Khaplu Palace was gifted
in 2005 by the Rajas Zakria Ali Khan and Nasir Ali Khan to Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and its agencies the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan (AKCSP) to facilitate the conservation of Khaplu Palace as a heritage site.
As part of the long term sustainability plan it was decided to run the palace as a unique heritage boutique hotel sharing the profits generated from the running of the palace as a hotel with the local community. Additionally the local economy also benefits through employment of local people, purchasing of local goods wherever possible and stimulation of tourism services in the town through increased visitor numbers.
Conservation of Khaplu Palace & Residence is part of a wider cultural heritage support program in Gilgit-Baltistan by Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in partnership with Tourism Promotion Services (TPS). In undertaking adaptive re-use projects at Shigar Fort and Khaplu Palace, and generating revenue through guest house facilities, AKCSP and Serena Hotels have sought to guarantee the long term sustainability of the monuments. In addition, an important principle which was adopted is that the local community gets direct economic benefit from the projects, and that the community participates in the long term stewardship of the facilities. These principles form the foundation for the three fold mandate of Khaplu Palace & Residence:
- Preservation of Cultural Heritage
- Socially Responsible Tourism and Economic Development
- Self Sustaining Operation – Sustainability
Preservation of Cultural Heritage
One of the most important considerations in the entrustment of Khaplu Palace to AKTC/AKDN for restoration was that the project remains true to the original character and architecture of the buildings as much as possible. Much care was taken to identify original use, to adhere to that use or adopt a new use compatible with the original use so that there was minimal impact on the cultural significance of the building.
Socially Responsible Tourism and Economic Development
The project provided a perfect opportunity to act as a catalyst for the comprehensive improvement of the local economy, by generating direct and indirect employment opportunities. Situated in the immediate proximity of a poor and unskilled village population, Serena Khaplu Palace aims to raise the quality of life in the villages surrounding it and boost economic enterprise in the bazaar area. This process has commenced and is accompanied by a proactive village upgrading and rehabilitation program.
Self Sustaining Operation – Sustainability
The ongoing operations of Serena Khaplu Palace strive towards long-term self-sustainability providing continuing positive economic growth and tourism development for the entire Khaplu valley.