Sitting within 200Km from both Leh & Srinagar India, the Skardu Airbase provides Pakistan strategic capability extension in the region & defence over China's CPEC projects. By 2019 a major base overhaul was ongoing at Skardu Airbase. Pakistan is moving its fighter aircraft at forward air base Skardu near Ladakh, said reports by the intelligence agencies. Intelligence agencies have spotted atleast three Pakistan Air Force transport aircraft C-130 bringing equipment to Skardu air base. Pakistan is expected to deploy JF-17 fighter aircraft at Skardu air base. In the past, Pakistan has used the air base to support its Army operations on the border with India.
Skardu Airport, a separate facility, is a domestic civil airport in Skardu in Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), which also serves as PAF’s forward operating base.
The northern scouts were bifurcated on 1st January 1964, and Karakoram scouts were raised with its Head Quarters at Skardu. The saga that is Northern Pakistan continues to unfold itself on either side of the marvel that is Karakoram Highway. Bordering the Chinese province of Sinkiang (Xinjiang) and the Indian-held Kashmir is Baltistan, also known as the Little Tibet. This description of Baltistan is primarily on account of the style of living that bears striking similarity to the land of the Lamas. Baltistan boasts of a number of mountain peaks and huge glaciers. The region is also famous for its apples, peaches, apricots, pears and a variety of other fruits that grow in wild abundance in its five valleys; the best known being Skardu which is the administrative headquarter of the region.
Skardu, capital of Baltistan is perched 2,438 metres above sea level in the backdrop of the great peaks of the Karakorams. The Northern Area is the most spectacular and fascinating region of Pakistan. It is here that the world's three famous mountain ranges meet - the Himalayas, the Karakorams and the Hindukush. Skardu is 793 km from Islamabad via Karakoram Highway and Skardu Road. The daily NATCO bus & coach service takes 24 hours for this wonderful and adventurous journey. An all-weather, 241 km long Skardu road, connects Skardu with Gilgit. The journey takes around six hours. PIA operates a daily Boeing flight between Islamabad and Skardu (subject to good weather). The air journey is full of thrills and would itself be regarded as the highlight of the visit. Return airfare is equivalent to US $ 88/- for foreigners.
Despite the fact that visiting Skardu and Gilgit is more expensive, as of 2008 people still opt for them because these are among the safest tourist destinations in Pakistan.
Balti people are a mixture of Tibetan and Caucasian stock and speak Balti, an ancient form of Tibetan. Due to the similarity of its culture, lifestyle and architecture with Tibet, Baltistan is also known as the "Tibet-e-Khurd" (Little Tibet). It borders on the Chinese province of Xinjiang and Indian-occupied Kashmir. The tourist season is from April to October. The maximum temperature is 27 C and minimum (October) 8 C. Apart from its incomparable cluster of mountain peaks and glaciers Baltistan's five valleys - Shigar, Skardu, Khaplu, Rondu and Kharmang are noted for their luscious peaches, apricots, apples and pears.
Skardu is linked to the national capital, Islamabad by PIA, which operates one flight daily. The air journey is full of thrills and would itself be regarded as the highlight of the visit. After following the same air route, which connects Gilgit to Islamabad/Rawalpindi, the plane turns right and flies over the gorge of the Indus River. Enormous rock faces rise on either side or at times it seems as if the wing tips of the plane would almost scrape against them. They never do. Baltistan is known as the "Tibet-e-Khurd", or Little Tibet since its life-style reflects that of the Roof of the World and the Land of Lamas.
It borders on the Chinese province of Xinjiang and Indian-occupied Kashmir. The tourist season is from April to October. The maximum temperature is 27 C and minimum (October) 8 C. Apart from its incomparable cluster of mountain peaks and glaciers Baltistan's five valleys, - Shigar, Skardu, Khaplu, Rondu and Kharmang are noted for their luscious peaches, apricots, apples and pears. The climate of the Northern Areas is alpine in nature. The winter tends to be cold where as the late summers are very pleasant. The four seasons are distinct in the splendor of their colors.
Kharpocho Fort: Skardu has an ancient Fort known as Kharpocho Fort (King of Forts) situated on a hill overlooking the town. It was constructed by Ali Sher Khan Anchan, who ruled over Baltistan till the end of the 16th century.
Buddha Rock Carvings: Dating back to 8th century AD, a huge Buddha figure surrounded by small Buddhisatvas is carved on a rock, three kilometres from Skardu across Sadpara Nullah on Skardu-Sadpara Road. Pre-historic men and animal figures are carved on rocks along Kachura Lake. Some rock carvings and diagram of a monastery near Perkuta (Mehdi Abad) Nalah are also found.
Shigar Valley: The gateway to the great mountain peaks of the Karakorams, Gasherbrum & K-2, is only 23 km away from Skardu via jeep road. Shigar valley’s gentle, irrigated slopes are filled with terraces of wheat, maize and barley. Its orchards of apricots, mulberries, peaches, plums, pears, apples and nuts are unique to Baltistan. The wooden mosque in the middle of the town was built by Kashmiri carpenters several hundred years ago. There is the ex-Raja’s old Fort and Palace in the village.
Khaplu Valley: This beautiful valley of the Shyok River is 103 km east of Skardu. Khaplu is the starting point for most trekking and climbing expeditions. Many famous mountains such as Masherbrum, Saltoro, Sia Kangri, K-6, K-7 are located here. Chaqchan Mosque is one of the earliest mosques in Baltistan (1504 AD), attributed to Syed Ali Hamdani. There is a Palace of Raja of Khaplu and remains of Thorsikhar Fort.
Sadpara Lake - About 8 km (5miles) north of Skardu and 20 minutes by jeep lays Sadpara Lake, surrounded by glacial mountains, which are mirrored in its crystal clear waters. The lake has a fairytale island in the middle, which can be reached by country boats that one can row. This lake also abounds in fish and is considered ideal for fishing.
Kachura Lake - About 32 km (20 miles) from Skardu and 2 hours by jeep lies the shimmering peaceful deep Kachura Lake, teeming with brown trout. During spring many exotic and colourful flowers adorn its banks, while peach, apricot and apple trees are laden with blossoms in April. Later in the summer one can taste the apples, which are a particularly delicious variety.
Shangrila Resort Skardu, also known as "Heaven on Earth", is nestled amongst some of the world's highest peaks. It encircles the heart shaped "Kachura Lake" and is surrou-nded by fruit laden orchards and flower filled gardens. A vacation spent at Shangrila Resort is a once in a lifetime experience that one would want to relive again and again. Located at a height of 2500 meters, this area is more commonly known as "The Roof of the World". Due to its natural beauty, the first impression of Shangrila is of a Fairyland.