Top 10 Places to Visit in Skardu Valley

Skardu Valley, often called the Land of Giants, is in the middle of the Karakoram Range. It’s in the northeastern part of Pakistan and is the entrance to some of the tallest mountains like K2. It is an exceptionally beautiful and stunning place with breathtaking landscapes, serene lakes and rivers, an enchanting atmosphere, and majestic mountains. It is indeed considered a piece of Paradise for its breathtaking natural beauty. Moreover, The place itself has a unique charm with its local bazaars, traditional architecture, and a backdrop of giant peaks. Today we will talk about the Top 10 places to visit in Skardu. Skardu is not only a destination for adventure seekers but also for those seeking a peaceful retreat amidst nature’s grandeur.

Skardu History

The history of Skardu dates back thousands of years. In the 8th century AD, it was a part of the Tibetan Empire. This era brought Buddhism to the valley. The traces of Buddhist culture are still present in Skardu’s culture. Later in around 1500 AD, Balti prince Ali Sher Khan Anchan embraced Islam. He introduced the Islamic religion in Skardu. Skardu flourished under the Maqpon dynasty. During this era, the Kharpocho Fort was built. By the 19th century, Skardu had become a key trading center. It is strategically located on the route connecting Central Asia and India.During the mid-19th century when Dogra forces, led by Zorawar Singh, invaded and captured Baltistan. The Dogra Empire started ruling northern India and the Himalayas. After the independence in 1947, Skardu became part of Pakistan. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination renowned for its natural beauty and wonderful views.

Among different attractions, the top 10 places to visit Skardu include:

  1. Deosai National Park
  2. Upper Kachura Lake
  3. Soq Valley
  4. Basho Valley
  5. Katpana Lake and Cold Desert
  6. Sarfranga Desert
  7. Chunda Valley
  8. Shigar Fort
  9. Kharphocho Fort
  10. Nansoq Organic Village

Let’s explore each of these places one by one.

Deosai National Park

The name “Deosai” is the combination of two words “Deo” meaning Giant, and “Sai” meaning Shadow. Deosai is the second-highest plateau in the world. Deosai was officially designated as a national park in 1993 The Himalayan brown bear, also known as the “Deosai bear,” is one of the flagship species of the park. The picturesque landscapes, high plateaus, and unique flora and fauna attract visitors interested in experiencing the natural beauty of the region. It’s a stunning high-altitude lake surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. In summer, the lake’s crystal-clear waters reflect the azure skies and snowy peaks of the surrounding mountains, creating a picturesque panorama. The lake is frozen during the winter, adding to the enchanting beauty of the region. This is one of the top 10 places to visit in Skardu Valley.

Sheosar Lake Skardu

Upper Kachura Lake:

It is located in Skardu. It is also known as “Sheesh Mahal” meaning Palace of Glass, due to the reflection of the surrounding landscape on the lake’s surface. Upper Kachura Lake is surrounded by snowy peaks, making it pretty. You can easily reach the lake by road from Skardu, a town that opens up to many beautiful places nearby. People love coming to Upper Kachura Lake for its peaceful atmosphere and things to do.Lastly, Boating is a big hit, you can enjoy the awesome views from the water. And when winter comes, the lake freezes, turning the whole place into a unique icy scene. Upper Kachura Lake is a peaceful and tranquil destination, providing a retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Upper Kachura Lake Skardu

SOQ Valley:

Soq Valley, situated on the upper side of Kachura, has gained recognition among travelers. It is one of the best places to visit in Skardu. When traveling from Shangrila resort along a straight road to upper Kachura Lake, the path diverges. The straight route takes you to Upper Kachura Lake, while the alternative veers left toward Soq Valley. SOQ Valley is a perfect place for trekking and adventurous fun.Therefore, It provides a breathtaking view with a serene atmosphere. Soq Valley is an ideal location for camping, where a bonfire beneath the clear night sky imparts a unique and immersive experience. The air is crisp with the scent of wildflowers, and every turn in the trail opens up new panoramas that leave a lasting impression on the heart.

Basho Valley – One of the best places to visit in Skardu:

Basho Valley emerges as a jewel among Skardu’s coveted destinations. Revered for its spellbinding beauty, majestic grandeur, and unspoiled charm, this captivating valley beckons the adventurous at heart. Accessible with just a leisurely two-hour drive from the heart of Skardu, navigating the route in jeeps adds an element of convenience to the journey. The Basho Valley maintains its serene ambiance. Even in the heat of summer, Basho Valley maintains a peaceful atmosphere, making it the perfect getaway. With its vast green fields and flowing streams, it’s an ideal spot for camping and trekking. As night falls and the air cools, the valley transforms into a magical scene revealing a captivating spectacle—the night sky adorned with a twinkling canopy of thousands of stars.

