Skardu: Wikis


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Skardu Town as seen from the Skardu Fort

Skardu (Urdu: سکردو)(land of Saka people, is the principal town of the region Baltistan and the capital of Skardu District, one of the districts making up Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan.

Skardu is located in the 10 km wide by 40km long Skardu Valley, at the confluence of the Indus river (flowing from near Kailash in Tibet and through neighbouring Ladakh before reaching Baltistan) and the Shigar River. Skardu is situated at an altitude of nearly 2,500 m (8,200 feet). The town is surrounded by grey-brown coloured mountains, which hide the 8,000 metre peaks of the nearby Karakoram range.


Tourism, trekking and mountain expedition base

Skardu, along with Gilgit, are the two major tourism, trekking and expedition hubs in the Northern Areas. The mountainous terrain of the region, including four of the world's fourteen Eight-thousander peaks (8,000m and above), attracts the attention of tourists, trekkers and mountaineers from around the world. The main tourist season is from April to October; outside this time, the area can be cut off for extended periods by the snowy, freezing winter weather.

Accessible from Skardu by road, the nearby Askole and Hushe Valleys are the main gateways to the snow covered 8,000 m peaks including K2, the Gasherbrums, Broad Peak and the Trango Towers, and also to the huge glaciers of Baltoro, Biafo and Trango. This makes Skardu the main tourist and mountaineering base in the area, which has led to the development of a reasonably extensive tourist infrastructure including shops and hotels. However, the popularity of the region results in high prices, especially during the main trekking season.

Treks to the Deosai Plains, the second highest in the world (at 4,100 m or 13,500 feet) after the Chang Tang in Tibet, either start from or end at Skardu. In local Balti language, Deosai is called Byarsa, meaning 'summer place'. With an area of approximately 3,000 square kilometres, the plains extend all the way to Ladakh and provide habitat for snow leopards, ibex, Tibetan brown bears and wild horses.

SATPARA DAM PROJECT:- is a project inagaurated in 2002 and to be completed by december 2010. It is 7 kms away from skardu city and its altitude is 8,700 feet moreover it will also pond the water about 90,000 acre feet. The main source of water is melting ice of DEOSAI PLANES during summer season. It is multipurpose project, which produce 13 Megawatt hydel generation, irrigate 15,000 acre land and also provide 13 cusecis drinking water daily to skardu cilty.

Client of SATPARA DAM PROJECT is WATER AND POWER DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (WAPDA), Engineer is PAKISTAN ENGINEERING SERVICES (PES), 90 percent project is completed under the supervision of Chief Residential Engineer (CRE) S.TAHIR.HUSSAIN of SHAHU KHEL. The major contractor of civil work DESCON and irrigation work contractor is CENTRAL CHINA POWER GROUP (CCPG) of China.

Residence of Engineers consulting the DAM is in MAARFIE FOUNDATION TOWN

The town and the local people

The town has developed along the main road passing through it and to either side of this road is situated the New Bazaar (Naya Bazaar), with hundreds of shops offer almost everything (trekking supplies, souvenirs, local goods, etc.). To the west one finds Yadgar Chowk (with local monument) and from there, the quarter behind Naya Bazaar, to the right hand side is the older Purana Bazaar. Travelling west from Naya Bazaar is a polo ground and next to that, Kazmi Bazaar.

Skardu appears remote, dusty town at first glance, but the mixture of people here make it colourful and ethnically diverse. The crowded streets are mainly populated by Balti Tibetans and many of the local neighbourhoods (mohallahs) have names that reflect this too (i.e. Khache-drong, Khar-drong, Olding, Kushu-bagh, Pakora, Thsethang, Sher-thang, Nagholi-spang etc.). Due to this strong presence, Skardu has sometimes been referred to as the little Tibet of Pakistan.

However, many other ethnic groups are present in Skardu including Shins, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Hunzakuts and even Uyghur, due to the close proximity of Baltistan to the respective regions. Since the creation of Pakistan people of various ethnicities from various regions of Pakistan have emigrated here.

All the above ethnic groups are devout Muslims. This includes the Balti-Tibetans, who converted from Tibetan Buddhism in the 16th century (the only sizeable group of Tibetans to have undergone such a conversion). Shia Islam has a strong presence in Skardu.

Famous personalities of Skardu valley. S.Mehdi Shah, present chief minister of Baltistan Province. Sheikh Nisar of Gamba. Fida Mohamad Nashad of Hussain Abad. Wazir Shakeel Agha of Ali Abad. Syed Ahmad Ali Shah of Gamba.

