BEAUTIFUL BALTISTAN

HISTORY

Baltistan (Urdu: بلتستان, Hindi: बल्तिस्तान) , also known as بلتیول (Baltiyul) in the Balti language, is a region in northern Pakistan (administratively situated in Gilgit-Baltistan. It was a part of Jammu and Kashmir and came under Pakistani control in 1947) , bordering Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. It is situated in the Karakoram mountains just to the south of K2, the world’s second highest mountain. It is an extremely mountainous region, with an average altitude of over 3,350 m (11,000 ft). The inhabitants of this region were converted int islam from Buddhism prior to the 16th century. Baltistan was an independent state but was occupied by the Raja (King) of Kashmir in the nineteenth century. In 1947 when India and Pakistan gained independence, it was still part of Kashmir. Now the region is divided between Pakistan and India. The districts of Skardu (Skardo) and Ganche, which is a part of the Northern Areas of Pakistan, its main town is Skardu. It contains the highest peaks of the Karakoram, including K2. Indian-controlled Baltistan (the district of Kargil) which is disputed and claimed by Pakistan is located in the north of Indian-administered Kashmir

GEOGRAPHY OF BALTISTAN

Baltistan is often called “little Tibet”. The adjoining territory of Baltistan forms the west extremity of Tibet, whose natural limits here are the Indus from its abrupt southward bend in 74 45 E., and the mountains to the north and west, separating a comparatively peaceful Tibetan population from the fiercer Aryan tribes beyond. Muslim writers about the 16th century speak of Baltistan as Little Tibet, and of Ladakh as Great Tibet, thus ignoring the really Great Tibet altogether. The Balti call Gilgit a Tibet, and Dr Leitner says that the Chilasi call themselves But or Tibetans; but, although these districts may have been overrun by the Tibetans, or have received rulers of that race, the ethnological frontier coincides with the geographical one given. Baltistan is a mass of lofty mountains, the prevailing formation being gneiss. In the north is the Baltoro Glacier, the largest out of the arctic regions, 35 miles (56 km) long, contained between two ridges whose highest peaks to the south are 25,000 ft (7,600 m) and to the north 28,265 ft (8,615 m). The Indus, as in Lower Ladakh, runs in a narrow gorge, widening for nearly 20 m. after receiving the Shyok. The capital, Skardu, a scattered collection of houses, stands here, perched on a rock 7,250 ft (2,210 m). above the sea. The house roofs are flat, occupied only in part by a second storey, the remaining space being devoted to drying apricots, the chief staple of the main valley, which supports little cultivation. But the rapid slope westwards is seen generally in the vegetation. Birch, plane, spruce and Pinus excelsa appear; the fruits are finer, including pomegranate, pear, peach, vine and melon, and where irrigation is available, as in the North Shigar, and at the deltas of the tributary valleys, the crops are more luxuriant and varied.
The mountains have a handsome amount of precious stones inside them. Aquamarine, ruby, topaz etc. are mined by many people. the area is also rich in marble, zahr mohra and quartz.

NATURAL BEAUTY OF BALTISTAN

The region of Baltistan is bestowed with some of the greatest bounties of Nature. Tourists from all over the world have a great attraction toward this region because of its beautiful valleys, plains, peaks and heritage sites.

The capital of Baltistan, Skardu welcomes the visitors with its ethereal tourist resorts, dounting plains, wonderful lakes and alpine mountains. Shangri-la, Deosai plain, Satpara, Basho etc. are adorable places to visit. in the north of Skardu, Shigar valley fascinates the people by its splendid plains, hiking tracks , tempting peaks ad camping sites. other worth mentioning valleys in Baltistan region are Khaplu, Rondu, Kachura and Kharmang.

Baltistan is a paradise for mountaineers and anglers. The area is surrounded by the mighty  ranges of The Karakuram and The Himalayas .Towering mountains are spread throughout the region. Four out of fifteen highest peaks of the world are situated in this region. whic are, K2 (8611m),  Gashabrum-1(8080m), Broad peak (8051m) and Gashabrum-2 (8035m). 108 peaks ofheight above 7000 meters ar situated in this regin. This figure is matchless in the world. Some of the gigantic glaciers are also present in this region. some of them are Siachin(the highest battle field in the world), Baltoro, Batura, Hisper and Biafo. these glaciers aways remain seducing for hikers and trekkers.

This area enjoys a sound cultural heritage which depicts its great past. Forts, Monestries, Mosques and Stone carvings are present in every valley telling us the tales of early inhibitors.

BALTI CUISINES

In accordance with the climatic effects and available resources the traditional Balti food is different from others. The balti dishes are liked not only by its people but by the outsiders as well some of famous balti dishes are:

Pra-pu,  Baley, Khurba, Marzan, Hlsab-Khur, Azoq, Kulaq etc.

FRUITS

Baltistan is famous for producing best quality fruits because of its clean environment. Apples, apricots, cherries, mulberries, pom-granades, grapes, melons, walnuts and many other fruits are produced here and are famous all over the world. Dry fruits are exported in large quantities from baltistan to other regions.

BALTI PEOPLE

All people of same races, living in Baltistan are called Balti. The Greeks derived Byaltae from sBal-ti, which in Tibetan means “water gorge.” The historian Ptolemy who was also a general in the army of Alexander the Great had named the region (Byaltae) in his book. In fact Baltistan is the Persian translation of Baltiyul, “The Homeland of Balti”. The people belonging to Balti nationality are settled on both banks of the river Indus from Kargil (in the east) to Haramosh (in the west) and from Karakoram range (in the north) to Deosai plains (in the south). In this nationality the majority comes from Tibetan origin. However people migrated to this area in different periods of ancient times, on account of different reasons and after merging in the prevailing Tibetan society, gave birth to a new civilisation. All these multi-racial groups speak Balti language, which is a branch of the ancient Tibetan language. However in some rural areas, the Sheen people still speak Shina language.

There are several Balti communities located in Pakistan’s urban areas further south, notably in Lahore, Islamabad and in Karachi

The people of  Baltistan are very hospitable , peaceful and courteous. their altruistic and selfless behavior is always commended by the outsiders. Inspite of intermingling of different sects and castes, the inhibitants of Baltistan keep a great peace and har mony which makes its environment more serene.

IMAGE GALLERY (BALTISTAN)