The Balti is an ethnic group of Tibetan descent with some Dardic admixture, who lives in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan. In addition, smaller populations also exist in Ladakh, a region of Jammu & Kashmir, India; others are scattered in Pakistan’s major urban centers of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad/Rawalpindi. The Balti language belongs to the Tibetan language family and is a sub-dialect of Ladakhi. Balti, Ladakhi and Burig are mutually intelligible.

Centuries of Tibetan, Persian and Indian influence have shaped the Balti culture into its modern form. Islam plays an important role in Balti culture. Tibetan influence can be seen in its architecture, where houses with flat roof painted white and sloping inwards are built, and the most notable artifacts of the Balti/Ladakhi architecture include Kharpoche in Skardu, Khapulo Khar in Khapulo, Chakchan and Shigar Khanqah and Baltit Fort of Hunza. Like the Ladakhi Muslim architectures, older mosques show a mix of Persian and Tibetan architecture, although strong Persian and modern influences can be seen in the newer mosques.

Little remains of the pre-Islamic Buddhist culture of Baltistan, largely destroyed and supplaced by the dominant Punjabi and Persian culture which arrived with Islam; this can be evidenced in the near-extinction of traditional Balti festivals such as Mephang, Mindok Ltadmo and Srup Lha. Folk literature such as those of Lha Kesar and works of Ali Sher Khan Anchan prevail among the Balti literature, which has experienced a revival in recent years.

Although climatic conditions are harsh and inhospitable, the village people of Baltistan are among the most friendly and hospitable of mountain peoples in Pakistan. The predominant population of today’s Baltistan is religiously and ethnically homogeneous.


Day 01: Islamabad
Day 02: Islamabad – Chilas
Day 03: Chilas – Skardu
Day 04: Skardu – Khaplu
Day 05: Khaplu – Hushe Valley
Day 06: Hushe Valley
Day 07: Hushe Valley – Shigar Valley
Day 08: Shigar – Askole
Day 09: Askole
Day 10: Askole – Skardu
Day 11: Skardu – Chilas
Day 12: Chilas – Islamabad
Day 13: Islamabad/Rawalpindi
Day 14: Fly to detination