Gilgit

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Gilgit
City
Location of Gilgit
Gilgit is located in Gilgit Baltistan
Gilgit
Gilgit
Coordinates: 35°55′18.71″N 74°17′21.15″E / 35.9218639°N 74.2892083°E / 35.9218639; 74.2892083
Country Pakistan
Province Gilgit-Baltistan
Division Gilgit Division
District Gilgit District
Elevation 1,500 m (4,900 ft)
Population (1998)[citation needed]
 • Total 216,760
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
 • Summer (DST) +5 (UTC)
Postal code 15100
Buddha's Picture at Kargah

Gilgit (Urdu, Shina: گلگت) is the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan within the namesake district. The city of Gilgit constitutes a tehsil within Gilgit District. The city's ancient name was Sargin, later to be known as Gilit, and it is still referred to as Gilit or Sargin-Gilit by local people. In the Burushaski language, it is named Geelt and in Wakhi and Khowar it is called Gilt. Ghallata is considered its name in ancient Sanskrit literature.

History[edit]

Gilgit was an important city on the Silk Road, along which Buddhism was spread from South Asia to the rest of Asia. It is considered as a Buddhism corridor from which many Chinese monks came to Kashmir to learn and preach Buddhism.[1]

Brogpas trace their settlement from Gilgit into the fertile villages of Ladakh through a rich corpus of hymns, songs, and folklore that have been passed down through generations.[2] The Dards and Shinas appear in many of the old Pauranic lists of peoples who lived in the region, with the former also mentioned in Ptolemy's accounts[3] of the region. Two famous travellers, Faxian and Xuanzang, traversed Gilgit according to their accounts.

Early history[edit]

Trakhàn Dynasty[edit]

A Dance at Gilgit by G. W. Leitner, 1893

Gilgit was ruled for centuries by the local Trakhàn Dynasty, which ended about 1810 with the death of Raja Abas, the last Trakhàn Raja.[1] The rulers of Hunza and Nager also claim origin with the Trakhàn dynasty. They claim descent from a heroic Kayani Prince of Persia, Azur Jamshid (also known as Shamsher), who secretly married the daughter of the king Shri Badat. She conspired with him to overthrow her cannibal father. Sri Badat's faith is theorised as Hindu by some[5][6] and Buddhist by others.[7][8] However, considering the region's Buddhist heritage, with the most recent influence being Islam, the most likely preceding influence of the region is Buddhism. Though the titular Sri and the name Badat denotes a Hindu origin of this ruler.

Prince Azur Jamshid succeeded in overthrowing King Badat who was known as Adam Khor (literally man-eater),[9][10] often demanding a child a day from his subjects, his demise is still celebrated to this very day by locals in traditional annual celebrations.[11] In the beginning of the new year, where a Juniper procession walks along the river, in memory of chasing the cannibal king Sri Badat away.[12]

Azur Jamshid abdicated after 16 years of rule in favour of his wife Nur Bakht Khatùn until their son and heir Garg, grew of age and assumed the title of Raja and ruled, for 55 years. The dynasty flourished under the name of the Kayani dynasty until 1421 when Raja Torra Khan assumed rulership. He ruled as a memorable king until 1475. He distinguished his family line from his step brother Shah Rais Khan (who fled to the king of Badakshan, and with whose help he gained Chitral from Raja Torra Khan), as the now-known dynastic name of Trakhàn. The descendants of Shah Rais Khan were known as the Ra'issiya Dynasty.[13]

1800s[edit]

