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Gilgit Valley

Aliabad  ||  Altit Fort  ||  Bagrot Valley  ||  Baltit Fort  ||  Batura  ||  Borit Lake  ||  Buddist Rock  ||  Duikar  ||  Gulmit  ||  Hispar Glacier  ||  Hoper  ||  Hunza  ||  Juglot  ||  Kargah Nullah  ||  Karimabad  ||  Khunjrab  ||  Kutwal Lake  ||  Nagar  ||  Nalter  ||  Natler Lake  ||  Nomal  ||  Passu  ||  Rush Lake  ||  Sassi  ||  Shengous  ||  Shimshal  ||  Sost  || 

Photo Gallery|| Area Map|| Hotels|| Fairs|| Find Distances|| Treks

At an elevation of 4,900 feet and 365 miles from Rawalpindi lies the splendorous Gilgit Valley. This unique little town of Gilgit is blessed with spectacular beauty. The peak tourist season is from May to mid-October nevertheless, tourists keep pouring in all year round. The maximum temperature in May is 33 C whereas the minimum goes down to 16 C, while in September, temperatures show a maximum 28 C and a minimum of 11 C. Such pleasant temperatures make Gilgit a must-visit place during these months.

Planes from Islamabad-Rawalpindi arrive frequently in Gilgit. If you arrive by air, the main bazaar in Gilgit is a short mile away, and to get there you can grab a small van or whatever vahicle seems to be taking passengers. Giglit's main street runs generally, east-west, paralleling the river. East of the Airport ans away from town is the area called Jutial, where there are numerous military compounds and few small lodges.

The Kragah Nala is now a game sanctuary. You could take a day hike up this nala, for it has many trees and make a pleasent walk. Ambitious trekkers could consider a trek south that begins in this nala and eventually crosses the 14,000-foot Shinghai Gali en route through high pasture lands to the Indus Valley at Chilas. You should go with a local to show you the way, for the route is not clear, especially in the high country, and as you proceed farther south you will be in a region inhabited by Kohistanis.

A victory monument of Taj Mughal, built 700 years ago, is located at 30 kms from the town of Gilgit. One can easily reach this monument by jeep.

'Polo' (the game of Kings) is Gilgit's most favoured sport. The locals claim that this sport originated in Gilgit. 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.

As for those who have a knack for fishing, the streams and lakes of Gilgit are full of trout fish. These are at Kargah Nullah (10 kms. from Gilgit), Singal (56 kms), Gakuch (73 kms), and Phandar (117 kms from Gilgit). Permits for fishing are issued by the Assistant Director, Fisheries, Government of Pakistan, Gilgit.

Today Gilgit is growing rapidly, and you'll see many diverse people here: taciturn local Shina-speaking farmers and shopkeepers, outgoing Hunzakuts ( as people from Hunza are called), rugged Kohistanis visiting the Bazar and steely eyed Pathan truck drivers or businessmen. Gilgit is a key transit point for trekkers because of its location between Chitral and Baltistan and just South of Hunza. It is indeed a splenderous valley, have a pleasant journey!

Gilgit is a located at an altitude of Approximately  1500 Meters (4800 Feet) in the North east of Pakistan . The city had been a central point of trade and political activity as early as 1st century AD. Since then it has always been a very strategic point for the neighboring countries. Surrounded by the massive mountains of Karakorums Gilgit is a small valley with a ground just enough to form a small city of 500000 persons. Beyond here there is no such a big town or city in any direction within a distance of about 450 Kilometers in any direction. Gilgit is the administrative and commercial capital of Northern areas.

Mountains of the region are known to be the highest and greatest in the Number around the world. Stretch of Gilgit comes in the rain shadow of Nanga Parbat Mountain i.e. The moon soon winds are blocked by the massive of Nanga Parbat and clouds can not reach Gilgit which makes it dry & rugged but the labor of the strong and willing local population has even claimed the hard mountains for cultivation's. Due to this there are beautiful green orchids of many fruits in the valley. This makes an spectacular contrast in the green fields and ruggedness on the mountains topped with white snow a scenery only found in the northern areas of Pakistan.

The road to Gilgit is an other adventure and beauty filled experience Karakorum Highway built Between 1966 to 1978 by the Chinese and Pakistani engineers, above the shoulders of gigantic mountains of Himalayas , Hindukush & Karakorum ranges. More than five hundred lives are buried under this marvelous road which is known all over the world for its beauty and variation in terrain and culture. The highway runs along the river Indus and later continuous to Gilgit on Gilgit river.

