Khaplu Valley: Enchanting Places to visit

Khaplu Valley: Enchanting Places to Visit

After reading this article you will know all the beautiful and enchanting places of Khaplu Valley where you can visit with your family on vacations.

Introduction to Khaplu: A Historic and Spiritual Center

Ghanche's district headquarters are located in Khaplu, the most fertile area of Gilgit-Baltistan. Before the foundation of Pakistan, it was the most populous region in Gilgit-Baltistan; today, it is the third-largest city after Skardu and Gilgit. It is located 105 kilometers from Skardu on the edges of the famous mountain Ghanche of Karakorum mountain's , and Ghanche Nala divides the city into two portions, Pine and Bala, on the right and left sides of the Shyok River.

The Shyok River and the Ghanche Nala both flow through the flawless village, which is tucked away among stunning mountains.


Khaplu palace

Religious Significance and Diversity

The city holds historical significance and has been the center of ancient culture and civilization, dating back to the 7th century AD. The famous Chinese traveler Fa-Hien mentioned Khaplu in his travel accounts.
The region has witnessed various ups and downs in terms of religion and faith. 
In ancient times, the city served as a center for Bonchos, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism. It later became a center of Islam and remains so to this day, with a majority Muslim population.

In terms of modern sectarianism, The city is home to various Muslim sects, including Noorbakhshi, Shia, Ahl-e-Hadith, and Sunnis. Approximately 92% of the population follows one of these Muslim sects. Among them, a significant spiritual lineage is the Noorbakhshi Sufi Order, also known as Salsalat-ul-Zahab. 

This order upholds principles of peace, simplicity, and hospitality, making it an exemplary spiritual path. The followers of this order are devoted to the teachings of Syed Muhammad Noorbakhsh Qahistani, who passed away in 958 AH.

 In general, the city is a place that is rich in history, culture, and spirituality, providing a window into its ancient past and a representation of the many different religious traditions that continue to influence its identity.

Archaeological Sites and Historical Landmarks in Khaplu Valley

mazar e mir

The city is a treasure trove of ancient civilization and culture because it is the home of antiquated treasures and antiquities. Many historical locations in the valley formerly featured powerful strongholds, each regarded as invincible and impressive.
However, over time, these structures fell into ruin and were destroyed during the period of revolution, when local rulers became entangled in power struggles, conspiracies, and internal conflicts. As a result, the local people started demolishing these buildings, and now there is nothing left of them except heaps of rubble.

Nevertheless, these ruins hold much fascination for researchers and provide valuable lessons for the wealthy. Among these forts, the famous ones are ThokhsiKhar (Khaplu), ReeKhar (Kharkoo), StreinmoKhar (Haldi), Ghori ThamKhar (Ghori), ChorbatKhar (Peion), and MarchungKhar (Thalay). Besides these forts, notable landmarks in The city include Jamia Masjid Chaqchan, Jamia Masjid Barqchan, Khanqah Mallah KhapluBala, Khanqah Noorbakhshi Baqir Pi Gong, Mazar-e-Mir Muhammad, Raja Palace (present Serena Hotel), and Hachi Khar, among others. These sites are some of the finest ancient relics in the area.
Khanqah

Khaplu's scenic spots like Barq Thoq, Thoksi Khar, Pondus, Kaldaq, and Hanjoor are beautiful and worth visiting places.Numerous festivals are celebrated here, and visitors from all over the world come here to take in the natural awe.

Vibrant Festivals Celebrating Poetry and Humor in Khaplu

The town, a picturesque town in the enchanting region of Baltistan, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and deep-rooted traditions. Among the various celebrations that take place throughout the year, two festivals stand out as prime examples of the region's fascination with poetry and humor: Jashn-e-Ghanche and Jashn-e-Nooruz.

 Jashn-e-Ghanche, a lively and delightful festival, is eagerly anticipated by locals and visitors alike. Celebrated with great enthusiasm, this event is a true testament to the region's artistic soul. Poetry takes center stage during Jashn-e-Ghanche, as talented poets from The town and neighboring areas come together to showcase their lyrical prowess.

