|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
|Dark blue:Skardu, Ghanche, Shigar and Kharmang (GB)
Light blue:Kargil (J&K)
|• Total||72,000 km2 (28,000 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,500 m (4,900 ft)|
Baltistan (Urdu: بلتستان, Balti: བལ་ཏི་སྟྰན), also known as Baltiyul or Little Tibet (Balti: བལ་ཏི་ཡུལ་།), is a mountainous region on the border between Pakistan and India, situated in the Karakoram mountains just to the south of K2, the world's second highest mountain. It is an extremely mountainous region, with an average altitude of over 3,350 metres (10,990 ft).
Baltistan borders Gilgit Division in the west, Xinjiang Autonomous Region (China) in the north, Ladakh in the east, and the Kashmir Valley in the south. Since 1947, the region has been divided by the Line of Control, with four of its five districts – Skardu, Gangche, Shigar and Kharmang – belonging to Pakistan while the Kargil district has been a part of Jammu and Kashmir in India. A small portion of Baltistan, including the village of Turtuk in the Nubra Valley, lies in the Ladakh district of Jammu & Kashmir.
The region is inhabited principally by the Balti people of Tibetan descent. Millennia-old Tibetan culture, customs, norms, language and script is still present even in a predominantly Muslim society. The vast majority of the population adheres to Islam. The Skardu district has a majority Shia community of around 60%, 30% Noorbakhsh and 10% other sects, while the Gangche district has a majority of Noorbakhsh community of around 90%.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Tourism
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Religion
- 6 Panorama
- 7 Fauna
- 8 Culture
- 9 Popular culture references
- 10 Media
- 11 Notes
- 12 External links
Baltistan is described in the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica thus:
Baltistan forms the west extremity of Tibet led by the tribes of Hussain Mukhtar and Sumair Ali, whose natural limits here are the Indus from its abrupt southward bend in 74 45 E., and the mountains to the north and west, separating a comparatively peaceful Tibetan population from the fiercer Aryan tribes beyond. Muslim writers about the 16th century speak of Baltistan as Little Tibet, and of Ladakh as Great Tibet, thus ignoring the really Great Tibet altogether. The Balti call Gilgit a Tibet, and Dr Leitner says that the Chilasi call themselves But or Tibetans; but although these districts may have been overrun by the Tibetans, or have received rulers of that race, the ethnological frontier coincides with the geographical one given. Baltistan is a mass of lofty mountains, the prevailing formation being gneiss. In the north is the Baltoro Glacier, the largest out of the arctic regions, 35 miles (56 km) long, contained between two ridges whose highest peaks to the south are 25,000 ft (7,600 m) and to the north 28,265 ft (8,615 m). The Indus, as in Lower Ladakh, runs in a narrow gorge, widening for nearly 20 m. after receiving the Shyok. The capital, Skardu, a scattered collection of houses, stands here, perched on a rock 7,250 ft (2,210 m). above the sea. The house roofs are flat, occupied only in part by a second storey, the remaining space being devoted to drying apricots, the chief staple of the main valley, which supports little cultivation. But the rapid slope westwards is seen generally in the vegetation. Birch, plane, spruce and Pinus wallichiana appear; the fruits are finer, including pomegranate, pear, peach, vine and melon, and where irrigation is available, as in the North Shigar, and at the deltas of the tributary valleys, the crops are more luxuriant and varied.
Valleys and districts
|Valley||District||Area (km²)||Population (1998) [2001 census for Kargil]||Numbers of Estate||Headquarters|
For centuries, Baltistan consisted of small independent valley states that were connected to each other through blood relationships of the rulers (rajas), trade, common beliefs and strong cultural and language bonds. These states were subjugated by force by the Dogra rulers of Kashmir in the nineteenth century. On 29 August 2009 the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan legally announced the creation of Gilgit–Baltistan, a new province-like autonomous region with Gilgit city as its capital and Skardu as the largest city.
Baltistan was known as Little Tibet in olden days and in course of time this name was extended to include the area of Ladakh as well. Later on, in order to differentiate it from Ladakh, Baltistan was called Little Tibet whereas Ladakh was known as Great Tibet. But locally Ladakh and Baltistan is known as Maryul ("Red Country") and Baltistan is known as Baltiyul.
Origin of Baltis and Baltistan
|“||Tibetan Khampa entered in Khaplu through Chorbat Valley and Dardic tribes came to Baltistan through Roundu Valley from Gilgit prior to civilization, and these groups eventually settled down, creating the Balti people.||”|
It was believed that the Balti people came under the sphere of influence from the kingdom of Zhang Zhung. Baltistan came under the control of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. Under Tibetan cultural influence, the Bon and Animist Baltis began to adopt Tibetan Buddhism. Religious artifacts such as the Gompas and Chortens were erected, and Lamas played an important role in the lives of the Baltis.