Each stop of this highway will definitely force you to admire it. There are nice PTDC motels on main points and towns of the Highway.

An Ideal Itinerary will to take go from Islamabad to Besham overnight at PTDC motel Besham is located on the Bank of Indus river. Later you continue to Gilgit With several photo stops on the way. There are also some interesting Rock drawings from the Buddhist period along the road.

Flights to Gilgit are depending on weather so are not advisable for a good reliable tour. Road Journey is much scenic and more reliable.

Buddhist Rock Carving:
Just 10 kms from the town of Gilgit, is a Buddha carved into a stone face, a remnant of the era over seven hundred years ago when Buddhism held sway accross much of what is now the North-West-Frontier Province, the Northern Areas and Afghanistan. To see this rock carving, take a local van west of town continuing past numerous walled compounds, green fields and the suburb of Napur to the Kargah Nala. South of the main road and up this nala, a large rectangular niche well above the trail frames a ten-foot-high standing Buddha.

The rock carving and inscriptions around Ganesh village give proof of the Buddhist influence in the area. The inscriptions are in four different scripts and the carvings are of human and animals figures.

Batura, Passu, Hopper, Hisper Glacier:
Batura Passu glacier is 35 kms from Karimabad while the Hopper and Hisper glaciers are 25 kms away. The journey takes two hours by jeep and the last two kilometers have to be travelled on foot.

Naltar Valley:

It is just 43km away from Gilgit, the elevation being around 3000m and is surrounded by snow capped mountains. It is one of the loveliest full day excursion from Gilgit.. Naltar is a popular trekking point, its nomadic people earn their living growing potatoes and raising cattle. A thick forest of cypress and cedar trees adds a sparkle of color amongst the rocky peaks. A Pass which is called Pakhora Trek leads to another valley of Chatorkand. En route one gets spectecular views of Hindo Kush high mountains and the beautiful Nalter Lake. Here, is a ski club run by the Pakistan Army.Naltar is probably one of the most spectacular Excursions in Pakistan, for those who like a little bit of adventure. The road to Naltar is pretty but Very dusty until the village of Nomal. After Nomal you drive along the side of mountains and the climb is quite steep. At the upper Naltar you very instantly see the beautiful meadows the temperature is also very comfortable so one can really get a fancy escape from Gilgit`s heat. There is a small restaurant at the meadows which can serve a hot meal or you can carry Lunch boxes from Gilgit.

Bagrot Valley:

A beautiful village untouched by modern civilization, Bagrot is situated in the Gilgit valley about 43km to the eastern side narrow valley. The area offers enchanting mountains scenery and boasts of abundance in fruits, nuts and wild vines. The inhabitants of Bagrot are a simple people who believe in retaining their old culture and tradition. Here most of people are Shia muslim and shenaki is the local language.

Nagar Valley:

Nagar, the large kingdom across the river from Hunza, was possibly first settled by people from Baltistan who arrived over the mountains by walking along the Biafo and Hispar glaciers. It was settled again in about the 14th century by Hunzakuts who crossed the river. A man called Borosh from Hunza supposedly founded the first village of Boroshal, and married a Balti girl he found there. The legend says the girl and her grandmother were the sole survivors of a landslide that killed all the early Balti settlers.
Nagar is entered by the jeep road that leaves the KKH just beyond the Ganesh bridge across the Hunza River. The first five kilometres (three miles) of this road are dry and barren, then the road divides. Once branch of crosses the Hispar River on a bridge and climbs up into the fertile villages of central Nagar, where many kilometres of irrigation channels provide pleasant walks through fields and villages right up to the last village of Hoper. You can get here by public transport from Aliabad in Hunza, which leaves most days for Nagar, and occasionally continues to Hopar.Nagar and Hunza were once collectively called buroshall and their capital was capal dosuk. Nagar was an independent principality for 1200 years, which existed until 1974. The British gained control of Nagar and the neighbouring valley of Hunza between 1889 and 1892. The Tham (Chief) of that time Azur Khan sent in exile to Kashmir. The British retained Nagar's status as a principality until 1947. The people of Nagar were ruled by a local Mir for more than 1200 years, which came to an end in 1974. Although never ruled directly by neighbouring Kashmir or the British, Nagar was a vassal of Kashmir from the time of Maharaja Ranbir Singh of Jammu and Kashmir. The Mirs of Nagar sent an annual tribute to the Kashmir Durbar until 1947, and along with the ruler of Hunza, was considered to be among the most loyal vassals of the Maharaja of Kashmir. The state bordered the Gilgit Agency to the south, the former princely state of Hunza to the east, China to the north and Afghanistan to the northwest. The state capital was the town of Nagar Khas (also known as uyum Nagar) The area of Nagar now forms the Nagar 1 upper Nagar and Nagar 2 lower. Nagar and forms two tehsils of the Gilgit District.

