Hunza Baltitistan Heritage Tour
Baltistan is a land a high mountains and great culture. There were several kingdoms in this region in the past. The old rulers left their marks by building beautiful forts. The Aga Khan Development Network's Cultural wing has taken a giant effort in restoring the very famous forts of Baltit, Altit Fort, Khaplu and Shigar for. This tour will show you these two forts and will also show you arguably worlds most beautiful terrain in the northern Pakistan.
|Brief Itinerary||Cost & Departure Dates|
Day 01 Arrive Islamabad transfer to hotel
|Cost US$ 1688.00 Per person based on double occupancy
Single Room supplement US$ 658.00
Half board in combination of 4 star & 3
star hotels with Breakfast and Lunch Included
Departure dates for 2016
Security :- This part of Pakistan is very safe for foreigners. There is no threat or security concern in these areas.
Day 01: Arrival - Islamabad
Meet on arrival at Islamabad International airport you may also arrive to Lahore or Karachi and take a domestic flight to Islamabad. Transfer to the Shalimar hotel in Rawalpindi. Afternoon City Sight seeing tour of twin cities Islamabad Visit old city of Rawalpindi, the colorful Raja Bazaar, continue on the main street linking the Twin cities the Murree Road before arriving at the gleaming new capital. Islamabad the capital city of Pakistan. We will stop at the Shakar Parian literaly meaning " Sweet Hills" to catch a panoramic view of Islamabad. Our next stop will be Daman-e-Koh, at an altitude of 1100 meters. It is a point on the Margalla Hills (Passage of the Serpent), from where one can view the entire city of Rawalpindi & Islamabad. Then we drive to Shah Faisal Mosque, which is the landmark of Islamabad and 2nd largest mosque of the world.
We will take you right in time for dinner to the newly built "Food Street" offering all kinds of traditional food and specialties of different areas amidst live local music and beautiful decorations. Overnight at the hotel. (Dinner only)
Day 02: Islamabad - Skardu
After breakfast transfer to the airport for early morning flight to Skardu (Approx. 1 hr). The PIA Boeing 737 flight fly's over the winding Indus Valley, Past Nanga Parbat, banking sharply starboard to follow the Indus through one of the narrowest ravines ever flown. The flight takes in some of the grandest views and allows passengers views of five 8,000 meters highest peaks including K-2 and Nanga Parbat. This spectacular flight is an adventure within it self and sets the mood for a real holiday experience.
Arrive at Skardu Airport. Meet, assist and drive to Shigar (Approx. 30 minutes). Arrive in Shigar and check-in to the Shigar Fort Residency. PM: At leisure to explore the Shigar Fort.
Shigar Fort is part of a group of heritage sites that truly reflects the diversity of Nature. A 17th century Palace / Fort of Baltistan Valley, located at a height of 2250 meters, Shigar Fort - also known as Fong Khar, meaning Fort of the rock, stands on the bank of Shigar stream built upon a massive rock. It is located in one of the world's most beautiful mountain ranges, with the layout of the Fort harmoniously blending into its surroundings.
Shigar Fort was selected for adaptive reuse and restoration as a major strategic investment, which would re-establish community pride by conserving and putting to use one of the major heritage assets of Baltistan. Thus the Fort has been converted into a museum and exclusive guesthouse. The complex at Shigar comprises the old Fort-Palace and two ancillary buildings (the "Old House" & the "Garden House"). The Fort is now an exclusive 13-room guesthouse with the grand audience hall and the anterooms serving as a museum of Balti woodcarving and local living traditions. The rooms have been tastefully decorated, keeping the original décor of the Fort, serving a comfortable accommodation. The restored woodwork is spectacular complemented by traditional craft objects and artifacts from the region placed in the rooms. Overnight at Shigar Fort Residency. (Breakfast only)
Day 03: Shigar - Kharpucho Fort - Satpara Lake - Shigar
After breakfast drive from Shigar to Skardu (Approx. 30 minutes). Arrive in Skardu and visit the Kharpucho Fort. The construction of Kharpucho fort. the King of forts, at Skardu has been attributed to the famous ruler of Skardu - Maqpon Bugha (1 490 - 1515 AD), the great grand father of Ali Sher Khan Anchan (1560 - 1625 AD) by Hishatullah. But Moghal historians are of the view that the great fort was built by Ali Sher Khan Anchan himself.