Entrance to the Skardu Fort

Weather and climate

The climate of Skardu during the summer is moderated by its mountain setting and the intense heat of lowland Pakistan does not reach here. The mountains also block out the summer monsoon and summer rainfall is thus quite low. However, these mountains result in very severe winter weather. During the April to October tourist season, temperatures vary between a maximum of 27°C and a minimum (in October) 8°C. However, temperatures can drop to below -10°C in the December-to-January midwinter period. The lowest temperature of the year can reach -25°C


Skardu is accessible by two methods, road or air. The normal road route into Skardu is via the Karakorum Highway and a linkroad into the Skardu Valley from it. There are also four or five other road links to Kashmir and Ladakh. Alternatively, there are normally one or two flights daily between Skardu Airport and Islamabad. The high cost of air travel means that road travel via the Karakorum Highway and the link road onward to the Skardu Valley is often the preferred option of locals and tourists alike.

The climate can have adverse affects on transport in and out of the Skardu Valley, as Skardu becomes snowbound during the winter months. Often the roads in and out of Skardu (and other Northern Areas locations) can be blocked for weeks at a time depending on conditions (though two to five days is more normal), sometimes leaving air travel as the only feasible alternative. However, air travel in winter is also subject to disruption due to the unreliable Skardu weather and flights can occasionally be delayed by several days.

Skardu Fort (Kharphocho Fort)

Skardu Fort or Kharphocho Fort lies on the eastern face of the Khardrong or Mindoq-Khar ("Castle of Queen Mindoq") hill 15 metres or 40 feet above Skardu town. The fort dates from the 8th Century CE and contains an old mosque probably dating back to the arrival of Islam in the 16th Century CE. The fort provides a panoramic view of Skardu town, the Skardu valley and the Indus River. The fort was built by Rmakpon dynasty rulers of Baltistan and it was a seven storey building. It was burnt down by Sikhs in the 18th Century CE.

Kharphocho (Skardu) fort was built on a design similar to that of Leh Palace and the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The name Kharpochhe means the great fort — Khar in Tibetan means castle or fort and Chhe means great.

Skardu Road

Cricklewood's North - South avenue takes its name from the fort of the same name. [1]

Lakes near Skardu

There are three lakes in the vicinity of Skardu. In local Balti-Tibetan language, a lake is a thso or tso.


Kachura Lakes

There are two Kachura Lakes—the less well known Upper Kachura lake and the more famous Lower Kachura Lake, better known as Shangrila Lake. Lower Katsura lake is home to the Shangrila Resort hotel complex (possibly the reason for the lake's alternative name), built in a Chinese style and another popular destination for tourists in Pakistan. The resort has a unique style of restaurant, set up inside the fuselage of an aircraft that crashed nearby. Kachura lake 18m from Skardu. Kachura Lake is famous for its deep blue waters. There are numerous places to visit and things to do near Kachura Lake, situated near Skardu in the northern area.

Satpara Lake

Sadpara Lake is Skardu Valley's main lake, supplying water for Skardu town, and reputedly one of the most picturesque lakes in Pakistan. In 2002, the Government of Pakistan decided to build a dam on the Satpara Lake [2] allocating Rs. 600 million ($10 million) to the Satpara Dam project, two years later in 2004. [3] Progress on the project has, however, been slow. [4] Satpara Lake is 6m from Skardu. Satpara Lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the country offering trout fishing, and row boating.

See also

Latitude: 35º 20' 10" N, Longitude: 75º 32' 52" E



  • Jettmar, Karl et al. (1985): Zwischen Gandhara und den Seidenstrassen: Felsbilder am Karakorum Highway: Entdeckungen deutsch-pakistanischer Expeditionen 1979-1984. 1985. Mainz am Rhein, Philipp von Zabern.
  • Jettmar. Karl (1980): Bolor & Dardistan. Karl Jettmar. Islamabad, National Institute of Folk Heritage.
  • PIA's page about Northern Areas

External links

Coordinates: 35°18′N 75°37′E / 35.3°N 75.617°E / 35.3; 75.617

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

An overview of Skardu
An overview of Skardu

Skardu is a town in the region of the same name in the Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan.

Skardu, capital of Baltistan is perched 2,438 metres above sea level in the backdrop of the great peaks of the Karakorams. Balti people are a mixture of Tibetan and Caucasian stock and speak Balti, an ancient form of Tibetan. Due to the similarity of its culture, lifestyle and architecture with Tibet, Baltistan is also known as the "Tibet-e-Khurd" (Little Tibet).