Hunza Valley:

Hunza is probably Pakistan's most visited valley, by the tourists. It is a fairy tale land surrounded by beautiful rugged & snow capped mountains. Only at a distance of 100 Kms. from Gilgit Hunza is a small town on Karakorum Highway. At the altitude of 7000 - 800 feet it is the first main town or stop if you are entering Pakistan from China.

The central Hunza known as Karimabad is basically a town of just 6 villages. The first main villages as you come from Gilgit on the main Karakorum Highway is Aliabad. There there are spectacular views of  Rakaposhi mountain (7788 meters), PTDC Motel Hunza and other small hotels are located on the main Karakorum highway here. Just above Aliabad on the hill are Altit and Baltit villages the heart of Hunza. There is a very interesting Bazaar and two Forts in Altit & Baltit Villages. The Baltit fort has recently been restored and converted into a guided museum.

Hunza is undoubtly the Shangri-la of James Hilton's novel The Lost Horizon. It is probably the most Photogenic point in the world. There are numerous tours and activities available from Hunza Below you will find some options for bus/culture tourist where as for the adventure lovers there is more info on our Adventure Tours section.

Karimabad:

As described above is the main bazaar of Hunza full of colorful shops with local dry fruits (Dried Apricots, Apricot Nut, Almonds, Walnuts Mulberry, etc.) At the end of bazaar is the Baltit village and Baltit fort which are restored by the Aga Khan fund for Culture & heritage. The fort has been brought into a guided museum you can spend time in the for visiting different sections of the fort and viewing the slide show in the small hall of the fort.

Baltit Fort:

The Baltit Fort is a kilometer away from Karimabad. It was built 700 years ago by 300 laborers brought to Hunza in the dowry of the Princess of Baltistan when she married Mir of Hunza. The area is named Baltit after those laborers. Over the centuries it has been inhabited by the ruling family of the Hunza State.

Altit Fort:

Altit fort is situated in the village of Altit about three kilometers from Karimbabd. It has been built on a sheer rock cliff that falls 300 meters (1,000 feet) into the Indus river. The fort is a 100 years older than the Baltit Fort and was at one time inhabited by the ruling family.

Duikar: At an height of 10000 feet above sea level this is a beautiful spot to see sunrise. You can see 8 peaks above 7000 meters from here each gets the sun light one by one as sun rises.

The Ruby Mines
The Ruby Mines of Hunza are also nearby. A sales centre is located at Aliabad who sale precious and semi-precious stones and jewellery.

The KKH Beyond Karimabad
The KKH is at its most spectacular between Ganesh and Gulmit. The road rides high on the eastern side of the river, twisting and turning round the barren foot of the Hispar Range, which boasts six peaks over 7,000 meters (23,000 feet). On the opposite bank, villages cling implausibly to the side of the 7,388 meter (24,240 foot) Ultar Mountain. Between the villages, grey screen slithers down to the river, looking in the distance like piles of find cigarette ash. Above, the jagged teeth along the ridge hide the highest snow-covered peaks from view.
The KKH crosses back to the west bank at Shishkot Bridge, from which the view upstream of the serrated ridge of mountains above the river is one of the most photogenic prospects of the entire drive. From here to Tashkurgan in China the people speak Wakhi.

Gulmit:

Eight kms (five miles) past the bridge, is a fertile plateau 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) high, with irrigated fields on either side of the road. This is a good place to spend a night or two, marking the halfway point between Gilgit and the Khunjerab Pass. The small museum here belongs to the prince, Raja Bahadur Khan, and is full of interesting ethnic artifacts. And two of the hotels here belong to Mirzada Shah Khan, hero of the 1947 mutiny.
The rock and gravel covered Ghilkin Glacier comes right down to the road about one kilometer (just over half a mile) past Gulmit. The road crosses the snout of the glacier at the very edge of the river, then climbs up on to the lateral moraine - a great, grey slag heap. About five kilometers (three miles) further on, you round a corner to find Passu Glacier straight ahead. It is shining white and deeply crevassed - just as you would expect a glacier to look. Above the glacier to the left is the jagged line of the Passu and Batua peaks, seven of which are over 7,500 meters (25,000 feet). On the opposite side of the river, which you can cross over a terrifying footbridge, the valley is hemmed in by a half-circle of saw-toothed summits, down the flanks of which slide grey alluvial fans.

