November 2013 - Travel Pakistan

Kel Valley Azad Jammu Kashmir

Hunza Valley in Autumn

K-2 Siren of the Himalayas

Malam Jabba Swat Valley

Shangrilla Resort Skardu

Kohe Safed FATA

Passu Cones Gilgit-Baltistan

Nov 28, 2013

Attabad Lake Gojal Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan

Attaabad lake is one of the famous and most visited tourist destinations of Pakistan. The magnificent lake stretched over kilometers surrounded by the towering mountains of Karakoram is, in fact, the best place to visit in the upper valleys of Hunza. 

A Brief History

This lake was not a natural lake instead it was formed by a massive land sliding which blocked the Hunza River for almost more than 5 months. It was on January 4, 2010, when massive rocks fell in the Hunza River blocking the downflow of the river completely. The debris blocked the flow of the river and its level started rising inundating the valleys upstream. In total, the river inundated 21 kilometers upstream and the depth of the lake was recorded about 100 meters (333ft) before it started flowing over the debris. 
The landslide lake destroyed 24 kilometers of Karakoram Highway (KKH) and several villages and hamlets upstream and downstream of the lake. Before the overflow of lake its rising level inundated many villages and hamlets and once it overflowed over the debris it submerged and flooded many settlements.  

Tourist inflow 

When the water started flowing over the debris the level of the water started falling and the length of the lake contracted and now it is 13 kilometers long. The water level has also been lowered down from 100 meters to 10 meters (33ft) by blasting the spillways. Initially, when the Karakoram Highway (KKH) was inundated and washed away by the lake there was no land access between the upper and lower valleys of Hunza. In other words, there was no land access between Pakistan and China because the 24 kilometers of KKH was badly destroyed by the lake. 
Until 2015 the lake was only the way of crossing and the vehicles were loaded on wooden boats and carried to the shores of the lake. But now the government of Pakistan has constructed tunnels at the Attabad lake and vehicles are no more required to load on the boats. The turquoise water and the towering rocky mountains in the wilderness of Karakoram provide the stunning view and the perfect place for the photography. 

How to reach there?

When you are in Gilgit it will be at a distance of 125 kilometers and it will take a maximum of two and half hours. It is at a distance of about 30 kilometers from the Karimabad, administrative center of Hunza. It will take about half an hour to reach there from Hunza. 

Other places to visit around Attabad Lake

When you are in Gilgit and you want to visit maximum places in a single visit then you need to be considerate about the possible routes to follow and a sound plan will save your time and money as well. When you want to visit the lake there are many beautiful and spectacular places along the KKH en route to this lake and beyond this lake. 
Some 30 kilometers uphill from this lake is the Passu village, a famous village known for the Passu Cones. Passu Cones are a combination of peaks in the Passu village which looks like cones. 
Some 200 kilometers uphill is the Khunjerab Pass, the border of China and Pakistan. So, these are the places you can visit along the KKH in a single visit. 

Nov 26, 2013

Borith Lake Gilgit-Baltistan

Borith Lake is a beautiful lake in the village of Borith near Gulmit and Gojal valleys of upper Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan. It can be accessed from the Husseini Village near the Gulkin Village.
It can be accessed from Husseini Village through 2 km unpaved road or it can be accessed directly from the Gulkin Village passing directly through glacier with a tracking route of 2-3 hour.
The lake becomes the home of the thousand of migratory birds from the southern Pakistan, Central Asia, and South China at different seasons. 

Karambar Lake Ghizer Gilgit-Baltistan

Located at a distance of 205 km this lake is the 2nd highest lake in Pakistan on the border of KPK and Gilgit-Baltistan. The approximate length of the lake is 3.9 km and width is 2 km. The depth of the lake is 52 meters. The area of the lake is 263.44 hectares. Also, this lake has the highest water clarity in all the lakes of Pakistan.
The surrounding landscape of the lake spectacular and breath-taking.

Upper Kachura Lake Skardu Gigit-Baltistan

Upper Kachura lake is one of the most beautiful and spectacular fresh water lakes in Skardu district of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Its depth is about 70 meters and the crystal clear water is perfect for fishing.
The surrounding landscape is just amazing, covered by the forest of different species including eucalyptus, wild apricot, pine, and different kinds of bushes. The giant rocky mountains of Himalaya and the Karakoram and the huge rock reserves around the lake gives a perfect scenery for photography.

How to reach there?

When you are in Skardu visiting this lake wouldn't take long. It is just 30 kilometers away from the downtown and you can reach the lake in a maximum of one hour. When you are in Skardu a route leading to the famous resort, Shangrilla Resort will lead you to the upper Kachura lake. The route for the lake is same from Skardu city up to Shangrila Resort and this lake is just 2 kilometers from the resort. 
If you are staying at the Shangrila Resort then it is easier for you to visit this lake. 

