forts in pakistan

61 Forts in Pakistan that you must explore

There are many more forts in Pakistan besides these 61 better-preserved ones that I have mentioned here.

Table of Contents

Why explore Forts?

If you explore Pakistan’s forts, besides the thrill of adventure, you would know the history, significance, and culture of the Indus River people.

All forts in Pakistan were meant to preserve wealth, influence, and a particular way of life in the areas that eventually became Pakistan.

Now forts are a thing of the past, but in the 1st millennium, this region could not have functioned without these city-forts.

Starting from the Northern Most tip, first in the list of Forts in Pakistan is…

forts in pakistan

Mastuj Fort, Chitral

 Katoor – Mehtar Dynasty built the Mastuj Fort in 1780 to protect the trade routes from Afghanistan that entered Chitral in Broghil and continued to Shandur Gilgit-Baltistan.

Kharpocho Fort, Skardu Gilgit Baltistan

Skardu Fort was built in the 16th Century by a local Muslim King, but Hindu Dogra rulers took over under the watchful eyes of Colonial British.

When the British packed up and left in 1947, local Muslim troops overran the fort after a prolonged siege and handed it over to Pakistan.

forts in pakistan

Khaplu Fort, Ganche Valley, Gilgit Baltistan

Khaplu fort finds mention in the famous traveler-general Daulat Beg’s work of 1499, Tarikh e Rashidi as a fruit garden of Eden.

Daulat Beg was himself immortalized when he froze to death at the 16000 ft. high Karakorum Pass, which is now in the Indian Army’s possession.

Khaplu Royal Palace and fort were constructed by a local Raja somewhere around the 14th century to protect this kingdom, from Skardu.

Khaplu Royal Palace fort has a backup fort on the top of the mountain top behind it, for the Royal family to ride out an invasion, until the time the aggressor retreats.

There is still an ancient Royal burial ground on the top of the mountain.

I still felt the peace and beauty of Khaplu Town when I went there.

forts in pakistan

Altit Fort, Hunza

Altit fort was established by white Huns from the Huang-ho valley in China about 1100 years ago to protect their native trade caravans.

Altit means “this side down” in Burushaski, as the cliff at which the fort is sited has 400 meters fall down to Hunza River.

Prisoners were thrown execution-style into the river below – without parachutes.

forts in pakistan

Baltit Fort, Hunza

Royals of Hunza would alternatively use Altit and Baltit forts as they are close together.

forts in pakistan

Shigar Fort, Gilgit Baltistan

This fort was meant to protect the Amacha kingdom that ruled Shigar dynasty in the 17th century.

There are remains another fort on the top of the mountain behind the Shigar fort – as a rearguard headquarters.

Kalam Darch Fort, Misgar Valley, Gojal

The colonial British rebuilt this fort in the 18th century when they were surprised by the Russian presence in the Gilgit Baltistan Territories close to the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan.

The area is also called Chota Pamir in Pakistan.

forts in pakistan

Chitral Fort

Chitral Fort was built by the local ruler- Mehtar Shah Katoor in 1774.

Chitral has always been susceptible to influence from Russian through the Wakhan, hence,

In 1885, the British sent their Sikh troops to formally take over the Chitral territory, after years of sowing infighting among the Muslim rulers.

Furthermore, the British separated Wakhan from Chitral.

Chakdara Fort Dir

This fort, built by the Mughals and was upgraded by the British in the 17th century to watch over who entered their land from the remote Chitral.

This Fort also has the famous Churchill picket that overlooks the bridge over Swat River into Lower Dir.

Malakand fort, Dargai

Malakand Fort was built by Hindu Shahi and later upgraded by the British on the top of Malakand Pass, to protect a vital route to Chitral.

It did not work.

Pashtun fighters overran Malakand Fort and Chakdara twice in the decade of 1890.

Churchill himself called the Pashtun fighters “barbarians.”

Balahisar Fort, Peshawar

Bala Hisar means “High Fortification”

Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1747 first built the Balahisar fort in the current shape.

The Sikh and British upgraded it later.

A reinforced royal palace existing in Peshawar is mentioned by Xuanzang, a Chinese traveler of the 7th century.

Jamrud Fort

Jamrud Fort is cited at the mouth of Khyber Pass in the Eastern End to keep Caravan routes protected between Kabul and Peshawar.

Jamrud Fort was built by Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa in 1836, after defeating Durrani Rulers.

The rebellious Pashtun Tribesmen, led by Barakzai overran the fort in 1837.

