The Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan is not only blessed with some spectacular natural scenery but some man-made wonders also add up to its glory. One exceptional edifice embellishing the breathtaking surroundings is the redoubtable Baltit Fort that was the royal residence of ruling families of Hunza. Foundations of this wonderful building were laid some 700 years ago and it became not only the residence of the Mirs of Hunza but also served as defence bastion in case of an attack.
The residents were very particular about restoration work of the effort and in the 16th century artisans from Baltistan came to Hunza and changed the entire shape of the fort. The Ladakhi/Tibetan architecture influence of the fort comes from the same restoration period. This restoration work by Balti artisans was done as part of a dowry of a princess who got married to a prince of Hunza at that time.
Baltit Fort was also the place where many festivities and important meetings were held in specially built portions including festivals like Ginani that is still celebrated there. The Fort was abandoned in mid-1940s when family of Mir of Hunza moved to a newly built palace within Karimabad town. Baltit Fort remained a haunted place but in 1996 Aga Khan Cultural Services for Pakistan carried out renovation and opened it to public. Now as a museum, it is visited by an estimated 15,000 people visit every year.
On tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage site, Baltit Fort is an exquisite beauty erected in a rocky outcrop near the base of the Ultar peaks. Constructed using Timber and mud bricks it is a three story building with about 53 rooms and maintains a library and a museum. Its high elevation enables amazingly clear view of two of the world’s highest peaks: shimmering Spantik peak and majestic Rakaposhi peak. An outstanding quality of the fort is that it remains illuminated at night with natural light from the dawn glowing in the background.