Yasin Valley runs north from Gilgit city to Shandur road.
Information about Ghizer
Ghizer District includes
- Ghizer Valley
Right now, I’m only going to be covering Yasin Valley and the Ghizer District.
Yasin Valley Map
Yasin Valley History
The valley is near the Tajikistan or Afghanistan border. Not many people venture there to cross the high altitude passes at 13000 ft.
It is thought that ancient armies fought on Yasin Valley’s plains to gain access to central Asia via this useful route.
The colonial British encouraged fighting amongst the various Chitral royals over the valley, so they sent Dogra armies to overthrow them and ultimately took control of the valley.
Yasin’s mountain passes connect to Chitral. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Mehtars of Chitral used to rule the entire Yasin Valley with force.
Yasin Valley: Various Mountain Passes
- Darkut Pass is 4267m high and connects Yasin, Wakhan Corridor, and Chitral
- Broghil Pass is located at 3798 meters and connects Yasin and Broghil to Wakhan
- Thoi Pass (4690 meters) connects Yasin with Yarkhun Chitral
- Assumber Pass connects Yasin with Ishkomen
- Attar Pass is also located at 4700m and connects Darkot Village to Ishkoman
- Nazbar town in Yasin is connected to Mastuj Chitral via the Mountain Passes at 5000m.
Road Condition between Islamabad and Yasin Valley
The road was in poor condition previously but it has improved. Lalak Jan Shaheed Nishan e Haidar had made a sacrifice and the government had constructed a single-track road that leads to Hundur, in the Valley.
Only the last hour of Darkot is still being repaired.
Distance and time taken from Gilgit to Yasin Valley
It takes about 4 hours to travel the 150km between Gilgit and Yasin.
The bridge that crosses the Gilgit River towards Yasin Valley
Only one bridge crosses this section of the river. This bridge was built recently by the Chinese. The British Colonials built this bridge in 1925.
The Pakistanis, in-between, have been waiting for divine intervention and chilling.
Distance and time taken from Islamabad to Gilgit
It takes 12 hours to drive from Islamabad over the Babusar Pass. This is a distance of 512km. This is if you leave Islamabad before 3:30 am to avoid unnecessary delays in Balakot and Mansehra.
Distance and time taken from Islamabad to Yasin Valley
It’s not possible to drive between Islamabad and Yasin town in Yasin Valley, as it is 650 km long. This would take 16 hours.
It is almost impossible to drive for 16 hours continuously without a break.
Besham’s alternative road is too bumpy. This means that it takes 15 hours to get from Islamabad, Gilgit, on the alternate route.
Weather at Yasin Valley
It can also get very cold quite quickly.
Yasin Valley has a temperature of below 30 0 C all year, even in peak summer months May to October. It can sometimes drop to 15 0 Celsius during rains so it is important to wear a jacket and warm clothes.
It is very uncomfortable to feel cold after October. You will need lots of gas and firewood in order to keep warm.
Be sure to check the weather before you travel to Gilgit. Even during peak summer season, there is enough snow to make it difficult for traffic for a few days.
Night stay in Gilgit
We stayed for the first night at Douryo Inn Gilgit Ph. The hotel was very comfortable and reasonably priced. You could even get hot water, and your food was healthy.
The next day, we drove eastwards to Yasin Valley town from Gilgit City.
After crossing the yellow-painted bridge (near Gupis), it was quite large, so we turned right into valley.
Yasin Valley Trout Fish
Our first stop was fresh fried trout at the Rocks & River Trout farm Ph. 03129717417. It was very flavorful because there were so few spices.
After several hours of haze, it became colder and we had no choice but to get out our parkas, jackets, and caps.
I was told by a friend that snow falling near the valley’s floor can be produced after a few days.
Bojayote View Point Yasin Valley
Next, we stopped at Bojayote, Yasin’s viewpoint. We climbed up through endless streams and farms to get a great view of Yasin Valley, which curves Eastwards.
It is believed that Rajas used to be present in this area to watch over the Valley and any visitors.
Map of Yasin Valley’s Tracks, Lakes and Routes
Yasin Valley Tukhumrezi Festival house
Next, we went to the Shiribadad Raja’s palace home. It is still in its original state.
Legend says that the home’s raja was averse to infants because the young goats that he had previously eaten were being fed with women’s milk.
The Raja’s atrocities were too much for the locals to bear, so they got together in the summer, lit their torches, then burned the wicked Raja.
This festival, called Tukhumrezi Festival, is celebrated by everyone to mark the beginning of spring.
The wooden throne still has bullet holes from a musket that was fired using a Dogra Army Gun to subdue loyalists from the Raja Gohar Aman. This incident occurred during the rebellion against British rule in 1842 – 18.63.
Forts of Yasin Valley
MUDURI FORTYASIN VALEY
Our next stop was Muduri Fort, where Dogra forces massacred 16 Yasin valley women in 1863. The Dogra Army then forcibly took them away as punishment for their rebellion.
British rulers supported Hindu Dogra’s army.
Muduri Fort was once built on top 500 foot high solid rock rising from the river below.
Access to the fort from the front or back was impossible.
This fort was nearly impenetrable as the besieged forces could access water from nearby farms and streams to get their rations and water.
The Trojan technique was used by Dogra commander and disguised himself as local militia. He then stuck a Yasin-specific herb on all his troops. After allowing this formation to enter, the guards at the gates allowed them in and massacred all the insiders and destroyed the fortress.
MUDOORI FORT TREK – 7 BLUE LAKES
Starting from Mudoori Fort, the trek goes to Makuli meadows. It also passes through 7 blue-water lakes.
After leaving Mudoru Fort, we stopped at Yasin Fort. It is currently under renovation.