Next to Kharpucho Fort lies Mindoq Khar. This palace was built by Gul Khatoon or Mindoq Gialmo on the hill where now stands the Kharpucho fort only. The palace was named after the queen as 'Mindoq Khar' meaning the 'Flower Palace'. The Palace was destroyed by the troops of the Sikh ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Gulab Singh, when he invaded Skardu in 1840 AD.
Mindoq Khar or Flower Palace, there was a terraced garden with fountains built in marble. This royal garden covered the areas from Mindoq Khan to the present bazaar at Skardu where the newly constructed road crosses the channel. A palace built in marble with towers also stood in the middle of the garden, above the Polo Ground, which is called Ghudi Changra. The palace was destroyed during the great floods in the area after the death of Ali Sher Khan Anchan and a marble Baradari was later constructed at this palace. This royal garden was named Hilal Bagh (Crescent Garden). Another garden was also laid which was named Chhar Bagh on the site where a Girls College stands now. The said garden was laid on the orders of the Queen while her husband was away to Gilgit and then to Chitral. As the mother tongue of the Queen was Persian, she gave Persian name to these gardens.
PM: Satpara Lake excursion. Some 8 kms. North of Skardu, about 20 minutes drive by jeep, one must not miss a visit to Satpara, a clear water lake surrounded by sky high glacial mountains mirrored in the crystal clear lake. The lake has a fairy tale island easily accessible by boat. There are different huts serving fresh trout caught from the lake and is a must try for those who like to experience the delicacies.
In the evening drive back to Shigar. Overnight at Shigar Fort Residency. (Breakfast only)
Day 04: Shigar - Khaplu
After breakfast drive to Khaplu (Approx. 100 kms & 4 hrs.). Arrive and check-in to the hotel. PM: Khaplu valley excursion. Khaplu is a sprawling village perched on the slopes of the steep mountains that hem in the river. Many famous mountains, such as Masherbrum, Sherpi Kangh, Sia Kangri, Saltoro Kangri etc. are located here.
Overnight at the hotel. (Breakfast only)
Day 05: Khaplu - Shangrila - Kachura - Shangrila
After breakfast drive from Khaplu to Shangrila (Approx. 135 kms. & 5 hrs.). Arrive and check-in to the Hotel. Shangri-la resort is named as "Heaven on earth". This resort has been built around the Kachura Lake; spread over 70 acres, with lush green lawns and fruit laden orchids. The cool breeze coming from Indus side give the feeling to the guests sitting in the lawns as if they are truly in heaven.
In the afternoon Kachura Lake excursion. Some 6 kms. from Shangri-la Resort, one can find the beautiful Upper Kachura Lake. It is teeming with brown trout. Angling, swimming & boating are major attractions here.
PM: Drive back to Shangrila. Overnight at the hotel. (Breakfast only)
Day 06: Shangrila - Gilgit
After breakfast drive to Skardu Bazar for shopping of local handicrafts and good. Here in the bazaar you will find beautiful hand made handicrafts and embroidered clothes which depicts the culture of the local people. After a short shopping trip take a scenic drive to Gilgit on a road with steep mountains and deep valleys on either side (Approx. 190 kms & 6 hrs). Arrive in Gilgit and check-in to the hotel.
Overnight at the hotel. (Breakfast only)
Day 07: Gilgit - Hunza - Altit Fort - Ganesh
After breakfast drive from Gilgit to Hunza (Approx. 110 kms & 3 hrs). Arrive in Hunza and check-in to the hotel. In the afternoon visit Altit Fort. Altit Fort is located above a high vertical cliff, with its front side dominating the Hunza River. To the rear side, the Fort controls a high plateau on which sit the historic village of Altit and a large enclosed orchard. It has an intricate maze of rooms connected by small doorways, ladders and trapdoors, built on three levels. The watchtower, surmounted by a carved wooden goat complete with ibex horns dates from the 16th century, at the base of which lies a mosque is skirted by a verandah upon which the late Mirs of Hunza used to look over their splendid mountainous kingdom of Hunza. The Fort is being restored and only, till yet, structural consolidation measures have been implemented in order to stabilize the building and avoid further decay. An existing traditional building in the garden beneath the Fort is being converted into a charming restaurant/café overlooking the splendid terraced garden with its many rows of apricot trees. And separate guestrooms will be constructed on a lower terrace behind the restaurant, providing a comfortable type of accommodation. This guesthouse would have an exclusive character, due to its unique location and views.
