Welcome to Skardu Baltistan !

By air

Pakistan International Airlines flies daily from Islamabad. However, since the pilots fly by sight with no computer navigation the flight only goes on clear days. During the flight it’s possible to catch a glimpse of Nanga Parbat (the 9th highest mountain in the world) and K2 (the 2nd highest mountain in the world. The air journey is full of thrills and could itself be regarded as the highlight of the visit. After following the same air route, which connects Gilgit to Islamabad/Rawalpindi, the plane turns right and flies over the gorge of the Indus River.

By road

Skardu can be reached by bus from Islamabad. The drive takes you all the way over the KKH (Karakoram Highway).

Since the KKH is still under construction and the Skardu road still has to be repaired, the road can take up to 36 hours by public transport.

It’s also possible to get to Skardu from Gilgit. Though it’s less than 200 km the journey takes close to 6 hours by public transport.

Skardu is a great base for exploring the region. Excellent trips can be made to surrounding valleys, or even all the way to the Komeri, Domail, with an overnight stop. Hikes and treks in the region are superb.

Nangsok Skardu

is the gateway to explore balti culture and mountainous range of Karakoram.

You can visit first organic village in Baltistan, inaugurated by Prince Charles.

Buddhist Rock:

is the only rock with Buddhist carvings on a tall rock with a vertical, beige-colored northern face. Carved here circa A.D 900 is a lovely image of a meditating Maitreya Buddha framed by Bodhisattvas. It is located at Manthal a sideway along Satpara road.

Skardu Fort or Karpachu Fort

is a fort in Skardu city in Northern Areas of Pakistan that dates from the tenth century CE. An ancient mosque is also present inside the fort. The fort and its mosque are located on the eastern face of the Khardong hill 40 ft above Skardu city. A view from these monuments brings into vision the entire valley, the Indus River and the settlement below. It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan, who ruled from Ladakh to Chitral till the end of the 16th century. It resembled the Ladakh fort of Leh which is 9 storey tall. The Potala of Lhasa Tibet, Leh fort and Skardu fort are all built on same designs. The name Kharpochhe means the great fort. Khar in Tibetan means castle or fort and Chhe means great.Mindoq Khar:Khar, (means palace in local balti language) was built by Gul Khatoon or Mindoq Gialmo on the hill where now stands the Kharfocho fort only. The palace was named after the queen as ‘Mindoq Khar’ meaning the ‘Flower Palace’. The Palace was destroyed by the troops of the Sikh ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Gulab Singh, when he invaded Skardu in 1840 AD.Hilal Bagh and Chahar Bagh:Just below the Mindoq Khar or Flower Palace, there was a terraced garden with fountains built in marble. This royal garden covered the areas from Mindoq Khan to the present bazaar at Skardu where the newly constructed road crosses the channel. A palace built in marble with towers also stood in the middle of the garden, above the Polo Ground which is called Ghudi Changra. The palace was destroyed during the great floods in the area after the death of Ali Sher Khan Anchan and a marble Baradari was later constructed at this palace. This royal garden was named Hilal Bagh (Crescent Garden). Another garden was also laid which was named Chhar Bagh on the site where a Girls College stands now. The said garden was laid on the orders of the Queen while her husband was away to Gilgit and then to Chitral. As the mother tongue of the Queen was Persian, she gave Persian name to these gardens.

Kachura Lake (Shangrilla La) and Upper Kachura

About 32 kms (20 miles) from Skardu, 2 hours by jeep, lie the shimmering waters of the Kachura Lakes. In the springtime its banks are adorned by a multitude of colorful flowers, while the trees are laden with peach, apricot and apple blossoms. These lakes provide wonderful opportunities for boating and fishing.

Satpara Lake

About a mile south of Skardu on the west bank of the Satpara Nala. Some of the beautiful lakes that you can tour are Sadpara Lake and many more unexplored lakes in Deosai pleatue.

