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Gilgit-Baltistan Culture

Balti culture is the culture of Tibetan people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.Population is lower in this region. The residents of Balti speak Tibetan and Ladakhi language.People belonging to Balti culture live in other cities of Pakistan, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi and Islamabad. History of Balti culture covers centuries.In the past, Tibetan 'Persian' Indians and Arabs have left deep impression on the culture of the region;as a result, modern traditions of Balti culture have come into existence. Regardless of the region's education, Islamic teachings are promoted. In recent times, the effects of Tibetans and other cultures are deep. The area looks like gambling patterns, which are white in the ceiling. The old Mosque of style of Muslim culture is prominent in Persian and Tibetan style, while the Persian influence is significant in the new mosques.

At the last census (1998), the population of Gilgit-Baltistan was 870,347. Approximately 14% of the population was urban. The estimated population of Gilgit-Baltistan in 2013 was over 2 million. The population of Gilgit-Baltistan consists of many diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious sects, due in part to the many isolated valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains. The ethnic groups include Shins, Yashkuns, Kashmiris, Kashgaris, Pamiris, Pathans, and Kohistanis. A significant number of people from Gilgit-Baltistan are residing in other parts of Pakistan, mainly in Punjab and Karachi. The literacy rate of Gilgit-Baltistan is approximately 72%.
Gilgit-Baltistan is a multilingual region where Urdu being a national and official language serves as the lingua franca for inter ethnic communications. English is co-official and also used in education, while Arabic is used for religious purposes. The table below shows a breakup of Gilgit-Baltistan first-language speakers.

Local People

The local people here make different cultures and speak different languages. Urdu and English languages are commonly spoken. Since people of different cultures are settled in Gilgit-Baltistan, there are different colors available in the style of construction, clothing and food.
The population of Gilgit-Baltistan is entirely Muslim and is denominationally the most diverse in the country. The region is also the only Shia-majority area in an otherwise Sunni-dominant Pakistan. People in the Skardu district are mostly Shia, while Diamir and Astore districts have Sunni majorities. Ghanche has a Noorbakhshi population, and Ghizar has an Ismaili majority.
Traditional local delicacies food of Gilgit Baltistan
Whether you bring useful control with respect to your craving you camwood attempt this heavenly food for Hunza valley Gilgit Baltistan. This food is precise rich to taste. You will figure out the genuine taste from calming nature Also purity for these nourishments. Wandering clinched alongside Hunza valley. Throughout these uncommon events will be energizing yet the main issue will be your mouth full for water because of those tempting smell for extraordinarily cooked nourishment will aggravate you the vast majority. Though you ever tasted any from claiming this food, maybe you need aid a standout amongst the luckiest people in the universe. So here are some of the best and delicious food items that you must try in Hunza.

Harissa will be a standout amongst the acclaimed dishes for Hunza. The dish will be arranged perusing wheat, meat, oil. Similarly, as oil, they can use dry apricot seeds Likewise an oil with Harissa. This dish is served on special occasions, including wedding works, dining experiences, and celebrations.


Chapshuro will be a standout amongst the delicious dishes of Gilgit Baltistan. It will be the adaptation of pizza here. ChapShuro may be a bread filled for a mixture of hacked Beef. meat, onion. Chapshuro may be loaded with hacked meat, onions, Chile peppers, tomato scourge and new coriander leaves.


Shopan is a traditional one from Gilgit-Baltistan especially ready on the event of Nasalo/Nos (Death fact barbarian king, shariBadat). Clinched alongside Scotland, they bring it haggis Also will be their national dish.


Life may be something like heavenly. Arrange a tour to Gilgit Baltistan. Take a taste about Mamtu What’s more seize the minute for your an aggregation. Mamtu is an exceptional rather what’s more precise, a divine dish to Gilgit Baltistan. Mamtu is extremely heavenly quick sustenance initially went starting with China. Done Pakistan, you had the best figure Mamtu clinched alongside Gilgit Baltistan. Its cooking methodology is exceptional as its taste. Mamtu is heavenly cubes supper with flour centrally filled for mutton/Beef and hot parts.


