December 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

Dec 21, 2013

Chaqchan Mosque Oldest Mosque of Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan

Where is this mosque located? 

This mosque is located in the Khaplu, a district of Baltistan division some 100 kilometers from the Skardu city, and is known as the oldest mosque in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan as well.

Who did lay the foundation of the mosque? 

The construction of the mosque dates back to 1370 AD. The foundation of the mosque was laid down by a religious preacher, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, who by his preach and deeds, converted the people to Islam. Syed Ali Hamdani was a Sufi from the Hamdan city of Iran, and according to some sources a descendant of Hazrat Ali (AS) [Muhammad's cousin and first Imam of Shia Muslims], who traveled from Iran to India, Afghanistan and up to Tajikistan preaching and converting the people to Islam. He died in Kunar city of Afghanistan and was buried in Khatlan, a city in present-day Tajikistan.
Tributing his exemplary services in the preaching of Islam, Allama Iqbal (the national poet of Pakistan) wrote about him.

سید سادات سالارعجم
 دست او معمار تقدیر امم

Architecture of Mosque

The mosque has a unique architecture depicting a combined taste of Tibetan, Iranian and Mughal ear architectural style. The outer facade and the materials used for building the walls are what we find in the rest of Baltistan for the construction of forts and related mosques and Khanqahs. In Baltistan construction of such buildings mainly comprising of wood and other materials as supporting material was pretty common through the first half of the 20th century but now such tradition of construction has become extinct due to many reasons.
The ground floor and the design of windows tell us about the Tibetan design. In Tibetan design carving on wood was common and such is done with the windows. If you look closer you would find wood carved for every small piece of window frames like the apron, rail, muntin, and stile, everything will be carved and beautiful designs would be made on them. The windows are smaller in size to cope with the freezing breeze of the Karakoram because in winter the temperature in the valley plunges to freezing point and sometimes below -20-degree celsius.
The upper story has a balcony around the praying room. If you observe you would find such balconies in the old buildings of Baltistan. It was common to have such balconies designed of the wood frames for the passage of the air in the summer. Also, in the case of Mosque, it would have been helpful to have gathered and listened to the preacher in sunny days of summer.
In past, many forts and even small dwelling units would construct by using wood as the building material in place of modern day concrete and steel rods. The whole hollow frame of the building would first be constructed and then mud blocks would be used as filling material. But now the availability of the wood is one of the issues and people can't think of constructing such marvelous buildings.

How to reach there?

Do you want to visit this marvelous mosque and have a deeper look at the architectural design of the building? Then you are privileged nowadays and within days you could reach the mosque from Islamabad. How? If you are in Islamabad what you need to do is book an airline ticket for Skardu. It takes about 45 minutes to reach there by air from Islamabad to Skardu. Once you are there in Skardu you can reach there by covering a 100 kilometers distance from the Skardu towards the east on the Skardu-Kargil Road up to the Keris village. From here you would follow the Shyok River Valley road till the Khaplu city. Once you enter the Khaplu city the mosque is only   20-minutes drive from the city center. 

Dec 15, 2013

Golden Peak or Spantik, Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan

Golden Peak or Spantik is a peak in Karakorum range of Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan in Nagar Valley. At an elevation of 7,027 m this peak is accessible from Nagar Valley i.e from Gilgit side and also from Baltistan side too.

Dec 11, 2013

Gondogoro Pass, World's highest mountain pass of Gilgit-Baltistan

Gondogoro Pass is a mountain pass on the Gondogoro Glacier near Vigne Glacier. From the Southern side, pass descends into the Hushe village which is the last human settlement of the Ghangche District of northern Pakistan. To climb the pass, mostly climbers and trekkers prefer to start from the Northern side which is easy and connected with the Vigne Glacier. 

In 1986, a route was established that connects Concordia and the upper Baltoro Glacier to the Hushe Valley over the Gondogoro Pass(5940m). Since then, this challenging technical pass has attracted trekkers and climbers alike. This pass has one of the most overwhelming mountain panoramas anywhere in the world, with all of the Karakoram's 8000m peaks close at hand. The Gondogoro La, although popular with trekkers, involves Class 4 climbing. The North side is a 50-degree snow slope with Avalanche danger requiring fixed ropes. The south side is a continuous 50-degree slope with rockfall and avalanche danger that requires fixing as much as 300m of rope.
The importance of the Pass:
Being one of the highest mountain passes in the world, the views from the top of the pass are unforgettable, by the views of many famous climbers from around the world, it offers the best mountain scenery anywhere in the world. Apart from dozens more, one can see the following famous peaks from the pass:
  • K2(Choghori)
  • Broad Peak
  • Masherbrum
  • Laila Peak
  • Gasherbrum I
  • Gasherbrum II
  • Gasherbrum III
  • Gasherbrum IV
  • Trinity Peak

Dec 6, 2013

Simly Dam/ Lake Islamabad

Simly Dam is an 80 meters (260 ft) high earthen embankment dam on the Soan River, 30 kilometers (19 mi) east of Islamabad and Rawalpindi in Rawalpindi District, Punjab, Pakistan. It is the largest reservoir of drinking water to people living in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The water stored in this dam is fed by the melting snow & natural springs of Murree hills. It was developed by the Capital Development Authority. 
Boating and Fishing are two main activities here. For fishing, you need to have a license (permission) from CDA (Capital Development Authority), Islamabad.

