The History of Skardu, a city located in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, is a rich tapestry of cultural, religious, and political influences. The region has been inhabited for centuries, and has played a crucial role in shaping the history of the region. Skardu has been ruled by various dynasties, including the Tibetans, the Mughals, and the local rulers of Baltistan. The city has also been an important center of trade and commerce, connecting the regions of Central Asia and South Asia. Throughout its history, Skardu has been a melting pot of cultures and religions, and this diversity can still be seen in the city’s architecture, customs, and traditions.
Before the partition of India in 1947, Baltistan was an independent state with Skardu Valley serving as its main hub. Skardu, the largest town in Baltistan, is situated at the confluence of the Indus and Shigar rivers and surrounded by towering peaks of the Karakoram and Himalayas, providing breathtaking views for visitors.
Skardu has gained popularity in recent years as a tourist destination due to its natural beauty, rich culture, and historical significance. Visitors can explore the region’s ancient forts, monuments, and trade routes, as well as enjoy activities such as trekking, rock climbing, and paragliding. Regardless of interests, Skardu has something to offer for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and adventure seekers alike.
The History of Skardu: Indus Civilization to Baltistan Kingdom
Indus Valley Civilization
Skardu’s history stretches back thousands of years to the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the earliest and most advanced civilizations of ancient South Asia. The Indus people were known for their advanced urban planning, engineering, and artistic achievements.
Buddhist Kingdom of Zhang Zhung – The first known kingdom
The region of Skardu, also known as Baltistan, was ruled by various dynasties throughout the History of Skardu. The first known kingdom in the area was that of the Buddhist kingdom of Zhang Zhung, which existed from the 6th to the 9th century CE. The kingdom of Zhang Zhung was subsequently conquered by the Tibetan Empire, which ruled the region until the collapse of the empire in the 9th century.
Local Dynasties & Arrival of Sikhs
Various local dynasties, including the Ra-Sakar, the Lhachen, and the Khushwakhte, ruled Skardu in the following centuries. In the 16th century, the region was conquered by the Mughal Empire, which established control over Skardu. The Mughals governed the area for more than 200 years, until the Sikhs arrived in the early 19th century.
Dogra Ruller – Baltistan Kingdom
In 1835, Raja Gulab Singh, the Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, conquered Skardu and established the Baltistan kingdom. The kingdom remained independent until the partition of India in 1947 when Skardu became a part of Pakistan. Today, Skardu is a district of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan.
The history of Skardu is deeply intertwined with the history of the surrounding mountain ranges, as the region has long been an important center of trade and commerce, connecting South and Central Asia through the famous Silk Road. Even today, Skardu continues to play a significant role as an important hub for trade, transportation, and tourism in the region.
Exploring Skardu’s Forts and Monuments: A Window into the Past
Skardu is home to a variety of historic forts and monuments that offer a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage and ancient history. Some of the most notable forts and monuments in the area include:
- Kharpocho Fort is located in the center of Skardu city and is one of the most well-preserved forts in the region. The local ruler Ali Sher Khan Anchan built the fort in the 16th century, and it is a fine example of traditional Balti architectural style. The fort served as a palace, a fort, and a residence for the ruling family of Skardu.
- Located in the town of Khaplu, about 75 kilometers east of Skardu, Khaplu Fort is an impressive fort built in the 19th century by Raja Ghazan Khan. The fort is a fine example of traditional Balti architecture and has been recently renovated and converted into a heritage hotel.
- Shigar Fort is a historic fort located in the town of Shigar, about 30 kilometers southeast of Skardu. The local ruler Raja Amjad Ali Khan built the fort in the 17th century, and it is a fine example of traditional Balti architectural style. The fort has been recently renovated and converted into a heritage hotel.
Visiting these forts and monuments will give visitors an opportunity to learn about the history of the region and the culture of its people, while also enjoying the stunning natural beauty of the area.
Exploring Skardu’s Natural Beauty
Skardu’s natural beauty is world-renowned, and it is home to some of the most spectacular mountain ranges, including the famous Karakoram range and the world’s second-highest peak, K2. The area is surrounded by towering peaks.
In addition, the region boasts of many glaciers, such as the Biafo and Hispar glaciers, which are among the longest glaciers outside the polar regions.
Some of the most popular natural attractions in Skardu include:
This high-altitude national park is located about 40 kilometers south of Skardu. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the Himalayan brown bear, the Marco Polo sheep, and the snow leopard. The park is also known for its stunning meadows, which are covered in wildflowers in the summer months.
Kachura Lake is the most domiment among the Lakes of Pakistan. These beautiful lakes are located about 30 kilometers south of Skardu. The Upper Kachura Lake, also known as Shangrila Lake, is a popular tourist destination. It is known for its beautiful setting, surrounded by towering peaks and lush greenery. The lake is also home to a small resort, which was built in the 1980s.
This picturesque valley is located about 30 kilometers southeast of Skardu. The valley is known for its beautiful setting, surrounded by towering peaks and lush greenery. The valley is also home to several traditional villages, where visitors can learn about the culture and way of life of the local people.
In the northern part of Skardu lies Nansoq, a beautiful valley known for its stunning landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and green meadows. The valley also has a small village where visitors can interact with the local communities and learn about their customs and traditions.
Visitors can explore Skardu’s natural beauty through hiking, trekking, and other outdoor activities. The natural wonders of Skardu are truly breathtaking.
Read Skardu on Wikipedia
Exploring Local Culture and Traditions of Skardu
Skardu is home to a rich cultural heritage, and visitors can learn about the history and traditions of the region by exploring its local villages, markets, and cultural centers. Some of the most popular cultural attractions in Skardu include:
The local markets in Skardu offer a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of the community. Visitors can find everything from traditional crafts and textiles, to fresh produce and spices. Some of the most popular markets in Skardu include the Skardu bazaar, which is located in the center of the city, and the Khaplu bazaar, which is located in the town of Khaplu.
Skardu has several cultural centers that allow visitors to learn about the history and traditions of the region. Some of the most popular cultural centers in Skardu are the Skardu Museum, located in the center of the city, and the Khaplu Cultural Center, located in the town of Khaplu.
To learn about the customs and traditions of the community, visitors can explore the local villages in Skardu. Some of the most popular villages in Skardu are the village of Shigar, located about 30 kilometers southeast of Skardu, and the village of Khaplu, located about 75 kilometers east of Skardu.
Skardu celebrates several festivals throughout the year, offering visitors an opportunity to experience the local culture and traditions. Some of the most popular festivals in Skardu are the Shandur Polo Festival, held in July and August, and the Khaplu Cultural Festival, held in September.
Visitors can explore Skardu’s local culture and traditions, learning about the history and way of life of the community. By interacting with the local people and experiencing their customs and traditions firsthand, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the region.
Conclusion: A Fascinating Destination for History and Nature Lovers
In conclusion, Skardu is a destination that offers something for everyone. From its ancient history to its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The city and its surrounding areas offer a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to explore. Including historical sites such as the Shigar Fort and the Kharpocho Fort, natural wonders such as the Deosai National Park and Kachura Lakes. Skardu is a unique destination that offers visitors the opportunity to experience the best of what Pakistan has to offer. Whether you are a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a culture vulture, Skardu is a destination that should not be missed.