karakoram highway tourist attractions
Posted in City Breaks Gilgit-Baltistan Roads & Highways

Karakoram Highway Tourist Attractions

The Karakorum Highway (KKH), N-35, is the greatest wonder of the modern world. The highway is also dubbed as the 8th wonder of the world. It is a human determination and ingenuity and considered a great feat of engineering by Chinese and Pakistani workers. It runs along the Indus for 310 kilometers and leaves the Indus at the Junction of three mountain ranges for Gilgit, Hunza, and Khunjerab rivers to take on the Karakoram range where 12 out of 30 highest mountains in the world overlook the KKH. The Karakoram Highway tourist attractions are worldly known and there is no other highway in the world crowned with such rich attractions.

The 1300 kilometers (800 miles) long KKH originates from Hassan Abdal, a historic city some 45 kilometers from Islamabad on the Islamabad – Peshawar Highway. The asphalt ribbon runs through the cities of Abbottabad, Manshera, crosses the River Indus at Thakot, on to Gilgit through rugged mountains of Besham, Pattan, and Sazin and Chilas, and snakes through Hunza and Sost before crossing the Khunjerab Pass at 4,733 meters (15,750ft). The Khunjerab top is also named as Zero Point between Pakistan and China. The highway then enters the high Central Asian plateau before winding down through the Pamirs to Kashgar, at the western edge of the Taklamakan Desert.

The Karakoram Highway is crowned with a huge number of attractions ranging from ancient rock carvings and petroglyphs, natural beauty, and manmade marvels. Major attractions along the Karakoram Highway include:

Ashoka Rocks Mansehra

ashoka rocks mansehra
ashoka rocks mansehra

The three granite boulders bearing 14 edicts engraved by order of the Mauryan King Ashoka in the 3rd century BC are located on the north side of the town of Mansehra. The inscription bearing Kharoshti script is fading away and almost impossible to see despite the shelters to protect.

Petroglyphs in Chilas

Petroglyphs in Chilas
Petroglyphs in Chilas

The town of Chilas is surrounded by striking petroglyphs and are easy to access. The jeep bridge leading to Thalpan is the ‘Chilas I’ site with inscriptions found on both sides of the KKH. The most striking art is found on the large stupa bearing banners flying. And across the river, there are boulders bearing art of mythical animals, battle scenes, royal lineages, and Buddhist tales. The ‘Chilas II’ site near the police check post on the KKH, less than 1km down the jeep track, is a huge rock bearing hunting and battle scenes and Buddhist stupa, the long-horned ibex, symbols of fertility, and elusive trophy animals.

Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat

The Karakoram Highway
The Karakoram Highway

About 80 km short of Gilgit placed the Thakot Bridge on the Karakoram Highway which is also the place of departure for Fairy Meadows and Nanaga Parbat (the Killer Mountain) base camp. There are several places along the Karakoram Highway and Thalechi viewpoint is a designated point to make a short stopover to enjoy superb views of Nanga Parbat.

Partab Bridge

Partab bridge
Partab bridge

The Partab Bridge (Pul, in urdu), located at about 40 km southeast of main Gilgit city near the Junction Point of Three Mountain Ranges on the KKH, served as a major source of communication for the entire region. It was built to connect Gilgit with Bunji, Astore and Kashmir, years before the construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). The bridge was named after Maharaja Partab Singh, Maharaja of Kashmir in the 1890s.

The suspension bridge was constructed during 1889 and 1893 by a British agent named Col Algernon Durand who also inaugurated it and was used mainly for defense and trade. However, during the revolt of 1947 when Gilgit won its independence from Dogra raj, it was burnt down. Later it was rebuilt but again it had nearly collapse from a decade long neglect and was rebuilt after 2010 floods.

Junction Point of Three Mountain Ranges

Junction Point of three mountain ranges
Junction Point of three mountain ranges

The junction point of three mountain ranges is situated near Jaglot on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), only 40 km southeast of Gilgit, Pakistan. It is here that the world’s three famous mountain ranges – the Karakoram (the black gravel), the Himalaya (home of snow), and the Hindukush (the killer of Hindus) – make a knot popularly known as the “Junction Point of the world’s three mountain ranges”. This exclusive site also serves as the junction of Gilgit and Indus Rivers and the Skardu road branches out from the KKH near this place.

Uprising Memorial Gilgit

The Uprising Memorial is the final resting place of local heroes who rose against the Maharaja in 1947. The local heroes Mohammed Babar Khan and Safiullah Beg of the Gilgit Scouts, and Mirza Hassan Khan of the Kashmir Infantry. Through a rebellion, these heroes were able to emancipate Gilgit-Baltistan by arresting Governor Ghansara Singh on Nov 01 from the Maharaja of Kashmir.

The Victory Monument of Taj Mughal

Victory monument of Taj Mughal
Victory monument of Taj Mughal

The 700 years old Victory Monument of Taj Mughal is a commemorative tower, measuring 21’-10” high and 14’-4” wide, located on a mountain lap in Gilgit town, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The monument was named after Taj-ud-Din Mughal, an Ismaili ruler from Badakhshan, who came to Gilgit -Baltistan during the 13th century AD. The Taj Mughal monument was built by his soldiers to celebrate his victory.

Danyore Suspension BridgeDanyore Suspension Bridge

The Danyore Suspension Bridge near Gilgit is one of the oldest suspension bridges in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The 510 ft long bridge has served as a source of commute to the people otherwise had to take the local raft or a detour to travel to Gilgit city – the administrative headquarter and the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly northern areas. It is now serving as one of the major tourist attractions in Gilgit-Baltistan used only by the pedestrians and motorcyclists.

Danyore Rock Inscription

Danyore Rock Inscriptions1
Danyore Rock Inscriptions1

The Danyore Rock Inscriptions is a gigantic boulder bearing inscriptions from the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. The inscription is the most important discovery of Danyor and was seen for the first time by Karl Jettmar in 1958. The inscribed rock is situated in the premises of a private house in Danyore, across Gilgit city in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and is locally known as “Likhitu Giri”. The archaeological site is not very much popular and known only to a limited count of individuals/organizations related to archaeology and tourism.

