Gilgit Baltistan of Pakistan

Astore  ||  Diameer  ||  Ghanche  ||  Ghizer  ||  Gilgit  ||  Skardu  || 

The Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) is the northernmost political entity within the Pakistani-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. According to Pakistan's constitution, FANA is not part of Pakistan, and its inhabitants have never had any representation in Pakistan's parliament. However, FANA is home to some of the world's highest mountains, including five of the eight-thousanders. The main focus of attention for many travelers is the world's three highest mountain ranges--the Karakoram, the Himalaya, and the Hindu Kush, with five peaks over 8,000 meters and many peaks over 7,000 meters, and having the largest glaciers in the world (other than those in the polar region). Wild rivers and unique landscapes make this area a "mountain paradise" for mountaineers, trekkers, and tourists.

Background

Gilgit, FANA's administrative center, was an important city on the Silk Road, through which Buddhism was spread from India to the rest of Asia. A large number of Buddhist Sanskrit texts, including the long version of the Heart Sutra have been unearthed in Gilgit. The Dards and Cizinas also appear in many of the old Pauranic lists of peoples, with the former finding mention in Ptolemy's accounts of the region. Two famous travellers, Faxian and Hsuan Tsang, are known to have traversed Gilgit as per their accounts. Gilgit was ruled for centuries by the local Trakane Dynasty, which came to an end in about 1810. The area descended into internecine turmoil before being occupied by the Sikhs in 1842. It was ceded to Jammu in 1846. Gilgit's inhabitants drove their new rulers out in an uprising in 1852. The Khushwakhte Dynasty of Yasin and Gulapure led the people of Gilgit to drive out the Dogra rulers. After Yasin was conquered by the Katur Dynasty of Chitral, the power of the Khushwakhte was crushed. The rule of Jammu was restored in 1860. Gilgit came under British rule in 1889, when it was unified with neighboring Hunza and Nagar in the Gilgit Agency. When British rule came to an end in 1947, the region was briefly handed back to the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Subsequently, it came under Pakistani control. To this day, the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) remains part of the Kashmir dispute and is claimed by India to be a Pakistani-occupied part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Regions

The Federally Administered Northern Areas is divided into two divisions--the Baltistan Division and the Gilgit Division--which together comprise seven districts.

Baltistan Region

The Baltistan Region consists of two districts:

Gilgit Division

The Gilgit Division now consists of five districts:

Sherqilla is most famous town being capital of Rajas of Punial and Ishkomin. It is still a tourist spot with many attractions like trout fishing, treking natural swimming pools. Wazirs of sherqilla and Raja palace are still inscribe their period of splendour.

Cities

Other destinations

Talk

Urdu is the national language and is spoken throughout Pakistan as lingua franca. Local language is Burushaski, As elsewhere in Pakistan, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and those involved in the tourist industry.

Get in

By plane

Arrive in Islamabad. Pakistan International Airlines offers daily flights between Gilgit and Islamabad. The flying time is approximately 50 minutes, and the flight is one of the most scenic flights in the world, as its route passes over Nanga Parbat, and the peak of the mountain is higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude.

PIA also offers regular flights on Being 737s between Skardu and Islamabad. All flights, however, are subject to weather clearance, and, in winters, flights are often delayed by several days.

By road

The Karakoram Highway, once a minor Silk Road route, connects Islamabad to Gilgit and Skardu, which are the two major hubs for mountaineering expeditions in the Northern Areas. The journey from Islamabad to Gilgit takes approximately 20-24 hours. Landslides on the Karakoram Highway are not uncommon, but bulldozers usually clear the road in a short time. The KKH connects Gilgit to Taxkorgan and Kaxgar in Xinjiang, China, via Sust (the customs and health inspection post on the Pakistan side of the border) and the Khunjerab Pass, the highest paved international border crossing in the world at 4,693 metres (15,397 feet).

Get around

By Bus

NATCO (the Northern Areas Transport Corporation) offers bus and jeep transport service to the two hubs and to several other popular destinations, lakes, and glaciers in the area.

By Car

Mountains

Eighteen of the fifty highest peaks in the world are located in the Northern Areas.

Glaciers

Three of the world's seven longest glaciers outside the polar regions are also in the Northern Areas, the Biafo Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier, and the Batura Glacier.

The Siachin Glacier is 75 km. The Hispar (53 km) joins the Biafo at the Hispar La (5154.16 meters (16,910 ft) to form an ice corridor 116.87 km (72 mi) long. The Batura, too, is 58 km in length. The most outstanding of these rivers of ice is the 62 km Baltoro. This large glacier, fed by some 30 tributaries, has a surface area of 1291.39 sq km.

Lakes

There are several high-altitude lakes in the Northern Areas.

Do

Eat

Most of the top end restaurants are located in Hotels.

Drink

Bars are located in most of the top end hotels.

Avoid drinking tap water. Locals usually drinks water coming from a stream, but that can be unsafe for some people due to its minerals which may not suite you. So only drink bottled water, which is easily available all over.

Sleep

Stay safe

Security wise, the Northern Areas is considered to be one of the safest regions under Pakistani control, but some parts of it are off-limits to tourists, especially the buffer zone along the "Line of Control" that divides the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir. District Head quarter hospitals are present in Gilgit, Skardu, Khaplu (Ghache District), Chilas (Diamer), Ghazin (Gahkuch).

Contact

Mobile services are available in the area.

Emergency Numbers

Get out

By road

To China: Thrice-weekly bus service was scheduled to begin crossing the border from Gilgit, Northern Areas, to Kashgar, China, and road widening work was scheduled for 600 kilometres of the Karakoram Highway. There were also plans for one daily bus in each direction between Sust and Taxkorgan in the border areas of the two countries.

To Islamabad: Via the Karakoram Highway, popularly known as the Silk Road.

By plane

Pakistan International Airlines offers daily flights between Gilgit Airport and Islamabad International Airport. The flying time is approximately 50 minutes, and the flight is one of the most scenic flights in the world, as its route passes over Nanga Parbat, with the peak of the mountain being higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude. PIA also offers regular flights on Boeing 737s between Skardu and Islamabad. All flights, however, are subject to weather clearance, and in winters, flights are often delayed by several days.