Gupis is a tiny but important town in Ghizer, one of the ten districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The capital city of Ghizer is Gahkuch. Ghizer is located on the border of Gilgit and Chitral where China and Tajikistan are linked through Karambar Pass. Shandur Pass connects Chitral to the valleys of Darkot, Ishkomen and Yasin via Karambar Pass. Ghizer District is the western part of the Gilgit-Baltistan. Wakhan Stripe is to the north-west, China to the north, Chitral to the west, Gilgit to the east and Diamer is to the south.
Despite their multi-ethnicity, the residents of Ghizer live in love, serenity and mutual harmony. The primary languages are Shina, Khowar and Burushaski. However some people of Ishkoman speak Wakhi as well.
“Ghizer” is a Khowar language word that deviates from “Gherz”, which literally means “refugees”. The word “Gherz” refers to a settlement in the Golagamudi valley. Chitralis once migrated to the valley and resided in the areas between Chitral and Gupis. The territory was known as Gherz and the people were known as Gherzic.
Punial, Yasin, Gupis, Gahkuch and Ishkoman are the sub-divisions of District Ghizer, with Gupis being the most well-known. Ghizer is 112 kilometres (70 miles) from Gilgit. Gupis is 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Gahkuch. It has several distinct features because of its proximity to the Phandar, Yasin and Punial valleys. Main attractions in Gupid include Khatli lake, Gupis Fort, Megalithic Stone Circles and Shingalote village. The valley is at the meeting point of the Hindu-Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges.
The valley’s well-known casts include Gilite, Burange, Sukhe, Bujuke, Phate, Dorane, Shamshere, Shale and Sarale. The population is primarily dependent on agriculture and cattle ranching for a livelihood purpose.
The area was controlled by three Raja-brothers: Katuray, Brushay and Khushwaqte. Paloyo, the Mehtar of the Gupis, had also ruled throughout the Maharaja’s reign. Yasin and Punial’s Thom kings ruled for a lengthier period of time. Later, the lands were taken over by the Mehtars of Chitral and the Maharaja of Kashmir. Ghizer was added to Gilgit Agency in 1895. British ruled it completely until the partition.
The Khushwaqte were the lords of the Chitral valley. Their control spread to neighbouring valleys, such as Gupis, Phandar and Yasin. During their reign, several cohorts from Kohistan and Gilgit came to Gupis and nearby villages.
A highway connects Gahkuch to the scenic splendour of the Gupis valleyl. Despite its small area, Gupis is well-known for its ancient and historical monuments, which stand with all their glorying past. However, Khalti Fort is a popular tourist site in the Ghizer valley. It needs conservation and repair. The responsible authorities and the Archaeology Department should take notice of the deteriorating status of this national heritage. Numerous ancient Megaliths are scattered around Gupis and Ishkoman.
Accessibility & Accommodation
A metal highway facilitates convenient access to the valley. PTDC Motel and Private Hotels offer reasonable accommodation facilities.
Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan