Shigar Fort: The Fort on the Rock

Shigar Fort: The Fort on the Rock
Shigar Fort

The Shigar Fort which is commonly known as The Fort on Roc is an ancient fort of Baltistan and Pakistan situated in the small town of Shigar. It was constructed in the seventeenth century by the Raja of Amacha Dynasty of Shigar.

The Shigar Fort has been reconstructed and restored by Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP-P), the Pakistan arm of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme. After reconstruction, the Fort was changed into a museum and luxury hotel handled by Serena Hotels. The restoration procedure took place from the time period of 1999 to 2004 and cost almost US$1.4 million.


The Historical Fort-Palace

The original Fong-Khar was discovered on the top of a platform which rises 5 meters from the ground and partly encircles an enormous cone-shaped rock (thus, the origins of the name, Fong-Khar, or “Palace on the Rock”). However, the Old Fort-Palace as it is now reconstructed seems to be one structure, upon closer examination, it is truly a collection of 3 separate buildings, constructed adjacent to each other in different times and with distinctive engineering and workmanship. During the reconstruction of the location, these 3 structures were recognized as Modules I, II, and III.

Module I is the ancient part of the original structure estimated as being almost 400 years old. It can conveniently be interpreted as a single, concretely conceived and executed structure, with a unique and classy architectural expression. Original usage of this structure can be recognized through its sequence of rooms involving entrance hall, retiring rooms for the ruler, grand audience hall, and kitchen.

Module II is assumed to have been built almost 100 years after the original Fong-Khar, with Module III following another 150 years later. Both Modules II and III consisted of luxurious residential rooms for the royal family, few more elaborate than others.

Old House

The infrastructure to the south of the Old Fort-Palace is now called as Old House. Its lower floor consists of a horse stable, a cattle pen, and huge storage for animal feed. It seems to have existed as the classy royal stable for as long as Fong-Khar itself. The upper floor of this building was added much later by the raja as modern residential accommodation when the Old Fort-Palace was abandoned in the middle of the twentieth century.

Amacha Garden and Baridari

It is not known when this beautiful decorative square pool – the central highlight of the garden – was constructed, or what its earlier appearance was like. Early in the twentieth century, a pavilion was made on the central platform of the pool by the famous Raja Muhammad Adam Khan, the father of the present Raja Muhammad Ali Saba. At the period of the takeover of the location by the conservation team, precisely carved marble bases that would have supported the free-standing and attached columns could still be discovered on the central platform. The creative quality of these marble bases accesses the perfection of Kashmiri complexes of the high Mughal style and design. Knowing that nothing of a quality accessing that of these column bases was constructed anywhere else in the town of Shigar at the period the pavilion was made in the early twentieth century; one can estimates that the column bases have a provenance in an initial building.

The Raja’s Mosque

The Raja’s public mosque is a stunning and decorative building adjacent to the entrance to the structure and is of primary antiquity and innovative value. It is very similar in the form and ornament to the other rest of mosques in the Shigar Fort place: a single 4-bayed room with a primary column support and a famous veranda on the eastern side.




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