Hunza Valley

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Hunza Valley

Hunza (map) is a mountainous valley in the northern part of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Geographically, Hunza consists of three regions: Upper Hunza (Gojal), Central Hunza and Lower Hunza (Shinaki).

Buddhism, and to a lesser extent, Bön, were the main religions in the area. The region has a number of surviving Buddhist archaeological sites, such as the *Sacred Rock of Hunza (36°18’47.5″N 74°41’09.7″E, map).

Hunza is one of the most exotic places in Pakistan. The valley is popularly believed to be the inspiration for the mythical valley of Shangri-La in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon.

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The fairy-tale-like castle of Baltit (map), above Karimabad, is a Hunza landmark built about 800 years ago. Stilted on massive legs, its wooden bay windows look out over the valley. Originally, it was used as the residence of the Mirs (the title of the former rulers) of Hunza.

Hunza Valley is also host to the ancient watch towers in Ganish, *Baltit Fort and *Altit Fort. Watch towers are located in heart of Ganish Village (map).

Eco-friendly hiking treks like Ondra Poygah Gulmit and Leopard Trek Shiskhat are also known for their views.

*Karimabad (map), the capital of Hunza, offers an awe-inspiring view of Rakaposhi (7,788 meters). The snows of Rakaposhi glitter in the moonlight, producing an atmosphere at once ethereal and sublime.

*Ganish Village (map) – the oldest village in Hunza, with 800-year-old mosques, it was honored by UNESCO in 2002 and 2009.

Hunza is a 100 km drive from Gilgit (map), and most people arrive by road and it takes almost 2-3 hours to reach Hunza from Gilgit. The main bus stand is on the KKH Aliabad. There are booking agents in town for long-distance buses & jeeps along the KKH. The journey from Islamabad can take as long as 24 hours.

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::: Source: Peter Santenello

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