Gilgit was an important city on the Silk Road through which religions were spread to and from the region. At one time the region was under the influence of Buddhism and a large number of Buddhist texts have been found at various places. A good account of the region is found from the writings of Fa Hsien and Hsuan Tsang, ancient travelers along the Silk Road. There has been found Dardic influence as well. Gilgit was ruled for centuries by the local Trakhane Dynasty which came to an end in 1810 and was followed by the rule of Sikhs and the British before declaring independence in 1947 and becoming part of Pakistan in 1948.
Of particular note in this district are Naltar, 35 km from Gilgit and a picturesque grassland surrounded by high peaks with accessible glacial lakes and in the winter there is a private ski resort run under the auspices of the Pakistan Air Force and for military personnel only. Near to Gilgit there is the Kargah Buddha, a rock-wall carved Buddha dating back to the 8th century AD while a little further on is the ruins of a Buddhist monastery and stupa.
Phander is one of the most interesting places in the district. It is well connected by metalled road to Gilgit. A leisure day at Phander with fishing in the lake is ideal for holiday makers.
ShandurPass, the bordering plateau between Gilgit and Chitral is more famous for its annual polo tournament and gala. It offers superb panorama as the vast plateau fills with alpine flowers and the lake on the pass makes it more picturesque.
HUNZA /NAGAR DISTRICT
Hunza was a former princely state for about 900 years which came to an end in 1974. Hunza valley is the prime attraction for tourists as the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains is overwhelming. A view of four 7,000 m high peaks, i.e., Rakaposhi, Diran, Golden and Ultar, from various points of Hunza makes it unique. The valley is known for its delicious fruits, terraced fields, and also for its changing colours in various seasons. Hunza is a tourist friendly region. The present literacy rate of the valley is above 90%
Of particular interest in this district are: Baltit Fort, a 700 year old building, made of mud, rocks and wood, is impressive and has been recently renovated and turned into a heritage museum. A walk through the villages with terraced fields is a pleasant experience. The bazaar of Karimabad is colorful and the main items of interest include local handicrafts, souvenirs, hand woven rugs, embroidered caps, shawls, hand woven cloth known as paffu and gemstones.
Nagar has been a state of equal status and importance as that of Hunza. Although the valley is spread in a vast region, however the main village of Nagar is just opposite to Karimabad, across the Hunza River. Bar, Jaffarabad, Husanabad, Sikandarabad, Nilt and Ghulmit are the major villages in Nagar. Presently there is no proper accommodation facility available (apart from a nice private place in Minapin village). Rakaposhi Trekking options include Rakaposhi Base Camp, Rush Lake and Rush Peak routes, while the most important is Hisper Pass, connecting the region with Baltistan.
Of particular interest in this district are: Khorpocho Fort, Manthal Rock (Buddhist carving), Sadpara and Kachura Lakes (including the upscale resort of Shangrila while so 3 full day excursions are a visit to Deosai Plains (the second highest plateau in the world), and the Shigar valley with an impressive renovated fort and fruit orchards.
A 102 km drive mostly along the Shyok river takes to Khaplu, the district headquarters of Ghanche. Khaplu Palace and Chaqchan Mosque are the interesting places to visit. The palace was the summer residence of the ex-ruler’s family. The mosque was built around 1500 AC and boasts to be the oldest mosque in Ba iitan. The building shows Buddhist influence and Tibetan architecture.
Ghondoghoro Pass at 5,650 m is one of the most popular and challenging trekking routes in the world. Other places to trek to with relative ease are the base camp of Masherburm Peak and Thalle La.
Of particular note in this District are Nanga Parbat (8,125m) Raikot Face and Fairy Meadows, some of the most picturesque places in the world.
How to reach Gilgit Baltistan
Gilgit Baltistan can be accessed from three different outside locations i.e, Islamabad, Chitral and China through road and air routs.
From Islamabad the tourists can choose to travel by air or by by to reach Gilgit and Baltistan. But from China and Chitral there is no air facility and tourists choose to travel by public transport service of their private safari.
There are airports in Gilgit Baltistan, one situated in the regional capital city of Gilgit and another in Skurdu. Flights to Gilgit are depending on weather. Road Journey is much scenic and more reliable.
