Yasin Valley runs north-West from the Gupis Junction of Gilgit city to Shandur road.
History of Yasin Valley
Because this valley is nearly a dead end at the Tajikistan or Afghanistan border, not too many people are brave enough to venture there and cross the high-altitude passes above 13000 ft.
The plains of Yasin Valley are thought to be battlegrounds for ancient armies that fought over this useful route into central Asia.
The colonial British promoted infighting amongst the various royals of Chitral over the valley, sent Dogra armies to take over, and eventually took over the valley directly.
Because Yasin has so many mountain passes connecting to Chitral, It is, therefore, not a coincidence that the Mehtar of Chitral used to control the whole of Yasin Valley by force.
Various Mountain Passes of Yasin Valley
- Darkut Pass at 4267 meters connects Yasin with Wakhan Corridor and Chitral
- Broghil Pass at 3798 meters connects Yasin with Broghil onwards to Wakhan
- Thoi Pass at 4690 meters connects Yasin to Yarkhun Chitral
- Assumber Pass connects Yasin to Ishkomen
- Also, Attar Pass at 4700 meters connects Darkot Village to Ishkoman too
- 5000 meters high Mountain Passes from Nazbar town in Yasin connect it to Mastuj Chitral onwards to Broghil
Road Condition from Islamabad to Yasin Valley
The road was in a bad shape previously, but not anymore. Due to the sacrifice of Lalak Jan Shaheed Nishan e Haidar, the government had built a new single-track road to this town, Hundur in the Valley.
Only the last one hours up to Darkot is still under repair.
Distance and time from Gilgit to Yasin Valley
It takes 4 hours from Gilgit to Yasin covering about 150 km.
The bridge over the Gilgit River towards Yasin Valley
There is only one major bridge over this portion of the river. This bridge was recently built by the Chinese. The last bridge was built by the British Colonials in 1925.
In-between, Pakistanis have been chilling – and waiting for divine help.
Distance and time from Islamabad to Gilgit
It takes 12 hours of driving from Islamabad to Gilgit over the Babusar Pass which is a total of 512 kilometers. That is, if you leave Islamabad at 3:30 am, to avoid unnecessary delays in the towns and cities of Balakot and Mansehra.
Distance and time from Islamabad to Yasin Valley
It is not possible to drive from Islamabad to Yasin town of Yasin Valley as the distance is 650 km and it would take 16 hours to get there.
It is near impossible to drive constantly for 16 hours without any break.
The alternate road through Besham is too bumpy and at least 15 hours of driving time from Islamabad to Gilgit.
Weather at Yasin Valley
Also, it gets cold pretty quickly.
The weather at Yasin Valley stays below 30 0 Celsius all year round even in the peak summer season May to October. The weather sometimes drops to 15 0 Celsius when it rains so a jacket and warm clothing are a must.
After October the temperature drops close to 10 Celsius and becomes uncomfortable as you need a lot of gas and firewood to stay warm.
Check the weather before leaving for Gilgit as even in the peak summer season the snow is enough to block traffic for a few days.
Night stay at Gilgit
We stayed the first night at Douryo Inn Gilgit Ph. 03417854770 which was comfortable and affordable. They even had hot water and the food was hygienic.
The next day we drove to eastwards from Gilgit City to Yasin town of Yasin Valley.
On reaching the relatively bigger-sized bridge with load members painted yellow (near Gupis), we turned right into the valley.
Trout Fish at Yasin Valley
Our first stop was fresh fried trout from the Rocks and River Trout farm Ph. 03129717417. Since there were very few spices used, it tasted good.
The weather got cold after a few hours of haze and we had to pull out our jackets, parka, and caps.
I was told that a few days of rain can have snow coming down near the floor of the valley, so pack your cold gear, just in case.
Bojayote View Point Yasin Valley
Next, we stopped at the Bojayote viewpoint of Yasin town and after climbing to the viewpoint through endless freshwater streams and farms, we got a view of the beautiful Yasin Valley curving Eastwards, with a river running through.
