THE LAND OF SPECTACULAR MOUNTAINS, VALLEYS, RIVERS AND GLACIERS
Gilgit Baltistan History TimelineGilgit- Baltistan
A land of immense geographic and strategic significance, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) is gifted with geo-corridors ever exploited by empires / powers of all times. Even today, great powers of the time like China, Russia, US (in Afghanistan) and India embrace it from all directions. Occupying an extraordinarily varied and attractive landscape, GB becomes a meeting point of world’s three famous high altitude mountain ranges namely Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindu Kush. It borders Pakistan’s KPK province to the West, Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor to the North, China to the Northeast, Azad Kashmir to the Southwest, and Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir to the East and Southeast. GB covers an area of 72,971 square kilometers (28,174 miles). It has an estimated population of 1.249 Million.
Its administrative center is the city of Gilgit with a population of 216,760. The area contains some of the largest glaciers out of Polar Regions which are Biafo, Baltoro and Hisper. This region is a notable supplier to the country as well as the world of many important minerals. In the Southern part of the region, it has major deposits of Nickel, Cobalt, Copper, Lead, Tin, Bismit, Mica, Quartz, Zircon, Coal and Actonolite that are famous for their exceptionally good quality. Silk Route is the major and only road link between this area and other parts of the country, utilized mainly for economic activities.
Recently named as Gilgit Baltistan, it was given full autonomy on 29 August 2009 rendering it constitutional status of an integrated part of Pakistan. Gilgit Baltistan comprises of two divisions, seven districts and 22x tehsils. Skardu and Ghanche are in Baltistan Division, while Diamer, Ghizar, Gilgit, Astor and Hunza Nagar are in Gilgit Division. The region in the opinion of geologists is the meeting ground of “Continents of Collision”.
Nowadays the city has a population of more than 200,000. Gilgit is often used as a stop over by travelers that are on their way to the Himalayans or the Karakoram mountain range. Because Gilgit is situated in the vicinity of the border with China Chinese culture has left its mark in the city.
1890 The British Government created the Gilgit agency and appointed a political agent, under a lease agreement with Maharaja Harising of Kashmir
1947 The people of region revolted against the Maharaja
1947 1st November 1947 the state of Gilgit was established by local population who fought with the Dogra Raj
– The state existed for 15 days
– Shah Raees was the President of the state of Gilgit
– The states of Hunza, Nagar and other rulers of princely states requested Pakistan to take control of the region
1947 16th November 1947 the state of Gilgit was abolished and the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) was promulgated by Sardar Alam Khan, Pakistan’s political agent, in the region
– The war of independence fought by the paramilitary Gilgit Scout, with the help of volunteers, and also supported by the Pakistan Army continued for more than a year
1950 The federal Government established the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KANA) and transferred the affairs of the Northern Areas to the Ministry
1967 Two local political agents were appointed, one each from Gilgit and Baltistan
1970 Northern Areas Advisory Council was formed, having 16 members
1974 Bhutto announced creation of Ghizar and Ghanche districts
1977 General Zia-ul-Haq imposed Martial Law in Pakistan and the GB was declared as Zone-E, reps appointed to Majlis-e-Shura
1985 Aga Ahmad Ali Shah, a local, appointed as Advisor to KANA Minister
1994 Benazir introduced Legal Framework Order
1994 Benazir introduced Legal Framework Order 1994 through which Northern Areas Rules of Business were Framed
– Chief Secretary and Civil Secretariats were established
– Chief Court was established
1999 LFO of 1994 was amended by Musharraf empowering the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) to legislate on 49 subjects
2005 Northern Areas Court of appeals established.
– Seats for technocrats and women added to the council
2006 Six advisors were added to the NALC and their salaries and privileges were also increased
2007 Northern Areas Legal Framework Order 1994 was renamed as Northern Areas Governance Order 1994 and amended. Similarly NALC was renamed as Northern Areas Legislative Assembly
2009 Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self- Governance Order 2009 was signed by President Zardari
– Through this, the region was renamed as Gilgit Baltistan, the institutions of GB Council, GB Legislative Assembly and the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit Baltistan were formed
– The position of Governor, Chief Minister, Ministers and advisors were also created
Tourism for Gilgit Baltistan
The Geography & Climate of Gilgit-Baltistan is very interesting and beautiful by its area to area and region to region on its borders the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan to the northwest, China’s Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang to the northeast, on its south and southeast the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, in the south the Pakistani-controlled state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and in the west Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Gilgit-Baltistan is also the best and highest and dangerous home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than 50 peaks above 7000 meters. Gilgit and Skardu are the two main hubs for expeditions to those mountains. The region is also attracts the tourists as home of the world’s highest mountain ranges—the main ranges are the Karakoram and the western Himalayas. The Pamir Mountains are to the north, and the Hindu Kush lies to the west. Amongst the highest mountains are K2 (8611m) (Mount Godwin-Austen), Broad Peak 8047m, Gasherbrum -I (8068m), Gasherbrum -II (8035M) and Nanga Parbat 8126M, the latter being one of the most feared mountains in the world.
Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the Polar Regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan — the Biafo Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier, and the Batura Glacier. There are, in addition, several high-altitude lakes in Gilgit-Baltistan:
Sheosar Lake in Deosai Plains – Astor region
Satpara Tso Lake in Skardu – Baltistan
Katzura Tso Lake in Skardu – Baltistan
Zharba Tso Lake in Shigar – Baltistan
Phoroq Tso Lake in Skardu – Baltistan
Bara Tso Lake in Gangche – Baltistan
Byarsa Tso Lake in Gultari – Baltistan
Borith Lake in Gojal upper Hunza – Gilgit
Attaabad Lake Hunza- Gilgit
Rama Lake near Astore
Rush Lake near Nagar – Gilgit
Kromber Lake in Kromber Pass – Ishkoman Valley, Ghizer District
Barodaroksh lake in Bar valley Nagar
There are many plans the most beautiful is Deosai Plains, are located above the tree line and most attractive and constitute the second-highest plateau in the world at 4,115 meters after Tibet. This beautiful plateau lies east of Astor,valley south of Skardu and west of Ladakh. This heaven on earth area was declared as a national park in 1993. The Deosai Plains cover almost 5,000 square kilometers area of this beautiful plain. In September and May, Deosai is snow-bound and cut off from entire Astore & Baltistan in winters. The village of Deosai lies close to Chilum chokki and is connected with the Kargil district of Ladakh through an all-weather road. Which also attracts national as well as foreign tourists around the world?
The Climate of Gilgit varies from region to region; surrounding mountain ranges creates sharp variations in weather. The eastern part has the moist zone of the western Himalayas, but going towards Karakoram and Hindu Kush the climate dries considerably. Gilgit is hot during the day in summer yet cold at night and valleys like Astor, Khalpu, Yasin, Hunza and Nagar where the temperature is cold even during the summer.
At an altitude of 1,500 meters Gilgit has a desert climate with warm summers and cold winters. During the summer temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius are uncommon. Winters are cold longer periods with subzero temperatures are not uncommon. Precipitation figures are low all year round. During the winter precipitation often falls in the form of snow or hail.
Culture & Heritage
Gilgit is home to a number of diversified cultures, ethnic groups, languages and various backgrounds. It is home to people belonging to all regions of Gilgit as well as from other cities of Pakistan and aboard. This multitude of cultures is because of the strategic location of Gilgit. Being the headquarters of the Gilgit-Baltistan almost of the key offices are located in Gilgit.
Urdu and English are the official languages spoken while other languages include Pashto and Punjabi. Shina is the basic language spoken by most of the original settlers but the new comers have various backgrounds of languages and cultures. Other key languages spoken in Gilgit are:
As Gilgit is a multicultural city and there are a lot of different languages spoken in Gilgit which has an effect on the attitudes of people as well. Many citizens are following the old traditions and customs while others are enjoying a modern lifestyle which is influenced by other cultures, media and education.
Majority of the inhabitants are Muslims belonging to two different communities of interpretations i.e. Sunnis, Shias and Ismailies. A small number of Christians also reside in Gilgit.
• Eid-e- Ghadir
• Eid ul Azha
• Eid Milad un Nabi
• Eid ul Fitr.
• Jashn e Baharan
• Shandoor Polo Festival
• Babusar Polo Festival
• Harvest time festival.
The instruments commonly used in Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan are Dadang (drum), Damal and Surnai while some other instruments like Sitar, Gabi(Flute) Rabab and duff represent the different areas. Beside this khiling-boo.chang, porgho-too etc instruments are used in Baltistan region.
Types of Music
• Alghani: The people of Gilgit, Ghizer Yasin, Puniyal, and Gupis call this rhythm as Alghani
• Ajoli: During departure of bride and groom from house this rhythm is used in different parts of Gilgit
• Souse: A martial rhythm and it has a fast rhythm and is used specially in sword dances.
• Dani: Dani is the name of a traditional music used in Hunza which links to Tibet, Baltistan and Laddakh.
The famous trio band music is played in this region as in most of the other regions. On the rhythm of this loud music, men love to dance in their typical way. There are some variations in lyrics from region to region. The people of Gilgit have some unique and very beautiful dances in different parts. Following dances are common during the festivals, traditional events and ceremonies.
Following are some of the famous dances:
Old Man Dance: In this dance more than one man wears some old style dresses and dance.
• Sword Dance: In this unique dance the participants show taking one sword in right and shield in left. One to six participants as pair can dance.
• Cow Boy Dance: In this dance a person wears old style dress, long leather shoes and a stick in hand.
Some of the famous places which tourists can see when they are visiting Gilgit are as following:
• Gilgit Bridge: Bridge over the fast flowing Gilgit River, at the end of its traditional bazaar, is the largest suspension bridge in Asia (182 metres long and 2 metres wide) permitting enough room for one jeep ata time to cross
• Kargah Buddha: Located on a rock near Kargah Nullah 10 km. from Gilgit town is a beautiful rock engraving of Buddha from 7th century A.D.
• Monument of Taj Mughal: A victory monument of Taj Mughal, built 700 years ago, is 30 km
• Sher Qilla: It is 38 km from Gilgit. Trekking route links with Naltar valley. Trout fishing can be enjoyed in Sher Qilla Nullah and a small lake.
• Singal: About 61 km from Gilgit. Trekking route links with Chilas and Kohistan valley.
• Gahkuch: Headquarter of Ghizer Distric it is an Ideal place for trekking, good fishing sports and duck shooting in season. It is the gateway to Iskoman Valley. Government rest house and private hotels are available (73 km from Gilgit).
• Naltar Valley: Two hours jeep drive from Gilgit link rod. Government Rest house, Private hotels and a Ski slope, lush green Alpine forest with small lakes and glaciers, trout fishing in lake
Gilgit is perhaps the most beautiful area of Pakistan because of its geography and scenic beauty. It has a mix of a lot of culture which makes it even more important. Gilgit is also strategically the most important region in the Karakorum’s. So the people of Pakistan should realize this importance too and take care of it as it’s a valuable asset for Pakistan.