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Gilgit Baltistan, also known as the Northern Areas of Pakistan, holds a special place in the world for its magnificent mountains and extraordinary landscapes. Gilgit Baltistan is home to one of the most mesmerising places worldwide such as the Attabad Lake in Hunza and the Deosai Plains in Skardu and thus serves as one of the best spots for both locals and foreigners to tour.
Deosai National Park
Referred to as the roof of the world, the national park stands at an altitude of about 13700 feet above sea level and is the second highest plateau on earth. Apart from its geographical significance, another reason to visit deosai would be its exceptional beauty and the serene environment the place has to offer.
From the lush green plains to the deep blue waters of the Sheosar lake; together with the view of the snow capped mountains, this place truly lives up to its expectation of a being a wonder.
Situated in the Kharmang district of Baltistan, this natural waterfall is one of the main attractions of the province. Water flows in a stream from a height of approximately 100 feet and is surrounded by dense grass and huge rocks on the sides, thus adding to the grandeur of the place. Therefore, it is definitely the perfect place to unwind, have a warm cup of tea and thus is on the top of my recommendation list.
Named by a German climber, this beautiful meadow is located in the Diamer district of Gilgit Baltistan and is near the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the 9th highest peak in the world. Owing to its deadly terrain, Nanga Parbat is a difficult climb and so has earned the name of ‘the killer mountain’ for its high number of climber fatalities.
Serving as a view point to this magnificent mountain, this grassland is also blessed with a lush green background and an astounding lake that makes it the perfect place to visit.
Rama is one of the most beautiful places to tour in Astore, Gilgit Baltistan. Featuring verdant alpine forests, a pristine lake, and picturesque mountain views that are guaranteed to take your breath away.
Central Karakoram National Park
Covering an area of about 10,000 square kilometres, the Central Karakoram National Park is the largest national park in the country and one with appreciable diversity and uniqueness to it. Encompassing some of the world’s highest peaks, great glaciers and home to several endangered animal species such as the snow leopard, markhor, and the Himalayan brown and black bears, this park holds immense geographical and strategic importance.
The peaks include some of the eight-thousanders, including the mighty K2, Broadpeak, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, and sixty mountains over the height of 7,000 m. Hence, it is internationally known for being one of the best places to offer mountaineering, rock climbing, and trekking opportunities and has also been added to the Heritage Site Tentative List in 2016.
There are multiple heritage sites in Gilgit Baltistan, including impressive forts such as the Altit and Baltit forts, Skardu fort, Shigar fort, and the Khaplu palace, all of which are amazing and grand buildings depicting the rich culture and history of the province. Also, both the forts in Shigar and Khaplu have been converted to Serena Hotels in order to facilitate and encourage architectural tourism.
Furthermore, ancient mosques such as the Chaqchan and Amburiq mosques present in Khaplu and Shigar respectively represent the popularity of Islam in the past while Buddhist structures such as the Noorpur and Mughal Minar stupas, rock carvings like the Manthal buddha rock in Skardu, Keno Daas , Kargah buddha in Gilgit date back to the Early Middle Ages, an even ancient era.
These structures prove the prominence of early Buddhism in the region before the arrival of Islam. Thus, such sites are an epitome of art, culture and history and are an architectural marvel for both locals and tourists to appreciate.
Sarfaranga Cold Desert
At a short distance of about 16 kilometres from Skardu, this desert stands at a height of 7500 feet above sea level, and therefore it is the highest cold desert in the world. The area is covered by large sand dunes that overlook the entire Skardu valley on one side and the Indus river on other side, hence quickly rising to fame for being the perfect place for a photography session.
Moreover, since 2019, the government of Gilgit Baltistan has hosted the annual Sarfaranga Desert Rally in collaboration with PakWheels.com powered by Indus Motor Company, in the month of August, in an effort to attract tourists and promote the culture of Baltistan.
Now with an international airport in Skardu, availability of proper, paved roads such as the Karakoram Highway, and an appreciable improvement in the overall infrastructure, the region has become easier to access and explore. Therefore, both local and international tourism is bound to flourish in Gilgit Baltistan.
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