Pakistan not only means freedom and independence but the Muslim Ideology which has to be preserved, which has come to us as a precious gift and treasure and which, we hope other will share with us.
- Mohammad Ali Jinnah
Deosai has long kept an aura of mystery. Long before the first European explorers ventured into this high altitude plateau, vague knowledge of its existence was current in the plains of the Indian subcontinent. Thence the word had been carried by the nomadic Gujjar cow herders who fattened their animals on the rich summer grasses of this vast uninhabited tableland. The Gujjar accounts wafted from person to person to become a confused tale of a plateau stretching flat, unbroken and treeless from the mountains north of the capital of Kashmir all the way to the deserts of Tartary. The myth was finally broken in the 1830s. The earliest Europeans, both Britons, William Moorcroft and Godfrey Thomas Vigne, were over-awed by its sheer desolation. Both also noted that Deosai was inhabited by large numbers of Tibetan brown bear. Though the elusive snow leopard, fox, wolf and ibex prowl across it, it was the easily seen bear that became the signature species on the plateau. But over the years all was not well for the bear. It became commonly believed that a diet of some of the bear’s body parts could cure sexual impotence, or that its body fat rubbed on arthritic joints could rejuvenate them no matter how worn out they might be. The result was a slow but systematic purging of the species. By the late 1980s, only a handful of bears survived. That was when the protagonists of this book began the conservation effort to bring back this precious animal from the brink of extinction. Their efforts paid and there has been an increase in the bear population. But even though programme is now in the hands of the government, the bears still look ahead to an uncertain future. Deosai is accessible from Skardu District in the north, Galtari Kharmang District in the south-east, and the Astore District in the west. Deosai is located approximately 30 km from Skardu city and it is the shortest route to visit Deosai. Most foreigners visit Deosai via Skardu. It takes 1 hour to reach Deosai top via Sadpara Skardu. Another route is from Astore valley via Chilim. It is also accessible from Shila valley. The people of Galtari travel via Deosai. There is another route called Burgi la via Tsoq Kachura valley Skardu.