Flight between Islamabad and Gilgit
Booking A Flight Online
Visit Below Links For Booking An Online Ticekt
By Road Travel
The road to Gilgit is an other adventure and beauty filled experience
The Northern Areas Transport Corporation was established in 1974 under Companies Act 1913 with the registered office at Lahore to provide road transport system to the people of Northern Areas. In 1976 the registered office was transferred from Lahore to Islamabad with its Head office at Rawalpindi. The Government decide to shift the Head office to Gilgit dated 23-08-1977 which was not materialized till 1979. after establishment of the office of the registrar Join Stock Companies at Gilgit, NATCO was voluntarily dissolved in accordance with the provisions of Companies ordinance 1984, as per orders of the Government and Board of Directors. Accordingly it was registered with registrar Joint Stock companies Gilgit on 23rd February, 1989 under the Companies ordinance 1984. Since then the NATCO is Functioning Under the Direct Control of the Chief Secretary, Northern Areas.
NATCO is Operating is 35 Routes in the Engire N.As, Linking with the rest of the Country and is the flag career of the Government of Pakistan on KKH.
Name of Routes Distance (KM) Name of Routes Distance (KM)
Gilgit To Rawalpindi 630 Gilgit To Chilas 115
Gilgit To Sost 205 Sost To China 240
Gilgit To Ishkoman 112 Skardu To Rawalpindi 760
Gilgit To Phundar 162 Chillas To Mansehra 490
Gilgit To Sherqilla 40 Skardu To Khaplu 180
Gilgit To Chitral 365 Skardu To Dumsum 160
Gilgit To Yasin 140 Chillas To Niat 60
Gilgit To Astore 120 Darel To Chillas 55
Gilgit Office Ph no: 05811-50435, 50684 - (0092-5811) 55805,55604
Islamabad Office Ph no: (0092-51) 4445580
Karachi Office Ph no: 021-5418142 (92-021) 5418142
Gilgit Serena Hotel
Set in six acres of rugged landscape, surrounded by legendary mountains, Gilgit Serena Hotel offers breathtaking views of snowcapped peaks in the Himalayan mountain range Gilgit Serena offers its guests a wide selection of local and continental delicacies at the Dumani Restaurant ... together with the scenic sights of the valley and the surrounding mountains.
Phone:(92) 05811 55894
Gilgit PTDC Motel Chinnar Inn
Phone:(92) 05811 54262/52562
Hunza Baltit Inn
Small Hotel in the high mountains of Pakistan offers breathtaking views of Rakaposhi & Ultar Mountain. The hotels is small but worth every moment in it, one can stay a week without getting board of seeing just the scenery of Hunza valley.
Hunza Eagles Nest Duikar
Located at a height of about 10000 feet above sea level accessible by jeep from Hunza it is small hotel at scanning point where tourist visit in early morning for sunrise. The hotel has magnificent views of Rakaposhi, Ultar, Golden peak & other snow capped mountains.
Skardu Shangri-La Hotel
Shigar Fort Residence has been open since June 1, 2005, following an intensive six-year restoration undertaken by Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan. Originally known as Fong-Khar, which in the local Balti language means "Palace on the Rock", this 400-year old Raja fort-palace has been brought back to life following a careful strategy of adaptive re-use and restoration. The result is a combination of authentic original 17th century architecture together with the modern amenities and services of a luxury guest house.
Shigar Fort Residence is located in the beautiful province of Baltistan in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Its picturesque setting in the Shigar Valley provides the ideal gateway from which to explore some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Here, the magnificent Karakoram and Himalayan ranges meet - an intersection which results in the most extensively glaciated high mountain terrain on the planet. This includes seven of the world's 25 highest peaks, four of which exceed 8000m, including K-2, the second highest mountain peak in the world at 8611m.
Phone: 0092-5831-66107, 5831-66108
Green Palace Hotel
First ever three star hotel located in Gahkuch, the head quarter of District Ghezer.
Located in Taus, Yasin Valley, District Ghezer.