Pir Sohawa Margalla Hills, Islamabad

The best place to visit in Islamabad 

If you have been there in Islamabad and you haven't visited Pir Sohawa than you haven't enjoyed the real beauty of Islamabad. Encircled by the lush green wood, Pir Sohawa is actually the face and identification of Islamabad. But if you haven't visited the place, it is not a big deal because it is not 100 miles away, you can visit within hours because it is just 20 kilometers uphill from the 7th Avenue of Islamabad. 

How to reach there? 

If you are anywhere in Islamabad or Rawalpindi and you want to visit this spectacular place, you just need to drive towards the 7th avenue, if you are driving or coming from any direction of the city because where the 7th avenue road ends in the foothill of Margalla hills, the road to the Pir Sohawa starts. The 7th Avenue is a trunk road which bisects the G and F blocks of Islamabad. 
Once you have reached the end of 7th Avenue you will follow a  zigzag track uphill towards your destination. While on the way you can visit the Islamabad Zoo which is at the start of the Pir Sohawa road and the spectacular Daman-e-Koh which is few kilometers uphill from the Zoo on the way of Pir Sohawa. 
Driving through the hairpin turns into a lush green breathtaking hilly area having the scenic view of Islamabad is experience in itself. 

What to do? 

This place is perfect for many things. If you want to enjoy hiking that is best to have here because the scenic place has a number of trails spread over kilometers especially designed for hikers having rest places at intervals. 
If you want to experience fine dining that is another best thing you can do because you would have choices of a wide variety of tasty dishes. 

The scenic view of Islamabad

Actually, the resort is famous for the scenic view of Islamabad which you can have any time without any payment. If you want to have a birds eye view of Islamabad try to sit outside and while having your dishes you can enjoy the spectacular bird-eye view of Islamabad. Many people have different opinions about the view of Islamabad from the top at night or day but our suggestion is having the view at day is better because at night time it would pretty much look like any other city. During the day you would be able to explore every nook and cranny of Islamabad. During the night it would be beautiful but you would just find the shining lights everywhere and you wouldn't be able to have a fine look at the city's natural beauty.  

The Monal Restaurant

This restaurant is what the identification of the Pir Sohawa. This is the restaurant which will serve you delicious dishes along with the chance to have a stunning bird's eye view of Islamabad city. Sitting outside and enjoying your foods is a treat from the Monal for you. It is one of the best restaurants in Islamabad serving the tasty and quality food providing you lot of food options. It is the perfect place to enjoy peace and scenery away from the hustle of the city.

Other benefits

It gives you the chance to kill two birds with one stone, means you can visit some amazing and picturesque tourist spots in a single visit because all three spots are on the same route. Like you can visit Islamabad Zoo on the way which is just at the start of the track uphill. Few kilometers uphill you would find another tourist destination know as Daman-e-Koh which is another best place to enjoy the amazing view of Islamabad from somehow low altitude. 

View of Islamabad City from Pir Sohawa

Daman-e-Koh Islamabad | | Damane Koh

Looking for places to visit in Islamabad? 

If you have just visited the Islamabad or Rawalpindi city and you are unsure about what are the top tourist spots to visit in Islamabad then we are here to guide you. In fact, there are dozens of spectacular and breathtaking places in Islamabad which one should visit but when it comes the Daman-e-Koh there is no parallel of this place.

What is special about this place? 

There are many things to count but one of the most important features for which it is known and we cay say it is its identification is the landscape of the spot. The place is just marvelous in the green woods of Margalla Hills and the best thing to do is having a stunning bird's eye view of panoramic Islamabad city.
Along with, you can enjoy delicious varieties of foods. Photography will be the best thing to do. You would find monkeys in abundant and the chattering of birds would be pretty common.  It has been noticed that in winter lions have also been observed roaming in the region around the wood of Daman-e-Koh. According to some sources, there is a plan to construct a chairlift from Daman-e-Koh to Pir Sohawa to facilitate the tourist. Pir Sohawa is another breathtaking tourist spot just uphill from the Daman-e-Koh.

 How to visit and what are the possible routes? 

