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Ghizer – The Unexplored Beauty

Ghizer is one of the ten districts of Gilgit Baltistan. It is blessed with snow-capped mountains, diverse plants, attractive villages, and crystal blue lakes. It is widely known as peace-loving and warm welcoming and natural beauty around the globe. Ghizer Valley is also famous for its beautiful lush landscape, eye-catching crystal blue lakes and high peaks of Hindukush and Himalayas touching the sky.

Geographical Background:

Ghizer District is the most northwestern part of Gilgit Baltistan, connecting GB with Chitral through Shandur Pass and also to Afghanistan, Tajikistan via Kurumber valley of Khodarg Werth Pass-through Tehsil Ishkomen. Currently, this district has four tehsils named Punial, Ishkomen, Gupis, and Yaseen. All of the tehsils have further valleys with breathtaking views.

Eye-catching Spots in Ghizer Valley:

Ghizer District is one of the beautiful regions which is yet to be explored for national and international tourists. Poor infrastructure, unavailability of basic facilities and lack of promotion and advertisement are the main obstacles in this regard. Here is the list of some tourist attraction spots in Ghizer Valley :

Allah Almighty has gifted natural beautiful lakes in Ghizer valley. These Lakes are the source of freshwater and trout fish.

Phander Lake:

Phander Lake is situated in the Phander Valley, Located in a cup-shaped area surrounded by mountains all around, the crystal clear Phander lake is fed through a link canal from Gilgit river. Depending on the time of the day, the lake changes its colors ranging from blue to deep green. The lake is famous for trout but it is difficult to catch them as there is a lot of algae near the banks.

Phander Lake, Phander Valley.
Khalti lake:

Khalti lake is situated in the town of Gupis in Ghizer Valley. It takes almost 3-4 hours to drive from Gilgit to Khalti Lake. The lake is located on the main road so it can be accessible by any age of people. The lake is surrounded by mountains of Hindu kush range which makes the view more beautiful. The place is famous for its peace and silence. One can hear the sound of birds clearly. In the summer season, one can enjoy boating and fishing while in winter the lake is frozen.

Khalti Lake, Gupis Valley
Hundarap Lake:

Hundarap Lake is situated in the Hundarap village which is a small beautiful village to the west of Phander valley. Hundarap Lake is famous for trout fishing and is a good campsite which has been selected as a high altitude wetland by the World Wide Fund for nature. 

Hundarap Lake.
Khukush Langer Lake:

Khukush Langar Lake is also known as Baha lake which is situated in  Shandur Valley Tehsil Gupis of Ghizer District. Baha Lake has sky blue color and it is an important source of freshwater full of trout. It is among the longest lakes of the Gilgit Baltistan region with an estimated length of almost 5km, Lake is part of Shandur National park as well. Baha Lake is accessible through the track of around 3 hours from Langer-Shandur road, track further leads to swat valley in KPK province through a high mountain pass.

Shandur Lake:

Shandur Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Pakistan. It is located in the district of Gilgit Baltistan as a high mountain pass connects it to Chitral and Gilgit. The upper side of the lake is flat so it is also called Roof of the World. Its beauty is awesome. The clouds that float above it add to its beauty. The temperature there always remains 14 degrees Celsius. The greenery everywhere at Shandur catches the hearts of the tourists

Kurumbar Lake :

Kurumbar Lake is a high altitude lake located between Yasin and Iskoman Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. It is the 2nd highest lake in Pakistan and is the 31st highest lake in the world. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

Historical places in Ghizer Valley:

Gupis Fort:

Gupis Fort is located in the Ghizer District of Gilgit Baltistan. The fort was built by the British colonizers in 1805. The Fort has residential quarters, stores, prison cells, and offices, surrounded by a wall built for protection against invasion. The fort was used for some time by the Gilgit Scout and Northern Light Infantry. Currently, the historical fort is crumbling due to a lack of care and attention.


Gahkuch Fort

Gahkuch is one of the most beautiful and historic villages in Ghizer. It is a beautiful town covered by glaciers and mountains. There are many historical places in Gahkuch like Chilla Shuwarun, Kalmakoi, Shawotai Khat, Gahkuch Fort (Defense Tower Gahkuch), Zeerati Thoko, Xaramarik, and Sujo Thoko. Gahkuch fort is the oldest fort in Gilgit Baltistan. Many rulers used Gahkuch as their capital and it is very safe for defense and security.