The performances are filled with heartfelt verses, often depicting the beauty of the landscape, the joys and struggles of life, and the rich cultural history of Baltistan. Additionally, humor plays a significant role in the festival, with comedians and entertainers adding laughter and joy to the event. The blend of poetry and humor creates an atmosphere of merriment and camaraderie, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of all who attend.

Another significant cultural extravaganza in The town is Jashn-e-Nooroz, a festival that marks the arrival of the Persian New Year. This occasion holds special importance in the region, and the preparations for Jashn-e-Nooroz are made with meticulous care. During the festivities, the love for poetry and humor is once again on full display.

Poets and writers present their newly composed verses, while traditional folk singers mesmerize the audience with their soulful performances. The festival also features captivating plays and skits that incorporate local tales and legends, often with a humorous twist. Such performances not only entertain but also serve to preserve the cultural heritage of Baltistan, passing down stories from generation to generation.

In both Jashn-e-Ghanche and Jashn-e-Nooruz, the streets of town come alive with color and energy. The locals, dressed in their traditional attire, gather to celebrate and share the joyous moments with one another. The aroma of delicious Balti cuisine fills the air, further enhancing the festive spirit.

To experience the magic of these vibrant festivals and witness the captivating blend of poetry and humor, travelers and enthusiasts are encouraged to visit The town during these celebratory occasions.

For further information and inquiries, interested individuals should reach out to the local authorities, who are more than willing to provide details on the schedule, locations, and various events that unfold during these culturally significant festivals in the town.

The mountains surrounding Khaplu are home to an extensive variety of animals and birds that attract hunters. Markhor, snow leopards, mountain foxes, wolves, pheasants, ram pheasants, and other animals are seen in these mountains, while the rivers and lakes are home to native fish and trout.

Notable Landmarks and Mosques

chaqchan mosque


Khaplu boasts several important mosques, including Chaqchan Mosque, Jamia Masjid Barqchan, and Masjid Banpi, which are remarkable examples of ancient architecture, and the locals considered them blessed. When Mir Syed Ali Hamdani and his adherents constructed these mosques, they brought with them a rich legacy of Chinese, Iranian, Tibetan, and Kashmiri art.

These architectural wonders still exude their original beauty after six centuries. They include Khanqah (the biggest khanqah in South Asia), Khanqah Baqeerpi Ghong, and Khanqah Noorbakhshi, both of which are important places of historic significance.

Gilgit-Baltistan's Masjid Chaqchan is the most stunning and highest mosque in the area. On the other hand, Khankah-e-Khaplu, situated in the Valley, is the largest wooden mosque in Asia. Mir Muhtar Akhiar built it in 1132 AH. The unique architecture, design, and artistic features of these two landmarks hold great significance in terms of historical and cultural importance.




Renovated Palaces: Yabgo Khar and Hachi Khar

khaplu Shahi pologround

YabgoKhar, also known as Khaplu Palace, is an important historical site. According to legend, it was built in 1941 under Raja Muhammad Ali Khan's rule. Among all the palaces in Baltistan, this one is among the largest and tallest. It has five stories and is still in good condition.

However, the palace has sustained significant damage as a result of certain unneeded modern developments in the surrounding area. The Agha Khan Cultural Support Program in Pakistan renovated and converted this palace into a hotel, which has significantly increased the number of domestic and international visitors.

The Shahi Palace of Hachi (Hachi Khar) is also an outstanding example of archeology. This castle was previously home to the Shahi family and was close to a large polo ground that has since been divided into twenty sections and turned into a field.

The city is home to several ancient structures and sites that date back many years. In certain cases, these structures give the appearance that the town was previously covered in thick forests. As time passed, these buildings underwent repairs utilizing jungle wood, and as the population increased, the forest slowly disappeared, rendering the city's mountains barren of lush trees.

In general, the town is a place of beauty and captivating landscapes. The scenic beauty and serenity of this region attract tourists and make it a place of significant importance for those who appreciate natural beauty.

Khaplu-palace




BarqThoq: A Picturesque Tourist Destination

One of the remarkable places in the town is "BurqThoq." BurqThoq is situated on one side of the Burqchan neighborhood in the town, making it a popular tourist destination. It is known for its breathtaking panoramic views, as it is perched at an elevation of approximately 1,500 meters above the valley. From BurqThoq, visitors can witness the captivating landscapes of the city.