It’s the inability of Punjabi-speaking Sikh proxies to hold on to Pashtun territory that eventually convinced the British to take over the Indus Valley directly.

Ali Masjid Fort, Khyber Pass

Ali Masjid Point is the place where every soldier and traveler had to pass through to step foot into India coming from Afghanistan, a century two centuries back.

Ali Masjid was a few centuries back just 3 meters in width

Ali Masjid fort was formally built by Dost Muhammad Khan in 1837, but there was always a military post there.

Local Legend says the great Caliph Ali RA, once visited the site too.

There is a commemorative shrine to Caliph Ali there too.

Ali Masjid is where the defeated British Army holed up after coming under repeated attack by victorious Afghans.

Shagai Fort, Khyber Pass

Shagai Fort was built by British Army in 1927 to keep their reserve troops stationed here as a backup for Ali Masjid, Landikotal, and the Afghan Border.

Shagai fort is the place where General Dyer outflanked Afghan troops through an unfrequented route.

The Brigadier General showed the ragtag militia what professional warfighting is – surprise.

Timur Lane Fort, Michni Khyber Pass

Local legend says that Timur the Mongol built this fort to torture his opponents, but that may not be completely true.

Timur was cruel as all invaders are and he had developed a taste for India’s riches.

Timur’s only fear before India was

  • The five rivers of the Indus
  • The Forests
  • The Hindu Princes
  • The elephants

 Wana fort, South Waziristan

The Police fort at Wana, South Waziristan was built at the beginning of the 18th century.

Wana fort is a boxed-shaped tower, with a watch picket at the top – how ingenious.

Sararogha Fort, South Waziristan

Sararogha Fort is more of a large-sized border post.

This ill-fated post of the Pakistan Army was overrun by mercenary militants of the Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan, murdering several soldiers who had put up a desperate last stand.

Saragarhi Fort

Saragarhi Fort in Samana, Orakzai Agency was the legendary fort where 21 outnumbered Sikh soldiers, were also slaughtered in another desperate last man stand by local Afridi.

British Raj lost no love in replacing these soldiers.

Michni Fort, Khyber Pass, Pakhtunkhwa

This post has the best view of Pakistan Afghanistan border post-Torkam and deep into Pakistan.

Sher Garh Fort, Mansehra

Ranjit Singh’s commander Dewan Bawani Das had this fort built in 1819,

Thirty-five km from Mansehra, high in the mountains, this fort was meant to stop Durrani invasions from the high mountains.

Local Tanoli leader Painda Khan wrestled back this fort from the Sikh, by 1829.

The views from this Haveli fort are breathtaking.

Gulistan fort Hangu

Originally called Fort Cavagnari, this fort was a back for Fort Lockhart and for Saragarhi in the Samana hills of Orakzai.

All thee forts were built by the colonial British.

Thall fort

Thall fort in Hangu protects the Y-junction the border road between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It also protects a major Kurram River Crossing.

The British built this for tin in 1909 and still have equipment used by British officers.

Nowsher Fort South Waziristan

Nowsher Fort was built in the middle of nowhere in the Frontier regions of Bannu for anyone trying to sneak into settled land from this mountainous route.

Ladha Fort

Ladha Fort was built in 1932 and was always used to police the region beyond Razmak, already at the far West of the British reaches.

Ladha fort faced multiple attacks from local militants, with support from Afghanistan, while the fort was with Pakistan Army.

Ladha is one of the few posts inside wild mountainous territory bordering Afghanistan.

forts in pakistan

Drosh Fort

Drosh Fort, perched on a cliff along Chitral River was the center of the Chitral – Mehtar leadership battle.

When the Ruler of Chitral suddenly died, his sons began infighting, starting from the treasury and armory at Drosh Fort.

Then, Umara Khan of Dir tried annexing more territory over the Lowari Pass.

The British could not have any of this and in 1895, send an expedition to install a ruler of their choice.

Harikishan garh Haripur

Hari Kishan Garh Haripur Fort was built by Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa in 1822, to protect their dominion over Hazara.

forts in pakistan

Attock Fort

This most well preserved of all, Attock Fort was built by Akbar the Mughal in 1583 to protect the Indus River crossing into India from the northwest.

forts in pakistan

Ramkot fort, Mangla

Ramkotfort was built by Gakhar Sultan Toghlu in 1186 to protect the road Kashmir but is now perched on an island in the huge Mangla Dam lake

Red Fort Muzaffarabad

Lal Qila Fort Muzaffarabad was built in 1559 by the Chak Rulers of Kashmir, to overlook entry into Muzaffarabad City from the West.

