Karimabad, Gilgit and the Hunza Valley
Karimabad (Urdu: كريم آباد) is the capital of Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Karimabad is also known as Baltit. It is named after Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual head of Shia Ismaili Nizari community. The Hunza Valley (Urdu: ہنزہ) 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 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.
Gilgit is the capital city of the Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, and is one of the two major hubs in the Northern Areas for mountaineering expeditions to the Karakoram and other peaks in the Himalayas; the other hub being Skardu. Gilgit has an area of 38,000 square kilometres (14,700 sq mi) and stands in the foothills of the Karakoram Mountains with an average altitude of 1,500 metres (4,900 ft).
Hunza was formerly a princely state bordering China to the north-east and Pamir to its north-west, which continued to survive until 1974, when it was finally assimilated under constitutional reforms. 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 as Karimabad) 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 political asylum.
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.
The temperature in May is a maximum of 27 °C (81 °F) and a minimum of 14 °C (57 °F); the temperature in October is maximum 10 °C (50 °F) and 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 snow.
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 towards the right of 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 arrange tours and transport for visitors.
Hunza is one of the most impressive destinations around the world. Several high peaks rise above 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) 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 metres (25,551 ft) 7,788 m (25,551 ft), Ultar Sar 7,388 metres (24,239 ft) Bojahagur Duanasir II 7,329 metres (24,045 ft), Ghenta Peak 7,090 metres (23,261 ft), Hunza Peak 6,270 metres (20,571 ft), Darmyani Peak 6,090 metres (19,980 ft), and Bublimating (Ladyfinger Peak) 6,000 metres (19,685 ft). Hunza Valley is also host to the ancient watch towers of Ganish, Baltit Fort, and Altit Fort. The valley is popularly believed to be the inspiration for the mythical valley of Shangri-la in James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon.
Polo is the favourite game of the people of Gilgit, Chilas, Astore, Hunza, and the surrounding areas.
The population consists of many diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups, due in part to the many isolated valleys separated by some of the world's highest mountains. Urdu is the lingua franca of the region, understood by most inhabitants. The Shina language (with several dialects) is the language of 40% of the population, spoken mainly in Gilgit, throughout Diamer, and in some parts of Ghizer. The Balti dialect, a sub-dialect of Ladakhi and part of Tibetan language group, is spoken by the entire population of Baltistan. Minor languages spoken in the region include Wakhi, spoken in upper Hunza, and in some villages in Ghizer, while Khowar is the major language of Ghizer. Burushaski is an isolated language spoken in Hunza, Nagar, Yasin (where Khowar is also spoken), in some parts of Gilgit and in some villages of Punyal. Another interesting language is Domaaki, spoken by the musician clans in the region. A small minority of people also speak Pashto. People who live in Gilgit-Baltistan, despite that region's being referred to as part of Kashmir, do not speak Kashmiri or any of its dialects.