Due to its picturesque location, BurqThoq attracts a significant number of tourists, especially those seeking tranquility and solace. The serene and soothing atmosphere, along with the lush greenery, provides a perfect escape for nature enthusiasts and hikers from the town and nearby areas.

BurqThoq holds another unique characteristic as it is situated on an elevated plateau, providing a perfect vantage point for observing the surrounding beauty. The passing breeze in the lower valley, the coolness of the water springs, and the vibrant colors of the landscape create a mesmerizing experience for visitors.

BurqThoq has a route that goes up to the higher mountains, the "pasture land of Barqchan," and continues all the way to the "pasture field of Barah" (a steep and dangerous hiking trail). Although this route may be difficult and risky, many local hikers from the town take on this challenging journey to explore the vastness and beauty of the region.

It is a favorite route for adventurous hikers and trekkers who seek to test their limits while enjoying the breathtaking views of the city from above.

The people of the town often visit BurqThoq for picnics and to play traditional games, enhancing the significance of this marvelous place as a hub for recreational activities and natural enjoyment.

Saichen valley


 ThoksiKhar: Offering Panoramic Views

thoksi khar


This place is located on a 3,000-foot-high hill in the south of the town. At one time, Raja (the King) used to live here, which was considered impregnable due to its location, but intrigues and frauds within the palace provided the enemy with an opportunity to conquer.

It is said that the current palace of Raja has been built with the wood used in it according to the blueprint of ThoksiKhar.

Even from ThoksiKhar, one can enjoy panoramic views of the town, Khaplu-Broq, and Nalajaat sides, as this place is located on top of a steep mountain that rises thousands of feet high. Looking down from here can be intimidating, causing unease for those with a weak heart.

ThoksiKhar is also remarkable due to the ancient settlements and forts that once existed on the slopes of this mountain. During past external invasions, Raja (Ruler) and the local inhabitants sought refuge and hid in ThoksiKhar, successfully defending themselves against attackers.

Some time ago, various enthusiasts conducted excavations, and they discovered various vessels, guns, and coins, uncovering remnants of the past. Even today, with proper planning and execution, there is a strong possibility of finding many new artifacts during further excavations.

Among the several important fortresses, ThoksiKhar stands out as the most extensive, sturdy, and well-known. It is also considered one of the most terrifying fortresses, along with KharPocho Skardu, Ghouri ThamKhar, and FarowaKhar (currently known as Gulshan-e-Kabir). These fortresses were situated thousands of feet above the ground on steep cliffs, making them difficult for attackers to breach.

Despite facing numerous attempts at invasion, they remained unconquerable, and different generations have continuously discovered new passages, hidden doors, and secret rooms in these forts. Even today, if excavations are conducted with proper care and attention, numerous undiscovered treasures may still be found.

Locals use GhancheNala, which run from south to north from the side of ThoksiKhar, to water their agricultural land. This location can develop into an even greater tourist destination if the government builds a route from ThangZur to ThorsiKhar to accommodate tourists.

The mosque is there. Even though it is small and only has one hall, they built it with great attention and accuracy. For the people of Shani Mahal to pray in, the inhabitants of the valley constructed this mosque.

The villagers have preserved and kept this mosque occupied despite the fact that it has been almost three centuries since the Shahi Mahal era. In addition to being utilized for evening prayers, it occasionally offers a place for peaceful contemplation.

One-half of a mile south of that is a large rock. The Buddhist phrase "Omni Padme Hum" is inscribed on the rock using an old Tibetan alphabet. Many locations within and surrounding it have this Buddhist phrase inscribed on the rocks, along with images of Buddhist stupa.

thalay broq


Kaldq, Hanjoor, and Thang: Agricultural Beauties 

hanjoor


Kaldq, Hanjoor, and Thang are agricultural lands in the vicinity of the town where one season's crop is harvested. Local people only travel to these areas for farming purposes and stay there for a couple of months during the spring and summer seasons. The crops in these areas are of high quality, and one such example is the potato, known for its excellent taste and abundance. For many years, the potato seeds from this region have been extensively used in Pakistan and abroad.

