Apart from the natural beauty our country boasts, it consists of rich history and cultures of civilizations and empires that ruled this area thousands of years ago. Due to the geo strategic location of Pakistan and the land (rich in minerals) perfect for agriculture, this area has always been the favourite for conquerors to rule and live in. Here is a list of top 5 gorgeous forts and castles in Pakistan you must have never heard of before:
1. Baghsar Fort
Located in the north of Bhimber village, Baghsar Fort is a historical site surrounded by a crystal blue lake and meadows. Since the fort is situated in Samahini Valley (AJK), about 3.5 hour drive from Islamabad, near the Pak-India border, therefore it is usually closed for tourists due to security reasons. However, if you plan to go there, do confirm with the relevant authorities about the security of the area to avoid any mishaps.
The place is ideal for camp fire and barbecue, however, permission from the army needs to be taken beforehand. There is also a famous shrine of Hazrat Baba Shadi Shaheed in the vicinity. There is a conflict of opinion when it comes to who actually built the fort. Some say that it was built by the Mughals while in a book, published by G.T. Vigne, published in 1844, it says that Deyhan Singh built Baghsar Fort in 1812 after defeating Raja Sultan Khan.
2. Skardu Fort
Also, known as Kharpocho in Baltit language, meaning “The King of Forts” is located in Skardu city. An Australian mountaineer and film maker, Greg Child describes the fort as “perched above the junction of the rivers”, overlooking the Rock of Skardu.
The Skardu Fort was originally the used as the residence of the Rajas of Skardu. Built by King Sher Ali the at end of the sixteenth century, the fort was occupied by General Zorawar Singh of Dogra Rajput clan, who realized the strategic importance of the fort. So, mainly, this fort remained a part of his military campaigns launched to occupy areas of Baltistan to add to the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb also tried to capture the fort but failed to do so. In 1857, the fort was demolished under the guidance of Ranbir Singh. Remains of the fort can still be seen today as a beautiful, historic piece of architecture.
3. Nagar Fort
Nagar Fort, at Nagar is located in the vicinity of Chitral Valley, while traveling from Chitral to Lowari. The fort was built in the early nineteenth century on the orders of the Mehtar of Chitral at that time, Shuja ul Mulk. The purpose of the fort back then was to serve as a winter resort for the Mehtar, since the area is relatively warmer than other parts of Chitral.
Since the fort is surrounded by water on all the three sides, it is accessible via a suspension bridge due to which the charm of the fort still prevails. The fort consists of an outer gate, an outer court, inner gate and an inner courtyard. Also, the fort boasts a number of gorgeous, regularly maintained gardens, spreading a scent of roses, herbaceous plant and daffodils. March to May are the perfect months to visit the fort when the gardens are in their full bloom.
4. Ranikot Fort
“The size of Ranikot defies all reasons. It stands in the middle of nowhere, defending nothing,” describes Isobel Shaw. Known as the largest fort in the world, with a circumference of 26 km, the gigantic piece of architecture stands in the middle of nowhere. Located in Sindh, easily accessible from Karachi via National Highway (in excellent condition), the journey takes about 2 hours roughly, since the road after San is in pathetic condition.
There is a passage on the eastern side of the fort, called the “Sann Gate”. Climbing the walls of the fort gives a breathtaking panoramic view of the landscape. A small fortress, within the giant Ranikot is called “Meeri”, housing the royal quarters.
5. Ramkot Fort
Ramkot Fort is a beautiful, ancient fort situated on the confluence of River Jhelum and Poonch, overlooking the shiny blue waters of Mangla Dam, in Azad Kashmir. It is accessible through a boat, 13 km from Dina and 79 km from Mirpur (by road). The fort was built by a Gakkhar named Toglu as quoted by a traveler and geologist, Frederick Drew in his book.
Where dozens of forts were built in that area, this fort has always stood out because of its peculiar architecture. The tricky location of this fort, with waters on three sides was basically the plus point of this place in those times, however now, from the tourist perspective, this has become the reason of its isolation.
So, Pakistan is not just blessed with natural beauty, but the rich history makes it even a better tourist destination. These are just a few of the historical monuments which give a slight idea of the conquerors and rulers who occupied this area in the early period. There are tons of other mysterious ruins in other parts of the country, Mohenjo Daro, Makli Graveyard being some of them.
About how many of these forts did you know?