Gilgit Baltistan region has a total area of 72,496 sq. km with around 2 million population and lies at the extreme north of Pakistan. It is bordered by the China Republic on the north, India on the east, and Afghanistan and Central Asian states on the west. Gilgit Baltistan is the most amazing region due to its diverse natural beauty. Unique landscapes, evergreen forests, cold deserts, snow-capped mountains, and great cultural heritage are the attractions. It is a famous tourist place and has always been a paradise for mountaineers, trekkers and landscape loving people. One can experience cool weather over there throughout the year. It is surrounded by the highest peak in the world and is famous for trekking, climbing, rafting, camping, and paragliding.
Gilgit is the capital city of the Gilgit-Baltistan region. It is situated in a valley formed by the confluence of the Indus river, the Hunza river, and the Gilgit river. Gilgit is a major tourist destination in northern Pakistan and is a hub for mountaineering expeditions within the Karakoram Range. It was a very important stop on the ancient Silk Road, and these days serves as a major junction along the Karakoram highway with road connections to China, Skardu, Chitral, and Islamabad.
Gilgit has a chilly climate. Weather in Gilgit is dominated by its geographical location, a valley in a very mountainous area, southwest of Karakoram Range. The summer season is temporary and hot. Because of this extremity in the weather, landslides are frequent in the area.
The best means of travel in Gilgit-Baltistan are Jeeps. Gilgit city is one of the two major hubs for all mountaineering expeditions in Gilgit-Baltistan. Most tourists headed for treks in the Karakoram or Himalaya Ranges depart from Gilgit
There are many tourist attractions near Gilgit: Naltar valley with Naltar Peak, Hunza valley, Nagar valley, Fairy hayfield in Raikot, Shigar town, Skardu valley, Haramosh valley in the Karakoram, Bagrot valley, Deosai park in Skardu, Astore valley, Phunder village, Ghizer valley, The Land of Lakes, and Yasin valley.
Culture and traditions in Gilgit Baltistan
The cultural heritage of Gilgit Baltistan is rich, beautiful and unique and it exhibits local traditions, music, and local dress. The dress plays a central role in the identity of a person. Traditional clothing of the region is influenced by local culture, geography, and weather. The traditional cap of Gilgit Baltistan has played a major role to define the identity of people of Gilgit Baltistan. The cap has different names in the major local languages. In Shina and Khowar languages, the cap is called Khoi, in Burushaski, it is called Phartsun or Pharsen and in Wakhi it is called Sekeed. The design of the cap is slightly different in Baltistan and it is called Nating in Balti.
The traditional cap is a soft round woolen hat. It is made by a local artisan and is available in various colors. Whitecaps are most popular in the region and considered as part of a formal local dress. In many areas people especially, the older generation still wear their traditional cap all the time with pride. They consider it a sign of honor.
In many parts of Gilgit Baltistan, a small fresh flower is stuck in front and side of the cap. The flower is a symbol of freshness, fragrance, and livelihood. When the spring season starts sometimes the farmers and shepherds stuck a pine tree leave to symbolize life. One of the customs of many regions in Gilgit Baltistan is too stuck money into the cap while someone is dancing. This symbolizes the love and respect of the dancer from his friend’s relatives and fans. The dancer gives this money to the musicians once the dance is finished.
A variety of cultural festivals held in Gilgit Baltistan throughout the year present an exclusive side of its cultural diversity and different forms of expression. These festivals represent much important recurring merriment, cultural events and religious festival bring value additions to the surroundings. The folk music instruments commonly used in Gilgit Baltistan are Dadang (drum) Damal (percussion) Duff (a circle framed drum) Suranaye (a kind of flute) Ghajak (spiked fiddle) Sitar, Rubab, and Gabi (flute).
Most of the people in Gilgit Baltistan prefer to live in a joint family, which comprise anywhere between a group of two or more, even over 20 members sometimes. The commanding position in a family is held by the eldest earning male member. He consults other adult members on important issues, but it is his decision that ultimately prevails. However, a lot of importance is also given to the advice of the eldest members of the family.
It is the duty of a woman to take care of her home. As such, from her very childhood, a girl child is taught cooking, cleaning and dishwashing by her mother and other ladies in her family. The traditional arranged marriage has long been an integral part of the Gilgit Baltistan culture as against love marriage. It is the concept in which the parents and family members search for the prospective bride or groom, through their acquaintances or relatives.