It was in the 14th century that religious Muslim scholars from the Muslim World and Kashmir penetrated Baltistan’s mountainous terrain to spread Islam amongst a people who were originally Buddhist. The Kharmang came under the control of the Namgyal royal family, and fostered a close relationship with Ladakh in the east when the Raja of Ladakh, Jamyang Mangyal, attacked the principalities in the district of Purik annihilating the Skardu garrison at Kharbu and putting to sword a number of petty Muslim rulers in the Muslim principalities in Purik (Kargil), Ali Sher Khan Anchan, Sher Ghazi, Raja of Khaplu and Raja of Shigar left with a strong army by way of Marol and by passing the Laddakhi army occupied Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The Raja of Ladakh was ultimately taken prisoner. Legends show that the Balti army obsessed with success advanced as far as Purang, in the valley of Mansarovar Lake, and won the admiration of their enemies and friends. The Raja of Ladakh sued for peace and since Ali Sher Khan’s intention was not to annex Laddakh, he agreed subject to the condition that the village of Ganokh and Gagra Nullah should be ceded to Skardu and he (the Ladakhi Raja) should pay annual tribute. This tribute was paid through the Gonpa (monastery) of Lama Yuru till the Dogra conquest of Ladakh. Hashmatullah records that the Head Lama of the said Gonpa had admitted before him the payment of yearly tribute to Skardu Darbar till the Dogra conquest of Ladakh.
Ali Sher Khan Anchan also included Gilgit and Chitral into his kingdom of baltistan. It is related that Baltistan was a flourishing country during the reign of Ali Sher Khan Anchan. They valley from Khepchne to Kachura was flat and fertile and fruit trees abounded in it. The sandy desert now extending from Sundus village to the Skardu Airport was a prosperous town. Skardu had hardly recovered from the shock of the death of the Anchan when it was visited by a great flood converting it into a sandy desert.
In 1845, the area came under the rule of the Dogras.
The capital of Baltistan, Skardu, maintains several tourist resorts, and boasts many natural features including plains, mountain valley lakes and alpine mountains. Places such as Shangri-la, Deosai plain, Satpara Lake and Basho also host tourists in the region. In the north of Skardu, the Shigar Valley offers plains, hiking tracks, peaks, and camping sites. Other valleys in the Baltistan region are Khaplu, Rondu, Kachura Lake and Kharmang.
Glaciers in Baltistan
Baltistan is a rocky wilderness of around 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2) containing the largest cluster of mountains anywhere in the world along with the biggest glaciers anywhere outside the polar region. The Himalayas advance into this region from India, Tibet and Nepal while to the north of them spread the more localized Karakoram range. Both ranges run northwest with the Indus River in between. Along the Indus are many valleys alongside the main river and in the path of its tributaries. Glaciers include Baltoro Glacier, Biafo Glacier, Siachen Glacier, Trango Glacier and Godwin-Austen Glacier.
Baltistan is home to more than 20 peaks of over 20,000 feet (6,100 m), including K2, the second highest mountain on Earth. Other well known peaks include Masherbrum (also known as K1), Broad Peak, Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum IV, and Chogolisa, situated in Khaplu Valley. The following peaks have so far been scaled by various expeditions:
|Name of Peak||Photos||Height||Date of Conquest||Location|
|2. Gasherbrum I||(26,360Ft)||7/7/1956||Ghanche District|
|3. Broad Peak||(26,550)||9/6/1957||Ghanche District|
|4. Muztagh Tower||(23,800Ft)||6/8/1956||Ghanche District|
|5. Gasherbrum II||(26,120Ft)||4/7/1958||Ghanche District|
|6. Hidden Peak||(26,470Ft)||4/7/1957||Ghanche District|
|7. Khunyang Chhish||(25,761 Ft)||4/7/1971||Skardu District|
|8. Masherbrum||(25,659 ft)||4/8/1960||Ghanche District|
|9. Saltoro Kangri||(25,400Ft)||4/6/1962||Ghanche District|
|10. Chogolisa||(25,148 Ft)||4/8/1963||Ghanche District|
Baltistan has a population of about 322,000 which is a blend of many different ethnic groups, predominantly Tibetans Baltis and Monpas while a few Kasmiri merchants settled in Skardu which was brought by rulers of Skardu for various purposes like agriculture and woodcraft. Yabgo Royal family of Khaplu were from Yarkant County of China.
|This section may require copy editing. (May 2015)|
Before the advent of Islam in this region, it was dominated by Buddhism. Buddhism in Baltistan can be traced back to even before the formation of the Tibetan empire in this region in the 7th century. The region still has a number of Buddhist archaeological sites. An example is the rock-relief of Buddha on the edge of Manthal village, to the left of a stream from Satpara lake near Skardu or the Sacred Rock of Hunza. Also nearby are sites where there were several Buddhist shelters (which fell over time and no longer exist).
Islam came into Baltistan by different Sufi missionaries during 16th to 17th century and soon the populace of the region converted to Noorbakhshi Muslims. Mir Sayed Ali Hamadani came into Baltistan 3 times in different periods via Kashmir and Yarkand. Later Mir Shamsuddin Iraqi Mir Arif, Mir Ishaq, Syed Ali, and Syed Mehmood came into Baltistan to spread the mission of Syed Ali Hamadani. All these Sufi scholars were followers of Kubrawiyya Noorbakhshi Sufi order. These scholars were Rizvi Syeds. In Baltistan most of the Mosavi sayeds are descendents of Noorbakhshisufis. Meanwhile Rizvi Syeds came in 19th century to convert Noorbakhshiinto Shia Muslims. Today the majority of Noorbakhshi Muslims live in Ghanche and Shigar district, while 30% of Noorbakhshi Muslims still exist in the Skardu district.
