The Shigar Valley, 32 kms (20 miles) from Skardu and 40 minutes by jeep, is watered by the Shigar River, falls in Pakistan’s Northern Areas. The secluded Shigar Valley is wedged between the Karakoram, Hunza and Rondu ranges. Amidst the strikingly beautiful and majestic mountains, slowly merging into an oasis of green fields, Shigar is situated on the banks of the Indus, at a height of 2798 meters.
The valley has an extremely picturesque landscape, and abounds in fruit such as grapes, peaches, pears, walnuts and apricots. Shigar bears the distinct stamp of its history as the administrative, commercial and cultural valley of Baltistan. The wild and lush green hauntingly beautiful landscapes of this hidden land are often likened to Tibet – Ladhakh used to be known as ‘Little Tibet’ – and are every bit as dramatic and enticing. Shigar posses several of the outlying historical and cultural gems of Baltistan, including the 500 year old Khanqah Moalla, Fong Khar, Raja palace and mosques. A memorable sight of the Shigar bazaar is the group of men , traditionally attired , selling fruits, vegetables and household articles, spinning and knitting, and exchanging gentle banter between themselves and with passers-by.
The mosque ( Khanqah Moalla ), Raja Palace, the bazaar and the hill top monasteries, are all within walking distances of each other. Niali, Churkah and Mamotonma, Jarba zhou lake are quite close while Chutron, Seisko, Gulabpur, and Hashupi are all a day’s touring distance. Niali, Sharba monasteries and the royal palace at Sharba all of which provide an insight into the rich heritage of the region.
Niali Mirpi top (highest point to see K2 and other peaks) and Thale La offer exciting treks starting from Shigar center, while countless treks and climbs (inlcuding K2, Gashabrum I, II, III, IV, Trango Tower, Broad Peak, Hispar La, snow lake, Spangtik and countless peaks and trek routes) are the best world over for trekking and climbing. This valley is home to endless numbers of glaciers and small, nameless streams. Both of the upper river valleys, the Basha and the Braldu, that confluence to form the Shigar River are an absolute delight for someone with an adventurous spirit, love of big mountains and the unique cultures that form in their nooks and crannies. Boating and river running too are possible on the Shigar River.
Shigar offers the magnificent sight of the lovely lake, Jarba zhou in close proximity near to Lamsa. Soothed by the sound of water lapping against the hull, you can relax around the lake or better still, savour the peaceful ambience.
The beauty of Shigar is that it introduces you best to Balti’s ways while you head out for short walks or drive around. Shigar stands accessible, surrounded by the majesty of the Karakoram enclave. The experience can best be described as a peek into the delights that make up this ancient trade route towards Lhasa Tibet.
Shigar is indeed a trekker’s paradise in North Pakistan. In case adventure excites you then you must take up any of the many treks offered from Shigar.
Polo is another popular adventure you may indulge in at the Polo ground while you travel of Shigar in Baltistan, Pakistan. Polo matches and competitions are regularly held in Shigar. Then there is the ravishing adventure sport of river rafting you may try in the Shigar River. The period from the month of July to September is ideal for river rafting in Shigar.
Shigar also offers mountain biking to the daring on the second highest motor able road in the world. The adventure in mountain biking from Shigar lies in the most hostile terrains. The entire stretch of 342 km between Shigar and Islamabad is an adventure for mountain bikers who have the opportunity to travel across the majestic Karakoram and Himalayan ranges through Deosai National park of Pakistan. To the daring adventurers Shigar-road rewards spectacular and picturesque landscapes.
For regular shopping Shigar have several shops. For gift items and souvenirs you may check out the Zehra Mohra Place in the old town, Fong Khar and some shops behind the Main Bazaar road.
The entrance to the Shigar Valley is reached via Skardu, which is accessible by 22 hour drive along the Karakoram Highway from the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad; Or a 6 hours drive from Gilgit or alternatively by an easy 45 minutes plane flight from Islamabad to Skardu.