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Skardu Valley

Skardu, the capital of Baltistan is perched at 2,438 metres above sea-level in the backdrop of the great peaks of 'The Karakoram Mountain Range'.

Click Here to EnlargeFrequent flights are operated on Islamabad - Skardu route making it easier for travellers to reach the Skardu area in a much safer way. The air journey is full of enthrilling views and would itself be regarded as the highlight of the visit. The Skardu airport lies in the midst of the 20-mile long Skardu plain, a desert of sand dunes that shimmers with brilliance during sunny days. Riding from the airfield into town gives you little time to adjust to the awesome landscape into which you have flown. Your head swivels, eyeing strata of violet, red, grey, ochre, and brown in the 10,000-foot-high-hills surrounding the sandy plain on either side of the Indus River. En route to town you approach and pass south of the 2-mile long, 1,000-foot-high rock that is a prominent landmark, lying just north of Skardu.

Click Here to EnlargeSkardu's bazaar is a long, rambling affair, stretching from west to east. The western end of the bazaar is called the Satellite Town where you'll find numerous shops, hotels and restaurants. Proceeding eastward along this bazaar, you will come to a small traffic island with a memorial to those killed defending the nation. North from the traffic island is the walled mazar of Abbas Alamdar, a Shiite saint. The Satellite Town extends eastward as far as a fifteenth-century aqueduct, the base of which consists of large granite blocks. East of the aqueduct are the Skardu Polo ground and the Askandria Fort.

From Skardu you may take several interesting walking excursions. A stroll around the eastern end of the Skardu rock will take you to the nearby village of 'Narsok', where you will find a large pure spring flowing from the base of the monolith. Click Here to EnlargeTo reach Narsok, walk to the far end of the Skardu Polo field and pick up a trail that skirts the rock slopes beneath Zowar Singh's fortress. The mighty Indus snaking along just a few yards beneath your feet among the silvery white sands is an awesome sight. Skardu has a historically magnificent Fort known as the Kharpocho Fort (King of Forts). It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan, who ruled from Ladakh to Chitral till the end of the 16th century. About a mile south of Skardu on the west bank of the Satpura Nala is a tall rock with a vertical, beige-colored northern face. Carved here circa A.D 900 is a lovely image of a meditating Maitreya Buddha framed by Bodhisattvas.

Click Here to EnlargeWalking south up Skardu's alluvial fan takes you to crystalline Satpara Lake some 4 miles from town. The two lakes - Kachura Lake 29 kms and Satpara lake 8 kms from Skardu are ideal for trout fishing. To reach the lake by foot, just follow the aqueduct and its feeder channel to the jeep road. This road goes directly to the lake. The road leads beyond the lake to Satpara village known for its hardworking men, who have served as high-altitude porters on many mountaineering expeditions. One can truly enjoy the pleasures of serenity and tranquillity amongst such exotic landscapes. A must see for travelers!

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