LANGUAGES IN GILGIT BALTISTAN
Shina is the largest language spoken in all districts of Gilgit Baltistan, including all its variations. Shina is also spoken in some parts of Kargil and occupied Kashmir, India. The people speaking Shina as mother tongue are known as Sheens/Shinaki
Burushaski is spoken in Hunza Nagar, also in some parts of Gilgit, Ghizer and occupied Kashmir, India. The language is also spoken in Yasin valley with a slightly different accent. The people speaking Burushaski as mother tongue are known as Burushos/Hunzukuts.
Balti language is speaking by the people of Baltistan.
TOURIST ATTRACTION IN GILGIT BALTISTAN
There’s so much to do in Gilgit Baltistan. No matter what time of year you visit, you will find there is never enough time to enjoy all the fun. Spring bursts forth with tree blossom, making it one of the best times to visit beautiful valleys, hill stations, and lakes. In summer, you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, swimming or climbing. Autumn brings the falling of leaves from trees and the white of the birches in contrast with evergreen conifers. In winter you can enjoy snow activities like snowboarding or skiing. For every season in Gilgit Baltistan, there is plenty to see, lots to do, and everything to enjoy!
A small valley surrounded by high mountains makes it the perfect place for trekking. It is a place less known when compared to any other nature spots in Gilgit Baltistan, but surely will leave you with a much-enhanced nature treatment like the others.
If you are an adventure junkie, then you should not miss out on the experience of the Danyore suspension bridge. The bridge constructed over a half-century ago and it enters a tunnel constructed by locals without any proper civil engineering equipment.
Kargah Buddha is an archaeological site located about 6 miles (9.7 km) outside of Gilgit, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. It is a carved image of a large standing Buddha in the cliff-face in Kargah Nala. The carving, which is in a style also found in Baltistan, probably dates to the 7th century.
Naltar is a dense pine forest valley with magnificent landscapes, green vegetation, wildlife, flowers, snow-covered mountains, lakes, streams and echoing with the chirping of numerous birds. Naltar is 40 km from Gilgit city and can be reached by jeeps and famous for skiing activities in the winter.
TOP DESTINATIONS IN HUNZA DISTRICT
Rakaposhi means shining Wall. It is a part of the Karakoram Mountain Ranges and is 7,788 meters high and this mountain can be seen anywhere from any part of Hunza. This mountain is surrounded by the following glaciers.
Karimabad is the capital of Hunza. This village is famous for being the residency of the Royal family. It gives the most ancient look because of its traditional houses and streets. In addition, some of the famous landmarks in Karimabad are:
Queen Victoria Monument
The glaciers of Ulter Nala also fall in Karimabad
Altit Fort is an ancient fort in the Hunza valley. It was home to the hereditary rulers of the Hunza state who took the title Mir. Altit Fort was the residence of a former prince around 1100 years old. This Fort was built in 6 different phases making the most of the various different levels of natural rock from the very high clifftop it is positioned on. This Fort is surrounded by the settlement of Altit Khun, once a bustling town for traders and caravans traveling along the Silk Route. The historic village forms an integral part of the core cultural enclave of Hunza.
Baltit Fort is another fort in the Hunza valley, a must visited place in the valley. This Fort is 700 years old, but there have been rebuilds and alterations over the centuries. In the 16th century, the Mir (King) married a princess from Baltistan who brought master Balti craftsmen to renovate the building as part of her dowry. The architectural style is a clear indication of Tibetan influence in Baltistan at the time.
Attabad Lake is a lake in Gojal Valley, Hunza, Gilgit Baltistan, an administrative region of Pakistan. The lake was created in January 2010 because of the Attabad Disaster. Attabad Lake has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Gilgit-Baltistan offering activities like boating, jet skiing, fishing, and other recreational activities.
Eagle Nest Duiker
If you are looking for the best place to view sunset and sunrise, Duikar village provides the best views anywhere in Pakistan. On a clear dark night, you can see once in a lifetime view of galaxies in the clear and pollution-free sky. it is a great photo-taking spot with a magnificent view of the whole Hunza Nagar district.
Anybody who wants to take the experience of looking at the best landscapes must-visit Gulmit. A walk through the valley exposes you to over 100 varieties of flora and fauna all of which are pervasive through this region.
Passu lies between Batura & Passu Glaciers. The famous natural beauty of Passu is Tupopdan Peak; also known as “Passu Cones”, having picturesque shape is one of the most photographed peaks in the region.
Another amazing lake in the Nagar Valley of Hunza is Rush Lake which is a great attraction for tourists.
Sost is the last village of a Hunza on Karakoram Highway next to the Chinese border. It is an important place on the highway for all passengers and cargo transports because all business is done through the Pakistan China border.
