Hunza Valley: Insight into Colors

Hunza is the northern most district of Pakistan. The district touches the borders of China & Afghanistan. Hunza valley is a combination of a number of smaller sub-valleys. Most famous of these sub-valleys are Shimshal, Chipursan, Misgar and Avgarch valleys. The main town of Hunza valley with all the government offices is the Aliabad and is located on main Karakoram Highway or N-35. While Karimabad is a more established tourist attraction. Hunza valley is located on the left banks of River Hunza while going north from Gilgit.

There are two parts of the valley, Hunza & Gojal. Gojal is the northern part of the Hunza district while Hunza is the southern part of the district. Hunza valley includes these tourist attractions:

  1. Altit Fort
  2. Baltit Fort
  3. Eagle’s Nest or Duikar
  4. Lady Finger Peak
  5. Ultar Peak
  6. Aliabad
  7. Karimabad

While Gojal includes these tourist attractions:

  1. Attabad Lake aka Shishkat Lake
  2. Gulmit
  3. Ghulkin
  4. Batura Glacier
  5. Passu Cathedral aka Passu Cones
  6. Passu Glacier
  7. Hussaini Suspension Bridge
  8. Borith Lake
  9. Avgarch Valley
  10. Misgar Valley
  11. Shimshal Valley
  12. Chipursan Valley
  13. Sost
  14. Khunjerab National Park
  15. Pakistan China Border
Borith Lake
Credits: Muhammad Shuaib

There are a lot places which are deemed a tourist attraction but I stated the most famous of them here. Now, I would share an introduction of these attractions.

Altit Fort is the oldest fort in the hunza valley. It was constructed some 1100 years ago and overlooks Hunza River. The primary goal of constructing this fort was to keep an eye over invaders from Hunzo-bar or Nagar. There was a great rivalry between the rulers and people of Hunza & Nagar in the older times. Invaders from both valleys often attacked each others. Altit Fort was built to defend the people of Hunza from them. It was also the residence of the ruler of Hunza and his family. It can also be seen from main Karakoram Highway or N-35 after crossing Ganish. The fort can be accessed via a road from karimabad. The entry ticket for Pakistanis is PKR 400 while for foreigners is PKR 1000 for the fort. The fort offers views of the Royal Garden and a local musical school is also functioning within the premises. There is also an amazing but expensive restaurant run by ladies within the premises of the fort.

Baltit Fort is an 800 years old fort within Karimabad town of Hunza district. The fort was built for the protection of the ruler of Hunza and his family and also has a goal of deep defense. The fort is built on the same architectural style as of the Altit Fort. The fort can be accessed on foot from karimabad bazar. It would take you around 20 mins to reach the fort from the bazar via a steep walkway. The entry ticket fees is the same PKR 400 for Pakistanis and PKR 1000 for foreigners. Personally speaking, Baltit Fort offers amazing views of the Hunza & Nagar districts from height.

Hussaini Suspension Bridge
Credits: Muhammad Shuaib

Eagle’s Nest or Duikar is another great tourist attraction in the Hunza valley. Official name of the area is Duikar while it has some natural stones in Eagle shape, hence it got the name of Eagle’s nest. The attraction offers unique views of Golden Peak, Diran Peak, Rakaposhi Peak, Lady Finger Peak, Ultar Peak, Hunza & Nagar districts. The attraction is located at an altitude of 3000 meters. It can be accessed on a metaled road from Altit Fort. It would take you around an hour on a vehicle to reach the attraction from Karimabad. View during Sunrise and Sunset are just stunning from this point.

Lady Finger Peak aka Bublimating is a 6000 meter peak in the Batura-Muztagh sub range of the Karakoram Mountain range. It is located within the Ultar massif. The peak is best viewed from Eagle’s Nest. It is most visible as a rock spire between snow clad mountains in the valley.

Ultar Peak is 7388 meters peak besides Lady Finger Peak. The peak is part of a giant Ultar Sar Massif in Batura-Muztagh sub range of the Karakoram Mountain range. The glaciers from Ultar Sar massif provides water for nearby towns. There are five major glaciers on this massif Hassanabad Glacier, Ultar Glacier, Ahmedabad Glacier, Gulmit Glacier & Ghulkin Glacier.

Karimabad Village from Baltit Fort
Credits: Asif Iqbal

Aliabad is the main town of Hunza district. All the major government administrative offices are located in this town including the offices of Deputy Commissioner & Senior Superintendent of Police etc. The town offers unique views of Rakaposhi Peak, Golden Peak, Lady Finger Peak & Ultar II Peak. A campus of Karakoram International University is also located in Aliabad.

Karimabad is the major tourist attraction of Hunza district. The town located just above Aliabad. There are two main routes to access the town, most famous of them is via a link road on Karakoram Highway between Aliaabad & Ganish while the other route is from the university road in the Aliabad Town. The town is famous for Altit & Baltit Forts, Eagle’s Nest and the Lady Finger Peak.

These were the tourist attractions within Hunza. Overview of the tourist attractions in Gojal area of the Hunza district would be shared from here onwards.

