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Baltistan - Mountain Trails Pakistan
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Baltistan

Baltistan Region Tours

Baltistan is a mountainous region on the border of Pakistan and India in the Karakoram mountains just south of K2 (the world’s second-highest mountain). Baltistan borders Gilgit to the west, Xinjiang (China) in the north, Ladakh on the southeast and the Kashmir Valley on the southwest. Its average altitude is over 3,350 metres (10,990 ft).

Prior to 1947, Baltistan was part of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, having been conquered by Raja Gulab Singh’s armies in 1840.[6] Baltistan and Ladakh were administered jointly under one wazarat (district) of the state. Baltistan retained its identity in this set-up as the Skardu tehsil, with Kargil and Leh being the other two tehsils of the district.[7] After the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India, Gilgit Scouts overthrew the Maharaja’s governor in Gilgit and (with Azad Kashmir’s irregular forces) captured Baltistan. The Gilgit Agency and Baltistan have been governed by Pakistan ever since.[8] The Kashmir Valley and the Kargil and Leh tehsils were retained by India. A small portion of Baltistan, including the village of Turtuk in the Nubra Valley, was incorporated into Ladakh after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

The region is inhabited primarily by Balti people of Tibetan descent. Millennia-old Tibetan culture, customs, norms, language and scripts still exist, although the vast majority of the population follows Islam. Baltistan is strategically significant to Pakistan and India; the Kargil and Siachen Wars were fought there. The region is the setting for Greg Mortenson’s book, Three Cups of Tea.

Valleys and districts

Valley District Area (km2) Population (1998) Capital
Khaplu
Ghanche 9,400 88,366 Khaplu
Skardu
Skardu 18,000 219,209 Skardu
Shigar
Shigar 6,450 60,295 Center Shigar
Kharmang
Kharmang 5,520 62,522 Tolti
Roundu
Skardu 80,000 Thowar
Gultari
Skardu
Shyok°
Leh, India 4,000 (2011) Turtuk