Baltistan has been called a living museum for wildlife. The Baltistan High altitude Deosai National Park, in southern Baltistan, is a good habitat for predators as it has abundant prey populations.
There are two main categories of animals which are found in different parts of Baltistan.
Balti music and art
A Balti version says that the Mughal Princess Gul Khatoon better known in Baltistan as Mindoq Gialmo (Flower Queen) brought with her musicians and artisans into Baltistan. The musicians and artisans propagated Mughal music and art under her patronage. Musical instruments such as the ‘Surnai’, ‘Karnai’, ‘Dhol’, ‘Chang’ etc. found their way into Baltistan.
Chhogho Prasul commemorates a great victory by the Maqpon Rajas over their enemies. As a mark of respect the musician who plays on the drum (dang) stands up and goes on playing on it for some time. The Maqpon princes would sometimes dance when this tune was played.
Gasho-Pa, also called Ghbus-La-Khorba, is a sword dance associated with the Gasho Dynasty of Purik (Kargil) who loomed large in this region.
Sneopa, or the Marriage Procession Dance, is performed on the occasion of the marriages of Rajas. The Pachones, twelve Wazirs who accompany the bride, take part in it.
The architecture of Baltistan contains Tibetan and Mughul influences as well as monastic architecture which reflects the Buddhist imprints left in the region. The Buddhist Straight painted can be seen on feature on every Fort, and khanqah of Noorbakhshi sect including the likes of Chaqchan Mosque, Amburik Mosque in Shigar, Khanqah e Muallah Shigar, Khaplu Fort, Shigar Fort, and the Skardu Fort.
Polo is very popular in Baltistan. This royal sport is indigenous to the Karakoram Range. It was Ali Sher Khan Anchan the Maqpon ruler of Baltistan who introduced this game to other valleys upon his conquests that stretched beyond Gilgit and Chitral.
Popular culture references
The government radio broadcaster "Radio Pakistan " (AIR) and government television station "Skardu TV station" both have stations in Khaplu that broadcast local content for all the day.
There are also a handful of private news outlets.
- Daily k2 is a newspaper published from Skardu serving Gilgit-Baltistanin Urdu.
- Bad-e-Shimal, claims to be the largest circulated daily of Gilgit and Baltistan.
- Nawa-e-Sufia, a monthly magazine covering Baltistan's religious news of Nurbakshi sect.
- "SASNET: Social Work Lund". Retrieved 2010-06-21.
- pg.88 Rediscovery of Ladakh: H. N. Kaul ISBN 81-7387-086-1
- Flames in Kashmir - Bhim Singh - 1st Ed University of Michigan, 2nd Ed Har-Anand Publications, 1998
- p.302 Kashmir: shadow of terrorism - Mamta Rajawat ISBN 81-261-1439-8
- p.74 The Pamirs Being a Narrative of a Year's Expedition on Horseback and on Foot-back through Kashmir, Western Tibet, Chinese Tartary and Russian Central Asia Volume I ISBN 1-4021-8434-4/1-4021-2473-2
- "In pictures: Life in Baltistan". bbc.com. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ladakh and Baltistan". Encyclopædia Britannica 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 58.
- "A Socio-Political Study of Gilgit Baltistan Province" (PDF).
- Gertel, Jörg; Richard Le Heron (2011). Economic Spaces of Pastoral Production and Commodity Systems. Ashgate. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-4094-2531-1.
- Chisholm 1911.
- Yousaf Hussain Abadi, A view on Baltistan
- Mustansir Hassan Tard, Nanga Parbat
- Where Indus is Young
- Baltistan in History by Banat Gul Afridi 1986
- Tarekh e jammu, molvi hashmatullah
- Hussainabadi, Muhammad Yousuf: Baltistan per Aik Nazar 1984
- "Baltistan - North Pakistan".[dead link]
- Hussainabadi, Muhammad Yousuf: Tareekh-e-Baltistan 2003
- Kashmir: Its Aborigines and Their Exodus.
- The last colony: Muzaffarabad-Gilgit-Baltistan.
- Proceedings of the International Seminar on the Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalaya.
- Ali, Manzoom (2004, June 12). Archaeology of Dardistan.
- "ABOUT GILGIT-BALTISTAN".
- Baltistan in History, Banat Gul Afridi
- "Noorbakhsi Muslims".
- "Sofia Imamia Noorbakhshia".
- "Beautiful Gilgit Baltistan".
- "BALTI MUSIC AND ART".
- Hussainabadi, Muhammad Yousuf: Balti Zaban 1990
- Wallace, Paul (1996) . A History of Western Himalayas . Penguin Books, London.
- Dani, Ahmad Hassan: History of Northern Areas of Pakistan, National Institute of Historical Research, Islamabad, 1991.
- "Radio Pakistan".
- "Daily Bad e Shimal".
|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Baltistan.|