Travel with Ruth – Hunza Valley – Part VI

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Ruth Naymat Gill is a conservationist, an explorer and traveler. She loves to read and write. She is a storyteller when she shares her own experiences with others. In this six part series, she takes us to a trip to the beautiful Hunza Valley of Pakistan. 

Read Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

Indus River, Besham

After the visit to Baltit fort, we went back to Altit fort for lunch as its garden houses one of the famous eating places of Hunza Valley called, Cafe Kha Basi. This small cafe is managed by local women and they are wonderful cooks. We chatted with them while they served as Apricot Chicken and Saleha and Yasmin proved to be amazing ladies, they were welcoming and warm and really glad to have us there. Visit this cafe at sunset, and you will witness a scenic view of the drowning sun. The garden have many different types of tree with different colors of leaves during autumn season. It is a perfect place to spend time with one’s own self. Coming back from the café, I saw a small pond of dirty water which was very odd sight as usually I found the whole place very clean. A board told its story.

The man behind the famous Walnut Cake of Cafe Khabasi

The pond was built to store dirty water of the city while it was biologically cleaned up. This was a kind of model pond and was not very large and relatively dry too, as it was autumn and the use of water was less.  Our next activity was shopping. We found a good shop in the Karim Abad Bazar and as I was talking to the shopkeeper I discovered that he owns a similar shop in Metro, Link Road, Model Town, Lahore. I have been to their shop many times and that knowledge made the shopkeeper super happy. We bought shawls and loads of dry fruit and Apricot oil, picked our walnut cakes and headed back to the hotel.

That was our last night in Hunza and the next day we were heading back to Besham. Before Besham, we made a short stop in Minapin, which is a small village located in the northern face of Rakaposhi. At 2000m above sea level, this small village is very near to another base camp of Rakaposhi and Diran peak. It is 90km north of Gilgit on KKH and 20km downriver from Aliabad in Central Hunza. The chilled wind that blows from the mountain down to the village was indeed freezing, our group was shivering but it was a very nice garden with trees of berries and apples and huge bushes of roses with such large leaves that it makes you double check if it’s really a rose bush.

Minapin, Nagar

We had tea at the Diran Guest House Minapin Nagar and tried hard to befriend the caretaker’s son Noor Ullah but to no avail, eventually he let us to take a photograph of him. Thus we boarded back on our vehicle with hearts filled with the freshness of the Hunza and Nagar but with thoughts of home. This was our last stop of a new place, from here onwards we were going back. When I was in School we used to sing a hymn in the morning assembly time from our schools song book. Its first verse goes like this;

One more step along the world I go,

One more step along the world I go,

From the old things to the new,

Keep me travelling along with you.

When one come to think of it, I actually traveled through different realms of times. Every other step was making me crossover different timelines. I traveled through Hindukush, Karakoram and Himalayas which are still growing mountain ranges thus relatively young in the league of great mountains, I crossed the old mighty Indus many times on my journey whose each drop is as old as the age and as new as the passing moment. I visited old lineages of tribes, felt the pride they have in their history and traditions, roamed around in their forts yet those thousands of years were like a blink when stand beside the age of the land itself.

New world’s innovations are being introduced to these people yet at each turn of the season one will find them utilizing their age old traditional way of drying apples for survival through the winter. When I was young and use to sing this song I never thought that it will all come back to me like this. Life is full of wonders indeed. Everyone is a traveler here but each has a journey of their own.


Written by Ruth Naymat Gill

The photos used in this travelogue are contributed by Nouraiz Nazar and Ruth Naymat Gill.

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