Chinese Graveyard Danyore

Chinese Graveyard
Chinese Graveyard

Locally known as China Yadgar, the Chinese graveyard (The memorial Park) is the final resting place of mighty Chinese engineers and workers who sacrificed their lives during construction of the mighty Karakoram Highway (KKH) in the 1960s and 1970s. The cemetery is located in Danyore, about 10 km across main Gilgit town – the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. To be exact, the graveyard can be accessed in the residential area on the KKH, adjacent to Sehat Foundation Hospital.

Memorial Monument on the KKH

Memorial monument on the KKH

Memorial monument on the KKH

At a distance of about 35 km from Gilgit, on the main Karakoram Highway, a monument bearing the symbol of a Drilling Machine has been erected in memory of the brave people who lost their lives during the construction of the Karakoram Highway. The monument reads:

MEMORIAL 103 EB (Engineering Battalion)

In memory of their gallant men who proffered to make the Karakorams their permanent abode.

There shall be-

In that rich soil a richer dust conceals.

1966-1972

Silk Route segments

Running parallel to the Karakoram Highway, across the river between Gilgit and Hunza, several sections of the ancient Silk Route still exist retaining the rich legacy of ancient trade. It is only being used by the locals mostly to graze heard or to travel locally to annexing valleys. These sections can be utilized to draw in tourists.

Collision Point of Continental Plates

Collision point of continental plates
Collision point of continental plates

The collision point of continental plates is located near Chalt Valley on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), some 53 km north of Gilgit town. The Indian and the Eurasian continental plates collided along a line which passed through this point giving rise to the Himalayan mountain range and formed Tibetan plateau some 50 million years ago. The tremendous pressure forced the earth’s crust to produce the towering Karakoram Mountains in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.

Kino Kutto

Kino Kutto
Kino Kutto

Kino Kutto” or the Black Knee in local Shina language, is a section of the historic Silk Road which is now not in use. Located high up on the cliff side between Budalas valley of Nagar and Khizrabad village of Hunza, the section can easily be seen from the KKH. Once a footpath, then evolved to a pony track, it was later widened to a single jeep road in 1958-60 but remained unused since the construction of the Karakoram Highway. However, to show the nature of the historic connection, the Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan (AKCSP), with funding from the Royal Norwegian embassy Islamabad, restored the visible section of the road in partnership with Budalas and Khizerabad (Hunza) communities. Kinu Kutto has great views of Rakaposhi.

Rakaposhi View Point

Rakaposhi View Point
Rakaposhi View Point

Rakaposhi View Point or “the Zero Point of Rakaposhi” is a prominent viewpoint offering the closest view of Rakaposhi and the natural beauty lies in its scenery. This remarkable viewpoint is located right on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) in Ghulmet village of Nagar Valley.

Nilt Fort

Nilt fort
Nilt fort

The Nilt Fort was a fort once existed in Nilt, Nagar, on the main KKH about 65km from Gilgit. It was destroyed in the famous Anglo-Brusho war fought between locals of Hunza-Nagar and the British during 1891revolt. The Nilt Fort withstood for days but the offensive from a far superior army, duly supported by a local conspiracy, apparently lead to its destruction. However, a lasting history still remains. It’s not just the Nilt Fort that disappeared and only seen in the literature but the historic Maiun Fort in lower Hunza (Shinaki) across the river and the forts in Chaprote, Thol, and Pisson have all disappeared gradually even without any historical accounts. The Nilt Fort site is easily overlooked by travellers, even though it is easily accessible on the way to Hunza from Nagar.

Queen Victoria Monument

Malika mo Shikari
Queen Victoria Monument Hunza

Locally known as Malika mo Shikari, the Queen Victoria Monument on the shoulder of the rock face over Karimabad is a tower believed to be erected by Nazim Khan.  The tower can be reached in an hour from Baltit village by going straight up to the base of the cliff.

Kha Basi Cafe

Kha Basi Cafe
Kha Basi Cafe

The Kha Basi Café is a unique restaurant located under the shadow of Altit Fort in the ancient royal garden called “the Kha Basi” – a gorgeous and very well-kept-up fruit orchard full of apricot trees – located on the edge of the Altit town in Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. It was a nice piece of simple old-fashioned architecture almost falling to decay. The Café was recently renovated and turned into a classic restaurant. Standing at the verge of the royal garden, overlooking the majestic mountains of Hunza/Nagar and the Karakoram Highway running along the Hunza River, the Kha Basi Café has both majestic views and a traditional taste.

Altit Fort

Altit fort Hunza
Altit fort Hunza

Perched on the edge of a 1000 feet high rocky cliff rising sharply from the Hunza River, the epoch-making 900 years old impressive Altit Fort is one of the ancient forts surviving today in Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly northern areas), Pakistan. It has, for centuries, served as a palace to the local Mirs – the hereditary rulers of the state of Hunza – and later as a fort following some subsequent additions. The award-winning Altit Fort is a major tourist attraction not only because of its longstanding rich history but also for its unique architectural design facing the Karakoram Highway and for its strategic location on the ancient Silk Route.

Baltit Fort

Baltit Fort
Baltit Fort

Standing arrogantly on the moraine of Ultar glacier, with a commanding view of Hunza valley and its tributaries, the over 700 years old Baltit Fort featuring the Tibetan influenced architecture, is a glorious structure purposefully built for defence and definition of the then rulers of Hunza. The majestic fort now serves as a museum and a cultural centre. Baltit Fort is the recipient of several international awards and holds a global recognition.

Ganish Historic Settlement

Ganish Historic settlement
Ganish Historic settlement

Ganish (derived from Ghenish which in local brushaski language means Gold) is the oldest and the very first known settlement on the ancient Silk Road (now the Karakoram Highway) in the Hunza Valley. The town is located about 100 km (approx 2.5 hours traveling time) from Gilgit and about 180 km, approx 3.5 hours) from the Chinese border and situated on the right bank of Hunza River. It is one of the striking valleys bearing a rich history. The  more than 1000 years old settlement (now renovated) houses various homes, narrow streets, imposing watch towers, traditional mosques with striking floral designs, modern religious centers, and a water reservoir near the main entrance.