dakholi-lake


Hanjoor and Thang are extremely picturesque places. A well-constructed road connects the town to Hanjoor, and there are plans to improve the road up to Kaldq. So far, two established hotels have been built in Hanjoor, and there is a possibility of more hotels being constructed in the future. A resthouse has been completed in the area, but it has yet to be made operational, with hopes of being activated soon.

dakholi-lake2


Barah: Ancient Settlement with Historical Significance

Barah-valley

 

Barah is located both above and below Khaplu, and its inhabitants are of Iranian descent. The Gojara Kohistani people settled here, and the name "Barah" is historically accurate.

Origin of the Name and Inhabitants

Originally, the area was called "BangRa." In the Balti language, "BangRa is the combination of two words, Bang and Ra. Bang means "cow," and "Ra" means "goat." In the past, due to the abundance of grasses, the people of this region farmed a large number of goats and cows. As a result, the entire area became known as "Bangra," which later evolved into "Barah."

Thalay-broq


Over time, agriculture replaced animal farming, and settlements were established, but the name remained unchanged. The residents of Barah are known for their pleasing appearance, strength, and warrior-like nature compared to other inhabitants of the valley.

Notable Places:

top 10 places to visit in GB


Barah is situated on the left bank of the Shyok River. The lower area of the city is entirely irrigated by the waters of the Shyok River, while the upper area is irrigated by the waters of the Nala and artificial lakes. In Baltistan, this region is unique as it has numerous artificial lakes that contribute to the vast and lush greenery of the area. The beautiful "Ghondail" valley is situated in the valley.

Origin of the Name "Ghondail"

Originally, "Ghondail" was known as "Ghun Reil," meaning "the place where melons are grown." The locals used to cultivate melons and watermelons. According to a tale, in ancient times, this area was barren and sandy. A faqir (a religious mendicant) asked the locals to pray for the prosperity of the area.

The faqir gave a melon seed to a person and instructed them to sow it in a suitable place. When the melon grew, it was so large that it required multiple people to carry it. The locals then brought the grown melon to the faqir, who declared that the area would flourish and remain inhabited as long as it remained pure.

On the day any immoral activity takes place in the area, the river will cover the region. Since then, the area has continued to prosper, and despite the floods in 1928, 1932, 1935, and 2015, it has not suffered any damage. The fertile soil, which was saved from the floods, along with the fertile land, has contributed to the prosperity of the area.

The people have also created artificial lakes with natural springs, enhancing the beauty of the region. The valley is a remarkably picturesque place where trout are found, and several people have established regular fish farming to generate income.

Yuchang and Surmo: Rich Heritage and Transformation 

Surmo is situated at a distance of 9 miles east of Khaplu, and most of its inhabitants are said to have migrated from Ladakh in ancient times.

Origin of the Name "Surmo"

The soil in this region has a strange property that causes any chili variety that is grown there to change into a specific variation that is reddish in color, giving rise to the name Surmo.

Threats and Historical Importance:

In 1948, river cutting took place beneath the town of Chogogrong, ruining the fertile "Kutpi Ooq" region and creating a secure riverbed. However, due to the changing course of the river, there is now a threat to nearby villages like Turkri and Gound. The demand from the government is to construct protective structures to save the villages from river erosion.

Surmo Khar

surmo khar


On a hill on which a road has been built, the upper settlement of Surmo, known as Khar, is situated. The settlement is named Khar, which means palace, since there is a little spring from ancient times to the west of which there is a 9-chambered Buddhist temple complex called Sarmu RuglmoKhar.

From here, you can see the breathtaking views of Ghorsay, Machulu, Talis, Saling, Mashaburrum, and their neighboring peaks in stunning detail.

Yuchung is located between Surmo and Khaplu. In the past, the people of this area faced many challenges due to the scarcity of water and cultivable land. The people here are of a very hardworking, migratory nature.

Although everything was scarce here, determination and perseverance were boundless. Present-day Yuchung has a prosperous and irrigated settlement on the left bank of the Shyok River, thanks to the construction of irrigation channels by AKRSP, but the locals faced difficulties due to the expense of diesel pumps.

