Ismaili monuments, places to visit etc..
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Post by kmaherali »

Falling for Hunza

Autumn isn’t an especially pronounced season in Lahore. The sweltering summer segues into nights that sting a little less. But the monsoon greenery turns to a smoky dullness marked by a thick film of dust that clings to every surface. Of late a pall-like smog descends upon the city. Were Keats a Lahori there would have been no Ode to Autumn.

So where to go searching for autumn in Pakistan?

Hunza, I heard from friends, was full of it: crisp blue skies, clean air and colourful trees.

How does one get to Hunza, though? In the age of Facebook your options are plenty. There was a time when Pakistani women without a ‘family’ (read male chaperones) could not hope to travel, but with the advent of local tour operators travel has become possible for anyone with the time and money. At the time I decided to go, there were at least two tour groups I knew of leaving more or less at the same time.


The Aga Khan Foundation’s footprints can be seen all over Hunza, and one can tell what a hugely positive force it is for the locals there. Apart from the architecturally handsome jamaat khaana, every single developmental project in the area has the Aga Khan’s name on it, and his picture in every household.

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Post by kmaherali »

Falling for Hunza II

Exploring Gulmit and Karimabad, where schools still care about inculcating poetry and oratory in students, where a café full of people listen to speakers on photography

As a Pakistani, travelling abroad can mean first-time exposure to peoples of different races, religions and cultures. As a Punjabi, travelling the country can have a similar impact. Too often living in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and consuming the mainstream media, the whole country’s culture can come across as largely Urdu/Punjabi, homogeneously Muslim, and urban. Gulmit village in Upper Hunza, as such, proved to be an education for me.

More... ... jf8Uk0kttQ
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Post by kmaherali »

American Girl Falls in Love with Hunza - Hands Across the Mountains

Video: ... 5sxg4StL7k

In 1993, Elizabeth Tschursin, a young American girl journeyed to the Hunza valley in Pakistan and fell in love with the place and its people. This is the story of how her visit led to the plans to build a model school in the small village of Murtazabad.

Produced by the Al-Murtaza Educational and Social Welfare Organisation in 2011.
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Post by kmaherali »

Timelapse: Hunza & Fairy Meadows (Pakistan)


A timelapse project of northern areas of Pakistan focusing on Hunza Valley & Fairy Meadows.

Photographers: Farah Mahmood, Nasir Mahmood, Nauman Azhar
Post Production: Nauman Azhar
Post Sequence: Adobe Creative Suit
Music: Pandemic by Tony Anderson
Shot on: Canon 5dmkII, Canon 6D, Canon 7D, Canon 24-70 f2.8, Canon 24-105 f4, Canon 70-200 f2.8, Canon 70-200 f4, Tokina 11-16 f2.8, Sigma 14 f2.8
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Post by kmaherali »

Habitants de la haute vallée la Hunza, Pa ... 5265030070
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Post by Admin » ... orums.html

Thursday, October 25, 2018
Edward J. Taylor : On the Karakorum: Below the Karakorums

Though well-known for its apples, we gave the town of Khyber a pass. We still had a couple hours to go before our stop for the night, extenuated by multiple stops to view the trio of glaciers. Apparently Northern Pakistan has the largest glaciers outside of the Polar regions. Batura was the most massive, and the most impressive, like a swoop of oil paint dried thickly on the canvas of the high Pamirs, the range sending a strong farewell with this magnificent display. We climbed above the road for a better view, as a couple of smaller glaciers clinging to the cliffs high above the road. The bend of the Hunza River below was broad enough to host neat rows of orderly ruins, which looked ancient, but were actually the housing for the workers who built the Karakorum Highway (KKH) about thirty years before. We'd pass a good number of these during the journey, which never failed to instill in the romantic mind thoughts of antiquity, of long-vanished peoples carving a life out of a rough landscape, ever threatened by the next group of invaders who'd eventually supplant them.

The light was leaving us, the clock having returned to familiar regularity after Xinjiang's schizophrenic approach to time zones. (One always had to confirm whether a quoted time was local or Beijing time, a three hours difference.) The low rays of the sun lit up the messages scriven in stone high up the hillsides, commemorating the 1987 visit of the Aga Khan. Our final stop was above Passu, where villagers collected hay and potatoes to dry atop their low houses. Of late, younger villagers have taken on the role of porters, as trekkers have discovered the wonders of the Cathedral peaks, that help frame this picturesque village. With the added feature of the microcosmic figures of people crossing the suspension bridge up the valley, it is near impossible to get a bad shot.

Some of us were lucky to have these same views from the balcony of our Silk Route Lodge. The lobby was showing the India-Pakistan cricket match, and it was safe to assume that the country would be at a standstill. I was tempted to join the distracted staff in viewing until the end, but I don't really understand the rules, and besides, back in my room I had painted that I needed to watch dry.

