations in Skardu.
This is an ancient fort towering above the confluence of the river and offers magnificent views of the valley. If you’re looking for adventure while visiting Skardu, be sure to discover the mysteries of Kharpocho Fort; One of the best-preserved forts in Skardu.
History Of Kharpocho Fort
The Kharpocho fort was built in the 16th century by local ruler Ali Sher khan to protect the kingdom of Ladakh from invasions by the Mughal and Tibetan Empires.
For many years, the fort was constantly under military control. The Mughals tried to occupy the fort in the 17th century but it is the only fort in Pakistan that has never been captured.
Kharpocho Fort- A magnificent architecture
Kharpocho Fort is a magnificent structure that perfectly resembles the art of Tibetan architecture. It is a monumental seven-story building that draws tourists with its history and art and has a unique architecture that combines Tibetan, Islamic, and Kashmir styles.
The carpentry and artistic techniques used to build the fort are astounding and the building still awe-inspiring thousands of visitors each year. Instinctively staked rocks and stones with rough edges create the illusion of being forged from the mountain itself. The entrance to the Kharpocho fort is a small window that can only fit one person at a time.
Location of Kharpocho Fort
This fort stands on a mountain, about 14000 meters above the city, situated on the bank of the Indus River. The unique location and construction of the Fort on the top of the mountain, in the heart of the Skardu city, helps to understand the ruler’s efforts to protect it from outside threats, monitor the entrance of the city, and make it a safe place for tourists.
A full moon night is certainly a breathtaking sight from the fort and a scene that will be etched in your memory forever. All these things make it a top tourist spot in Skardu.
How To Reach Kharpocho Fort?
To get to the top of the fort, you have to walk about an hour from the main Qatilgah Bazar in Skardu city. This 60-minute journey to the fort is full of twists and turns because one end is a steep descent and the other is a high mountain.
However, you must first arrive in Islamabad by any means of transport to proceed further towards Skardu.
Route from Islamabad to Skardu
The route from Islamabad to Skardu via Karakoram Highway is a beautiful landscape and the distance between Skardu Fort from Islamabad is 645km.
The flight time for this trip is almost 1 hour, whereas the road trip takes 20 to 24 hours. This long-distance makes air travel an attractive option for many visitors.
Route from Gilgit to Skardu
The journey from Gilgit to Skardu by road takes almost five hours. Leaving Gilgit, you will arrive at an intersection that separates the road to Rawalpindi and Skardu.
From this intersection, head towards Skardu you will see a bridge across the Indus River, and along the way, you can see many heart-thrilling valleys and suspension bridges on Indus River.
The Best Time To Visit Kharpocho Fort
The best time to visit Kharpocho Fort is in the summer between June and September. Because these months are the perfect time to escape the sweltering heat and enjoy the lush green landscapes in pleasant temperatures. This fort is a great place to explore the natural beauty of Skardu.
The weather begins to give tourists a feeling of peace, coldness, and softness. In their summer habitat, polar bears return to Skardu so, tourists have the opportunity to see polar bears during this season. September is a golden time to visit Skardu for fishing enthusiasts.
Places of Interests In and Around Kharpocho Fort
Katpana desert also known as Cold Desert, is just 4.3km away from Kharpocho Fort and takes only 13 minutes to reach there. This cold desert surprised visitors with high altitudes and strong winds hitting the sand dunes.
The grains of sand in the Katpana desert is white, not yellow, making this desert a land wonder, and when the sun sets on these granules, they look like pearls. If you don’t believe it, come visit and you will be enchanted by its mesmerizing beauty.
Also known as “ Heaven on Earth”, Shangrila Resort is located 18km away from the city of Skardu. This Resort surrounds a heart-shaped lake known as Kachura Lake, surrounded by orchards full of fruits and flowers.
In addition, this area is located at an altitude of 2500 meters, so is also called the “Roof of the World”.
Satpara Lake is at 20- minute’s drive from Skardu city and is considered a fascinating lake because of its amazing and majestic beauty locals believe that there are gold mines at the bottom of the lake, so the water glows during the day.
There is an island in the middle of Satpara lake and you can go to the island by using boat. The entire area around the lake is eye-catching and snow-capped mountains cover this lake and make the whole picture spectacular.
No trip to Kharpocho Fort is complete without a visit to upper Kachura Lake, among the majestic mountains of Skardu Valley. The water of this lake is clear and icy and the depth of this lake is 70 meters. Kachura Lake is at a distance of 29km from the Kharpocho Fort and takes an approximately 30- minute drive from Skardu city.
It is called a hidden lake because you have to descend the mountain to get to the lake. Here you must try the boat ride and the famous trout because this beautiful place in Skardu is very famous for its trout fish.
Shigar Fort, a marvel of Tibetan architecture, is just 28 kilometers from the Skardu Fort and is one of the most impressive and breathtaking forts in Skardu. The alluring and sublime beauty of the surrounding landscape makes this Fort a heavenly place, especially in summer.
Perhaps, the most serene part of the entire fort is the Baradari, a small pavilion surrounded by flowers and running water. The historic Shigar Fort in Shigar Valley has been converted into a heritage hotel that is managed by Serena Hotels.
Things To Do At Kharpocho Fort
From hiking the arduous trails surrounding the mighty mountains to relaxing in the greenery dotted with the road, the journey has never been boring.
A 30-minute trek takes you to the top of the mountain, and then standing at the top offers a bird’s eye view of the entire city and the Indus River, making the hike worth all the risks.
This place is included in the list of famous tourist destinations in Skardu. Visitors can take a whole view of city in a single glance from here. Watching the sunrise from the top of the mountains is an enchanting sight.
The interval between sunset and before nightfall is an experience indescribable to those who have not witnessed it.
The visitors of Kharpocho Fort must go to Kachura Lake and Satpara lake, as these are nearby spots and tourists can enjoy fishing here because these lakes are famous for trout fishing.
Fishing tours not only provide the charm of the outdoors but also bring you closer to scenic and beautiful destinations.
Places To Stay Near Kharpocho Fort
Dewan-e-Khas Hotel is one of the most beautiful and most visited by locals and especially foreign guests. This hotel is within walking distance from the Kharpocho Fort and is located in the heart of Skardu city. The rooms of this hotel are huge and comfortable and it offers picturesque views of the Indus River and Kharpocho Fort.
Dewan-e-Khas hotel is a must-visit place if you are looking for local Skardu Balti Foods around the city. Ample parking, an easily accessible location, friendly staff, and a welcoming environment are key highlights of this hotel.
Kharpocho Viewpoint Guest House
This Guest House is located at Khushu Bagh Skardu, providing boasting room service and free parking to its guests. Comfortable rooms and a friendly environment will make your stay unforgettable at this guest house.
The Kharpocho Viewpoint Guest House has a rooftop and balconies that offer breathtaking views of the city of Skardu. The staff of this hotel is extremely friendly, indeed it’s a true example of excellent hospitality. Wi-Fi is only available in the garden, but it is a small price to pay for staying in such a luxurious environment.
The beauty of Skardu Valley is highlighted by the blue waters of the Indus River, historic sites, and pleasant weather, attracting tourists from all over the World.
Visitors to Skardu should devote a day to visiting Kharpocho Fort; one of the best-preserved forts in Skardu, which is worth the entire hike. Fair warning, the trip is long but worth it in the end!