Go-Lee will be should make your breakfast exquisite. It may be as a rule served on breakfast for ordinary events as well as on exceptional events also. Regularly it may be best for a Namkeen Chai. Giyaling will be a neighborhood incidental dish of a Hunza valley. It is extraordinarily constructed on the event of Gianni, Also Ginani is an occasion which may be performed following the development of a crop particularly the wheat. In the month about May and June, when wheat started to prepare, every last one of the holders of a land try with their fields with revel in the Ginani off chance with Giyaling. Level bread, constructed with entirety grain flours. It is served by spreading butter on bread.

Balay (Noodle Soup w/Goat Meat)

Being a cold mountainous region, there are few things more warming and satisfying when it’s cold outside, than soup. And soup in Baltistan in not a watery affair, but rather the balay as it’s known, is thick and hearty and eats almost like a gravy. Along with the goat meat broth that formed the flavor and base, there were hearty gummy textured noodles and smalls bits of meat mixed within. It was a great way to begin our traditional Baltistan food meal in Skardu.

Prapu (Wheat Noodles w/Walnut Paste)

Prapu is a noodle dish thickened with almonds that have been ground to a powder. The noodles are hand-made using wheat flour, then boiled until soft. When ready, they are covered in a thick paste which includes ground walnuts and pressed apricot oil, and the whole pot is then seasoned with local herbs. The seasoning includes locally grown high-plateau herbs, several of which I’ve never seen anywhere else. Recipes are very hard to find, but I could definitely taste fenugreek seeds, and there may also be potato in the thick sauce as well. Most of the dishes here are made entirely from local ingredients, many parts of the recipe made from scratch by the families. You can immediately see that Balti cuisine is unique, very different from food in Pakistan’s low-land and river-basin areas.

Gyal (Buckwheat Cakes)

There are many different versions of Gyal (or Giyal), but all of them use a local species of Red or Brown buckwheat as the main ingredient.These were one of my favorite foods during the time spent in Baltistan, and I love the heartiness in the simple combination of wheat cakes covered in apricot oil. Gyal has a delicious smoky flavor from being cooked on a flat iron plate, usually over a wood-burning stove or fire. Some Gyal are covered with honey, we had one with a gorgeously sweet smelling apricot jam, and in the town of Gilgit we also had a version filled with a thick spread of walnut and almond paste.

Marzan (Buckwheat with Apricot Oil)

Soaking in water before being milled, the wheat grains take about two weeks before they are ready to be ground. This gives the flour a sweeter taste, and this is a great food to have in the middle of winter when the weather is extremely cold outside.This is a rare dish that will usually be eaten on special occasions, as the wheat is prepared in such a specific and timely way.A bowl of pure apricot oil is served on a small mound of Marzan, gooey, but slightly dry wheat dough. The consistency of the wheat is very similar to how it looks, almost like dumpling or cookie dough. Marzan is very simple, yet filling and satisfying, almost like a cold-weather version of this amazing meal in Ethiopia. This dish provides a lot of energy to people who traditionally work outdoors year-round in the mountain environments of Baltistan.

Boiled Goat (skinless)

Animals that produce milk are very important to the Balti people, and so they are usually raised for their milk and not eaten as an everyday food. As with many parts of the world where people live in more self-reliant environments, the cooking and preparing of an entire animal is one of the ways of highest respect to welcome a guest into one’s home.The goat was boiled with a few small vegetables like onions and carrots, but with very minimal spice and seasoning. It was served still on the bone, and self service to slice off a chunk. The meat is tender from being boiled, but it also has wonderful goat-meat muscle toughness. You know immediately through the flavor that this was a home-raised animal, and not from a meat farm.Eating the entire goat like this was indeed a special occasion, and each hearty bite of goat meat was valuable and enjoyed to the fullest.