Dinner was taken beneath a trio of animal heads, including one with the amazing twists of the Marco Polo sheep, which being protected, now costs one hundred thousand dollars to legally shoot. The curry served was a refreshing change from four days of pilaf and kababs, though little did I know then that I'd be seeing dal and chapatti three times a day for the next two weeks. Our guide Irfan had met us a t immigration, but it was at this meal that he began to reveal himself as an amazing source of knowledge, as he discussed issues in contemporary Pakistan. Historically caught between the intrigues of Russia and the British, it now found itself squeezed by China and the US. The Great Game carries on.

In the morning, we strolled the narrow lanes of Gulmit, dwarfed by a half dozen 7000 meter peaks. People seemed relaxed and humored us as we took photos of a look and clothing that was new to us all. Around one laberynthian lane around from the polo grounds, we sat atop an overlaping pile of carpets to watch the inevitable display of weaving. I'd half expected this, but I give the tour company Wild Frontiers a lot of credit for not pushing this upon us, or to fill the itinerary with too much of this.

The KKH led onward, through a desertified landscape high above the snaking Hunza River. The waters had engulfed one village after a 2010 landslide blocked the river to create the broad Attabad Lake. We boarded an oversized rowboat here to get a closer look, off in a big burst of black smoke, the lake cradled in the palm of a hand whose fingers rose upward into jagged spires. An immense meadow cut into the sloping side of one of these mounts would be the world's ultimate campsite. As we puttered across we were encircled by a small flotilla of jet skis, whose daredevil guides would stand behind the riders to keep things under control. I believe I made a joke about them being the Pakistani navy.

The last stop of the day was more sublime. The Sacred Rocks of Hunza have served as the Karakorum's guest register since the 1st Century, recording in dozens of languages the passage of dozens of cultures. Besides the hundreds of carvings of ibexes, there are also Chinese kings, Buddhist temples, and the names of the lesser important who are now indefinitely linked with time. There is a timelessness to these types of places, where the centuries overlap. Yet the internal human clock too does keep moving forward, and the gradual decline in bloodsugar dated events to a time just before lunch.
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Post by kmaherali »

Paragliders See Pakistan From A New Angle: Spectacular Images From 20,000 Feet

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Post by kmaherali »

Voyage : Gilgit-Baltistan Au Pakistan, Le Troisième Pôle. ... reloaded=1
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Post by kmaherali »

Medieval Forts Restored as Spectacular Hunza Valley Builds Its Future

June 14, 2018—Beneath the Karakoram Mountains—some of the world’s tallest—winds the Hunza Valley of Pakistan, lined with fields and orchards. Once, Hunza was ruled by a prince, or Mir, first from the fort Altit, founded 1,000 years ago, and later, from the nearby Baltit Fort, also centuries old. In disrepair by the late 20th century, both forts have undergone major restoration work. Although historic, Hunza Valley is also socially forward-thinking, with high literacy in general, and a specific focus on education for girls. Women have also recently begun to practice carpentry, traditionally a male-dominated trade. One role for the new generation of carpenters has been repairs of the woodwork-rich historic sites. ... rce=Direct
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Post by kmaherali »

LONG LIFE FOOD in Hunza Valley - HEAVEN ON EARTH, Pakistan | Pakistani Food Tour!

Video: ... B5isXFid5E

The goal of today’s food tour was to uncover some of the secrets of the long life food of Hunza Valley. Especially traditionally, people were known to live very long and healthy lives - a combination of eating seasonally, lots of nuts, and apricots, and fresh mountain air - we also discovered a few dishes that must have led to long life.

But we began our day in Gilgit, and first thing at daybreak, we drove about 20 minutes outside of Gilgit to start our morning from a strategic viewpoint. There’s a confluence where three of the highest mountain ranges in the world - Himalayas (Mount Everest), Karakorams (K2), and Hindu Kush, mountains come together. It’s a magical place, and we were literally the only people there.

We then headed back to Serena Gilgit Hotel for breakfast before starting our day to Hunza Valley. The drive was spectacular from start to finish - you will literally feel your jaw dropping as you drive and you almost cannot believe the scenery will possibly get better… and it does.

Chapshoro Point - Along the Karakoram Highway from Gilgit to Hunza Valley one of the most famous foods is chapshoro, a meat filled dough pocket. It’s a great tea snack - and we’d be having a few more of these today.
Total price - 900 PKR ($6.74)

Hunza Valley - We arrived to Hunza Valley and immediately checked in to Hunza Serena Inn, with an almost unbelievable view from our patio.

Baltit Fort - We quickly hiked up to Baltit Fort, a spectacular and iconic fort within Hunza Valley and then walked down for a quick bite to eat.

Hunza Food Pavilion - Just a small little cosy restaurant, yet so inviting and so many good aromas coming out of the kitchen. We ordered chapshoro again, and daodo soup, both of which were amazing.
Total price - 630 PKR ($4.72)

Osho Maraka - Hunza Serena Inn - We then headed back to the hotel where they wanted to prepare a local Hunza Valley food lunch for us. The food was good, a little on the plain side for me, but very fresh and local ingredients.

Eagles Nest - Next we drove up one of the main mountains of Hunza Valley for the view. Although we were late for the sunset, the view was still spectacular.