It also protected the road towards Uri in Kashmir.

Pharwala Fort

Pharwala fort was built by Gakhar of Potohar in the 15th century and was once the HQ of Hathi Khan Gakhar.

Babar the Mughal defeated Gakhar in 1519, but later returned it to Gakhar rule.

The British permanently disbanded Gakhar’s rule after the 1857 liberation war.

forts in pakistan

Rawat Fort

Rawat Fort was built by Gakhar Sultan in the 16th century and was occupied by Sher Shah Suri’s forces after defeating Sarang Khan Gakhar in 1546

Rawat fort has always been used as a Caravanserai since Ghaznavid time 1036CE, as it lies on the junction between Kashmir and Delhi roads.

Rothtas Fort

Sher Shah Suri built Rohtas fort in 1541, to keep the troublesome Gakhar of Potohar Plateau under check.

It soon lost its value as Akbar built Attock fort further west from it, soon afterward.

forts in pakistan

Lahore Fort Shahi Qila

There was always a mud-brick fort at the mouth of Lahore city on the bank of Ravi since the city was first founded.

Akbar the Mughal formally built a solid brick and mortar Lahore fort Shahi Qila in 1566 and the remaining reinforced it.

Sheikhupura Fort

This fort at Sheikhupura was built by Jahangir the Mughal in 1607 along with the Hiran Minar to protect a densely wooded forest all around.

Sikh took over this fort with Ranjit Singh gifting it to his daughter Datar Kaur.

The British after taking over incarcerated Ranjit Singh’s wife Rani Jindan there.

forts in pakistan

Throtchi Fort, Gulpur Kotli Azad Kashmir

Throtchi Fort was built by Mughal in 1460, as part of a sub-jageer of Kotli.

In 1947, Pakistan Army kicked out the unmotivated Dogra troops that were outnumbered and alone there.

Bhrund Fort, Sehnsa Kotli, Azad Kashmir

Bhrund is a sub-post of Throtch Fort, but I could not find any history of its erection.

forts in pakistan

Kusak fort

Legend says that the Kusak fort was built by Raja-Janjua in the 11th century, and was finally abandoned when Ranjit Singh defeated the Janjua rulers there in 1810.

Kusak Fort lies on top of a hill high up in the Kahoon Valley of Chakwal.

forts in pakistan

Nandna fort, Baghanwala Pind Dadan Khan

Nandna Fort was built somewhere in the 10th century by local Hindu Raja.

It was there when Mahmud of Ghazni besieged it in 1013 AD.

forts in pakistan

Amb Sharif Temple and Fort Complex

Amb Sharif Fort and Temple complex were built in the time when Hindu and Buddhists coexisted in Kushab Valley, that is, before the 6th century.

There is evidence of Hindu and Buddhist temples inside the fort complex.

It was upgraded by Hindu Raja in 980 AD.

forts in pakistan

Sangini Fort

Sangini fort was built by Sikhs in 1800 to protect their Sikh subjects in the Kallar Syedan Area.

It, later on, became a prison.

forts in pakistan

Malot Fort, Chakwal

Malot Fort Chakwal was also upgraded by Hindu Raja in 980 AD but did not survive the onslaught of Mahmud of Ghazni in 1013 AD.

It was later used by Sikhs as a guard post.

forts in pakistan

Mangla Fort

Mangla fort was built by the Hindu Shahi rulers to protect the Eastern bank of River Jhelum.

FC Fort Oghi, Mansehra

Oghi Fort in Oghi, Tanawal Valley Mansehra is more famous for its beautiful landscape than history.

Akal Garh Fort DI Khan

Akal Garh Fort in Dera Ismail Khan was established in 1890.

Baghsar Fort, Samahni Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Baghsar Fort, Samahni Bhimber, is now on the line of control of Jammu and Kashmir

It was built by the Mughal rulers.

It is presently with the Pakistan Military, and I will give you further information when I get there.

FC Fort Mulazai, Tank

Mulazai Fort was probably built by a local khan of Tank.

It was here that the treacherous Taliban abducted and slaughtered Frontier Constabulary men in 2011.

Tiwana Fort, Mitha Tiwana

The fort-like Tiwana Headquarter in Mitha Tiwana was built in 1680,

You must visit Tiwana Fort to learn a lesson in power politics and how influential families stay on top of the food chain through cunning and wile.

