Pakistan's most well-kept secret

Published July 2, 2014
The writing seen on the left side of the mountain ahead of the road says: 'Welcome to Shigar. The Valley of Mighty K2'. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The writing seen on the left side of the mountain ahead of the road says: 'Welcome to Shigar. The Valley of Mighty K2'. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Wooden carvings over doorways and beams with religious symbols explain the "pluralistic legacy of Shigar" says Niilofer Farrukh, an art historian. —Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Wooden carvings over doorways and beams with religious symbols explain the "pluralistic legacy of Shigar" says Niilofer Farrukh, an art historian. —Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Shigar is the gateway to several climbing peaks and trekking routes. Go in the summers to see flowers and fruits blooming and blossoming all round the hills. — Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Shigar is the gateway to several climbing peaks and trekking routes. Go in the summers to see flowers and fruits blooming and blossoming all round the hills. — Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Snow capped mountains: You begin to question why PIA cannot start an air safari. On a good day, the bird's eye view is resplendent with ice-capped peaks, including the K2. —Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Snow capped mountains: You begin to question why PIA cannot start an air safari. On a good day, the bird's eye view is resplendent with ice-capped peaks, including the K2. —Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
The valley got noticed first after the conservation of Shigar Fort, which has since been converted into a boutique hotel. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The valley got noticed first after the conservation of Shigar Fort, which has since been converted into a boutique hotel. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
June, July and August are the warmest months and therefore best for trekking/camping. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
June, July and August are the warmest months and therefore best for trekking/camping. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Carry a light sweater or a shawl for early mornings and evenings. A sturdy pair of walking shoes and socks are a must. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Carry a light sweater or a shawl for early mornings and evenings. A sturdy pair of walking shoes and socks are a must. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Timber lacing for strengthening walls through the cator and cribbage technique has been revived. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Timber lacing for strengthening walls through the cator and cribbage technique has been revived. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The people speak the Balti language, an archaic form of the Tibetan language. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The people speak the Balti language, an archaic form of the Tibetan language. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
This vernacular architecture dates back to over a 1,000 years and was renovated when Shigar Fort was being conserved. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
This vernacular architecture dates back to over a 1,000 years and was renovated when Shigar Fort was being conserved. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Timber lacing for strengthening walls through the cator and cribbage technique has been revived. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Timber lacing for strengthening walls through the cator and cribbage technique has been revived. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The population comprises a heterogeneous mixture of ethnic groups as a number of different peoples, including the Tibetan, Mongolian, Indo-Iranian and Central Asian came together and blended here. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The population comprises a heterogeneous mixture of ethnic groups as a number of different peoples, including the Tibetan, Mongolian, Indo-Iranian and Central Asian came together and blended here. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Polo is the national game of Baltistan. Tournaments take place from April to early May and from October to November. On any given Tuesday, you will find teams holding informal matches. — Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Polo is the national game of Baltistan. Tournaments take place from April to early May and from October to November. On any given Tuesday, you will find teams holding informal matches. — Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
It is a conservative part of Pakistan and it would be best for women to wear a dupatta or a scarf around the neck and cover their head when visiting a mosque. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
It is a conservative part of Pakistan and it would be best for women to wear a dupatta or a scarf around the neck and cover their head when visiting a mosque. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Nearly 96 per cent of the population earn a living solely from farming (wheat, barley, fodder crops and apricots). Only 4 per cent of the community is engaged in other forms of employment. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Nearly 96 per cent of the population earn a living solely from farming (wheat, barley, fodder crops and apricots). Only 4 per cent of the community is engaged in other forms of employment. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Four of the 14 eight thousand meter peaks are located here including the world's second highest peak, K2. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Four of the 14 eight thousand meter peaks are located here including the world's second highest peak, K2. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Shigar valley is very dusty. In the summer months (June, July and August) light cotton clothing is always best. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Shigar valley is very dusty. In the summer months (June, July and August) light cotton clothing is always best. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The approximately 70,000 people who live here are predominantly Shia. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The approximately 70,000 people who live here are predominantly Shia. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
July and August are the best months to see wildflowers blooming and to go trout fishing. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
July and August are the best months to see wildflowers blooming and to go trout fishing. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim

Run out of holiday destinations? Here's a beautiful corner in the northern areas you probably still haven't been to: Shigar.

Shigar is a place in Gilgit-Baltistan where you will find a desert with proper sand dunes along with the rivers and shrubbery normally found in the region.

At an altitude of 2800 meters, the valley is ensconced between snow-clad peaks; and has everything to offer from plains and meadows, to forests and trees laden with cherry, apple, apricot, mulberry and streams of cold, fresh water at just about every corner.

Records show that this area was once called Little Tibet. But there isn't a single trace of Buddhist culture here today, neither in clothes nor in food. The approximately 70,000 people who live here are predominantly Shia.

The valley is Pakistan's most well kept secret; it seemed to me the safest place in the country. No Taliban, no drones, no mobile snatchers and extortionists.

Where else can a woman walk about town, any time of the day, and reach home without being ogled at, catcalled or touched?

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