Capital of Baltistan region,
in Northern Areas of Pakistan
28000 square km
April to October
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a mix of scenic beauty and adventure is what you are looking forward to on
your tour to Pakistan, Skardu, capital of Baltistan, perched at 2,438 metres
above sea-level in the backdrop of the great peaks of 'The Karakoram
Mountain Range, is the place to travel.
known as "Little Tibet" for its resemblance in geographic features with
Tibet nestles world's greatest concentration of lofty peaks. A 100 km thick
wall of majestic mountains separates it from China in the north. To the
south is the mysterious Deosai Plateau lying between Kashmir and Baltistan.
In the East lies Laddakh and in the west is Gilgit and Hunza. Within an area
of 26,000 sq. km lie 60 mountain peaks of above 7000m. Five of these are
above 8000m including K-2 (8611m), the second highest peak on earth. These
mountain peaks tower over the greatest concentration of glaciers outside the
located in an oval shaped desert basin. Balti peoples language, physical features and
architecture resemble those of Tibet. This region remained under the
influence of Buddhism until the 15th century, when Islam arrived. It is a
land of many splendors and contrasts, offering the best of trekking and
mountaineering opportunities to enthusiastic adventure lovers.
Riding from the airfield into
town gives you little time to adjust to the awesome landscape into which you
have flown. Your head swivels, eyeing strata of violet, red, grey, ochre,
and brown in the 10,000-foot-high-hills surrounding the sandy plain on
either side of the Indus River. There are five main valleys in the district
Baltistan, Shigar, Khaplu, Rondu, Skardu and Kharmang. All of these valleys
produce apricots, peaches, pears, grapes, mulberries, and apples in such
profusion that this region is known as the land of apricots and apples.
From tourism standpoint, there is no region close to equaling Baltistan for
its natural and cultural heritage. Baltistan presents unrivaled natural
beauty and culture. Its ancient rural settlements, grand forts and palaces,
intricate wooden carving, Buddhist relics, shimmering valleys, civilized and
peace-loving communities, idyllic lakes and high altitude wildlife laden
plateaus such as Deosai make it a a world top notch tourist and heritage
is a great base for exploring the region. Excellent trips can be made to
surrounding valleys, or even all the way to the Komeri, Domail, with an
overnight stop. Hikes and treks in the region are superb.
is the gateway to explore balti culture and mountainous range of Karakoram.
You can visit first organic village in Baltistan, inaugurated by Prince
Charles. Some of the wonderful
places to see and tour in Skardu are the Buddhist Rock, which is the only
rock with Buddhist carvings
on a tall rock with a vertical, beige-colored northern face. Carved here
circa A.D 900 is a lovely image of a meditating Maitreya Buddha framed by
Bodhisattvas. It is
located at Manthal a sideway along Satpara road.
Skardu Fort or Karpachu Fort is
a fort in Skardu city in Northern Areas of Pakistan that dates from the
tenth century CE. An ancient mosque is also present inside the fort. The
fort and its mosque are located on the eastern face of the Khardong hill 40
ft above Skardu city. A view from these monuments brings into vision the
entire valley, the Indus River and the settlement below. It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan, who ruled from Ladakh
to Chitral till the end of the 16th century.
It resembled the Ladakh
fort of Leh which is 9 storey tall. The Potala of Lhasa Tibet, Leh fort and
Skardu fort are all built on same designs. The name Kharpochhe means the
great fort. Khar in Tibetan means castle or fort and Chhe means great.
Khar, (means palace in local balti language) was built by Gul Khatoon or
Mindoq Gialmo on the hill where now stands the Kharfocho fort only. The
palace was named after the queen as 'Mindoq Khar' meaning the 'Flower
Palace'. The Palace was destroyed by the troops of the Sikh ruler of
Kashmir, Maharaja Gulab Singh, when he invaded Skardu in 1840 AD.
Hilal Bagh and Chahar Bagh
Just below the Mindoq Khar or Flower Palace, there was a terraced garden
with fountains built in marble. This royal garden covered the areas from
Mindoq Khan to the present bazaar at Skardu where the newly constructed road
crosses the channel. A palace built in marble with towers also stood in the
middle of the garden, above the Polo Ground which is called Ghudi Changra.