Tiwana family’s scions have a disgraceful history of betraying their people for power and position.

Wali Swat Fort Cholgara Kohistan

The Yousafzai kingdom of Swat 1926–69 and the Miangul family had their own fort-like residence.

The place is worth visiting.

Akrand Fort Khushab

Nothing remains of this fort except remains but it protected a productive land.

Derawar fort, Cholistan

Derawar Fort was built by Hindu Raja Jajji Bhatti in the 9th century.

The 9th century was the time when the remaining Hindu Kingdoms of the Indus River Eastern Bank started got insecure by the twin threat of Invasions of Afghans and their Muslim subjects.

They started a Fort building spree – but did not help much.

Meergarh Fort Bhawalnaga

Nineteen km from Bahawalnagar, Mir Garh fort was founded y Noor Muhammad Khan in 1799.

This mud-brick fort has its ramparts still intact.

Mauj Garh Fort Bhawalpur

Mauj Garh fort was built by Maroof Khan Kehrani in 1743 and still looks grand.

Jam Garh Fort Bahawalnagar

Jam Garh Fort was built by Jam Khan Marufani in 1788.

The style of the brick construction of this fort is marvelous.

Ranikot Fort

Ranikot Fort was renovated in 1812 by the Talpur Dynasty of Sindh.

It is located at Sann, 90 km from Hyderabad.

It is also called the “Great wall of Sindh” and the biggest fort in the world because of its perimeter of 32 km.

Kot Diji Fort, Khairpur

Kot Diji fort was built by Talpur Mir Sohrab in 1790.

 

Chakar Fort Sibi

The Hindu Chach defeated Sewas in Sibi in 550 AD here

What remains are some mud walls and a bastion

forts in pakistan

Mirri Fort, Quetta

Mirri fort, Quetta Valley, Baluchistan was already there when the British arrived in 1877

It is built on a long-dormant mud volcano base and has guarded the ancient oasis of Quetta for ages.

Meeri Fort Kalat

Meeri Fort Kalat was there one century back but is now in ruins.

In case you are wondering, Miri means “Mir,” a tribal leader in the Brahvi language.

Naukot Fort Tharparkar

Naukot fort was built by Mir Karam Ali Khan Talpur in 1814.

It is almost preserved, and the best thing about the place is that it has a water pond.

In Tharparkar water is more expensive than gold.

Pacco Qilo Haidarabad

Built by Mir Ghulam Shah Kalharo in 1768, it was demolished by the British.

Some structures remain though.

Islamgarh Fort Rahimyar khan

Islamgarh Fort, Bhimwar, Rahimyar khan was built by Hindu Raja Bheem Singh in 1665.

Its ramparts are typical of all mud forts in Sindh and Southern Punjab.

Which is the oldest among forts in Pakistan?

Although Mir Chakar Rind Fort in Sibi is the oldest, Altit Fort in Hunza at 1100 years, is better preserved to qualify as the oldest among forts in Pakistan.

Which is the biggest among forts in Pakistan?

Ranikot Fort, with perimeter ramparts of 32 km is the biggest fort in Pakistan.

Conclusion

Pakistan should empower local district councils to collect taxes so that they can rebuild and market these forts as an archeological and historical masterpiece that they are and make real money.

Also, people in Pakistan will know their history and heroes through these forts – this time the real ones.

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3 Comments

  1. Sanaullah Ali says:

    A good effort by the writer. I have visited few of the forts you mentioned like Rani Kote Fort, Drawer Fort, Altit Fort, Baltit Fort, Khaplu Fort, Shiger Fort and Kkarpocho Fort.
    Regarding the query raised by Julie Parkinson, Pakistan is very safe for all tourists and hikers and climbers. There are tour operators everywhere who can manage your visit very well.
    The Forts and Palaces in Gilgit Baltistan are particularly worth seeing due to their restoration /maintenance and their locations. Few of them are also providing lodging facilities.

  2. Julie Parkinson says:

    Thank you so much for this very interesting blog.I am very keen to visitPakistan and am
    particularly interested in forts.I really love the ones in the Cholistan desert which you mention a few of them.I believe there are more than 20 which it would be amazing to visit but maybe dangerous for foreign tourists.Do you know if itissafe and foreigners can explore the desert area?Thanks

    1. Thankyou Julie Parkinson for reading my blog.
      Yes, it is safe to visit Cholistan for foreigners, but because Pakistan tourist ecosystem is not that developed, it is better that you get a pakistani to navigate through the places with you.
      Great Idea though, Good luck

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