Three and a half hours by road from Shigar, Khaplu’s first peak is not that impressive. Slivers and patches of green roll down across grey mountainside to give you a hint of a small village. By the time you turn into the small lane that leads to the hotel entrance you are curious about what the small entrance gate is hiding.
Like Shigar, the Serena Khaplu Palace residences also have two flavors. The two new block have larger rooms and come with a private garden. They are open, comfortable and a little warm but opening a few pairs of windows fixes that. The older fort based rooms give you the authentic historical experience but require some athletic ability to climb stairs and negotiate corners. While the fort was built in mid nineteenth century, it was restored by the Aga Khan foundation and opened up as a tourist destination, museum and hotel in 2012-13.
The hotel is a short walk away from a local water works project on a raging stream of white water. Walk a bit north and you are treated to a breath taking views of a magical valley.