Rajas in the olden days are said to have had a permanent presence here to oversee the Valley and anyone coming through.
Map of Tracks, Lakes, and routes of Yasin Valley
Tukhumrezi Festival house Yasin Valley
Next, we saw the Shiri Badad Raja’s palace home which is preserved in its original state
The legend of this home is that this raja developed a penchant for devouring infant kids because the young goats he had been eating before were fed from women’s milk.
When the Raja’s atrocities got too much to handle for the locals, they got together one summer night, lit up their torches, and burned the wicked raja.
Now everyone celebrates this occasion at the start of spring in a festival called Tukhumrezi Festival
There are still bullet holes on the wooden throne from a musket that was fired from a Dogra Army gun to subdue the loyalists of the local Raja Gohar Aman in the rebellion of 1842 – 1863 against British rule.
Forts of Yasin Valley
Muduri Fort Yasin Valley
Our next stop was the Muduri Fort where the massacre by Dogra forces took place in 1863 and 16 women of Yasin valley were forcibly taken away by the Dogra Army as a punishment for the rebellious people.
The Hindu Dogra army had the backing of British rulers.
The ruins of Muduri fort were once built on top of a solid piece of rock about 500 feet high rising straight up from the river bed below.
There was no access to the fort either from the front or rear.
This fort was virtually impenetrable, as the besieged forces would get their ration and water from the mountain streams and farms land inside the fort.
The Dogra commander used the Trojan technique and disguised as local militia, sticking an herb that is local to Yasin on all his troops. The guard at the gates let this formation in and then they massacres everyone inside and destroyed the fortress.
Mudoori Fort Trek of 7 blue lakes
A trek starting from Mudoori Fort goes to Makuli meadows and passes through 7 blue water lakes.
We then got down from Mudoru fort and stopped at Yasin Fort which is still under renovation.
The next stop was the Chumarkhan fort which literally translates as Iron fort. It was so inaccessible that the fort administration had to pipe in water through the top of two precarious peaks.
Polo Match in Yasin Valley
Coming back to Yasin Town, we saw a polo match between two local teams which was a playoff to select the best team for the Annual Shandur Festival scheduled in the first week of July every year.
The brutal game, with no helmets and guards, was an accident waiting to happen. It is no wonder every polo player I met had broken limbs and multiple stitches on their foreheads.
Tomb of the dead in Yasin Valley, Ghizer
Then there are two tombs of the dead in Yasin, with one partially damaged while the other is still intact.
In the olden days, the locals would embalm and position their dead in a circular arrangement inside a tomb that would have several floors and sometimes would rise tower-like.
The dead children would be stacked on shelves.
One account of someone who was the first to open such a tomb says that the dead had huge bone structures and their teeth were still white as pearl.
They were reclining quite peacefully looking at each other.
I wish the government would allow archeologists to study these ancient tombs and learn about the ways of the long-gone people in this isolated community up north.
Hotel of Yasin Valley
As this was enough for one day, we rested and recuperated at the Fort Hotel Yasin, Ph. 03554222333 run by the well-informed Colonel, who looked younger than me despite his significant age.
This is what a peaceful environment, clean food, and good company can do to aging.
Land cost in Ghizer
My next question was how much does land cost here and they said it is upwards of Rs 20 lake per Kanal.
Every blade of grass has been used in these sparse communities.
Medicinal herbs of Yasin Valley
There is a flower called the Kahveer which has medicinal qualities for men and their manhood.
Fruit Farms of Yasin Valley
We walked into a friend’s Cherry farm and ate to our heart’s delight.
I never knew the crimson cherries are not at the top of the line, it is the bright red ones that are more sought after.
Because the locals are descendants of warriors, every family has an array of modern weapons to show off. You can find everything from ancient guns to sniper rifles to AK-47s – all you need to do is ask.
After having a full breakfast early in the morning, we set out for the end of Yasin Valley, a village called Darkot pronounced “Darkut”. Darkot means “the fort of passes”.
Darkot is the last village in this valley.