PM: Ganesh Valley excursion. Ganesh is possibly the oldest settlement in Hunza. Long lost in the memory of time, this thousand year-old fortified village (khun) remained practically unnoticed until the late nineties. The first view upon approaching the khun is of the ancient water-pond (pharee) and the old guesthouse for bygone silk-route travelers (sawab-ha). The pharee, shaded by giant Chinar trees, is still today the most important common-use space, with an archetypical magnetism within this desert-like environment. Water is still distributed, following an ancient community-based code, through a system of 600 year-old channels. Opposite the pharee, is an early 20th century mosque- the Imambargah- used by the Ganishkutz, mainly Shiite Twelvers and behind this, is the khun's entrance, or himaltar, attached to the only surviving wall section. Once the himaltar is crossed, it is easy to get lost in the earth maze of lanes and bending corners through 32 tightly clustered houses and several cattle-sheds, all leading to the protected heart of the khun: the jataq. This is the common space created by the surrounding four 300-year old wooden mosques. At the end of the khun is the deep ridge overlooking the Hunza River, with the former-time rival Principality of Nagar on the otherside.
PM: Drive back to Hunza. Overnight at the hotel. (Breakfast only)
Day 08: Nagar Valley - Baltit Fort
After breakfast a short jeep ride will take us to Nagar, the valley across from Karimabad. Enjoy a walk around the town, talking to the locals and trying to learn the secret of their longevity. Indeed, perhaps it is the stark beauty that surrounds them that allows them to live life to the fullest. Revel in the beauty of the village fruit orchards, and enjoy the many mountain flowers that dot the landscape before returning to Karimabad.
PM: Baltit Fort excursion. Baltit Fort is Located on a large rocky outcrop at the base of the Ultar Glacier, Baltit Fort dominates Karimabad, and the view of the Hunza and Nagar Valleys from the roof is superb. The exact origin of the fort is unclear, although the foundations are thought to be more than 600 years old.
It was seemingly built as a part of a dowry accompanying a Baltistan princess who came to marry the Mir, with the architecture reflecting Baltistan's ancient links with Tibet. It is primarily built of mud plaster, stone and timber beams. The balconies and bow windows were added later, and the fort remained in use as the official residence of the Mir of Hunza until the 1960s.
The fort was closed to visitors in 1991 in order to complete vital restoration work. The solid rock upon which it stands is subject to the constant attention of the shifting Ultar Glacier, and the subsequent movement had made the fort highly unstable. The entire structure has been completely repined, in addition to major cosmetic refurbishment. Restoration was completed in 1996, with adaptive re-use of the Fort as a museum/cultural center. The constricted structure of the Fort imposed limitations on the re-use and led to focus on an exhibition of traditional life style in Hunza, based on the historic evidence of the interiors, as well as a library/study room. Four adjacent houses were bought and converted in order to serve as a ticketing office, small cafeteria and storerooms. The narrow site on the peak of the hill allowed only for a relatively small paved square in front of the Fort entrance. At times this open space is being used for celebrations and public events. The Fort was opened for Public with a grand reopening ceremony held in 1997. Local young men now provide an informed guided tour of the fort, as well as some of the surrounding traditional houses. You can have a splendid view of the Rakaposhi Mountain from the balcony of the Baltit Fort and experience the magnificence of the valley, similar to what the Mir's felt in their time.
In the evening enjoy the local Hunza Food with traditional specialties amidst the live local folk music and dance creating a mesmerizing atmosphere never to be forgotten.
Overnight at the hotel. (Breakfast & Dinner only)
Day 09: Hunza - Chilas
After breakfast take a scenic drive to Chilas (Approx 230 kms & 3 hrs). Upon arrival check-in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel. (Breakfast only)
Day 10: Chilas - Islamabad
Drive to Islamabad via Karakorum highway a spectacular highway that runs along the Indus bank stop for pictures at several spots Dinner and overnight in Islamabad. (Breakfast only)
Day 11: Departure
After breakfast transfer to the airport for onward flight. (Breakfast only)
Some Pictures from this tour.
Sheesh Mahal Lahore Fort
Baltit Fort Hunza
Golden Peak Hunza
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