District Ghanche lies on the northern most province of Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan.
The area is mountainous with abundant natural resources and tourism being the only industry of high prospects.
District Ghanche is one of the poorest regions of the province. However, being northern most region in Pakistan it possesses highest mountains, huge glaciers, natural lakes and other tourist attracting view sites. The region has a short summer season and a long winter during which it receives heavy snowfall.
Despite living in harsh conditions peoples are very lively and generous. They have rich culture and cultural events are celebrated throughout the year.
The Local culture and traditional festivities are celebrated with high zest and zeal. People flock in to Khaplu, District’s capital town, to celebrate these festivals. In the midst of mountain hills, small Khaplu town is located in Karakorum range along the southern bank of river Shyok and the center of such events is the polo ground at the foothill besides the old Royal Palace (now Khaplu Serena Hotel).
Recently, Jashne-Ghanche was celebrated for a whole week and ended on 13th September 2017. Jashne-Ghanche is celebrated once in the whole year and marks the freedom from the Dogra Raj (The Dogra rulers of Kashmir ended in 1948).
During the week of celebration, Polo, volley ball, football tournaments were played. Polo is played throughout the Baltistan and is a special part of the celebrations. Free style polo is a test for the players and horses for their skill, agility and strength.
15 teams from all over Baltistan participated in the tournament to show their supremacy in the freestyle polo, prominent teams being the Rondu, Chorbat and Skardu Polo Teams.
Unexpectedly, Khaplu crept in to finals against strong Rondu Team, which the Rondu team won with high colors. In the event, prizes were also distributed to the winners of all games.
On the final day, special cultural dances were performed. The dancers wearing white Qameez and Shalwar with a thick sash around their waist, wearing traditional white woolen headwears dances with swords in their hands. The local band plays special tunes and the dancer mesmerizes the audience. People’s clapping and cheering made the dancers zealous in their performance.
Ironically, this is ‘mindoq-ltamno’ dance or the ‘dance of flower festival’ but is done with swords in their hands.
Every move of their body follows the tunes played by the musicians. Slowly the rhythm of the tunes turns higher and higher, so does the dancers’ moves in complete harmony.
Along the great natural gift of beauty of the region including jungles, green fields, alpine grasslands, beautiful fauna and unique flora, the area is also blessed with a unique culture, language and history that needed to be supported and protected.
It is the beauty of the culture that glued the people in the region together making the area one of the most peaceful regions in Pakistan. The culture of whole Gilgit Baltistan is vibrant, colorful, and joyous and gives people the opportunity to live with love and brotherhood.
Not only that, positive promotion of culture can contribute to boost the tourism sector which is only good prospect for now at least.
Boosting tourism industry with supporting such cultural events can boost tourism which will help the local people to generate income and reduce poverty. Such events can also proved to be a great strategy to counter rising religious extremism in Pakistan.