The area had been a flourishing tract but prosperity was destroyed by warfare over the next fifty years, and by the great flood of 1841 in which the river Indus was blocked by a landslip below the Hatu Pir and the valley was turned into a lake.[14] After the death of Abas, Sulaiman Shah, raja of Yasin, conquered Gilgit. Then, Azad Khan, Raja of Punial, killed Sulaiman Shah, taking Gilgit; then Tair Shah, Raja of Buroshall (Nagar), took Gilgit and killed Azad Khan. Tair Shah's son Shah Sakandar inherited, only to be killed by Gaur Rahman, Raja of Yasin of the Khushwakhte Dynasty, when he took Gilgit. Then in 1842, Shah Sakandar's brother, Karim Khan, expelled Gaur Rahman with the support of a Sikh army from Kashmir. The Sikh general, Nathu Shah, left garrison troops and Karim Khan ruled until Gilgit was ceded to Gulab Singh of Jammu and Kashmir in 1846 by the Treaty of Amritsar,[1] and Dogra troops replaced the Sikh in Gilgit.

Nathu Shah and Karim Khan both transferred their allegiance to Gulab Singh, continuing local administration. When Hunza attacked in 1848, both of them were killed. Gilgit fell to the Hunza and their Yasin and Punial allies, but was soon reconquered by Gulab Singh's Dogra troops. With the support of Gaur Rahman, Gilgit's inhabitants drove their new rulers out in an uprising in 1852. Gaur Rahman then ruled Gilgit until his death in 1860, just before new Dogra forces from Ranbir Singh, son of Gulab Singh, captured the fort and town.[1] In the 1870s Chitral was threatened by Afghans Maharaja Ranbir Singh was firm in protecting Chitral from Afghans the Mehtar of Chitral ask for help, In 1876 Chitral accepted the authority of Jammu Clan and in reverse get the protection from the Dogras who have in the past took part in many victories over Afghans during the time of Gulab Singh Dogra.[15]

British era[edit]

Main article: Gilgit Agency

In 1877, in order to guard against the advance of Russia, the British Government, acting as the suzerain power of Kashmir, established the Gilgit Agency. The Agency was re-established under control of the British Resident in Jammu and Kashmir. It comprised the Gilgit Wazarat; the State of Hunza and Nagar; the Punial Jagir; the Governorships of Yasin, Kuh-Ghizr and Ishkoman, and Chilas.

The Tajiks of Xinjiang sometimes enslaved the Gilgiti and Kunjuti Hunza.[16]

In 1935, the British demanded Jammu and Kashmir to lease them Gilgit town plus most of the Gilgit Agency and the hill-states Hunza, Nagar, Yasin and Ishkoman for 60 years. Maharaja Hari Singh had no choice but to acquiesce. The leased region was then treated as part of British India, administered by a Political Agent at Gilgit responsible to Delhi, first through the Resident in Jammu and Kashmir and later a British Agent in Peshawar.[citation needed]

Jammu and Kashmir State no longer kept troops in Gilgit and a mercenary force, the Gilgit Scouts, was recruited with British officers and paid for by Delhi. In April 1947, Delhi decided to formally retrocede the leased areas to Hari Singh’s Jammu and Kashmir State as of 15 August 1947. The transfer was to formally take place on 1 August.[citation needed]

Indo-Pakistani War[edit]

Gilgit Scouts progressed with other Pakistani troops from north through High Himalayas and contributed in attacking of Skardu in summer 1948, pushing further towards Ladakh area.[citation needed]

After Pakistani advances of early 1948, Indian troops gathered momentum in late 1948. Finally, India asked for UN intervention, and a ceasefire was agreed on 31 December 1948. This conflict left Pakistan with roughly two-fifths of Kashmir along with Gilgit and Baltistan, leaving three-fifths of Kashmir along with Jammu and Leh to India.[citation needed]

Climate[edit]

Gilgit experiences a cold desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWk). Weather conditions for Gilgit are dominated by its geographical location, a valley in a mountainous area, southwest of Karakoram range. The prevalent season of Gilgit is winter, occupying the valley eight to nine months a year.

Gilgit lacks significant rainfall, averaging in 120 to 240 millimetres (4.7 to 9.4 in) annually, as monsoon breaks against the southern range of Himalayas. Irrigation for land cultivation is obtained from the rivers, abundant with melting snow water from higher altitudes.

