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Day 7: Hunza Valley (Attabad Lake)

Author: Nawab Tanweer Ahmad
Date of Trip: September 2015

Date: 21st September 2015

Today is our 3rd day in the most beautiful valley on earth the Hunza Valley, for the last 2 days, we were exploring Karimabad, the capital of Hunza. We traveled to the marketplace, the Apple, Apricot and Walnut forest, the Baltit locality and the Baltit Fort, also tasted the local bread “Arzooq”. This area is extremely wonderful one can ramble here for hours or can merely sit and savor the beauty of its surrounding. My spouse even visited the local houses in the surrounding and made acquaintances with them and learn about their lives.

Today we hold a plan to explore the other nearby places, including Attabad Lake, Hopper Glacier, Nagar Valley, Confluence of River Hunza and Nagar, Rock Caving by Alexander the Great, Ganish Village and Altit Fort. Since this area is a pollution free with clean and fresh air all around, we always wake up early in the morning. The rising sun creates the surrounding mountains and the area the most spectacle place on land. After a hot bath, we packed our backpacks and went down for the breakfast. After the first experience, we consistently have our breakfast at “Hunza Snack Bar” with ‘Arzooq’ being the part of it. The Hunza Snack Bar is along the main road and the valley can be distinctly viewed from inside the snack bar, there were people walking toward their work on the main road and students to their school and colleges. People here have to walk long distances to reach their destinations as there is less and limited public transport in this area. And we were also walking too much from the time we are here, as we don’t have any sort of conveyance, but the thing we learn from walking is that you can view and observe more and can feel the surrounding and become part of it.

We roamed around for a couple of hours and then went to “Mountain Art & Gems Gallery”, as from there we have the plan to go on a trip around Hunza on the Jeep owned by the shopkeeper. We waited in the shop, the shop is loaded with precious gemstones, handmade wooden items, carpets, apparel and other handicraft items. As shortly as the shopkeeper handed over the shop to his brother we ride on the jeep and our journey toward our first spot the “Attabad Lake” has begun. After driving down from Karimabad we are now traveling on the Karakorum Highway toward China.

Driving a couple of kilometers we reached Ganish. Ganish is the oldest village in Hunza, with 800-year-old mosques, and is considered the first settlement along the ancient Silk Road. Situated approximately 6 kilometers from Aliabad it has been awarded the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage. Ganish consists of sub-villages including Garelth, Chaboikushal, Shukunoshal, Khaii, Buldas and Chillganish. One of the most iconic things of Ganish is it Shikaris (watchtowers) made of wood and stone these towers were utilize in old times to keep watch on enemies.

After passing a little time at Ganish we again embarked on our journey toward “Attabad Lake”. “Attabad Lake”, in the valley of Gojal, is created because of water blockage of river Hunza caused by massive land sliding in January 2010. More than 20 people were killed and part of Karakorum Highway was submerged due to this landslide and 6,000 people are displaced from upstream villages. The lake created in this result it is 24 km long, 100meters deep and is at an altitude of 2700 meters, surrounded on all sides by 6000-7000 meter high peaks and glaciers.

We were traveling on the well-built and well maintained Karakorum Highway with warning signs for expected land sliding at some places. Karakorum Highway is constructed in such a terrain that there are mountains on one side and deep valleys on the other of the road and due to its high elevation and difficult conditions in which it was constructed, no wonder it is regarded as the Eighth Wonder of the World. And these mountains frequently cause land sliding and damaging the highway at different locations, but this highway is constantly monitored and is reconstructed on an immediate basis. Watching scenic views with Hunza River flowing in parallel along the left-side of the highway we reached Attabad Lake in nearly one and half hours.

After traveling about 20 KM from Karimabad, on the left side of Karakorum Highway before the Attabad Tunnel, there is a rough and dirt road going down to the lake. Driving half a kilometer along this route we hit a terrific place with a vast lake filled with stunning blue color water, the color we have never witnessed in our life and mighty mountains surrounding the lake. We jumped out of the jeep and sit along the bank of lake dipping our hands and foot in the clear and cold water. The semblance of water is amazingly beautiful, the blue color of water we have never seen before, and so clear that for some distances the bed of the lake is clearly visible, this smoothness of water make it appear like a big mirror in which one can clearly see the reflection of the surrounding mountains.

The calmness of the surrounding creates such a spiritual phenomenon that one will find his body so light that makes you feels like being adrift in the air. There were few boats moored up at the lakeside, these boats were used to transport goods and passengers from one side of the lake to the other side before the Attabad Tunnel was constructed few months back. We chose to have a ride on the boat and tour the lake. The boat was motor driven and the sailor was the expert, the tour began and our boat started moving toward Gulmit on the other side of the lake. We were completely excited and enjoying the ride, our boat was sailing along a most exquisite water and fenced by mighty mountains. At a distance we can see part of the Attabad tunnel up high on the mountain, some construction work was still going on in the tunnel and the huge machinery can be seen engaged.

After a spectacular boat ride of half an hour, we return back to the bank of the lake. Capturing the stunning vista of the area in our camera, we hopped back again into our jeep and started our journey toward our next destination “The Hoper Glacier”.

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