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At dusk, our car stops in a very narrow alley. We have no idea where

we have ended up. We pass under a low gateway and arrive on a

small patio. When we walk through this, the

Serena Khaplu Palace

looms up before us. The building is an architectural gem and its

beauty is astonishing. The palace dates from 1840 and was the

royal residence of the then Rajah of Khaplu. It is without doubt

the best preserved historic building in the region. We actually

get allocated the 'imperial suite'. Stepping into the palace is like

stepping back in time. The bedding may be white and fluffy and

there are modern sanitary provisions, but the small windows, the

white plastered walls and the low, wooden ceiling with decorative

carpentry provide echoes of the past. After a blissful night’s sleep,

we have breakfast in the garden between gnarled apple trees

and slender poplars. As soon as the sun pops up from behind the

mountain wall, the temperature rises to a comfortable 20 degrees.

The silence is absolute, and we find ourselves in a complete zen


The empire of the Rajahs

is revived in the forts

and palaces in the north

of Pakistan.

Khaplu Palace, Khaplu