Often called “Heaven on Earth” due to its picturesque beauty and scenic panoramas, there is plenty to do and see if you are visiting Azad Kashmir as a traveller. One of the best picnic spots near the River Jhelum in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) is the iconic Mangla Dam, which is also one of the most famous dams in Pakistan. If you are heading to this area, do not forget to visit the historic Ramkot Fort, located on the river’s edge. Here is all you need to know about planning a trip to Ramkot Fort.
About Ramkot Fort
Ramkot Fort is a historic fortress built on the edge of the River Jhelum near the Mangla Dam directly opposite New Mirpur City. It was constructed in the 16th to 17th century by the Muslim rulers of Kashmir. The fort is built on a high hill and overlooks the surrounding waters of the River Jhelum, with the glorious views of Mangla Dam Lake also being visible at a distance.
History of Ramkot Fort
It is said that Ramkot Fort was built on the site of an old Hindu temple. Excavations in the area have also resulted in relics being found that date back to the 5th century. The fort has changed many hands since its establishment, witnessing renovations and fortifications under both Muslim and Sikh rulers over the years.
How to Get to Ramkot Fort?
Located in the Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir, Ramkot Fort was built on a peninsula, and is thus, surrounded by the waters of the Jhelum River on three sides. With no paved or unpaved roads leading the way, Ramkot Fort is only accessible by boat.
The area is a Cantonment area under the management of the Pakistan Army, with Mangla Army Water Sports Club built at the shore of the Mangla Dam Reservoir or Mangla Dam Lake. You can hire a boat from the club, which will take you to the fort in about 30 to 45 minutes.
Once you reach the peninsula, it is a steep climb uphill to reach Ramkot Fort, since it is built on a hilltop. The climb is treacherous with no clearly marked paths and broken steps, which is why it is highly recommended that you take a local guide with you on your trip to Ramkot Fort.
What to See at Ramkot Fort?
Here’s what you get to experience when you visit Ramkot Fort:
Scenic Boat Ride
The 30 to 45-minute ride takes you across the waters of the Mangla Dam Lake to the Ramkot Fort. The banks of the River Jhelum in this part of the country are dotted with hills and greenery, with a large expanse of blue water, making for amazing photo opportunities.
Thrilling Uphill Trekking
Not for the faint-hearted, the fort is located on top of a steep hill with more than 350 stairs leading the way to the top. It is a destination that is a must-visit for thrill-seekers and advanced trekkers.
Enjoy glorious views of the River Jhelum and the surrounding hills once you reach the fort. You can even see Mangla Dam Reservoir in the distance from this height.
If you hate crowded tourist destinations, leave the popular picnic spot at Mangla behind and head to Ramkot Fort, as few tourists choose to visit it due to its isolated location and its steep terrain.
Ramkot Fort’s architecture resembles the beauty and grandeur of Scottish castles but showcases the same architectural features as those of the Mangla and Muzaffarabad Forts, which were built in the same era. There is only one entrance into the walled premises, possibly to keep the fort secured from infiltration and attacks. This arched doorway is positioned between two watchtowers, with ramps in place inside the fort to bring artillery up to the parapets.
The interior of the fort has several buildings with arched doorways and large water tanks dug deep into the ground. The watchtowers along the other exterior walls are also still standing tall against a backdrop of blue waters.
Now you know all about visiting Ramkot Fort in Azad Kashmir with your family and friends. We recommend wearing comfortable shoes for the hike and to definitely carry a water bottle and a camera along for the trip.
Here are some other historic forts in Pakistan that you can visit during your travels. If you are travelling to AJK, you can also browse through our guide on visiting Muzaffarabad, which is the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
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