The summer season is brief and hot. The piercing sunrays may raise the temperature up to 40 °C (104 °F), yet it is always cool in the shade. As a result of this extremity in the weather, landslides and avalanches are frequent in the area.[17]

Climate data for Gilgit
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9.3
(48.7)
12.0
(53.6)
17.9
(64.2)
23.9
(75)
28.4
(83.1)
34.3
(93.7)
36.1
(97)
35.3
(95.5)
31.6
(88.9)
25.3
(77.5)
17.8
(64)
11.0
(51.8)
23.6
(74.5)
Average low °C (°F) −2.7
(27.1)
2.5
(36.5)
5.4
(41.7)
9.4
(48.9)
11.7
(53.1)
15.2
(59.4)
18.8
(65.8)
18.1
(64.6)
12.7
(54.9)
6.6
(43.9)
.6
(33.1)
−2.4
(27.7)
7.8
(46)
Rainfall mm (inches) 4.0
(0.157)
6.0
(0.236)
12.6
(0.496)
23.0
(0.906)
25.3
(0.996)
6.1
(0.24)
15.6
(0.614)
15.5
(0.61)
6.5
(0.256)
8.4
(0.331)
1.8
(0.071)
4.1
(0.161)
128.9
(5.075)
Source: [18]

Gilgit manuscripts[edit]

This corpus of manuscripts was discovered in 1931 in Gilgit, containing many Buddhist texts such as four sutras from the Buddhist canon, including the famous Lotus Sutra. The manuscripts were written on birch bark in the Buddhist form of Sanskrit in the Sharada script. They cover a wide range of themes such as iconometry, folk tales, philosophy, medicine and several related areas of life and general knowledge.[19]

The Gilgit manuscripts[20] were nominated[21] in 2006 to be included on the UNESCO Memory of the World register, but without success. The Gilgit manuscripts are among the oldest manuscripts in the world, and the oldest manuscript collection surviving in Pakistan and India,[20] having major significance in the areas of Buddhist studies and the evolution of Asian and Sanskrit literature. The manuscripts are believed to have been written in the 5th to 6th centuries AD, though some more manuscripts were discovered in the succeeding centuries, which were also classified as Gilgit manuscripts.

As of October 6 2014, one source claims that the part of the collection deposited at the Sri Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar was irrecoverably destroyed during the 2014 India–Pakistan floods.[22]

Tourism and transport[edit]

Jeeps are the best means of travel in Gilgit-Baltistan[citation needed]

Gilgit city is one of the two major hubs for all mountaineering expeditions in Gilgit–Baltistan. Almost all tourists headed for treks in Karakoram or Himalaya Ranges arrive at Gilgit first. Gilgit is served by the nearby Gilgit Airport. Many tourists choose to travel to Gilgit by air, since road travel between Islamabad and Gilgit, by the Karakoram Highway, takes 14–24 hours, whereas the air travel takes a mere 55–60 minutes.[citation needed]

Places to visit[edit]

There are several tourist attractions relatively close to Gilgit: Naltar Valley with Naltar Peak, Hunza Valley, Nagar Valley, Fairy Meadow in Raikot, Shigar town, Skardu city, Haramosh Peak in Karakoram Range, Bagrot-Haramosh Valley, Deosai National Park, Astore Valley, Rama Lake, Juglot town, Phunder village, Yasin Valley and Kargah Valley.

Dance of Swati Guests with traditional music at baltit fort 2014

Road transport[edit]

Overview of the Karakoram Highway

Gilgit lies about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) off the Karakoram Highway (KKH). The KKH connects it to Chilas, Dasu, Besham, Mansehra, Abbottabad and Islamabad in the south. In the north it is connected to Karimabad (Hunza) and Sust in the Northern Areas and to the Chinese cities of Tashkurgan, Upal and Kashgar in Xinjiang.

