ROAD TRIP THROUGH G-B: TREAT FOR THE SENSESA road trip through Gilgit-Baltistan is an adventure an experience for all senses
BY SHAZIA MEHBOOB TANOLI
FEBRUARY 20, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Nature always fascinates me no matter which region it is and whenever I can manage it, I prefer traveling towards the most spectacular and fascinating northern region of Pakistan, which hosts the three world’s most famous mountain ranges meet here: the Himalayas, the Karakorams and the Hindukush.
In other words, the northern region, for me, is no less than a heaven on the Earth, which with its beautiful and charming scenery brings serenity to the depth of the heart and soul. The serenity that is hidden in the environment of the region and in the crystal-clear waters, dreamy meadows, lush green valleys, sky high waterfalls and white capped mountains.
And this trip was to the region which is not only famous around the world for its scenic beauty, high mountains and snow-capped peaks and milky rivers but also for mountaineers like Nazir Sabir and Muhammad Ali Sadpara.
The recent Gilgit-Baltistan trip happened to be an ever-lasting memory for many reasons. The first memory of the trip is experiencing the beauty of all four weather patterns in the first 18 hours travel from Rawalpindi to Gilgit city.
It was a hot and humid night in Rawalpindi when we [five members of GMA team] left for Gilgit in a jeep, the weather turned pleasant as we entered Abbottabad and passed through Mansehra, we crossed BariKot and Balakot areas, we searched for jackets and shawls as the weather turned cold with a light rain shower.
As we travelled towards Naran Valley freezing-cold wind welcomed us with sharp whispering in the ear while snow-capped mountain and fast flowing crystal-clear river of Naran Valley welcomed us hello in a beautiful-sunny morning. The weather was pleasant as well as cold as we reached the BabuSir Top, on the way to Gilgit. However, the hot and humid weather of Chilas reminded me of the resident city.
At 1pm the next day, Gilgit city welcomed us with moderate weather. The majestic waterfalls, streams, lakes and fast flowing snow-like glacier water with eatery outlets and refreshment points added to the value of our trip.
Phandar A Wonder
Allah knows who said this phrase and when, but it describes the beauty of Phandar Valley in the true sense.
The valley, with its beautiful and charming scenery, brings serenity to the depths of the heart and soul, and the serenity that is hidden in the environment of this valley and in the calm water.
Although the beauty of Ghazar valley is in its rivers, streams and lakes, all this beauty is flowing in the Silk River and velvet scenery.
The river rises to the heights of Shandor Top, all the beauty and colors are absorbed in it as if the Lord of the universe has filled every drop of this water with an attraction. A tourist who once visited the valley can never forget the magical influence of its glass like transparent velvet lake.
As soon as the River enters GalaKhmoli [a valley adjacent to Phandar Lake] from Taro, its flow stops. Spread across the green plains of the throat and head of Phandar Lake, this water absorbs every color that falls on it.
This river captures every scene around it and the viewer sees two images of the same scene as if they are mirrors on the green velvet and reflect everything in them.
Beautiful wooden bridges fill the valley and walking on them offers a dreamy scene. A two or three day visit to this valley enlightens a person to himself and brings spiritually close to God because it feels like we are living in paradise and we are very close to Almighty Allah.
Phandar is a word in the local language Sheena, which means spread and stagnant water. This is why the valley is named as Phandar valley.
The Phandar valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in Gilgit-Baltistan[ also called Little Kashmir]. It is only 88 kilometer away from Gahkoch while the distance from Phandar valley to Shandor Top is about 90 kilometer.
Like the beauty of the lake, the hearts of local residents are also beautiful as local people are very simple and hospitable. Instead of charging hefty amounts for the tourists to stay at their cottages they offer them free-of-cost stay.
Those who visit the valley for relaxation are not only impressed by the beauty as well as sincerity and attitude of the people and instead getting financial benefits they consider tourists as guests and treat them according to their status.
The Gappa Valley is another most spectacular and fascinating tourist’s destination, situated in Nagar District of Gilgit-Baltistan. It is a land of unexplored beauty, particularly for adventure-tourism lovers as the valley provides unique opportunities for hiking and tracking along with spectacular views of natural beauty.
It has so many enchanting sceneries, mountains, meadows and glaciers. Spending a few hours in the meadows, circling snow-capped peaks gives a heart-touching panoramic view along with fast-flowing snow-like-white glacier-melt water down in the meadows.
The valley is situated at the entrance of Nagar police check post and has around three-kilometre distance from Chalt valley. The best route to travel the Gappa valley is through Chahlat Bala and travel takes around one-and-a-half hours to reach from Gilgit city.
Although, the track leading to the Gappa valley is quite bumpy; however, a four-wheeler can easily take you to the destination. And if you want to walk to the valley, believe me your trip would be an unforgettable experience for many reasons.
The valley is home to many high-mountain peaks including Rakaposhi and it always mesmerises its visitors with its natural forest, fountain, grasslands and mesmerizing view of Rakaposhi peak. It’s up to you to visit the valley along with cooked-food or bring items to cook food at the track.
The Majestic Attabad Lake
If you visited Hunza, the land famous for its natural beauty, and skipped visiting the majestic Attabad Lake, it means you didn’t enjoy your trip in true sense because your trip to the land of beauty is incomplete without experiencing the blue waters of the Attabad Lake. The lake is located some 23.9 km from Hunza Valley and 124 km from Gilgit city. On the way, the valley has many places to visit such as Rakaposhi View Point, Hoper Glacier, Passu & Gulmit, Khunjerab pass and Diran Base Camp to visit and enjoy. Along with enjoying the scenic beauty of Rakaposhi glacier, you will be treated with local traditional cuisine at the Rakaposhi View Point on your way to the lake.
It takes a few hours to reach the lake but the smooth highway of the mountain valley, with scenic and spectacular outside views, gives you a heart touching feeling and if you have music of your taste and company of good friends, the fun of your trip will be manyfold.
Travelling via the newly constructed highway under CPEC was an amazing experience for us [GMA team]. The beauty of the valley leaves a magical influence on mind and gives a refreshing feeling to heart and soul; as you are moving somewhere in the most fascinating place on the planet, said Shakila Jalil, a colleague on my trip. It was her insistence that made it possible to visit the lake on a busy schedule. “We see nothing if we don't see the famous Attabad Lake,” Jalil used to repeat whenever some of us asked about time constraints.
The lake, located in the Gojal Valley of Hunza, is full of chilly blue water, which splits into the lake from nearby glaciers and from the Hunza River. There are many hotels and resorts built around the lake as the tourism in the Attabad Lake is booming and you can get accommodation as per your convenience. There are various activities that take place around the lake for tourists like boating, jet sinking, fishing and many more. Although we didn’t have the opportunity to experience all the fun activities due to time constraints, the visit of a few hours was full of amusement and fun.
The most fascinating experience was traveling through chilly-cold back-to-back tunnels at the site of Attabad Lake, Anam Asghar. Usually, the lake turns icy and we were traveling in summer, so we enjoyed the chilly blue water of the lake as the surrounding glaciers melted and the water slit into the lake. The summer is the best time to make a tour to Attabad Lake. You can enjoy staying at the lake site as there are many hotels and resorts built around the lake.
A treat for the senses | The Express Tribune
A road trip through Gilgit-Baltistan is an adventure an experience for all senses