Passes of Darkot Village
- Pass to Afghanistan
- Pass to Ishkoman
- Pass to Tajikistan
Barosho Antique house
At Barosho House is a traditional home setup for tourists said to be 600 years old. It had everything from traditional musical instruments to weapons to pots and pans.
Going further ahead at Barandaas Sangam point is the ancient Shamashan Ghat (cremation grounds) when this area was still Hindu.
The megalith stones are still arranged in the shape of a funeral pyre.
Hindus lived here probably before Buddhists reached these areas in the 1st century AD.
Hindu Swastika Rock Carvings of Yasin
There is hard evidence of Hindu worship here from the upper castes as traditional Hindu symbols like the swastika and a cross enclosed in a circle engraved in rocks deep in the valleys of Yasin.
The treasures of Barandaas
A local from the Brandaas area told me that a Caucasian lady appeared at the site alone one day in 2018 along with electronic gadgets and was searching for something on the ridge directly above the ancient cremation grounds.
The guy told me she did find something because she got excited but didn’t let the local porter come close to see.
Man-eater of Barandaas
There is also this legend of the man-eater that the local saint from Badakhshan tamed here. The beast was called Mirza Katchat.
It took 2.5 hours to get from Yasin town to Darkot on a bumpy
Waterfalls of Darkot
The valley can be called the valley of waterfalls as the track towards Darkot comes alive whenever it rains with huge 300-foot waterfalls that come cascading down on both sides.
Sometimes I couldn’t decide which direction to stare, because the whole route was so attractive.
Firangi Killed at Darkot
After injuring my entrails on the bumpy road, we managed to get to the “firangi” quarters of Darkot village. It was here that the British colonial officer John Hayward was assassinated in 1860 by the local Raja’s henchmen for spying for Britain against Russia.
Some say the Dogra rulers of Kashmir had him killed for exposing their atrocities on the Yasini people especially the massacre of Mudoori
Incidentally, the valley where Britain was assassinated leads to another heaven Ishkoman.
Gamobar Glacier of Darkot
Darkot has its Glacier, with its gigantic ice mountains, lakes, and streams.
The place is so pristine and remote, that you hardly see anyone venturing outside except the cattle grazing on community pastures.
Khaltar high altitude Lake of Darkot
There is a high-altitude lake on top of a precarious mountain in Darkot called the Khaltar. I didn’t go there because I am a coward and don’t want to die just to see another pasture.
But I have heard the grass is like a carpet and the flowers bloom only for a few weeks every year. The lake is as clear as glass.
I turned back from this place because the road ended here.
The road is metaled and quite well made up to Umalsat
From Darkot I drove to Gilgit in 4 hours and stayed the night there.
The next morning, I found out that both the roads out of Gilgit to Islamabad were blocked.
The Babusar road opened up after 11 am and I was the first one to speed back to Islamabad.
I burst my radial, all-terrain tires while cutting across a stony path and the inspection bill for my 4×4 has now crossed Rs 170,000.
Expenditure of Yasin Valley Trip
The total expenditure is as follows
- Diesel Islamabad to Darkot, Yasin Valley, and back Rs 45000
- Accommodation at Gilgit Rs 8000 + 8000
- Accommodation at Yasin Rs 7000
- Food Rs 5000
- Essential purchases Rs 4000 (Salajeet, Honey, Apricot products, Tomoru herbal tea)
- Water Rs 1500
- SCOM mobile SIM Rs 1000 (only SCOM works here, so get one at Gilgit)
- Total Rs 78000 for a 4 days trip
Frequently Asked Questions on Yasin
How to get there
Drive there or hire a 4×4. A car would not take you to the glacier.
Best time to visit?
May to September is the best time to see Yasin.
Best Tour Guide for Yasin Valley?
- Try Fareed 03435202715 for arrangements
- And Arif 03025445510 as a tour guide
What does Yasin Mean
Yasin Valley was originally called Worshigum. Yasin is a later-day name derived from the Arabic letters Ya and Sin, implying Prophet Muhammad himself in the Quran.
If you still need help arranging a trip, call me at 03005111523
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