Deosai

is one and half drive from Skarduto reach Deosai top. Located in the Great Himalayan Range, conveniently placed between the western massif of the Himalayas and the central Karakoram. It’s stunning scenic views of the snow-clad mountains and streams, natural beauty and impressive grandeur have made it world famous. Spread over an area of 3,000 square kilometres, at an altitude of 13,500 feet above sea level, the plains are home to unique species of plant and animal life, of which the Himalayan Brown Bears are the most famous. In the words of Aleister Crowley, “In front of us lay the Deosai, an absolutely treeless wilderness of comparatively level country framed by minor peaks. It gives a unique impression of desolation. I have never seen its equal in this respect elsewhere.” To the south of and visible from both the Burji and Satpara approaching areas is a 700-foot hill, on top of which is a 500 foot-high-rock cairn. This unnamed hilltop in the northern deosai region produces a clear panorama of the Himalayan Kangri Range and sections of the Karakoram. As you ascend its gentle, grass covered slopes, Nanga Parbat will come into view far to the west of you. In ‘Gypsy Davy’s’ words, “It was such an expanse of immensity as I have hardly imagined…It seems you cannot talk in a matter-of-fact way in a place like that…I thought the Sierras were large, but here, where we could see three or four score miles north, south, east and west, and see only mountains, and most of them above twenty thousand feet, the Sierras seem like sand dunes”. Shaucer lake (3-4 hours from Skardu), Shatong nala (2 hours) , Bara Pani (two and half hours) and Kala Pani (3 to 3-30 hours) are the most visited spots in Deosai. Deosai is one of the best trout fishing spot in the North.Basho valley:It is located 40 Kms or 2 hours drive away from the resort. It’s a magnificent valley situated among the lush green forests of the region and one of the most popular spots of the visiting tourists.

Polo:

‘Polo’ (the game of Kings) is Skardu’s most favored sport. The locals claim that this sport originated in Skardu. It demonstrates a more rugged and free-style version of Polo than the sedate and subdued variety experienced in the plains. The polo tournament is held from 1st November to 7th November. It is a festive occasion and draws large number of visitors.

K2 Museum located near K2 Motel, displays pictures

Kharpocho Fort:

Skardu has an ancient Fort known as Kharpocho Fort (King of Forts) situated on a hill overlooking the town. It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan, who ruled over Baltistan till the end of the 16th century. The mighty Indus snaking along just a few metres beneath your feet among the silvery white sands is an awesome sight.

Satpara Lake

About 8 km (5 miles) north of Skardu and 20 minutes by jeep lays Sadpara Lake, surrounded by glacial mountains, which are mirrored in its crystal clear waters. The lake has a fairytale island in the middle, which can be reached by country boats that one can row. This lake also abounds in fish and provides good fishing.

Shangrila Lake About 32 km (20 miles) from Skardu and 1 hour by jeep lies the shimmering peaceful deep Shangrila lake, also called Kachura Lake, teeming with brown trout. During spring many exotic and colourful flowers adorn its banks, while peach, apricot and apple trees are laden with blossoms in April. Later in the summer one can taste the apples, which are a delicious variety.

Buddha Rock Carvings:

Dating back to 8th century AD, a huge Buddha figure surrounded by small Buddhisatvas is carved on a rock, three kilometres from Skardu across Sadpara Nullah on Skardu-Sadpara Road. Pre-historic men and animal figures are carved on rocks along Kachura Lake. Some rock carvings and diagram of a monastery near Perkuta (Mehdi Abad) Nalah are also found.

Visit of Uppper Kachura Lake:

Upper Kachura Lake is of clear water and has a depth of 70 metres (230 ft0). In summer it has a temperature of 15 °C (59 °F). In winter the surface is frozen solid. The upper Indus River flows nearby at a lower elevation.The beauty of the Upper Kachura Lake is almost untampered and mostly unexplored by travelers, due to lack of infrastructure owing to its rough terrain The area has a rich flora of the Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests ecoregion, and also known for its wild apricot – Prunus armeniaca orchards.

Mountaineering, Trekking and Hiking:

The area is ideal for mountaineering, trekking and hiking. Permission for mountaineering and trekking for restricted zone is issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Pakistan, Pakistan Sports Complex, Kashmir Highway, Aabpara, Islamabad (Telephone: 92-51-9203509). Fishing permits are issued by the Fisheries Department at Gilgit and Skardu.

