Ghulkin Gojal Travel Guide

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Shisper Peak

Shisper Peak

Karim Tajik

 Ghulkin Village is located in Gojal, upper Hunza. It is reached by following the Karakoram Highway (KKH) 140km north of Gilgit. This trip takes 3-4 hours by van. From a turn-off just beyond Gulmit, a winding jeep track leads upwards for 3 km, until the ground flattens out and the first houses of the village come into view.

    Ghulkin occupies the site of an old glacier fed lake, which has been silted up by continuous sedimentation. Many of the 140 traditional dwellings that constitute Ghulkin village are arranged in a circular form, facing the one-time shores of the lake, creating a wonderfully communal atmosphere. The central area now supports several dwellings and fields, including a strip of land often used as a cricket pitch.

      There is no accurate historical record of the origin of the village, though it is estimated to be around 600 years old. According to local folklore, there were settlements here while the lake was still in existence, this area being used as pastureland in summer. The name is derived from two words of the local Wakhi dialect, 'Ghulk', meaning 'well' and 'kin', meaning 'whose'.

    Being an area of low rainfall, the most vital requirement is water for irrigation, livestock, drinking and domestic use. Khawaja Ahmed, and Ismaili Muslim who came here with the Mir of Hunza, asked him for land. After the Mir agreed, Khawaja Ahmed mobilised the people of the area to construct a water-channel to irrigate the land. This made cultivation possible and the Ismaili settlement flourished. Now small scale health and educational institutions, electricity and water-sully facilities are available in the village. Through the involvement of capacity-building NGOs, there is also a handicraft production centre and opportunities for other vocational training.

    The Jammatkhana, the central religious institution for all Ismaili Muslims, holds a strong position in the community. Apart from its religious functions, it provides a central location for community meetings, festivals, celebrations, resolution of disputes and much more.

In Upper Hunza, winters are long and can become bitterly cold, though the seasoned winter traveller will see a world of immense beauty at this time of the year. Snowfall brings with it the Himalayian ibex, descending in search for grass breaking through the covering snow. Summers are hot in the north, though more pleasant than the harsh temperatures in summer are around 30 degrees Celsius. In winter the temperature remains below freezing point, further dropping at night.

 

written by:

Karim Tajik

the mountain boy

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