Kharpocho or Skardu Fort is located in Skardu city in Gilgit Baltistan. Also known as the “King of Forts”, the fort is “perched above the junction of the rivers and overlooks the rock of Skardu”, as perceived by Australian mountaineer and filmmaker.
The fort was constructed at the end of the sixteenth century by king Ali Sher Khan Anchan. The Kharpocho fort stands at a magnificent height of 1,400 meters above the city. Made from fine stone and rock with rough edges that make it look like it was forged out of the mountains surrounding it itself. Because of its strategic location, General Zorawar Singh working under the Maharaja Gulab Sing occupied the fort and used it as part of his military campaigns.
The 30 minutes trek up to the fort is filled with twists and turns, with a steep drop at one end and a range of high mountains on the other. Standing at the top, you can see the whole city and Indus River at a bird’s eye view which makes the trek worth all the danger. The entrance to the fort is a small window-like opening that can only fit one person at a time so tread carefully.
The reception area of Kharpocho is about a 30 feet high ceiling which is held together by huge tree trunks and stone. While not many preservation attempts have been made to restore the fort, it still provides a mesmerizing view of ancient architecture at its finest. Amongst the architecture, there is an ancient mosque present on a wooden structure that is present in what appears to be the courtyard of the fort once upon a time.
Visitors traveling to Skardu should dedicate one day to visiting this historic place which is worth all the hike. But fair warning, the journey is long but worth it in the end!