The Hunza Valley is a mountainous valley in Gilgit in the Gilgit-Baltistan autonomous region, an area under the control of the government of Pakistan. The Hunza valley is situated to the north of the Hunza River, at an elevation of around 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). The territory of Hunza is about 7,900 square kilometres (3,100 sq mi). Karimabad (formerly called Baltit) is the main town, which is also a very popular tourist destination because of the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains like Ultar Sar, Rakaposhi, Bojahagur Duanasir II, Ghenta Peak, Hunza Peak, Diran Peak and Bublimating (Ladyfinger Peak), all 6,000 metres (19,685 ft) or higher.
Hunza valley river As much as the valley is famous for its beauty, the people of Hunza are noted for their friendliness and hospitality. The local languages spoken are Burushaski, Wakhi and Shina, many people understand Urdu. The literacy rate of the Hunza valley is believed to be more than 90%. Virtually every child of the new generation studies up to at least high school level. Many pursue higher studies from prestigious colleges and Universities of Pakistan and abroad. Most of the people of Hunza are Ismaili Shia Muslims, followers of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, while in Ganish Village more than 90% are Shia Muslims. The Hunza region is home to people of three ethnicities: The Lower Hunza area – (from Khizerabad to Nasirabad is mainly inhabited by the Shinaki people who are Shina speakers The Central Hunza area – (from Murtazaabad to Ahmedabad) is mainly inhabited by Burushaski speakers. The Upper Hunza area, known as Gojal – (from Shiskat to Khunjerab is mainly populated by Wakhi speakers; The majority of the people are Ismaili Shia Muslims who are followers of the Aga Khan. The present Aga Khan IV has provided a lot of funding for the area to help with agriculture and the local economy through the Aga Khan Development Network.
Hunza was an independent principality for more than 900 years. The British gained control of Hunza and the neighbouring valley of Nagar between 1889 and 1892 followed by a military engagement of severe intensity. The then Thom (Prince) Mir Safdar Ali Khan of Hunza fled to Kashghar in China and sought what can be called political asylum. The ruling family of Hunza is called Ayeshe (heavenly), from the following circumstance. The two states of Hunza and Nagar were formerly one, ruled by a branch of the Shahreis, the ruling family of Gilgit, whose seat of government was Nager. Tradition relates that Mayroo Khan, apparently the first Muslim Thum of Nagar some 200 years after the introduction of the religion of Islam to Gilgit, married a daughter of Trakhan of Gilgit, who bore him twin sons named Moghlot and Girkis. From the former the present ruling family of Nager is descended. The twins are said to have shown hostility to one another from birth. Their father seeing this and unable to settle the question of succession, divided his state between them, giving to Girkis the north, and to Moghlot the south, bank of the river. ”
The traditional name for the ruler in Hunza was Thum, which is also a respectful appellation used by people of both Hunza and Nager who belong to the clan of Boorish. The Shin use the term Yeshkun for the Boorish. “ Both Thums are still addressed as Soori, as a title of respect. This appears to be the same [in meaning] as Sri, an commonly prefixed to the names of Hindu princes in India, to denote their honour and prosperity. The Thum’s wives are styled ghenish which is almost identical with the original Sanskrit word for mother, and their sons are called gushpoor.
Baltit Fort the former residence of the Mirs of Hunza. The Hunza is situated at an elevation of about 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). For many centuries, Hunza has provided the quickest access to Swat and Gandhara for a person travelling on foot. The route was impassable to baggage animals; only human porters could get through, and then only with permission from the locals. Hunza was easily defended as the paths were often less than 0.5 metres (20 in) 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, including several famous Chinese Buddhist monks such as Xuanzang.
Spring in Hunza Valley The temperature in May is a maximum of 27 °C (81 °F) and a minimum of 14 °C (57 °F); the October maximum is 10 °C (50 °F) and the minimum −10 °C (14.0 °F). Hunza’s tourist season is generally from May to October, because in winter the Karakoram Highway is often blocked by the snow.
Today, the famous Karakoram Highway crosses Hunza, connecting Pakistan to China via the Khunjerab Pass. Travelling up the valley from the south, Hunza is the land to the left, and the former state of Nagar to the right of the Hunza River. Regular bus and van services operate between Gilgit and Central Hunza (Ganish Village, Aliabad and Karimabad) and also between Gilgit and Sost Gojal. PTDC Office at Gilgit, Sost and Islamabad arranges tours and transport for visitors.
Source: Travel Pakistan
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