Baltistan’s scenic beauty beyond description

View of K-2 & Mashabrum from Sonmotawa Machulu

 by Seema Mir

SKARDU: The natural beauty of Baltistan Division of Gilgit-Baltistan is beyond description. The unique landscape comprising highest cold desert, glaciers, lakes, streams, lofty mountain ranges — Karakorum and Himalayas — and the mighty River Indus makes it one of the best global tourist destination attracting a large number of foreign and domestic tourists.

The bewitching scenery of Baltistan creates an aura of enchantment and takes the onlooker to another world.
Starting with Skardu District and Deosai, the second highest plateau in the world after Changtang Tibetan Plateau, situated at an elevation of 12,700 feet  (4,000m) with an area of 3,000  sq.kms fills one with a feeling of elation upon reaching there.

The flora of Deosai comprises various species of flowers while the fauna includes Himalayan brown bear, ibex, red fox, golden marmot, wolf, the Ladakh urial and a number of resident and migratory birds.

Then the view of  Katpana lake and its surroundings is a marvellous natural blend with Katpana cold desert adjoined by Indus river and  mighty mountains of Karakoram range on one side and the Himalayan range on the other.

In the cold desert there is a glamping facility launched by a person Fahad Mehmood hailing from Lahore. The glamps (camps) are equipped with state-of -the -art facilities including trending beds, dining and toilet facilities.

“This is my passion turned into business,” Mr Mehmood said.
“I am a nature lover and want to present to the world best scenic amalgamation of Katpana lake, cold desert, River Indus and might mountainous ranges of Karakoram and Himalayas“, he added.


The lakes — Shangri-La Lake also known as lower KachuraUpper Kachura lake, Sadpara lake and Blind Lake also known as Jarbazoo — are enchanting. The Shangri-La lake is surrounded by pines and poplar trees with strong gales flowing past one at night  are panoramic if seen from the hilltop.

And, a view from Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) encompases river Indus banked by another cold desert and mighty mountains behind making the scenery eye-catching. The strong gales at night here also a special feature.

“This view from the hotel is wonderful, besides, whole of the Skardu is very beautiful,” Catherine Olive, a British tourist staying at the PTDC motel said.

But, the access roads to all the tourist spots of the area are in poor condition which mar all the joy associated with the travel.

Shigar, another district of Baltistan has its own beauty comprising Sarfa Ranga cold desert, blind lake as well as Shigar Fort that was bought by Serena managemen

t and turned into a museum-cum-hotel.

The museum has on display the articles used by the Rajas of ancient times.

Shaheen Baig, a leading mountaineer from Shimshal Valley in Hunza, while talking to

stressed the need for construction and repair of the roads as well as hotels of international standard equipped with all modern basic facilities in the area to attract more tourists.

This, he said, was quintessential as tourism is the mainstay of the the economy of the area.
Shaheen Baig also urged upon the government to provide more facilities to the locals as well as foreign mountaineers and trekkers, including cut in Pakistan International Airline’s (PIA) fares.

PTDC motel manager at Skardu Zahid Yaqeen said, “PIA’s fares should be tourist-friendly as local tourists also bring their children along and this becomes very costly for them.”

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