Borit Lake is located in Gulmit valley. While exploring the beauty of Gulmit valley, you will encounter a saline lake of Borith. This lake is surrounded by vast plains. This lake 3is formed by the melted water of Ghulkin Glacier.
TOP DESTINATIONS IN GHIZER DISTRICT
A twisting road passing through lush green fields & forests with a view of the flowing river and icy peaks will lead you to this Phandar valley. From springs of crystal clear waters to lakes & rivers of deep blue water, there are all colors of nature’s beauty.
Khalti Lake is an artificial lake was formed due to a stretch of river near the village of Khalti. The dark blue waters of a lake during summer look very charming. The lake usually freezes during winter, it becomes crystal-clear and villagers of Khalti use to walk on it.
A magnificently beautiful valley surrounded by mighty mountains and filled with numerous streams. The valley great spot for trout fishing and camping, especially during the summer season.
Hundarap is a small beautiful village to the west of Phandar. Hundarap Lake is famous for trout fishing and is a good campsite which has been selected as a high-altitude wetland by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The Ishkoman valley is known as the Hub of glaciers and trekking routes 102 km away from Gilgit and 29 from Gakuch. There are some scenic locations for camping and sightseeing i.e.
Another most spectacular scenic valley of Ghizer is Yasin just 137 km from Gilgit and 62 km from Gakuch. Its attractive villages carefully cultivated fields’ orchards offering to the visitors a blend of lifetime experience in remote valleys of Hindukush.
Hunder is a beautiful valley and is very famous because of the tomb of Pakistan’s national hero martyred Lalik Jan.
Punial Valley is the most beautiful and scenic part of District Ghizer 37 Km away from Gilgit. Gakuch the Capital of District Ghizer is situated in this valley. The Punial valley is known as the Fruit Basket and has the potential archaeological sites.
Hpper is a beautiful natural scenic valley where there is a beautiful natural park to enjoy the beauty and the traditional taste of food.
TOP DESTINATIONS IN ASTORE DISTRICT
A scenic beautiful valley close to the Indian border. Minimarg river flows through the valley and the area is covered with the grass slopes, thick pine forests, fertile fields, blue water streams, lush green grasslands, and tiny colorful flowers.
Rama is a thickly forested valley with huge pine, cedar, fir and juniper trees. Rama lake is a peaceful and beautiful lake located near Rama village. The lake is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Gilgit Baltistan.
Sheosar Lake means ‘Blind Lake’, as ‘Sheo’ in Shina Language means ‘Blind’ and ‘Sar’ means ‘Lake’. (Also called Sheosar Lake) is a lake situated in Deosai National Park The lake is at an elevation of 4,142 meters (13,589 ft.) in the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe.
Rupal Valley is in the Astore District of Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Rupal Valley is on the south side of Nanga Parbat, is accessed via the Astore Valley, which leaves the Karakoram Highway at Juglot 60km south of Gilgit.
TOP DESTINATIONS IN SKARDU& SHIGAR DISTRICTS
Skardu is surrounded by dry rugged, snow-capped mountains and sand dunes. The place is famous for trekking and adventure spots. The nearby Satapara Lake and Shangrila resort are attraction spots for tourists.
Satapara Lake is on the way to Deosai Plains. Raja Ali Khan is credited with the construction of an embankment around Satapara Lake to provide water to the settlements in Skardu and 2,636 meters from sea level.
Deosai Plane Skardu
There are endless gentle walks along the streams of the Deosai. There are several 4-6-day treks that lead to the plains from both Skardu (Burgi La & Shagarthang Valley) and Chilim Astore.
Askole K2 Base Camp
One of the main trekking of the Park, probably the most famous, is the K2 trek. From Skardu, hiking up the Baltoro glacier, with the logistic support of the local tour operators providing food and tents, it is possible to reach the K2 base camp, in 7/8 days.
Sarfaranga Cold Desert
The Cold Desert, also known as the Katpana Desert or Biama Nakpo, is a high-altitude desert located near Skardu, in Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region. The desert contains expanses of large sand dunes that are sometimes covered in snow during winter.
Basho Valley is located on way t of Skardu and on the way of Gilgit. The area is rich in fauna Trout fish available in Basho Valley (Sultan Abad) but a fishing license is required from Fisheries Department Skardu.
TOP DESTINATIONS IN NAGAR DISTRICT
Rakaposhi View Point
Rakaposhi is a mountain in the Karakoram mountain range in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan It is situated in the middle of Nagar Valley Nagar District and Danyore and Bagrote valley approximately 100 km (62 mi) north of the capital city Gilgit of the semi-autonomous Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan.