Located in Hundur, Yasin Valley, District Ghezer
A BRIEF GUIDE TO A TOURIST
The beautiful and historic valley of Yasen/Brooshi or Wehrchogoom (Yasin) is situated 135 Ms to the North of Gilgit, consisting of 45000 population and 7436 Sq. Km area. To the North of Yasen (Yasin) are Badakhshan procince of Afghanistan and Pameer of Tajakistan, while to the West is Goopechh (Gupis) , North West Chhitrar/Koistn (Chitral) and to the South is Pooyaal (Punyal). During Sulaiman Shah Tham rule, Yasen stretched from Chaqansarai (Ceded by British Empire to Afghanistan, with the aim to keep Russia away and to punish Yasen for the murder of Hayward in 1873) to Gor (Goharabad) of present district Diamar near Chilas and from Chhitrar, Baresan to Astore and Baltistan. The area was more than 6500 Sq. Km . Before 1860, the Branes North of Chhitrar, Koh-Ghazer, Goopechh and Ishhqamen were integral parts of Yasen. But the British took revenge of Lt. Colonel George Hayward’s murder in Yasen by dividing Mestooch, Kohe-Ghazer and Ishhqamen in to small state. After defeating Sulaiman Shah, his nephew Gohar Aman became Tham (Ruler) of Yasen. He fought several wars with the Sikhs and Dogras oif Jammu & Kashmir and defeated them repeadtly. He annihilated the Sikh invaders of Kashmir in 1852 at Bop Singh Padi (gorge near Gilgit, where Sikh Commander Bop Singh was defeated) at the place where Bagorote River joins with river Gilgit. But in 1863 after the death of Gohar Aman Tham, Sikhs succeeded and conquered Yasen with the help of Azmat Shah son of Sulaiman Shah and Arsala Khan of Sandhi Yasen. The people of Selgan did not fight this war against Sikhs. During the ruining of the Moodoori Khan (fort), Dal Sandhi Sikhs of Kashmir joined by the people of Pooyaal, Gilgit, Nagir, Astore and Kohistan massacred the besieged soldiers of Moodoori Khan. Sikh soldiers even did not spare the infants and women, as a revenge for their losses at Bop Singh Padi and different wars. The throne of Yasen was awarded to Azmat Shah the son of Sulaiman Shah Tham. But Azmat Shah escaped via Assombar to Ishhqamane and reached Gilgit before Sikh forces could reach Gilgit. The people of Yasen including those of Selgan did not co-operate with Azmat Shah, because of the Sikhs barbarism. The reason of invitation to Sikh of Kashmir was the constant aggression of Yasen against the rulers of Pooyal, Gilgit, Nagir, Astore, Gor and Dangari (Darel and Tangir).
The people of Yasen defended their motherland against the invaders from Russia, China and Afghanistan besides Chhitrar (Chitral) and other neighboring states. The Russian fort Qalmaqe Khan (fort) at Bahrkohiti is the evidence of Russian presence and expulsion from the state. The fort of Bahrikhn at the last corner of Thaoos to the north was being used for the war between Yasen and China in 735 AD. The engraved Chinese script on a stone across the Moohrkye Bridge testifies the Chinese invasion. In Yasen near Naazbar river had a place called Phiti Das the boulder, it has engraving of animals and men of pre-historic era.
There is a cluster of beautiful villages in Yasen valley. Woven into each like beautiful pearl necklace. When we proceed from Goopechh the first Yasen village is Chheliharang, which we can call the starting point of Yasen from the south. This, then, leads to a number of other villages such as Ginday Moohrkiye, Atkash, Boojayote, Yasen (Domyaal) and Naazbar, Thaoos, Hooyehiti, Ghojahiti, Sandi (the biggest village). Thooy, Bahrkohiti (the second biggest village) Hoondoor. Tehrchhet, Oomehlichhet and Dahrkoot. Dahrkoot is the valley situated at the distance of more than 50km from Goopechh and five hours’ walks to Wakhan of Afghanistan from Dahrkoot Pass via Broghol.
