Shigar - Homeland of K2 the Second Highest Peak (Gilgit Baltistan)
Shigar is a district on the banks of the Shigar River near Skardu in Gilgit Baltistan at a distance of 239 km from Gilgit city via Skardu. There number of beautiful valleys and adventurous treks, which attract a number of visitors from all over the world. It is the gateway to the mighty mountain range of the Karakoram, in which K2, the second highest peak in the world, is the most important.
Shigar is attached with Nagar, Hunza, Skardu, Ghanche, Rondu, and Gilgit. It has a boundary with the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region under the control of China. Before 2015, Shigar was part of the Skardu district.
Most of the area of the Shigar district is desert and barren. But it has several scattered lush green valleys and orchards for best quality fruits such as apples, cherries, apricots, and walnuts.
Shigar is the headquarter of the Shigar district and is situated along the bank of the Shigar River. It is a most favorite tourist site for trekkers and mountaineers. It is a homeland of five Eight-thousanders mountains in the Karakoram Range. K2, the second highest peak in the world, is also located in the above list.
Instead of inaccessible places and remote areas, there are most favorite places in Shigar to visit such as Shigar Fort, Khilingrong Mosque, K2 Basecamp, etc. Askole is the last settlement in this valley on the high mountains.
Shigar Fort is one of the oldest forts in Baltistan. It was built during the Amacha Dynasty in the 17th century. Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan has restored the fort and converted it into a museum and a luxury hotel managed by Serena Hotels. It is located on the bank of the Bauma-Harel Lungma River in Shigar town.
On the premises of the Shigar Fort, there is another historical mosque called Khilingrong Mosque. It was beautifully constructed using wooden plunks in the 17th century. The mosque is also restored by the Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan.
Amburiq Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Gilgit-Baltistan and was built by Sayed Ali Hamdani in the Shigar Valley. A small road leads toward the mosque from the Shigar road after crossing the Sarfaranga Cold Desert.
Sarfaranga Cold Desert, also known as Katpan Cold Desert, is located on the left bank of the Indus River at an altitude of 2,226 meters and spreads toward the Shigar River. It is a homeland of different unique and diverse flora and fauna. It is the highest cold desert in the world. It gives a splendid view of the sand dunes under the shades of snow-capped mountains on the horizon. It gives a number of scenic views at different times of the day. The Katpana Desert Jeep rally festival is organized every year in the Sarfranga Desert, in which visitors participate from all over Pakistan.
Blind Lake, also known as Zharba Lake, is situated on the left bank of the Shigar River in the Sarfranga Desert. One can be accessed it by trekking inside the Safranga Desert or by using a 4-wheel jeep. It gives scenic and fantastic views due to the Safranga Desert and high mountains on the opposite side. It is normally served as a water reservoir for the residents of Shighar Valley.
K2 Basecamp is the most adventurous trek via Shigar Valley. It is not easy to trek, so only expert trekkers are recommended for this trek. One can view the world's highest peaks and glaciers in the Karakoram Range along the trek. Baltoro Glacier is the fifth largest non-polar glacier in the world and is also on the trek toward the K2 Basecamp. Gasherbrum, Broad Peak, and K2 are the most prominent peaks on the trek. One can also observe the most stunning peaks of Cathedral, Trango, and Lobsang. Rather difficult, but the K2 basecamp trek will be the most memorable in your life.
Askole is a small village at an elevation of 3,040 meters above sea level. It is the last settlement in the Shigar valley after the wilderness of the high Karakoram Range started. Askole is the first base camp to start the final trekking to access the K2 Basecamp as well as other fourteen high peaks in the Karakoram Range.
The weather of Shighar is cold in the winter season, whereas in the summer season, the temperature may rise to 30 Celcius. Due to heavy rainfall in the winter season, it becomes difficult to access.