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Karakoram Highway & The Silk Route

By Tahir Imran Khan

A Journey of a LifeTime!

It is amazing to see a fabric i.e. Silk playing a vital role in the history of this world. Its trade became the link between the East and the West around 100 BC through land route, which lasted until the 15th Century. Then Ships were invented and travelling through the sea became possible.

Traders used to export and sell several exotic products but Silk was the most important thus giving its name to the whole route, which is still remembered as The Silk Route and much of which has survived even to this day.

The original track started from Xian in China and skirting Gobi Desert to Dunhuang, where it leads to two destinations; via Taklamakan Desert to Kashgar and through Yarkand to Kashgar. From Kashgar it bifurcated in different directions to Samarkand in Central Asia crossing the Pamirs and to the sub continent crossing savage Karakoram Mountains.

As it became popular, the route was used by the invaders, raiders, explorers, hunters, missionaries and philosophers.. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity came to this region through the Silk Route.

The Karakoram Highway (KKH)

After a long interval of centuries, in 1966, Pakistan and China had an agreement to construct a road for mutual benefits. Though the new route does not follow exactly the old route but the track follows mostly the same region so it can be said as the relive of the old Silk Route.

The Silk Route once connected the famous landmarks, which are now lost to time, however many are still extant. The KKH offers an opportunity to visit these sites and to capture some of the magic of old times as historical figures like Alexander the Great, Marco Polo, Genghis Khan and Timarlane were all familiar with this legendary Silk Route.

After the independence of Central Asian states, this splendid region is open for general tourists with out unnecessary formalities and restrictions. The great Silk Route oases of Uzbekistan are more accessible than ever and a journey in this region is not a mere travel but exploration. From the legendary place, Kashgar, one may select his route, either to China or to Central Asian States.

Silk Route and Karakoram Highway are one of the most popular routes in the world among epic travellers, which can be made while sitting in a temperature controlled vehicle winding through the scenic and changing vistas.

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