One of the many things that Yasen is famous for is the existence of various kinds of springs (Boolaing), which attract people from different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and abroad. The “spring” at Dahrkoot, which flows at the height of about 11,000 feet near glacier of Dahrkoot, is extremely hot, and can boil an egg and potato within a few minutes. It is useful for skin diseases and chronic joint pains, but harmful for leprosy. Another spring of the same nature in Thooyi Dooshter near Tehlti. Lying at the distance of one-hour’s walk from Bahrkohiti valley at Chhelipey, this spring lowers the body temperature during the high grade fever, and also proves as an effective treatment for hot tempered people, besides reducing high blood pressure and treating peptic ulcer. This spring water has a taste very much similar to that of 7 UP, lying at the distance of one hour walk from Bahrkohlti valley at Chhehlpey. This spring lowers the body temperature during high grade fever and also proves to be an effective treatment for hot nature people, reduces high blood pressure and highly effective in peptic ulcer.
DARBAN AT DAHRKOOT
1. The unbeaten Teherchhet mountain is seen from a distance of 18 miles from Yasen proper. This mountain is covered with glacier throughout the year.
2. The other highest mountain of Yasen at Oomelchhet, which looks like a sharp edge, was first climbed by a British team during the last century.
3. In Thooyi Mooshibar owned by Choona the sub-caste of Begale and other valleys, there are several high mountains, which can prove extremely interesting for mountaineers.
4. Hoondoorpar Mountain
5. Garmash-1 and Garmash-II
I, A truckable road links Yasen to Gilgit through Goopech (Gupis) and Pooyaal (Punyal). Beyond Goopechh there is also a truckable road which leads to Chhitrar (Chitral) via the beautiful Shandur pass, where the highest polo ground of the world is situated “within the territory of Goopechh” which is internationally famous for the July polo festival played by the people of Chhitrar (Chitral) and Gilgit.
The prospects of trekking are great in Yasen valley. One of the possible trekking spots is Naazbar valley of Yasen that stretches to Baooshhter of Koh-e-Ghezer and Mastuj in Chhitrar (Chitral). A pony trek links Gazen, a remote and last village of Chhitrar (Chitral), to Mooshibar, Thooyi, the last pasture to the west of Yasen. Another extremely attractive trekking spot is the beautiful valley of Asoombar, which leads to the valley of Ishhqamen. Garmashbar pass near Phirani Dookhatoom to Ishhqamen and Dahrkoot. Dahrkoot links with Thooyi, Ishhqamen, Garmash, Boroghol and Pamir, Qohrqohiti links Yasen to Goopechh by a beautiful valley of Darmanda.
NATCO, a government transport company, and other private companies operate bus and coach services at reasonable rates from Gilgit to different valleys of Yasen. Jeep service is also available to all the high altitude valleys of Yasen namely Thooyi. Qohrqohiti Naazbar and Dahrkoot. The first village you enter from Goopechh is Chheliharang, where water power house has been built some years back. The second slaal village is Damalgan, then a lengthy and plain village starts which is called Gindaye. After Gindaye and Neoh Ziyarat on the right bank of river Yasen. When you cross Moohrke bridge towards Bojayot a relatively high ground will welcome you. At the end of Boojayot, you will find a beautiful and long valley Yasen and then Thawoos after crossing a bridge. In Yasen will find the ruins of Yasen Khan (Fort) on the left bank of Yasen river. From Yasen you have to choose one route either to Naazbar which is beautiful but narrow valley of Yasen or you have to cross the long bridge towards Thawoos. There are two ancient forts (Khan) one on the River Naazbar (Nawchhologh) and another at the end on the opposite side of Ghojahlti which is called Bahrikhan. From Thawoos whether you have to select Sandi by crossing Met Basczh (bridge) or to proceed towards Hooyehlti via a small village Met, High School and a private College. Hoyehlti is a very narrow village of Yasen due to River Thoi encroachment a large scale of land has been turned in to barren land or river bank. From Hooyehlti you have to select one route either to Thoi or Bahrkohlti by crossing Brandaas bridge. You have to turn left for Thoi and straight for Bahrkohlti, Hoondoor, Oomehlchhet and Dahrkoot in the last. From Sandi you have to go Qohrqohlti valley or you can choos the way for Bahrkohlti by crossing Qohrqohlti and Asoombar Rivers and then Shahaman and then Bahrkohlti by crossing Thamarai where a ruin of ancient fort can be seen on the way.
