Toro Royal Palace

Toro Royal Palace a unique building siting on a hill overlooking Fort Portal town in Western Uganda. It is the official residence of the Toro King, King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, the supreme cultural leader of the kingdom. He is the youngest ruling monarch in the world after ascending the throne at the age of three in 1995.

Fort portal is a town in Kabarole district in western Uganda lying at the physical and political heart of Toro; situated between the Rwenzori mountains, Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park hence a significant market town. The town is infamous for its cleanliness and scenic views of the more than 60 craters surrounding it.

Toro Royal palace sits on Karuzika hill and from here you can have a 360 degrees view of Fort Portal. It is therefore no wonder that the king chose such a beautiful place with stunningly breathtaking views as a place where his home is built.

Karuzika literally means. “burry it/ stay silent;” it got its name from a common phrase among the Batooro especially the palace dwellers that, “what happens or whatever you see in the palace remains in the palace. The moment you left you were required to keep mum about the events there unless it is an order to disclose them.

The circular structure was built in 1963, but fell into ruin after the abolition of the royal kingdoms by Idi Amin. It was restored in 2001 after Colonel Gadaffi met the king and donated the money for repairs. While here, a guide relates the history of the kingdom and explains the ceremonies that take place here though entering the palace is not prohibited.

Official oral history has it that the present- day Toro started life as a southern principality with the then vast Bunyoro Kingdom from which it broke away from to become independent. Prince Olimi Kasunsukwanzi, son of the then king of Bunyoro Kingdom and the next heir in line.

While on a tour in Toro came to realize how unpopular his father was in this part of the kingdom. He was persuaded by the local chiefs to lead a rebellion that left Toro a sovereign state. He was warmly received and accepted by the Batooro and was declared as their king. The people from then referred to him as Rukirabasajja Omukama Kaboyo Olimi I.

During Kaboyo’s reign, Toro was marked by a high level of internal stability since the king had an amicable relationship with the Banyoro but when Kaboyo passed away, there was a long period of instability not due to the sons fighting over the throne until 1891 when Prince Kasagama asked Captain Fredrick Lugard for his help.

Toro functioned as a semi- autonomous kingdom throughout the British colonial era. Kasagama was succeeded by King George Rukidi II who is regarded as having done much to advance the infrastructure of his kingdom before his death in 1965.  He was succeeded by King Patrick Kaboyo Rukidi III who ruled for eight months before the abolition of Kingdoms in Uganda.

In July 1993, traditional monarchies were restored and two years later King Patrick Kaboyo III returned to Fort portal for a second coronation but died a few days before it happened. He was succeeded by his son Prince Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV who was three years old by then.

While in Fort portal on a cultural tour; you visit the Karambi Royal Tombs, a burial ground of so far three kings of Bunyoro as well as princes and princesses of the kingdom. The place keeps the royal regalia that was used by each of the respective kings as well.

And not far from the town as well are the Amabeere ga Nyinamwiru caves that tell of a sad historical story of the Batembuzi dynasty, where a girl’s breasts were cut off following a prophesy that her son would overthrow the king.

Fort portal also boasts of its crater lakes and stunning views of the mountains of the moon. The town can be a stop over when heading or from Queen Elizabeth National Park or as you are heading to Kibale National Park.

Getting there

The rocks are located in Fort portal, about 320 kilometers from Kampala and the Palace is about 1 kilometer from the town along Kasese road

A visit here can be added on a trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale National Park or Semuliki National Park for bird viewing and hot springs.

Accommodation

Fort portal town has a couple of lodges and hotels that suite any traveler’s budget.