Bagrote valley’s virgin charms (Published in DAWN dated July 11, 2010)
The picturesque Bagrote valley has retained its natural scenic beauty even in these times of change. Barely 40 kilometers from Gilgit, it is sandwiched between Bilchar Dobani and the awesome serenity of the Rakaposhi.
The Diran peak looks on from the snow-covered sierras that surround it and the rugged grandeur of glaciers like Barche, Gargooh, Yuneh, Rakaposhi and Dodoormal. It is A glacier terrain from which a host of streams and rivulets flow converging near Chirah-Khama glaciers giving the visual prospect a kaleidoscopic character.
Winters here offer another spectacular panorama when all the water courses get frozen except the Bagrote nullah gushing forth from Chira-Khama glaciers.
But it also shrinks somewhat, its turbulent flow of summer days now calm and quiet. The onset of winter wraps everything in a white sheet and the place becomes unrecognizable from its summer mantle of green velvet.
But now that summer is in full bloom, the steppes of lush green acreage spread back into the hinterland that forks into Gargooh steppe on the left and the Gutoomi pastures on the right inside the valley past Gusonar and Sat. Darejah is the vantage point that offers a panoramic and clear view of the tall heights of Diran, Rakaposhi and Dobani peaks in one sweep of the eye. Barchi, nearby, is yet another hamlet seasonally inhabited by people, that offers enchanting views of mountain scenery.
But only while the summer lasts. Come winter and shepherds leave the pastures with their cattle retiring to lower slopes of the valley. But for a half century now potato farming has increasingly provided people with livelihood. Not much farther is Sillili that offers adventure tourism as far as Skardu.
Now a mega conservation project, the ‘Central Karakoram National Park’ (CKNP) covering a wide range of area from Rakaposhi view point in Nagar and extending towards Shigar in Baltistan, has been launched with financial assistance of the Italian government.
Feasibility study of this giant project is in progress. Bagrote would assume centrality in the scheme as it has been accorded the status of ‘model valley’.
Hopefully the implementation of this mega conservation park would help conserve flora and fauna of the area as well as its cultural heritage.
It will simultaneously throw open environment-friendly tourism opportunities in the whole of the project area.