As early as the establishment of the Tibetan Empire under Songtsen Gampo in the middle of the 7th century CE, the Skardu region was a component of Buddhist Tibet. Baltistan was home to numerous Tibetan tantric texts until the ninth century, approximately. Skardu kept in touch with tribes adjacent to Kashgar in what is now the westernmost province of China, Xinjiang, because of the area’s proximity.
Around the 9th–10th century CE, when Tibetan rule over Baltistan ended, Baltistan was taken over by the native Maqpon Dynasty, a Turkic-derived family that, according to local legend, was established when a Kashmiri immigrant named Ibrahim Shah wed a Balti princess.
Baltistan was the home of the Maqpon kingdom, which was known by its Balti name. For over 700 years, the area was ruled by the Maqpon dynasty, a Balti royal house with its capital in Skardu. Baltistan’s borders were stretched by the Maqpon dynasty’s rulers as far as Gilgit Agency, Chitral, and Ladakh.
Maqpon Bokha established Skardu as his capital after attaining the title of king sometime around the year 1500. Around this period, Skardu Fort was built. To assist the region’s economy to grow during his rule, Makpon Bokha brought artisans from Kashmir and Chilas to Skardu. Skardu’s Baltistan territory remained connected because of its proximity to Ladakh, the region that Skardu and neighboring Khaplu frequently fought against, while nearby Gilgit dropped out of the sphere of Tibetan control. Sikhs have long held the traditional belief that Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, stopped in Skardu between 1510 and 1515 while on his second udasi voyage. The Guru is thought to have stayed at Skardu at the Gurudwara Chota Nanakiana, also called Asthan Nanak Peer by the locals.
Battles at Wanko Pass and the Thano Kun plains in 1839 saw Dogra commander Zorawar Singh Kahluria beat Balti forces, paving the way for his assault on the Skardu valley. On behalf of the Dogra Empire centered in Jammu, he took control of Skardu Fort. In addition to publicly torturing Kahlon Rahim Khan of Chigtan in front of a multitude of local Baltis and their chiefs, Singh’s soldiers murdered many of the garrison’s defenders. The last Maqpon King was taken prisoner and the area was subdued by the Dogra rulers of Kashmir in 1845.
Ancestry of Maqpon rulers:
1220-1250 Astak Sange
1250-1280 Zak Sange
1280-1310 Bardak Sange
1310-1340 Sek Sange
1340-1370 Hat Gori Tham
1370-1400 Sa Gori Tham
1400-1437 Khohkor Sange
1437-1464 Ghota Cho Sange
1464-1490 Bahram Cho
1490-1515 Bo Kha
1515-1540 Sher Shah
1540-1565 Ali Khan
1565-1590 Ghazi Mir
1580-1624 Ali Sher Khan Anchan
1624-1636 Abdal Khan
1636-1655 Adam Khan
1655-1670 Murad Khan
1670-1678 Sher Khan
1678-1680 Muhammad Rafi Khan
1680-1710 Shir Khan
1710-1745 Mohammad Rafi
1745-1780 Ruler Murad
1780-1785 Azam Khan
1785-1787 Mohammad Zafar Khan
1787-1811 Ali Shir Khan
1811-1840 Ahmed Shah
(May 1840 Dogra invasion)
What is the culture of Skardu Baltistan?
Skardu culture in Baltistan is extremely unusual. Baltistan today has a Tibetan culture with certain Islamic and Iranian festivities added. Pure Balti culture includes May-fang, rXrub laa, Lchangra, and other terms. Following the incorporation of Islamic principles, Noroz is incorporated into Balti culture.
One of the essential components of culture is music. Early Islamic teachings in Baltistan become more profound, which has the effect of eradicating a significant portion of the local music. In Balti musical tradition, there were 17 different types of poetic lyrics. Each line has a unique significance. Between Balti states, communications were sent using it. They are currently only found in books.
How do people live in Skardu?
Skardu’s way of life is renowned for its simplicity. Aspects of the Buddha’s teachings—helping others in any way—are still practiced in the area. The inhabitants of Skardu are incredibly friendly, helpful, and hospitable.
The cuisine of Baltistan is straightforward and uncomplicated. With cultural cuisines, every ingredient is organic. Most locals are unaware of serious health conditions like obesity, heart difficulties, and digestion troubles.
Life in Skardu
- Mud blocks are used to build mediocre family homes.
- consumes pure and organic food.
- wears wool clothing made from sheep’s wool.
- Goat furs are used to make carpets.
- lives a straightforward existence amidst the bustle of nature.
- uses horseback and hiking trails to get around.
- mostly depends on natural resources.
- adore working in agriculture.