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Yugo, Sirkiting Baltistan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yugo, Baltistan

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Yugo is a small village with a population of about 6,000 people in Ghanche district of Baltistan, an autonomous region that is considered part of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. The village is located 75 km from Baltistan's capital Skardu on a tarmac highway heading towards Khaplu after passing Ghawari and Kunes. Yugo is situated adjacent to the geographically important village of Kharfak which boasts of a high-altitude mountain lake, Lake Kharfak. Khaplu which is Ghanche district's administrative capital lies a further 25 km away from Yugo.

Yugo is territorially separated from Kharfak by a strategically
important landmark- the "Kharfak Bridge" which separates the territories
of Yugo and Kharfak. Kharfak village lies on its immediate east,
Ghawari on the west, Kharmang on the southern side and Balghar on the northeast. Yugo consists of the twin villages of Yugo proper and Skirkiting which are separated by a glacier water stream near an area known as Gha Khari. A small bridge, the Skirkiting bridge, connects Skirkiting and Yugo proper. The people of Yugo refer to themselves as Yugupa. The Shyok River meanders around the edges of the village, between the bragh-
a towering huge bald rocky mountain and the village. A sandy area of
the river bank on the north of the village across Shyok River which is
locally referred to as Foshfosh is part of Yugo territory.[citation needed]



[edit] The famous Yugo chili pepper

The village is traditionally renowned amongst its sister Balti villages for producing chili pepper- locally known as Snerma. The people of Yugo depended on selling chili pepper following the great floods- Chusmen of Shyok River
in the early 1900s that destroyed most of their crops. Red chili pepper
grown in Yugo is regionally famous for being very hot and spicy. Some
Yugupas and their fellow Baltis believe that one of the reasons the
Yugupas are considered sharper and more outspoken than the generally
more mellow, docile and laid back Balti counterparts is due to the hot
red pepper chillis. This is of course scientifically unproven but the
people of Yugo seem to be more than happy to be associated with their
spicy chili pepper- "The Yugo Snerma."[citation needed]

[edit] Scholarly fame

The village is also famous for producing some of the region's most highly educated and respected scholars. The late Sheikh-ul-Hadith Mufti Azam Maulana Abdul Qadir Baltistani is one of the famous Balti Sunni Ahl al-Hadith
scholars who was recognised by many Baltis including those belonging to
other sects during his life, for provision of a traditional Islamic
justice system Shariat. The village is also known for a high number of scholars who to have studied Islamic religious education in the Islamic University of Madinah. Hundreds of students continue to study basic religious education in local madrassas or seminaries and then proceed to Ghawari for higher studies, some eventually ending up at Madinah University in Saudi Arabia.
This is attributed to the fact that most of the village's inhabitants
profess a form of Islam that is close to the Saudi version of Salafi Islam, known as Ahl al-Hadith in the South Asian region. However, the people of Yugo get along very well with their Nurbakhsh and Shia neighbours and are thought to be very tolerant compared to most of their Arab counterparts. All baltis
regardless of creed share a common cultural and linguistic heritage.
Yugo village has also produced a number of highly trained and
specialized professionals amongst the newer generation Yugupas who have
settled abroad and in mainland Pakistan. Sadly, however, most of Yugos
children still lack access to good schools and very few make it to
universities.[citation needed]

[edit] Origins

Regional folklore has it that Yugo was originally inhabited by two
old men referred to as 'apo'-i.e. elders, who fled what is believed to
be current day Gilgit
due to ideological persecution. While details of their persecution are
controversial, they are believed to be more secular with a love for
music especially drums-Dang. The two apo were joined by another religious man Apo Baqir from Khaplu
who fled religious persecution and eventually settled in nearby
Skirkiting. Eventually their descendants formed the twin villages of
Yugo and Skirkiting. The people of both Yugo proper and Skirkiting now
generally regard themselves as Yugupa although some sections of smaller
subsets within the community still prefer to maintain their original
identities. For example, the people of Skirkiting sometimes refer to
themselves as Baqirpa
to differentiate themselves from the other Yugupas based on their being
descendants of Apo Baqir. Generally, the people of Yugo proper display
more caucasoid features being fairer, taller and with lighter and more broader eyes as compared to the people from Skirkiting who are more mongoloid
in their features with slanted epicanthial folds and shorter, stouter
stature and more darker complexion. This is attributed to their
different origins- the people of Skirkiting being closer to their
mongoloid kinsmen in Khaplu as opposed to the people of Yugo proper who are of Aryan
origin like their counterparts in Gilgit. However, following numerous
intermarriages, this may not always be true and it is now common to have
mixed characteristics on both sides.[1]

