The north of Pakistan is bestowed with the unmatched beauty. Even more to the extreme north –east of Pakistan there lay the valley of Khaplu with its towering mountain peaks, stretched rugged-land and small compact valleys.
The natural attraction of this region along with its beautiful ancient structures nearly in every village gives a unique experience of natural and man-made beauty.
Khaplu is the district headquarter of the Ghanche district and lies on the southern bank of river Shyok.
Khaplu is more known for its centuries old Chaqchan Mosque (erected by Mir Syed Ali Hamdani) and the Khaplu fort (more recently renovated as Serena hotel), though the beauty doesn’t end here. I was fascinated by undiscovered beauty with very little fame.
One of such spots was the “Dog-si Khar’- meaning fort on the hill top.
The Khar or fort is located above the town of Khaplu on a hill top in the great Glacier valley ‘Gangche valley’.
The metal road crawling between the narrow valley led us to the last village, Gharbu-chung, just below the hill bearing the centuries old Tog-si Khar.
The first sight at it unveils the simple but astonishing serene structure on a high hilltop leaning on the town of Khaplu. The local administration has developed a route and made access to the place easy.
It takes 15 to 20 minutes on-foot to reach the place from where the road ends.
The whole place and the way leading to it is mysterious and shrouded in myths and local legends of evil spirits guarding an ancient treasure and other creatures molesting the visitors.
The Khar, on the top is actually a ‘mosque’ and is a simple structure made of stones and wood. According to the Board on the mosque, it is attributed to be constructed by Syed Ali Hamdani (the earliest muslim preacher of the 15th century) himself.
However, the interesting thing is the remains of old structure beside the mosque. It is surmised that the structure which is now completely ruined does belong to even older times probably Bhuddism or Bonnism era. If it is so then it is most likely that this structure in the remote place must have been used by some ‘Lama’ (Monk).
Buddhist and Bonnist religious legacies are in dilapidated condition including the monasteries, also called ‘Khar’-the name alluding to the ‘Dogsi Khar’.
When the people of the area converted to Islam, the Muslims constructed the mosque as a religious symbol. The old structures were either abandoned in dilapidated form.
Oral traditions of the local people shed some light on it. According to them, later on the ‘Khar’ was used as a military post by various rajas of Yabgo dynasty (the ruling dynasty of Khaplu).
It was militarily important for several reasons; the location of Dogsi khar just above the Yabgo royal Palace, it was on the mouth of Gangche nallah from which invaders from the west would possibly attack, and lastly, it was a post to keep an eye on the old route from the east from which leads upto Laddakh ruled by Rghyalpho.
However, it needs much research and labor to dig out the facts.
Due to its remoteness and obscurity, the place has been in complete veil from visitors and researchers till now.
Very few local people visit the place and not only enjoy the historical Khar but also the beautiful view of the Khaplu town, and stretches of Shyok river on the north.