There are transport companies, e.g., Silk Route Transport Pvt, Masherbrum Transport Pvt and Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO). From these NATCO offers the most coverage. It offers passenger road service between Islamabad, Gilgit, Sust and Tashkurgan; road service between Kashgar and Gilgit (via Tashkurgan and Sust) started in the summer of 2006. However, the border crossing between China and Pakistan at Khunjerab Pass—the highest border of the world—is open only between 1 May and 15 October. During winter, the roads are blocked by snow. Even during the monsoon season in summer, the roads are often blocked due to landslides. The best time to travel on Karakoram Highway is spring or early summer.[citation needed]

The Astore-Burzul Road, linking Gilgit to Srinagar was closed in 1978.[23]

Health care[edit]

Tuberculosis, endocrinal disorders with mainly iodine deficiency disorders, iron deficiency, and diarrheal diseases are more common. Sewage system has yet to be fully established, electricity and water supply are still faulty. These factors make a hindrance in developing a strong health care system.[citation needed]

Sister cities[edit]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Frederick Drew (1875) The Jummoo and Kashmir Territories: A Geographical Account E. Stanford, London, OCLC 1581591
  2. ^ Bhan, Mona. "Counterinsurgency, Democracy and the Politics of Identity in India". Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Mona Bhan. "Counterinsurgency, Democracy and the Politics of Identity in India". Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b John Bidduph (2004) Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh, Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 1402152728, pp. 20–21
  5. ^ Amar Singh Chohan (1984) The Gilgit Agency, 1877–1935, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, p. 4
  6. ^ Reginald Charles (1976) Between the Oxus and the Indus, Francis Schomberg, p. 249
  7. ^ Henry Osmaston, Philip Denwood (1995) Recent Research on Ladakh 4 & 5: Proceedings of the Fourth and Fifth, Motilal Banarsidas, p. 226
  8. ^ Ahmad Hasan Dani (1989) History of Northern Areas of Pakistan, Islamabad : National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, p. 163
  9. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of India. Provincial Series: Kashmir and Jammu, ISBN 0-543-91776-2, Adamant, p. 107
  10. ^ Reginald Charles (1976) Between the Oxus and the Indus, Francis Schomberg, p. 144
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ Henry Osmaston, Philip Denwood (1995) Recent Research on Ladakh 4 & 5, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., p. 229
  13. ^ Ahmad Hasan Dani (1999) History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Motilal Banarsidass Publ, pp. 216–217
  14. ^ "Imperial Gazetteer2 of India, Volume 12 – Imperial Gazetteer of India – Digital South Asia Library". Dsal.uchicago.edu. 18 February 2013. p. 238. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  15. ^ Prakash Nanda (2007). Rising India: Friends and Foes. Lancer Publishers. p. 167. ISBN 978-0-9796174-1-6. 
  16. ^ Sir Thomas Douglas Forsyth (1875). Report of a mission to Yarkund in 1873, under command of Sir T. D. Forsyth: with historical and geographical information regarding the possessions of the ameer of Yarkund. Printed at the Foreign department press. p. 56. 
  17. ^ Alam Zaib. "Somethings about Gilgit". Karachi, Pakistan. Retrieved 11 June 2009. 
  18. ^ "Gilgit weather averages". World Meteorological Association. June 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  19. ^ "BBC News – India: Rare Buddhist manuscript Lotus Sutra released". Bbc.co.uk. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Gyan Marwah (August 2004). "Gilgit Manuscript — Piecing Together Fragments of History". The South Asian Magazine. Haryana, India. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "Gilgit Manuscript". Memory of the World Register. UNESCO. Retrieved 11 June 2009. 
  22. ^ "Kashmir floods damage 2000-year-old Buddhist treasures". http://www.dnaindia.com. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  23. ^ Ibrahim Shahid (27 March 2004) Gilgit-Srinagar Road: Govt seeks NA admin's opinion. The Daily Times

External links[edit]

Media related to Gilgit at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 35°55′19″N 74°17′21″E / 35.92194°N 74.28917°E / 35.92194; 74.28917