The large barren area between Yuchang and SurmoPari became a source of pride for the capable elders of Yuchung, who distributed the land among people for cultivation and initiated the process of settlement. The main issue was water scarcity. They started digging wells at some places and struck water, which led to the cultivation of crops.

To address the water problem, an elder obtained funds from various government offices and dug a canal from the river. Despite the efforts, water scarcity persisted, and farmers had to manually fill irrigation channels to water their fields. Then, an elder obtained funds, and in 2019, the EFAD Program (Economic and Financial Advancement Development Program) from Punjab initiated work in the area. The project further expanded with more funds, and now the entire area is transformed into fertile fields and gardens.

machulo-valley


Mashabrum Viewpoint Yuchung: Admiring Majestic Peaks

mashabrum viewpoint


Currently, a military camp has been established in Yuchang, and it serves as the headquarters for the Siachen sector. Yuchung is located between mountainous springs, and when the weather is clear, one can enjoy the view of the Mashabrum viewpoint and other highest peaks.

A CSP officer named Babar Bashir, who had connections with Lahore, during his tenure as Assistant Commissioner/Administrator of the Municipal Committee of the Valley, developed and improved a place and named it Mashabrum Viewpoint.

This place is now a popular destination for sightseeing and recreation. From here, one can enjoy the beautiful and captivating views of Mashabrum hills, as well as Macholu, Talis, Saling, Ghursay, and surrounding areas.

mashabrum2


Modern Facilities and Tourist Amenities in Khaplu

In the city, all modern facilities of the current era are available. There is a well-established postal service, telephone, and electricity connections. For healthcare, there are hospitals, schools, and colleges for education; police for security; courts for justice; and hotels and guesthouses for accommodation.

The central area has markets where local and non-local items, as well as local handicrafts, can be found. Bus, wagon, and jeep services are available for tourists and travelers, providing comfortable and fast transportation options.

Notable Locations in The valley:

In The valley, there are several noteworthy places that local and foreign tourists should definitely visit, including:

 

saling-cricket

  1. YabgoKhar (Serena Hotel)
  2. BargThoq (Barqchan)
  3. Chaqchan mosque
  4. Pondus
  5. Thang
  6. Ahli Hanjoor
  7. Kaldaq
  8. Beesput
  9. ThoksiKhar
  10. HachiKhar
  11. Khanqah-e-Mualah Khaplu Bala
  12. Shahi Polo Ground
  13. Barah Lake
  14. Jungle Hat Salang
  15. SpankToq Saling
  16. Crystal Lake, Soogha
  17. Mashabrum Viewpoint, Yuchang
  18. SurmoKhar
  19. Haldi cone

For local enthusiasts, foreign tourists, and international travelers visiting the valley, it is essential to explore the above-mentioned notable locations and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Other Remarkable Places:

Besides the aforementioned notable locations, tourists should also visit the following areas in the valley to witness their beauty and charm:

sogha-lake


  1. Hoshay Kande
  2. Saltroro
  3. Kundus Warm Springs
  4. Thalay Broq
  5. Kharfaq lake
  6. Ghowari Tourism Farm 
  7. Keris
  8. Balghar Spank

Please note that these places offer captivating views and should be included in the travel itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

Hanjoor and Kaldq boast breathtaking natural landscapes, and anyone who witnesses their beauty is left in awe of their natural charm and magnificence. The allure of the natural scenery and the majestic surroundings never fail to mesmerize visitors. 

Conclusion 

The town Khaplu Valley has everything to captivate the interest of tourists. There are numerous places of scenic beauty and enjoyment for nature lovers. For those interested in ancient history, there are fascinating sites like Thoksi Khar's ruins, Raja Palace (the present Serena hotel), Jamia Masjid Chaqchan, Khanqah Noorbakhshi, and the shrine of Mir Muhammad, along with many other ancient landmarks. The orchards of the town are famous for their juicy and delicious fruits, including apples, apricots, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries. These fruits are abundantly available from July to September, and dried fruits are available throughout the year. More than three hundred varieties of apricots’ are found here.

Ghori ghanche


 

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