North Pakistan Tourism
“Roof of the World”
North Pakistan Tourism in Gilgit Baltistan, a dependent territory of Pakistan, focuses more on the mountains of Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindukush. There are four main valleys of Skardu, Hunza, Gilgit and Hunza. Gilgit Baltistan is truly roof of the world. Gilgit-Baltistan borders with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province to the west, a small portion of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, Xinjiang, China to the northeast, the Indian Territory Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to the southeast, and the Pakistani-administered state of Azad Kashmir to the south. Karakoram Highway is the eighth wonder of the world passing through Khunjerab Pass (5000m) connects with China. North Pakistan tourism is one of the top attractions across the globe.
North Pakistan Tourism in Hunza Valley
The heart of tourism attractions in Pakistan is Karimabad – this would not be exaggeration if I say that Karimabad is the heart of tourism attractions in the world. Karimabad is a delightful village surrounded by 3 lofty peaks above 7000m (Rakaposhi 7788m, Diran 7200m, Ultar 7388m). Panoramic views across the Hunza and Nagar valleys are spectacular. Generally Hunza valley is a valley full of colors throughout the year but Autumn season (month of October) has more colors than other seasons whereas spring in Hunza brings a wonderful cherry blossom and travel to Hunza between (20 March – 25 April) is recommended to see cherry blossom in Hunza valley.
Located on a large rocky outcrop at the base of the Ultar glacier, Baltit fort was the second residence of the rulers (Mirs) of Hunza which is now converted to a preserved heritage of Hunza. Baltit fort (about 700 years old) gives a spectacular view from its roof top. The fort was a part of dowry in the shape of masons and labor came with the princess from Skardu after she got married to the prince of Hunza. It has more Tibetan colors in its architect. Prince Karim Agha Khan took over the charge of renovation and after six years of work it was reopened in 1997 – visit of Baltit fort is must when travel to Hunza.
Altit fort (about 800 years old) was the first residence of the rulers of Hunza which is now under renovation. A one and half kilometer walk to the east takes you to the charming village of Altit. Located on a cliff alongside of river Hunza was once a check post to have control on silkroute caravans and also said that the caravans had to pay taxes. There is a nice walk into the preserved village of Altit adjacent to the fort. There is also a garden of white apricots at the entry point of the fort which is known for the best taste around.
Travel to Hunza is not unique to see the scenic beauty but equally good for hikers – one can have number of walking options around Karimabad by walking down to Altit village or scrolling through the bazaar towards Agha Khan Academy and then further Hussainabad. You can also take numerous water channels to walk around. The people of Hunza are hospitable and will always welcome you while walking around.
Ultar Gacier Trek
It is a kind of soft adventure, can be extended to a day long trip but almost 4 hours require for this trek. The main Ultar peak (7388m) is one of the lowest unclimbed peaks. It has also a fearsome reputation and has claimed three Japanese lives. Please keep in your mind that the level of glacier water is lower in the morning and higher in the evening time when you return from the trek.
In recent years Duikar has become one of the top attractions and is worth seeing when travel to Hunza valley. It offers some of the finest views in the whole of Hunza valley. Local jeep drivers offer you early morning ride from Karimabad to Duikar to have sunrise scene at Rakaposhi (provided the day is clear). A two hours hike to Husht, further to the west of Duikar above Baltit fort provides a spectacular view over KKH, as well as across to Golden Peak.
Books: Hunza is a remote area; therefore don’t expect big fashion houses in this locality. Baltit Book Centre has books on local subjects and Baig Book Stall has some maps and books on history. Travel to Hunza with the help of Hunza guide books will save your time and money.
Carpets: ThreadnetHunzaCarpet is a part of Karakorum Handicraft Development Program (KHDP) and being run under the umbrella of AKRSP (Agha Khan Rural Support Program), so shopping through the project funded shops is similar shopping in a charity shops. There is variety of products available in these shops.Hunza Carpet shop in the main Bazaar offers natural stone color carpets.
Handicrafts: Hunza Art Museum shop located in the main bazaar is famous for stones and other handicrafts.
Gems: There are many stone selling shops that have good credibility but there are also false stone selling shops, so it needs to be careful before shopping the precious stones.
North Pakistan Tourism in Gilgit
There are number of monuments dedicated to the Gilgit uprising including a memorial in Chinar Bagh, the municipal gardens down by the river, where the graves of two of the main players located.
Polo is a very famous game for northern areas in general and for Gilgit in particular. The locals love this game very much and spend huge money on the training of horses and in raising the good quality horses. In summer there are practice matched almost every afternoon. The polo ground is located down the bazaar and easily accessible.
Though to date to the seventh or eighth century, and showing marked similarities to Tibetan carvings found in Baltistan, this is evidence that Tibetan pilgrims were often on the way to Ghandara Kingdom (cradle of Buddhist civilization).
Old Suspension Bridge
It is one of the largest suspension bridges in Asia. It is right at the end of the bazaar from the airport end. It also gives an opportunity to capture a spectacular view of Gilgit River and the valley.
North Pakistan Tourism in Skardu
Baltistan (Skardu) has been variously described as “little Tibet”, “the roof of the world”. Its average height above sea level is 2300m with little rainfall. On its east lies Ladakh, in the west Gilgit, in the south Indian Kashmir and in north Sinkiang. The place has a cool and bracing climate. In summer it attracts a large number of trekkers and mountaineers from all over the world and rightly it is called mountaineers paradise. It is unique in the world from its collection of lofty peaks, including K-2 the world’s second highest and huge glaciers like Baltoro and Siachen. Despite the remoteness of the region, it appears it has been settled by numerous nationalities arriving from all points of the compass. Aryan herdsmen arrived from the north, Buddhist came via Silk Road up the Indus, adventurers from Humza made their way via Hispar glacier, Tibetans entered the country from Ladakh via Shyok and Indus rivers.
North Pakistan Tourism in Chitral
The Chitral Fort
The Chitral Fort is situated by the bank of the river Chitral, the site of the fort was a siege happened in 1895, and focus for the bloody intrigues which characterized the Chitrali politics; whoever held the fort in effect held the control in kingdom. The fort is also a residence of today’s king of Chitral (the title king is just a symbolic same as in Britian and has no more powers as used to be). Today much of the fort is a crumbling ruin, although parts of it have been restored. The fort is not open to the general public but after asking permission you may be allowed to visit it. Inside the fort there are 5 cannons and two of them are dating from the First World War.
Shahi Masjid is the most beautiful mosque of the region. The mosque was built by Shuja-ul-Mulk). This is a wonderful spot to take a panoramic picture of the city with the back ground of Tirich Mir peak (7176m).
The Polo ground of the Chitral is the largest polo ground in Pakistan. It is right to south end of the main bazaar. The games are played on regular basis between March and October. You may check with PTDC information centre for the dates or just listen out for the drumming which heralds the start of a match.