Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

International Day of Mountains (December 11th.) and Gulmit

It was the international day of mountains yesterday which is celebrated worldwide.

Pakistan has a fair share of mountains and the second tallest mountain of the world is in Pakistan - K-2.

Pakistan has 108 peaks that are above 7,000 meters.

In my early teens while living in Gilgit-Baltistan area, I came across many trekkers, mountaineers and people who loved mountains from around the world...I still remember two German women who rode their bikes all the way through Silk road of Pakistan headed for China and also a young Austrian climber for whom me and my brother prepared hot water for shower (yeah, that was a rare and plain and simple luxury in the middle of nowhere), he was heading for Skardu via road back in late 1980s... my brother met him on his way back from college.

So when it comes to mountains, then the Himalayas, the Karakorum and the Hindukush tops the list for having have the highest peaks in the world. All in South Asia, crisscross between Nepal, India, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

If you wanna look at the mighty Pakistani mountains click here or my posts here and  here.

Since I'm talking of mountains so through the photo images of Mr. Kamran Ahmed here - I'll introduce Gulmit a centuries-old historic town, with mountains, peaks and glaciers all around, it is Gojal's largest settlement in the Upper Hunza region in northern Pakistan. It  is actually located on the main Karakorum Highway (KKH) at an altitude of about 8871 feet (2,703 meters) above sea level and at a distance of 135 km from Gilgit.

Gulmit/Gujal has been in news for past couple of years (since 2010) due to the damming up of the Hunza River by a massive landslide and the formation of this lake called Attabad Lake in the area (also called Hunza Lake) which actually affected the lives and livelihood of locals as well as the entire G-B area. As many as three villages got submerged alongside a portion of the Silk road.

With Gujal/Gulmit and the Attabad lake,  I think Mark Felten's old blog from 1990s has a lot to say about the area but the most interesting part is this: 

After crossing and waiting for everyone to get their things together, we rode north to Gulmit. We were to later find out that this same glacier had caused a blockage of the Hunza River in 1992 which completely cut off the valley for over a year. Along with causing extensive damage to Pasu, it was our secret wish for it to recur when we were in Gojal.
 Well, Mark....your secret wish came true but the only difference is you were not there. Again!

Mark went to Pakistan as a research fellow to work with Dr. J.M. Kenoyer, who invited him to work in the field with the Harappa Archaeological Research Project in 1995 and 1996. He learned Urdu and like all the other foreigners he traveled extensively throughout Pakistan  and his blog is one of the best blogs highlighting REAL Pakistan. 

For the purpose of his research in Archaeology, he traveled far and wide in Pakistan and has done an excellent job on creating a very positive image for Pakistan. I wrote to him but my mail returned.


Anyways, since Mark Felten was in the area in spring so he further writes:

Gulmit was the `perfect spot' on this trip.
The apricot trees were just in bloom, covering the village with pink petals and a lovely fragrance. We stayed as the only guests at a place on the south end of the polo ground. Lying in the center of the main town, this gravely field serves as the pitch for the rare polo games as well as the nightly cricket matches by the village boys.
He explains the most important and classic Pakistani-moment -of -having-tea as follows:
Crossing to this ridge, we came to fields where we were warmly greeted by Karim Ali Bahadur, a university student. He was on break from school, helping his uncle plow his high fields. They finished up the field, and we relaxed for a tea break. It was a very classic Pakistani moment, having tea with a rural high mountain farmer, a Pakistani in a flannel and jeans, and discussing movies and music.

We enjoyed some afternoon sun with them, and then made our miles heading down the mountain.
 By the way, if one wanna know about the rich history and culture then they must visit "mango.itgo[dot]com"....

I finsih up this post by what Mark has to about northern Pakistan:
This area was part of the Kushan Empire in the 1st to 3rd centuries, and was occupied by Tibet, areas of China, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. Buddhist and animist, this area has converted almost entirely to Islam starting in the 12th century. The Northern Areas are highly mountainous; with the Hindu Kush to the west, Himalaya to the south and east, and Karakoram in this state, and Pamirs to the north. These mountains divide this area into a number of valleys, with the inhabitants [roughly 850,000] varied ethnically, linguistically, religiously, and socially. While highly isolated due to the extreme terrain, this area has been at the center of important trade and interaction networks since pre-Silk Road times.

His note of thanks to the local people touches soul and is a voice of every single person who has travelled to Northern Pakistan:

I would like to thank the people of the Northern Areas for their kind hospitality, generous nature, warm welcomes, and beautiful spirit. Their labors transformed a rocky, desolate land into an endless terraced garden, their soul managed to transform our hearts into blooming gardens in our short visit.

 By the way if you are interested in Archaelogy of Pakistan and particularly Harappa, Mohenjo Daro or other Buddhist or historical sites in Pakistan then do NOT forget to visit this site by Mark whose graduate research at the University of Wisconsin - Madison focused on the Indus Valley Civilization. This Bronze Age society flourished on the Indus Plain in present day Pakistan and parts of India during 3300 to 1900 B.C. Mark worked for Richard H. Meadow (Harvard) and J. Mark Kenoyer (Univ. of Wisconsin) - one of the most important names in South Asian Archaeology.

Look at this wonderful site of UWDC to learn more on Nimogram: Pakistan Archaeological Site Images.
To access or cite this collection: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Arts.Nimogram