When you decide to go to Thoi, then turn left after crossing Barandaas bridge. The first village come on the way to Thoi is Ghaingchhel and then Tapes on the right way and Trach when you cross a small bridge. After crossing Trach you will find Hahrpoo, kono, Nahlti and in the last Thehlti. It’s the end of road. You have to go byfoot from Moshibar if you have to enter in to Chhitrar (Chitral). The first village you will see in Chhitrar is Gazen. From Dahrkoot you will enter Boroghol which is part of Chhitrar and then you will enter in to Badakhshan and Pameer.
The people of Yasen are known for their generosity and hospitality throughout the region of Gilgit Baltistan. Outsiders are commonly regarded as guests irrespective of their creed, caste and nationality. Free accommodation and food are provided throughout the area. Apart from hotel small-scale teashops are cater to the visitors. Besides a PWD rest house in Yasen also provides accommodation and food facilities on payment.
In Yasen there are a number of lakes, which adds to the spectacular natural beauty of the valley. A brief information about the most famous lakes is as follow:
1. Qohrqohlti lakes: In Qohrqohlti, there are beautiful lakes ascending at a distance of three hours walk from the Jeepable road towards the green plains of Makooli in Qohrqohlti Valley, where colourful flowers and ibexes could be seen in summer.
2. Garmashbar lake: in Garmash bar, which belongs to Hilbitingey of Bahrkohiti, near Boi-mo-shani. there is an extremely beautiful lake. It takes around five hours to reach the lake on foot. This lake is surrounded by colourful flowers that presents unforgettable scenery. The second lake is situated at a high altitude in Booniga-Bar which links with Boolenter of Oomehhlchhet and the third lake is called Ishhqer-phari. 3.Dahrkoot lake: At the distance of one-hour’s walk from Dahrkoot, we have the famous Dahrkoot Lake. The temperature of this lake remains freezing almost all the year. One of the outstanding characters of this lake is that one can find a surprisingly large variety of water birds in it. This lake is said to be a sort of transit camp for migatotry birds who come mostly from Siberia and go back before winter. There is a second lake named Khahlter Lake situated at the distance of three hours walk on a steep land to the east. This is the lake where a good number of trout fish are found.
4. Lake in Asoomber: Asoomber (owned by Shhamoone) in Sandi is widely known for its natural beauty and trekking spots. At the same time, in Asoomber there are three pectacular lakes – Neophari, Echoghon-Phari and Eshqer-Phari – which have more recently become a center of tourist attraction.
5. Bottomless lake: At the junction of Mooshibar and Khymet at a high altitude, a vast, colourful and bottomless lake and six other lakes are found with different colours. They are also popular for their medicinal effectiveness for skin diseases (except leprosy) and chronic joint pains. Another spring of the same nature is situated in Thooyi Dooshter near Thehlti. There is another spring which has a taste very much similar to 7UP, lying at the distance of one and half-hours’ walk from Bahrkholti at Chhelpay.This spring lowers the body temperature during high grade fever and also proves to be an effective treatment for hot natured people, reduces high blood pressure and highly effective for the treatment of reptic ulcer.
Certain glaciers in Yasen lend a great deal to its natural beauty. Here is some information on those glaciers:
1. At the distance of about six hours’ walk from Yasen, on top of mountain of Moohrkiye, a glacier spreads over an area of three miles. Precious stones are also found near this glacier.
2. In Garmash valley at a walk of five hours from Yasen near Pherani Dookhatoom, the plains of glaciers could be seen, which cross the valley of Garmash towards Ishhqamen to the east.
3. At a half-hour’s walk near Tehrchhet valley, a rocky glacier embraces the unbeaten mountain of Tehrchhet to the west. Hunters have often observed golden frogs, weighing 20kg under the deep layers of the glacier.they can attack human being, it is said.
4. A glacier is situated at the distance of about two hours’ walk beyond Rawat of Dharkoot in front of a hot spring.
5. Another glacier can be seen after three hours’ walk from the hot spring of Dharkoot to Boroghil.
The region of Yasen is rich in precious,semi-precious and industrial mines viz iron ore potash, alum, storex (genetic name momiyai), antimony, sulphur, copper and salt ect. Gold is very likely to be found in Moohrkye, Thoi, Asoombar, Garmash, Hoondoor, Dahrkoot and Naazbar valleys.