Traditional Hunza Valley food - In the evening is when the real authentic Hunza Valley food and cultural learning began. We were invited (thanks to the Gilgit Baltistan tourism ministry for setting it up) to a 400 year old home for a time of music and local Hunza Valley food. The old home was beautiful, and they immediately started playing amazing local music. The food was authentic and local - lots of whole grains, walnuts and almonds, and plenty of apricot oil. One of the dishes, a tortilla like bread filled with walnut paste and apricot oil was one of the secret dishes of longevity - so I was told! Whatever the case, the food, people, and experience, was outstanding.

By this time I have to stay I was tired, cold, and ready to go back to the hotel to sleep, but they said, we need to stop at one more place.

It was completely dark, and looked abandoned.

But we stepped inside a home, and there were at least 20 people huddled in the house, waiting for us.

I was blown away and humbled.

They made us tea and a few local pancake like snacks. It was beyond special.

Thank you to everyone involved, and to the families for their amazing hospitality and kindness. Another absolutely incredible day of food and people in Pakistan.

Watch the entire Pakistani video series:



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Post by swamidada_1 »

Herald Magazine
The debate caused by the restoration of the Baltit fort in Hunza
Irfan Husain

Published about 14 hours ago

Spring comes in gradual stages in Karimabad: the pink and white blossoms appear first on the floor of the valley, while the apple and apricot trees are still bare on the higher slopes of the surrounding mountains. But as winter loosens its grip, the trees on the steep heights break into their spring colours of green, white and pink. Towering over this unfolding panorama are the eternally snowcapped peaks of Rakaposhi, Altur, the Lady's Finger and many other mountains which soar well over 20,000 feet.

Perched on a hill overlooking the valley and the ancient village is Baltit Fort. Legend has it that a bygone ruler of Hunza married a princess from Baltistan, and she brought some craftsmen as part of her trousseau to build this fort. However, it is almost certain that this story is apocryphal as recent research indicates that the fort came into being as a haphazard addition of rooms which connected two (or possibly three) watch-towers. Carbon dating of a piece of wood from the oldest part of the fort indicates that the original structure is at least seven hundred years old. For centuries, this was a stronghold from which raids were launched against caravans plying the Silk Route as well as against neighboring Nagar. Together with the nearby Altit Fort, Baltit constituted the seat of power of the Mirs, the rulers of Hunza who held absolute power over the valley until the reforms of 1974.

After the arrival of the British in the area a century ago, the fort lost its importance as a military base. Although the Mirs tried to make it more comfortable by gentrifying it, probably using craftsmen from the plains, they abandoned it in the 1930s, moving to a more modern palace on the lower slopes of the village which was renamed Karimabad in 1976 after the Aga Khan. Over the years, the neglected old fort fell into disrepair to the point that it was in danger of complete collapse. In 1979, the fort was visited independently by Richard Hughes, an engineer, and Didier Lefort, an architect, who both convinced the Aga Khan to save the fort.

The Mir, Ghazanfar Ali Khan, did his bit by transferring ownership of his traditional family seat to the newly created Baltit Heritage Trust, and soon thereafter, restoration work on the fort commenced. The first step was to thoroughly document the structure before arriving at a comprehensive conservation strategy based on structural and soil analyses. Today, the fort is shrouded in scaffolding as 80 workers and a team of architects and engineers toil to meet its target reopening date in 1996.

Conservation was the subject of a two-week workshop held in Karimabad recently which brought together 18 architects, engineers and archaeologists to discuss and learn new techniques in the field. Using a hands-on approach, the organisers had participants out in the village and the fort every day, learning documentation and local building techniques.

One of the principal concerns of the team at Bait it Fort is to try and maintain the historic flavour of the village. Indeed, the Karimabad Planning Support Service (KPSS) offers free designing services to villagers to encourage them to preserve their traditional way of life. But this may be a losing battle. As, tourism, education and the ubiquitous dish antenna bring the rest of the world closer to Hunza, it becomes more and more difficult to convince villagers that what was good enough for their forefathers should be good enough for them.

If the purists among the conservationists had their way, the locals would build on the same pattern, using the same materials as the old houses. In the traditional Hunza house, the whole family cooks, eats and sleeps in the same large room called aha. There is a central opening to let the smoke out and the light in, as there are no windows. Men, women and children relieve themselves outside. The only other room is a small enclosure for animals.

Understandably, young couples - especially those who have lived in cities - now demand greater privacy. As a result, a number of houses are now being built outside the old village, using bricks or concrete blocks, as opposed to the stone and wood used in the old houses. While most of the new homes incorporate the ha into their designs, they also boast windows and attached bathrooms.

The planners at KPSS are aware of the fact that unless they can provide modern conveniences like running water and sewerage to the inhabitants of Karimabad, they will be unable to convince them not to move down to the terraced fields. Such a movement would not only change the character of the community, but would also put pressure on the limited farmland. As it is, Karimabad is no longer self-sufficient in food, importing over 70 per cent of its requirements. The conservationists are not trying to preserve Karimabad in a kind of time warp simply because they harbour romantic notions of an idyllic past, but because they realise that if the character of the valley changes too drastically, the tourist trade- the mainstay of the local economy - will decline as well.

