Hunza, located in Pakistan’s northernmost administrative region of Gilgit-Baltistan, is a colloquial term for ‘heaven on earth’. This assertion shouldn’t come as hyperbole to anyone because once you visit this majestic region, you will see that this title is no exaggeration; rather, it is an obvious truism.
Here are some of the top attractions in Hunza that are a must-see for any visitor:
Karimabad is the capital of Hunza. During their visit to the valley, many tourist prefer to stay in this town due to its developed infrastructure and availability of accommodation facilities. The place has retained its historical significance with its magnificent architecture, comprising stone-paved streets and homes. Its marketplace is a haven for people looking to buy souvenirs (including gems, traditional clothes, and other crafts) that symbolise the ancient status of the region. You’ll find some great gifts for your family and friends, or even some interesting artefacts for keeps!
Altit Fort is an ancient fortress that originally served as a home to the original rulers (the Mirs) of Hunza. With its history that spans over a millennium, Altit Fort is the oldest monument in Gilgit-Baltistan. It helped the Mirs protect the area against foreign invaders (the Chinese and the Kievan Rus), and withstood many a siege – with its towers still standing strong to this date.
After being in a state of disrepair for many years, it underwent an elaborate restoration scheme, sponsored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture Historic Cities Support Programme, and opened its gates to the public in 2007. The restoration efforts included the conversion of some rooms into a museum, with ancient artefacts put up for visitor’s display, as well as renovation of the ancient kitchens.
Its small rooms and low portals feature intricate carvings which are the hallmarks of the Mir era. The fort is nestled in the Royal Gardens of Altit. These lush green patches of land serve as hosts to trees filled with the tantalizing aroma of apricots.
After residing in Altit Fort for many years, the Mirs of Hunza relocated to the newer Baltit Fort around 700 years ago. Over the course of centuries, this structure underwent countless restoration initiatives. It was completely renovated in the 16th century, when the local prince married a Balti princess – whose dowry included contracting the services of craftsmen for the renovation of the building.
However, Baltit Fort was abandoned by the Mirs in 1945, when they moved to a newer palace down the hill. This building was repaired by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture Historic Cities Support Programme in 1996, and now stands as a museum run by the Baltit Heritage Trust.
Once inside the fort’s premises, you can see an ancient cannon on display, as well as a number of other artefacts. Other interesting features displayed include the intricately carved bay windows and surprisingly modern stained-glass windows.
The 27th highest mountain peak in the world is located 100 kilometres from Gilgit. Rakaposhi translates to ‘snow-covered’ in the local dialect, since its peak remain covered with snow throughout the year.
It is located in the middle of the Nagar and Bagrote valleys whose people have declared its surrounding area a community park. The mountain range is home to a number of endangered species, including the Marco Polo Sheep, snow leopards, brown bears, and wolves – if you’re a mountaineering enthusiast, you simply cannot afford to miss these amazing wildlife sightings.
And, of course, Rakaposhi is so supreme in its stature, you can see it with the naked eye from most parts of Hunza.
The origins of Attabad Lake are nothing short of a tragic event that led to widespread destruction. The massive landslide in 2010, which buried the village of Attabad, dammed up the Hunza River; forming a 100-metre-deep lake.
Following the lake’s formation, rafts served as the initial and sole medium of transportation. Recently, a tunnel was constructed atop the lake to facilitate secure and seamless travel.
In addition to providing the infrastructure, the authorities concerned have turned Attabad Lake into a tourist attraction; with its own recreational places – which offer boating, fishing, and jet skiing facilities – becoming tourism hotspots.
Attabad Lake even has a branch of Sweet Tooth, a popular eatery situated in Lahore (the provincial capital of Punjab).
Borith Lake is in Hunza district of Gilgit–Baltistan. Borith is a hamlet in the surroundings of the Borith Lake, to the north west of Hussaini, a village near Gojal, Ghulkin in the upper Hunza. The altitude of Borith is roughly 2,600 m (8,500 feet) above sea level.
Satrangi Lake is the Breathtaking beauty. Takes about 2 or 3 hours of riding a 4×4 jeep. Satrangi lake changes colors based on sunlight.
Though a fair warning, please plan your trip in advance as there are limited facilities located close to the Satrangi Lake and makes it harder for tourists to fully take advantage of the stunning place.
This mountain range with distinctive physical features is located in the westernmost sub-range of the Karakoram. Since it’s conical in shape, this snowless massif rises precipitously above the Hunza Valley to the southeast.
It is also known as Bublimotin (‘Bubli’s peak’) in the local language: the locals obtained the name from a folktale which had a princess named Bubli standing at the peak to wait for her prince’s return from a rescue mission.
If you’re a thrill seeker, then this peak is just the perfect spot for adrenaline junkies like yourself. It serves as the primary station for paragliding in Hunza, and has an elevation of 6,000 metres (20,000 feet).
Khunjerab National Park
Khunjerab is beautiful as well with majestic scenery along the roads. There are even flocks of Ibex running along the mountain roads. It is like a drive through a safari town and an experience in its own right. The temperatures tend to drop pretty low here so we’d recommend to dress up well and warm.
Gulmit (which translates to the valley of flowers in the native language) is the administrative centre of Gojal, or Upper Hunza. This centuries-old town hosts various shops, museums, and numerous other tourist attractions.
ts popularity stems from its beautiful landscapes, and it offers some of the most panoramic views of the Passu Cones (aka the Cathedral Range), Passu Glacier, and the Passu Sar mountain range.
The Passu Cones is a marvellous sight to witness at sunset, when the snow seems like its melting away into oblivion; hence the alternative name of Tupopdan (‘sun-swallowing mountains’) given to Passu Cones.
These are the wondrous and breath-taking places to visit in Hunza. Once your tour begins, you’ll find yourself undertaking an unforgettable journey; with transformational becoming a buzzword for travel experiences of similar scope. Moreover, you’ll get a chance to explore and interact with different cultures and people that have remain camouflaged since time immemorial.