Kharpocho Fort

Kharpocho Fort

Kharpocho or Skardu Fort ( Kharpocho means The king of Forts) is a fort in Skardu city in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Australian mountaineer and film maker Greg Child writes that the fort is “perched above the junction of the rivers” and overlooks the Rock of Skardu.

Kharpocho Fort History

The fort was built by the king Ali Sher in the end of the sixteenth century. General Zorawar Singh of the Dogra Rajput clan working under Maharaja Gulab Singh realized the importance of the fort’s location in the town and so he occupied the fort.

It was part of his many military campaigns to annex the areas of Baltistan to the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The fort was razed to the ground in 1857 under the guidance of Ranbir Singh. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb also tried to occupy the fort, which went in vain.

During the First Kashmir War on 1947, Jammu and Kashmir State Forces were deployed inside the fort under the command of Lt. Col. Sher Jung Thapa.

The Gilgit Scouts and rebel troops of the State Forces, under the command of Pakistan Army, laid siege to the fort. On 11 February 1948, the Pakistani forces battled with the Skardu garrison of the fort. After a six-hour-long battle between the two, the attackers retreated. They came again on 14 February directing “harassing fire into the fort”.The siege lasted more than six months.

Finally, having exhausted ammunition and rations, the Kashmir forces left the fort in small batches on 13 August 1948. The fort succumbed on the 14 August. All the remaining men were reportedly killed by the invaders, except for Col. Thapa and his Sikh orderly, who were taken prisoner. Skardu became part of the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, eventually renamed Gilgit-Baltistan.

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