A major debate during the workshop centered around the degree to which modern influences could or should be resisted. A heated argument broke out when Richard Hughes informed participants that after the structural works were over, the fort would be painted white. Originally, all the structures in the area were a natural stone grey; Baltit Fort was painted white subsequently, probably in the late 19th century when it was being gentrified. Currently, despite the efforts of KPSS, a number of houses have been painted white as well as some more jarring colours.

Participants were concerned about the influence the fort will exert on the community when it is opened, and the KPSS team wanted to know how they were to convince villagers not to paint their houses when the dominant structure in the area was gleaming white. Richard Hughes defended the decision on the grounds that the fort was being restored to the point at which the earliest photographs of the structure existed, and these show it being whitewashed.

The argument is not as abstruse as it seems but goes to the heart of the whole philosophy of conservation. To what extent is intervention valid? Should conservators try to restore a structure to its (imagined) original shape, or make the degree of change apparent to the modern visitor? Added to these questions is the larger concern for the conservation of the area. In the case of Karimabad, the village is unique in its layout and traditional features, and should be preserved as a living community but not as a museum. These were some of the issues which were raised during the workshop but were not entirely resolved. However, the subject is constantly evolving, as is our understanding of it, and the workshop helped to give participants new perspectives and insights.

This article was original published in the June 1994 issue of the Herald under the headline 'Freezing time'.

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Post by kmaherali »

Explore Hunza Valley in Amazing DJI Phantom Footage -


Haseeb Saeed is a photographer, professional quadcopter operator and founder of Aerovision from Karachi, Pakistan. Sit back and enjoy and he takes you to this jaw dropping journey of Hunza valley through a spectacular footage captured using DJI Phantom quatcopter. Did you ever experience The Hunza Valley like this before? We believe you didn't!

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Post by kmaherali »

Last days of Colourful Autumn in Gilgit Baltistan | VLOG


Autumn is a time, when the landscape of Gilgit Baltistan looks like a painting, the trees throughout the valley seem to be on fire as their leaves turn gold, red orange and bronze, contrasting sharply with the barren mountains, their tops covered with snow and emerald green waters of the river snaking through the valley, Visiting in this season is like a photographic dream come true.
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Post by swamidada_2 »

A Paradise Of High Literacy And Gender Equality In a Remote Corner Of Pakistan
By Palash Ghosh

The Hunza Valley, a region in the Gilgit–Baltistan territory of northernmost Pakistan, is renowned not only for its spectacular natural scenery of majestic mountains and glittering lakes but also for the beauty of its people, who enjoy long life expectancies. The rough mountain terrain, clean air and water, an abundance of healthy organic foods like dried apricots and almonds, and relative isolation are believed to have blessed the locals with excellent health and long lives. Indeed, Hunza Valley was reportedly the inspiration for the paradise of "Shangri La" in the book "Lost Horizons" by James Hilton.

But Hunza and its environs are renowned for something else that is quite extraordinary: At least three-quarters of people in the Valley – and virtually all the youths of both genders -- can read and write (in a country where about 55 percent of the population is literate, and millions of girls are essentially blocked from attending school). Almost every child in Hunza attends school up to at least the high school level, while many pursue higher studies at colleges in Pakistan and abroad.

Outside of Hunza, education in Pakistan is rather bleak. In fact, Arshad Saeed Khan of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said Pakistan spends only 2.3 percent of its GNP and 9.9 percent of its total government budget on education (versus figures of 4.5 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively, for India; and 2.1 percent and 14.1 percent for Bangladesh).

Dawn, an English-language Pakistani daily, reported that one of the principal factors behind Hunza's stupendous literacy figures traces back to the educational advocacy efforts of the Aga Khan III, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah. In the early part of the 20th century, he persuaded the mirs [rulers] of Hunza state to educate their peoples. By 1946, 16 "Diamond Jubilee" schools were established in the Valley, followed by a decision from the Pakistani government to open up public schools in the Northern regions, including Hunza. In 1983, Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, introduced The Academy, a high-quality school (including dormitory facilities) exclusively for girls in Hunza. By the early 1990s, the government created “community schools” in Hunza, including the Al-Amyn Model School in the village of Gulmit, which permitted the students' families to participate in lessons.

Dawn noted two other major developments in regional education gains: the establishment of the Karakoram University in Gilgit, and the founding of organizations by the Aga Khan dynasty that encourage universal education, training and scholarships. The present Aga Khan has also financed local agricultural and other economic endeavors through the Aga Khan Development Network. “There seems to be urgency in terms of acquiring education,” wrote Dr. Shahid Siddiqui, director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore School of Economics, in an article in Dawn. “Parents in Hunza are convinced that the best thing they can do for their children is to help them get a good education. There is a growing interest in higher education for girls.”

