Astore valley: A Jewel of Gilgit Baltistan
Astore valley is among the most beautiful regions of the Northern Areas of Pakistan. The valley is breathtaking and rich in biodiversity and contrasts climate, geography, and topography. It is a fantastic place for adventure-seeking tourists. It provides limitless possibilities for trekking and the opportunity to experience a culture that has not previously been open to the general public.
The road between Astore and Deosai Plain is hazardous and not advised for small vehicles. Therefore, only 4 x 4 Jeeps can travel from Astore to Skardu. The Astore Valley is a 120-kilometre-long and 5000-square-kilometre wide valley in Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region. A narrow gorge scarps down the east slope of Nanga Parbat, Pakistan’s highest peak at 8,125 meters and one of the world’s most dangerous mountains to climb. It is the eastern face of Nanga Parbat, a mountain that rises to 8,125 meters.
Astor valley is the second of five valleys that make up the Astore range, extending over 5,092 square kilometres. It runs for 120 kilometres from east to west and is split by Nanga Parbat (8126), the stunning peak. The beautiful valley of Chilam is there at the height of 2,600 meters. Deosai, the world’s second-highest airfield, begins in Chilam. The unique climate patterns and captivating scenery make this valley of essential importance for the medical care of plants at home.
The Astore valley is a treasure trove of Gilgit Baltistan’s past beauty in Pakistan. For centuries, Gambians used the Astore route to connect their city with the Kashmiri market and continue commercial ties. Srinagar was frequented by students and merchants, who came there to buy Kashmiri textiles.
People from various areas inhabited the community of Astore valley. The valley has been a stopover for many explorers. Throughout history, travellers from all across the region have visited this area. It was also instrumental in settlement of Sunni Wahhabis from Astore Valley. In contrast, all other parts of Gilgit Baltistan have only Shia Muslims, thus making up the community.
Around 1600, a Persian adventurer has married the princess of the Skardu royal family, according to The Imperial Gazetteer of India.
The birth of 4 sons from this marriage became Rās Skardu, Astor, Rondu, and Kharmang.
The families of the current chieftains of those regions are descended from them. Afzal, Guada, Chilma were sons of Astor. They lived in Juttay, Ganda gam (Arzalabad), Gudai (Guadabad), Chilm (Chilmabad) respectively”.
The Beauty of Astore Valley:
Astore valley, which comprises a series of distinct landscapes and features a massive range of trekking routes and changing environments, runs for approximately 150 kilometres along the eastern side of Nanga Parbat and southeast of Gilgit. The valley is a notable centre for cultural and historical activities and the terminus for many essential tourist destinations in the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
The Astore Road is a metalled road that leads to the mountain town of Astore in Gilgit Baltistan’s capital, Astore. The Burzil Pass is the endpoint of the route.
Routes of Astore Valley:
To reach the Astore Valley via the Deosai Plain takes a 7-8 hour drive that covers a distance of about 152 kilometres from Skardu, or you may travel from Karakoram Highway straight to Astore valley. The beautiful valley is surrounded by high, snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush range. It is 1,500 m above sea level and has an average of -8 degrees Celsius (18 Fahrenheit). The distance from Islamabad is 494 kilometres, taking 11.5 hours along River Indus.
Astore is accessible by road from Gilgit via Jaglot, a 4-5 hour drive that will take you 120 kilometres. Unfortunately, only four-wheel-drive vehicles can access the valley.
The Skardu-Deosai route is shut from November to June because of heavy snow and landslides. Because most of the valley’s population resides in remote villages, landlines are the only means of communication with the outside world during these months.
Places to Visit in Astore Valley:
Astore is located at the western extremity of Diamer, surrounded by Gilgit in the north, Skardu in the east, and Neelum district in the south. Astore is a significant centre for recreational activities and one of the most beautiful and mysterious valleys in Skardu. The Astore valley, which has sweeping mountain views, is picturesque and enigmatic. Moreover, it serves as the main entrance to several natural attractions, especially the Skardu region.
The Deosai Plateau, Rama Lake, and Rupal Valley are just a few of the spectacular locations contained in this gigantic valley. In addition, Astore Town is recognized for its various natural charms and proximity to some of the planet’s unique mountain activities.
The Shingar Range is located in the extreme northwest of the Chitral District, with Rama Meadows and Rama Lake lying roughly 10 to 11 kilometres from Astore. Jeeps journey to Rama Meadows and Ramalake takes more than an hour.
