Compiled by Asghar Khan
Ghizer, the name for the western end of the Gilgit valley above Gakuch, is a new political district administered from Gakuch. The road continues west from Gakuch, through Gupis and along the Ghizer River for about 100 kilometers to the Shandur Pass, then enters Chitral District in North West Frontier Province.
The road to Chitral leaves Gilgit to the west passing the turn off to the Kargah Buddah. The road passes along the south side of the Gilgit River, through the small village of Sherote that marks the boundary between Gilgit and Ghizer District. The road continues through Gulapur, with its east inspection Bungalow, with the green and fertile village of Rashmal across the river, connected by a new bridge. At the next village, Goharabad, there is a small stop.
Being a relatively fertile and well-watered strip of land on either side of the Gilgit River the former independent kingdom of Punial became a bone of contention between the rulers of Yasin and Gilgit. Both state possessed the region in turn until the Maharaja of Kashmir annexed it in 1860. Part of the desire to control Punial was due to strategic location of the fort at Sher Qila. On the North side of the river, connected to the main road by a suspension bridge, Sher Qila (33 km from Gilgit and one hour drive) controls the western approach to Gilgit.
The district between Gupis and the Shandur pass are referred to as Ghizer (sometimes Ghizer) and Kuh. up until Phander, there are numerous rock carvings many on boulders that can be easily viewed from the road. Dani (1991 ‘History of the Northern Areas) suggest that these art forms illustrate the lives of pastoral nomads who may have moved here in early Christian times, and show great continuity with similar designs found in the Pamir region. Many show mounted horsemen solar motifs, hunting scenes, and long horned ibexes.
About 140 km and 3 hours drive from Gilgit Gupis is the large natural Khalti Lake that has remained since a major flood about 25 years ago it makes a great place to camp. Beyond Gupis the river is referred to as the Ghizer River and at Dahimal (22 km) it is joined from the south by emerald green Bathraiz River flowing from Swat Kohistan. The Bathraiz Valley leads south towards the Tangir Valley although you should not attempt to follow this route. This was one route that the early Buddhist pilgrims used on their journeys from China to Gandhara, Swat and other pilgrimage sites in south Asia, as well as the means of access for invading armies from Chitral and the Kingdoms to the north.
Phundar: Small villages on the way to Shadur pass 61 Kilometer from Gupis. This place called little Kashmir. A couple of kilometers beyond the village is a good campsite in a meadow beside the river, where one can swim, fish (trout) and enjoy the serene place.
The road then carries on through the picturesque Phander valley to cross the river to the right and climbs a hill to reach the Phander Lake. The NAPWD rest house is perched on the top of a hill on the bank of the lake.
The road track continues through Tero (22 kilometers) at 3,065 meters, and Barsat (3,353 meters), the final settlement in the district, before entering a beautiful glen. The camping siteshere at Langar are superb, with fresh springs, a trout stocked river, and a lush green meadows set in a natural amphitheater of snow capped peaks.
Handrap lake, the famous trout fishing resort is approached after 3 to 4 hours walk from the Handrup village. The village is situated on the way towards Chitral from Gilgit, near Shandur pass in the District Ghizer of Northern Areas. May catch a lot of trout fish on the way, but surly at the lake. You may see brown bear also if you are lucky enough.
Shandur Pass: The road west of Gilgit leads to Shandur pass and Chitral with side road serving the valley of Ishkoman and Yasin. The western end of Gilgit valley is called Ghizar, a political district. The road continues west from Gilgit, through Gakuch, Gupis, Pingal, Phunder, Ghulak Muli, Tero, Barsat, Lunger and along the Ghizar River for about 180 kilometers and 8 hours to the Shandur pass and this river is famous for Trout Fishing.
The Shandur pass is blocked by snow from November to May. The top of the pass is flat and pastured at 3,734 meters from the sea level. The best time to visit shandur is end of June when the annual polo game is played on the Shandur pass between Gilgit and Chitral team at this time. You can camp there and watch the original polo matches for a couple of days and enjoy this thrilling game on the highest polo ground in the world.