Next came the Chumarkhan fort, literally meaning Iron fort. It was so remote that the fort administration had no choice but to pipe water through the tops of two precarious peaks.
Polo Match in Yasin Valley
Yasin Town was the scene of a polo match between 2 local teams. It was a playoff for the Annual Shandur Festival which takes place in the first week each July.
It was a dangerous game that could have easily ended in a tragic accident. It’s no surprise that every polo player I had met had broken limbs, multiple stitches on the foreheads, and it was not surprising.
Ghizer Tomb of The Dead in Yasin Valley
Two tombs of the deceased are located in Yasin. One has been partially destroyed, the other is still intact.
In the past, locals would embalm their deceased and place them inside a circular arrangement within a tomb with several floors that sometimes rose tower-like.
The shelves would be used to store the bodies of children.
According to one source, someone who opened the first such tomb said that the dead had enormous bone structures and that their teeth were as white as pearls.
They lay down peacefully, looking at eachother.
I wish that the government would allow archeologists into these old tombs to learn more about the past of this remote community in the north.
Hotel of Yasin Valley
This was enough for one night, so we rest and recuperated at Fort Hotel Yasin, Ph. 03554222333 is run by the knowledgeable Colonel who, despite his considerable age, looked younger than me.
This is what good company, clean food and a peaceful environment can do for your aging.
Ghizer Land Cost
The next question I had was about the cost of land in this area. They said that it costs upwards to Rs 20 per Kanal.
These communities have used every blade of grass.
Yasin Valley’s medicinal herbs
Kahveer, a flower that has medicinal properties for men and their manhood, is available.
Yasin Valley’s Fruit Farms
We walked to a Cherry farm friend and enjoyed our delicious food.
I did not know the crimson cherry was not at the top of their line. It is the bright red cherries that are most sought-after.
Locals are descendants from warriors so every family has a collection of modern weapons. It is possible to find anything from ancient guns, sniper rifles, and AK-47s – you just need to ask.
After enjoying a good breakfast, we set off for Yasin Valley to reach Darkot, also known as “Darkut”. Darkot can be translated as “the fortified of passes”.
Darkot is located in the valley’s last village.
Passes to Darkot Village
- Pass to Afghanistan
- Pass to Ishkoman
- Pass to Tajikistan
Continue onwards at Barandaas Sangam Point, you will find the ancient Shamashan Ghat (cremation ground), which was once Hindu.
The megalithic stones are still in the form of a funeral pyre.
These areas were home to Hindus long before Buddhists arrived in the 1 thcentury AD.
HINDU SWASTIKA ROCK CRAVINGS OF YASIN
Hard evidence is found that Hindu worship was observed in this area, such as the presence of traditional Hindu symbols like swastika and a circular engraved in rocks deep within the Yasin valleys.
BARANDAAS – THE TREASURES
I was told by a local in the Brandaas that a Caucasian lady, accompanied by electronic gadgets, appeared at the site one day in 2018. She was searching for something on a ridge just above the ancient cremation ground.
According to the guy, she found something when she got too excited and didn’t let anyone else see it.
Another legend is that the local saint from Badakhshan was the one who ate the man-eater. Mirza Katchat was the original name for this beast.
It took 2.5 hours for Yasin town and Darkot to reach on bumpy roads.
As the track towards Darkot becomes alive with massive waterfalls of 300 feet, the valley is known as the valley that falls.
The whole route was so appealing that I sometimes couldn’t choose which direction I should look.
Darkot, Killed Firangi
After injuring myself on the bumpy road, I was able to reach the “firangi” quarters at Darkot village. The local Raja’s henchmen assassinated John Hayward in 1860, while he was spying for Britain.
Some believe that the Dogra rulers of Kashmir killed him because he exposed their atrocities towards the Yasini population, especially the massacre in Mudoori.
In fact, the valley where Britain was assassinated leads directly to Ishkoman.
Gamobar Glacier, Darkot
Darkot’s Glacier is home to its massive ice mountains and lakes as well as streams.
This place is so remote and beautiful that it is hard to see people outside. Only the cattle are allowed to graze on the community pastures.
Khaltar Lake of Darkot at high altitude
A high-altitude lake is located at the top of Darkot’s precarious mountain, called the Khaltar. I chose not to go there as I’m a coward who doesn’t want another pasture.
But, I heard grass is like carpet and flowers only bloom for a few week each year. The lake is crystal clear.
Because of the end of the road, I turned around.
The road is well made up to Umalsat.
I drove 4 hours from Darkot to Gilgit and stayed the night there.
I found out the next morning that both roads from Gilgit were blocked to Islamabad.
The Babusar road was opened at 11 a.m. I was the first person to speed back to Islamabad.
My all-terrain radial tires burst as I was cutting across a stony road. Now, my inspection bill has risen to Rs 170,000.
Yasin Valley Trip: Expenditure
These are the total costs
- Diesel Islamabad, Darkot, Yasin Valley, back Rs 45000
- Gilgit Hotel Accommodation: Rs 8000 + 88000
- Yasin Hotels – Accommodation from Rs 7000
- Food Rs.5000
- Essential purchases Rs 4000
- Water Rs 1500
- SCOM mobile SIM Rs. 1000 (only SCOM is available in Gilgit)
- A 4 Day Trip Costs Rs 78000
Some Frequently Asked Questions About Yasin
HOW TO GET THERE
Hire a 4×4 or drive there. Driving a car to the glacier is not an option.
BEST TIME FOR VISIT?
Yasin can be seen best between May and September
WHAT DOES THE YASIN MEAN
Yasin Valley was formerly called Worshigum. Yasin is a modern name derived form the Arabic letters Ya (and Sin) and implying Prophet Muhammad’s presence in the Quran.