Skardu, the core valley of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan’s far north, is an epitome of beauty, solitude, and nature. This valley connects the paths to several of the world’s highest mountains, including K2, K3, and Gasherbrum.
Thousands of climbers from all over the world visit these enormous mountains each year, and some have even ended up dead attempting to conquer these treacherous peaks.
A tiny route leads to Skardu after Jaglot on the Karakoram Highway. Several streams, springs, and the hospitality of the locals greet one during the seven-hour ride. It’s a beautiful sight to see the sun rising behind the mountains. This was the first time I’d witnessed such a peaceful sunrise over the Indus River.
The Indus River’s colour fluctuates with the seasons, with turquoise waters on the banks in the winter and varied colours of grey in the summer.
According to Tibetan mythology, the Indus flows from the mouth of a lion, hence the name ‘Sher Darya’ (Lion River).
Then there’s the 600-year-old Kharpocho Fort, which looks down over the hills. Ali Sher Khan Anchan, the Balti ruler, constructed it.
This fort, once thought to be unconquerable, is now fighting for survival against the passage of time. Kharpocho, however, preserves its beauty despite the chaos. On a full moon night, the breath-taking view of the valley from the fort is hard to beat.
Katpana village’s sand dunes, often known as chilly desert, are a sight to behold. Strong gusts move the sand dunes as if they were nomads. This desert has an odd allure at such a high altitude and in such a chilly climate.
Moving on from Skardu Bazaar, a road leads up to the world’s highest plains, Deosai, and on the same road, Sadpara Lake can be seen, where a dam is currently being built.
On Sadpara Lake’s shore, there is only one hotel. Half of it has been submerged in water, leaving only three rooms standing. Sadpara Lake appears extremely captivating on a full moon night.
The sun sets earlier in the mountains than it does on the plains, and the afterglow lasts several minutes. The time between sunset and nightfall is an experience that words cannot describe to someone who has not witnessed it.
I was walking down a narrow street when a nearby home’s window opened and a boy with green eyes and a warm smile waved at me. All of my exhaustion seemed to vanish.
I then made my way back to the main road, crunching over fallen leaves on both sides of the road.
It was the month of Muharram, and it was autumn. Elegies were being played somewhere far away. Autumn, silence, and elegies formed an odd combination, enveloping the valley in an odd sadness.
I wished I could hear the whistle of a locomotive. Separation is represented by fallen leaves, elegies, and the whistle of a locomotive.
I continued walking down the main road when the sound of a whistle interrupted my train of thought. It was a checkpoint run by the Gilgit Baltistan Scouts.
‘It’s Muharram, so we have to be more vigilant, are you carrying anything else?’ said the guard on duty after checking my identity card.
Instead of responding with ‘memories and falling leaves,’ I simply smiled.
Places To Visit In Skardu
• Skardu Fort
While visiting the Skardu Valley, uncover a mystery. The Skardu Fort, which dates back to the 8th century, is one of the oldest forts in the region. A stunning structure that also bears a Tibetan architectural resemblance. The fort also has a historic mosque that dates from the 16th century, when Islam was first introduced to the area. Skardu Fort is a seven-story structure with a lot of history and art to appeal to tourists.
• Khaplu Valley
The Khaplu Valley, which has wonderful scenic spots, is the second on the list. A winding road shaded by numerous trees provided a scenic vista worth seeing. The panoramic views are impossible to capture with any lens. Above all, the jeep ride offers a new dimension to your adventure.
Furthermore, the valley is an ancient state located at the base of the Karakorum mountain range, which serves as the Yabgo Dynasty’s administrative centre. It also takes up residence in a fort that today functions as a museum and attracts tourists.
• Kachura Lake
Skardu is home to a number of magnificent lakes that enchant visitors. The upper Kachura Lake is the most amazing in Skardu in this regard. The lake is surrounded by lush deep forest, with the Himalayan Mountains in the distance.
This lake is so beautiful that no one wants to miss a single moment of it. Tourists can spend hours there relaxing and fishing for trout, as well as boating and rafting on the emerald green river.
• Shangri-La Lake
The Shangri la Lake, also known as the upper Kachura Lake, is surrounded by red hut homes. It’s almost at the altitude of 2499 metres. The lake is a few kilometres from the lower Kachura Lake and attracts visitors due to its breathtaking beauty. The visitor will be mesmerised by the lush deep woodland by the lake with red hut houses and the snow-capped mountains. Furthermore, a rare diversity of flora and fauna can be found here.
