The lure of snow-capped mountains and alpine scenery brings a large number of visitors every year to hinterland of Asia-the Gilgit Agency. It was for such tourists to Gilgit and Baltistan that the author felt the need of bringing out illustrated Guide to the Northern Areas.
The Gilgit Agency(excluding Baltistan)with a population of 1,76,242 lies between latitude 35 and 38 and longitude 70th and 76th in an area of 15184 square miles in the extreme North of Pakistan. the height of the town of Gilgit, aerodrome, is 4770 ft. and that of Agency House 4995 ft. above the sea level.
It is hoped that this illustrated Guide to the Northern Areas will lead to further elucidation of many points of interest and the author desires to intimate to those, who may come forward to assist him in this connection, that he will gratefully acknowledge their contributions on the subject.
My thanks are due to Mr. Ijlal Hussein, CSP., Political Agent, Gilgit, who in spite of his official preoccupations read the whole of the manuscript and offered useful suggestions, wherever necessary.
I am also thankful to Khan Banat Gul P.C.S. Secretary to the Resident in Gilgit and Baltistan and Mr. Nisar Hussein Khan, divisional forest Officer, Gilgit for permission to publish in this book some of the photographs taken by them.
had it not been for the inspiration drawn from the late A.H.Khan, C.S.P., Resident in Gilgit and Baltistan, the publication of this book would not have been possible.
I trust this guide to the Northern areas will prove pf practical use to the tourists, who visit this remotest part of the world in large numbers every year.
This book is written with the main purpose of introducing the Northern Areas, the hospitable tribes, health resorts, historical monuments and other places of general interest to the outside world, especially the tourists, for whose guidance no such book of this kind has been written so far.
The most striking feature of the Northern Areas are some of the highest mountain ranges-Karakorum, the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, the beautiful lakes, meadows of flowers, waterfalls, glittering glaciers, sporting nullahs, orchards and polo-grounds.
In pre-independence days, Gilgit and Baltistan were almost sealed areas for tourists beyond Kamri and Burzil passes on one side, Sonamerg on the other. But, now all sorts of facilities have been provided and a good Rest-House has been built in Gilgit and several other places throughout the agency.
Moreover, on account of the long and tedious journeys, these far flung areas were practically inaccessible for women, children and aged persons. but, thanks to the Government of Pakistan, every one can now reach Gilgit and Baltistan in less than an hour and a half by P.I.A. planes, which daily fly between Rawalpindi and the Northern Areas, subject , of course, to fair weather and visibility.
Journey by jeep able road to Gilgit from mid-July to the end of October can also be performed through the picturesque Kaghan valley and the Babusar pass, which lead over into the Chilas valley.
Government transport buses also ply daily between Abbottabad and Balakot-the historical place, where Shah Ismail and Syed Ahmed Brelvi, two of the -the greatest freedom fighters of the Indo-Pak subcontinent lie buried. Jeeps are available from Balakot and Naran for journey to Gilgit during the summer season. The onward marches are full of alpine scenery, and the beautiful lake of saiful Maluk, with which are associated many legends, is also situated at a distance of a few miles from Naran, where there is a Government Rest-House.
The journey to Gilgit through the Kaghan valley affords fair opportunity for big game and angling, too.
Gilgit, fourteen years ago, was a small township with a few petty shops, a Middle school and half a dozen Government offices. It had no private institutions buildings and other facilities. But, now, under the aegis of Pakistan, it has grown into almost a full-fledged town with all the modern amenities of life. Even the look of the town is so greatly changed that a person who had left Gilgit fourteen years ago for some other country is simply amazed on his return to see how the shape of things has undergone a marked development in all its aspects in a very small period of time.
the most important development in the town are the Gilgit High School, Rest-House for visitors, the Gilgit Agency Hospital, Wazir, Momin, Raja bazaars, the new Jumma mosque and the Jam'aat Khana of the Ismailis. Some buildings have already been completed and many more are still under construction. Huge and monumental works like Danyore bridge have been accomplished by the people of self-help basis.
WAZIR MOHAMMAD ASHRAF KHAN,
Development Officer, Gilgit
Member Pakistan Writers Guild.
15th November, 1962.