The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is the highest international road in the world. It connects China to Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain ranges, through the Khunjerab pass at an estimated altitude of 4850 meters. The highway runs about 1,200 km from Kashgar, China to Havelian in the Abbottabad District of Pakistan. An extension of the highway meets the Grand Trunk Road at Hasan Abdal, west of Islamabad, Pakistan.
Gilgit (Urdu: گلگت) is a mountain town in the Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Travelers exploring the Pakistani Himalayas or en route to or from China are almost definitely going to spend at least one night here. This makes it a great base to further research your trip, meet up with potential travel partners, or simply take a break. It’s also a launching pad for climbers to nearby Rakaposhi.
Hunza is the northernmost part of a region known as the Northern Areas of Pakistan . It comprises an area of 3,900 mi² (10,101 km² ) and borders China.
For many centuries it has provided the quickest access to Swat and Gandhara (in modern north Pakistan) for a person on foot. The route was impassible to baggage animals, only human porters could get through, and then only with permission from the locals.
It was easily defended as the paths were often less than half a metre (about 18″) wide. The high mountain paths often crossed bare cliff faces on logs wedged into cracks in the cliff, with stones balanced on top. They were also constantly exposed to regular damage from weather and falling rocks. These were the much feared “hanging passageways” of the early Chinese histories that terrified all, inlcuding several famous Chinese Buddhist monks.
Travelling up the valley from the south, Hunza is the land to the the left, and Nagar to the right of the river. They traditionally have been separate principalities.
From hunza there are spectacular views of the beautiful and magnificent 7,788m
(25,551 ft) Rakaposhi.
The famous Karakoram Highway crosses Hunza, connecting Pakistan to China via the Khunjerab Pass.
Hunza has three parts, not divided administratively but ethnically: Gojal, mainly populated with Wakhi speakers; Central, with Brushaski speaking people and Shinaki , the Shina speaking people. Brushaski is understood throughout Hunza.
Until 1974 Hunza was a princely state with its capital situated at Baltit (also known as Karimabad). It is now ruled directly from Islamabad through the administration based in Gilgit , the regional capital of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Hunza was an independent principality for 900 years. There is a common missbelief that Hunza was under the rule of Maharajas of Kashmir , but it never was. The British failed to gain control over Hunza and the neighbouring valley of Nagar untill 1889 . However, in 1892 , after a decisive fight against the Mirs (Chiefs) of both of the valleys, they succeeded entering Hunza. The king of Hunza escaped to China.
The British kept its status as a ‘ principality ‘ until 1947 . According to Habib R. Sulemani , the people of Hunza and Gojal were ruled by a local Mir for more than 950 years, which came to an end in 1974 . The Mirs were assisted by Wazirs whose role was rather like a Prime Minister.
The people of Hunza are called ‘Hunzukuts’, while Burusho is the term used for only Brushaski speaking people. The majority of the people are Ismaili , a sect in Shia Islam . They are followers of The Aga Khan . The Aga Khan-IV has put a lot of funding into the area to help with agriculture and the local economy.
Burushaski , (like the Basque langauge in Europe), is not known to be related to any other language. While Burushaski is the main language spoken in Hunza, there are three other languages spoken by small numbers of people. They are Wakhi , Shina , and Domaski. Domaski is dying out, as the youngsters of Domaski families prefer to speak Brushaski.
Rakaposhi is a mountain in the Karakoram region of the Himalayas in Pakistan . Rakaposh means “shining wall” in the local language. Rakaposhi is also known as Rakaposhi Peak, Rakapushi and Dumani (“Mother of Mist”).
There are magnificent views of it from the Karakoram Highway on the route through Hunza .
Rakaposhi was first climbed in 1958 by Mike Banks and Tom Patey of a Britain -Pakistan expedition. Both of them suffered severe frostbite during the ascent. Another climber slipped and fell on the descent and died during the night
WARNING: Before going to the northwest regions, Swat, and Peshawar, check for travel advisories from your government, as these regions have become volatile and unstable, with fighting between the Taliban and Pakistani military.
All pictures by the author
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