Siddiqui explained that given the limited chances of higher education in the Valley, the boys and girls of Hunza go to large cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad for higher education. He also emphasized that parents in Hunza encourage their daughters to gain an education and are even willing to send girls to all parts of Pakistan to obtain a quality degree. “It is an approach that distinguishes Hunza from the rest of the Northern Areas,” he added. ... an-1524688
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Post by swamidada_2 »

Surging glacier creates lake, floods Pakistan valley
Danger of another flood as water continues to flow from the lake in Hunza valley in northern Pakistan.

Shabina FarazPublished about 17 hours ago

"A loud rumble echoed and water started trickling down with soil and rocks. Villagers immediately left their homes and fled to safety," recounted Manzoor Hussain. Hussain lives in Hassanabad, a village in the Hunza valley high in the Hindu Kush Himalayas in northern Pakistan.

It was siesta time on May 30 when the rumbling started. "It was not the first time, so people in the village knew what was happening. They were aware of glacial lake outburst floods [GLOFs]. They thought it was a GLOF at the Shishper glacier," said Hussain.

In fact, a lake near the Machuhar glacier had burst its banks, causing a flood that submerged farms, the local power plant and part of the Karakoram Highway. Most residents had to sleep in tents afterwards.

The flood submerged farms, the local power plant and part of the Karakoram Highway. — Photo by Zaheer Uddin Babar
Was this a GLOF, where the failure of an unstable natural dam releases meltwater from a glacier? The question is complicated by the Karakoram Anomaly, which describes the advance of glaciers in the region in contrast to the retreat of other glaciers in the Himalayas and globally. Expert opinion is divided.

Zaheer Uddin Babar, the focal person for GLOFs in the Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority, said, "We can’t interlink the recent incident with a GLOF. Satellite images received from SUPARCO [Pakistan’s Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission] are not indicating any glacial lake. It may be the water spilled out from a lake on the surface of the Machuhar glacier. The water flow was as low as 3,000 cusecs [cubic feet per second] only." In some parts of the Hindu Kush Himalayas, water flow after a GLOF has been recorded at around 100,000 cusecs.

The villagers thought the May 30 incident was a GLOF because they had experienced one with a water flow of 7,000 cusecs in 2019, when a 1.5 kilometre-wide lake burst its banks. That time, a large section of the Karakoram Highway, a bridge, two power plants, some offices, over 100 houses, the water supply pumphouse and most farms were submerged.

Shishper is a surging, or advancing, glacier. It formed around the beginning of the twentieth century, when what was then the Hassanabad glacier in the north of the Hunza valley split into two. Machuhar is the other glacier formed by this split. Like the overwhelming majority of glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, Machuhar is receding due to the warming caused by climate change. There are over 15,000 glaciers in this tallest and youngest mountain range of the world, which stretches from Afghanistan to Myanmar. The number keeps changing as receding glaciers split into two or more.

The surge of one glacier while its neighbour melts is creating a strange situation. Babar said Shishper has been surging quickly; it moved forward two kilometres in 2018-19, though there has been no indication of a surge since November 2019. But the earlier surge blocked the drainage route of the Machuhar glacier. As a result, a lake has formed at the snout, or mouth, of the Machuhar glacier, and is getting bigger as climate change gathers pace and the rate of melt increases.

Blocking the water flowing down from the Machuhar glacier also means blocking this water supply to the Hunza River, a tributary of the transboundary Indus River.

A lake has formed at the snout of the Machuhar glacier, and is getting bigger. — Photo by Sher Mohammad
There are other glacier pairs in the same situation. Zahid Hussain, a field manager in a GLOF project, said, "Yune glacier in Bagrot valley is also extending and it has already blocked the waters of Gurgo glacier. A huge cavity has opened up on the hillside, at the intersection of the two glaciers. There is a lake forming, which can burst its banks and can create a disaster any time."

Muhammad Riaz, director-general of Pakistan Meteorological Department, told The Third Pole, "There are more than 3,000 glacial lakes in the Karakoram ranges and 34-36 of them have been declared to be of high GLOF potential."

The danger of a surging glacier
"But the glacier surge is a larger menace than GLOF," said Sher Mohammad, a glacier specialist at the regional International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, with its headquarters in Kathmandu. "There are more than 200 glaciers identified in the Karakoram range with surging or surge-like history and these glaciers cover more than 40% (7,700 square kilometres) of the total glacier area in the Karakoram."

"The exact reason for some glaciers surging in the Karakoram is still unclear," he added. "It has no linear correlation with snowfall anomalies and thermal changes. However, extreme weather and climate change probably affect surges and surge dynamics, such as intensification, enhance melting, creating crevasses on glacier surfaces and changing the glacier volume."

Asif Khan, an expert on climate change and an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report, said, "Surging is a short-lived event, when a glacier moves 10 to 100 times faster than its normal velocity."

Mohammad said the flooding on May 30 was probably triggered by a rise in temperature, causing significant glacier melt and increasing the size of the lake. Meteorological data shows a significant temperature rise in the Hunza area in late May. In the first half of June, water was still flowing down the hillside and being blocked by debris, posing a potential risk of another flood.

