Deosai.. A wilderness Apart

In the words of Aleister Crowley, “In front of us lay the Deosai, an absolutely treeless wilderness of comparatively level country framed by minor peaks. It gives a unique impression of desolation. I have never seen its equal in this respect elsewhere. Yet the march was very pleasant with many flowers and streams.”And in Gypsy Davy’s words, “It was such an expanse of immensity as I have harldy imagined… It seems you cannot talk in a matter-of-fat way in a place like that”.

Deosai is a place with a magic of all its own. Nature is at her most inventive and extravagant here. Covering an area of almost 3,000 sq Km, all of it above 4,000m, the Deosai plateau is stunningly beautiful. Frozen beneath a deep blanket of snow for mch of the year, the Deosai is surprisingly rich in plants and animals, bursting into life during the brief spring and summer months. Gently rolling hills and grasslands extend into the distance as far as the eye can see, carpeted with brightly colored flowers, the scales of which is largest in the Karakorams and the Western Himalyas. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the Deosai has ultra-pure air that plays tricks on the eyes. There is an unmistakable sense of the elevation in the huge expanse of horizon, the wide open space and the clarity of light and color typical of such high altitudes. 

The spectacular plateau of the Deosai can be visited as a full-day excursion from Skardu by jeep. A jeep track crosses the Deosai between Skardu and the Astore Valley (Skardu-Astore 130km), and down to the KKH at Bunji. It continues west across the Deosai plateau, crossing large clear streams via bridges. As it leaves Deosai, it skirts the northern shore of the deep blue Sheosar Lake. The lake is nestled in the pass and offers sublime scenery. 

Deosai means “The Lands of Giants” in local Balti dialect and it isn’t hard to see how a landscape on such a massive scale could have inspired stories of giants. 

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DEOSAI NATIONAL PARK SKARDU

brown bears of deasai
The Deosai National Park is located between Skardu, Gultari, Kharmang and Astore Valley, in Gilgit-Baltistan Region of Northern Areas of Pakistan. In Urdu language Deosai means ‘the Land of Giants’. Balti people called it ‘Ghabiarsa’ because it is accessible only in summer.

Geography:

Deosai National Park lies in Skardu, Baltistan, at an average elevation of 4,114 metres (13,497 feet) above sea level. The Deosai Plains are one of the highest plateaus in the world. The park stretches on an area of 3,000 square kilometres (1,200 square miles). It is well known for its rich flora and fauna of the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe eco-region. In the spring season, it is covered by wildflowers and a vast variety of butterflies.

Geology and Soil:

The soil of this area is coarser in nature and mixed with gravel and stones different size. In flat areas between mountains,the soil is deep with marshy vegetation.

How to reach there:

Deosai is accessible by Skardu District from the North, Gultari Kharmang District from the South-East and the Astore District from the West. Deosai is located 30 kilometres away from Skardu city and it is the shortest route to reach Deosai. Most of the foreigners visit Deosai from Skardu and it takes an hour to reach on the top through Sadpara Skardu. The other route is from Astore valley throgh Chilim. It is also accessible from Shila Valley. The people of Gultari travel through Deosai. There is another route called Burgi-la through Tsoq Kachura Valley Skardu.

Sheosar Lake:
Deosai Lake or Sheosar Lake, meaning “Blind lake” (Sheo means Blind, Sar means lake) located in the park. The lake, at an elevation of 4,142 metres (13,589 feet), is one of the highest lakes in the world. Its length is 2.3 kilometres (7,500 feet), width 1.8 kilometres (5,900 feet) and average depth 40 metres (130 feet).

Fauna and Flora:
The Deosai National Park was established in 1993 to protect the Himalayan brown bear and its habitat. After banning poachers and hunters, the number of bears has significantly increased from 19 bears in 1993 to 40 in 2005. In 1993 Himalayan Wildlife Project was launched with a substantial financial support from International Environmental Organizations. But the brown bear is still in danger.
The Deosai National Park is home to the Himalayan ibex, red fox, golden marmot (locally called Phia), gray wolf, the Ladakh urial, the snow leopard, and over 124 species of local and migratory birds. Birds in the park include the golden eagle, lammergeier, griffon vulture, laggar falcon, peregrine falcon, kestrel, sparrow-hawk and snow-cock.
The following species are also found in Deosai Artemisia maritima, Polygonum affine, Thalictrum alpinum, Bromus oxyodon, Saxifraga flagellaris, Androsace mucronifolia, Aster flaccidus, Barbarea vulgaris, Artemisia maritima, Agropyron longearistatum, Nepeta connate, Carex cruenta, Ranaculyus laetus, Arenaria neelgerrensis, Astrogalus leucophylla, Polygonum amplexinade, Echinop nivetus, Seria chrysanthenoides, Artemisia maritima, Dracocephalum nutsus, Anapalas contorta, Chrysopogon echinulatus, and Dianthus crinitus. There were also observed some medicinal plants which are localy famous i.e Thymu linearis (Reetumburuk), Saussures lappa (kuth), Ephedra intimedia (Say), Viola canescens (Skora-mindoq), Dracocephalum muristanicum (Shamdun) and Artemisia maritima (Bursay) etc. which are used in traditional drugs.

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