Basho Valley Skardu - Top 10 Places to visit in skardu

Katpana Lake and Cold Desert:

Katpana Lake, also known as Lower Kachura Lake, is among the best places to visit in Skardu. It’s located near the Shangrila Resort in Skardu. Boating on its crystal-clear waters becomes an immersive experience, allowing one to absorb the breathtaking scenery that defines this idyllic destination. Next to Katpana Lake is the Cold Desert, also called the Katpana Desert or Skardu Desert. It’s one of the highest deserts globally, even though it’s chilly due to the high altitude. The Cold Desert has a unique mix of sandy areas and cold weather, creating a cool contrast with the snow-covered mountains. You can easily reach it by road, and exploring this desert is like going on an exciting adventure in Skardu’s incredible natural beauty.

Top 10 Places to visit in skardu

Sarfranga Desert:

Among the top 10 places to visit in Skardu, The Sarfranga Cold Desert, sets itself apart as an extraordinary arctic landscape, challenging the conventional perception of hot deserts. With its frigid temperatures, this unique desert features grandiose mountains, invigorating winds, and a spellbinding sunset panorama, delivering an unmatched experience for those seeking adventure. In addition, The beauty of the terrain is accentuated by the play of light and shadows during sunset, making it an ideal heaven for photographers. Going beyond its visual allure, the cold desert offers a tranquil environment that beckons introspection amid its rugged yet enchanting topography, allowing visitors to witness both the tenacity of life in extreme conditions and the exquisite beauty of nature.

Sarfranga Cold Desert - Top 10 Places to visit in skardu

Chunda Valley – The Heaven on Earth

Chunda Valley, a wonderful spot in Skardu, just an hour away from downtown Yadgar Chowk, is truly enchanting. Perched on elevated ground, it treats you to a breathtaking view of Skardu City. As you marvel at the scenery at Chunda Valley you can even catch the thrilling sight of planes taking off and landing at Skardu Airport. Wandering through the valley, It will surround you with a variety of trees—apricot, cherry, apple, almond, and pear each boasting its own vibrant flowers and unique fragrance. The beauty of the valley is like a painting coming to life.

Chunda Valley Skardu - Top 10 Places to visit in skardu

Shigar Fort:

Shigar Fort, in Shigar, Skardu District, is a historic 17th-century structure constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan, representing a fusion of Tibetan and Balti architecture. Resting on a rock, it commands panoramic views of the Shigar Valley. Repurposed as a museum, the fort provides a compelling exploration of Baltistan’s cultural and historical legacy. The museum displays artifacts, including clothing, household items, weapons, and religious articles, offering insight into local lifestyles. Amidst the scenic Shigar Valley, the fort serves as both an architectural marvel and a cultural center. Actively contributing to the conservation and promotion of Baltistan’s heritage. 

Shigar Fort

Kharphocho Fort:

The Kharphocho Fort is on a little hill in Skardu, overlooking the Indus River and Skardu city. It’s a 30-minute walk from Yadgar Chowk and is historically important. For history and archaeology enthusiasts, Kharphocho Fort is a must-visit, holding intriguing tales. Notably, a rock with Persian inscriptions highlights the Dogra kings’ influence on Baltistan’s language, while a mosque at the fort’s peak underscores the region’s enduring ties to Islam. The majestic Fort attracts thousands of tourists each year. Its boundary walls creatively use large stones and gravel. The purposely steep and narrow route, including a hidden tunnel constructed by the Rajas. It offers visitors a unique glimpse into history. 

Kharpocho Fort

Nansoq Organic Village:

Nansoq, situated behind the renowned Kharphocho Fort, stands as Pakistan’s premier organic village. Modeled after the traditional Balti style, Nansoq Organic Village in Skardu embraces an organic lifestyle, preserving its authenticity with minimal machinery and synthetic materials. Serving as a symbolic representation, the village showcases the enduring significance of an organic way of life in the face of modernity. Amidst the Baltistan region, Nansoq stands out as one of the purest organic villages. It exemplifies the possibility of harmonious living with the environment even in contemporary times. It’s one of the places to visit in Skardu.

Nansoq Organic Village

Skardu Location

Skardu is both the city and the district capital. It is located in the Gilgit Baltistan province of Pakistan. Skardu is one of the 14 districts of the region. This region is an absolute wonderland. It has an average elevation of nearly 2,500 meters.

Skardu Population

The population of Skardu is around 214,800. This region is predominantly Shia. The population includes;

  • 97% of the ShiaPopulation.
  • 2% of NoorbakshiPopulation.
  • 1% of Sunni Muslims Population.

Skardu Height from Sea Level

Depending on the specific location within Skardu, the height from sea level can vary slightly. The estimated height is 8,202 feet above sea level.

Things to do in Skardu

Here are some things you can do in Skardu:

Witness breathtaking scenery

  • Upper and Lower Kachura Lakes
  • Deosai National Park

Explore historical Sites

  • Skardu Fort (Kharpocho Fort)
  • Shigar Fort

Experience local Culture

  • Shangri-La Resort
  • Trekking and Hiking:
  • Explore Biafo Glacier
  • K2 Base Camp Trek

Other Activities

  • Day Trip to Satpara Lake
  • Jeep Safari
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