Potato Stew (w/Goat Meat)

Considered to be one of the most inaccessible and remote areas in the entire world, Gilgit-Baltistan has only recently had road access even to its own country and capital (roads built in 1978). This has allowed many traditional practices to continue until today, food as well as culture, and a stew like this is one is eaten regularly now, but not a traditional Balti dish.This is a curry in that the ingredients are fried to make a heavily spiced sauce before adding water, but then it is served as a very thick stew. It is full of large chunks of goat meat, potatoes, and a seasoning blend much more spicy than what we saw in more traditional food of Baltistan.In the curry you can taste the masala spices including cumin, black pepper, turmeric powder, and dried ginger, yet the spices are often milder than in other parts of Pakistan, like in Punjab.

Butter Tea (served w/Buckwheat Flour)

One of the backbones of Balti cuisine is actually a drink. This is not your average tea however, and it is much more than simply preparing green or black leaves in hot water.This tea contains salt, butter, milk, and is made with pre-brewed green tea leaves. It is served with a side of fresh ground wheat flour, and a small dish of pure apricot oil which you add to personal taste.Mix in a spoon each of the brown flour and the golden apricot oil, and enjoy a warming and thick mixture of some of the richest liquid imaginable. In some places it is traditional even for several cups of butter tea to be an entire breakfast, and solid food would not be eaten until one has already begun work for the day. Across this entire mountain region from Tibet to Bhutan, butter tea is enjoyed and it’s so well-loved by these mountain dwelling peoples that you can’t possibly visit without having at least a few cups together.

Traditional dresses of Gilgit-Baltistan
The primary purpose of the clothing was to protect people from extreme weather conditions and other harsh environmental elements. Ancient humans were covering their bodies with leaves, animal skin, fur and other materials. Reasons for wearing clothing changed over time. People started to wear clothes for decoration, tribal affiliation, and symbol of profession or rank. Archeological Research has discovered that weaving had started around 27 thousand years back. Traditional and cultural dresses provide important information and knowledge about the cultural and historical heritage of a society. Traditional dresses or clothing are influenced by geographical, religious, economical and moral factors. Gilgit Baltistan has a diverse cultural heritage. Because of the geographic location the region traditional dress of Gilgit Baltistan has some link to the traditional dresses of central Asia, China, Iran and Turkey. With passage of time and new geographical linkage the traditional dress also gradually changed. Wearing a traditional dress is one way to show our real appreciation for our culture and to represent human diversity. By dressing in traditional clothing we can show our interest to preserve the cultural heritage and understand the life style of our ancestors.

Men’s caps from Gilgit-Baltistan

Traditional cap of Gilgit Baltistan has played a major role to define the identity of people of Gilgit Baltistan. In Gilgit Baltistan the men wear traditional cap. The cap has different names in the major local languages. In Shina and Khowar languages the cap is called Khoi, in brushaski it is called Phartsun or Pharsen and in Wakhi it is called sekeed. The design of cap is slightly different in Baltistan and it is called Nating in Balti. Tradtional cap is soft round toped woolen hat. It is made by local artisan and is available in various colors. White caps are most popular in the region and considered as a part f formal local dress. In many areas people specially the older generation still wear their traditional cap all the time with pride. They consider it a sign of honor. Whether they are at home in bazar, local celebrations or place of worship they prefer to wear their cap. They will have their different caps for work, cap for formal dressing and for routine day to day business. Very little research has been done about the local traditional cap and its origin. Its roots can be traced to thousands of years back. There is a similarity found between the traditional cap of Gilgit Baltistan and ancient Greek Kausia.It was worn in ancient Macedonia during the Hellenistic era.

Trousers or shalwar (phirwal, tumboon, Chanalay )

The name shalwar is derived from the Turkish word salvar for trouser. This was later adopted in Urdu and other local languages. The Traditional shalwar of Gilgit Baltistan is very similar to Turkish salvar. It is loose, long, baggy trouser. Traditionally, silk, cotton and velvet fabric was used. The trousers are loose but narrow and fitted around the ankles and shins. The narrow ankle parts of the trousers were sometimes tucked into colorful traditional hand knitted socks. The shalwar was best designed according to local needs. Traditionally horses were used to travel from one place to others. The loose trousers were comfortable to ride on saddle horseback. The narrow part around the ankle would protect against the cold air. And the loose upper part was perfectly comfortable to ride. In addition this dress was also suitable for working in fields and sitting in traditional way in home. The loose part makes it easy for the wearer to bend while working and sitting on the floor.