Passu:

Passu is a village of farmers and mountain guides 15 kilometres (nine miles) beyond Gulmit. This is the setting-off point for climbing expeditions up the Batura, Passu, Kurk and Lupgar groups of peaks, and for trekking trips up the Shimshal Valley and Batura Glacier. The Passu Inn, right beside the road, is the meeting place for mountaineers and guides.

Shimshal:

Shimshal, a community whose territory makes up a significant part of the Karakoram mountain range in Northern Pakistan. It includes many peaks over 6000 metres, numerous glaciers and productive alpine pastures. Shimshal is a farming and herding community of some 1100 inhabitants, situated at the north-eastern extreme of both the former principality of Hunza (now part of Gilgit Administrative District), and the modern state of Pakistan. The settlement occupies the upper portion of a valley of the same name, which descends west into the Hunza River valley at Passu, and which separates the khujerab and Hispar Mustagh ranges of the Karakoram mountain system. Shimshal’s villages are situated on a series of glacial and alluvial deposits that form a broad strip between the river's floodplain and steep mountain slopes to the south. These deposits have been terraced for several hundred years. They are irrigated by the meltwater nullahs which currently dissect them. In addition, the lowest terraces are irrigated from the river itself. The cultivated area, covering about 250 hectares, lies between 3000 and 3300 metres above sea level, at the upper limits of single crop cultivation. Shimshalis grow hardy cereals (wheat and barley), potatoes, peas and beans, apricots and apples. Small quantities of garden vegetables are also grown by some households. Shimshalis are one of the few communities remaining in Pakistan's Northern Areas that grows enough agricultural produce to feed itself. Shimshalis complement their irrigated agriculture with extensive herding of sheep, goats, cattle and yaks. Indeed, they tend more livestock per capita than any other Hunza community, and earn much of their money from the sale of dairy produce, yaks, and yak hair carpets. This is due, in part, to the community's exclusive control of vast areas of high altitude land. Shimshal pastures cover about 2700 square kilometres of the Central Karakoram. Within that area they maintain their three dozen individual pastures, including three large and highly productive alpine areas. Also within Shimshal territory are innumerable peaks, glaciers and trekking routes, including nine peaks above 7,000 metres. Although the environmental potential for adventure tourism is high, relatively few trekkers visit this area. However, with the opening of road from Passu to Shimshal, now the influx of the international as well as the domestic tourists is gradually increasing.

Shimshal village lies at 3100m and most of the cultivatable area lies between 3000 and 3300 meters. The short growing season at this altitude allows only one crop to be cultivated in a year; the major crops are wheat, barley, potatoes and peas. Shimshal is one of the few communities in Pakistan's Northern Areas that grows enough agricultural produce to feed itself. It is the sole steward of vast areas of high-altitude pasture, and extensive herding of sheep, goats, cattle and yaks allows Shimshalis to earn much of their income from the sale of livestock and livestock products.
The Shimshal area is rich in fauna and many threatened wildlife species are found in this area. It is the only place where Tibetan Wild Ass (Equus bemionus kiang), and Blue Sheep (Pseudois nayaur) are found. Snow leopard (Uncia uncia), Himalayan ibex (Felis lynx) and, Golden Marmots (Marmota caudate) are also found in Shimshal.


Shimshal is accessible from Passu, and the journey to Passu from Islamabad takes approximately 16-18 hours. It takes about 14-15 hours to reach Gilgit over Shandur Pass from Chitral.
Pakistan International Airlines has a daily flight between Gilgit and Islamabad International Airport. The flying time is approximately 50 minutes and the flight is scenic. These flights, however, are subject to the clearance of weather and in winters, flights are often delayed by several days.

Sost:

85Kms. 3 Hours. it is a spectacular journey through some of the most interesting villages of Karakorum Highway. This transfer is more like an excursion as there are many photogenic points and we need to stop and see the magnificent scenery of the Karakorums. Sost is a small border town where only in the mornings there is some activity .

The KKH passes through four more villages before reaching the immigration and customs post at Sost, 33 kilometres (21 miles) from Passu. Outgoing traffic must pass through Sost before 11 am. It is a four-or-five hour drive from here to Tashkurgan, and you must allow time for clearing Chinese customs and immigration to kilometres before Tashkurgan (moved down from Pirali). The time difference between China and Pakistan is three hours, so it will be around 7 to 8 pm Chinese time before you arrive in Tashkurgan. Incoming traffic is processed until 4 pm Pakistani time, 7 pm Chinese time.

For the first 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Sost, the valley is narrow and barren, the cliff-face shattered into huge cubes and slabs that peel off and tumble down to the road, where they lie like forgotten building blocks belonging toll giant children. The road leaves the Hunza for the Khunjerab River, and there is more of the same, with alluvial fans flowing down every gully, frequently blocking the way.

Khunjerab Top:

Khunjerab National Park begins 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Sost. The hills move back from the road, the valley opens out and the Khunjerab River dwindles to a tiny mountain stream with the odd tuft of grass, willow or birch along its banks.
The check-post at Dih consists of six lonely stone houses. The last 30 kilometres (19 miles) to the top of the pass are easier driving, as there is less mountain above and the slopes are gentler. The road follows the banks of the stream before winding up round 12 wide, well-engineered hairpin bends to the top.
The Khunjerab Pass, at 4,733 meters (15,528 feet), is reputedly the highest metalled border crossing in the world. A red sign announces 'China drive right', and a rival green sign says 'Pakistan drive left'. A monument declares that the highway was opened in 1982 and indulges in a bit of hyperbole by saying that the pass is 16,000 feet (4,875 meters). The Khunjerab is on a continental watershed. All water on the Pakistani side flows down to the Indian Ocean, while that on the Chinese side is swallowed by the Taklamakan Desert, the name of which means, if you go in, you don't come out'.
It is 32 kilometres (20 miles) from the top of the pass to the abandoned Chinese border post at Pirali. The scenery is remarkably different on the two sides of the pass. The Pakistani side is vertical world of desert gorges devoid of any sign of human life for the last 30 kilometres (19 miles), except for the road itself. the Chinese side is wide, open and grassy high-altitude plateau with grazing herds of yaks, sheep and goats tended by Tajik herders. Children and dogs romp among round felt tents called yurts. The Tajiks are a smiling and friendly lot, and the women are as happy to be photographed as the men. Even the camels are altogether different animals. Pakistani camels are tall, short-haired, one-humped Bactrian's that appear to wear hairy, knee-length shorts.

Sassi:

This village is a small stop on way to Gilgit to Skardu. Sassi is at the foot step of Haramosh valley. You can start your trek from Sassi to Dasu then to Haramosh valley. These areas are very famous for its precious stones and gold. It is the first greenary on Gilgit Skardu road's wilderness. There is a patrol Pump here. You can hire jeeps also.

Shengous:

This village is also stop on way to Gilgit to Skardu. These areas are very famous for its precious stones and gold.Shengous contain a small hotel. Normally people stop here for lunch or dinner

Lakes of the Area:

Kutwal Lake:

Kutwal Lake is in Haramosh Valley. It is still an untouch lake with lush green area around.From Sassi, a jeep road takes you to Dasu. From Dasu a trek of 6 hours through Askere and Glacier will take you the Haramosh Village. a 15 minutes walk will take you to Kutwal lake from Haramosh village. this lake is at the foot step of Haramosh.

Nalter Lake:

Nalter Lake is in Nalter Valley. It is basically a combination of two lakes. From Nalter Valley, you can trek through pine forest to Nalter lake with in three hours. This is a good picnic point. The water of Nalter lakes are crystal clear and you can watch the base of it.

Rush Lake:

Rush Lake is in Nagar Valley. It is at an elevation of 4000 meter or above. You can access this lake through Hoper valley. There is two days trek from Hoper valley. Hoper valley is the part of Nagar valley.

Borit Lake:

Borit Lake is 10 KM up from KKH from Hussaini village. Little before Passu on KKH, there is a village of Hussaini. From there a jeep trek of ten KM leads you to Borit Lake.

Routes:

Gilgit to Hunza

100 Kilometers one of the most scenic journeys in the world. Stopping at several photo stops it takes 3 - 4 Hrs to reach Hunza the Shangri-La

Gilgit to Besham

310 Kilometers is also an spectacular journey as described above. it usually takes 8 Hours with stops on the way at Shatial Rock drawings, The Nanga Parbat view points and Lunch stop at PTDC Barseen or a local restaurant in Dassu.

Besham to Islamabad

275 Kilometers usually takes 7 - 9 Hours with stops at Abbottabad & Taxila road is pretty good running along the Indus you will take a diversion to the foot hills of Himalaya Tarai mountains and reach Rawalpindi / Islamabad via Margalla pass.

Gilgit to Skardu.

An spectacular drive along the Indus river between Karakorum & Himalaya mountains. Road is narrow so 220 Kms. take about 6 Hours

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