There was a significant temperature rise in the Hunza area in late May, which probably triggered the flooding. — Photo by Manzoor Hussain
Shaukat Ali, a climate expert at the Islamabad-based Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), said, "Surge is a phenomenon that can also be caused by extreme events of precipitation. The Karakoram Anomaly may cause surging and advancing of the Shishper glacier. Our research at GCISC shows that Gupis, Drosh, Chitral and Gilgit are the future hotspots of the highest increase in average temperature in the 21st century."

Ali pointed out that this could lead to significant changes in future water availability in Pakistan, which is dependent almost totally on the Indus basin for irrigation and other uses. Pakistan’s agriculture sector contributes around 22% of Pakistan’s GDP, and over 45% of the country’s workforce is engaged in agriculture, directly or indirectly.

A higher glacier melting rate can also trigger GLOFs and floods downstream, leading to more infrastructure and economic losses, Ali added.

This article originally appeared on and has been reproduced with permission. ... tan-valley
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Post by swamidada »

How music students in Gojal are trying to keep their culture alive
Wakhi language, culture, and music face extinction.

Syed Mehdi Bukhari 31 Jul, 2019

It is said that Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar asked Tansen, his court singer and one of his ‘nine jewels,’ if he was the most melodious person on earth.

Tansen responded that his mentor Swami Haridas was one.

Akbar expressed his desire to have Swami Haridas in his court but Haridas was fond of seclusion and didn’t prefer being in royal courts.

The emperor was left with no other option but to visit Haridas’ monastery himself.

Akbar waited for days but Haridas wouldn’t sing. As Tansen had said, Haridas sang only when it pleased him.

At last, Tansen thought of doing something about it — he started singing and deliberately hit a wrong note in between.

Haridas wouldn’t remain silent anymore. To correct Tansen, he started to sing. And everyone, including Akbar, was in an awe of his mesmerising voice.

“Tansen! You were right, Swami Haridas is the most melodious singer in this world," Akbar admitted.

To which Tansen responded, “Your Majesty, it’s because Swami sings when he wants. I, on the other hand, am bound to sing on your order.”

Sitting in the vast plains of Deosai on a bright, sunny day, amongst wild flowers of vivid colours, it feels as if Swami Haridas is singing somewhere nearby. It is a windy day and a constant rustling sound can be heard as the wind caresses Sheosar Lake’s water and the flowers.

I close my eyes and feel the wind on my face; I meditate to the rustling sound, the stillness of the lake, and the whistling of the marmot.

In the evening, I think to myself that I should retreat to Skardu — a place where even death is beautiful.

As I leave behind the blue plains of Deosai, I pass through Kala Pani first, then Barra Pani.

While I am still trying to concentrate on nature’s music, the sounds of horns interrupt every now and then.

Watching the sunset in Deosai was an unforgettable experience.
The last rays of sunshine in Deosai bathes the surrounding plains in a golden light.
In Satpara village, I can smell the fragrance of junipers.

In the distance, the Satpara Lake resembles a dark blue dot. I ask my driver to stop the jeep there.

Have you ever seen the sunset in the mountains? It’s a sight of a lifetime.

I keep concentrating on the natural sound of the chimes across the valley.

The water of Satpara Lake is a stunning turquoise colour, that left me mesmerised.
A stunning view of the HUNZA RIVER.
There are many narratives about the origins of music. Some say that when Brahma saw that man was sad despite the beauty of nature, it saddened him as well. So his wife, Saraswati, granted melodies to people.

Songs of David are another embodiment of God’s appreciation for melodies. Whether the songs are in God’s praise, or God himself creates music through waterfalls, cattle bells, flowing waters, rustling flowers, and winds, these melodies are powerful enough to instantly mesmerise the listener.

It is late by the time I reach Skardu. I lie down in bed and fall asleep instantly.

The next morning, I pick up my luggage and leave for Gulmit village, located in Gojal, the northernmost part of Pakistan, from where I have to go to the Khunjerab Pass.

After a nine-hour-long journey as I enter Gulmit, the last rays of the sun are shining on the Passu Cones, bathing them in a copperish colour.

The moonlight blankets Gulmit village as seen from the Karakoram Highway.
I place my luggage at the Gulmit Tourist Inn, cross Karakoram Highway, and find a calm place next to the Hunza River.

Sitting there, I keep contemplating about the river’s flowing water, the birds chirping as they return to their nests, and the constant humming of the wind.

Darkness and an eerie silence engulf everything as the sun goes down.

All of a sudden, I hear the chimes of rabab’s strings.

I follow the sounds through an alley next to the Gulmit Tourist Inn, and then all the way to the Gulmit Polo Ground. Unable to find the source, I return to my room.

The next morning, I return to the Polo Ground, but this time, it is bustling with people and school children playing in the field.

I ask the locals about rabab, and a man points me to a building nearby. They tell me it is a music school being run in collaboration with USAID. I was surprised.

Deedar Ali, who is leading this project, greets me outside the school. A jolly young man, Ali gives an introduction to the project and then leads me inside the building.

