GILGIT (APP): The Jewel of Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan offered its treasures of lofty snowy mountains, fresh water lakes, lush green fairy meadows, gentle breeze, singing birds, strong legacies of art and culture, and mosaic of ancient traditions to the member states of Silk Routes after 13 years.
The just concluded three-day Silk Route Festival 2013 gave a unique opportunity to the youth of Gilgit-Baltistan for showing their art, culture and traditional heritage aimed at boosting tourism, trade and cultural exchange of their area with the delegates of Silk Route member countries.
These include Ukraine, North Korea, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Kyrgystan, Syria, Egypt, Japan, China, Uzbekistan and Indonesia.
The Gojal/Hunza area which has long remained a corridor for researchers, merchants and writers would continue to serve as energy, tourism, trade and culture corridors.
The native people believe that the festival will help attract foreign and local tourists to get a taste of the unique landscape, promote values of peace and stability, regional cooperation and gender equity through sports and cultural activities.
The Silk Route Festival not only focused on performance by the tourism and cultural departments of Gilgit-Baltistan, but the major attraction for the visiting delegates comprising ambassadors, diplomats and tourists was the community involvement.
People of all ages participated in the events both in casual and traditional attires, and introduced the delegates with their rich heritage and legacies.
Besides colorful performances, “King of Games and Game of Kings,” polo match on drum beats, aroma of traditional foods and other legacies of the area, the local people sang in Wakhi language to introduce the participants with the songs that were sung during the journeys of traders on the Silk Route.
Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Muhammed Birjees Tahir says, the festival was an attempt to not only boost tourism industry of Pakistan, but open new avenues of trade and cultural exchange.
It was an historic event which linked the central Asia to the world and this festival will now open some potential avenues, because Gilgit-Baltistan is friendly to tourists because of its peaceful environment.
“The Silk Route Festival will be instrumental in promoting stability in
the region besides creating more opportunities for tourism with its several tourist attractions at one tourist haven”, he stressed.
Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Pir Karam Ali Shah described the festival as an event based on glorious past of cultural and traditional exchange.
Tourists and traders have linked up the living style of Silk Route member countries through this festival and Gilgit-Baltistan is serving as a gateway to the Silk Routes, he said.
The festival featured an art and craft show, gems and jewelry expo, polo match, visits to ancient Budha site, view points of popular peaks connected to old Silk Routes, visits of delegates to Altit and Baltit forts, traditional food fiesta, traditional dances and instrumental performances to show the regional attires and way of living of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The delegates from the silk route member states also visited the affected area of Atta Abad lake and discussed the ways to facilitate the residents of Gulmit area, which lost its road connection to Gilgit due to the lake. The Kashmir Minister has also announced to make a tourist resort at the viewpoint of Atta Abad Lake near Gulmit.
They lauded the role of government for holding the international festival after 13 years and hoped that it will promote cultural exchange, regional stability and develop more tourism opportunities in the area.
Gilgit-Baltistan, endowed with the most unique geographical features in the world, has collection of some of the highest band precipitous peaks in the world. It boasts more than 700 peaks above 6000 meters and more than 160 peaks above 7000 meters.
This mountain wealth makes Pakistan an important mountainous country as the compelling charm of these high, challenging, endless sea of rugged rock and ice pinnacles, attracting large number of climbers, adventure seekers and nature lovers from across the world each year.