Ghanche (Gilgit Baltistan)
Ghanche is the easternmost part of Gilgit-Baltistan and is situated on the banks of the Shyok River, at a distance of 306 km from Gilgit city via Skardu. It is the coldest place in Pakistan and is also known as the Third Pole with temperatures reaching below -20 centigrade. Its name is derived from a seasonal stream, called Ghanche Nallah.
Ghanche has boundaries with Shigar, Skardu, and Kharmang districts. It is also connected with Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and Leh district in Ladakh in Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Siachin Glacier is now under the control of India, whereas it was part of the Ghanche district in Pakistan. The Actual Ground Position Line is established at the easternmost part across Saltoro Ridge. The area east of the Saltoro Ridge was captured by India in the 1971 War and currently is controlled by India, whereas its west part is under the control of Pakistan. So this area has strategic importance for Pakistan. Gayari Sector Battalion Headquarters of the Pakistan Army is 32 km west of the Siachin Glacier.
Ghanche is a famous tourist place for its high-altitude mountains and splendid scenic beauty. It is a gateway for the great Baltoro Muztagh, the subrange of the great Karakoram Range. It includes the mighty mountain peaks of K2, Broad Peak, Masherbrum, and Gasherbrum.
Khaplu, also headquarter of the Ghanche district, is located at a distance of 103 km from Skardu city. It is a historical town and was part of the Yabgo dynasty, the second largest kingdom in Baltistan. A route from Khaplu leads to Ladakh along the Shyok River. Khaplu is the basecamp for trekking toward K2 Basecamp via Hushe Valley to view the highest peaks in the Karakoram Range including K2, Masherbrum, Chogolisa, Broad Peak, K6, and K7. There are several historical buildings in the town such as a 700 years old mosque named Chaqchan mosque and Khaplu Palace a beautiful and magnificent royal palace in the Kingdom of Khaplu. Khaplu palace is a splendid building in Tibetan style and was built in the year 1712.
The Shyok River is the main river that flows in the Khaplu, so it is also called Shyok Valley. Khaplu valley is also known as Little Tibet due to the importance of Khaplu Kingdom as a center point of Buddhism just like in Tibet at present. As the Shyok River has a wider and broader bed, so rafting is possible in it.
Gondogoro La is a high mountain pass in the Ghanche district that can be used to access K2 Basecamp via Hushe valley. It is the point from where all of the four 14-Thousanders peaks can be seen. Hushe Valley is situated along the Hushe River in the Ghanche district. Hushe village is the last high mountain village in the Ghanche district. The people of Hushe village are famous due to climbing, trekking, and servicing as porters and guides all the way to K2 Basecamp. Hushe valley is a base camp to access Gasherbrums Peak.
There are several glaciers in the Ghanche district in which Saraksa Glacier, Gondogoro Glacier, Baltoro Glacier, and Masherbrum Glacier are famous.
Chaqchan Mosque and Khaplu Fort Palace are the most interesting places for tourists in the Ghanche district. The most adventurous trek is Ghandoghoro Pass at an elevation of 5,650 meters, and the trek toward the base camp of Masherbrum Peak as known as K1, at an elevation of 25,659 feet. Its summit can also be seen from the Baltoro Glacier. It can also be seen from Surmo village in Khaplu.
Khaplu Waterfall is located in Khaplu Town near the Shayok River. Turn right on Shah Hamdan Road, there you will get the beautiful and splendid view of the waterfall.
Haldi Cones are a group of mountains situated in the Karakoram Range in the Haldi village at a distance of 25 km from Khaplu. It gives a stunning superb view of the village. Most of its peaks and towers are still not climbed by anyone.
Daghoni Balgar valley is a lush green village with a number of fruit orchards along the Thalla River in the Ghanche district. From here, Thally Valley road leads toward the high mountain valley Thally Valley.
Goma is the small hill mountain village before the Siachin Glacier on the confluence of the Ghyari River and the Gyong River. The importance of the town is the control of the Siachin Glacier between Pakistan and India. Pakistan Army's Brigade headquarters is located there.
Weahter of the Ghanche district is harsh cold in the winter season and due to heavy snowfall, it is not accessible easily. In the summer season, the weather is cool and pleasant, but at night weather becomes cold due to the flow of air coming from several glaciers around it.