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Khaplu Valley Skardu: The best example of a connection between nature and the Tour

Sustainability literally means the ability to maintain balance. This balance can be in nature and man-made architecture, in culture and economy, or in environmental and economic matters. From these three references, we see many examples in the Far East and the West, but in the case of Pakistan, there are very few such examples in the cities.

But my search for local examples was somewhat met with a recent visit to Khaplo. Khaplo, located in the Ganchha division of Gilgit-Baltistan, was settled by Syed Ali Hamdani at the foot of the Karakoram dynasty in the late 14th century.

This is the last stop for trekkers heading to Mashreq, K6, and K7 via Hoshe Valley. What amazed me at Khaplo was the nature-friendly architecture here. Most of the buildings were built using locally available resources and construction techniques and seemed to blend in with the environment.

Unlike any other tourist destination in the Northern Territory, there is no desire to subdue nature, cut down vast forests and control wild flora and fauna. For me, Khaplo was an oasis in the cold desert of Gilgit-Baltistan where natural places, river flows, and local forests are valued.

In this city of 200,000 people, no crime has been committed for more than half a century. The crime rate here is zero. To me, this is an example of sustainability because nature is happy and its citizens are satisfied, thus maintaining a balance between the structure of the city and its social impact. This ‘balance’ is also reflected in the hospitality of the locals. Even strangers would talk to us and invite us to their homes and offer us fruit.

We visited Khaplo in the month of June and were told that there are different sights and colors in different seasons. The white trees here turn yellow in the autumn and the area is covered with a white sheet in the winter, while the pink color is seen here at the beginning of the spring season. Thus we see another example of harmony. The local houses here are also a reflection of the natural colors and are usually painted in bright colors.

The harmony between architecture and nature

Stone, mud bricks, tin sheets, wood, and lime plaster are commonly used for residential construction. Often all of these things are put together in a very crude way. Nothing is done to hide this rough condition and rough surface. There is no shame in revealing the correct style of construction. In fact, locals are proud to point out the irregularities in the construction of houses as they represent the organic and natural elements found in nature.

The overall structure of the city also shows a lack of sophistication. There are no wide roads for vehicles, but the quiet streets are built keeping in mind the changes in land structure and altitude. The buildings here are also in harmony with the natural water resources of the area. There is no sewerage system and citywide sewerage depends on natural gravity.

One might think that this quiet city is safe from the effects of globalization due to its distance from the provincial capital Skardu or difficult routes but this impression is shattered when you know that the literacy rate here is 90%. ۔ I went to a government boys’ secondary school to participate in a speech contest. The profound knowledge and confidence shown by the students there showed how much they were connected to the world and how much they knew about it.

The school building was built around a large courtyard, with many trees. There were various school buildings that were constructed keeping in view the natural structure of the land. All of those buildings were built of locally available stones, had only one floor, and had a slope to one side of their roofs due to snowfall in the area. Due to the materials used in the school building, it had a natural beauty and was easy to repair.

Garden of paradise

As a tourist destination, Khaplo is famous for its forts and the 800-year-old Chaqchan Mosque. These two constructions are an expression of the desire to harmonize with nature rather than subjugate it.

The materials used in these two constructions make them part of the natural environment of the area instead of isolating them from the environment. Even the rehabilitation project of Khaplo Fort, which was started in 2005 under the Aga Khan Cultural Service, took care to use only natural materials in the restoration work.

Historical memoirs of British tourists call it the ‘Fortress of the Local Mountains’, while Khaplo is described as the ‘Garden of Paradise’ and ‘The Most Beautiful Oasis in the Region’. The Shewak River, which flows through here, adds to its beauty. Most of the houses built along the river have now been converted into rest houses and hotels, just like the rest house in which we stayed.

Khaplo’s fort

Khaplo’s fort was built on perfectly flat land in the 19th century, and there was another fort near it that was built on a hill. Made of stone and wood, the fort is rectangular in shape. In front of the fort, there is a three-story balcony made of wood. There are various types of carvings that are believed to have Tibetan, Persian, and Kashmiri traditions.

Carved wooden pillars, covered porches, and wooden latticework also add to the decoration of the fort. These things indicate that the local laborers took part in the construction of this fort and at the same time it is a manifestation of the relationship between the local elite and the working class.

The handicrafts and the doors and windows have been restored. The lower ceilings of the rooms convey a sense of humility in a way.

At present, the fort is inhabited by the descendants of the Yabgu family. He explains that the site for the fort was chosen on the basis of where the rock falling from the mountain stops. This technique of selecting land for construction reminded me of the feng shui method of selecting land. In this way also the natural environment was taken into consideration while constructing the different rooms of the building. Upon further investigation, I learned that the Yabgu rulers were originally from Chinese Turkestan, now known as the Xinjiang State. Maybe that’s why they have so much respect for nature.

There is also a garden inside the fort and the living rooms are in the main four-story building. There are also buildings such as stores, kitchens, and stables. The layout of the main garden is similar to that of Mughal Chahar Bagh and water has been used extensively in the form of ponds and fountains in small gardens.

Chaqchan Mosque

The construction of Chaqchan Mosque is attributed to Syed Ali Hamdani. He was the first to preach Islam in the area. They came to Khaplo in the late 14th century. The main hall of the mosque can be reached by climbing the stairs, for the decoration of which carvings have been made on wood. It is said to be the oldest surviving building in the whole of Gilgit-Baltistan. There is also an Astana here and the restoration work of this mosque has been done by Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Pakistan.

One thing I noticed about this mosque was that as a woman no one objected to me entering the mosque and praying, especially when it was time for the local worshipers to pray.

This attitude and tolerance of the locals were also seen on the streets of Khaplo where the locals greeted us with smiles and talked to us. This balance of status leads to social stability which brings out various aspects of ‘sustainability’ as well as general equality in the society.

We also visited the Sports Ground near Khaplo’s Fort, which is also known as the Polo Ground but hosts a number of other sports. Here sometimes polo, sometimes football and sometimes cricket is played and sometimes skiing is done. Many players and spectators live here and as the landscape of the area changes with the seasons, the landscape of the field also changes, and thus another connection with nature comes to the fore.

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Maria Hussain
Maria Hussainhttps://www.mindsetterz.com/
Mars is a content writer and founder of Mind Setterz the place for you to get SEO tips, backlinks. He gained extensive knowledge by doing researches on various technology projects. He is Also a good Fashion Blogger You will find his SEO-related contributions on top sites online.

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