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28 February 2020

Car rally in cold desert of GB to start tomorrow

Daily Pakistan

In a move to promote tourism in the region, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) government, for the first time, will organise a car rally in freezing cold desert of Sarfranga in Skardu from August 17 to 19.

According to GB Commissioner Asim Ayub, the 30-kilometre car rally will be first of its kind in Pakistan. Around 200 national and international contenders were expected to take part in the competition.

A tent village would be erected near Blind Lake on August 17, while a polo match would be held on August 18 in connection with the festivities planned with the car rally.

Besides, various cultural activities, musical night and traditional ZAKH competition (boating on Indus River) would also be held on August 18 and closing ceremony of the event would be on August 20.

The aim of these events is to introduce traditions and culture of this remote area in the world and opening new opportunities for the local communities in the tourism sector.

According to officials, Sarfa Ranga is one of the highest cold deserts in the world located in Shigar district some 20 kilometres off Skardu. The desert is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, a beautiful lake named Jharba Tso, Indus River and Sarfa Ranga village.

Gilgit-Baltistan government is playing a leading role in holding the event with a vision to initiate a sporting event of national scale in GB as part of an extended tourism season and to diversify tourism activities on financially and institutionally sustainable basis.

The cold desert jeep rally would start from Bab-e-Shigar at 8am and end at the same spot at 3pm, covering a distance of 30 kilometres. Motorcyclists are also participating in the race. A pre-qualification race would be held on August 19 from 10am to 3pm.

On August 18, a tent village would be established at Jharba Tso, where a Zakh (raft) competition would also be held on the same day.

A gemstone and food exhibition, photo competition, cultural music and dance show would also be arranged during the event.

Additionally, a freestyle polo match would be held at Royal Polo Ground, besides, a local traditional festival of ‘May Fang’ (lighting/fire playing) would also be held on Yadgar-e-Shuhada, Skardu to entertain the international and national drivers.

There are sand dunes in Skardu around the River Indus. This desert stretches from the Khaplu Valley to Nubra Ladakh and Shigar Skardu Valley to Zanskar, India, but the largest desert area is found in Skardu and Shigar valley.

Locally called Biana Naqpo and Katpana Biana, the Katpana Desert is located near Skardu Airport, while Shigar desert is located on the way to Shigar Valley

These sand banks are also known a the cold desert with strong winds that shift the dunes, forming different shapes each time. This desert holds a unique place in the hearts of travellers due to its high altitude and cold region.

By Ghulam Abbas to Daily Pakistan