Danyore Rock inscriptions
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Danyore Rock Inscriptions

The Danyore Rock Inscriptions is a gigantic boulder bearing inscriptions from the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. The inscription is the most important discovery of Danyore and was seen for the first time by Karl Jettmar in 1958. The inscribed rock is situated in the premises of a private house in Danyore, across Gilgit city in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and is locally known as “Likhitu Giri”. The archaeological site is not very much popular and known only to a limited count of individuals/organizations related to archaeology and tourism.

The town of Danyore is located on the main Karakoram Highway towards Hunza, south of Gilgit and separated only by Gilgit River and Hunza River from two sides. Danyore is accessible by car in 10 minutes from Gilgit yet finding the exact location of the Danyore Rock Inscription can be a challenge as the signboard showing the direction to the exact location has been disappeared and the rock is located off the main Karakoram Highway leading through a narrow street to a private house in the settlement.  The family living in the house didn’t know much about the worth of the rock.

Measuring 13 x 7 feet, the gigantic rock bears the names of the Tibetan kings who ruled in Gilgit during the 7th and 8th centuries in a five-line Sanskrit inscription in the late Brahmi character. The inscriptions, as per the renowned Pakistani archaeologist Dr Ahmed Hasan Dani, were engraved by the prince Kumaramatya and belonged to the line of rulers mentioned in the Hatun inscription in the Ghizer Valley. It confers royal titles of Patola Shahi Shahanushahi and Parama-Bhattaraka to the ruler Jayamangala Vikramaditya Nandi of the Vikramaditya family.

According to Dr Dani, the purpose of this inscription appears to commemorate some conquest of a local ruler, probably the overthrow of a raid by Tibetans in the upper Indus valley. Moreover, the Kingdom of Great and Little Bolor merged under Tibetan suzerainty in 725. The rock, however, has deteriorated with the passage of time and the inscription faded badly. It shows that Sanskrit was once a part of this land and bears significant evidence of the past that needs to be preserved.

Phander Lake
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan Lakes

Phander Lake

Phander Lake is a striking Lake situated in the majestic Phander Valley of Ghizer district in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The Lake is an important source of fresh water and trout fish, fed by the Ghizer River and located on the Gilgit-Chitral Road.

Locally known as Nango Chatt, the 44 meters deep crystal clear water of the lake is filled with grass and plants easily visible from a distance. The lake is surrounded by poplar trees that further add to the entire beauty. The curvy lake is sandwiched between two ridges that create a scenic view of the entire valley and the lake itself. One end of the lake is closed and the other is the major source of water passage from the river that keeps the lake water fresh.

The lake showcases panoramic views in four distinct seasons and is a major source of tourists’ attraction in the region. The western ridge of the lake has a government rest house while the eastern ridge has a small unit of PTDC motels offering best views of the lake and the valleys downstream.

Both for day excursionists and for overnight staying visitors, the valley has much to offer. Besides scenic views, the food, particularly the local trout fish, and fruits or various kinds are some of the other attractions of the region.

The lake is situated on the crossroads between Gilgit and Chitral and can be easily accessed from both sides. From Gilgit, it is about 173 km taking around 5 hours.

Phander Valley
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Phander Valley

The Phander Valley is a scenic valley well-known for its ultimate grandeur and sheer beauty. The valley is famous particularly for its manifestation of diverse natural colors in four distinct seasons. The calmly flowing deep blue rivulet making way through the center of the valley makes the entire vista extremely striking. Nature has blessed the valley so uniquely that its landscape simply displays a panorama of a dreamland.

Geography

Phander is situated in the Gupis valley of Ghizer district in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Ghizer is one of the 10 districts of Gilgit-Baltistan bordering Gilgit District to the east, Hunza-Nagar to the northeast, Diamer to the south, and Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west.

Attractions

The entire gorge making up the Ghizer District, all the way to the Shandur Pass, is dotted with tiny valleys mostly nestled by the bank of Gilgit River. The landscape of Ghizer district is diverse; contracting and stretching from Gilgit to Lunger near Shandur. Each stretch before Lunger is adorned with a settlement of traditional houses surrounded by gardens, fruit orchards, and terraced fields.

There are numerous attractions on the way to the Phander Valley making the trip so enjoyable without causing a feeling of fatigue throughout the journey. The lush green fields, fruit orchards and gardens, beautiful lakes including the Khalti Lake and Phander Lake, gushing blue river running along the bases of valleys connected by suspension bridges, clear glacial waters, and numerous channels of natural springs along the way feast the eyes of travelers with a unique experience.

