By Sultan Shoaib
GILGIT, Aug 20 (APP): Gushing brooks snaking through hills and changing colors magical lakes in the lap of snow-capped mountains surrounded by colorful trees often sway the visitors erupting pleasant emotions in their hearts and making them feel like passing through a fairyland.
They cannot take their eyes off the captivating views for hours as the beauty keeps them indulging deeper and deeper making it difficult for them to decide which area is the most enchanting and enriched with Nature’s benedictions.
This is not the saga of world-known Swiss pines but our own heritage – The Naltar Valley- situated just a few kilometers away from Gilgit city, the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Located at an altitude of more than 10,000 feet above the sea level, Naltar Valley calls out to nature-loving people and whosoever visits the place wants to visit it again and again for its magical views and glamour.
It is especially famous for its lakes called by locals as Bashkiri, Satrangi and Naltar lakes. Pari Lake is most famous due to its sky-blue water which can be accessed by jeep through a bumpy track.
With Naltar river flowing beside the curvy road passing through snow-capped mountains, the tourists can never stop themselves admiring the natural beauty of the valley.
“Naltar is not just a place, but it’s like a journey of exploring nature’s beauty. I’m lucky to tell people special stories of Naltar and let them be a part of its magic,” said Habib, a tourist guide from Gilgit City.
He informed that a few years back most of the tourists were not much aware of Naltar valley as they usually used to visit Hunza, Passu and Khunjrab pass only.
“But, in recent years more and more people have started exploring the beauty of Naltar.”
For facilitating tourists with smooth access to the valley and as part of its tourism promotion policy, the Gilgit-Baltistan government has constructed a new 45 km expressway from Gilgit city to Naltar making the dream drive more safe and exciting.
“The construction of Naltar expressway has increased tourists influx to this area as people seldom dared to visit this place previously due to dilapidated road,” Habib said.
There are many other locals like Habib whose livelihoods had improved with the construction of the expressway as it created a lot of economic activity for the local people.
People explain its construction as not only ensuring a safe and comfortable journey but also opening up new avenues for visitors to come across the customs and traditions of the local people.
Driving through this road the tourists come across the first lake just after 12 kilometers journey from Upper Naltar. Other lakes are also close by and in series as they feel like created through a specific scheme of Nature.
“When I saw the Pari Lake, it felt like a dream. The blue water looked like the sky was blooming inside the lake. It was so amazing,” said Ayesha Khan, a tourist who came all the way from Lahore to visit Naltar. ”
Walking by the lakes and feeling the cool breeze on face was incredibly refreshing and memorable.”
Having mixed feelings of joy and astonishment on her face, she said it was like nature was giving her a big hug and she couldn’t help but smile.
“Naltar Valley is not just about how it looks; it’s also about how it makes you feel. The lakes, mountains, and snow come together to create a magical picture that keeps changing,” she said depicting the beauty of Naltar.
The Naltar valley isn’t only about lakes and pretty sights. It’s also a famous place for skiing, the sportsmen love to do in winter.
The Pakistan Air Force has made a special place for skiing on the snowy hills of the Karakoram Range. It’s really high up, about 9,600 feet as Naltar is the second place after Malam Jabba, to have a ski chairlift.
Every year, skiing competitions are held in Naltar Valley widely participated by the local people as well as foreigners. The longest chairlift in Gilgit-Baltistan makes everything even more exciting, letting visitors see the amazing views.
The valley has also produced for the country, some great skiers who take part in Winter Olympics and other international skiing events. First winter Olympian Muhammad Abbas from Pakistan Air Force takes care of the skiing area.
“Naltar’s skiing place is like a mix of nature’s beauty and a platform for ski-loving people to enjoy,” Abbas said.
“Every year locals and foreigners come here to play in the snow, enjoy skiing and witness mesmerizing views of the valley.”
As the Nature boats all around with its bounties, it is we the human beings not fully caring for this kindness of Nature as we pollute the area.
Moreover, we also fail to fully facilitate visitors with many complaining of insufficient facilities and inviting immediate attention of authorities to such issues.
But still, it is a place to visit no matter whether it’s sunny or snowy, Naltar valley’s always presents charming and glamorous views to visitors.