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8 Days Trip to Skardu, Deosai Plains, Shigar Fort and Khaplu

Khaplu Valley of the Shyok River is 103 kilometres (64 miles) from Skardu and two hours by jeep. There is a sprawling village perched on the slopes of the steep mountains that hem in the river. Many famous mountains, such as Masherbrum, K-6, K-7, Sherpi Kangh, Sia Kangri, Saltoro Kangri and Siachen etc. are located here. The town is a base for trekking into the Hushe valley which leads to Masherbrum mountains.

Gilgit-Baltistan’s Ghanche district stands almost aloof with its beautiful valleys and settlements inhabited by the most hospitable locals and river irrigated lands. The central location in the district is Khaplu, which is a beautiful landscape with high summits, flowing blue waters and waterfalls.The people of this small settlement on the bank of River Shyok, are warm and loving, as they were centuries before, when travellers, wandering through Yarkand and Saltoro, first arrived here.

As soon as one leaves Skardu, a narrow, paved road with poplar trees lined up on both sides provides a soothing shade for the travellers as they make their way through small specks of sunlight filtering through the leaves; casting shadows on the darkened road, leaving an aesthete spellbound.

Centuries ago, the entire region was under the influence of Buddhism, and its remnants can still be found engraved on old stones. In 1570, Syed Nasir al-Tusi and Syed Ali al-Tusi arrived in Khaplu from Yarkand through Saltoro and preached Islam in this region.From Khaplu Bazaar, a road goes up to the Khaplu Fort. This fort was constructed in 1840 by Raja Daulat Ali Khan of Khaplu, who was from the Yabgu family.

The Yabgu family made it to Khaplu from Central Asia and ruled this place for over 700 years. The fort-cum-palace has now been turned into Serena Hotel. In this settlement beside River Shyok, there is an old mosque, completely wooden in construction. The silence in the mosque is highly enchanting if one spends a few moments there.

Yaks, milk, lassi, trout fish, boiled potatoes, happy Balti people, stick-picking women and children, clouds on the blue sky, Mashabrum peak, River Shyok, mountain spring, old wooden mosque, small shops — the beauty and serenity of this valley cannot be described in words.

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