Haldikish

Sacred rocks of Hunza
Haldikish – petroglyphs and rock inscriptions on the KKH

Haldikish – the sacred rocks of Hunza – is a 30 ft high and 200 yards long huge boulder on the left bank of Hunza River located at a distance of 1.5 km from Ganish village and about a kilometre from Ganish Bridge on the KKH. The rocks are inscribed with the scripts and carvings of many different eras from past. Divided into two major portions, the upper portion of the sacred rock consist of inscriptions carved in Sogdian, Kharosthi, Brahmi, Sarada and Proto Sarada languages while the lower portion is engraved by the images of Ibexes. These ibexes are shown in different situations, including being hunted. There used to be many Buddhist shelter caves in ancient times which later collapsed or fell over time.

Attabad Lake

Attabad Lake
Attabad Lake

The Attabad Lake in Hunza, on the main Karakoram Highway, is a gorgeous lake and a major tourist attraction. It was created as a result of a massive landslide on January 04, 2010. The incidence claimed precious human lives and properties appearing a doomsday at the time of occurrence, but the entire scenario changed over time and unlocked a range of opportunities in the region. The lake has earned a great reputation and already placed itself as a leading tourist hotspot drawing a multitude of visitors on a daily basis.

Borith Lake

Borith Lake
Borith Lake

At 2,600 meters (8,500 ft) Borith Lake is a natural lake surrounded by Borith hamlet in Gulmit, upper Hunza Valley in Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan. The lake can be reached via a 2 km unpaved uphill jeep track from Husseini village, adjacent to Ghulkin village, on the KKH. The lake is a sanctuary for migrating wildfowl and is often visited by bird-watchers and nature lovers. The site is also a launching pad for beautiful Patundas trek and walking trails to nearby villages of Gulkin and Kamaris in Gulmit Village.

Husseini Suspension Bridge

Husseni Suspension bridge
Husseni Suspension bridge

The Husseini Suspension Bridge over the Hunza River in upper Hunza (Gojal) is a rickety cable and plank bridge with huge gaps between them. The long bridge connects Husseini village with Zarabad hamlet and used by locals mostly with heavy loads on. Tourists flock from around the world to test their nerves on this crumbling structure. It is probably the worst still-functioning bridge in the world located at about 45 km from Aliabad Hunza and 132 km from Gilgit.

Passu Glacier

Passu Glacier
Passu Glacier

The 20.5 km long Passu Glacier spreading over 115 sq km can be seen as soon as one enters the Passu village while travelling from the south to north along the Karakoram Highway. The glacier is located to the east of the highway displaying a panoramic view. At the same time, one has the best ever views of the entire Passu valley and the Passu Cones (Cathedrals) from this point. The Passu Glacier flows directly from the 7,478m (24,534 ft) Passu Peak which itself is positioned in the back end of the glacier.

Passu Cathedral

Passu Cones
Passu Cathedrals

Passu Cathedral or the Passu cones are the jagged spires rising from a set of mountain peaks located to the north of Passu Valley in the Karakoram mountain range of Pakistan. Standing to the other side of the Hunza River, the cones present a majestic view from different points along Karakoram Highway passing through the Gulmit and Passu Valleys. The sun-drenched mountain peaks are known by several names including Passu Cones, Cathedral Spires, and locally called Tupopdan but are still prominent among the tourists as Passu Cathedral. Passu Cathedral is the most photographed peak scaled for the first time by the British in 1987.

Sost

Sost
Sost

Sost is a beautiful village in upper Hunza and the last town on the Karakoram Highway before the Chinese border. At 2800 m above the sea level Sost is now a busy bazaar, has Pakistani immigration and customs departments based here, and all the trade goods and passengers pass through this town. It is almost a melting pot of diverse people, mostly traders, from different geographic backgrounds. Local inhabitants speak Wakhi Language but here almost every language is spoken which is spoken in all major cities of Pakistan besides some dialects of Chinese language and also English as a tourist language. Sost has a couple of good hotels providing accommodation facilities for domestic and international tourists.

Khunjerab Pass

Khunjerab Pak-China Border
Khunjerab Border

At 4700 m the Khunjerab Pass is the highest paved international border crossing in the world. It is the meeting point of two sections of the Karakoram Highway connecting Gilgit-Baltistan area of northern Pakistan and Xinjiang province of western China. Out of the 1300 km highway, 887 km traverses through Pakistan while rest of the 413 km passes through the Chinese territory.

Danyore Rock inscriptions
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Danyore Rock Inscriptions

The Danyore Rock Inscriptions is a gigantic boulder bearing inscriptions from the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. The inscription is the most important discovery of Danyore and was seen for the first time by Karl Jettmar in 1958. The inscribed rock is situated in the premises of a private house in Danyore, across Gilgit city in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and is locally known as “Likhitu Giri”. The archaeological site is not very much popular and known only to a limited count of individuals/organizations related to archaeology and tourism.

The town of Danyore is located on the main Karakoram Highway towards Hunza, south of Gilgit and separated only by Gilgit River and Hunza River from two sides. Danyore is accessible by car in 10 minutes from Gilgit yet finding the exact location of the Danyore Rock Inscription can be a challenge as the signboard showing the direction to the exact location has been disappeared and the rock is located off the main Karakoram Highway leading through a narrow street to a private house in the settlement.  The family living in the house didn’t know much about the worth of the rock.

Measuring 13 x 7 feet, the gigantic rock bears the names of the Tibetan kings who ruled in Gilgit during the 7th and 8th centuries in a five-line Sanskrit inscription in the late Brahmi character. The inscriptions, as per the renowned Pakistani archaeologist Dr Ahmed Hasan Dani, were engraved by the prince Kumaramatya and belonged to the line of rulers mentioned in the Hatun inscription in the Ghizer Valley. It confers royal titles of Patola Shahi Shahanushahi and Parama-Bhattaraka to the ruler Jayamangala Vikramaditya Nandi of the Vikramaditya family.

