Naltar in winter
Every tourist’s journey to Naltar begins by leaving behind the Karakoram Highway at Gilgit for an adventurous two-hour jeep ride. The fact that cars can’t be driven from Gilgit to Naltar is testament to the bumpy and somewhat arduous track. However, for those with the slightest clue of what beauty lies in the valley, the journey is simply part of the experience and is most certainly worth taking.
Reaching Naltar Bala, the center of the valley, one is absolutely spell-bound by the beauty of the area. What makes Naltar particularly unique is also that its forest cover is vaster than other areas of the country. The entire landscape is truly delightful to the eyes.
In the evening as the sunlight gradually disappears, the few residents of the valley return to their homes after working the fields during the day. Stars begin to emerge, which combined with the silence of the night, make for an exquisitely serene atmosphere. Further into the night, aided by the lack of light pollution, the Milky Way emerges from behind the mountains. The view leaves you absolutely speechless.
A paved but narrow road goes from Astore to Karakoram Highway, parallel to the river. The river and the road, both are equally frightening. Astore River merges in River Indus from here. Naltar is famous for its colorful lakes, it is situated at a drive of 2.5 hours from Gilgit. World’s tastiest potatoes are cultivated here. Covered with pine trees, this valley doesn’t seem to be a part of this world.
The population of Naltar mainly comprises Gujjars. Move ahead of the town, and there are lakes. The water is crystal clear with green plants easily visible at the base.
When I reach the lake after days of struggle with the Naltar’s snow, which hasn’t melted yet. The sunlight makes the snow softer, my feet stick in it easily. At some points, my legs are getting completely stuck in snow but this does not stop me from making it to the beautiful lake.
Suddenly the weather changes, and the sky becomes cloudy. I am finally here, turquoise waters with small islands in the middle, with strange shaped stones shining on the islands.
Small fish welcome me here. I don’t know which species they belong to, but in the mountains, one feels lucky to meet a life other than his own.