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HUNZA Valley



Hunza is situated 112 km of north of Gilgit on the west bank of the Hunza river. It has an elevation 2,500 meters. It lies in the Northern areas of Pakistan adjoining the Xinxiang autonomous region of China.



History


For the past 960 years, the same family, known as the Mirs of Hunza has ruled Hunza. 'Hunzakuts' are thought to be the descendants of 'five wandering soldiers' of the legions of Alexander the Great.

Throughout its history, the rulers of Hunza resisted external control of their state. They expelled Kashmir garrisons, threatened Gilgit and formed an alliance with the rulers of Kashgar where the Russians were gaining influence. This troubled the British who took direct political control of the Gilgit in 1889, and in 1891 fought a decisive battle against the Mirs of Hunza. They remained garrisoned at Aliabad till 1897 when Hunza became a princely state protected by the Government of British India. Hunza became a part of Pakistan after independence in 1947.


Climate


The weather remains pleasant from April to September, requiring light woolen clothes. Winters are extremely cold and heavy woolen clothes are recommended.


Tourist Season


Best time to visit Hunza is from 1st May to 15th October.


People


People of Hunza are Muslims. Most are followers of His Highness the Aga Khan.

The women of Hunza wear colorful, knee-length shirts and 'shalwars', and cover their heads with embroidered caps. The men wear 'shalwar qamiz' and caps made out of hand-woven woolen material called 'pattu'. In winter they wear loose gowns as overcoats.


Language


The local dialect is Brushaski, while Urdu and English are also spoken and understood.


Places of Interest


Hunza is a land that offers much picturesque beauty to those who visit it. It has majestic, snow-capped mountains, vast glaciers and beautiful orchards. The people of Hunza are well known for their longevity which they attribute to their diet. This consists mainly of fruit, vegetables and Hunza water, which, according to the locals, carries traces of gold apart from its high iron content.


Karimabad


This is the capital of Hunza. It offers an awe-inspiring view of the snow-covered Rakaposhi Peak (7,800 meters).


Baltit Fort



Located at Baltit the former capital of Hunza, Baltit Fort is about 1 - km from Karimabad. This castle was rebuilt a number of times during the 1000 - year reign of the Mirs of Hunza. The present structure was constructed some 600 years ago and the architecture reflects a marked Tibetan influence.


Altit Fort


Altit Fort is situated in the village of Altit, about 3 km from Karimabad. It has been built on a sheer rock-cliff that falls 300 meters (1000 feet) into the Hunza River, and is much older than the Baltit Fort.


Buddhist Rock Carvings


The rock-carvings and inscriptions around Ganesh village, near the Altit Fort, give proof of Buddhist influence in the area. The inscription are in four different scripts; Kharoshti, Gupta, Sogdian and Tibetan, and are carved with human and animal figures. The most famous among these is the Hunza Rock.


The Ruby Mines


The Ruby Mines of Hunza are a popular tourist attraction. Precious and semi-precious stones may be bought at the sales center at Aliabad.


Batura Glacier


Distance from Karimabad: 48 km (3 hours by jeep).


Hopar and Hispar Glaciers


Distance from Karimabad: 25 km (2 hours by jeep). Part of the road is navigable by jeep, but the last 10 km have to be traveled on foot.


Mountaineering, Trekking and Hiking



Hunza offers many opportunities for mountaineering, trekking, camping and hiking. Special permits are required for mountaineering, which may be obtained from the Tourism Division, Government of Pakistan, Markaz F-7, Islamabd.

Guides may be hired through the PTDC Motel, Chinar Inn, Gilgit Tel: 2562. Various travel/tour operators (including Pakistan Tour Ltd. Flashman's Hotel, The Mall, Rawalpindi) arrange conducted tours and trekking expeditions to Hunza.


Access


Hunza is accessible by road from Gilgit (112 km), which is connected by air and Karakoram Highway with Islamabad.

Most of the roads are gravel-topped, and navigable by jeep, except the Karakoram Highway which is metalled. In some parts of the roads have been carved out of the steep mountainsides, and are just wide enough for a jeep to pass. Good tires, brakes and careful driving are recommended.


Accommodation


There are many comfortable hotels, motels and rest houses in Hunza. In order to avoid disappointment, it is advisable to reserve accommodation at least a week in advance, trough PTDC Motel, Chinnar Inn, Gilgit, Tel: 2562.

Aliabad		- Prince Hotel
                - Domari View Hotel
Karimabad	- PTDC Motel
                - Hilltop Hotel
                - Tourist Park Hotel
                - Rakaposhi Hotel
                - Hunza Inn
                - New Tourist Hotel
Gulmit		- Silk Route Lodge
                - Hunza Marcopolo Inn
                - Village Hotel
                - Gulmit Tourist Cottage
Passu		- Yashpir Hotel
                - Passu Inn
                - Batura Inn
Sust		- Tourist Lodge
                - Khyber Hotel
                - Khunjerab Hotel

Handicrafts


Hunza is famous for hand-woven woolen cloth known as 'Pattu'. This is colorful, intricately embroidered and used to make ladies caps, gowns and waistecoats, etc.


Cuisine


The local specialty 'fittis' are worth sampling. These are cakes of wheat flour, milk, butter and salt, baked on a hot stone. A variety of fresh fruit like apricots, apples, plums, peaches, cherries and grapes also constitute a large part of the local diet. Grape extract known as 'Hunza Water' is popular with foreign visitors.


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