According to Dr Dani, the purpose of this inscription appears to commemorate some conquest of a local ruler, probably the overthrow of a raid by Tibetans in the upper Indus valley. Moreover, the Kingdom of Great and Little Bolor merged under Tibetan suzerainty in 725. The rock, however, has deteriorated with the passage of time and the inscription faded badly. It shows that Sanskrit was once a part of this land and bears significant evidence of the past that needs to be preserved.

Phander Lake
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan Lakes

Phander Lake

Phander Lake is a striking Lake situated in the majestic Phander Valley of Ghizer district in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The Lake is an important source of fresh water and trout fish, fed by the Ghizer River and located on the Gilgit-Chitral Road.

Locally known as Nango Chatt, the 44 meters deep crystal clear water of the lake is filled with grass and plants easily visible from a distance. The lake is surrounded by poplar trees that further add to the entire beauty. The curvy lake is sandwiched between two ridges that create a scenic view of the entire valley and the lake itself. One end of the lake is closed and the other is the major source of water passage from the river that keeps the lake water fresh.

The lake showcases panoramic views in four distinct seasons and is a major source of tourists’ attraction in the region. The western ridge of the lake has a government rest house while the eastern ridge has a small unit of PTDC motels offering best views of the lake and the valleys downstream.

Both for day excursionists and for overnight staying visitors, the valley has much to offer. Besides scenic views, the food, particularly the local trout fish, and fruits or various kinds are some of the other attractions of the region.

The lake is situated on the crossroads between Gilgit and Chitral and can be easily accessed from both sides. From Gilgit, it is about 173 km taking around 5 hours.

Gilgit-Baltistan
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit-Baltistan

Formerly known as the Northern Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan, is the northernmost territory hosting some of the world’s highest mountains and longest glaciers outside the polar region. Besides housing an unmatched natural beauty and glorious manmade landmarks, the region populates a diverse range of ethnic groups proudly exercising respective cultures and speaking various languages and dialects. The land is worldly famous for its tourist attractions.

Geography

Geographically the territory stretches over an area of 72,971 km (28,174 sq miles) bordered by the Xinjiang province of China to the east and northeast, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, and Indian-administered state of Jammu & Kashmir to the south.

Geologically this region is considered unstable. The region is the meeting point of Indian and Eurasian plates and the 5 cm annual northward movement of Indian plate gives rise to Nanga Parbat an average of 7mm annually.

Major Districts

Gilgit-Baltistan comprises of three main divisions known as Gilgit, Baltistan, and Diamer. The three divisions further constitute ten districts. Gilgit division encompasses four districts including Gilgit, Hunza, Nagar, and Ghizer; Diamer division has Diamer and Astor districts; and Baltistan division incorporates Skardu, Shigar, Kharmang and Ghanche districts.

History

Historically, Gilgit-Baltistan has been the crossroads of ancient trade routes and a melting pot of ancient civilizations. The region has for several centuries remained an important Buddhist centre of learning. The Silk Route, one of the routes making up networks of ancient Silk Routes, is now the Karakoram Highway (KKH) has more than 50,000 petroglyphs and inscriptions located between Hunza and Shatial. These carvings were left by travellers including invaders, traders, and pilgrims who passed along the upper Indus. The earliest known carvings date back to between 5000 and 1000 BCE are the figures of triangular men, hunting scenes and single animals usually larger than hunters.

Gilgit-Baltistan has remained independent until British colonization in the 19th century. It was divided into many mountain principalities. During colonial period it remained under the dual control of the British Indian Government and Jammu & Kashmir state. After the partition of Indian subcontinent and creation of Pakistan, a local revolt overthrew Kashmir rule and claimed independence. Since then the area is administered by Pakistan and functioning directly under the federal government.

Festivals

There are cultural festivals and religious festivals celebrated in Gilgit-Baltistan with zeal and zest. Major cultural festivals celebrated in the region are:

Naltar Ski Festival is an international Ski competition takes place at Naltar every year in February.

Navroz is celebrated on 21 to 23 March to welcome the new beginning of the year with blossom.

Ginani/Ganooni is celebrated from 21 to 25 June to offer gratitude for the wheat crop and is celebrated with fervour by making local dishes and villagers all meet in one place to celebrate.

Shandur Polo Festival is a legendary event takes place every year in July on the highest and historic polo ground between the two arc rivals of Gilgit and Chitral polo teams.

Eid ul Adha

Eid ul Fitr

Eid Milad un Nabi

Shab e Meraj

Shab e Qadar

Shab e Barat

Jashan e Ramadan

Youm e Ashura

Attractions

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the 14 world’s highest peaks more than 8000m above sea level, more than 50 peaks above 7,000 m, a countless number of peaks above 5000m and 4000m successively besides three longest glaciers outside the polar region.

Kha Basi Cafe
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Kha Basi Cafe

The Kha Basi Café is a unique restaurant located under the shadow of Altit Fort in the ancient royal garden called “the Kha Basi” – a gorgeous and very well-kept-up fruit orchard full of apricot trees – located on the edge of the Altit town in Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.

The café has in the past served as a summerhouse of the royal family of Hunza. It was a nice piece of simple old-fashioned architecture almost falling to decay. It was recently renovated and turned into a classic restaurant. Standing at the verge of the royal garden, overlooking the majestic mountains of Hunza/Nagar and the Karakoram Highway running along the Hunza River, the Kha Basi Café has both majestic views and a traditional taste.

For the tourists visiting the town and the fort, the Kha Basi Café is the top choice that proudly presents traditional Hunza cuisine as well as light snacks and refreshments. Although the range of choices is quite extensive, the real specialities indeed are the top of the line local traditional dishes. Dawdo, Chap Shuro, Burus Shapik, Diram Phitti, Berikutz, and Tumuru Chai are some of the recommended food choices that one must taste at the Kha Basi Café.

The café is run solely by local women and remains open 7 days a week. The staff is trained by Serena Hotels and the property itself functions under the administration of Serena Hotels. The cafe has a small indoor dining space and an “L” shaped veranda providing majestic views of the orchard and surrounding mountains. There is no better place to enjoy traditional Hunza food and relax and enjoy the atmosphere before or after visiting the nearby Altit Fort.