Kameez (kurtani , peeran, Cheelo)

Kameez or tunic is the upper part dress. Traditional kameez is loose fitted and heel long. The collar of the kamiz was high and was designed as a modern day man’s shirt collar. The Islamic tradition of covering the full body is fulfilled by this design. For bridal dresses colorful embroidered bands were stitched around collars and the lower end of the shirt and sleeves. A small pocket was attached in front or sides of kammeez. A fabric with floral pattern is used for kameez and plain fabric is used for trouser.

Dopata or shawl (phatek, cheel)

Dopata or shawl is an integral part of the traditional ladies dress. Different color of dopata is used. Young ladies wear bright colors while elder ladies prefer dark colors.

Traditional cap

The most elegant part of the women dress of Glgit Baltistan is the traditional cap. Various types of caps are used. The most popular cap is the beautiful embroidered Iraghi cap with traditional piece of jewel called silsila. Many other types of caps are used in various regions. Please refer to my article my cap my pride published in Pamir times.

Over time the local dress has changed considerably. The reasons for these changes are inevitable. Modernization, globalizations , regional and global influences are are the main reasons for these changes. On one hand this change is very important to keep ourselves update with modern world at the same time it is also important to keep our cultural heritage alive. We can keep these traditions alive by giving them a modern touch but preserving the actual tradition.

Baltistan Culture

Balti culture has a history of inhabitants of the mountainous areas of Gilgit-Baltistan which covers centuries.Here, Chinese 'Tibetan' has a Great impact on Persian and Arab tribes' customs, while Islamic teachings have also played an important role in the region.The weather here is intense. The local people here are guests of hospitality and live in a mountainous area. People work on religious and moral traditions. Gilgit-Baltistan is a landmark region with many historical cultures 'shrine trilateral values' and ancient and modern languages.


Mainly there are two types of festivals in Baltistan i.e. religious and cultural. Religious festivals include Eid-e-Ghadir, Eid-ulFitr and EidMiladunnabi (the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad-Peace be upon Him). There are some other important events specific to different communities of interpretation, which are celebrated with complete peace and fraternity.
1. Cultural events include:
2. Navroz,
3. Jashn-e-Baharan
4. Cultural festivals.
5. Shandoor Polo Festival
6. Babusar Polo Festival
7. Harvest time festival

Music and Dances

The famous trio band music is played in this region. On the rhythm of this loud music, men love to dance in their typical way. There are some variations in lyrics from region to region. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan as have some unique and very beautiful dances in different parts. One of the very famous dances is sword dance. In this distinctive dance, the participants show taking a sword in right and shield in left and dance with it.

Sports in Gilgit Baltistan

Sports culture is part & parcel of each soldier. In the afternoon sports games like football, volleyball, cricket, and basketball are routine activity. Inter-wing sport competitions are also organized each year. Gilgit Baltistan Scouts has excellent Polo and Ski teams. This small force has number of Ski players who had represented Pakistan in Ski Championships. Shandur Polo Festival is a national event and this Force takes part in the event regularly. Harvest Time festival is performed in the same way as the seeding festival. The villagers thank Allah (God Almightly) for the bounty that they are going to harvest. For this, it means lively music (drum beats), dancing and eating and on top of sharing the happiness with one another. Traditional sport game of Gilgit Baltistan is polo. Polo was originally started from Gilgit centuries ago and Britisher learned to play Polo from Gilgitis during their stay in sub continent. It is still played in its original version at Gilgit.


Polo is the favourite game of the people of Gilgit, Chilas, Astore, Hunza, Nagar and the surrounding areas. Every year, many tourists visit to enjoy polo in Gilgit-Baltistan. Other games such as cricket, Tuksori of Nagar, gullidanda, kabbadi, and volleyball are also played. Simply stand up and cheer for the local teams, when they clash in a unique style of polo-the game of Kings! Mesmerize Yourself this Summer-Visit Gilgit-Baltistan.