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 royal palace. 




Baltit Fort
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 !

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