The Kha Basi Café is not only a place to eat local food in a serene atmosphere, yet it is a place truly representing the traditional warmth and cultural beauty of the Hunza Valley. For tourists seeking to soak into local tradition, there is a group of trained young artists to entertain guests on special occasions. There is also a small traditional house, a unique piece of architecture, offering exclusive accommodation for tourists who wish to enjoy their stay in a traditional house with modern facilities. It was a successful pilot project of CIQAM – a social enterprise of local women – particularly built using indigenous material. The facility provides a serene and sophisticated atmosphere not many had the pleasure to enjoy.

The orchard has a repute for being one of the gorgeous places for photography. During the blossom, the entire garden emanates the romantic fragrance and presenting an exquisite look; during summers, it is lush green and cool; in autumn it turns as a place must visit to see the diverse colours and it wears a white blanket of snow during winters.

Location and Access

There is a single entrance gate to visit the Kha Basi and the café itself, the traditional house, and the Altit Fort. Kha Basi is accessible at the end of the streets of Altit town. The Altit Town is located across Karimabad, on the Ahmedabad road approachable from the Karakoram Highway.

Contact details

Call for booking during the business hour at (0581) 3457012

For further information about the Kha Basi Cafe, Hunza, please visit http://serenagilgitbaltistan.com/altit-fort-cafe/

Danyore Suspension Bridge
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan Monuments

Danyore Suspension Bridge

The Danyore Suspension Bridge near Gilgit is one of the oldest suspension bridges in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The 510 ft long bridge has served as a source of commute to the people otherwise had to take the local raft or a detour to travel to Gilgit city – the administrative headquarter and the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly northern areas. It is now serving as one of the major tourist attractions in Gilgit-Baltistan used only by the pedestrians and motorcyclists.

History

The construction work of the Karakoram Highway completed in 1978 while before the construction of the highway, Gilgit-Baltistan was a remote territory. Access to the region from other parts of the country was hard and the poor infrastructure within the region made things tough for the residents.

Gilgit being the headquarters and business centre attracted people from immediate and far surroundings for many reasons – education, jobs, merchandise selling, medical treatment and for other purposes. For the people settled to the immediate south of Gilgit Town otherwise separated by the Hunza River, along with the northern bank of Gilgit river, that include Danyore, Oshikhandas and Bagrot, crossing over to Gilgit was a tough job. Before installation of the local raft (Jaalo) on the Hunza River in 1945 to cross over to Gilgit, these residents would make a long detour to reach the town and that would cost almost an entire day as compared to about 15 to 20 minutes today.

The need for construction of a bridge was conceived and a hefty fund of Rs. 20,000 was generated through the contribution by the residents of Danyore and southern regions in the late 1950s.  As soon as the suspension bridge was erected, it was washed away by the Hunza River being extremely low to the riverside. It was indeed a huge loss.

The location for another bridge, on a fair altitude from the river, was selected and again through the contribution of funds and donation of construction wood by each household, the construction of current suspension bridge was accomplished in 1960.

The Danyore suspension bridge has for more than five decades served as a reliable source of commute to the people travelling to Gilgit and reduced the ordeals of frequent travellers. The local raft could provide transfer only in daylight; the bridge provided a 24-hour hassle-free service and made the lives of the people easy. Its construction proved as a big relief.

Construction

The bridge was constructed by Ahmed Ali (late), well-known as “Thikedar Bereno”, a renowned constructor and self-taught engineer from Hunza who had earned name and repute for his construction expertise and projects, particularly of bridges, across Gilgit-Baltistan.

The construction of Danyore suspension bridge began in 1957 and completed by the end of 1960. Principal work included the construction of the bridge itself over the Hunza River and the annexing single lane curved tunnel to the south leading access to Danoyre which was dug by locals without proper engineering equipment.

The bridge is situated over the Hunza River almost 2 km short of its confluence with Gilgit River. It was only meant to use for mini vehicles since it was constructed until an alternate concrete bridge was built. The western end of the bridge is connected to KIU campus that further leads to Gilgit town while the eastern end is connected to a single lane tunnel in Danyore side that further meets the Karakoram Highway.

The location, length, and design of the bridge make it one of the spectacular bridges in the world. Driving on the bridge and passing through the tunnel, abruptly connecting the bridge, is quite a technical job and a test the skill and nerve of local drivers.

The bridge has been closed for conventional transportation recently and only pedestrians and motorcyclists can pass through after it was declared unsafe by local administration.  For general traffic, a concrete bridge has been constructed nearby that can sustain the flow of all type of traffic.

Attraction

The Danyore Suspension Bridge was renovated in 2018 and the sections of road on both ends of the bridge have been refurbished and decorated to turn it as a tourist attraction. To the Gilgit side, there is a significant Buddhist rock carving site preserved for the visitors that further adds to the attraction of the site. The nearest attraction to the Danyore side, on the KKH, is the Chinese Graveyard which is a must visit tourist site.

The views of the bridge from both elevated sides are quite spectacular as the bridge itself has been built on a comparatively lower setting. Likewise, the views from the bridge are equally amazing. For new visitors, visiting this site is simply a memorable experience.

Khunjarab Pass
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan Passes

Khunjerab Pass

At 4700 m the Khunjerab Pass is the highest paved international border crossing in the world. It is the meeting point of two sections of the Karakoram Highway connecting Gilgit-Baltistan area of northern Pakistan and Xinjiang province of western China. Out of the 1300 km highway, 887 km traverses through Pakistan while rest of the 413 km passes through the Chinese territory.

The area constituting the Khunjerab Pass (Or Khunzerav) is quite a fair stretch surrounded by the Karakoram mountains, mostly snow topped. During summers, the area around the Pak-China border pass is decked with a variety of wildflowers on green patches in the foothills of the glittering snow-covered mountains encompassing some of the most impressive sceneries in the world.

The Khunjerab Pass is the origin point of the Hunza River. The melting snow from the peaks around the border streams to form a creek that flows down and several of these waterways along the KKH meet to make up the Hunza River until it meets Gilgit River in Gilgit. The Gilgit River further flows along the Karakoram Highway and meets up the River Indus at the Junction point of three mountain ranges and continues all the way to Thakot.

