Gilgit-Baltistan is, perhaps, the most spectacular region of Pakistan in terms of its geography and scenic beauty. Moreover, it is strategically close to the heart of Central Asia and is the home of the world’s greatest mountain ranges. The Karakoram, the Himalaya, the Hindukush, and the Pamir radiate from this center like spokes on a wheel. This array of mountains has carefully guarded Pakistan’s frontiers with China, India, Afghanistan, and across the narrow Wakhan corridor.
Rich in history, culture, and natural beauty the area has been visited for centuries by travelers, both modern day tourists and ancient travelers from the Silk Road. It also remained for many years a focal point of political and military rivalries amongst the Russian, British and Chinese empires.
Gilgit, the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan known as Asia’s wonderland, stands as paradise when it comes to describing the beauty. Also, the region is significant as it links Pakistan with China and Central Asia. In the past it was a major hub for Buddhism.
Gilgit is a dazzling mountainous valley situated at an elevation of 1,500 meters, which make the topography and climate quite extreme. However, due to the smooth working of the Karakoram Highway and Gilgit Airport, one can easy reach Gilgit.
For every traveler, the city has much to offer: nature, history, adventure, discovery, and luxury. The common language is Balti, instead I would say “Hospitality.”
The supremely astonishing fact is the region has one of the highest literacy rates compared to other similar districts in Pakistan due to the influence of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, whom most of the populace follow as their spiritual leader.
I saw an equal number of girls and boys wearing school uniforms, and women working side by side with men. I had found them in almost every section of the market including selling jewels, on tea stalls, in self-operated restaurants, in fields, and even in the hotel Gilgit Serena, where I was staying. This I found very remarkable!
Gilgit Serena Hotel, located on Sherullah Baig Road, is a gorgeous resort in the cradle of the glittering Karakoram mountain range and was my home for the next few days. It is in proximity to the bus stand and the airport.
Today, after a year the memories of the elegantly chic building with floral lawns stretching on a massive area, natural water fountains, my early morning walks in the bloomy gardens, picking juicy apples, tasting strawberries, running after baby squirrels, and that afternoon joys of swing, make me think of planning for another trip there.
Nestled in the glittering shadow of the stunning Karakoram mountain range, Gilgit Serena Hotel recaptures the warmth and charm of a long-ago mountain retreat, allowing visitors to experience the legendary region in the most authentic way while enjoying modern day amenities; nature lovers can explore the snow-capped beauty of the mountain range while enjoying superlative local cuisine in heritage-style.
Furthermore, the attention to detail and the local design and décor creates a warm, inviting shelter after a day of adventure. Every interior and furnishing of the room displays the aura of pure Gilgit-Culture
Give your skin a new life by having a refreshing bath in the adjacent shower room, equipped with contemporary amenities. Later in the evening, grab a cup of coffee and step out onto the private balcony, you will be enslaved by the captivating views of shiny Mount Rakaposhi, kaleidoscopic Danyore Village, and dancing Gilgit and Hunza Rivers.
The hotel has 44 deluxe rooms, including 2 executive suites which merge modern comfort with traditional refinement recently upgraded. All accommodations feature mini bars, mini refrigerators, work desks, 24-hour room service, private balconies; all rooms are non-smoking.
The spacious 707-square-foot executive suites, featuring a king size beds, separate lounges, and a private balconies with outdoor seating, are designed for travelers seeking more space.
Handsomely designed, these 41 rooms offer one king-size or two twin beds, a work desk, Internet, a safe deposit box, and an attached bathroom.
Gilgit Serena Hotel is a treat for all five senses: the fabulous traditional environment, the aroma of freshly baked bread, the hospitable staff, delightful food, and the dazzling view of Mount Rakaposhi. Moreover, the hotel offers authentic Pakistani delights including local regional dishes, complemented by innovative Chinese and Continental specialties with inviting surroundings. All meals feature fresh ingredients some from the Hotel’s fruit orchards and organic vegetable garden, providing you with the unique opportunity to savor some of the best cuisine in the region.
Renowned throughout Gilgit for its Pakistani, Continental, and Chinese cuisine. I enjoyed the lavish food with views of the hotel’s lawns, mountains, and the live playing of Rubab and Tabla of the unforgettable tune of Shahrukh’s “Baazighar.” The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. On Sundays High Tea is served accompanied with by buffet and a la carte service. Breakfast is complimentary for all the hotel guests.
From May to September, Garden BBQ features everything from seafood to local chicken and beef specialties, under the shade of native trees. The sounds of traditional live music and the water channel’s gentle cascade offer an enchanting backdrop for a classical dining experience.
Sometimes, enjoying food in the privacy of my cozy room or a monarch-like feeling of dinning on the private balcony is what I would love. Around the clock service is available.
Framed by traditional wood architecture, awe-inspiring views of the snow-capped Karakoram mountain range and lush organic orchards and gardens, Gilgit Serena Hotel is the most unique and beautiful hotel in the Gilgit Valley.
Merging the finest of local culture and heritage with personalised service, hotel offers exclusive and immersive experiences designed to make your holiday an unforgettable experience. Whether you wish to visit one of Gilgit’s three hanging bridges, picnic by the Jutial Stream or ski the slopes of Naltar, the staff will help you experience all the wonders that Gilgit-Baltistan has to offer.
Karighar, A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Empowering Project
During my visit I learned about “Karighar” a CSR project of Serena Hotels. This initiative, a vocational center established in 2016, provides entrepreneurship training to various segments of communities mainly women in Gilgit-Baltistan for sustainable growth and improved quality of life.
During my visit, I found Karighar an economic lift-up, empowering the community in this remote region to supplement the household income by providing them with education and training related to bee-farming, as well as stitching and embroidery.
This is not just a hotel but a value chain, however after visiting Gilgit Serena Hotel, where hospitality is culture and tradition, I understood why this has been said.
About the Author
Munaza Kazmi holds MPhil in Management Sciences, is a travel writer, an author, and a co-author of scientific contributions in national and international publications.