For many centuries, caravans have braved these tortuous mountains treading precariously along paths providing shortcuts between the great towns of central Asia and rich markets of South Asia. However, the trails were hazardous, angry rivers horrifying to contemplate, and the nature’s storms caused even the most intrepid to quail on the high passes and the desolate gorges.1947, travel in and out of the Northern Pakistan could have been described almost as it had been 15 centuries earlier by the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien in 1400 A.D; the way is difficult and rugged, running along a bank exceedingly precipitous. When one approaches the edge of it, his eyes become unsteady, and if wishes to go forward in the same direction, there is no place on which he can place his foot, and beneath are the waters of the river called the Indus. Thus, the traders of yore had traveled over this route for centuries and carried silk, tea and porcelain from China to be bartered for Gold, Ivory, Jewels and spice from south Asia.
It is against this backdrop that Pakistan and China joined hands in 1967 to construct a 900km” Karakorum Highway” on the alignment of the ancient silk rout. For its sheer mountain grandeur and breath-taking panorama of beauty, few places on earth can match the superb landscape though which Karakorum highway snakes. A fantastic and unforgettable spectacle is the passage of the highway along the Baltura glacier, rated as the world’s seventh largest glacier. The
Khunjerab pass, which highway crosses, and the nearby Mintaka pass lie astride the fabulous ancient silk rout that led from Europe to Asia and over which history’s most famous tourists once traveled. These include the Venetian trader Marco polo, after whom has been named the wild Marco polo sheep, in the 13th century, the Chinese monk Fa Hien in the 4th century and the central Asian historian, Abu Rehan Al-Beruni in the 11th century. Today, the Karakorum highway connects Islamabad with Kashgar via Abbottabad, Mansehra, Thakot, Besham, Pattan, Chilas, Gilgit and Hunza across the 4733m high Khunjerab pass the highway, built by the Pakistani and Chinese engineers, has been described a marvel of civil engineering and even as “The Eighth wonder of the world.
Day 01: Arrive Peshawar
Welcome to Peshawar. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight Peshawar
Day 02: Peshawar City Tour
Morning visit to the Khyber Pass is like walking back into history. An afternoon tour of Peshawar city includes: The Peshawar Museum that houses a rich treasure of art, sculpture and historical relics dating from the Gandhara period (300 BC to 300 AD) to modern times. Visit to the Yadgar Square and the Mahabat Khan Mosque, a beautiful towering structure with lofty minarets. The Qissa Khawani Bazaar (storyteller’s bazaar), the Peshawar Pottery Works, Bater Bazaar (street of partridge lovers) and Mochi Lara, famous for its exquisitely embroidered sandals. Peshawar is a colorful and cosmopolitan city and many different people gather here; Afghans, Iranis, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Afridis and Shinwaris all add to the excitement. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 03: Peshawar – Swat
Driving along the picturesque Malakand Pass you will first visit the magnificent ancient Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi dating back to 1st to 7th Century AD. Takht-e-Bhai consists of numerous chapels and stupas sticking to the high, rocky spurs. Next continue to the enchanting Swat Valley visiting the famous Churchill’s Picket en route. Later a city tour of Saidu Shariff, the capital of Swat Valley. You will see the small, but well-preserved Swat Museum and Mingora known for its very colorful bazaar and Marghazar. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 04: Swat – Chilas
In the morning ascending north, you cross the 2134m Shangla Pass, which gives a breathtaking and panoramic view of the Swat Valley before getting alongside the Indus River on your way to the Gilgit Valley. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 05: Chilas – Hunza
Driving on the world-famous Karakoram Highway to Hunza you will see spectacular scenery with high lofty mountain, first from the Himalayan and later from the Karakoram ranges. En route stops at various scenic spots and local villages. The exalting scenery en route does not prepare you enough for the majesty and serenity that Hunza Valley will behold on you. On arrival to Karimabad, the capital of Hunza Valley, you are welcomed by the Hunzakuts. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 06: Hunza Full Day Tour
The tour will include meeting with local folks, understanding the secrets of their longevity and also visit some of the important historical sites including the recently renovated, simple yet overpowering, Baltit Fort and the Ganesh watch Tower. Visit to Nagar Valley and Hopper Glacier are also included. Visit to the Baltit Fort is of immense interest. For many years the fort served as an administrative headquarter and home to the former Mirs (rulers) of Hunza. The porters who accompanied the Balti bride for the then Mir of Hunza built it more than 700 years ago. The style of construction originates from Ladakh. A maze of rooms serving as living and administrative offices were added periodically, designed with indigenous woodwork. It is strategically located on a prospect point, which gives it an immense overview of Hunza and neighboring valleys. Currently it serves as a Fort Museum with a good collection of exhibits of artefacts and musical instruments from Hunza. The fort is now administered by the Aga Khan Foundation Cultural Board, which undertook the reconstruction and reestablishment to its original grandeur. Later visit to Hoper offers a fine view of some of the highest peaks in Hunza and Nagar. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 07: Hunza – Gilgit
Driving southwards you reach the ancient silk route town of Gilgit, the administrative center of Northern Pakistan. Afternoon city tour of Gilgit includes visit to a local school, the home of a Gilgiton, the popular polo grounds and the very typical mountain bazaar. Also visit the impressive rock carvings of the Buddha near Kargah. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 08: Gilgit – Besham
Today we will drive to on KKH to Besham. It is a stopover developing rapidly into a busy commercial town. Following the downstream course of River Indus, we will make photo stops at the confluence of River Indus & Gilgit, our next stop will be at the unique point where three mountain ranges, Karakoram, Himalayas and Hindu Kush meet, Nanga Parbat viewpoint offers breathtaking panorama on behind. We will also stop at Chilas & Shatial rocks with ancient graffiti on it before reaching at Besham. On arrival transfer to hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 09: Besham – Islamabad
Morning drive to Islamabad with visit to Taxila, enroute. A fallen world of glories now, Taxila was once the seat of oriental culture. Situated only 32 km from Rawalpindi, Taxila is famous for the rare specimens of stucco from the Gandhara period excavated from Sirkap, as well as various Buddhist Stupas and Monasteries. Taxila is first mentioned as a territory of the Great Achaemenian Empire of Persia in the 6th century BC in inscriptions of Darius the Great at Beghistun. It was invaded by Alexander the Great to assert his claim over the lost provinces of the Achaemenian Empire, and then ruled by Maurya’s such as Ashoka the Great, Bactrian Greeks, Scythians, Parthians and the Kushan kings. It came to an undignified end around 450 ADS when it was ransacked by hordes of White Huns. The museum here houses various objects and sculptures dating from the 4th century BC to the 5th century AD. The excavations are spread out over an area of 8 km. Later drive to Islamabad. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Depart Islamabad
From peace and serenity of Hunza to the hustle and bustles of “modern” trends, you say Khuda Hafiz, the typical farewell, as you depart after a tour into Shangri-La.
End of the tour.
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