Construction of the Khunjerab Pass

The Kilik and Mintaka Pass located to the north of Khunjerab served as primary passes on the Karakoram range before the construction of the KKH. The choice of Khunjerab Pass for Karakoram Highway was decided on the technical basis with the major reason being Kilik and Mintaka more susceptible to air strikes and Khunjerab was recommended in 1966 and created in 1978.

 Attraction

The Khunjerab Pass is a major tourist attraction drawing thousands of domestic and international tourists on a daily basis. The entire Karakoram Highway is crowned with natural and manmade attractions and scenic views at every turn. The panorama on the top is extraordinarily marvellous providing options for short hikes and for photography. A journey along the highway all the way to the border area simply provides with a lifetime experience.

The major portion of the Khunjerab Pass encompasses the Khunjerab National Park which was established in 1979 to preserve endangered species. The Khunjerab park is home to several rare animal species including the Marco Polo sheep and the Snow Leopard. The eastern stretch of the Khunjerab pass makes up the Chinese Xinjiang province territory which could be easily seen from the border area.

Access

On the Pakistani side, the pass is 75 km from Sost customs and immigration check post while it is about 180 km from Hunza, 280 km from Gilgit airport and 890 km from the capital city Islamabad. On the Chinese side, it is 130 km from Tashkurgan, about 420 km from Kashgar, and 1890 km from Urumqui. There are helpful road-sign giving tourists information about the distances involved.

It must be noted that the Chinese side is right-hand drive and Pakistan side is left-hand drive. The border is the switching point.

Although the highway to the Pakistani side is very well paved yet the sudden altitude gain near the top again may slow down the journey. Likewise, there are checkpoints on both sides of the pass that may also lead to slow down the overall journey.

On the Pakistan side, there is a certain amount of fee charged to all local and international tourists. Currently, it is Rs. 40 from Pakistani tourists and $ 8 from international tourists. The entry fee may be revised every year and knowing the exact amount well in time will be a good idea to manage expenses particularly for large groups.

The pass remains opened from May till November for trade and tourism and in the remainder of the period remains closed and inaccessible due to heavy snowfall. During November it sometimes gets extremely cold and sometimes winds make it hard to stay on the top. However, in fine weather conditions, it is still a place must visit.

 Bus service

There is a daily bus service between Sost (the last human settlement along the KKH), Pakistan, and Tashkurghan, China. Both Pakistani and Chinese buses serve a drop service from their respective bus stations in the home country and return empty. One can hire private Cars/4WD from Sost to Tashkurghan for a drop-off and can proceed to Kashgar using a shared ride or simply hire a taxi.

Precautions

Due to high altitude, it has been observed that some tourists may suffer altitude sickness. The symptoms including feeling dizziness, having headaches, or even experience shortness of breath. It is advisable to immediately return to low altitude and see a doctor or must carry altitude sickness medicine in advance.

During peak summers there are chances of flooding due to sudden snow melting near the top and a timely return is advisable. Moreover, sudden loose-gravel breaks, particularly in rainfall can also cause damages on the highway.

Whether you ride a motorbike or drive a car, and particularly if you are new to the refurbished KKH, be very careful to keep your cool on the accelerator and don’t ever be overconfident. After the renovation, the Karakoram Highway has cost many precious lives. For the tourists travelling from down cities, knowledge of the entire highway before planning to take up a self-drive tour is mandatory. Enjoy the trip and return home with beautiful memories.

Before you go

All Pakistani tourists must carry their CNIC and foreign tourists must have a Passport to prove their identification. Foreign tourists or Pakistani nationals crossing over to China must obviously carry a Chinese Visa (Pass for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who only wish to travel to the nearby city of Kashgar).

Buses from Sost leave for Tashkurghan in the morning (between 08:00 am and 09:00 am) and it is advisable that the ticket be purchased well in time. In case if you wish to hire a car, there are private Pakistani cars allowed to travel all the way to Kashgar. The fare is not fixed and is negotiable.

Junction Point of the world's Three Mountain Ranges
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Junction Point of Three Mountain Ranges

The junction point of three mountain ranges is situated near Jaglot on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), only 40 km southeast of Gilgit, Pakistan. It is here that the world’s three famous mountain ranges – the Karakoram (the black gravel), the Himalaya (home of snow), and the Hindukush (the killer of Hindus) – make a knot popularly known as the “Junction Point of the world’s three mountain ranges”. This exclusive site also serves as the junction of Gilgit and Indus Rivers and the Skardu road branches out from the KKH near this place.

Geographic Significance

The junction point is a venue of interest due to its unique geographic significance, not only in Pakistan but in the entire world. Pakistan is the only country where the world’s three renowned mountain ranges meet with their respective highest peaks recorded top of the list in their respective range and famous in the entire world as Nanga Parbat, K-2, and Terich Mir. These three major mountain ranges are the sub-ranges of the great Himalayas known as trans-Himalayas.

While standing at the junction point, it is easy to outline the direction of these mountain ranges. The Himalayan range is located to the south and east of Indus River. The Karakorum range stretches towards the northeast of Gilgit River. To the west of Gilgit / Indus River is the Hindu-Kush range.

Mountain Ranges

 Karakoram Range

Unique in many aspects, the Karakoram Range with a length of about 500km covers the borders between Pakistan, India, and China, in the regions of Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan), Ladakh (India), and Xinjiang region, (China). It is home to the highest concentration of peaks in just a radius of 160 km which are higher than 5,500 m and more than 100 in numbers including the second highest peak in the world, K-2(at 8,611m). The Karakoram Range is the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside the Polar Regions including some of the longest glaciers in the world such as Siachen, Batura, Baltoro, Biafo, Hisper, Gondogoro, Chogolisa etc.