It borders on the Chinese province of Xinjiang and Indian-occupied Kashmir. The tourist season is from April to October. The maximum temperature is 27 C and minimum (October) 8 C. Apart from its incomparable cluster of mountain peaks and glaciers Baltistan's five valleys, - Shigar, Skardu, Khaplu, Rondu and Kharmang are noted for their luscious peaches, apricots, apples and pears.

Get in

By Air

Skardu can be reached by plane. Pakistan International Airlines fly daily from Islamabad (Pakistans capital city). The air journey is full of thrills and would itself be regarded as the highlight of the visit. After following the same air route, which connects Gilgit to Islamabad/Rawalpindi, the plane turns right and flies over the gorge of the Indus River. Enormous rock faces rise on either side or at times it seems as if the wing tips of the plane would almost scrape against them. They never do.

By Road

Skardu can be reached using daily bus services offered by Nothern Area Transport Company from Islamabad. Its very hilly drive. 20 hours from Islamabad.

Get around

Another big city of Gilgit is four to five hours drive away from Skardu. You can go to Pakistan - China border via Gilgit. You may visit most famous Khunjrab Pass, K-2 Mountain base camp etc.

  • Skardu city center
  • K2 Museum located near K2 Motel, displays pictures
  • Kharpocho Fort: Skardu has an ancient Fort known as Kharpocho Fort (King of Forts) situated on a hill overlooking the town. It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan, who ruled over Baltistan till the end of the 16th century. The mighty Indus snaking along just a few yards beneath your feet among the silvery white sands is an awesome sight.
  • Satpara Lake About 8 km (5miles) north of Skardu and 20 minutes by jeep lays Sadpara Lake, surrounded by glacial mountains, which are mirrored in its crystal clear waters. The lake has a fairytale island in the middle, which can be reached by country boats that one can row. This lake also abounds in fish and is considered ideal for fishing.
  • Shangrila Lake About 32 km (20 miles) from Skardu and 2 hours by jeep lies the shimmering peaceful deep Shangrila lake also called Kachura Lake, teeming with brown trout. During spring many exotic and colourful flowers adorn its banks, while peach, apricot and apple trees are laden with blossoms in April. Later in the summer one can taste the apples, which are a particularly delicious variety. Also see Shangrila resort.
  • Shigar Valley: The gateway to the great mountain peaks of the Karakorams, Gasherbrum & K-2, is only 23 km away from Skardu via jeep road. Shigar valley’s gentle, irrigated slopes are filled with terraces of wheat, maize and barley. Its orchards of apricots, mulberries, peaches, plums, pears, apples and nuts are unique to Baltistan. The wooden mosque in the middle of the town was built by Kashmiri carpenters several hundred years ago.
  • Shigar Fort [1]
  • Khaplu Valley: This beautiful valley of the Shyok River is 103 km east of Skardu. Khaplu is the starting point for most trekking and climbing expeditions. Many famous mountains such as Masherbrum, Saltoro, Sia Kangri, K-6, K-7 are located here. Chaqchan Mosque is one of the earliest mosques in Baltistan (1504 AD), attributed to Syed Ali Hamdani. There is a Palace of Raja of Khaplu and remains of Thors
  • Narsok village, here you will find a large pure spring flowing from the base of the monolith.
  • First Organic village
  • Buddha Rock Carvings: Dating back to 8th century AD, a huge Buddha figure surrounded by small Buddhisatvas is carved on a rock, three kilometres from Skardu across Sadpara Nullah on Skardu-Sadpara Road. Pre-historic men and animal figures are carved on rocks along Kachura Lake. Some rock carvings and diagram of a monastery near Perkuta (Mehdi Abad) Nalah are also found.
  • MEDICAL STORES, abbas medical hall (new bazar), 0092581552527.  edit
  • Karakoram Air Safari
  • Mountaineering, Trekking and Hiking: The area is ideal for mountaineering, trekking and hiking. Permission for mountaineering and trekking for restricted zone is issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Pakistan, Pakistan Sports Complex, Kashmir Highway, Aabpara, Islamabad (Telephone: 92-51-9203509). Fishing permits are issued by the Fisheries Department at Gilgit and Skardu.
  • Fishing: at Satpara Lake (8km) and Kachura Lake 932km) from Skardu abound in trout. Fishing permits are issued by the Fisheries Department.
  • Flora & Fauna: Roses, lilies, pansies, willow, pine and fir trees are found in abundance. Apples, apricots, peaches, plums mulberry, walnuts and grapes are available from June to October and almonds from October to March.
  • Wildlife: Baltistan boasts of wildlife like Markhors, ibexes, snow leopards and birds, namely Chakors, partridges and ducks. Most of the animals and birds are protected but limited shooting is allowed. Hunting permits are issued by the local administration.
  • Biking
  • Walking excursions: A stroll around the eastern end of the Skardu rock will take you to the nearby village of 'Narsok', where you will find a large pure spring flowing from the base of the monolith. To reach Narsok, walk to the far end of the Skardu Polo field and pick up a trail that skirts the rock slopes beneath Zowar Singh's fortress. The mighty Indus snaking along just a few yards beneath your feet among the silvery white sands is an awesome sight. on the west bank of the Satpura Nala is a tall rock with a vertical, beige-colored northern face. Carved here circa A.D 900 is a lovely image of a meditating Maitreya Buddha framed by Bodhisattvas.