[edit] The people of Yugo

The people of Yugo have maintained their unique identities and yet
share cultural and religious beliefs. They profess a more tolerant
version of Ahl al-Hadith sect of Sunni Islam. Several decades ago, Yugupas were all Sufia Nurbakhshi but following intense preaching by the late Sheikh-ul-Hadith Mufti Azam Maulana Abdul Qadir Baltistani and his contemporaries from Skirkiting like the late Apo Jaafar,
they converted to Ahl al-Hadith form of Islam. Despite the love for
music by most Baltis, it was banned after a religious revival movement
by Sheikh-ul-Hadith Mufti Azam Maulana Abdul Qadir Baltistani in the
late 1960s. Intermarriages between the two communities of Skirkiting and
Yugo proper over time have led to more integration with the Yugupa now
acquiring a relatively homogenous identity.[citation needed]

Due to shortage of arable land and other resources, it is now
estimated that more than half of its original inhabitants migrated to
mainland Pakistan and overseas in search of better life including
employment opportunities and both religious and secular education. Many
Yugupa work in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,
teachers, labourers and drivers with a few in the engineering, medical
and marketing sectors. A number of Yugupa,most of them in mainland
Pakistan and a handful abroad in North America, Australia and Africa are
professionals in the medical and engineering sector.[citation needed]

[edit] Language

Most of the current inhabitants speak Balti dialect
similar to other areas of Baltistan, although the style of speaking is
slightly different from other areas of Baltistan. Yugupa speak a dialect
that is rougher, louder and with less emphasis on traditional
intonation and, and less strain on the vowels at the end of speech than
some of their counterparts for example in Khaplu.[2]

[edit] Geography and biodiversity of Yugo

Geographically, Yugo resembles much of the other himalayan regions
including rest of Baltistan. The village settlements are at an average
altitude of 10498 ft above sea level with the lowest point of the
village- Fosh Fosh Thung
which is a sandy river shore being 9186 ft above sea level close
to the River Shyok. There are towering ice-capped mountains in the
surrounding areas including Sn'gonpo Ran'ga - a high altitude plateau
around 13,000 ft above sea level, as well as mountains Ming met la,
Marpho khiyang ra la, Hyaqra, Khi sa and Dindaq khilas, which are all
at heights greater than 16,000 feet (4,900 m) above sea level at
their peaks. There are also cultivable (in summer) highland slopes like
the Ltep La - which resembles the steppes, Ghorawat, Burat La and Thangwa. The area is in an earthquake-prone area close to Eurasian faultlines with minor earthquakes and tremors - Sa gul
felt not so infrequently. The village also has a permanent spring which
is the main source of clean drinking water provided to the houses via
pipes. Electricity generated from hydroelectric power from the gushing
glacier water streams from a neighbouring village is available in Yugo
but supply is erratic and voltage fluctuations and outages are common.
The mountain areas are known to have a number of endangered species like
the snow leopard, brown bear, red fox also known as Waa and the beautiful Ibex which is a wild mountain goat locally known as Markhor. Exotic birds such as the Himalayan eagle, pheasants, chikor and partridges can also be spotted in the area. The rivers are rich in fresh-water fish like the Saanya and the Trout. Rare flowers and plants can also be spotted in summer and spring on the mountains. [1]

[edit] Other names and spellings for Yugo

Yugo is spelled Yugu, Yuogo or Yougo.[citation needed]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ History of the Northern Areas of Pakistan at
  2. ^ "Baltistan" at

Coordinates: 35°11′5″N 76°9′32″E / 35.18472°N 76.15889°E / 35.18472; 76.15889

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