Shigar is the last town before we enter the valley that leads to 8000 m peaks of Pakistan.
History of Shigar
Shigar town was once a kingdom of Amacha. It still has a Summer Palace, a fort on top of a mountain that seems to have been sliced with a knife, several heritage sites, and a pond fed through a natural subsoil aqua duct.
The town was also the transit point of the trade route towards Yarkhand-China and Naltar-hispar- Gigit.
Distance from Skardu to Shigar
Shigar in Skardu Valley is a good 3 hours from Skardu city, and 51 kms.
Climate Weather at Shigar
The temperature and weather of Shigar is a little hot in summers because of global warming, and you perspire and need to drink lots of water and stay away from the Sun. Peak summer months are June, and July.
The heat is multiplied by the barren mountains at its back. The winters are severe though. Temperature Range of the area is -10 Deg C to +34 Deg C, but the Sun burn brighter due to the altitude.
Route Map of Shigar from Islamabad
The route followed is Islamabad – Hazara Motorway – Mansehra – Babusar Pass – Jaglot – Skardu – Shigar
The Valley looks beautiful in the fall season when the leaves turn different hues of yellow.
Shigar from Islamabad
It takes 16 hours to get to Shigar from Islamabad
From Islamabad it can take up to 24 hours’ on the road if Babusar Pass is closed Babusar top.
Things to see at Shigar Skardu
Shigar Skardu desert
The turn toward Shigar from the Skardu-Khaplu road opens up into a high-altitude desert of white sands. People bring their 4x4s there to ride the dunes.
It’s a wonderful combination of warm sand, high mountains, the clear Shigar River, and a cool breeze blowing over it.
Shigar road also takes you to the Askoli village which is the starting point of the grueling trek towards the K-2 base camp. The top five things I loved in Shigar are:-
Shigar Palace Serena Hotel
Shigar palace (Serena Hotel) called the Fong Khar, ‘palace of rock’ is 25000 Rs per night hotel with 1000 Rs per sandwich bar – but it’s worth it.
If you are tired sick of the city life and the dissonance it has brought about in you, Shigar will heal you.
The palace has lovely cherry gardens, a pagoda garden with freshwater channels, 100 years old trees along visitor galleries for lessons on history and heritage.
I would love to spend the whole summers here in Shigar Fort
It’s amazing how the locals survived never-ending winters and isolation with rudimentary tools, yaks, and fruit seed oils. Because of global warming, the place gets pretty hot in the summer months.
Climb to Khosar Gang Peak (6401 m)
From the terrace of the royal palace, you can get a picture of Khusar Gang peak.
The palace has religious symbols carved on the top beams that symbolize Buddhism, Sufi Islam, and Tibetan heritage. One symbol, the ‘swastika’, represents good fortune in Hinduism/Buddhism/Sufi Islam combined.
Right behind the Shigar royal palace is a fort built on top of a high cliff face — for obvious security reasons.
The royals would dump their subjects and cower inside this fort when raiders from adjoining principalities came to seize power – till the time the raiders ran out of food or just got tired.
Only the outer walls of the fort remain now and it is a good hour hike to get there.
Shigar Buddhist monastery ruins
On the other side of this fort, just beyond a higher pasture are the ruins of an old Buddhist monastery.
The place seems very old because of the rock art of animals, instead of any script. This place is nearly 2 hours climb from the palace. Take water with you, there are no streams at the site.
Shigar Amburik mosque
To seek understanding of the advent of Sufi Islam by Amir Kabir Syed Hamdan in the 13th century, the Tibetan-Buddhist heritage, and the local Nur bakhshi Islamic sect, Shigar is the ideal time portal into an ancient world.
Syed Hamadan’s Amburik Mosque, the oldest in the region, and is a UNESCO protected site. With its Kashmiri woodwork, Persian symbols, and Tibetan influence it is absolutely mesmerizing.
Shigar Khilingrong mosque
Khilingrong Mosque is another marvel of the same kind. Women in this mosque had the top floor to themselves — evidence of a tolerant Islam.
Shigar Khanqah e muallah
Khanqah e Muallah and the historical plaque in front tell a story of the dedication of the original preachers.
Shigar Buddist rock carvings
Another Buddhist rock carving is etched on a rock face, a 10 minute drive from Shigar.
From what I have seen, Buddhists built temporary shrines and stone structures at fixed intervals along the ancient trade routes, for wary travelers looking for spiritual healing on their journeys away from home.
Lastly, the blind lake is a natural spring water-fed reservoir that is about an hour’s drive from the main road. The track is stony and dirt-filled, so a 4×4 may be necessary.
It is one of the three valleys around Skardu – but the prettiest.
See the Glaciers
- Every adventure junkie passes through this town to reach the ultimate prize of Boltoro Glacier
- Biafo Glacier
- K-2 Chogori
- Broad peak
These are lay beyond this town, so do stop on the way to collect supplies.
Shigar blue mine precious stones
Lastly, don’t forget to get Aqua Marine and Albite stone from the locals. A clear blue Aquamarine is very rare and magical. If you have liked visiting cigar with us, I am sure you will like to see close-by places in Skardu that we have visited like
Best hotels in Shigar Skardu
- Shigar Serena Phone +92 058154 67108 : Room Charges per night start from 40,000
- Hotel River View Shigar +92 300 2165343 ; Room Charges start from 20,000 per night
Book in advance and you get to stay longer. People from South of Pakistan usually book houses for months in advance and they cost a lot less.
The clothing of Shigar people and their fashion sense in a traditional way, is worth seeing.