Fishing:

at Satpara Lake (8 km) and Kachura Lake (32 km) from Skardu abound in trout. Fishing permits are issued by the Fisheries Department.

 

Flora & Fauna:

Roses, lilies, pansies, willow, pine and fir trees are found in abundance. Apples, apricots, peaches, plums mulberry, walnuts and grapes are available from June to October and almonds from October to March.

Wildlife:

Baltistan boasts of wildlife such as Markhors, ibexes, snow leopards and birds, namely Chakors, partridges and ducks. Most of the animals and birds are protected but limited shooting is allowed. Hunting permits are issued by the local administration.

 

Biking

Walking excursions: A stroll around the eastern end of the Skardu rock will take you to the nearby village of ‘Narsok’, where you will find a large pure spring flowing from the base of the monolith. To reach Narsok, walk to the far end of the Skardu Polo field and pick up a trail that skirts the rock slopes beneath Zowar Singh’s fortress. The mighty Indus snaking along just a few yards beneath your feet among the silvery white sands is an awesome sight. on the west bank of the Satpura Nala is a tall rock with a vertical, beige-colored northern face. Carved here circa A.D 900 is a lovely image of a meditating Maitreya Buddha framed by Bodhisattvas.

There are a number of limited accommodation facilities ranging from basic to three star.

Skardu can be reached by bus from Islamabad and Gilgit. The drive takes you all the way over the KKH (Karakoram Highway) in 24 and 6 hours respectively.

Very Few restaurants offering locally sourced food.

The climate of Skardu during the summer is moderated by its mountain setting; the intense heat of lowland India does not reach it. The mountains block out the summer moonsoon, and summer rainfall is thus quite low. However, these mountains result in very severe winter weather. During the April-to-October tourist season, temperatures vary between a maximum of 27 °C (81 °F) and a minimum (in October) 8 °C (46 °F).

Temperatures can drop to below −10 °C (14 °F) in the December-to-January midwinter period. The lowest recorded temperature was −24.1 °C (−11 °F) on 7 January 1995.

The Shigar River is a tributary to the Indus River, joining at the town of Skardu. The Basha and Braldu rivers are northern tributaries of the Shigar. Numerous complex granitic pegmatites and a few alpine-cleft metamorphic deposits are found in the Shigar Valley and its tributaries. Shigar Valley contains the Main Karokoram Thrust separating the metasediments (chlorite to amphibolite grade) on the Asian plate from the southern volcanoclastic rocks of the Kohistan-Ladakh island arc.

Climate data for Skardu
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.9
(57)
16.7
(62.1)
24.0
(75.2)
29.6
(85.3)
34.4
(93.9)
40.0
(104)
41.0
(105.8)
41.0
(105.8)
38.2
(100.8)
31.2
(88.2)
22.9
(73.2)
16.2
(61.2)
41.0
(105.8)
Average high °C (°F) 3.2
(37.8)
6.1
(43)
12.4
(54.3)
18.8
(65.8)
23.4
(74.1)
28.7
(83.7)
31.6
(88.9)
31.2
(88.2)
27.2
(81)
20.4
(68.7)
13.2
(55.8)
6.5
(43.7)
14.9
(58.8)
Average low °C (°F) −8.0
(17.6)
−4.4
(24.1)
1.5
(34.7)
6.6
(43.9)
9.7
(49.5)
13.4
(56.1)
16.4
(61.5)
16.0
(60.8)
11.4
(52.5)
4.3
(39.7)
−1.9
(28.6)
−5.6
(21.9)
4.1
(39.4)
Record low °C (°F) −24.1
(−11.4)
−20.0
(−4)
−13.5
(7.7)
−1.1
(30)
0.4
(32.7)
4.0
(39.2)
7.5
(45.5)
7.0
(44.6)
2.6
(36.7)
−4.2
(24.4)
−9.5
(14.9)
−17.2
(1)
−24.1
(−11.4)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 27.5
(1.083)
25.9
(1.02)
36.9
(1.453)
31.3
(1.232)
25.3
(0.996)
9.0
(0.354)
9.8
(0.386)
12.2
(0.48)
9.3
(0.366)
7.3
(0.287)
5.6
(0.22)
16.3
(0.642)
172.7
(6.799)
Average humidity  (%) (at 17:00) 64.3 52.0 34.9 25.6 24.6 22.3 27.3 30.7 29.9 31.2 36.6 56.2 29.6