Chaprote is one of the earliest villages in the Hunza–Nagar District in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. It is a scenic area, in which the literacy rate is more than 80%.
TOP DESTINATIONS IN GHANCHE DISTRICTS
Thalley valley is one of the rare beauty spots it is about 50 km from Khaplu. The lush green valley and beautiful scenery is marvelous. Thalley is an attractive place for camping and hiking.
Khaplu Fort also known as Yagbo Khar, is a fine example of a royal residence in Baltistan. Raja Doulat Ali Khan built it in 1840. An earlier fort existed 600 meters above the present location in Thogsi Khar, of which little now remains.
Hushey is the most attractive place to visit in district Ghanche. A chain of lofty peaks i.e.Mashabrum, K-6, K-7 k-12, Saltaro Kangri and much lighter more than 7000 meters exist in this valley. The distance from Khaplu to Hushey is 42 km. This valley has the potential for eco-tourism.
Kharfaq Lake is situated about 03 KM above Kharfaq Village on road to Khaplu is providing an awe-inspiring view. The fresh and crystal water lake are famous for trout fish and attractive location for camping and hiking. The lake is stocked with trout fish. One must walk for about two hours to reach the lake.
TOP DESTINATIONS IN KHARMANG DISTRICT
Manthokha Water Fall
Manthokha waterfall is located on the way of Kharmang. The area is rich in fauna and flora especially Trout fish is available in the whole Valley. The picturesque Manthokha waterfall is fed by crystal water.
Khamosh Water Fall
Khamosh waterfall is in district Kharmang distance 55 km Mehdi Abad to Khamosh Waterfall. This waterfall is a picnic point for tourism. The area is rich in fauna and flora especially trout fish is available in the whole Valley.
THINGS TO DO IN GILGIT BALTISTAN
There are just many things to do in Gilgit Baltistan, something for just about any kind of traveler, such as hiking on beautiful trails in lush green forests, climbing highs snowy mountain, fishing in hundreds of rivers and lakes, biking alongside lakes or mountain switchbacks, hunting on gorgeous mountain peaks, skiing on snow-capped peaks and much more.
Gilgit Baltistan is the best place for people passionate about trekking. Here you will pass through amazing sights like thick forests of walnut, cherry, apricot, oak and pine trees and water streams. Trekking alongside rivers, lakes and across the beautiful snowy mountain can make your trekking experience unforgettable. And if one is lucky, trekkers can also spot rich wildlife like the Ibex, Markhor, Leopard, etc.
For all you mountaineer out there, Gilgit Baltistan is the place for you! With it is natural charm and beauty, it attracts mountain climbers from across the globe. There are a variety of beautiful, interesting and challenging climbing peaks ranging from 6000 to 8611 meters including the world’s second-highest mountain K2. Gilgit Baltistan is also ideal for adventurers that love rock climbing, rappelling, and other allied activities.
If you are looking for a once in a lifetime camping experience, then Gilgit Baltistan is the place for you. The landscape here is so mesmeric that you never want to come back from the place. It offers clear views of gorgeous sunsets, galaxies, lakes, and snow-covered mountains.
Want to fly and paragliding like a free bird and soar high up in the sky and want to see the beauty of stunning landscapes, big mountains, beautiful glaciers then Gilgit Baltistan is the place for an experience this wonderful feeling. Duikar valley in Hunza and Hushey valley in Skardu are main paragliding stations.
Gilgit Baltistan is a great destination for mountain biking. Riding a bike or cycle across the highest snow-capped mountains, and along with beautiful valleys will make your ride worth remembering throughout your life. You will also get the chance to experience the local culture while you are cycling through the region.
Rafting in Gilgit Baltistan rivers takes you through it is a picturesque landscape, consisting of deep canyons, soaring snow-covered peaks, hilltop monasteries, hillside villages, and unique wildlife. The rivers Ghizer, Hunza, Shigar, Astore, and Hushe offer many stretches for both professionals as well as amateur rafters.
Gilgit Baltistan is often referred to as a living museum because it is home to a variety of animals these include Marco Polo sheep, ibex, markhor, urial, blue sheep, lynx, snow leopard, brown and black bear, wolf, fox, Marmotte and chakor. The hunting is permitted only during the period between 15th November till 31st March.
Gilgit Baltistan is famous for brown and rainbow trout fishing. Here lakes and rivers all offer fantastic opportunities to enjoy fishing at it is very best. Some of the finest destinations for trout fishing include Ghizer and Naltar. if you want to go fishing here, you require a license. There are watchers along the rivers, you can get the permit on the spot.