Hunza Valley is a mountainous area in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan. Hunza was formerly a princely state, bordering China to the north-east and Pamir to its northwest, which survived until 1974, when it was dissolved by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The state bordered the Gilgit Agency to the south, the former princely state of Nagar to the east. The state capital was the town of Baltit (also known asKarimabad) and its old settlement is Ganish Village.
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 Nagar. Tradition relates that Mayroo Khan, apparently the first Muslim Thum ofNagar 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 visitors to Hunza are overwhelmed by the rugged charm, the fragrant breeze singing through graceful poplar trees and the velvet-like green carpet of wheat fields, set against the background of snow-covered mountains.
Hunza Valley is situated at an elevation of 2,438 meters. The tourist season is from May to October. The temperature in May is maximum 27°C and minimum 14°C. The October temperatures are: maximum 10°C and minimum 0°C.
Cities / Villages
The fair skinned and light-eyed Hunzakuts claim to be descendants of soldiers lost from Alexander's army as he invaded India, although genetic studies have disproved the claim. The language, Burushaski, provides linguists an enigma as it is unrelated to any other language.
The beauty of this mountain paradise is matchless; from the soft blossoms of the apricot trees to the dark snowcapped rock monuments of Rakaposhi (7788 m.), recently climbed Ultar Peak (7388 m.) jabbing a vivid blue backdrop high above, and Bublimoting Peak.
Most of the people of Hunza are Islamili Muslims, followers of the Aga Khan.
The local language is Brushuski, Wakhi, Shina and Domki. Urdu and English are also understood by most of the people 95% Urdu and 75% English.
Urdu is the national language and is spoken throughout Pakistan as lingua franca. Local language is Brushuski, Wakhi, Shina and Domki, As elsewhere in Pakistan, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and those involved in the tourist industry.
Via the Karakoram Highway.
Hunza is just 100 KM drive from Gilgit, and most people arrive by road and it takes almost 2 - 3 Hours to reach Hunza from Gilgit. The main bus stand is on the KKH Aliabad. There are booking agents in town for long distance buses & jeeps along the KKH. The journey from Islamabad can take as long as 24 hours.
From Kashgar (China) there is a regular international bus service to Hunza via Sost crossing over the Khunjerab Pass (about 5000 meter high). Across river Hunza at Sost, there is a village called Khuda Abad. People usually do not stop at Khunjerab Pass, they just carry on their journey to Sost with the bus. From Sost, you can do a number of activities around like trekking in the valleys, or drive to Hunza-Karimabad (2 hours), where the Baltit Fort is standing. The Khunjerab Pass is open from May 1st to Dec 30th, but closed in winter.
The international bus waits until there are enough people, which can take days as of 2012. An alternative option is to take a first bus to Tashkurgan, stay at Tashkurgan one night, the next morning go to the immigration to get a departure approval, and then take a second bus to Sost, then another one to Hunza.
Gilgit Airport (IATA: GIL) is small. PIA offers regular 45 minute flights of small 42 seater planes between Gilgit and Islamabad. Flights are subject to weather clearance, and in winters, are often delayed by several days.
Renting jeeps is a common way of moving around.
Hunza is one of the most exotic places in Pakistan. Several high peaks rise above 6,000 m in the surroundings of Hunza valley. The valley provides spectacular views of some of the most beautiful and magnificent mountains of the world which include:
Rakaposhi 7,788 m (25,551 ft), Ultar Sar 7,388 m (24,239 ft), Bojahagur Duanasir II 7,329 m (24,045 ft), Ghenta Peak 7,090 m (15,631 ft), Hunza Peak 6,270 m (20,571 ft), Darmyani Peak 6,090 m (19,980 ft), and Bublimating (Ladyfinger Peak) 6,000 m (19,685 ft).
The fairy-tale like castle of Baltit, above Karimabad, is a Hanza landmark built about 600 years ago. Stilted on massive legs, its wooden bay windows look out over the valley. Originally, it was used the resistance of the Mirs (the title of the former rulers) of Hunza.
Hunza Valley is also host to the ancient watch towers in Ganish , Baltit Fort and Altit Fort. Watch towers are located in heart of Ganish Village, Baltit Fort stands on top of Karimabad whereas Altit Fort lies at the bottom of the valley. Dating back to 8th century AD, a huge Buddha figure surrounded by small Buddhisatvas is carved on a rock. Pre-historic men and animal figures are carved on rocks along the valley. Borith Lake is located in upper Hunza and Rush Lake is located near Nagar.
The valley is popularly believed to be the inspiration for the mythical valley of Shangri-la in James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon. As one travels up on the Karakoram Highway, the beautiful sceneries keep on revealing themselves.
On the way one can witness the 65 km long Batura glacier, the second longest in Pakistan, surround by Shishper, Batura and Kumpirdior peaks. On reaching Sost one can continue the journey up to Khunzhrav or turn west to witness the mystic beauty of Chipursan (also Chapursan) valley. Chipursan valley has some of most exotic tourist spots in the area. In Yarzerech (also Yarzirich) you can have a look at the majestic Kundahill peak (6000 m), or trek along the Rishepzhurav to the Kundahill to experience the soothing sceneries. Beyond Yarzerech you can travel further to Lupghar, Raminj, Reshit, Yishkuk up to Bobo Ghundi (Oston), the shrine of Baba-e-Ghund, a saint from Afghanistan near the border between Pakistan and Wakhan region of Afghanistan.
You also can explore nearby Naltar Valley. The valley is at a distance of 90 KM and is really a hidden retreat. The valley offers Pakistan's highest & largest ski slopes, high altitude lakes, lush green meadows and a Snow Leopard Sanctuary.
Baltit Fort, Altit Fort, Altit village, Duiker, Hoper glacier, Ulter Meadows