Sights

Info

Skardu is a town in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region and serves as the capital of Skardu District. Skardu is located in the 10 kilometres (6 miles) wide by 40 kilometres (25 miles) long Skardu Valley, at the confluence of the Indus and Shigar Rivers at an altitude of nearly 2,500 metres (8,202 feet). The town is considered a gateway to the eight-thousanders of the nearby Karakoram Mountain range. The town is located on the Indus river, which separates the Karakoram Range from the Himalayas.

Skardu, If a mix of scenic beauty and adventure is what you are looking forward to on your tour to Pakistan, Skardu, capital of Baltistan, perched at 2,438 metres above sea-level in the backdrop of the great peaks of ‘The Karakoram Mountain Range, is the place to travel. Baltistan also known as “Little Tibet” for its resemblance in geographic features with Tibet nestles world’s greatest concentration of lofty peaks. A 100 km thick wall of majestic mountains separates it from China in the north. To the south is the mysterious Deosai Plateau lying between Kashmir and Baltistan. In the East lies Laddakh and in the west is Gilgit and Hunza. Within an area of 26,000 sq. km lie 60 mountain peaks of above 7000m. Five of these are above 8000m including K-2 (8611m), the second highest peak on earth. These mountain peaks tower over the greatest concentration of glaciers outside the polar regions.Skardu, is located in an oval shaped desert basin. Balti peoples language, physical features and architecture resemble those of Tibet. This region remained under the influence of Buddhism until the 15th century, when Islam arrived. It is a land of many splendors and contrasts, offering the best of trekking and mountaineering opportunities to enthusiastic adventure lovers. Riding from the airfield into town gives you little time to adjust to the awesome landscape into which you have flown. Your head swivels, eyeing strata of violet, red, grey, ochre, and brown in the 10,000-foot-high-hills surrounding the sandy plain on either side of the Indus River. There are five main valleys in the Baltistan division, Shigar, Khaplu, Rondu, Skardu and Kharmang. All of these valleys produce apricots, peaches, pears, grapes, mulberries, and apples in such profusion that this region is known as the land of apricots and apples. From tourism standpoint, there is no region close to equaling Baltistan for its natural and cultural heritage. Baltistan presents unrivaled natural beauty and culture. Its ancient rural settlements, grand forts and palaces, intricate wooden carving, Buddhist relics, shimmering valleys, civilized and peace-loving communities, idyllic lakes and high altitude wildlife laden plateaus such as Deosai make it a a world top notch tourist and heritage site.

Skardu, along with Gilgit, is a major tourism, trekking and expedition hub in Gilgit–Baltistan. The mountainous terrain of the region, which includes four of the world’s 14 Eight-thousander peaks, attracts tourists, trekkers and mountaineers from around the world. The main tourist season is from April to October; except at this time, the area can be cut off for extended periods by the snowy, freezing winter weather.

Accessible from Skardu by road, the nearby Askole and Hushe are the main gateways to the snow-covered 8,000-metre (26,000-foot) peaks including K2, the Gasherbrums, Broad Peak, and the Trango Towers, and to the huge glaciers of Baltoro, Biafo and Trango. This makes Skardu the main tourist and mountaineering base in the area, which has led to the development of a reasonably extensive tourist infrastructure including shops and hotels. The popularity of the region results in high prices, especially during the main trekking season.

Treks to the Deosai Plains, the second highest in the world at 4,114 metres (13,497 ft) above sea level, after the Chang Tang in Tibet, either start from or end at Skardu. In the local Balti language, Deosai is called Byarsa, meaning ‘summer place’. With an area of approximately 3,000 square kilometres (1,158 sq mi), the plains extend all the way to Ladakh and provides a habitat for snow leopards, ibex, Tibetan blue bears and wild horses.

 

Tours to Skardu:

Map

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