The building, constructed in a fashion similar to traditional Pamiri-style houses, is the temporary campus of this one-of-a-kind music school.

Inside, there are young men and women practicing on the rabab, sitar, flute, and other traditional musical instruments.

Locals try to keep the traditional Wakhi music alive.
Girls play different musical instruments at the school.
Students practice their instruments with their teachers.
Students enjoy playing various musical instruments.
A girl practices a traditional musical instrument outdoors.
Ali tells me that along with the Wakhi language and culture, their music also faces the threat of extinction.

There is only one man in entire Gojal who is an expert in playing an instrument called Ghazxek.

“We launched this project to preserve our local music, and named it Bulbulik, which in Wakhi translates to song of the nightingale,” he explained.

I am astonished at their enthusiasm, love for their culture, and attempts to keep it alive in any way possible.

“USAID has provided us funding for just one year, which ends in March. We are in need of more than that for this project to fully deliver results. If any person, organisation or institution supports us, it will be a huge favour for this region,” Ali tells me.

To Ali, listening to music expands the horizons of his thinking. It holds the master key to the creativity of the world.

A student practices playing the flute.
A girl smiles as she plays the traditional instrument, rabab.
A student happily plays the drums.
A young girl plays the rabab.
A man plays the rabab with full concentration.
I left the building along with the young Gojali musicians and go to the fields next to the school.

With traditional songs playing, melodious voices singing, and the Passu Cones in the background — Wakhi music has left me in awe.

Another day’s sun is setting in Gulmit. As I wave goodbye to the Bulbulik Music School, I walk to the Hunza River, listening to the sound of the sitar in the distance.

The future of these youngsters is uncertain. The government is not interested and USAID funding will only last for the next six months.

What will happen afterwards?

I don’t know and I would rather not think about it.

The scenes and sounds of Bulbulik replay in my mind as the sun sets behind the mountains, the Hunza River flows with force, and the curtain of night falls amidst the sound of the sitar.

The writer is an instructor at the Creative Arts Department in the University of Lahore, and a traveler, poet, photographer and writer by passion. ... ture-alive
Posts: 1025
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:59 pm

Post by swamidada »

Silver lining of the Attabad lake disaster and CPEC
Fatima S Attarwala Published July 19,2021

Sweet Tooth igloos overlooking the Attabad Lake.—Photo by Adil Marvi
The first five-star hotel in the world at 10,000 feet, complete with a soon-to-be-completed infinity pool is in Hunza, claims its 35-year old owner Ejaz Ahmed Khan of Hard Rock Hunza Resort & Villas.

An expensive treat for those who can afford it, the room rate range from Rs25,000 to 45,000 per night with the presidential suite boasting a Jacuzzi that overlooks white-topped mountain ranges.

A hefty Rs150 million has gone into its construction, not a penny of which has come from banks who refused to finance it, explains its Thailand-based owner who has plans to expand to Karimabad, Skardu, Attabad and Gilgit. Hard Rock is one of the luxury hotels mushrooming up north along with other known names such as Luxus Hunza Hotel and Eagle’s Nest Hotel.

A happy coincidence of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Attabad Lake disaster, the mountainous valley has cashed in on closed international borders this summer.

“Before 1979, there were no hotels; foreign tourists on the hippie trails used to come stay in the Amir’s palace,” recalls hotelier Liaquat Hussain. His family had one of the first own hotels, Old Hunza Inn, in the region which they have been operating for over four decades.

“I still remember 9/11. Our hotel was full, the entire valley was full. By 13/11 they were all gone, nothing was left of foreign tourists,” he explains. “I can surely say, if the trend could have been maintained, Hunza and Dubai could have been competitors in terms of social stature for tourists”.

While the amenities around the lake are owned by IDPs, the hotels are owned by investors from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, says locals

There was almost no business for 15 years, pushing Mr Hussain to turn to other avenues. Then about five years ago domestic tourism resumed when the Attabad lake disaster brought the region into the mainstream media’s eye. The Chinese-developed roads made access to the region easier as well.

“I was earning about $1,000-1,500 in China as an English teacher a month. I returned in 2018 to rejoin the family business and now I am earning $10,000-$15,000 a month,” he says talking about his 18-room hotel.

About 95 per cent of the people in Hunza belong to the Ismaili community. Its spiritual leader, Prince Karim Agha Khan has worked a lot on education and health in Hunza and invests through the Agha Khan network, adds Mr Hussain, saying that the more liberal atmosphere of the valley is conducive to tourism.

“We take in about Rs2-2.2m per day,” boasts Ibrahim, a hatted bearded smiling man that appears to be in charge of speed boat finances at Attabad Lake. He explains that there are about 100-150 speed boats which cost Rs5,000 each for roughly a 15-minute ride. This comes to about two to four rides per boat.

Tourists can also jet ski for Rs1,000 per 5-7 minute ride. The local, Taxila-made jet skis cost about Rs400,000-600,000 and the imported ones cost twice as much. “But the imported ones are expensive because of the 300pc luxury tax we have to pay,” laments Noman, the man in charge of handing out life jackets on the makeshift tier that leads to the jet skis.

