Craftsman's Desk

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

Cultural Travel Series | Serena Khaplu Palace (1)

Our featured blogger is Nageen Hyat, Human Rights & Social Activist, founding member of Women’s Action Forum (WAF), Curator, Founder-Director of the Nomad Gallery and a renowned cultural writer.

Baltistan… Experiencing our Rich and Diverse Heritage

DAY 1 – As I walk into the cockpit of PK-451 route Islamabad to Skardu, I feel exhilarated and awestruck by the sheer beauty and majesty of the snow-capped mountains and wish I were a pilot!

ImageAfter an educative discussion with the pilots, taking some photos, I return to my seat and share views with a number of local travelers, tour operators and a sprinkling of international trekkers.

The purpose of my journey to Khaplu and Shigar, as a solo cultural traveler, was with the aim of inspiring and promoting tourism in these rather remote and stunning areas of Pakistan, particularly following the aftermath of the terrible incident in Chilas (targeted killing of trekkers…many hundred miles away) which has further tarnished the image of Pakistan and affected group bookings and tourism.

I wrote my ‘diary’ on a daily basis and shared on my Facebook page aiming for the maximum global outreach. This is a voluntary initiative, with my aim being to be a part of a process to highlight the real situation on ground in Baltistan instead of just being a bystander.


The charm and understated, rich character of the Khaplu Palace & Residence provides the perfect spring board for all types of travelers, adventurers and researchers to explore the regions rich cultural heritage and to give you the chance to experience Baltistani Royalty. Both Shigar Fort and the Khaplu hotel were restored by the Aga Khan Cultural Services Ltd under the guidance of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and were then handed over to Serena Hotels ( An institution of the Aga Khan Development Network) and are now being run as boutique hotels with due consideration for the environment and sanctity of history and heritage. The profits benefit the local community members of Baltistan.

ImageA walk around the village and across the bridge over gushing water led us up various levels of slopes and steps to the summit, on the way meeting girls and women carrying heavy loads on their back.

ImageThe view of Khaplu’s mountains, village, ripe fields and water was breath taking from the top.

ImageImageReturned to the hotel and sampled regional Balti cuisine, prepared with fresh organic produce. I enjoyed relaxing under the shady trees reading and just taking in the gentle breeze and the beautiful environment.

Keep following us for more posts in this Cultural Travel Series!


5 comments on “Cultural Travel Series | Serena Khaplu Palace (1)

  1. Ayesha Zaheer
    July 26, 2013

    Beautifully written while reading you imagine you are there,a little history added would have been the cherry on the cake


  2. naiyer01
    July 24, 2013

    Very nice but just short on the heritage, people, the way of living etc.


  3. Ali Fateh
    July 24, 2013

    Reading about this piece of heaven and viewing your pictures only proves that this place is a delicacy for the senses. I have yet to explore the best Pakistan has to offer, but if people from across the pond can fly thousands of miles to claim their share to God’s Art, then it is a definite “Must See” for the citizens of Pakistan. I am most certainly planning a trip in the near future. Being a designer/artist, I think it will be a great way to get the creative juices to flow further towards peace and enlightenment! Thank you for a mesmerizing painting of words and images.


  4. HUsnain Lotia
    July 24, 2013

    Nice narrative! Perhaps a little more on the history of Khaplu and Shigar (short, couple of paragraphs) and more description of the places.


  5. azeem iqbal
    July 24, 2013

    beautiful Pakistan nice pic


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