Community of Gulmit starts work for restoration of Ondra Fort

A view of the fort’s exterior wall.

PT Report, Photos: Asghar Khan

Gulmit, October 28: Located above a hill on northern end of the polo ground in Gulmit, the head-quarter of Gojal Tehsil, are ruins of the historic Ondra Fort, built hundreds of years ago by the local people as a defence against invaders.

According to local oral history the fort was built hundreds of years ago during the regime of Mir Qutlugh. However, much is not known about exact history of the fort. Some boundary walls of the fort were built or repaired with mud and stones around 150 years ago, according to sources, but the inner rooms and walls are much older.

The fort has been ruined by climatic variations, as well as human interferences. Wooden doors of the fort’s rooms were taken out by the local people several years ago for personal usage. However, now the people have agreed to return the doors and other valuables taken from the fort earlier for the restoration project.

It is pertinent to note that Ondra Fort restoration project would be the first of its kind in the region, completely initiated by the local  community. The local people have also started generously donating money for the restoration project. The local community is relying on internal funding because generally the donors do not invest in restoration of ruins.

A local notable, Ayub Khan, has been selected by the villagers as Chairman of the restoration project of Ondra Fort.

The committee has held meetings with the villagers and the project has been launched with consensus.

The restoration project committee has urged the youth of Gojal Valley to come forward for restoration of a symbol of the region’s history on self-help basis.

The plan seems to be rebuilding and strengthening of the outer walls of the fort, as well as re-installation of the removed wooden doors and roofs, where possible. One or two of the restored rooms of the fort will be used to showcase relics of the region’s history, including different equipment taken by the local villagers several years ago from the fort itself.

In a time of ICT led coming together and, in many cases, integration of global cultures and civilizations, it is important to preserve symbols of the past. Identity and self-worth are determined by confidence in and knowledge of one’s history.

The restoration project of Ondra Fort is an excellent example of civic engagement and symbolizes the people’s interest in their history and the willingness to work together for a common goal.

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  1. Great initiative. Heats off to the local community who in spite of the current suffering and hardship initiated this exemplary project. No doubt the local community has always been a symbol of volunteerism and have achieved great success through community involvement in form of great projects like Al-Amyn Model School, AKHS Basic health center, WASEP water supply project, Gulmit Central JK, various link roads, noting a few. The renovation of Ondra Fort will help our youth to reflect upon our past history, socio-economic & political system as well as the strategic approaches of our people in various situations. Not only this, but in future this fort could be used to shelter the entire community in case of any sort of natural or man made situation. It is not only a symbol of past pride but also a present strength and future necessity.
    It is also important to renovate it on modern scientific basis keeping in view the possible future needs and requirement. AKCSP may provide technical help…??? I am not sure if due to certain ‘Interests’ they will take interest in this project, even than our community should approach them.

  2. I went to this place summer. You get a great view of Gulmit town, passu cones and other peaks around. Nice to hear that is’s been restored. Great cause!

  3. We hope that Bech Ayub and his team are able to attract some foreign/local sponsors for restoration of this historic and neglected site. This is a mega project and we should seek AKCSP’s support in this regard.

    I know the local people need financial and technical support for which Uncle Ayub and his team need to prepare a detailed project.

    This place has a very historic and commercial potential and if carefully and smartly executed, can turn this place into a nice tourist attraction of the future.

    I fully support this cause and would request our professional to contribute with their time and knowledge to support the team to come up with a detailed plan. GOLD should rise and be organized to rebuild Gulmit in the post Attabad disaster scenario.

  4. Indeeds , its the unity of the local community to add another splendor to Gulmit and Gojal. No doubt the locals have proved once again proved their unity to make gulmit and gojal a progressive area.
    Let me remind u aboout the promise of Atiqa Guzanfar to rebulit this fort during a gathering in gulmit . But she and her husband didnt bother to invest a single penny on this project.
    Again a great effort from our elders in such harsh time .May Allah bless our elders and the young to come together for the advancement of our Homeland ..Ameen

  5. @ Ilfu:- It is good that Atiqa and her husband did not invest a single penny on this project otherwise it would have become a political tennis ball; neither we need to remind them of their announcement. In fact this fort is an important page of very different history of our people when they had their own Mir and their own socio-political system. Once renovated it will tell the people a story which has always been kept under the rocks by the ancestors of Mr. Ghazanfar. Instead of involving the political players we should concentrate on involving social and cultural forces in this project.

    Uncle Ayub has always been a dedicated volunteer and one of the driving forces behind many projects in our area. I am sure that his dedication will make things easy.

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