Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

Visiting Sakrdu

Munaza Kazmi

In the north of Pakistan lies a living dream land, Skardu the capital of Gilgit Baltistan, that is going to be my next travel destination. It is situated 8,202 ft above the sea level, right next to Ladak and Tibetan territory, with total population of 214,848. Local language is Balti that is Tibetan language however in some regions Shina is spoken too.

Skardu is an epitome of beauty, magnificence, serenity and wilderness, it is path to the some of the world’s glorious and dangerous mountains including K2, K3 and Gasherbrum and home of Himalaya’s precious and rare creatures.

The land is abundant with gigantic mountains, snowcapped peaks, emerald green lakes, wild life, historic forts, luxurious resorts and a natural cold desert, all of which make it an attractive travel destination. And am sure after reading this travelogue you would love to fly.

I packed by suitcase for the holiday in the month of September, but I would suggest you travel in Spring or Autumn then it would be the most colorful.

I traveled from Islamabad through PIA, which was a peaceful morning flight. Which made my eyes witness a lot much of breathtaking views, that would be a memory for life.

After landing on Skardu Airport; a tiny but beautiful, green and flowery airport surrounded by huge snowcapped mountains, where the nature is at its perfection. However, after switching on the mobile phone, I found a message from hotel about the arrival of shuttle, meanwhile I have spotted the driver with my name on the card.

It was a two hours’ drive from Sakardu Airport to Shigar, however reasoning the scenic views and discourse about the land make it as of a few minutes.  After two hours I arrived at Serena Shigar Fort, known as Fong-Khar which in the local language means the “Palace on the Rock”, it is one of Northern Pakistan’s most beautiful hotels. There you almost feel as if you have stepped in to a movie set because it is so picturesque. The settlement itself is also great to walk around during the day amidst the hustle and bustle or you can take a bicycle for a more relaxed afternoon to stretch the legs after your long plane journey.

However, I went to sleep early by having dinner in the river side restaurant and a little troll in the beautiful garden as I have plans for Deosai for morning, as a whole day would not be enough to witness the mystic. Deosai National Park, home to the Himalayan Brown Bear, Himalayan Ibex, Tibetan wolf, Golden marmots, Tibetan red fox and a land of lovely wild flowers. Also, it is called as land of fairies and djinns by the natives…maybe you would be lucky to get along with one, well I only found their illusion somehow in the locals.

Following day, I avail myself with breakfast buffet and set for another full day adventure, starting from Satpara Lake, where I ride on a boat with much of enthusiastic tourist and then relaxed myself by watching the epic landscape with a cup of tea from the nearby jungle café.

For lunch I stopped at the spectacular Shingrilla Resort with the magnificent view of heart shaped Lake in background of huge dark mountains. Sooner the sun would be hiding itself in the vail white clouds, hence I went off to experience the world’s highest desert known as Sarfaranga Desert or the Cold Desert that is located at the height of 7,500 feet. Luckily, my eyes experienced a breathtaking view of the sunset at the top of sand dunes with chilly winds. That day felt to pass in moments when I was recalling it by sitting in my hotel room.

The sun was in its full bloom on the next morning and everything appeared to be much brighter and colorful, which was appealing for Mantoka waterfall, that is approx. 180 feet high from ground and located almost 80 kilometers away from downtown Skardu. This is the place from where Indus river enters into Pakistan. The waterfall is one of the well-known tourist attractions of Kharmang valley, as you would fall in love with the clear water coming down and equally with the ambiances.

Following day there comes a long journey awaiting to the divine Khaplu valley. However, for accommodation again, I preferred Serena Hotels as you can find them all over the country, however my favorite proved to be Serena Khaplu Palace in Gilgit-Baltistan, a Tibetan Palace, restored by Agha Khan Foundation.

There was a local polo match taking place nearby, that is a popular sport in the Gilgit-Baltistan region and known popular as “Game of the Kings”. Luckily, I found the opportunity to witness it live.

After early breakfast I was feeling more active and adventurous, hence there is a great panoramic view to be had at Thoqsikhar, a two-hour hike from the palace, which served the purpose. The time I returned it was misty dark, so I had a relaxed dinner in the palace garden lighted with tiny fairy lights.

Afterwards, I considered stopping at Bara, a small town just twenty minutes from Khaplu. Here one can find a wool spinning and weave center that trains and supports local women. This is also a great place to purchase a local Baltistani topi.

My final stop was Muchilu Bowari Rocks, they were as mighty as one can imagine. Magnificent…., by witnessing the region I marveled, “about the Creator”.

1 thought on “Visiting Sakrdu

  1. Beauty of Gilgit, Sakrdu is no secret. It is country for real adventure, traveller’s haven one must visit for an unforgettable life long experience. Hotel accommodation available is comfortable and modern but prices are not made available so that one may work out budget for a holiday.

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