HUNZA VALLEY

Hunza Images

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How to get Hunza by bus


How to get there by bus


Six kilometers (4 miles) beyond Aliabad, the KKH makes a sweeping S-bend down past Ganish village to the bridge across the Hunza River. Ganesh, on fertile flat and above the river, is guarded by an old watchtower and fort. The old craved mosque is also worth a visit. In the pool in front of the tower all the local children learn to swim. Until this century boys had to swim across the Hunza River to prove that they could escape or attack across the river when necessary. Until the British came in 1891, the men of Hunza used to keep a sword, gun, shield and a loaf of bread (which was replaced every eight days) beside their doors; when the drums beat the alarm from Altit fort, heralding the approach of raiders, each man would grab these things and run for the fort. (Presumably his family went too.)Like Gilgit Hunza was an important staging post on the Silk Route and was heavily traveled for thousands of years by traders going back and forth between China, India and the west over the Kilik, Mintaka, Parpik and Khunjerab passes. The most convincing proof of this lies in the inscriptions on the Ganesh rock, a sort of Silk Route guest book. The rocks are immediately beside the KKH, between the road and the river, a few hundreds meters past the bridge across the Hunza River. The inscriptions are in Khraoshthi, Brahmin, Gupta, Sogdian and Tibetan. Among them is a portrait of the first-century Kushan King of Gandhara, Gonophores. Another inscription reads ‘Chandra sri Vikramaditya conquers’; the date of the inscription corresponds to AD 419. Chandra sri Vikramaditya was Chandra Gupta II, the greatest of the Gupta emperors, who ruled our most of India in the already fifth century AD. Most of the drawings are of hunting scenes with horses and riders shooting at ibex, ibex surrounded by horsemen, and men dancing around ibex. The ibex was extremely important to the people of Hunza, Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, and northern India, as it was believed to be the pet animal of the mountain fairies and symbolized fertility and prosperity. In the more remote parts of Hunza the people still perform ritual ibex dances: a holy man dons an ibex headdress and drinks ibex blood (or nowadays the blood of ordinary goat), then falls into a trance and proceeds to tell fortunes and answer questions about the future.

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