Like the diversity in landscape, there is also an absolute variation in cultures in the entire district which makes it even more alluring. People speak different languages including Shina, Khuwar, Burushaski, and Wakhi in different regions and practicing slightly diverse cultures. People are friendly and welcoming, living a simple lifestyle, eating rich food with agriculture as a source of living for most of the residents.

Although the entire district is scenic with striking beauty; the Phander valley, in particular, is heavenly blessed. The section of the gorge making Phander a bowl-shaped valley is because of the barricade at the eastern end crest perching the PTDC Motel and holding the Phander Lake. The government rest house built on a ridge poking in and separating the valley from the Phander lake provides a gorgeous view of both sides – the valley and the lake.

The valley poses a unique natural setting nowhere can be observed. Beautiful lush plain fields make up the entire base of the bowl-shaped valley separated by the deep quiet blue water flowing downstream. The water is full of trout fish which is an important source of food of the region and a great local dish every tourist would love to enjoy.

Access and Location

Phander is majestically located about 173 km west of Gilgit town. The access to the valley is easy, usually takes about 5 hours to reach yet depending on the speed. Most of the road section is asphalted while some sections are still under the process of construction. However, generally, the road condition is fine and recommended for all kinds of vehicles. Phander is also accessible from Chitral via the Shandur Pass.

 

Khalti Lake
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan Lakes

Khalti Lake

Named after the alluring village of Khalti, located on the bank of Ghizer River, the Khalti Lake in Ghizer District of Gilgit-Baltistan is a prominent lake at 2,217 m above sea level. The lake is a famous tourist attraction partly surrounded by lush green terraced fields and a tree line, and partly bordered by the Rocky Mountains.

The westernmost part of Gilgit-Baltistan makes up the Ghizer district and the road through Ghizer leads to the well-known Shandur polo ground and further to Chitral district of KPK. The Ghizer district is made up of tiny independent villages inhabited by people from different cultural backgrounds. Khuwar, Wakhi, and dialects of Burushaski and Shina are spoken in the region.

Access

Khalti Lake is located about 116 km from main Gilgit town taking about 3 to 4 hours by car. The lake is accessible by a tapered asphalt road running parallel to Ghizer River – almost half the way through a scenic gorge leading to Shandur Pass. Khalti Lake, Phander Lake and the Phunder valley are major hotspots also famous for a day excursion from Gilgit. The scenery along the road is simply amazing to feast eyes with.

Attractions

Khalti Lake was formed due to the stretch of river near the village of Khalti. It portrays picturesque views in all four seasons. During the spring season, the Khalti village, making the western bank of the lake, all magnificently blooms; summers, the lake and surroundings are a great retreat and awe-inspiring with lush green surroundings, fall is the most colorful and romantic season around the lake; and in winters the hard crest on the lake serves as a playground for local youth to play and celebrate cultural events.

The turquoise colored lake is an important source of fresh water. Khalti Lake is abundant in local trout fish and so is the entire Ghizer River. Originally, the trout was injected into the river near the westernmost Golaghmuli Village. It increases in numbers and reaches almost every part of Gupis Valley. Hence, fishing can be a great pastime for tourists visiting the area.

The lake has great potential for water sports. The local people and the tourism department of Gilgit-Baltistan organize different sports activities most of the year for the local community. Moreover, there is great potential for private investors to invest in water sports activities. There are some places for eating out and accommodation but there are still ample opportunities to invest in standard boarding and lodging in the region. PTDC has a limited accommodation facility near the lake.

Weather

Summers are quite pleasant to visit Ghizer district. Temperature remains reasonably good from May until October until the end of fall season. Winters, however, are harsh with the temperature plummeting 10 degrees below freezing point on average which freezes virtually everything in and surrounding the lake. It snows quite often in the region.

Rama Lake
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan

Rama Lake

At an altitude of 3800 meters, the ice melt Rama Lake is one of the famous and high altitude lakes situated right above Rama Meadows in Astore district of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. The lake is surrounded by mountain peaks ye the immediate surroundings of the lake are treeless due to illegal logging but the Rama Meadows at 3300m are thickly forested with huge trees including pine, cedar, fir, and juniper.

Attractions

Rama Lake is one of the key attractions drawing a significant number of domestic and international tourists every season.  Located in the backdrop of the southern ridge of Nanga Parbat (the Killer Mountain – 8126 m, the 2nd highest in Pakistan after K2) in the westernmost Himalayas, the lake displays a beautiful inverted image as a reflection of the snow-crowned ridge of the killer mountain on a clear day.

From Rama Lake, one can trek to the east side of the Nanga Parbat. The surroundings of the lake are home to a variety of flora including the medicinal plants and fauna including the golden marmot, ibex, musk deer, snow leopard and rock partridge. On the way from Rama meadows to the lake, there are three small lakes called Sarot in local Shina language.