CASTE And LANGUAGES
The people mostly belong to Brooshoo caste. Ninety percent people speak Brooshaaski, nine percent Khowar (migrated from Chitral) and one percent Shhena in Boojayot. It is commonly recognized that the Brooshaaski (which is spoken in Yasen) is various linguistic grounds is more original than the similar language spoken in Nagir and Hoonz (Hunza). Pooyaal people and Wehrchigoom by Chhitrari (Chitrali) people also know Yasen as Brooshi. A famous Kashmir! intellectual Sheraz Kashmiri has written in his book that the Brooshaaski is the mother of Khowar, Shhena and Kashmiri languages. Brooshaaski is the only surviving shoot of ancient Torani language. All these three dialects, i.e. Kashmir, Khowar and Shhena have come into being by amalgamation of Brooshaaski and Pashacha languages. There is no evidence of origin of Brooshoo from any other part of the world. Therefore, it is believed that Brooshoo are the indigenous people of the land. Broosbaaski is the ancient and isolated dialect of the world.
FESTIVAL HOUSE (Takhte Hah)
Takht-e-Hah is a traditional house which is situated at Yasen (Manichi ).This house is used as a central place for various programs during annual festival called Boh. Before cultivation of crops, normally in the first week of March, this local festival is organized to celebrate the start of new crop year. This festive is believed to bring good luck for farmers in the new season. On this occasion people from almost all over Yasen assemble and arrange various of programs such as horse racing, polo matches, men dance on drum beat and observe Hemaaz (pouring flour towards the roof and sky as a mark of joy).
Stone circles, which are said to have existed from the time immorable are found across the bridge at the starting point of BahrkohIt (which is called “Brandas”) and to the east of Dahrkoot river at the end of Hoondoor valley, which is called “Aazoor-e-makhdooring”. An archaeological study of these stones can possibly lead to reveal the historical facts, which has not been done so far due to lack of any professional guidance and knowledge. In Yasen near Naazbar river, at a place Fiti Das, there is a boulder. It has engravings of animals and men of pre-historic era. Pharang-e-bar: In Dahrkoot, Pharang-e-Bar also receives considerable attention from local as well foreign tourists. This was the place where Col George Hayward, a member of British Royal Geographical Society, was murdered by Mir Wali Raja of Yasen in 18′the century when he was on way to Pamer [(the plain links Yasen with Afghanistan and Tajikistan (the then USSR)].
Raja Sulaiman Shah, a very powerful ruler of Yasen, ruled for 42 years. His dominion stretched (from Chaqansarai of Afghanistan to Gilgit, Hunza, Nagir, and Gor in Diamar, Barenas in Chhitrar (Chitral) to Astore and Baltistan. Raja Gohar Aman, the nephew of Sulaiman Shah, took the reign of great Yasen by defeating him. He is the big name in the history of Yasen who with the sheer help of the martial race of Yasen made his mark in the history of the battles fought in Gilgit Baltistan. Though he ruled only for nine years but he accomplished remarkable achievement and ruled over Pooyaal Nagir, Hunza, Gilgit. Gor, Dangari, Astore, Baltistan and Chhitrar (Chitral). He always remained in war with the Sikhs, the invaders from Kashmir, and with the local rulers. Both Sulaiman Shah and his nephew Gohar Aman are buried at Chootrang, on the right bank of Naazbar river, across the Dorkhn (Yasen fort) in the foot of Thaoos. Besides the graveyards of these popular rulers of Yasen, there is also a shrine of a saint at Noh (Noh Ziyarat). There are famous ziyarat in Met, Hooyehlti, Branadaas and the graveyard of the famous seven brothers along with their father in Bahrkohti Yasen. These have become the center of attraction for people from various walks of life.
