Karimabad & Baltit Fort
View of the Hunza valley from Karimabad, Pakistan.
|Karimabad is named after
Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the
Ismailis Muslims. Ismailis number several million in Pakistan, India, East Africa,
Iran and Syria. The Aga Khan's portrait hangs in every single shop or
restaurant. For good reason. The AKF or Aga Khan Foundation provides
grants for health, education and rural development projects. The valley
abounds with schools, hospitals and various community programmes developed
with the help of the foundation. The village is perched high above the KKH
and provides splendid views of the valley.
|Tourism and foreign aid have
made Karimabad prosper. Its bazaar is filled with hotels, restaurants,
travel agencies and handicraft shops. Quite different from what we have
seen during our travels of these last weeks. Also, Karimabad has several
bookshops full of fascinating books about the region. As everything has
slowed down since China, we have started to read. It's a holiday after all
! At the end of the bazaar
street is a small road that leads up to the Baltit Fort that served as
|Baltit Fort served as the
royal palace for the Mirs of Hunza from the 13th century to 1945 when the
Mir moved to other quarters. It is a testimony to the isolation of Hunza
valley, until the construction of the KKH, that the Mir was master in the
whole valley until 1974 when they merged with Pakistan. From his
"throne" on the roof of his fort (picture left) he held councils
and rendered justice surrounded by the
nobles of the valley.
|When the first KKH travelers
saw the fort in the eighties, it had been abandoned for several decades
and completely emptied. Our guide explained to us that, despite his
parents disapproving, he and his friends would come to play in the fort as
kids. It was rebuilt in the nineties with the help of the UK using
advanced preservation techniques while retaining the unique construction
and earthquake-proofing techniques pioneered by the original builders. The
renovation work is almost invisible (not so the fort's guard).
We are having fun !
|Sost to Lahore||Back to Trip page||The Chilas petroglyphs|