Rama valley/meadow and Rama Lake are the must-visit tourist attractions for the visitors travelling to or from Deosai. The lake can be visited as a day excursion from Gilgit. An ideal itinerary usually includes Fairy Meadows, Rama, Deosai and Skardu for a week-long tour. To make it even more tasteful, Gilgit and Hunza can be added in the program.

Weather

The meadow is snowbound during winters and turns lush green in summers making Rama an ideal camping spot. The lake, likewise, is frozen in winters and one can swim on a warm day in summers. Rama Lake makes up a perfect half-day hike from Rama Meadows.

Access

Rama is one of the several valleys and a key tourist destination of Astore in Gilgit-Baltistan. Astore itself is connected to Gilgit which is well linked by air with Islamabad( subject to weather) and by road with Islamabad/Rawalpindi via the Karakoram Highway (KKH) round the year and via the Kaghan valley in summers. One can take a flight to Gilgit from Islamabad and drive to Astore from Gilgit by road.

From Islamabad keep driving to Gilgit along the KKH all the way to Raikot Bridge and proceed for another 20 minutes from the exit to Fairy Meadows, take the right turn at the sign displaying the direction to Astore and the journey of another 45 km (about 2 hrs) will lead you to Astore Bazar. Another 9 km uphill drive will take you to Rama Lake through Rama Meadows where locates the main campsite.

chinese graveyard in danyore
Posted in Gilgit-Baltistan Tombs

Chinese Graveyard

Locally known as China Yadgar, the Chinese graveyard (The memorial Park) is the final resting place of mighty Chinese engineers and workers who sacrificed their lives during construction of the mighty Karakoram Highway (KKH) in the 1960s and 1970s. The cemetery is located in Danyore, about 10 km across main Gilgit town – the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. To be exact, the graveyard can be accessed in the residential area on the KKH, adjacent to Sehat Foundation Hospital.

Historic Background

The 1300 km (Pakistan: 887 km & China: 413km) Karakoram highway was a joint venture of Pakistani and Chinese workers and Engineers. It cost lives of 810 Pakistanis and about 200 Chinese during the period of its construction.  It was started in 1959 and the construction completed in 1977 while opened for public in 1979.  During construction on the Pakistani section of the KKH, the Chinese workers who laid down their lives were buried in what is called the Chinese graveyard today.

The cemetery was established in the early 70s – at a time when the construction of KKH was in progress. Several years after its construction, the Chinese government realized to carry out renovation of the cemetery. It was repaired in 2013 on a Chinese-funded project. The Consular of the Chinese Embassy Mr. Zhang Lianyou and the then Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Assembly Speaker Mr. Wazir Baig laid the foundation stone for a new cemetery on April 05, 2013. The project was completed in October of the same year.

Access and location

The memorial park is accessible by a main gate and entry is totally free. A custodian designated by the government of China looks after the cemetery.  As soon as one enters the main gate of the graveyard, both sides of the pathway are adorned with a pictographic display. The pictures in display feature construction work on the KKH by the Chinese workers and engineers during harsh conditions. It also shows medical aid provided by the Chinese doctors to the local people during the time of construction of the Highway.

Moreover, there is also a set of pictures on display along with sufficient information. The display features a reconstruction of the KKH, formation of tunnels, erection of major bridges (in Shishkat over Attabad Lake and in Danyore over Gilgit River) and providing of emergency transportation services across Attabad Lake in hard environmental conditions. The adjoining concrete erection in brown glazing with black base comprises historical information on the KKH in Urdu, Chinese, and English languages.

Proceeding further, the elevated podium, accessible by staircases, has a lime-white memorial tower, with Chinese inscription on in red, is surrounded by beautiful evergreen trees.  The entire memorial park is decked with a variety of trees including the towering pine trees, and some are said to have imported from China. During summers the overall climate within the premises of graveyard remains fairly cool.

Graveyard Design

The Chinese graveyard has four equal size quarters surrounded by footpath. Each quarter contains three rows with nine tombs in each row which make 27 graves in each quarter. A tombstone is placed over each grave containing epitaph inscriptions in Chinese characters.  There are 108 tombs in four quarters of which 16 tombs are still empty in one of the quarters. The reason those graves are still blank was the bodies of the workers lost under debris in massive landslides or other incidents during the construction of KKH.

The graveyard is very well maintained and serves also as a tourist attraction. The Chinese cemetery is a reminder of the hard work that demanded precious lives. It is indeed a symbol of lasting friendship that has continued for years. Pak-China friendship will remain even stronger with the passage of time.