The palace was destroyed during the great floods in the area after the death
of Ali Sher Khan Anchan and a marble Baradari was later constructed at this
palace. This royal garden was named Hilal Bagh (Crescent Garden). Another
garden was also laid which was named Chhar Bagh on the site where a Girls
College stands now. The said garden was laid on the orders of the Queen
while her husband was away to Gilgit and then to Chitral. As the mother
tongue of the Queen was Persian, she gave Persian name to these gardens.
Kachura Lake (Shangrilla
Lak) and Upper Kachura About 32 kms (20 miles) from Skardu, 2 hours by
jeep, lie the shimmering waters of the Kachura Lakes. In the springtime its
banks are adorned by a multitude of colorful flowers, while the trees are
laden with peach, apricot and apple blossoms. These lakes
provide wonderful opportunities for boating and fishing.
Satpara Lake About a mile south of Skardu on
the west bank of the Satpura Nala. Some of the beautiful lakes that you can
tour are Sadpara Lake and many more unexplored lakes in Deosai pleatue.
is one and half drive from Skarduto reach Deosai top. Located in the Great
Himalayan Range, conveniently
placed between the western massif of the Himalayas and the central Karakoram.
It's stunning scenic
views of the snow-clad mountains and streams, natural beauty and
impressive grandeur have made it world famous. Spread
over an area of 3,000 square kilometres, at an altitude of 13,500 feet above
sea level, the plains are home to unique species of plant and animal life,
of which the Himalayan Brown Bears are the most famous. In the words of
Aleister Crowley, "In front of us lay the Deosai, an absolutely treeless
wilderness of comparatively level country framed by minor peaks. It gives a
unique impression of desolation. I have never seen its equal in this respect
elsewhere." To the south of and visible from both the Burji and Satpara
approaching areas is a 700-foot hill, on top of which is a 500
foot-high-rock cairn. This unnamed hilltop in the northern deosai region
produces a clear panorama of the Himalayan Kangri Range and sections of the
Karakoram. As you ascend its gentle, grass covered slopes, Nanga Parbat will
come into view far to the west of you. In 'Gypsy Davy's' words, "It was such
an expanse of immensity as I have hardly imagined...It seems you cannot talk
in a matter-of-fact way in a place like that...I thought the Sierras were
large, but here, where we could see three or four score miles north, south,
east and west, and see only mountains, and most of them above twenty
thousand feet, the Sierras seem like sand dunes". Shaucer lake (3-4 hours from Skardu), Shatong nala (2 hours) , Bara
Pani (two and half hours) and Kala Pani (3 to 3-30 hours) are the most
visited spots in Deosai. Deosai is one of the best trout fishing spot
in the North.
It is located 40 Kms or 2 hours drive away from the resort. It's a
magnificent valley situated among the lush green forests of the region and
one of the most popular spots of the visiting tourists.
'Polo' (the game of Kings) is Skardu's most
favored sport. The locals claim that this sport originated in Skardu. It
demonstrates a more rugged and free-style version of Polo than the sedate
and subdued variety experienced in the plains. The polo tournament is held
from 1st November to 7th November. It is a festive occasion and draws large
number of visitors.
Shigar Valley: You
can also travel to Shigar Valley, which is the gateway to Karakoram Range...world’s
second highest peak K2 to the world’s largest glacier outside the polar
known as the Biafo, Baltoro and Siachan glaciers.
Karakoram Highway (KKH) connects Islamabad to Skardu. The journey from
Islamabad to Gilgit takes approximately 14-15 hours.
Skardu is about 241 kilometers from Gilgit. It takes about 5-6 hours to
reach Skardu from Gilgit.
Pakistan International Airlines used to fly a Boeing 737 daily between
Skardu and Islamabad International Airport. The flying time is approximately
50 minutes and the flight is one of the most scenic flights of the world as
its route passes over Nanga Parbat and the mountain's peak is higher than
the aircraft's cruising altitude.These flights, however, are subject to the
clearance of weather and in winters, flights are often delayed by several