Must-see places in Pakistan (and the world): Hunza Valley

by - April 06, 2017

Just two hours from Gilgit is Hunza Valley. The Hunza Valley used to be a princely state until Bhutto dissolved that status. It is next to Xinjiang, in China, and is heavily influenced by the proximity to the Chinese border. I visited it in 2008, and again just last week, and can only attest to its beauty. The best way to get there is to fly to Gilgit, and then take a jeep or rented car/van to Hunza. You might get dropped you off in Aliabad, which is the main town in Hunza Valley. It has ATMS and major banks. Then, take another car to get to Karimabad, which is another 15-20 min drive.

Within Hunza, the main city is Karimabad, which overlooks Aliabad and the whole valley. Karimabad has some excellent 4 and 5 star hotels at ridiculously low prices (The Serena Hotel is Rs 6500/night). In Karimabad, you can also check out the musical instruments store, and dried fruit stores. Karimabad is located on the west bank of th Hunza River, and used to be a place for caravans traveling through the Hindu Kush to Kashmir, to rest. You can see the Hunza Peak, the pointed and narrow Lady Fingers peak, and Rakaposhi as well.  In March, there is Cherry Blossom season in Karimabad.

Some distance away is the Baltit Fort, named after Baltit, which used to be Karimabad. 

To its opposite direction is the Altit Fort, named after the town, Altit. The Altit Fort itself is quite majestic, and  was originally home to the hereditary rulers of the Hunza state who carried the title of Mir. Altit Fort is around 1100 years old, which makes it one of the oldest monuments in the area. The Agha Khan Foundation has done some considerable reconstruction work as well.

If you go near the river, you will pass another old settlement, known as Ganish Village. This is known to be one of the oldest and first settlements on the ancient Silk Route, and is the site of various ancient towers, temples and and a reservoir. 
The people of Hunza are one of the most open-minded you will find in Pakistan. They happen to be progressive, and its common to find women walking alone in the valleys. The people there are extremely friendly and welcoming, you will get excellent walnut cake and they even make their own wheat beer and apricot wines!

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