Nestled in the north-western region of Gilgit-Baltistan, the fifth province of Pakistan renowned as “The Doorway of the World” and “The Township of the Mountains,” lies the captivating Naltar Valley’ Beauty. Located approximately 40 km (25 mi) away from Gilgit city, across the nomal valley. This picturesque valley stretches its arms towards the sky, reaching an elevation of about 4,678 m (15,348 ft.). Naltar Valley, with its mesmerizing landscapes and breathtaking lakes, is a favored destination for travelers along the Silk Road. The Karakoram Highway (KKH), and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC). It is often hailed as a true paradise, attracting over fifty thousand visitors every year. Who flock to witness its celestial beauty and revel in the bliss of summer holidays. Additionally, during the winter season, Naltar Valley becomes a hub for the national skating championship, held from the 1st of January until the end of February.
An Ancient Cradle: A Glimpse into the Past of Naltar Valley’ Beauty
Through the annals of ancient history, Naltar Valley is believed to be the very first discovered village and the birthplace of Gilgit. In ancient times, the inhabitants of Gilgit were hunters and shepherds, dwelling in the wilderness and relying solely on meat and butter for sustenance. These people developed and migrated towards cities, acquiring knowledge about the world until they found their true identity. Naltar Valley, known for numerous reasons, holds a special place in history.
Snow-Capped Peaks: Where Summer and Winter Unite
Throughout the seasons, Naltar Valley is adorned with the ethereal beauty of snow-capped mountains. Two prominent peaks grace this valley—the majestic Maharbani Peak or Palo Peak, soaring to a height of approximately 5,639 m, and Shani Peak, nestled in the southern region of Naltar. Shani Peak, standing in the west of Snow Dome and northwest of Maharbani Peak, is connected to the Karakoram Range. Flowing to its east is the Shani Glacier, embracing Naltar Valley. With an elevation of about 5,029 m, Shani Peak is also known as Khaltar Peak.
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The Blossoming Valley of Summer
At the conclusion of March, when the lingering snow dissipates, Naltar Valley bursts into a riot of colors, as summer takes hold. The valley boasts lush greenery and enchanting forests nestled amidst the encircling mountains, with a river flowing from north to south, becoming the heart of this verdant paradise. This breathtaking transformation is an alluring sight that captivates visitors.
Enchanting Naltar Lakes: Nature’s Hidden Treasures
Naltar Valley is a treasure trove of surprises, housing three stunning lakes—Naltar lakes. The road condition from Naltar Bala to Rainbow Lake is challenging, but the arduous journey is worth it. Surrounded by dense pine forests, reaching these lakes becomes nearly impossible during winter due to heavy snowfall. Blue Star Lake, located about 1 km north of Rainbow Lake, showcases its unique allure with a deep blue hue and remarkable depth. The third lake, known as Bodroko Lake or the dusty black lake, is situated 15 km away from Naltar Bala. Perched atop Kottay—an area embraced by majestic mountains.
Cultural Splendor: The People of Naltar Valley
Naltar Valley possesses a rich cultural heritage and a captivating history. Within its boundaries, two villages, Naltar Pain and Naltar Bala, thrive, housing two distinct ethnic groups. Each speaking their own unique languages—Shina and Gujjri. The current literacy rate in Naltar stands at an impressive 94%, significantly higher than the national average of 45% in Pakistan. Primary school enrollment in Naltar reaches 100% for boys and 89% for girls, a testament to the importance placed on education in this region.
Gilgit Baltistan’s Longest Chairlift
Naltar Valley proudly claims to be the hub of skiing activities in Pakistan. Recognizing the financial constraints faced by many, the installation of a ski chairlift in 2016 has made skiing more accessible to the public. Spanning a length of 1.5 km, this chairlift serves as a beacon of opportunity, inviting enthusiasts to embark on thrilling adventures.
Tranquility Amidst Nature’s Abode
Naltar Valley emanates an aura of serenity, enchanting visitors with its peaceful ambiance. The warm-hearted and hospitable people of Naltar extend a heartfelt welcome to all those who venture into their domain. The scenic beauty, coupled with the harmony that resonates within the valley, has caught the attention of the Gilgit-Baltistan government and the army. Who strive to address the concerns and issues faced by Naltar Valley.
Climate: A Moderate Haven
During the summer season, Naltar Valley experiences a moderate climate, with temperatures reaching a maximum of 22 °C in July and August. For those seeking a cooler summer retreat. Naltar Bala or the lakes area provide a more temperate climate, ensuring a pleasant vacation even amidst the warmest months.
Naltar Hydropower Projects: Energizing the Valley
In recent times, the government has constructed the Naltar Hydropower Plant-IV. An 18 MW powerhouse operational since October 2007, near Naltar Pine. This venture complements the existing Naltar I and Naltar II hydel power generating plants, with a combined capacity of 2.28 MW. In meeting the area’s power requirements and that of Gilgit as well. Furthermore, under construction are the Naltar-III and Naltar-V Hydropower Projects, anticipated to generate 16 MW and 14 MW respectively.
Wildlife Encounters: A Glimpse into Nature’s Bounty
For those yearning to witness rare and majestic wildlife. Naltar Valley presents an opportunity to encounter some of the most elusive creatures. The renowned Lovely Park within Naltar Valley serves as a sanctuary for the Markhor and Snow Leopard. Situated alongside the ski slope, this park is under the watchful care of the wildlife department.
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An International Ski Destination
Nestled 40 kilometers northwest of Gilgit, Naltar Valley stands as a premier destination for skiing enthusiasts. It serves as the primary facility for the Ski Federation of Pakistan and was the proud host of the 2016 Karakoram Alpine Ski Cup. Although the oldest ski resort in Pakistan. Naltar still remains lesser-known and less developed compared to the Malam Jabba ski resort. Largely due to the deteriorated condition of the road leading from Gilgit to Naltar.