Rush Lake, World's Highest Alpine Lake in Gilgit-Baltistan

Rush Lake is one of the most spectacular and breath-taking lakes in Gilgit-Baltistan region of the Pakistan. It is also the world's highest alpine lake in the world. The Rush lake can be accessed via Nagar Valley of the Gilgit-Baltistan. The visitors can take a view of some of the most spectacular landscapes of the Karakorum Mountain Ranges which includes, Spantik, Malubiting, Phuparash Peak and Ultar Sar.
While heading towards the Rush Lake one can enjoy the views of beautiful terrace fields, glaciers and snow capped mountains.

Nov 24, 2013

Kharpocho Fort Skardu, Pakistan

The Kharpocho Fort is a beautiful and historically important fort of the Baltistan region. It is located in the city of Skardu on a small hill surrounded by the Indus River, Pakistan's longest river" from one side and Skardu city from another side, only at a walking distance of half an hour from the main market of the Skardu city, Yadgar Chowk.

Construction of Kharpocho Fort of the King of forts at Skardu has been attributed to the famous ruler of Skardu – Maqpoon Bugha (1490 – 1515 AD), the great grandfather of Ali Sher Khan Anchan (1560 – 1625 AD) by Hishmatullah.
But Mughal historians are of the view that the great fort was built by Ali Sher Khan Anchan himself. This view is upheld by European writers such as Cunningham, Foso Marine, and G.T. Vagne etc. Some observations about this fort have been made in the Imperial Gazetteer of British India. It states that one of the most famous of the Gralpos (Monarchs of Skardu), Ali Sher Khan, who ruled until the end of the 16th century, conquered Ladakh and built a fort at Skardu.

Kharpocho Fort

A famous tale about this states that this fort was built in such a way that there was an underground way from Raja's (Monarch of City) fort in the downtown to this fort. This fort was actually built for defensive purpose as it is on the top of a hill which is surrounded by Indus River on one side and Skardu town on another side. Still, there is only one way from the town side to reach the fort because the face of the ridge facing the town provides a steep vertical drop and it is impossible to climb the hill from this side, except the built-in way of the southeast face. 
When there arose any chance of attack by other states, Raja moved here. As there was only one way to enter from town side, it was impossible to attack from another side because of the Indus River, this way used to lock during any attack and soldiers were put on duty at the entrance. All the communications were done through the underground way.
You can also take a bird-eye-view of whole Skardu city in a single glance from here. 

Altit Fort Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Where the Altit Fort is located? 

Altit Fort is located in the well known Hunza valley of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan at a distance of about 100 kilometers from the Gilgit city and 600 kilometers from the Islamabad city. The actual age of the fort is said to be 1100 years. According to some sources, this fort is the oldest for in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. 

View of Altit fort, with the central town to the right and below the fort.

The architecture of the fort 

The fort is built on a sheer rock cliff of about 300 meters (100ft) on the bank of the Hunza River. The extreme gullies, sharp drop-off, and location high above the river made this settlement highly defensible and an older settlement than many in the central valley.

The majestic historical Altit fort is the center of attraction due to its architectural design and strategic location. Altit is the birthplace of the Hunza Kingdom and Altit fort is the first fort of the region. The fort has been constructed in six different stages by using various natural levels of the rock. The construction has been made right on the edge of a sheer rock cliff that drops 1000 feet straight down to the Hunza River.

History of the Altit Fort

According to some sources, the fort is said to be constructed about 1100 years ago. But it is said that the architecture of the fort has been transformed throughout the time. The central tower is known as "Shikari Tower" is said to be the oldest structure in the assembly of the whole fort. 
The fort was constructed by the ruler of Hunza Valley which has been a princely state since early ages. In early ages, invasions were common therefore the construction of forts at strategical sites were common especially in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, elsewhere in Pakistan fortification of forts were common but in Gilgit-Baltistan, forts have been built on rock cliffs and on top of hills to make defensive purpose easier. Such forts like Kharpocho Fort in Skardu and many other forts in Gilgit-Baltistan are the manifestation of the early history. 

This fort is built on a rock cliff on the bank of the river which gives a clear view of surrounding Hunza valley and the legendary Silk Route can be seen from the fort across the Hunza River. It is commonly said that as the Sil Route was the router where the invaders and traders would make their movement, therefore it was easy to keep an eye from the fort. 

