Khaplu (Khapalu, Balti:) is the administrative capital of the Ghanche District of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. Lying 103 km (64 mi) east of the town of Skardu, it was the second-largest kingdom in old Baltistan of Yabgo dynasty. It guarded the trade route to Ladakh
along the Shyok River.
Khaplu Valley is 103 kilometres (64 miles) from Skardu and two hours by jeep. It is a sprawling village located at the confluence of the Indus and the Shyok Rivers in Pakistan.
Skardu is a base for trekking into the Hushe valley which leads to Masherbrum mountains. Many famous mountains, such as Masherbrum, K-6, K-7, Sherpi Kangh, Sia Kangri, Saltoro Kangri and Siachen etc. are located there.
The first mention of the former small kingdom called Khápula is in Mirza Haidar's (1499–1551) famous work Tarikh-i-Rashidi (p. 410). The author lists Khaplu district of Balti (stan). Khaplu was also due to close political and family ties with the royal family of Ladakh, in this neighboring country in the 17th and 18th century proven to be very well known.
Khaplu probably first visited by Europeans by Captain Claude Martin Wade (1794–1861), who mentioned "Chílú" in 1835 in a Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal essay. William Moorcroft & George Trebeck (their book was published in 1841) described Khaplu as follows (Part II, p 264): "Kafalun is a province west of Nobra, on the left bank of the Shayuk." Godfrey Thomas Vigne has Khaplu 1835-1838, relying in particular on the local mountain fortress, commented that he was still in an intact condition vorfand (Part 2, pp. 317f). Alexander Cunningham(p. 28ff), who did not visit Baltistan, published in 1854 a brief geographical description of Khaplu and a genealogy of the rulers of this country. Thomas Thomson traveled in November 1847 and briefly described a place of remarkable beauty for Tibet (p. 210ff). Knight reported on his visit to Khaplu (p. 253): "This fair spot what Kapalu, the richest district in Baltistan, and Regarded as a very Garden of Garden of Eden by the Balti people." Jane E. Duncan reached Khaplu in 1904 and held there for three weeks. A detailed report on their stay in Khaplu is well worth reading. De Filippi, who reached Khaplu 1913, characterized the site as follows: "It is, perhaps, the loveliest oasis in all the region." Further information on Khaplu was on a travel report by Arthur Neve (p. 99f). Recent descriptions can be found in the guidebooks Arora, pp. 211f, Lonely Planet, pp. 306f and Beek, pp. 252ff.
In contrast to Skardu and Shigar the territory of Khaplu not focused on a single large river valley, but was spread over three valleys of Shayok, namely on the territory of the present town Khaplu, the valley of Thalle River and the Hushe / Saltoro valley. The area around the mouth of the river in the Thalle Shayok formed the western border of the kingdom. Today Gangche district whose administrative center is located in Khaplu, covers the places Balghar and Daghoni addition to the mouth of the Indus in Shayok and includes the former Kingdom of Kiris as a military bulwark of the West against the incursions of the archenemies Skardu and Shigar the mountain fortresses of Kharku were next to a castle in Balghar and saling been built. In eastern Hushe / Saltoro Tal was in Haldi another fortress. Most important defense system was viewed as militarily impregnable fortress in the town of Khar Thortsi Khaplu.
Khaplu has been called many names like "Shyok Valley," "Ghangche" and "Little Tibet." In Khaplu there are many historical places like the beautiful Chaqchan Mosque (700 years old founded by Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani, the first Islam preacher in this area). Raja Palace is a beautiful building and the last and best Tibetan-style palace in Pakistan. Khaplu Khanqah is attributed to Mir Mukhtar Akhyar and was built in 1712 AD/1124 AH.
Khaplu is the gateway to Masherbrum Peak, K-7, K-6, Chogolisa for mountaineers and Gondogoro la, Gondogoro Peak, Saraksa Glacier, Gondogoro Glacier, Masherbrum Glacier, Aling Glacier, Machlu Broq, Thaely La, Daholi lake, Kharfaq Lake, Ghangche Lake and Bara Lake for trekkers. Khaplu is a scenic place for hiking like Khaplu Braq, Khaplu Thung and Hanjoor,Kaldaq,kholi,Ehli. There is rafting on the Shyok River and rock climbing places like Biamari Thoqsikhar and DowoKraming (hot spring).
The most important religious monuments in Khaplu are the great Khanqa prayer hall, which was built by Sayyed Mohammad, a saint of the Islamic Nūrbkahshīya sect, in 1712, the Astana grave monument of the saint in the immediate vicinity of the large prayer hall and the Chakchan Mosque. The Astana grave monument has been perfectly restored by the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan and thereby saved from total disintegration. The Chakchan Mosque is the largest and most important of the traditional mosques in Baltistan. After Klimburg (p. 155) its establishment as the Amburiq Mosque in Shigar Islamic missionary Sayyed Ali Shah Hamadani is attributed (14th century), which is considered historically as not secured like the Aburiq Mosque.
Khaplu is only approachable by road. The normal road route into Khaplu is by a link road from the Skardu Valley. There are four or five other road links to Kashmir and Ladakh.
A famous all-weather Khaplu-Drass road linked Khaplu with Drass, a city in Ladakh. Since the annexation of Gilgit Baltistan by Pakistan, the road has been closed. ...NOTE... But nowadays there are few helicopter landing pad (helipad) or platform for helicopters are available where people like visitors can land easily their helicopters.
People of Khaplu
The Balti are an ethnic group of Tibetan descent with some Dardic admixture located in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and Ladakh, a region in Jammu &Kashmir, India; as well as scattered in Pakistan's major urban center of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad/Rawalpindi.
Tibetan Khampa and Dardic tribes came to Baltistan prior to civilisation, and these groups eventually settled down, creating the Balti people. It was believed that the Balti people came under the Sphere of influence from the kingdom of Zhang Zhung. Most of the rich and affluent Balti people are of Arabic descent.
The modern world Balti people, however, are not all from Tibetan stock. With the passage of time, many other tribes namely, Shins, Yashkuns (Dardic people), Kashmiris (called Khache in local language), Arabs (mostly Sayeds), Persian (Sufis) and Turks (especially Uygurs from central Asia) made their enroads to Baltistan and gradually merged with the local population. After second or third generation they became Baltis. Today, in Skardu(land of Sakas), the capital of Baltistan region of Pakistan, the most hardened Baltis are outsiders namely Kashmiris or Dard tribes.
Baltistan came under the control of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. Under Tibetan cultural influence, the Bön and Animist Baltis began to adopt Tibetan Buddhism from Indian Buddhism. Religious artefacts such as the Gompas and Chörtens were erected, and Lamas played an important role in the lives of the Baltis.