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Gilgit Valley

Click Here to EnlargeAt an elevation of 4,900 feet and 365 miles from Rawalpindi lies the splendorous Gilgit Valley. This unique little town of Gilgit is blessed with spectacular beauty. The peak tourist season is from May to mid-October nevertheless, tourists keep pouring in all year round. The maximum temperature in May is 33 C whereas the minimum goes down to 16 C, while in September, temperatures show a maximum 28 C and a minimum of 11 C. Such pleasant temperatures make Gilgit a must-visit place during these months.

Planes from Islamabad-Rawalpindi arrive frequently in Gilgit. If you arrive by air, the main bazaar in Gilgit is a short mile away, and to get there you can grab a small van or whatever vahicle seems to be taking passengers. Giglit's main street runs generally, east-west, paralleling the river. East of the Airport ans away from town is the area called Jutial, where there are numerous military compounds and few small lodges.

Click Here to EnlargeJust 10 kms from the town of Gilgit, is a Buddha carved into a stone face, a remnant of the era over seven hundred years ago when Buddhism held sway accross much of what is now the North-West-Frontier Province, the Northern Areas and Afghanistan. To see this rock carving, take a local van west of town continuing past numerous walled compounds, green fields and the suburb of Napur to the Kargah Nala. South of the main road and up this nala, a large rectangular niche well above the trail frames a ten-foot-high standing Buddha. The Kragah Nala is now a game sanctuary. You could take a day hike up this nala, for it has many trees and make a pleasent walk. Ambitious trekkers could consider a trek south that begins in this nala and eventually crosses the 14,000-foot Shinghai Gali en route through high pasture lands to the Indus Valley at Chilas. You should go with a local to show you the way, for the route is not clear, especially in the high country, and as you proceed farther south you will be in a region inhabited by Kohistanis.

Click Here to EnlargeA victory monument of Taj Mughal, built 700 years ago, is located at 30 kms from the town of Gilgit. One can easily reach this monument by jeep.

'Polo' (the game of Kings) is Gilgit's most favoured sport. The locals claim that this sport originated in Gilgit. It demonstrates a more rugged and free-style version of Polo than the sedate and subdued variety experienced in the plains. The polo tournament is held from 1st November to 7th November. It is a festive occasion and draws large number of visitors.

As for those who have a knack for fishing, the streams and lakes of Gilgit are full of trout fish. Click Here to EnlargeThese are at Kargah Nullah (10 kms. from Gilgit), Singal (56 kms), Gakuch (73 kms), and Phandar (117 kms from Gilgit). Permits for fishing are issued by the Assistant Director, Fisheries, Government of Pakistan, Gilgit.

Today Gilgit is growing rapidly, and you'll see many diverse people here: taciturn local Shina-speaking farmers and shopkeepers, outgoing Hunzakuts ( as people from Hunza are called), rugged Kohistanis visiting the Bazar and steely eyed Pathan truck drivers or businessmen. Gilgit is a key transit point for trekkers because of its location between Chitral and Baltistan and just South of Hunza. It is indeed a splenderous valley, have a pleasant journey!

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