Himalayan range

Likewise, the Himalayan range is home to the 2nd highest peak in Pakistan- Nanga Parbat (8,126m), notoriously known as the killer mountain. Pakistan makes up the western anchor of the Great Himalayas and covers the Astor District dominated by Nanga Parbat massif and parts of Kashmir. The Great Himalayan Range spreads over 2400 km across Pakistan, Nepal, and India. Mount Everest (8,848 m), the world’s highest mountain peak, is in Nepal.

Hindu Kush Range

The Hindu Kush Range covers nearly 9600km long looming with its own wonders. It is mostly hosting smaller peaks most of them less than 7,500 m high. This range encompasses the peaks of Ghizer, Yasin and Ishkoman valleys of Pakistan and reaches the Queen of Chitral, Terich Mir, at 7,708 meters in the district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The range further stretches from the Pamirs to Iran.

Tourist hotspot

A brief stopover at this point is mandatory to get educated about this exclusive site. This unique venue also offers a magnificent panorama of the entire zone from the confluence of Gilgit & Indus Rivers to the stretch of the mountain ranges bowing here to make a junction.

There is local folklore attached to the junction point which is discussed even today that this site used to be the abode of Jinns and fairies. It was said that at the confluence of the rivers the water was used by these supernatural creatures for drinking and taking bath.

The site

An elevated prominent platform accessible by stairs has been erected on the edge of the Karakoram Highway that gives a 360-degree view of the entire region and pictorial information on the coordinates of the mountain. There is enough parking space created for vehicles and informative signboards have been displayed providing important details on the venue.

Unfortunately, not so many – both from within the country and from abroad – seem aware about the significance of this fascinating piece of land. Many tourists (mostly domestic or those travelling by public transport or even those who pass this place in the odd hours/in darkness) just pass by without noticing it and miss the opportunity to see it. However, many international tourists make it a vital part of their itinerary well before getting to the venue.

Best Time to Visit

The Karakoram Highway remains opened year-round and one can visit or pass by this site any time of the year. However, the best time to visit Gilgit-Baltistan is from March till November as winters are quite freezing and hard to bear in the region.

Rakaposhi
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan Mountains

Rakaposhi

Rakaposhi is a famous mountain peak in the Karakoram mountain range of Pakistan, to be exact, standing arrogantly in the Nagar valley of Gilgit-Baltistan with Bagrot and Danyore in the background. It is the 27th highest and most amazing mountain in the world and ranked as 12th highest in Pakistan. Rakaposhi means “Snow Covered” and is locally called Bilchhar Dumani (“Mother of Mist” or “Mother of Clouds”).

The first and most fabulous glimpse of Rakaposhi, while travelling from Gilgit to Hunza, is from the Karakoram Highway (KKH) opposite to Kino Kutto (“Black Knee” in local Shina language to denote the shape of the rocky mountain located between Chalt and Khizr Abad). This site is also called the view point of Rakaposhi but the major and famous view point is located in Ghulmet. The broader view of Rakaposhi, however, at this particular spot with Jaffarabad village in the backdrop is stunning and serves as a threshold to Hunza.

The scenic views of Rakaposhi from this point ahead along the whole course of KKH all the way to the Hunza valley are diverse. However, if travelling from the opposite side of the Hunza River, along with the valleys of lower Hunza or Shinaki (Khizr Abad, Hussainabad, Mayun, and Khanabad), one can have stunning faces of Rakaposhi in sight. From Khanabad, it is possible to make it again to the KKH in Ghulmet, almost 5 km short of the viewpoint. The view point in Ghulmet village is about 75 km from Gilgit and is a famous vacationer spot.

Rakaposhi is notable for its exceptional rise over a local terrain of 5900m in only 11.2 km horizontal distance from the Hunza-Nagar River. It is the only mountain peak in the world rises directly from the scenic cultivated fields. Rakaposhi is more prevalent for its excellence than its rank.

Rakaposhi was first ascended by Mike Banks and Tom Patey via the Southwest Spur/Ridge route in 1958. Both endured minor frostbite amid the climb. Another climber slipped and fell on the drop and died amid the night.

The people of Nagar have dedicated the Rakaposhi extend mountain region as a national park and was inaugurated by Minister for Northern Areas. The Rakaposhi mountain extend is the home of endangered species including Marco Polo sheep, Snow Leopard, wolves and several other different species.

 

 

Rakaposhi View Point KKH
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Rakaposhi View Point

Rakaposhi View Point or “the Zero Point of Rakaposhi” is a prominent viewpoint offering the closest view of Rakaposhi and the natural beauty lies in its scenery. This remarkable viewpoint is located right on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) in Ghulmet village of Nagar Valley.

The Karakoram Highway is not merely an asphalt line connecting Pakistan and China at the Khunjerab Pass; it is rather a highway crowned with a series of tourist attractions. These attractions include natural beauty, archaeological sites, cultural heritage and architectural wonders that lure tourists to make short stopovers and overnight stays to further explore these attractions. Rakaposhi View Point is one of such places bearing utmost natural beauty.

While travelling between Gilgit and Hunza, tourists make a must stopover at the Rakaposhi View Point, to relax and to enjoy the natural scenery in the shadow of Rakaposhi – the world’s 27th highest peak at 7,788 m. Small terraces along the water flowing down from the glacier have been created for tourists to sit, eat, and enjoy. During summers tourists enjoy sitting by, dipping feet in cold glacier water, and taking pictures of scenic views.

The Rakaposhi View Point was developed dramatically over the course of several years. The gradual rise in tourist influx lead to a steady increase in its prominence that further spurred development of infrastructure at the site. Major natural attractions at the site include the mountain itself, the glacier surrounded by greenery and the melting stream flowing down the site permitting the visitors to enjoy the scenery and breeze.

In the beginning, the Rakaposhi viewpoint was nothing more than a gift shop and a local food outlet to serve mostly local travellers. Steadily, the development of local businesses including gift shops, handicraft shops, tuck shops, restaurants, campsite and now tourist class accommodation has turned this place a full-fledged tourist attraction. A new road has been constructed giving close access to the glacier coming down from Rakaposhi and development of other tourist attractions is underway. There are chances that this site will turn to be a major tourist destination.