People of Astore:
The valley’s cultural and historical heritage is fascinating, but the valley has a lot more to offer. There are about 100 villages in the Astore Valley with approximately 70,000 individuals.
These people are highly isolated, owing to the valley’s remoteness. The residents of Astore valley, on the other hand, are very welcoming.
Visiting Astore, the best site in Gilgit Baltistan, to meet locals deeper is a fantastic idea. While travelling through the valley, you’ll discover that its inhabitants are simple individuals who can live off their resources.
Hotels in Astore Valley:
Although there are not many hotels in the valley, there are few arrangements in Astore Valley. Unfortunately, only a few hotels exist at the current time. However, if you choose to stay, mingling with locals may invite you to stay at their homes. At least you will undoubtedly be given “Tumoro,” the most popular herbal tea in Astore.
The three red spots represent Rupal, Rama Lake, and Deosai Plains, some of the valley’s most popular locations. The blue dots show the trading route that leads to Kashmir.
During the days of Raja Asoh Chand, several tribes passed through Astore. Today, the valley is home to a significant linguistic and cultural diversity, with Shina being the most common language and many Kashmiris moving there to settle.
How to get the Astore Valley:
The valley is only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles and can enter only via a single road. Renting a Jeep will be your best choice if you have the means. The cost will depend on your negotiation skills, but you won’t pay less than 10,000 or 12,000 PKR per day.
Public transportation is an option if time isn’t a constraint for you. From Gilgit, several ancient 4×4 vehicles depart for the city of Astore, which is the valley’s entrance point. It takes around 4-5 hours to complete the trek, and keep in mind that you’ll be riding with 20 other people in the vehicle’s luggage compartment, as well as all of their belongings.
There are no schedules in place. Try to arrive one day before the bus station and inquire about the anticipated arrival times. However, be aware that they might depart up to three hours late, based on my experience. From the city of Astore, other 4×4 pickups may be seen heading to Kashmir. But, again, timings are uncertain, and I believe hitchhiking is considerably more manageable.
How Many Days are Needed to Explore the Astore Valley:
The distances between major cities are short, but cars cannot reach speeds greater than 10km/h due to poor road conditions. Therefore, to fully appreciate the valley, you should stay for at least four days in your Jeep. If you travel by public transportation, plan on spending an additional 2 or 3 days.
Astore to Deosai Distance:
The distance between the two valleys is approximately 70 kilometres. Deosai may be reached from either Astore or Skardu via road journey.
Astore to Deosai Map:
There are two options for seeing Astore Valley. From Skardu, you may visit the valley via the Deosai Plain or drive directly to Astore Valley from Karakoram Highway.
Astore to Deosai Road Condition:
The road between Astore and Deosai is in poor condition. Personal Cars Hiace Coasters are not suitable on this route because of the poor road conditions. This route is excessively rough. The majority of the surface patches are insufficient, and there are numerous much deeper scars. It will be necessary to hire a Jeep from Astore to Deosai.
Astore to Deosai Jeep Fare:
The cost of a transfer from Astore to Deosai is approximately Rs.10,000, depending on your negotiation skills. For two nights on the Deosai Plain charges are Rs.15,000.
Astore to Deosai Distance Time:
To drive from Astore to Deosai Plain takes 4 to 5 hours on four-by-four Jeeps. It takes longer to reach Deosai Plain from Astore Valley in your vehicle.
Astore to Skardu via Deosai:
You’ll need eight hours in four-wheel-drive vehicles to get from Skardu to Astore via the Deosai Plain.
Skardu to Astore Distance:
The distance between Astore and Skardu via the Deosai Plain is around 152 kilometres. You may also travel to Skardu via the Skardu Gilgit Road.
Astore to Rama Lake Meadows Distance:
Approximately 10 kilometres to 11 kilometres separate Astore to Rama Meadows. Rama Village is a little higher than Astore Valley. From Astore Valley, it takes about one hour and 40 minutes for Jeeps to reach Ramah Meadows and Lakes.
Astore to Rama Lake Road Condition:
The road isn’t suitable for oversized vehicles. Only four by 4 Jeeps can go there. One day is enough to see Rama Meadows and Rama Lakes. Many people like to camp here to view the billion star Galaxy.
Astore to Minimerg Distance and Road Condition:
Only 4×4 Jeeps can traverse this rough road. The distance between Astore and Minimerg Lake is 39 kilometres, taking around 3 to 4 hours one way.
Main Attractions: Astore, Rama, Rama lake, Mazino pass, Bubin pass, Rupal valley, Tarashing, Chilim, Bruzil pass, Minimarg
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