Baltistan is known for its "Pattu" - hand woven woollen cloth for jackets, coats etc. You can also pick up colorful intricately embroidered "Chugas" (Baltistani gown) and wooden spoons at Skardu bazaar.

Shopping Centres

Naya Bazar, Old Bazar, Botto Bazar, Hussain Chowk, Alamdar Chowk, Kazmi Bazar, Gamba Bazar, Benazir Chowk, Yadgar Chowk etc.

  • Murad Trading Co. Gem Stores & Antiques, New Bazar, Skardu. Tel: (92-0575) 2132
  • Hassan Mirza & Co. New Bazar, Skardu. Tel: (92-0575) 55420
  • Pakiza Gems, Batti Antiques, Naya Bazar, Skardu. Tel: (92-0575) 55118
  • K-2 Handicraft, K-2 Motel, Skardu. Tel: (92-0575) 2577
  • Topaz Gems, Yadgar Chowk, Skardu.
  • Sahabaz Gems, Kazmi Bazar, Skardu.
  • Pagoda Restaurant, offers a sumptuous Chinese cuisine. The Pagoda is on an island amidst the Honeymoon Lake linked to the Shangrila Resort by a short bridge.
  • The Lake View Restaurant gives a panoramic view of the Shangrila Resort and offers Pakistani and Continental cuisine.
  • Tandoori Village offers a taste of ancient old recipes, Chicken Tikka, Seekh Kababs, Mutton Tikkas, Grilled Fish with home made tandoori rooti. Enjoy the out door feast under the stars in a traditional atmosphere.
  • Cafe DC-3 This code name of orginal DC-3 Aircraft was Alph Alpha Foxtrot (AAF) . This unique cafe is one of its kind. Situated in an airplane, which crash landed on the riverbed and was brought to the present site in the 50's. It offers a variety of snacks and cabin crew hospitality
  • Concordia - II, Near K-2 Motel, skardu. S.R. D.R. Tel: (92-0575)2515
  • Hunza Inn, Naya Bazar, Skardu. Room Rs. 200/- Tel: (92-0575) 2570 Meal: Rs. 60/-
  • Baltistan Tourist Cottage, Chowk Yadgar, Skardu. Room: Rs. 150/- to 200/- Tel: (92-0575) 2707
  • Baltoro Rest House, Satellite Town, Skardu. Rooms: Rs. 200/-, Tel: (92-0575) 2443 (for government servants)
  • Northern Areas PWD Rest House, Hamid Garh, Skardu. VIP Rooms = 07 - Rs. 2500/-, Tel: (92-0575) 2405 (for government servants)
  • Yak N Yurt Sarai, Satellite Town, Skardu. Tel: (92-0575) 2856
  • Shangrila resort [2] is the most popular resort of the country.
  • Shigar Fort Residence [3] recently restored by Agha Khan trust is a must see.
  • K2 Motel is a PTDC motel in Skardu

Besides other reasonably priced private hotels, PTDC Motels at Skardu, Sadpara Lake and Khaplu offer comfortable accommodation. There are government rest houses at Skardu, Sadpara, Shigar Valley, Khaplu and Kachura.

Thrice-weekly bus service was scheduled to begin crossing the border from Gilgit, Northern Areas, to Kashgar, China, and road widening work was scheduled for 600 kilometres of the Karakoram Highway. There were also plans for one daily bus in each direction between Sust and Taxkorgan in the border areas of the two countries.

Via the Karakoram Highway, popularly known as the Silk Road.

Via the Karakoram Highway, popularly known as the Silk Road.

By Plane

PIA offers regular flights on Boeing 737s between Skardu and Islamabad. All flights, however, are subject to weather clearance, and in winters, flights are often delayed by several days.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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