Ghanche Lake a place offers fascinating view points of 8,000-metre peaks

Published January 4, 2015
Panoramic view of the world’s famous peaks from Ghanche  Lake. — Photo by Hamid Hussain
Panoramic view of the world’s famous peaks from Ghanche Lake. — Photo by Hamid Hussain

Baltistan is a region with beautiful valleys presenting awe-inspiring panoramic views, lofty mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, rivers, plateaus, still lakes and serene environment that attract adventure and nature lovers to the region.

There was a time when thousands of domestic and foreign tourists, trekkers, mountaineers and nature lovers would visit and enjoy the beautiful tourist spots of Baltistan, but due to apathy of the government the flow of mountaineers and tourists has significantly dropped.

Baltistan is a land of peace and nature, its dwellers are talented, peace loving and hospitable.

The valleys of Skardu, Khaplu and other tourist spots like Shigar, Hushey, Siachen, Concordia, Baltoro and Deosai are the proverbial names for the tourists whether they live in Pakistan or abroad. However, there are also some beautiful places in Kharmang, Roundu Tchorbat, Thaley and Mashabrum valleys which need to be properly discovered and promoted as tourist spots.

This summer two local adventure lovers discovered a beautiful and unique lake in Ghanche Nualah, a place located at about seven hours walk from Khaplu town — the headquarters of Ghanche district.

And that mystical loch is the Ghanche Lake locally known as “Khenpi Tso”, which means the right hand side lake. It is because in Ghanche Nualah there are two lakes located at a little distance from each other, but Khenpi Tso has a unique feature.

The Ghanche Lake is located at 4,600 metres above the sea level in Ghanche Nualah and surrounded by lush green pastures with a variety of mountain flowers, glacier, crystal clear stream water and hills, all presenting a breathtaking atmosphere for the tourists.

The prominent characteristic of Ghanche Lake is that one can have an awe-inspiring view of the world’s four 8,000ers and other famous peaks in a series. From right to left one can see the 8,611 meters high K2 which is also the world’s second highest peak, then Broad Peak (8,047m), Gashabrum-4 (7,925m), Gashabrum-3 (7,952m), Hrnami Ka Peak (6,325m), Tchogho Lingsa Peak (6,325m), Gashabrum-2 (8,035m), K6 (7,281m) and K7 (6,934m).

“We have named Khenpi Tso having extraordinary characteristics ‘Ghanche Lake’ in terms of Ghanche district where it is located,” said Hamid Hussain and Ghulam Abbas Chopa, the two friends who discovered this lake and introduced it for tourism.

“We have named a camp ‘Hamid Camp’ and a glacier ‘Chopa Glacier’ and we hope that in future when this lake will become famous as a favorite tourist spot we two friends will have the credit of discovering it,” said Mr Chopa smilingly.

Mr Chopa, a respectable name in Khaplu, is serving on a high position in the Gilgit-Baltistan judiciary and people know him for his talent and impartiality. Hiking in mountainous areas and small hills, sightseeing, trekking and adventure are among his hobbies.

Mr Hussain is attached with tourism business and a known photographer of the country. He has travelled to almost all the tourist spots in the country, famous passes and trekking routes in the Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindukush ranges in the country. He has also visited Japan, China, Iran and Dubai. He got his graduation degree in Japanese language from NUML and speaks fluent Japanese, English, Urdu and Balti.

He learnt photography skills from a famous Japanese photographer, Mr Hiroki Fujita who had spent almost 10 years in the mountains of Karakorum, Himalaya and Karakoram. During that time, Mr Hussain also got a chance to learn and capture unique and beautiful pictures of mountains, peaks, glaciers and panoramas in different settings like sunset, moonlight, daylight, etc besides capturing landscape and the four season’s colours of different areas. The pictures of high altitude mountain flowers of Baltoro, Deosai plateau and other areas are his photographic asset.

Mr Hussain has a unique collection of photographs comprising nature, adventure and culture and he had put some of them on display in Islamabad several times. He is also a designer, architect and good gardener and travel diary writer.

“Whenever we get a free time, I and my friend Mr Chopa take our cameras, and backpacks and set off on a different upper mountainous area of Baltistan to explore those beautiful places where nobody have gone before except the local villagers who of course use to take their cattle for grazing,” said Mr Hussain in a chat with Dawn. Mr Chopa said that the local people, especially the shepherds, did not understand the importance of the beautiful places located in the upper mountainous areas, as they only looked for grassy area.

“The sceneries of and from the Ghanche Lake are fantastic; the unpolluted chilly air and wild flowers blooming around the grassy fields on the bank of lake put to shame the manmade perfumes, while in front of the lake the wonderful view of world’s famous mountain presents a romantic and attractive view,” revealed Mr Hussain.

“Owing to its height, crystal clear water and heavenly beauty the Ghanche Lake has no comparison in the world. It is a unique lake because it reflects the Karakorum’s world famous peaks, including K2,” he maintained, adding that especially in the evening when the pale light of sun touched the snow-capped lofty peaks, it presents golden colour and when their reflection appear in the lake it presents a romantic view.

“For non-local tourists, I suggest they should camp one night on way to Ghanche Lake from Khaplu for acclimatisation and next day they should go to the lake and have another night there so that they can enjoy their trekking and sightseeing,” Mr Hussain proposed.

The discovery of a unique lake and new trekking route on self-help basis by Mr Hussain and Mr Chopa will play a big role in promotion of tourism in future. The government and tourism authorities should encourage such adventurers and introduce Ghanche Lake to tourists so that tourism in the region could be boosted.

Presently, the government has banned trekking expeditions to the famous Ghandoghoro Pass and seldom permits are issued to foreign trekkers. The Ghandoghoro Pass (5,620m high) is one of the favourite trekking routes. Due to restriction on Ghandoghoro Pass tourism in Baltistan has been hit severely, resulting in great monetary loss for the tour operators, porters and tourism business related people.

The Ghanche Lake can be an alternative to Ghandoghoro Pass. One can have a view of K2 and other lofty and famous peaks from the top of Ghandoghoro Pass travelling seven consecutive days from Askoli the last destination of jeep journey which is costlier. The same view can be enjoyed from Ghanche Lake just after a short travel of about seven hours and it is cheap too. The people here and abroad should visit Baltistan and enjoy the bewitching view of the world’s 8,000er peaks from Ghanche Lake.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2015

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