By Ashiq Faraz
At first glance, the Amburiq mosque in Shigar bears little resemblance to a traditional mosque. The 14th century mud and wood structure which was designed by a Kashmiri architect, deviates from the conventional architectural pattern due to its visibly tall insignia. A closer inspection, however, reveals its mosque-like features that have been shaped by years of history and events that have transpired in the Shigar valley, 35km east from Skardu, in Baltistan.
Inhabited principally by the Tibetan Buddhists prior to the 16th century, Baltistan has intrigued visitors for years. Up until the 18th century, explorers and trekkers used the Shigar-Hispar to Nagar and Shigar-Braldu to Yarkand, China, routes for expeditions to the Karakoram mountains. Along with the snow-capped wonders, the Shigar town also hosts a number of architectural and archeological assets such as the Khanqah-e-Mullah, Astana of Syed Mir Yahya, the Khilingrong mosque, Shigar Fort, previously a Buddhist monastery replete with pre-Islamic pictograms, locally known as Bhodhishagran, and the Amburiq mosque.