Myth or reality 

There are other stories that the people of the Altit, the village where the fort is located, are the descendant of the Alexander the Great. Though this has not been supported by the research but according to the local folks, when Alexander was on the way back from China his soldiers settled in the Altit village. 

Shigar Fort Shigar Valley, Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan

Where is this fort located?

Shigar Fort, the marvel of Tibetan architecture in the Shigar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan at a distance of only 28 kilometers from the Skardu city, is one of the spectacular and breathtaking forts in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan.

Shigar Fort at night in Skardu

What is so special about this fort? 

The first thing is the magnificent architectural design of the fort and the second thing is the amazing landscape of the site where the fort is located. Locally the fort is known as the "Fong-Khar" literally means the fort built on the rock in Balti language (Balti, a Tibetan dialect,  is the regional language of the Baltistan division). In Balti, a fort is called Khar and huge rocks are called Fong, so Fong-Khar means the fort built on huge rock piece. 
The fort has actually three parts and the biggest and the prominent one is built on a huge cone-shaped rock at the bank of a small stream which originates from the towering rocky mountains of Karakoram shouldering the mighty mountain ranges where there is the K-2. 

The surrounding landscape's alluring and sublime beauty turns the fort into a heavenly place, especially in the summer. The rocky mountain just adjacent to the fort, the stream passing nearby and the lush green fields with different kinds of trees in the surrounding are the best things to enjoy in the summer. 

What about the architecture? 

The architectural design is the Tibetan and Balti design, in Tibetan or Balti architecture forts were built using the wood as the main component of building material. A network of beams and columns would first construct using the wood as the main supplement of building material, even in the ancient forts, you wouldn't find a single piece of the iron nail as the fastener. Normally the foundation would be erected on which the wood work would start and in some cases, the stone would be used for filling the hollow walls in the ground floor. On the first floor and the upper floors, there would be no stone work. For the partition of the rooms in upper stories either mudbrick or thin sheets of wood would be used.
In most of the forts the windows would be of different sizes but mostly there would be small size windows to cope with the freezing temperature of the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges because in winter the temperature in these valleys plunges to freezing point and in some cases as low as -30-degree celsius.

The Shigar Fort is the perfect manifestation of the Balti or the Tibetan architecture. The fort is mostly composed of wood work and the facade of the fort is just amazing.

Shigar Fort in Shigar Valley Skardu 

Shigar Fort Residence in Shigar Skardu

How to reach the fort?

If you want to visit this marvelous fort then there are two options for you, by air or by the land journey. Depending on your preference, you can choose the one, both journeys would be adventurous.
For by air journey, you need to reach Islamabad first because there are no flights which directly link the Skardu with any other city. From Islamabad, the PIA will fly you and land in the Skardu city in a maximum of 45 minutes. From the Skardu airport, it would take a maximum of an hour to reach the fort. So, in short, in just two hours you can be there in the fort from Islamabad. 
The by road journey would be somehow time-consuming but more adventurous because you would be able to witness the gleaming summits of Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindukush peaks along the Karakoram Highway and the Gilgit-Skardu road. The journey through the ravines packed by the rocky towering mountains would be one of a kind of journey which you would never forget in the life. It will take 24-26 hours to reach the Skardu city and the fort. 

Places to visit in vicinity 

The best thing about the fort is that now part of the fort has been transformed into a restaurant which is commonly known by the name "Shigar Fort Residence" having the best parallel services of best restaurants in the Skardu region. The Shigar Fort Residence is operated by the Serena Hotel and you can visit the fort and stay there as long as you want. 
While staying there in the fort you can visit the panoramic valleys in the vicinity, like Keris, Khaplu, Skardu city and places in the periphery of Skardu city like Chunda Valley, Qumrah, Organic Village Nangsooq. You can visit the Kharpocho Fort (also known as Skardu fort), Buddha Rock carving in the south of Skardu, Satpara Lake, Shangrila Lake, Lower Kachura Lake and much more.

You need to know that the legendary road to the K-2 peak passes by the same valley where there is the fort, if you are more enthusiastic then you can choose for a trekking to the K-2 base camp or drive to one of the pristine places of GB, Deosai Plains. 

Nov 9, 2013

Historical Buildings of Pakistan I I List of historical buildings in Pakistan I I Most beautiful historical buildngs of Pakistan I

Pakistan being an oldest living sites of the world is home to the number of historical buildings which depict the varying architecture of different times. As Pakistan was ruled by the different rulers in different times therefore to show their power they built a number of forts which are visited by the number of national and international tourists.
Following is the list of historical buildings of Pakistan:
To see the detail just click on the titles given

                                                                   Badshahi Mosque

Khaplu Fort Gilgit-Baltistan