Shigar Valley Baltistan, Every Thing you need to Know.

Shigar Valley
Shigar Valley, Everything you need to know

Shigar is a beautiful village just a few miles North of Skardu its a picturesque village with beautiful terraced fields growing all sorts of crops. Shigar was once a small kingdom and the Shigar fort was once the residential fort of the local ruler. Recently the Aga Khan has shown interest in the fort which has now been renovated and is open for tourists. The Shigar fort has been made to be a residential fort once again. The Shigar Valley, 32 km (20 miles) from Skardu and 2 hours by jeep, is watered by the Shigar River. It forms the gateway to the great mountain peaks of Karakoram, including Mount K-2. The valley has an extremely picturesque landscape and abounds in fruit such as grapes, peaches, pears, walnuts, and apricots.

Shigar Fort is at a distance of 32 Km from Skardu. This meticulously restored 400 years old fort is an outstanding example of the wealth of architectural and cultural heritage in Baltistan. One may stay in the restored suites and experience what kings and queens experienced 400 years ago.

Shigar View Point
Shigar View Point
Discovering Shigar Valley: A Guide to the Baltistan Region of Pakistan

Shigar Valley: Discover the Hidden Gem of Pakistan

Geography and Climate

Shigar Valley is located in the Baltistan region of Pakistan, nestled in the Karakoram mountain range. It is surrounded by towering peaks, including K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. The valley is known for its glaciers, rivers, and lakes, and experiences a temperate climate with cool summers and cold winters.

Culture and History

The Balti people are the indigenous inhabitants of the Shigar Valley, and their culture and traditions are an important part of the region’s identity. Visitors can explore historical sites such as the Shigar Fort and various mosques and shrines. Traditional music, dance, and handicrafts are also a significant part of the local culture.

Tourism and Recreation

Shigar Valley is a popular destination for adventure tourism, offering opportunities for hiking, mountaineering, and skiing. Visitors can also explore local villages and learn about traditional ways of life. Accommodation options range from camping to luxury hotels, and local cuisine is a unique blend of Tibetan, Pakistani, and Central Asian flavors.

Conservation and Sustainability

Efforts are underway to protect the natural environment and biodiversity of Shigar Valley, and promote sustainable tourism practices that support local communities and economies. Visitors can learn more about these initiatives and contribute to their success by minimizing their environmental impact, supporting local businesses, and respecting local customs and traditions.

Plan your visit to Shigar Valley today and discover the beauty, culture, and history of this hidden gem in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountains.

You might also like: 10 Most Beautiful Places to visit at Shigar Valley Skardu Baltistan.

History of Shigar Valley.

Shigar Valley, situated in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, is a place of historical significance, where the remnants of ancient civilizations still stand tall, narrating their tales of glory and defeat. One such story is of the Amacha Dynasty that founded the valley and their remarkable resilience that led to the construction of the magnificent Fong Khar fort.

The Origins of the Amacha Dynasty.

The valley of Shigar is believed to have been inhabited by a community of Dards, who later became known as the Shina-speaking people. In the 11th century, the Amachas, a family of Dards who ruled over a part of the Hunza Valley, migrated to Shigar Valley to escape persecution by Ganesh, the then-ruler of the area.

The Journey to Shigar Valley.

As the Amachas arrived in Shigar, they faced numerous challenges, including harsh weather, snowstorms, and the perilous Hispar glacier. However, they managed to overcome these obstacles and built the Khar-i-Dong fort to establish their rule in the valley.

The Mughal Invasion.

Several centuries later, the Mughals invaded the region and uprooted the Amacha Dynasty. The war between the two dynasties lasted for many days, but the Mughals emerged victorious. The Amachas, however, were allowed to continue their reign in the area, as they submitted to the Mughals.

The Rise of Fong Khar Fort.

The 20th ruler of the Amacha Dynasty, Raja Hassan Khan, built the Fong Khar fort on top of an enormous boulder after the former Khar-i-Dong fort was destroyed by the Mughals. The new fort was named “Fong Khar,” which means “The palace on the rock.” It remained the center of power and the Raja’s seat in the area until the 1970s.

Read more: Shigar Fort, a Royal Fort Locally Known as The Palace on Rocks.

Shigar Fort Photo by Dr Omar Mukhtar Khan
Shigar Fort Photo by Dr. Omar Mukhtar Khan

The Influence of the Rajas.

Following the merger of all states in the region into one administrative unit, the Rajas of Shigar and the surrounding states lost their status. However, the descendants of the royalties still hold a significant influence over the local populace.

The valley of Shigar is not only a place of breathtaking natural beauty but also a testament to the resilience and determination of the Amacha Dynasty. The Fong Khar fort, standing as a witness to the rise and fall of dynasties, is a reflection of the rich cultural heritage of the region. It continues to be a popular destination for tourists who visit to explore its history and experience its natural wonders.

Accessing Shigar Valley.

The Shigar Valley is located 36 km away from Skardu and is a district that covers an area of 170 km. It takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to drive there via the Shigar road in a jeep from Skardu. PIA flights operate from Islamabad International Airport to Skardu Airport, which is a 45-minute drive from Serene hotel Shigar. The hotel also offers access to private and charter helicopters through the helipad at Shigar, which is only a 10-minute drive away.

The valley has many remote and difficult-to-reach villages. Askole is the last town in the Shigar valley and is far from the massif. It is the starting point for mountaineering expeditions to K-2 “Godwin Austen” and is also known as the gateway to the world’s 14 highest peaks known as Eight-thousanders (peaks above 8,000m). From Askole, it takes 3-4 days to trek through dangerous alleyways, rope bridges, moraines, and glaciers to reach Concordia, the base camp.

Top Tourist Attractions and Things to do at Shigar Valley.

If you ever want to visit Concordia and see the amazing cathedral of four 8,000-meter-high peaks all at once, you’ll likely pass through the ancient kingdom of Shigar. While you no longer have to pay taxes to the Raja of Shigar, it’s still worth stopping for a delicious lunch at the grapevine-covered restaurant at the Shigar Palace.

About a half hour’s drive from Skardu, take a left turn and cross the bridge over the wide basin of the Indus River to enter the Shigar Valley. As soon as you cross the bridge, you’ll find yourself in the world’s highest cold desert, locally known as the Sarfranga Desert, which extends on both sides of the Indus and into Ladakh on the other side of the border.

After passing through a few gorges, you’ll enter the lush green oasis of Shigar, an ancient principality on the banks of the Braldu River, which flows straight from the Braldu glacier at the base of the 8,611 meter-high K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. If you continue on the road beyond Shigar, the road becomes a trek along the roaring Braldu River and takes you to the last frontier: Askole, the final village on the trek to K2.

From Askole, you’ll need to start trekking for 3-4 days over dangerous alleys, paths, rope bridges, moraine, and ultimately over glaciers to reach Concordia, where you can see four of the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks together: Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak, and K2.

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