For tourists travelling between Gilgit and Hunza, this place is a great choice to stop by for a late and lavish breakfast or for an open-air lunch with great views. Chap-shuro, a kind of local pizza is the speciality of this place. One can order any kind of fresh local food at an affordable price. You will always get delicious food with personalized services.

 

 

 

 

collision point of continental plates
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Collision Point of Continental Plates

The collision point of continental plates is located near Chalt Valley on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), some 53 km north of Gilgit town. The Indian and the Eurasian continental plates collided along a line which passed through this point giving rise to the Himalayan mountain range and formed Tibetan plateau some 50 million years ago. The tremendous pressure forced the earth’s crust to produce the towering Karakoram Mountains in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.

Historic accounts

Historically, 225 million years ago India was a large island separated from Asia by the Tethys Ocean. India started northward drift toward Asia when the super-continental Pangea began to break up some 200 million years ago. India was moving at a rate between 9 and 16 cm some 80 million years ago when it was 6,400 km south of the Asian continent. However, from 50 to 40 million years ago, the rate of northward drift slowed to around 4-6 cm per year. This pace is interpreted as the beginning of collision between the Indian and the Eurasian continental plates.

When the collision occurred, the Eurasian plate was partly crumpled and buckled up above the Indian plates causing the continental crust to thicken pushing up the Himalayan and Tibetan plateau. The continental crust here is twice the average thickness at around 75 km which marks the end of volcanic activity in the region. The Indian plate is still pushing north into the Eurasian landmass at about five centimeters a year causing the mountains to rise about seven millimeters annually.

Tourist Significance

Sadly, the geographic significance of the collision point of continental plates is a fact still even unknown to the general people of Gilgit-Baltistan. It simply failed to catch the tourist’s eye until the roadside signboards were displayed for tourist information most recently which may obviously help locals and tourists educate about its significance. However, there must be a platform for tourists to spend the time to educate themselves and enjoy the unique mountain formation in the surroundings. This site has the potential to be a prominent picnic spot.

The old silk route ran along the other side and some of the sections of the old Silk Route are still intact which can easily be seen from this point. The old Silk Route is only used by locals to take their herd to the pastures for grazing. It is in the news that the ancient Silk Route would be renovated to promote tourism.

Local legend

Locally the collision point is termed as Bidru-Kha and sometimes Chalt Xhang (Threshold). This particular site has several local legends attached to it. For instance, locals offer sacrifices to spirits by slaughtering a chicken/goat or any other animal while passing through this point with a bride and groom on the marriage day.

Likewise, there is another notion local shamans believe that this place was a pathway to the three worlds – the world inhabited by the spirits or the upper world, the material human world, and the underworld of the souls and the dead.

And finally, this site acts as a buffer zone of climate – the weather in lower parts of Hunza can be forecasted using climatic conditions right above this particular point – an overcast sky may refer to chances of rain while blue patches in the clouds mean the sky is getting clear.

Victory monument of Taj Mughal
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan Monuments

Victory Monument of Taj Mughal

The 700 years old Victory Monument of Taj Mughal is a commemorative tower, measuring 21’-10” high and 14’-4” wide, located on a mountain lap in Gilgit town, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The monument was named after Taj-ud-Din Mughal, an Ismaili ruler from Badakhshan, who came to Gilgit -Baltistan during the 13th century AD. The monument was built by his soldiers to celebrate his victory.

Location and access:

The victory monument of Taj Mughal is sited on the backdrop of the southern mountains of Gilgit city, about 1000 feet above Gilgit town, overlooking the Gilgit and Danyore towns. The monument can be reached by foot from the southern end of Jutial by crossing the water channel followed by a rocky track in about 45 minutes hike. It is about another 10 km drive if you plan to visit from Gilgit town. There is an alternate route from Jutial Nalah, yet very perilous, and is hard to trace. It is perhaps only used either by shepherds or local people. This track leading from Jutial Nalah is not recommended for anyone including tourists.

The monument is erected on the ridge of the Rocky Mountains using local stone and clay.  The tower is round in shape yet gradually losing its composition and may come down to disappear at some point. Although the base of the tower is given temporary support by mending some sections, however, the southern face has almost worn down and an immediate renovation is required.

The site offers a scenic view of the entire stretch of Gilgit town from Bagrot in the east to Baseen in the west with Gilgit River running across the length of the city. The tower is called “Shikaari” in local Shina language. One can enjoy the picturesque views of Gilgit and surrounding valleys covered by guarding mountain peaks.

Best time to visit:

The monument should be visited either in the early morning or in the afternoon if planned in peak summers (May to August). The best season to visit is between February and November. It is a half day rewarding excursion for tourists. Erected on the barren mountain, there is no water available; a bottle of water is must to carry.

Gilgit Town:

At an elevation of 1454 meters, Gilgit, the district and provincial administrative headquarter of Gilgit-Baltistan, is a spectacular quaint little town gradually a modern city. The town is located amidst three mountain ranges – the Karakoram, Hindukush, and the Himalayas – and has for centuries been a prosperous trading center and a melting pot of ancient civilization.

Gilgit is surrounded by beautiful lakes, gushing rivers, longest glaciers and some of the world’s highest mountains such as Nanga Parbat (8,125 meters) and Rakaposhi (7,788 meters). It is one of the world’s multi-lingual regions where more than 10 languages and several dialects are spoken. The local dialect is Shina, however, Urdu and English are also spoken and understood widely.

Besides the Victory monument, there are a number of attractions in Gilgit including the 7th century Karga Buddha, Hal ga Naal, Hanzal Stupa, Gilgit Suspension Bridge, Chinar Bagh, Buddhist Rock Carvings near KIU, Danyore Suspension Bridge, Rock inscriptions in Danyore, and Chinese Graveyard Danyore.

Gilgit has an airport and flights are operated from Islamabad on a daily basis though subject to weather condition. Gilgit can be reached by road from Islamabad along the KKH, Chitral via Gilgit-Chitral road, and from Kashgar in China along the KKH. The best season to visit is from May to mid-October.

Things to carry:

  • Water bottle
  • Sunburn cream
  • Shoes with good grip
  • Glasses and cap/hat
  • Camera/cell phone
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