"...the ultimate manifestation of mountain grandeur"
Lord Curzon, a former viceroy, said, "The little state of Hunza contains more summits of over 20,000 feet than there are of over 10,000 feet in the entire Alps." Visitors to Hunza are deeply overwhelmed by the rugged charm and the fragrant breeze singing through graceful trees and the lushious green attractively carpeted fields all set against a background of snow-covered mountains. Situated at an elevation of 2,438 metres, Hunza Valley's tourist season peaks from May to October. The temperature in May is 27 C maximum and 14 C minimum. While the October temperatures range from: 10 C maximum to 0 C minimum.
Glaciers abound in this valley, including the 30-mile long Batura and the immense Virjerab and Hispar glaciers. The Nubra, Braldu, Hushe and Saltoro rivers are born in the glacier-laced Karakorum; the Shyok River encircles the eastern flanks of the range; but only the Hunza River actually cuts from north to south completely through the Karakorum Range. The Hunza River has its origin in name at the juncture of the Kilik and Khunjerab nalas, some 100 miles from the river's mouth near Gilgit. Carving a gorge between 25,000-foot peaks and receiving the waters of scores of glaciers, this is by far the largest and the grandest tributory of the Gilgit River watershed.
Most parts of Hunza offer an awe-inspiring view of Rakaposhi (7,788 metres). The snows of Rakaposhi glitter in the moonlight, producing an atmosphere of ethereal magnetism. The fairy-tale like castle of Baltit, just above Karimabad, is a Hunza landmark built about 600 years ago. Stilted on massive legs, its wooden bay windows look out over the valley. Originally, this was used as the residence of the Mirs (the title of the former rules) of Hunza.
The Hunza Valley is composed of "Hunza Proper" (as Hunzakuts call it) in the midvalley, while the larger upper valley region is called Gujal and is populated by the Wakhi-speaking ethnic Wakhi. Nagar, another former state, is located in two areas, and you will visit its narrow glaciated canyons as you proceed up the valley. The Nagarwals speak Burushaski with their own accent. Practice your Burushaski, with those you meet; people will enjoy it, and you may be asked in for tea. Burushaski is a complex language with four genders, and it is a "language isolate," unrelated to any other tongue. The famous Hunza water (famous for long life and youth) is locally called "mel". Four clans live in Hunza, and each is said to have originally come from a different region: Dramatin from Tartary, Barataling from Russia, Kurukutz from Persia, and Broung from kashmir.
The 6-mile long fertile oasis beginning at Hassanabad contains small villages among terraced fields and is the center of the former state. Not far beyond Aliabad a link road branches uphill to the north of the KKH (Karakorum Highway)and is the direct way to Karimabad and Baltit (65 miles from Gilgit and ranging 500 feet up and down the hill at roughly 7,800 feet in elevation). Because of their inns and their spectacular location overlooking Rakaposhi and the green fields of Hunza and nagar, these two towns, Kareemabad in particular, function as the focus of Hunza for most visitors.
Just beyond 'Ganesh Village' below Kareemabad, the KKH (Karakorum Highway) crosses the Hunza river on a large, graceful bridge. Within walking distance from the bridge right on the roadside is 'Haldikish' (Place of the Rams), also known as the "Sacred Rock" of Hunza. This large rock has many carvings from different eras and in varying scripts. At Shiskot the KKH crosses the west side of the river and soon reaches Gulmit (about 8,000 feet). Gulmit has a couple of lodges and the town in itself, is an attractive one to visit. Just above the lodges is the Hunza Cultural Museum.
Hunza is an ideal place for mountaineering, trekking and hiking. Every area in the Hunza Valley up to, but not including , Chapursan is officially considered an openzone, even the dicey Hispar Glacier. Most treks in this valley are'nt particularly long ones but there are exceptions; the Hispar-Biafo walk and the hike to Shimshal are among such exceptions. Hunza genuinely offers an experience of a lifetime!