Gilgit (Urdu: گلگت) is the capital city of the Northern Areas, Pakistan and a tehsil (headquarters) of Gilgit District. Its ancient name was Sargin which later on came to be known as Gilit and it is still called Gilit or Sargin-Gilit by local people, in the Burushaski language, it is named Geelt. Ghallata is considered its name in ancient Sanskrit literature. Gilgit city is one of the two major hubs on the Northern Areas for all mountaineering expeditions of Karakoram to the peaks of the Himalayas, the other hub being Skardu.
Gilgit has an area of . The region is significantly mountainous, lying on the foothills of the Karakoram mountains, and has an average altitude of . It is drained by the Indus River, which rises in the neighbouring regions of Ladakh and Baltistan.
Gilgit was an important city on the Silk Road through which Buddhism was spread from South Asia to the rest of Asia. A large number of Buddhist Sanskrit texts, included the long version of the Heart Sutra have been unearthed in Gilgit. The Dards and Cizinas also appear in many of the old Pauranic lists of peoples, with the former finding mention in Ptolemy's accounts of the region. Two famous travellers, Faxian, and Xuanzang are known to have traversed Gilgit as per their accounts.
'The former rulers had the title of Ra ,and there is reason to suppose that they were at one time Hindus , but for the last five centuries and a half they have been Mohommedans . The names of the Hindu Ras have been lost , with the exception of the last of their number , Shri Buddutt. Tradition relates that he was killed by a Mohommedan adventurer , who married his daughter and founded a new dynasty , since called Trakhane , from a celebrated Ra named Trakhan , who reigned about the commencement of the fourteenth century . The previous rulers of whom Shiri Buddut was the last were called Shahreis .
Gilgit was ruled for centuries by the local Trakhàn Dynasty. However, its independence came to an end about 1810 with the death of Raja Abas, the last Trakhàn Raja.
The rulers of Hunza and Nager also claim origin with the Trakhàn dynasty. They claim descent from a heroic Kayani Prince of Persia by the name of Azur Jamshid (also known as Shamsher) who secretly married the daughter of the king Shri Badat who conspired with him to overthrow her Cannibal father. Sri Badat's faith is theorised as Hindu by some and Buddhist by others. 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 the this ruler. Cannibalism is also not practiced in Buddhism at all.
Prince Azur Jamshid succeeded in overthrowing the tyrant cannibal King Badat who was known as Adam Khor (lit. man-eater), often demanding a child a day from his subjects, his demise is still celebrated to this very day by locals in traditional annual celebrations. 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.
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 who's help he gained Chitral from Raja Torra Khan), as the now known dynastic name of Trakhàn. The descendants of Shah Rais Khan being respectfully known as the Ra'issiya Dynasty.
' The period of greatest prosperity was probably under the Shin Ras , whose rule seems to have been peaceable and settled . The whole population , from the RA to the poorest subject lived by agriculture . According to tradition Shri Buddutt's rule extended over Chitral , Yassin, Tangir, Darel, Chilas, Gor, Astor, Hunza, Nagar and Haramosh all of which were held by tributary princes of the same family.
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. 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, and Dogra troops replaced the Sikh in Gilgit.
Nathu Shah and Karim Khan both transferred their allegiance to Gulab Singh and continued 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. The rule of Jammu was restored. Gilgit came under British rule in 1889, when it was unified with neighbouring Nagar and Hunza in the Gilgit Agency.
Important Places to Visit
Gilgit lies about 10 km off the Karakoram Highway. 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 various transports companies i.e. Silk Route Transport Pvt, Mashabrum Transport Pvt and Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO). But NATCO has vast coverage faciality. It offers passenger road service between Islamabad, Gilgit, Sust and Tashkurgan, and 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 May 1 and October 15 of every year. 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.
Pakistan International Airlines flies ATR 42-500 flights twice daily between Gilgit Airport and Islamabad International Airport and the journey offers one of the most scenic aerial views in the world as it passes close to Nanga Parbat and the mountain peaks are higher than the aircraft's cruising altitude. There are two routes that the aircraft takes: One is the direct route from the capital Islamabad that takes the plane over the Margalla Hills then over the town of Haripur directly over the Kaghan Valley from where it heads towards Nanga Parbat and finally abeam the mountain the descent starts into the Indus valley. The other route that it flies is all along the Indus valley which is also scenic but a little longer. These flights, however, are subject to the clearance of weather and in winters, flights are often delayed by several days. After a Fokker aircraft crashed near Multan, the Government of Pakistan banned all Fokker flights in domestic operations.
CMH combine military hospital Jutial Gilgit.