Chilas is a small town located in the Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan on the river Indus. It is part of the Silk Road connected by the Karakoram Highway and N-90 National Highway, which link it to Islamabad and Peshawar in the southwest, via Hazara and Malakand Divisions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In the north, Chilas is connected to the Chinese cities of Tashkurgan and Kashgar in Xinjiang, via Gilgit, Aliabad, Sust, and the Khunjerab Pass.
Even after Kashmiri-British rule was imposed a century ago, the Indus Valley west of Chilas was a hornet’s nest of tiny republics; there was one in almost every side valley, each loosely guided by a jirga (council of tribal elders) but effectively leaderless, all at war with one another and feuding internally. Though administratively lumped with Gilgit, Chilas and its neighbors are temperamentally more like Indus Kohistan. The large Chilas Fort was first garrisoned to protect British supply lines over the Babusar Pass, and beefed up after local tribes nearly overran it in 1893. Now a police post, it has put a lid on Chilas, though not on the Darel and Tangir Valleys to the west.
Chilasis are Shina speakers, with some Pashtun settlers speaking Pashto. Urdu and some English are also spoken.
There are more than 50,000 pieces of Buddhist rock art (petroglyphs) and inscriptions all along the Karakoram Highway in Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan that are concentrated at ten major sites between Hunza and Shatial, The carvings were left by various invaders, traders and pilgrims who passed along the trade route, as well as by locals. The earliest date back to between 5000 and 1000 BC, showing single animals, triangular men and hunting scenes in which the animals sometimes are larger than the hunters. These carvings were pecked into the rocks with stone tools and are covered with a thick patina that proves their age. Later — mostly Buddhist — carvings were sometimes executed with a sharp chisel.
The ethnologist Karl Jettmar has tried to piece together the history of the area from various inscriptions and recorded his findings in “Rockcarvings and Inscriptions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan” and the later released “Between Gandhara and the Silk Roads: Rock carvings along the Karakoram Highway”.
The Kharoshthi term “Kaboa” (or Kamboa) appears in a short commemorative Kharosthi inscription found from Chilas as reported by the Archaeological Department of Pakistan. The inscription has been transcribed, translated and interpreted by Ahmad Hasan Dani, a leading archaeologist, historian, and linguist, who was among the foremost authorities on South Asian archaeology and history. According to Dani, Kaboa or Kamboa of the inscription is a Kharoshthised form of Sanskrit Kamboja. Thus, it seems likely that Chilas also formed part of ancient Kamboja kingdom.
Chilas comes under Gilgit-Baltistan.It is the Headquarter of District Diamer. The weather is hot and dry in the summer and dry and cold in the winter. It can be reached through Karakoram highway and also from the Kaghan valley passing over the Babusar Pass. Chilas is situated on the left bank of the mighty river Indus.