• Satpara Lake
Satpara Lake, at an elevation of 8650 feet above sea level, is another amazing spot to visit in Skardu. The lake’s main source of water is the melting ice of the Deosai plains, which spans 2.5 kilometres. In the middle of the lake is a lovely fairy-tale island. Hundreds of tourists flock to the lake to enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming in freshwater because the turquoise blue water is so captivating. A wonderful site to appreciate and witness nature’s splendour.
• Shigar Fort
The Shigar Fort, located in Skardu Valley, is a remarkable piece of architecture nestled between the vast plains of Shigar. The Shigar desert’s cool sand is a marvel in and of itself. Shigar Fort is also the most visited attraction in Skardu because it is a historical site.
Shigar Fort was built roughly 400 years ago, and it is entirely formed of stones with solid foundations. The fort was previously known as the Palace of Rock, and it now serves as a guest house with 20 rooms and a magnificent hall that houses Baltit cultural treasures.
The Skardu Tour is never complete without a visit to Deosai’s vast plains. The land of Giants; Deosai National Park is home to Brown Bears. Tourists find perfect peace in this section of Skardu because the plains are deafeningly quiet, allowing them to hear their own heartbeat. There are also uncommon flora and animal species to be found there. Additionally, the sunrise and sunset views are a must-see once in a lifetime.
• Sheosar Lake
In between the huge plains of Deosai, you’ll come upon the fascinating lake of Sheosar Lake. With a height of 13,589 feet above sea level, the world’s tallest lake is unique. The deep blue lake is surrounded by the verdant plains of Deosai, with the deadly mountains of Nanga Parbat in the background, creating a mesmerising sight. Each season at the lake has its own allure; the frozen lake in the winter and the kaleidoscope of colours in the summer enchant visitors.
• Katpana Lake
Katpana Lake, one of Skardu’s lesser-known attractions, is gaining prominence as a result of its stunning beauty. The lake is located in Katpana village, which is a wonderland. Furthermore, it is about 4 kilometres from Skardu, the main city. The vista is further enhanced by the presence of a big grove of trees at the lake’s edge. If you are considering a trip to Skardu, you must see Katpana Lake, which is one of Pakistan’s most beautiful lakes.
• Basho Valley
The Bashu Valley in Skardu is about a two-hour journey from Skardu, and it’s easy to get there by jeep. Even in the scorching summers, the valley has a calm ambiance.
The site is also considered to be the greatest for camping and trekking because of the large green plains and stream. As the air cools and the sightseer can see thousands of stars right above their heads at night, the valley doubles in its awe. In Skardu, this is a must-see.
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Best Time To Visit Skardu
Skardu is best visited in the summer, from June to September. It’s the best time to visit for lush green scenery, pleasant temperatures, and relief from the sweltering heat in other parts of Pakistan.
Hotels In Skardu
These are the best hotels in Skardu to stay in with your spouse, family, friends, or alone.
• Shangri-La Resort
The most popular Shangri-La Resort in Skardu, with a spectacular outlook. Even if you’ve never been to Skardu, you’ve probably seen postcards, brochures, or calendars with photographs of the Shangri-La resort on the lake.
The resort is a popular tourist attraction because to its unusual Tibetan-style architecture and lovely location, which is near to the heart-shaped Kachura Lower Lake (also known as Shangri-La Lake). Skardu is a beautiful place with beautiful lakes and mountains.
Shangrila Resort was the first hotel of its kind in Skardu, being opened in 1983. It takes its name from the book “Lost Horizon,” which depicts a paradise full with gorgeous flowers and fruit trees. “Shangri-La” means “heaven on earth” in Tibetan, and that is exactly what the resort will remind you of.
This red-roof resort hotel in the centre of the valley boasts an amazing interior design in addition to its appealing façade. Shangri-La Resort is one of the greatest locations to stay in Skardu, with beautifully decorated rooms, traditional design, and world-class services.
• Snow Land Palace
The northernmost part of Pakistan is gaining popularity. Because this part of Pakistan is more popular with tourists than Skardu. Skardu has a large number of hotels and family hotels that offer the best services in the area. Snow Land Palace Skardu is one of the best hotels in the area, with service that rivals international standards.
