Skardu, Pakistan
(by Rao)

Skardu is a city in the northern area of Pakistan, at the junction of Himalayas and Karakoram. The 8000 meters giant white peaks of Karakoram Range hide behind the brown mountains giving no hint to the travelers for the surprise that waits them.  

The 40 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide valley (of the same name) at an altitude of 2290 meters from sea level, exists at the junction of River Indus and River Shigar and is the gateway to the world's highest peak K2 which is 8611 meters high.  K2 and Nanga Parbat have never, ever been climbed in the winter.  Not only this, it has the world's 8 highest peaks in its surroundings including the killer mountain; Nanga Parbat which is 8126 meters high.

The best mountaineering and tourism season is from April to Oct Besides trekking and the tournament, Skardu is full of beautiful and historic sights.  Some of the are:

  • An interesting place is the Italian K2 Museum.  The museum is a tent in the garden of 'PTDC K2 Motel' which was set up in the year 2004 in order to celebrate the successful climb of K2 in 1954 by an Italian expedition.
  • Three enchanting valleys, 'Satpara Valley, Kachora Valley or Shangila and Upper Kachora Valley' exist near the city and can be reached in jeeps.
  • Mineral Mines have almost 30 different types of gemstones including Ruby, Tourmaline, Quartz, Topaz, Kunzite, Aquamarine, Jade, Peridot and Granite. 
  • Buddhist Rock is the last available rock in the area having an image of Buddha from the Gandhara civilization.
  • Skardu Fort which was built in the 8th Century
  • Shigar Fort which is about 400 years old.
  • Kachura Lakes.  These are two lakes, known as Upper Kachura and Lower Kachura Lakes.
  • Satpara Lake is best known for the fresh water Trout fish.
  • K2 Base Camp
  • Satpara Dam
  • World's highest Polo ground in Dhandor Valley near this city.
  • The world's second highest Deosai Plains are heaven for wildlife lovers.  These plains host wild horses, Tibetan blue bears, Ibex and Himalayan snow leopards.  The local birds are mostly protected but limited hunting is also available with a permit which can be obtained from the local administration.   

Skardu is a place for people who are born to have adventure in their lives.  A lot of trekking, climbing and safari activities take place in town which attracts a large number of people.  Different organizations have planted their offices and base camps in town which helps to fulfill their needs regarding any activity they want to do.  Mountaineering equipment is also available if someone has not come prepared but they should not expect to get the best equipment.

Although there are a lot of good restaurants available in the area, the best way to enjoy a meal is to go fishing early in the morning, catch a fresh trout from the valley, cook it for lunch and enjoy the hot meal at the bank of the valley.  Traditional Pakistani dishes like:

  • Chicken/mutton Seekh Kebab
  • Chapli Kebab
  • Chicken Karrai
  • Chicken Karahi Gosht
  • Mutton Karahi
  • Beef Karahi
  • Balti Gasht
  • Aloo Keema
  • Chicken Roast
  • Spicy Fried Fish
  • Daal,
  • Nihari
  • Chicken tikkas
  • Mutton Sajji
  • Chicken Sajji
  • Biryani
  • Pulao
  • Aloo Paratha
  • Kabli Pulao
  • Vegetables
  • Bala (soup)

Most of these dishes are available in different restaurants.  Other than that, all sorts of fresh fruits can also be found in a variety of areas.  Hotels, ranging from 4 stars to private apartments are available.  These become home to foreigners as well as locals and provide the best service to them.

The best way to reach Skardu is by road.  The beautiful sights that come on the way make one wonder about all the beauty that Pakistan holds.  The most used route is from the Karakoram highway which links a road to the its Valley.  On the other hand, flying is also a good source of transportation to reach the place and there are two flights daily between Skardu and Islamabad Airport.

To sum it all up, Skardu has been attracting tourists from all over the world for  years, for a lot of different reasons.  Its enchanting beauty relaxes the eyes and makes one feel much closer to the spiritual side of life.  The landscapes and the Mughal History makes one want to explore further and grab the once in a lifetime experience.  The culture and the places that it holds keep the tourists attached to the place and one does not want to leave.  It is surely a trip to heaven.

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     By Carolynne Woods, © Copyright 2010-2020. International Travel   All rights reserved images and text