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Gilgit is the Capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan, an administrative territory of Pakistan. The city of Gilgit constitutes a tehsil within Gilgit District. The city's ancient name was Sargin, later to be known as Gilit, and it is still referred to as Gilit or Sargin-Gilit by local people.

In the Burushaski language, it is named Geelt and in Wakhi and Khowar it is called Gilt. Ghallata is considered its name in ancient Sanskrit literature.

Gilgit was an important city on the Silk Road, along which Buddhism was spread from South Asia to the rest of Asia. It is considered as a Buddhism corridor from which many Chinese monks came to Kashmir to learn and preach Buddhism.
Brogpas trace their settlement from Gilgit into the fertile villages of Ladakh through a rich corpus of hymns, songs, and folklore that have been passed down through generations. The Dards and Shinas appear in many of the old Pauranic lists of peoples who lived in the region, with the former also mentioned in Ptolemy's accounts of the region. Two famous travellers, Faxian and Xuanzang, traversed Gilgit according to their accounts.

Religion

About 99% of the population of Gilgit is Muslim, with 71% Twelver Shia Muslims, 17% Ismaili Shia Muslims and 12% Sunni Muslims.

Climate

Gilgit experiences a cold desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWk). Weather conditions for Gilgit are dominated by its geographical location, a valley in a mountainous area, southwest of Karakoram range. The prevalent season of Gilgit is winter, occupying the valley eight to nine months a year.

Gilgit lacks significant rainfall, averaging in 120 to 240 millimetres (4.7 to 9.4 in) annually, as monsoon breaks against the southern range of Himalayas. Irrigation for land cultivation is obtained from the rivers, abundant with melting snow water from higher altitudes.

The summer season is brief and hot. The piercing sunrays may raise the temperature up to 40 °C (104 °F), yet it is always cool in the shade.

Gilgit manuscripts

This corpus of manuscripts was discovered in 1931 in Gilgit, containing many Buddhist texts such as four sutras from the Buddhist canon, including the famous Lotus Sutra. The manuscripts were written on birch bark in the Buddhist form of Sanskrit in the Sharada script. They cover a wide range of themes such as iconometry, folk tales, philosophy, medicine and several related areas of life and general knowledge.

The Gilgit manuscripts were nominated in 2006 to be included on the UNESCO Memory of the World register, but without success. The Gilgit manuscripts are among the oldest manuscripts in the world, and the oldest manuscript collection surviving in Pakistan, having major significance in the areas of Buddhist studies and the evolution of Asian and Sanskrit literature. The manuscripts are believed to have been written in the 5th to 6th centuries AD, though some more manuscripts were discovered in the succeeding centuries, which were also classified as Gilgit manuscripts.

Tourism and transport

Gilgit city is one of the two major hubs for all mountaineering expeditions in Gilgit-Baltistan. Almost all tourists headed for treks in Karakoram or Himalaya Ranges arrive at Gilgit first. Gilgit is served by the nearby Gilgit Airport. Many tourists choose to travel to Gilgit by air, since road travel between Islamabad and Gilgit, by the Karakoram Highway, takes 14–24 hours, whereas the air travel takes a mere 55–60 minutes.

Health care

Tuberculosis, endocrinal disorders with mainly iodine deficiency disorders, iron deficiency, and diarrheal diseases are more common. A sewage system has yet to be fully established, while electricity and water supplies are still faulty. These factors are a hindrance in developing a strong health care system.

Sister cities

  • Kashgar
  • China

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