Travel to Pakistan: Karimabad
Far up the Karakoram Highway, Karimabad is the agglomerated village that constitutes the cultural center of Hunza.
The Hunza River flows south past irrigated terraces in the center of Hunza. Rakaposhi is the huge mountain in the background; the sore thumb right-center is a hotel run by the Pakistan Tourist Development Corporation.
Adjoining Karimabad, Baltit Fort is almost perfectly camouflaged against the barren foothills, but it's temporarily wrapped by scaffolding that stands out. This is about as urban as Hunza gets. The greenery is entirely the result of local irrigation channels, and almost all the ground in the lower two-fifths of the picture is cultivated.
Spring time, with willows leafing and field crops rising.
Taken from another angle to emphasize the step-terracing.
The frailty of the system is suggested by the retreating valley wall, inevitably eating away at the land and livelihood of the villagers. The irrigation channel can't be seen but can be readily located by the sharp horizontal edge at the top of the greenery.
Maintaining an irrigation channel.
Villagers discussing channel maintenance.
The traditional buildings are stone, mortared. Concrete blocks are less picturesque, but they take a lot less mortar and don't have to be carried all the way up from the river.
A school funded by the Aga Khan Foundation has sought a compromise and has been constructed of blocks colored throughout to match the hills beyond. Even the corrugated-steel roof has been colored to blend in.
A local homeowner has tried, with partial success, to emulate the school.
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