All the amenities of food and activities belong to the internally displaced people (IDP) after the 2010 earthquake that created the lake. However, the hotels that have sprung around the lake belong to investors from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Ibrahim surmises that it is likely that the pockets of the locals do not run deep enough to afford to set up a hotel and therefore the IDPs have limited themselves to the amenities around the lake.

About a hundred tourists can be seen milling around Hussaini bridge on a hot Thursday afternoon in July. The locals are slightly perturbed how their thoroughfare of a makeshift bridge of wooden planks across the river has become a hotbed for tourists.

‘It is strange that a country that wants to promote tourism is refusing visas to Brazilian and American nationals’

A local, Javed Miandad, (born in the 90s, he says a lot of his brethren are named after the Cricket World Cup stars) hands out life jackets and maintains order explaining that as many as a thousand people visit during July and August.

“In the 1960s, a bridge was made by the elders for the villagers to access their fields. The Attabad lake disaster swept the bridge away and a new one had to be built with the help of the AGA KHAN Rural Support Programme,” narrates Massudullah, a friendly local.

While tourists squeak in terror and gingerly step on one set-apart plank at a time, holding tightly on to the swaying support, he walks across as if he was strolling on a park.

Dodging groups that gingerly balance themselves for selfies, he explains that this bridge was not made for tourists though their presence has increased maintenance costs. During harvest, they carry sacks weighing 10-15kgs on their backs filled with wheat and potatoes. In the past, due to local politics and external pressure, they had not asked the government for help. A fee of Rs100 per tourist is charged to help maintain the bridge and beautify the surroundings.

“We have petitioned the government for a reinforced concrete bridge for ours and a nearby village,” he adds.

“The local security apparatus helps us discreetly,” says Wajahat Saleem, co-founder of a tour management company Voyage planner that is determined to bring international tourism to Pakistan. “Once, we were taking foreigners to place which had a lot of beggars which disturbs visitors so they had them removed for the duration of the visit.”

Recounting challenges he mentions that foreigners often get refused visas which results in a lot of appeals and paperwork. “It is strange that a country that wants to promote tourism is refusing visas to Brazilian and American nationals,” he says.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, July 19th, 2021 ... r-and-cpec
Posts: 1025
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:59 pm

Re: Hunza

Post by swamidada »

Dramatic footage shows enormous bridge crumbling amid raging floodwaters

Renee Duff
Mon, May 9, 2022, 11:55 AM
Pakistan and neighboring India have been sweltering amid an intense heat wave that has led to weeks of dangerous air quality and rampaging wildfires. Now, the early-season heat is to blame for causing the rapid melt of the Shishper Glacier in northern Pakistan, which led to destructive flooding downstream.

The Hassanabad Bridge in Pakistan's Hunza Valley was completely destroyed on Saturday as the melting glacier sent torrents of water coursing through area streams in a phenomenon known as a glacial lake outburst flood.

Dramatic footage showed concrete blocks crumbling and eventually giving way under the punishing pressure of the raging floodwaters. Observers might typically associate such scenes with extremely heavy rainfall rather than the impacts of rapidly melting glaciers.

The destroyed bridge cut the connection between northern Pakistan and China on the Karakoram Highway, a popular tourist attraction famed for being one of the highest paved roads in the world.

A snapshot of Hunza's Hassanabad bridge in the process of collapsing as floodwaters raged underneath. (Reuters)

Local law enforcement confirmed the developments of the destroyed bridge on Twitter, stating that small vehicles were being diverted to Sas Valley Road.

The floodwaters also swept away two power plants in Hassanabad, according to, a Pakistani news outlet. Officials were evacuating individuals living in vulnerable locations near the floodwaters and supplying provisions.

In mid-May 2019, NASA highlighted the Shishper Glacier, predicting that the Karakoram Highway, large numbers of homes in the village of Hasanabad, important irrigation channels and two power plants could all be affected in the event of a severe flood.

Over the past 20 days, the water volume at the Shishper glacier lake increased by 40% as a result of an unusual early-season spike in temperatures, Reuters reported.

Although official weather observations are sparse in this particular part of the country, temperatures at other high-elevation sites in northern Pakistan have repeatedly hit the upper 80s and 90s F (30-37 C) over the past couple of weeks. Farther south at lower elevations, temperatures have repeatedly eclipsed 110 F (43 C), which is on the order of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit (3-6 degrees Celsius) above average.

Pakistan's Federal Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, said in late April that Pakistan went from winter to summer, without much of a spring, for the first time in decades.

Rehman said on Twitter following the bridge collapse on Saturday that a temporary bridge was slated to be constructed within 48 hours.

"Pakistan has the highest number of glaciers outside the polar region, and many are losing mass due to high global temperatures," Rehman said.

AccuWeather meteorologists say no relief is in sight for the foreseeable future across the region with searing heat projected to continue past the middle of May. ... 52442.html
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