MIRACLE HOUSE at BAHRKOHLTI
There are many forts and fortresses in Gojal valley, such as Qalanderchi fort in Misghar valley and Rashit fort in Chipursan valley. But Ondra fort is the most prominent. This fort is perched on Ondra hill, which overlooks Gulmit and Ghulkin villages. The fort is believed to have been built by one Qutlug Baig in the 16th century. He was the first Wakhi ruler to establish rule in Gulmit, threatening the Mirs of Hunza. Before him, Gulmit was under the control of Hazur Jamshid (1550-1556), who was the ruler of Gilgit. His sons Su Malik and Mir Malik were deputed to collect the tax from Gojal. Once, returning from a visit to collect tax from Yishkook in Chipursan valley, the two stopped in Gulmit and liked it. They decided to live in Gulmit. After the death of Hazur Jamshid, Su Malik, the elder son, rushed to Gilgit to sit on his father's throne. He became the new ruler of Gilgit (1556-1578). According to Muhammad Zia, celebrated genealogy-keeper (zon) of Gulmit, Mir Malik also eventually left for Hunza. Taking advantage of the absence of Su Malik and Mir Malik, Qutlug Baig with the help of locals captured Gulmit and the surrounding villages. Qutlug Baig belonged to the Charshambi Kator lineage of the Wakhis of Gulmit.
The territory of Qutlug Baig started from Khyber village and ended at Chaman Gul. In order to secure his territory from invaders, he built two gates, one at Khyber and the other at Chaman Gul. The gates were closed at night and opened during the day. In wartime, these gates remained closed, thus keeping the enemies away from his dominion. The remains of both gates and fortification walls can still be seen at Khyber as well as in Chaman Gul.
In order to rein in the probable advance of the enemies from North and south, Quitlug Baig built the Ondra fort. To the north lay the State of Hunza, and to the South the power of Kirghiz invaders who used to attack Gulmit to control the pastures for their livestock.
The height of the fort's ramparts ranges from 6 to 13 feet above the ground. There were many living quarters inside the fort. One can still find them at two places, one on the southern side and the other on the northern side. These living quarters were separated by a central wall of the fort that runs east-west. The central rampart is higher than the southern and northern fortification walls. The northern quarters were constructed for the army of Qutlug to keep an eye on the enemy advancing from the north, while the southern quarters were built to keep check on the enemy coming from the south, particularly the army of the Mir of Hunza. The fortification walls have been provided embrasure and merlons. Only the northern and southern fortification walls have been provided embrasure. All the ramparts of the fort are still in a good condition. However, the eastern and western fortification walls are in a crumbling condition.
The Ondra fort reflects the power of the Wakhi ruler Qutlug who was never defeated by the Mirs of Hunza. He was famous for his gallantry and swordsmanship in the battlefield. Mirs of Hunza were scared by the rising power of Qutlug. They never dared to cross his territory. Qutlug was poisoned to death by one of his elderly female servants. She was sent by then Mir of Hunza Mir Malik. She admisntered poison in the food of Qutlug and his courtesans. After the death of Qutllug, Gulmit was recaptured and Ondra fell into hands of the Mir of Hunza.
Qutlug Baig was buried in Gulmit along with his courtesans. According to Afzal Khan, one of the notables of Gulmit, the grave of Qutlug was located where there is now the Government Girls High School in Gulmit. Qutllug ruled over Gulmit and its adjoining areas for twelve years. During his rule, land and life was safe and secure. He pushed the advancing Kirghiz back to their land and never let them succeed in their mission and goals. The heroic stories of Qulug still dominate the daily discourse of the Wakhi people living in Gulmit, Shimshal, Chipursan, the valleys of Gojal. Many storytellers still amuse both audience and themselves by narrating the stories of their ruler Qutlug Baig.
This fort is still a destination for domestic and international tourists. From Ondra fort one has a panoramic view of Gulmit. From the south one can see Gulmit and as far as Shishkat villages and from the north one can view the Ghulkin village. From the north one can enjoy seeing Ghulkin glacier, the passu cones and Qaroon peak. From the west, there are amazing views of Gulmit Glacier, Gulmit Tower, Shisper Peak and Utlar Sar. And from the east there is a spectacular view of the Hunza River.
Keeping in view the tourist potential of the spot, the concerned authorities should save the fort from further destruction and preserve it. Or the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) should make efforts to save and preserve the Ondra fort. They have preserved many heritage sites of the Northern Areas, such as Balit and Altit forts, Ganish Khun, the Hunza Matktab in Ghulkin, and old houses in Sost and Gojal. Courtesy: thefridaytimes
The writer is research Anthropologist at Pakistan Institute of development economics (PIDE), Islamabad. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org