Skardu, capital of Baltistan is perched 2438 meters above sea level in the backdrop of the great peaks of the Karakoram mountain range. Skardu is linked to the national capital, Islamabad by PIA which operates one flight daily. The air journey is full of thrills and would itself be regarded as the highlight of the visit. After following the same air route which connects Gilgit to Islamabad/Rawalpindi, the plane turns right and flies over the gorge of the Indus river. Enormous rock faces rise on either side and at times it seams as if the wing tips of the plane would almost scrape against them. They never do. Baltistan is known as the "Tibet -e- Khurd" or little Tibet since its life style reflects that of the roof of the world and land of Lamas.
It borders on the Chinese province of Sinkiang and Indian occupied Kashmir. The tourist season is from April to October. The maximum temperature is 27oC and the minimum is 8oC. Apart from its incomparable cluster of mountain peaks and Glaciers Baltistan's five valleys Shigar, Skardu, Khaplu, Rondu and Kharmang are noted for their Luscious peaches, apricots, apples and pears. Shigar valley, 32 kms by jeep from Skardu is the gateway to the mountain peaks of the Karakoram. Skardu has a historic fort known as Kharpocho Fort. It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan who ruled from Ladakh to Chitral till the end of the 16th century. The two lakes - Kachura lake 29 kms. and Sadpara lake 8 kms. from Skardu - are ideal for fishing.
The Buddhist Rock:
HOW TO GET THERE.
Where to Stay:
What to Buy:
At an elevation of 1,454 meters lies the Gilgit Valley. The quaint little town of Gilgit has spectacular science beauty. The peak tourist season is from May to October though the tourist season is round the year. The maximum temperature in May is 33oC and minimum 16oC and in September. Maximum 28oC and minimum 11oC.
TREKKING & HIKING:
The visitors to Hunza are overwhelmed
by the rugged charm, the fragrant breeze singing through graceful poplar
trees and the velvet-like green carpet of wheet fields, set against the
background of snow-covered mountains.
Most of the people of Hunza are
Islamili Muslims, followers of His highness the Aga Khan. The local language
is Brushuski. Urdu and English are also understood by most of the people.
The fairy-tale like castle of Baltit, above Karimabad, is a Hanza landmark built about 600 years ago. Stilted on massive legs, its wooden bay windows look out over the valley. Originally, it was used the resistance of the Mirs (the title of the former rulers) of Hunza.
MOUNTAINEERING AND HIKING:
A new all-weather road, the Karakoram Highway connecting Rawalpindi/Islamabad with China's Xinjiang Province runs through the Northern Areas.
The 805 kms. dual carriage metalled road starts from Havelian 100 kms. from Islamabad and winds through Abbottabad-Mansehra-Thakot-Besham-Pattan-Sazin- Chilas-Gilgit-Hunza to the Chinese Frontier across the 4,733 meters high Khunjerab Pass. The road built by the Pakistan Army engineers in association with the Chinese experts and technicians has been described as a marvel of civil engineering and even as "The Eighth Wonder of the World". Completed in 15 years, it has been forced through some of the world's toughest terrain. The road not only opens up the Northern Areas to trade and travel but provides easy access to hitherto closed regions, connected by jeep or goat tracks.
A holiday in the Kaghan Valley, the Himalayan hide-away, north-east of the Hazara district of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, is an unforgettable experience.
Its mountains, dales, lakes, water-falls, streams and glaciers are still in a unbelievable pristine state, an unspoiled paradise. That is why it can be such a deeply satisfying experience to spend a few days in Kaghan. The Valley extends for 155 kms. rising from an elevation of 2,134 meters to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 4,173 meters. Kaghan is at its best in the summer months (May to September). In May the temperature is : maximum 11oc and the minimum 3oC. From the middle of July up to the end of September, the road beyond Naran, snowbound throughout the winter, is open right upto Babusar Pass. Movement is restricted during the monsoon season also.
The Kaghan Valley is accessible by
road from Islamabad and Peshawar.
From there you drive 72 kms to Balakot, the gateway to the Kaghan Valley. Balakot has shrines of Syed Ahmed Shaheed and Ismail Shaheed Brelvi, the sub-continent's great freedom fighters.
For your drive to Kaghan, you switch over at Balakot to a jeep. Your first stop is 34 kms. away at shogran at 2,362 meters above sea level. At Kaghan, the little village that gives the valley its name 61 kms. from Balakot - you get down to stretch your legs.
At Naran, 23 kms. from Kaghan, you reach the half-way point. Naran also serves as the base for the whole valley. From here you can ride a jeep or horse or hike in excursions to several picturesque lakes, valleys and peaks.
Fishing is the chief sport in Kaghan. Brown Trout and Mahasheer are stocked in the pure silvery waters between Kaghan and Naran. The Kunhar river's trout is considered best in the South Asia. Fishing licenses are issued by the Fisheries Department at Naran.