Baltit Fort

Karakoram Highway

The oldest parts of Baltit Fort date from the 13th century. Over the years more houses and towers were added, and it was fortified. To cement an alliance with Baltistan's Maqpon dynasty in the 17th century, Mir Ayesho II (great-grandson of the legendary Girkis) married a daughter of the Balti ruler, who sent artisans to build a fort at nearby Altit. The princess then came to live in Hunza, bringing her own artisans to improve Baltit Fort.

Balti-style renovation continued under the reign of Ayesho II's son. The name Baltit probably dates from this time. The fort took on its present appearance only in the last century or so. Mir Nazim Khan added outer walls and fixed up his own rooms with wallpaper, drapes, fireplaces, balconies and tinted windows. He had the outer walls whitewashed, dramatically raising the fort's visual impact from all over the valley. Also added were a rooftop dais, where royal councils were held in good weather, and the 'lantern' or skylight.

Nazim Khan's grandson moved to modern quarters in Karimabad in 1945. By the time KKH travellers first saw the fort in the 1980s it was an abandoned shell, stripped of anything of value and verging on collapse.

From 1990 to 1996 it was effectively taken apart stone by stone and reassembled. This was a painstaking effort using advanced preservation principles developed in Europe, while retaining the unique construction and earthquake-proofing techniques pioneered by the fort's original builders.

The result is impressive and the renovation work almost invisible. Several rooms have exhibits of clothing and old photos, plus utensils and furnishings donated by local people. Visitors get a half-hour tour with a knowledgeable local guide (you cannot go in without one), and interested persons can use the library.

Tickets are sold at a small kiosk below the fort and it is worth noting that the fort's administration is funded solely by these ticket sales.

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Nearby Karakoram Highway attractions

1. Channel Walk

0.27 MILES

A three- or four-hour walk along the main water channels from Ultar Nala is a good way to see Hunza at its best. Try to avoid the delicate side channels.