Deosai Plain – A heaven on earth

GILGIT-BALTISTAN   -   Embracing exceptional beauty and mesmerizing views lies down a vast patch of land amidst tall peaks and lush green valleys of Northern Areas offering ample soothing and entertainment facilities to tourists and nature lovers. Known for its enchanting beauty and rich ecology, it enjoys a glaring contrast of landscape and narrow valleys between steep mountains for being in the western massif of the Himalayas, east of Nanga Parbat and in close proximity to Central Karakoram Range. Yes, it is Deosai Plain, a jewel in the crown of Gilgit-Baltistan - situated at an altitude of 3500 to 5200 meters with an area of 358,400 hectare of flat but undulating plains broken by gently rolling hills, it is surrounded by valleys of Skardu, Kharmang, Astore and Gultari and sky high mountains .  With extreme cold weather and low atmospheric pressure, this plateau receives annual precipitation from 350 to 550 mm as it also boasts of having high altitude wetlands characterized by Sheosar Lake at 4,250 meters and fed by snow melt from surrounding snow-clad peaks.

The name ‘Deosai’; itself tells a fascinating story being a combination of ‘Deo’ (meaning giant) and ‘Sai’ (meaning shadow). For being translated as ‘the Shadow of a Giant’ or ‘the Land of Giants,’ this place had been fearful for people with many attributing to it mysterious and supernatural tales. Another fitting name for this region can be ‘Roof of the Earth’ as it stands as the world’s second-highest plateau, towering at approximately 4,114 meters (13,497 ft) above sea level. Eight months it remains covered with snow as remaining four months grace this plateau with pleasant weather and a vibrant array of flowers in multiple colors. “Nobody can deny its beauty. It is a source of inspiration for local and foreign tourists and nature lovers,” remarked a local tourist guide, Aaliya. “People in any region within the country and abroad, are equally mesmerized by grandeur and unmatched beauty of Deosai.”  Deeply attached to its beauty, Aaliay remarked, “It is not just simply a place to visit but an experience leaving ineffaceable imprints on visitors’ minds. I take pride in showing them the wonders of Deosai.” Equally conscious for protection its ecosystem, Aaliya says, “any time I take them along and brief about incredible landscapes and unique flora and fauna of Deosai, I also urge them to protect and preserve its delicate and valuable ecosystem.”  Dotted with several other lakes of crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings, other than the Sheosar lake, one can imagine the plausible feelings of nature lovers to sojourn at a breathtaking landscape in the lap of towering peaks with clouds so close to be easily touched with their hands.  Large tracts of alpine meadow along with dry stony areas and patches of dwarf willows along rivers systems and streams, Deosai also have Shatung, Bara Pani and Kala Pani rivers that form Shigar river – an important tributary of Indus river.

 “Those loving nature and adventure cannot help visiting this place as they take back memories that continue to spark in their mind for years,” said Asifa, a visitor from Lahore.

“There is a unique symmetry of plain, wetland and mountains. It is really a patch of heaven on earth.”  “The moment I set foot on the plateau, I was awestruck by feelings of being on top of the world,” she added. “The summer wildflowers painted the plateau in a riot of colors and the clarity of Sheosar Lake was unbelievable.”  Those who have visited this place take indelible imprints on their minds and those who did not, have an earnest desire to land here in their first moment of leisure.  “Nature and adventure are my passion. The tales I have heard would definitely make me embark on a long journey to Deosai,” remarked Rashid Mahmood, an Islamabad based tourist. “I visited many places in Sindh, KPK and Azad Kashmir. But, despite their beauty, none of them could satisfy my desire for mesmeric Deosai.”

Pakistan Government declared Deosai as National Park in 1993, primarily to protect endangered Himalayan Brown Bear although it is also home to Himalayan Ibex, Snow Cock, Snow Leopard, Ladakh Urial, Kashmir Musk Deer, Himalayan Wolf, Himalayan Marmot, vultures and over 124 resident and migratory bird species. “The park offers a rare opportunity to connect with wildlife in a pristine setting,” remarked a wildlife photographer. “The chance to capture the elusive Himalayan Brown Bear and other unique species in their natural habitat is unparalleled. I spend weeks here to observe wildlife behavior and take a perfect shot. This unique experience leaves cherished memories in my mind.”  Deosai is accessible during June to September and from Skardu city, it takes one to two hour to Deosai National Park via Sadpara. Visitors can travel via Car, Jeep and other vehicles but mostly jeeps and four-wheelers are recommended for travelling.  Just to say, Deosai plateau is a gem of Pakistan’s tourism landscape. With its unparalleled beauty and ecological significance, the Land of Giant is always there to sway the nature loving people with its enchanting beauty.

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