The Skardu region was part of the cultural sphere of Buddhist Tibet since the founding of the Tibetan Empire under Songsten Gampo in the mid 7th-century CE.Tibetan tantric scriptures were found all over Baltistan until about the 9th century. Given the region’s close proximity to Central Asia, Skardu remained in contact with tribes near Kashgar, in what is now China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang.

Following the dissolution of Tibetan suzerainty over Baltistan around the 9th-10th century CE, Baltistan came under control of the local Maqpon Dynasty, a dynasty of Turkic extraction, which according to local tradition, is said to have been founded after a migrant from Kashmir named Ibrahim Shah married a local princess.

In the extreme north of Pakistan, Skardu the central valley of Gilgit-Baltistan, is an epitome of beauty, serenity and wilderness.

Paths to some of the world’s highest mountains that includes K2, K3, and Gasherbrum; all are connected through this valley.

These towering mountains attract thousands of climbers from all over the world each year; some have even lost their lives in efforts to summit these steep climbs.

After Jaglot on the Karakoram Highway, a narrow road turns towards Skardu. During the seven-hour journey, one is greeted with several streams, springs, and the hospitality of the local people.

Soon after crossing the old wooden bridge built over the River Indus, one reaches Shangrila. This is where Arif Aslam, Chairman of Shangrila Resorts, has constructed a beautiful world amidst the surreal mountains.

Then there’s Kharpocho Fort looking down the hills, this construction is 600 years old. It was built by Balti ruler Ali Sher Khan Anchan.

Once considered unconquerable, this fort is now battling for survival against time. But even through the shambles, Kharpocho still retains its beauty. The breathless sight of the valley from the fort on a full moon night is a view that is hard to miss.

The sand dunes in Katpana village, also known as cold desert, are a wonder in itself. Strong winds shift the dunes as quickly as nomads. At this high altitude and cold region, this desert holds strange a attraction.

Moving forward from the 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 has been constructed now.

There is only one hotel standing on the bank of Sadpara Lake. Half of it has been submerged in water, and all that remains now are three rooms.

On a full moon night, Sadpara Lake seems extremely mesmerising.

In the mountains, sun sets earlier than in the plains, and the afterglow remains for several minutes. The interval between the sunset and before nightfall is an experience which cannot be described in words to someone who hasn’t been a witness to this.