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Gilgit / Jutial Cantt

Gilgit is the Headquarters of Forces Command Northern Area [FCNA}. East of the Airport ans away from town is the area called Jutial, where there are numerous military compounds and few small lodges.

Gilgit is the capital city of Northern Areas, Pakistan. It is also a District in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Gilgit city is one of the two major hubs of the Northern Areas for all mountaineering expeditions of Karakoram to Himalaya peaks, the other hub being Skardu. Gilgit lies on the foothills of Karakoram and is significantly mountainous having an average altitude of 1,500 m (5,000 ft). The region has several distinctive natural features like: collision point of the three mountain ranges and other places of great geological and historical importance.

Gilgit was an important city on ancient silk route which was a famous passage from China to other countries of the world. The region has been under the great influence of Buddhism and a large number of Buddhist texts have been found at various places. A good account of the region is found from the accounts of Fa Hsien and Hsuan Tsang, who visited these areas in old ages. There has been found the Dardic influence as well. Gilgit was ruled for centuries by the local Trakhane dynasty, which came to an end in about 1810, followed by the rule of Sikhs and then finally got independence in 1947.

Gilgit is home to a number of diversified cultures, ethnic groups, languages and various backgrounds. It is home to people belonging to all regions of Northern Areas as well as from other cities of Pakistan and aboard. This multitude of cultures is because of the strategic location of Gilgit. Being the headquarters of the Northern Areas; most of the key offices are located in Gilgit. Shina is the basic language spoken by most of the original settlers but the new comers have various backgrounds of languages and cultures. Other key languages spoken in Gilgit are: Brushaski, Wakhi and Khowar. Urdu and English are the official languages spoken while other languages include: Pushto and Punjabi. Because of various cultures the pattern of living, housing, food style and over life style has become a mixture having various colors.

Because of the multicultural and multi lingual aspects; people also have a beautiful mix of lifestyles and attitudes. These range from the typical people tending to preserve the traditions and culture to the modern people somehow influenced by other cultures, media and education. That makes a pluralistic society having a range of people with various backgrounds and living together with peace and tranquility.

Majority of the inhabitants are Muslims belonging to two different communities of interpretations i.e. Sunnies, Shias and Ismailies. A small number of Christians also reside in Gilgit. For religious practices Sunnies go to Masjid, Shias go to Imam Bara and Ismailies attend Jamat Khana.

There are mainly two types of festivals i.e. religious and cultural. Religious festivals include: Eid-e-Ghadir, Edi-ul Fitr and Eid Miladunnabi (the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad-Peace be upon Him). There are some other important events specific to different communities of interpretation which are celebrated with complete peace and fraternity. Cultural events include: Navroz, Jashn-e-Baharan and cultural festivals. These are greatest opportunities for people to get together and share their talents and skills.

Gilgit has been a historic place and has remained a hub of all activities from the ancient past. The monument of liberation (Yadgar) from British Raj reminds us of the wonderful sacrifice of the local people who fought with bravery and annexed Gilgit/Baltistan to Pakistan on November 1, 1947. It's geographic location is quite important and being on the cross roads to Skardu, Hunza, Ghizer and China, Gilgit is one of the major hubs for all mountaineering expeditions in the NAs (other being Baltistan). Gilgit receives the maximum number of tourists, especially for silk route. The famous junction or meeting place of three major mountain ranges i.e. Karakoram, Hindukush and Himalayas is just few kilometers away from Gilgit town. Gilgit River and its suspension/hanging bridges offer superb view, especially in fall season. The colorful bazaar oozes with a variety of merchandises and attracts the attention of foreign as well as domestic tourists. The shops of handicrafts, souvenirs, gemstones, carpets and Chinese items make it a very special and must-visit place.

The attractions in the town includes: a trip to bazaar, riverside, polo ground, European cemetery with the grave of George Hayward, and a visit to Kargah and Naupura Monastery. A little far, day excursions include trips to Bagrot valley (on the route to the base camp of Diran Peak), Khalti lake, Phander Lake, Naltar valley and Karimabad Village. Further longer activities may include a trip to Hunza valley or Khunjerab pass. Near to Gilgit town is Kargah, known for its beautiful figure of Lord Buddha dating back to 7th-8th Century AD which is a fine piece of craft standing on the high rock away from the reach of human beings- it is just amazing. A few hundred meters upstream of the Buddha, there are the remains of an excavated monastery and stupas with several texts in Sanskrit. Another attraction is to visit hydel power station and fish hatchery. There is one of the tallest waterfalls of NAs near the suspension bridge of Kargah. The place offers superb views and can serve as a picnic spot, in the vicinity of Gilgit town. Danyor, located on KKH is also connected with Gilgit town by a suspension bridge followed by a drive through a narrow tunnel, a really thrilling adventure. At Danyor, a rock listing the carved names of Tibetan kings, who ruled the area in the 7th and 8th centuries is interesting while another place of importance is the memorial graveyard of Chinese workers, who lost their lives while building the KKH.

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Page last modified: 05-08-2011 20:02:52 ZULU