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Hunza Valley – Where Time Stops – And Fairies Tread
Hunza, that mostly remains covered under the sacred gown of snow in winter, when undrapes, the sensuous hilly contour and the luxurious vegetation become a magnet to all and sundry. The indigenous population becomes live in the vibrant spring season after a long freezing winter
Hunza, the lands of fairytales, where the snowcapped hills are like the dancing floor for the Aphrodite. Where the rivers roar in excitement and brush the stones to make them pebbles. Where the soft breeze murmurs to divulge the centuries old secrets. Where the old pine trees still embrace the clouds with warmth and passion to swing the droplets on flexible twigs. A terrain of serenity, and beholder of eternal beauty that may, for a second or two, make the onlooker oblivious of the worldly life.
Hunza, in the northernmost part of Northern Areas of Pakistan, was once a princely state, which, in 1974 lost its royal status to join hands with the Government of Pakistan.
In the South, the Gilgit agency borders it while towards the East the former princely state of Nagar fringes its margins. The valley of Hunza also enjoys the neighborhood of China to the North and Afghanistan to the Northwest. The celebrated town of Baltit, which, know, is known, as Karimabad is its capital.
Hunza was an independent princely state for 900 years ruled by “Mirs” until 1974. It remained as a subordinate of Kashmir during the regime of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, while the Mirs of Hunza used to send an annual tribute, as a token of their loyalty, to the Raja’s court since 1947.
Geographically, gigantic mountains that have stretched over an area of 110 kilometers surround the valley. The terrain is full of variety with diversity in the heights of the peaks of 1500 meters to 8000 meters, the world-famous Rakaposhi (7788 m) peak is one of them which, against the calm blue sky, shimmers to the maximum and creates an illusion to captivate the eye up to a level where time seems to be stopping for ever.
The heights of Rakaposhi (7788 m) and the Ultar (77388 m) are the backdrops of this paradise valley where the glacial water of Ultar is known for some therapeutic distinctiveness, which, in favorable circumstances have caused the aboriginal populace, long life and a very low ratio of heart diseases. Researchers are pondering over the natural composition of this glacial water to disclose the secret that causes a longer life.
The valley is blessed naturally with luxuriantly green orchards (mostly of Apricot), streams full of dancing waters, roaring rivers, and meadows stretching in the quietude like that of heavens at a height which, is a unique feature of Pakistani Northern Areas. The juniper, pine and Dev Dar are the trees that, in their trunk rings, have recorded the cycles of rainy and snowy seasons of numerous centuries.
The blue of sky, the emerald of flora and the turquoise of water add to the palette nature has used to paint this landscape full of mountains, trees and flowers with a divine composition of colors and the brightness of the rising sun, worshiped by the whiteness of the snow which, on some peaks, have never melted for billions of years.
The Northern Areas of Pakistan are divided into five districts on administrative grounds where the chief secretary who is controlled by the federal government from Islamabad governs.
This soil has seen the invasions from the horse ridden Aryans to the powerful Greeks, the Persians and Afghans to the Muslims, and that is why the loam of this area has engrossed the aroma of different civilizations and the culture of various bordering nations.
The first century AD marks this area as the trade center like the Kashgar while from the 4th to 11th century AD, it was a hub of Buddhist culture under the Sogdiana dynasty, later on; Kushans, Hindus, Shahis and then Muslims influenced this part of the world.
Hunza being a remote area has got a mythical position in world tourism. This area was opened to the entire world in 1970 after the completion of historic Korakoram Highway (KKH), engineered on the remains of ancient silk rout from Pakistan into China.
The people of Hunza are believed to be the descendants of soldiers from Alexander’s army even as the indigenous language Burushaski is still enigmatic, as no traces or links have been found regarding this language, to any other known tongue of the globe.
Mostly, the local people are in the cultivation of apricots, a brand of this valley. You may find the roofs of almost every home in orange due to the drying of these apricots, which is a common practice here. While if you feel obsessed to capture these shades of orange color, be careful! As more often than not, it is women who are indulged in the business of drying apricots and do not like to be exposed in front of any sort of lens.
Baltit fort in Karimabad is a place of ultimate joy, where standing on its terrace, you may find it stunning to look up at the mountains all around, but right at the foot of the fort, the beautiful little houses of the town of Karimabad would capture your ogle, a natural and picturesque view.
Spring is the season of joy, delight and expression of elation. Birds sing, plants ornate themselves with new leaves and flowers, and ultimately, all this attracts every living being. The face of earth, especially in fertile areas, changes dramatically as somebody would have painted an infinite canvas in exuberant colors. The hills being overwhelmed by natural forests on greater scale put on, a show of unmatchable flora with diverse shapes and limitless tinge.
Hunza, that mostly remains covered under the sacred gown of snow in winter, when undrapes, the sensuous hilly contour and the luxurious vegetation become a magnet to all and sundry. The indigenous population becomes live in the vibrant spring season after a long freezing winter when the temperatures in negative scale, make the life null and void.
As the valley of Hunza has seen many diverse cultures and civilizations through a passage of centuries from the Persian kings to Alexander the great, Kushans to Hindus and Buddhists to Muslims. The richness of Hunza culture is quite obvious, its folk music, dance, rituals and food have got the touch of diverse influences. Although now, the majority of population is Ismailites-Muslims but the rich culture of Hunza unveiled assorted and exclusive taste through traditional dresses, jewelry, cuisine, rituals and crafts.
Spring starts in Hunza in April with pleasant weather and roads gets open after snowy winters. But even then the best time is May and June as Hunza Festival is also celebrated at that juncture of time.
The start of spring in this astonishing valley put on display the variety of colorful and scintillating panorama where one could feel the magic and pleasure of natural beauty.
“All those things are beautiful, the perception of which please”, said Shakespeare.
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