Craftsman's Desk

All the happenings, stories and snippets from the vibrant world of Serena Hotels Pakistan

The Shigar Fort Residence & Khaplu Palace Residence in Skardu

The eloquent Sahar Habib shares with us her experience of Gilgit-Baltistan below:

After visiting and staying at both the Khaplu Palace and the Shigar Fort Residence in Skardu I have been telling everybody I meet that they must go too when they get the chance.

I have been to Skardu before and everybody has seen pictures of how beautiful it is but obviously the real thing is so much better. However, these two boutique hotels, the Shigar Fort Residence and the Khaplu Palace & Residence, are much more than your average hotels. Both have been restored and renovated by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and are now managed and run by Serena Hotels. What’s more is that the bulk of profits from these hotels benefits the people of Baltistan.

The Khaplu Palace & Residence is further away from the Skardu airport, about a 2½-hour drive, while the Shigar Fort Residence is just a 45-minute drive away.

The entrance to the Khaplu Palace Residence is beautiful but a bit unassuming…

Khaplu Palace entrance… until you walk through to the other end and the majestic palace comes into view.

2a 2b

The reception and guest rooms are constructed where the palace stables used to be. The architecture is so unique and nothing like anything I had seen before. The rooms were gorgeous and while the original architecture had been preserved, every modern luxury was available for the most comfortable hotel stay.

Most memorable at Khaplu was the amazing food. From the lavish breakfasts,

3a 3b

… to the amazing desserts…


Apricot Mousse at Khaplu

… everything was beyond delicious. It was particularly nice to be able to sample regional Balti cuisine, all of which is prepared with fresh local produce.

You may be content to spend your days relaxing within the hotel grounds but if not then there is lots to do in and around Khaplu. The hotel staff can best guide you about what to do and where to go (e.g trout fishing, hiking trips, visits to picnic spots or viewpoints) as well as what is happening in the area at any given time of the year. I visited in September but I hear the time to visit is June-August.

After a lovely two days in Khaplu, we went on to the Shigar Fort Residence, also known as ‘the palace on the rock”…

5 6

The Shigar hotel is also a wonderful place to stay and the room I stayed had a stone wall that extended into the bathroom…

7a 7b

… and a view of the garden…


The best place to eat in the Shigar Fort was the first floor terrace and outdoor dining area underneath grape vines with a view and sound of the river rushing by…



Terrace dining area at Shigar

If you really want the real regal experience, you can stay one of the royal suites inside the actual palaces at Khaplu and Shigar.


One of the royal suites in the Khaplu Palace

No matter which room you stay in though, you make time for a tour of the palaces and their stunning architecture and craftsmanship. The wood-carved doors and ceilings of the Khaplu palace are marvellously intricate.

A carved doorway inside the Khaplu Palace

A carved doorway inside the Khaplu Palace

All in all, I had a fabulous time and stay at both hotels and I would love to go again if and when I get the chance. The facilities and services were excellent and I was given no reason to complain.

In Skardu, you can get away and experience something different without having to leave the country. The Khaplu Palace Residence and the Shigar Fort Residence give you a luxurious five-star hotel experience while giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local and regional heritage, history, culture and cuisine away from the hustle and bustle of urbanity, and in my opinion, that makes for a perfect holiday.

View of Khaplu Palace Residence from the first floor of the palace

View of Khaplu Palace Residence from the first floor of the palace

2 comments on “The Shigar Fort Residence & Khaplu Palace Residence in Skardu

  1. Faisal Abbasi
    April 8, 2013

    VERY INFORMATIVE POST, was looking for such an self-experienced written material, will be visiting both places in coming july 2013 insha Allah


  2. Haseeb Ahmed Baig
    April 8, 2013

    Good Informative Post, I have a Plan to visit both places in next month (May, 2013).


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