Yasin Fort :

Yasin Fort is also known as Dorkhand Fort, which is the most beautiful and biggest fort in Gilgit Baltistan which was started in the period of shah Khoshwaqt the farmer of Khoshwaqt Dynasty in the 15th century. A Lot of historical wars have been fought with Maharaja of Kashmir and the invaders from china with the rulers of Wakhan and Afghanistan. The most famous war was in 1862 after the death of Raja Ghazi Goharman.In which Dogra forces occupied Yasin and abolished this fort and Muddori Fort.

Scenic Valleys and Camping Sites

Punial Valley:

Punail is the most beautiful and scenic part of District Ghizer. Gakuch the capital of District Ghizer is situated in this valley. The Punial valley has many archeological sites and the valley is known as the Fruit Basket. The valley is also famous for camping sites and sightseeing. Some of the best spots are; Sherqilla Nalla, Upper Gahkuch, Picnic Spot Gajkuch and Tourist hut in Hopper.

Saragah Singal,Punial Valley

Ishkoman Valley

Ishkoman valley is known as the hub of glaciers and trekking routes. There are some scenic locations for camping and sightseeing like Karambar lake, Sokhtarabad, Chillinji Glaciers, Werghot, Mahtramdan, Batsowat, Ater Lake, Ishkoman property, Immit, Pakora and Chatorkhand.

Ishkoman Valley, Ghizer Pakistan.

Immit Valley, Ishkoman
Chatorkhand , ishkoman
Yasin Valley

Yasin valley is another eye-catching valley of Ghizer. Yasin valley is also known as Babaye-i-Yasin or Worshigum is a high mountain valley in the Hindukush mountains. The summer in Yasin valley has great attraction not only because of scenic beauty but it offers camping sites for tourists. Some attractive camping sites are; Yasin Proper, Sandi, Thui , Hundur, and Darkut.

Yasin Valley
Darkut Valley.
Tomb of Lalak Jan Shaheed. He was awarded Pakistan’s highest military gallantry award, Nishan-e-Haider.

Gupis Valley

Gupis is the scenic valley of Ghizer. There are so many villages lush green and very pleasant places, beautiful sites for camping for tourists like Gupis Fort, Khalti Lake, and Sosot Lake. The Khalti and Sosot lake are also famous for Fish Angling.

Sosot Lake, Gupis.
Phander Valley

Phander valley is the newly constituted Tehsil of District Ghizer.Phander Valley was the breadbasket for the whole Gilgit Baltistan. It has many attractive places for camping and trout fish angling like Phander Lakes, Sahi Mahal, Terch and Gulghmuli, langer and Shandur. Hundarap and other spectacular valleys with lush green fields offer great sites of camping and fishing for visitors, it is known as the paradise for Trout Fish.

Gulghmuli valley
Shandur Polo Ground

Shandur Polo Ground is the highest polo ground in the world. It is naturally designed as small hills are all four sides of the rectangular ground and situated at an altitude of 12,500 feet above the sea level. Shandur Top is sometimes called “Roof of the World” where Hindukush in Gilgit-Baltistan, between Afghanistan and Gilgit-Baltistan and Karakoram mountain range of Gilgit-Baltistan, meet. The top is flat, and a plateau can be crossed between April and early November.

Archaeological sites in Ghizer:

Ghizer was dominated by Buddhism, which left various rock inscribed writings and pictures dating back between 5000 BC to 8th century AD. Many points are found in Ghizer are:

  1. Megalithic stone circles at Yasin
  2. Rock Arts at Yasin Nuh Bridge
  3. Remains of Mandori Fort at Sadi Yasin
  4. Remains of old settlements at Barkulti Yasin
  5. Unexplored graveyards in Grunjir and Bubur
  6. Remains of old Fort in upper Gahkuch 
  7. Remains of old settlements at Dain Ishkoman
  8. Remains of old settlement at Chatorkhand
  9. Rock inscriptions around Chashi Nalla and Phandar top
  10. Fort in Gupis
Trekking Routes and Passes:

Ghizer particularly Yasin, Ishkoman and kohe Ghizer (Upper Ghizer) valleys are known as a heaven for trekkers and famous for all kinds of trekking routes, normal to technical. Here is the list of some trekking routes:

Asumbar Haghost :
Duration04 days
Distance44.7 km
Height of Pass4560 m
PeakAsumbar Peak 5798 m
StandardModerate
SeasonJune-September
StartAsumbar
FinishDal Sandi
Zone & PermitOpen, No permit
SummaryThis culturally and linguistically diverse trek through alpine meadows crosses a gentle pass with sweeping vistas.
Karambar Ann and Darkut Ann
Duration11days
Distance123.5 km
Height of Pass4650 m
PeakZhui Sar
StandardDemanding Technical
SeasonJuly-September
StartBort
FinishDarkot Yasin/ Broghol Chitral
Zone & PermitRestricted, US$120 permit
SummaryThis trek needs the glacially carved Karambar valley across a meadow and lake filled pass to Pamir grasslands, then crosses a historic glaciated pass into the incredibly scenic darkot valley, which features springs and tumbling ice falls.
Punji Pass
Duration04 days
Distance40.3 km
Height of Pass4680 m
PeakPanji Peak 5800 m
StandardDemanding
SeasonJuly-September
StartDarkut/ Ghotolti
FinishGhotolti/Darkut
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryThis traverse of the Hindukush Range, through unspoiled traditional valleys with spring-fed meadows and superb alpine vistas, crosses a straightforward pass with opportunities for climbs and first ascents.
Pakora Pass
Duration05 days
Distance46.9 km
Height of Pass4710 m
PeakSentinel Peak 5260 m
StandardModerate
SeasonJune-September
StartUpper Naltar
FinishPakora
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryA fine introduction to Karakoram trekking, this route has alpine meadows, a small glacier, and not-too-high pass, incredible scenery and it is easily accessible from Gilgit.
Chilnji Ann and Qalander Uween
Duration06 DAYS
Distance57 km
Height of Pass5106 m
PeakKuz Sar 6677 m
StandardVery Demanding/ Technical
SeasonJune-September
StartBaba Ghondi Ziarat Gojal /Warghot/ Sokhatarabad
FinishWarghot/ Sokhtarabad (Karambar Valley)/Gojal
Zone & PermitRestricted US$120 permit
SummaryCross a challenging glaciated pass along Pakistan’s northmost border between the dramatic and sacred landscape of Choposan and the rock walls and inspires of the Karambar Valley
Kuru Ann
Duration03-04 days
Distance27 km
Height of Pass4700 m
Standard:Demanding
SeasonJune-September
StartKuru pakor Gol/ Baj Gaz Immit
FinishBaj Gaz Immit/ Kuru Pakoro Gol
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
Altar Pass
Duration04-05 days
Distance45 km
StandardDemanding
SeasonJuly-September
StartGhotolti Ishkoman
FinishDarkut Yasin
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryAn immense amphitheater surrounded by a circle of snowy peaks and hanging glaciers. Scenic a greenish four Km long lake.
Thui Ann
Duration05 days
Distance47 km
Height of Pass4500 m
StandardModerate
SeasonJuly-September
StartNialthi Thui Yasin
FinishSholkush Yarkhun Chitral
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryAn outstanding and popular traverse over a relatively easy pass, surrounded by tumbling glaciers and jagged 6000m peaks, this trek passes through traditional villages and links Yasin and Chitral.
Darmandar Haghost
Duration04 days
Distance42 km
Height of Pass4495 m
Peak
StandardModerate
SeasonJuly-September
StartJondoli Gupis
FinishDal Sandi Yasin/ Asumbar Ishkoman
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryNon Glaciated trek mostly used by local Gujars who ride horses to medicinal springs above Barkulti in Yasin.
Nazbar Ann
Duration04 days
Distance53.6 km
Height of Pass4980 m
Standard:Demanding
SeasonJuly-September
StartBatakushi Nazbar Yasin
FinishChashi
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryA challenging route takes adventurous trekkers through the wild and ruggedly scenic alpine country via a high pass with a penalty of opportunity for exploration and peak bagging.
Zagaro Ann
Duration06 days
Distance57.6 km
Height of Pass4920 m
Peak
StandardVery Demanding
SeasonJuly-August
StartBatakushi Nazbar/ Chashi
FinishChapali Chitral/ Barsut Ghizer
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryGilgit-Baltistan’s most challenging unglaciated pass traverses unvisited valleys between Ghizer and Chitral, offering opportunity for exploration and alpine climbs.
Chumarkhan Ann
Duration02 days
Distance29 km
Height of Pass4328 m
StandardEasy
SeasonJuly-October
StartBarsat Ghizer
FinishChapali Chitral
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryThis gentle pass leads through meadows and meanders along a stream. “It is an outstanding quick route between picturesque upper Ghizer and Colorful Yarkhun.
Dadarelli Ann
Duration05 days
Distance69 km
Height of Pass5030 m
Peak
StandardDemanding
SeasonJuly-September
StartHundarap
FinishKohistan Khandia /Matiltan Kalam
Zone & PermitOpen no Permit
SummaryScenic glaciers and lakes with meadows and animal herds are the prominent features of the pleasant trekking routes.

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