If you have made the intention to visit this beautiful place then the route to this place is simple and short. If you are in any part of Islamabad or Rawalpindi the there are two possible routes. First is, you can visit through 7th Avenue, coming from any part of the city you would enter the 7th Avenue road and where this road ends in the foothill of Maragalla Hills the Pir Sohawa road would start. Another is through the Margallah Avenue which runs at the right angle with the 7th Avenue. If you are following the Margalla Avenue then you need to reach the end of 7th Avenue. Where this road ends the zigzag road uphill will lead you to your destination. 
The best thing about visiting this place is, you can visit all monumental places in just one visit because they all fall on the same route. Like if you are following Margallah avenue then you can visit Faisal Mosque first and then move ahead towards the Islamabad Zoo which is just at the start of the Pir Sohawa road. Then if you want, after visiting the Daman-e-Koh you can move uphill towards Pir Sohawa because the same road will lead you on the top of the hill.
Daman-e-Koh is just 10 kilometers away from the Centaurus Mall and 14 kilometers from the Faizabad bus stop. 

Viewpoint of Islamabad at Damen-e-Koh

Night view of Faisal Mosque and Islamabad from Daman-e-Koh

Dec 5, 2013

By road journey, Rawalpindi to Gilgit and Skardu

By road journey from Islamabad or Rawalpindi to Gilgit and Skardu is more enjoyable because departing from Islamabad to Skardu or Gilgit the Buses pass from almost all the places of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwah. There are two routes to reach Gilgit-Baltistan from Islamabad or Rawalpindi. One is directly through KKH (Karakurum Highway) which is named as N35. If you follow this route you will see the Beautiful Places of KPK like Mansehra, Abbottabad, Batgram, Chtarplane, Patan and Bisham etc.

Another way is same from Islamabad to Mansehra city of KPK but from here it follows the national highway named as N15. If you follow this rout that also meets to KKH at Chilas District of Gilgit-Baltistan you will see the most beautiful places of Pakistan that is Naran,Kaghan valley and Babusasr Top of Gilgit-Baltiatan. You can see the map below to understand the rout better.

You will never forget the journey and will be proud of it which you have made through worlds highest road network, KKH (Karakoram Highway) passing through worlds three mightiest ranges of mountains (Himalayas emerging from India and Nepal, Karakorum from north Pakistan and Hindukush from Afghanistan).

Departing from Islamabad or Rawalpindi the more you cover the distance the more you will be going higher and higher towards the land of Peaks.   
It takes about 4 or 5 hours to reach Mansehra and vehicle whatever you have chosen will make a stop for tea or meal depending upon the time of departure. After that you will be passing through green carpeted lands of KPK will reach Besham. Here vans will be stooped for meal or tea.  From here the KKH will follow every twist and turn of Indus River passing through Kohistan, the last district of KPK and you will be hugged by the Peaks of Gilgit-Baltistan entering through Diamer District will reach Chilas. Mostly the vans departs after noon in that case you will be in Chilas for breakfast but if you have leaved Islamabad before noon you will be at Jougloat for breakfast. After departing from here you will reach at a junction separating ways of Gilgit and Skardu. 

If you are going to Gilgit it will take about an hour to reach Gilgit city from this junction. But if you are determined to go to Skardu you will have to travel 5 hours more. In the way to Skardu the van will stop for lunch at  PTDC motel Stak Valley, this will be the last tea or meal and you will reach Skardu city and will be enjoying.

List of Transport Agencies
There is no shortage of transport agencies. You will have you own choice of vehicle. Also you may take rental vehicles for private use to reach Gilgit or Skardu.
For more information you can visit Stations and Terminals.
The list of transport agencies are:
NATCO (Northern Areas Transport Corporation) 
Mshabrum Tours
Hamaliya Tours
Geo Travel

Dec 1, 2013

Khalti Lake Gupis, Gilgit-Baltistan

Khalti Lake is located in Gupis, District Ghizer, Tehsil Punial. It is 20-30 minutes drive from Gupis. Gupis Valley is located about 112 kilometers (70 miles) in the west of Gilgit on the bank of River Gilgit, in District Ghizer of Gilgit-Baltistan region, Pakistan. The 35 kilometers (22 miles) road between Gahkuch (capital of District Ghizer) and Gupis Valley is full of beautiful landscapes and breathtaking views. The turquoise water of the river flowing along the road and surrounding fields and forests presents are very charming for tourists.

Khalti Lake is famous for being the habitat of trout fish. The lake is formed due to the stretch of river near the village of Khalti. The dark blue waters of the lake during summer look very charming. The lake usually freezes during winter and villagers of Khalti use to walk on this. There is a beautiful restaurant near the Khalti Lake. A PTDC motel is situated nearby to facilitate tourists. It's nice place stay for an overnight in the PTDC. You can enjoy the spectacular view of the lake from the PTDC Motel.