While moving on Karakoram Highway or N-35, just after entering Gojal area, the first attraction would be Pakistan-China Friendship Tunnels or Attabad Tunnels. These are four tunnels on the karakoram highway. After a massive landsliding on Attabad villages, river hunza was stopped at this point, ultimately destructing attabad villages and part of Karakoram Highway. This created a water reservoir, which is now known as Attabad Lake or Shishkat Lake. Immediately after creation of this lake, the transportation was resumed via a boat service on this patch of Karakoram Highway between Pakistan & China. The construction work on creating tunnels through the mountains was immediately started. The tunnels were inaugurated in 2015. The tunnels are one of the largest in Pakistan. Attabad Lake is famous for its turquoise waters. Private water sports and boating facilities are also active in the lake.

Royal Garden outside Altit Fort
Credits: Asif Iqbal

Gulmit village is the largest settlement in the Gojal area. The village has very old history and was the summer seat of Hunza princely estate in the past. The Ondra Fort is located in the Gulmit village. The fort is believed to be constructed to protect Gulmit & Ghulkin villages from external invaders. There are a number of treks in the village as well as a number of sky high peaks.

Ghulkin is another historical village in the gojal area. Just after Gulmit on the banks of Batura Glacier lies this beautiful village. Ghulkin is famous for amazing landscape as well as Pakistan’s first homestays.

Batura Glacier is the fifth largest glacier outside polar region. The glacier is 35 KM long and covers an area of over 200 sq. km. The glacier lies on the karakoram highway and thus can be witnessed from the highway.

Passu Cathedral aka Passu Cones are vistas from Passu Sar 7478 meters. It offers one of the most enchanting views for the visitors. The pinnacles are believed to be one of the most incredible natural wonders in the world. It attracts a large pool of foreign tourists each year.

Passu Cathedrals
Credits: Muhammad Shuaib

My freshmen year of college, I saw a picture of this place on some random blog. I had no idea where it was, had a hard time believing it was real, and definitely never thought I’d see it. Ten years later, I finally stood here and saw it for my self. I’m still in a state of awe…

@nathanjordanphotography

Passu Glacier is located on the south side of the passu village. The glacier is connected with a number of other glaciers including Batura Glacier. Patundas Meadow trek is one of the most epic treks in Gojal area and the trek is originated from Passu Glacier.

Hussaini Suspension Bridge connects Hussaini Village on the karakoram highway and Zoharabad village on the opposite side of Hunza River. The suspension bridge is considered one the most iconic and dangerous bridges in the world. Personally, I think Passu bridge is way more dangerous than this.

Borith lake is the Pakistan’s highest salt water lake. The lake is located within the Borith village on karakoram highway. The lake is easily accessible via a car track or you can hike to the lake. Borith village is located just after Hussaini Village on Karakoram Highway. You can also witness an amazing view of Passu Cathedral from the lake. The lake is also famous for the migratory birds from central asia and siberia.

Attabad Lake aka Shishkat Lake

Shimshal is the highest permanent settlement in Pakistan. Average altitude of the valley is around 3100 meters above sea level. Shimshal can accessed through a four hours jeep ride from passu village. The valley has four major settlements Central Shimshal, Aminabad, Farmanabad & Khizerabad. Shimshal village is particularly famous for high altitude treks, passes and sky high peaks as well as for its world record holder mountaineers. Samina Baig hails from central Shimshal is the first Pakistani female to summit Mount Everest as well as the one of the two Pakistanis to do the seven summits. Other being her brother Mirza Ali Baig.

Chipursan or Chapursan Valley is the northern most village of Pakistan. The valley can be accessed through a non-metaled road from Sost. Chipursan valleys is located on a drive of 40 mins from sost on this road. The valley is famous has one of the oldest fort in the region, Rashit Fort. The valley is also famous for the highest sufi shrine in Pakistan, Baba Ghundi’s shrine. The shrine is a site of pilgrimage for followers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, China & central asian states.

Pakistan China Border Crossing
Credits: Muhammad Shuaib

Sost is the last permanent settlement on Karakoram Highway or N-35 before it enters China. The village also has one of the biggest market of chinese products in Pakistan. The sost dryport is a center point of all the import/export between Pakistan & China.

Khunjerab National Park is located on Karakoram Highway and is famous for the Pakistan China Border Crossing. This border crossing is the highest working border crossing in the world. The patch of the Karakoram Highway, passing through the national park is the highest paved road in the world. It also offers world’s highest ATM just before the border crossing.

World’s Highest ATM
Credits: Muhammad Shuaib

Here is our hotel recommendation in the Hunza district. This only includes the hotels, where I had stayed and the owners/managers, I can vouch for.

Karimabad: 
1. Old Hunza Inn
2. Karimabad Inn
Gulmit: 
1. Gulmit Continental Hotel
Ghulkin: 
1. Rehman's Homestay
2. Khanabadosh Baithak
Passu: 
1. Hello Passu
2. Passu Tourist Lodge
Sost: 
1. PTDC Sost
Shimshal: 
1. Minglik Guest House

For all your travel needs, we recommend The Tourist.

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