Where is this fort located?
Shigar Fort, the marvel of Tibetan architecture in the Shigar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan at a distance of only 28 kilometers from the Skardu city, is one of the spectacular and breathtaking forts in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan.
|Shigar Fort at night in Skardu|
What is so special about this fort?
The first thing is the magnificent architectural design of the fort and the second thing is the amazing landscape of the site where the fort is located. Locally the fort is known as the "Fong-Khar" literally means the fort built on the rock in Balti language (Balti, a Tibetan dialect, is the regional language of the Baltistan division). In Balti, a fort is called Khar and huge rocks are called Fong, so Fong-Khar means the fort built on huge rock piece.
The fort has actually three parts and the biggest and the prominent one is built on a huge cone-shaped rock at the bank of a small stream which originates from the towering rocky mountains of Karakoram shouldering the mighty mountain ranges where there is the K-2.
The surrounding landscape's alluring and sublime beauty turns the fort into a heavenly place, especially in the summer. The rocky mountain just adjacent to the fort, the stream passing nearby and the lush green fields with different kinds of trees in the surrounding are the best things to enjoy in the summer.
What about the architecture?
The architectural design is the Tibetan and Balti design, in Tibetan or Balti architecture forts were built using the wood as the main component of building material. A network of beams and columns would first construct using the wood as the main supplement of building material, even in the ancient forts, you wouldn't find a single piece of the iron nail as the fastener. Normally the foundation would be erected on which the wood work would start and in some cases, the stone would be used for filling the hollow walls in the ground floor. On the first floor and the upper floors, there would be no stone work. For the partition of the rooms in upper stories either mudbrick or thin sheets of wood would be used.
In most of the forts the windows would be of different sizes but mostly there would be small size windows to cope with the freezing temperature of the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges because in winter the temperature in these valleys plunges to freezing point and in some cases as low as -30-degree celsius.
The Shigar Fort is the perfect manifestation of the Balti or the Tibetan architecture. The fort is mostly composed of wood work and the facade of the fort is just amazing.
|Shigar Fort in Shigar Valley Skardu|
|Shigar Fort Residence in Shigar Skardu|
How to reach the fort?
If you want to visit this marvelous fort then there are two options for you, by air or by the land journey. Depending on your preference, you can choose the one, both journeys would be adventurous.
For by air journey, you need to reach Islamabad first because there are no flights which directly link the Skardu with any other city. From Islamabad, the PIA will fly you and land in the Skardu city in a maximum of 45 minutes. From the Skardu airport, it would take a maximum of an hour to reach the fort. So, in short, in just two hours you can be there in the fort from Islamabad.
The by road journey would be somehow time-consuming but more adventurous because you would be able to witness the gleaming summits of Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindukush peaks along the Karakoram Highway and the Gilgit-Skardu road. The journey through the ravines packed by the rocky towering mountains would be one of a kind of journey which you would never forget in the life. It will take 24-26 hours to reach the Skardu city and the fort.
Places to visit in vicinity
The best thing about the fort is that now part of the fort has been transformed into a restaurant which is commonly known by the name "Shigar Fort Residence" having the best parallel services of best restaurants in the Skardu region. The Shigar Fort Residence is operated by the Serena Hotel and you can visit the fort and stay there as long as you want.
While staying there in the fort you can visit the panoramic valleys in the vicinity, like Keris, Khaplu, Skardu city and places in the periphery of Skardu city like Chunda Valley, Qumrah, Organic Village Nangsooq. You can visit the Kharpocho Fort (also known as Skardu fort), Buddha Rock carving in the south of Skardu, Satpara Lake, Shangrila Lake, Lower Kachura Lake and much more.
You need to know that the legendary road to the K-2 peak passes by the same valley where there is the fort, if you are more enthusiastic then you can choose for a trekking to the K-2 base camp or drive to one of the pristine places of GB, Deosai Plains.