The Snow Land Skardu Building is located in Hammed Garh’s main community. The hotel is surrounded by fruit trees, and there is a small farmhouse behind it. Guests can choose to dine there, which makes him happy. In addition, the rooms are kept clean and are outfitted with cutting-edge technology. The room also has an en-suite shower bathroom and a living area with a table and two chairs, a TV, and a comfortable sofa. Couples, families, and groups are all welcome.
• Skardu One Hotel
One Skardu Hotel is located near Skardu Airport and is part of the Pearl Continental project, making it a popular choice for tourists from all over the world. However, the venue’s elegant appearance is reminiscent of a large mansion, while the charming interior decoration pays homage to local culture and traditions.
Furthermore, Skardu One Hotel has a 24-hour front desk, providing guests with the most advanced facilities that can compete with modern hotels across the country.
Rooms at this hotel feature luxurious wooden furnishings and high-end decorations, as well as beautiful valley views. Guests can also dine in the beautiful garden while taking in the peace and tranquillity of the surroundings.
• Tibet Motel Skardu
Tibet Skardu Motel is located on the other side of Shangri-La Lake, directly in front of the most beautiful and famous Shangri-La Resort. Locals refer to the lake as Lower Kachura Lake. The hotel is also one of the most convenient for budget-conscious visitors to Skardu and Shangri-La. It also offers a stunning view of Shangri-La Lake and the peaks in front of it.
Tibet Motel Skardu is approximately a 30-minute drive from Skardu’s main city and a 20-minute drive from Kachura Skardu Airport. The hotel introduces you to the picturesque scenery of the lake and surrounding mountains. It is, however, a lovely tourist destination. Upper Lake Kachura, on the other hand, is one of the best places for tourists to visit if you want to visit other places. Upper Kachura Lake is about a 20-minute walk or a 5-minute drive from the hotel.
• Mountain Lodge Holiday Home
This is an excellent place to unwind and reconnect with nature. Mountain Lodge Holiday Home is one of Skardu’s best accommodations, located not far from the hustle and bustle of the main city.
This Skardu hotel offers breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains and charming valleys and is especially popular with nature-loving visitors. The tranquil environment, friendly staff, and readily available civic services all contribute to Mountain Lodge Holiday Home’s popularity.
Ways To Get In Skardu
• By Plane
Pakistan International Airlines flies from Islamabad on a daily basis. The flight, however, can only take place on clear days because the pilots fly by sight with no computer navigation. During the flight, you may be able to see Nanga Parbat (the world’s ninth highest mountain) and K2 (the world’s second highest mountain).
The flight itself is thrilling and may be considered the highlight of the trip. The plane turns right and flies over the Indus River gorge after following the same air route that connects Gilgit to Islamabad/Rawalpindi.
• By Car
Skardu is accessible via bus from Islamabad. The journey will take you all the way to the KKH (Karakoram Highway).
Because the KKH is currently under construction and the Skardu route needs to be renovated, taking public transportation could take up to 36 hours (cost approx. 1500 Rupees).
It is also possible to go from Gilgit to Skardu. Despite the fact that the distance is less than 200 kilometres, the travel by public transportation takes close to 8 hours.
Skardu airport is located 11miles from the city in NW direction. Paasengers are treated to a breathtaking view of the mighty Indus River and the snow-capped mountains that surround Skardu Airport. Skardu airport has two runways, one of which is abandoned.
The operational runway has a PCN of 40 and a length of 12000 feet. Up to three B737s can be parked on the apron. Skardu Airport is a Fire Cat 6 airport that is outfitted with the most recent Oshkosh RFF vehicles.
Skardu and Islamabad are connected by two ATR42 flights seven days a week by PIA. Every year, Skardu airport welcomes a large number of Pakistani and foreign tourists who come to enjoy the beauty of Satpara lake, Shangrila resorts, Kachuar lake, Manthoka waterfall, Deosai plains, Shigar fort, and Khaplu fort.
Skardu airport has a large Arrival, Departure, and VIP lounge to meet the needs of passengers. Many development plans are in the works to better serve airlines and passengers.
Lahore To Skardu Flight Ticket Price
The lowest price, according to Trip.com, is roughly US$294.
Flights from Lahore to Skardu are priced differently depending on the day and time of your reservation. On Trip.com, you can locate the cheapest flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays by analysing data from all airlines.