Archaeologies

BALTIT FORT

Skardu Valley

The Baltit Fort is located on the upper level of the rocky Hunza hill. The significance of this fort is historical, ceremonial and cultural.

Name:    Baltit Fort

Period /Age:   700 years old

Location:   Karimabad, Hunza

Ownership:   Baltit Heritage Trust

Legal Status:   Not Protected

Cultural Heritage Type:  Fort-Palace

Documentation Date:  2005

Resource Person/Reference:

Significance:  

The significance of this fort is historical, ceremonial and cultural. Baltit Fort presents a historic record of the growing prosperity of the Hunza state, as well as the cultural development of the people of Hunza through the centuries.


Site Description:     

Majestically overlooking the Hunza valley and the settlement just below, the Baltit Fort is located on the upper level of the rocky Hunza hill.The fort was constructed in different phases over time.The earliest structure, a single-floor room, dating back to the 13th century, forms the core of the fort. With the construction of the second floor, this first floor was turned into passageways and prisons. The second floor consists of the mirs’ (rulers’) family rooms, connected by narrow passages, low doorways, steep ladders and floor traps.The timber structural elements of the fort are richly carved with Balti and Kashmiri style patterns. According to the fort’s conservation consultants, the western outer wall was built during the mid-19th century, while the eastern wall was added much later. The upper floor consists of a number of rooms used by the Rani, Mir and their guests, as well as living rooms, musician rooms and waiting rooms. During the British colonial period, the rooms on the first floor were modified and refurbished according to the then-ruling mir’s tastes and needs. The consultants maintain that a mosque and watchtower were removed from the upper floor during this period.


Salient Features: 

Baltit Fort is a massive structure delicately poised atop a hill, built with a timber construction frame meant to resist earthquakes. The archaeological value and structural importance of the fort is bolstered by the fact that it has remained relatively unchanged over the centuries. It is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, thoroughly adapted to the regional climate and its defensive purpose, and is a laudable example of environmentally sustainable building technology, worth studying even today. The fort is a historic attestation to the cultural and political links of the former state of Hunza with Baltistan, China, Tibet, Kashmir and Central Asia as well as the British rulers of colonial India.


State of Conservation: 

The fort was gifted to the Baltit Heritage Trust by the current head of the former ruling family of Hunza, Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan. The Getty Foundation, NORAD and AKTC (Aga Khan Trust for Culture), as well an additional unnamed source, have funded the trust. The fort was extensively restored in 1992 to 1996, now functioning as a museum. The Baltit Heritage Trust bears responsibility of the fort’s maintenance and upkeep, the funds for which are raised via an entrance fee. AKCS-P/AKTC provides technical expertise when required. 

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