Zorawar Fort is an ancient fort in Leh. It was built in 1836 for General Zorawar Singh Kahluria who was a military general of Dogra ruler Gulab Singh. The fort once kept the wealth of the rulers of the Dogra dynasty and has now been turned into a museum. It is maintained by the Indian Army and is located on Skara Road, about 4 kilometers from Leh Hall of Fame.
General Zorawar Singh was known as a military genius and a master of mountain warfare. During his time as a general between 1834 and 1841, he visited Ladakh up to six times and extended Ladakh’s boundaries in the north. He was often referred to as the Napolean of India.
This fort now is one of the primary tourist attractions in Leh City. Other than the museum, every evening, a sound and light show is conducted which is indeed a pleasure to watch.
I recently was on a road trip to Ladakh and on the 36th day of our trip, we decided to go to Zorawar. The post below is a brief narration of our visit and also provides several necessary details on planning a trip. To read the previous parts of the travelogue, please follow the links below.
Journey So Far:
- Murgi Waterfall & Ensa Gompa – Day 33
- Nubra Valley to Pangong Lake via Shyok Road – Day 34
- Pangong Lake to Leh via Changla Pass – Day 35
- Leh Hall of Fame – Day 36
You can also take a look at the video below that I shot during our visit. It covers our visit to both Leh Hall of Fame and Zorawar Fort. We first went to the Hall of Fame on this day and then moved on to the Zorawar Fort after spending an hour there.
Zorawar Fort Entry Fee
The entry fee for Zorawar Fort is Rs. 225 per person for Indian citizens and Rs. 400 per person for foreign nationals. Entry for children up to 14 years of age is free. Please note that you will also need to pay Rs. 20 for bringing your still camera or mobile phone inside and Rs. 100 for a video camera.
Another thing to note here is that this entry fee is for both the Hall of Fame and Zorawar Fort. You will first have to go to the Hall of Fame and buy your tickets there. There is no ticket window at Zorawar Fort and there is no online payment option as well.
This is the reason why we went to the Hall of Fame and covered that first. Since we already had the tickets, we just produced them at the gate and gained entry into the fort.
I was carrying a Nikon Z6 ii. It is both a still and video camera but I was only asked to pay Rs. 20 for it. As a matter of fact, you can take videos even with your cellphones but they are also not categorized as video cameras.
Day 36 – Zorawar Fort
It was the 36th day of our trip, a Saturday, that we decided to spend in Leh town only, visiting some of the local attractions. The day started very late and we drove out of our hotel only after 2 pm, after having lunch.
The first destination we covered was the Leh Hall of Fame, built in the memory of soldiers who laid down their lives in service of the nation, during the wars with China and Pakistan. I have talked about this in detail in the previous part of the travelogue.
We spent about an hour in the war memorial and from there, we moved on to our next destination, Zorawar Fort. The distance between the Hall of Fame and Zorawar fort is only about 4 kilometers and it did not take us more than 10 minutes to cover it.
The main gate, and the entire fort as a matter of fact, is constructed using sun-dried blocks, made up of mud, stones, and clay, dating back to the 19th century. The wooden windows with beautiful golden borders gave a unique look overall.
We showed our tickets, stepped in, and started our tour of the fort, walking on the narrow stone paths lined up with beautiful lanterns on both sides.
The largest buildings of the fort are two halls called Artifacts Room and History Room.
The artifacts room has on display several historical items like cookware, utensils, pistols, paintings, swords, spears, belts, and shields used by the Dogra, Ladakhi, and Chinese troops during wars.
On another wall, you will find pictures related to the local tourist attractions of Ladakh and of the people of Ladakh in their local attires.
One wall of the room is covered by a framed flag of the Chinese Imperial Army. It is similar to the one captured by Colonel Mehta Ram Basti from Tibetans in the Battle of Taklakote.
As the name suggests, the history room is all about the history of Ladakh, General Zorawar Singh, different battles and campaigns, and the conquest of Ladakh. There are paintings and information depicting the history of the region going back several hundred years
Also Read: Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri Route Guide
There are several other rooms and sections inside the fort. One was called War Room (Yudh Kaksh) exhibiting information related to the strategies and planning of the wars fought in Ladakh. It is said that in ancient times, this room was where further operations in Ladakh were planned.
Another room was called Topkhana but it was locked and tourists were not allowed to go inside. In the compound of the fort is also a mosque, a temple, and a natural freshwater spring.
The fort is really maintained as it must have been all those years ago. You get to see the ancient artillery, the stable where horses were kept, and the watchtower where now the Indian flag is hoisted.
Hall of Fame Leh Timings
Zorawar Fort remains open from 9 am to 6 pm every day, including Sundays and other holidays. There is a 2 hours lunch break from 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm during which, tourists are not allowed entry inside. The Hall of Fame where you will need to buy the tickets also follows the same timings.
Zorawar Fort Light and Sound Show Timings
Zorawar Fort light and sound show starts at 7 pm and lasts for about an hour The ticket you will buy at the Hall of Fame will also include the charges for the light and sound show at Zorawar Fort. But please note that this show does not happen at the Hall of Fame. It is conducted every evening at the Zorawar Fort only.
Also Read: Which is the Best Bike for Ladakh
How To Reach
The fort is located on the Skara road near Leh-Srinagar highway. It is at a distance of about 5 kilometers from the main market. If you were traveling by your own car or taxi, it will not take you more than 15 minutes to get there from your hotel.
The second best option would be to rent a private taxi for a day of sightseeing tour including the Hall of Fame. Finding a bus or a shared cab will be a little challenging though as their frequency is very low.
Mobile Network & Data Connectivity
The first thing that you should know is that only postpaid phones work in Ladakh. If you had a prepaid phone, it would be only as good as a paperweight the moment you reach Leh. For postpaid users though, irrespective of which network you were on, you will remain connected. You will have a good reception with good data speed in the fort and pretty much everywhere in Leh town.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the Hall of Fame and Zorawar fort would be around 4 to 5 pm. I am saying that because by then, the weather will be a little better and the sun will not be so harsh. You can spend some time in the war memorial and from there, go to Zorawar Fort. That way, you can first spend an hour sightseeing in the fort and also see the light and sound show at 7 pm.
We spent another hour in Zorawar fort. I was really interested in seeing the sound and light show but my friends weren’t. They were more interested in going to the Shanti Stupa and seeing the sunset from there. After a bit of discussion, I finally gave in and agreed to their choice.
We drove out of the fort and then went straight to Shanti Stupa, which took us about 15 to 20 minutes. We bought the tickets and stepped in to see a mesmerizing view of the Leh town under a setting sun.
The weather gets really very cold at Shanti Stupa the moment the sun goes down. Since it was not on our original plans for the day, I was also not carrying a jacket and regretted spending every minute up there in the cold weather.
We spent about an hour at the Stupa, most of which I spent shivering. Finally, at 8 pm, when Shanti Stupa closed, we drove back down and went straight to the market area to get some dinner.
Not much happened after that. We returned to our hotel by 10 pm and called it a day. The plan for the next day was to go for a Sham Valley tour and the first place we visited was Gurudwara Patthar Sahib followed by the Magnetic Hill of Ladakh. Please click on the link above to continue reading the next part of the travelogue.
Zorawar Fort – Conclusion
I hope the travelogue, pictures, and information above on the Zorawar Fort were of help. If you have any questions, you can contact me on Instagram and I will be happy to answer. You can also consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and asking a question there.