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Notes on the Geography of Pakistan: Karimabad

Karimabad is the agglomerated village that constitutes the cultural center of Hunza.

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Pakistan: Karimabad picture 1

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.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 2

Adjoining Karimabad, Baltit Fort is almost perfectly camouflaged against the barren foothills, but it's temporarily wrapped here by scaffolding. 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.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 3

Spring time, with willows leafing and field crops rising.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 4

Taken from another angle to emphasize the step-terracing.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 5

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 at the sharp horizontal edge at the top of the greenery.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 6

Maintaining an irrigation channel.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 7

Villagers discussing channel maintenance.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 8

The traditional buildings are mortared stone. 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.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 9

A school funded by the Aga Khan Foundation has sought a compromise. The building is constructed of blocks colored to match the hills beyond. Even the corrugated-steel roof js colored to blend in.

Pakistan: Karimabad picture 10

A local homeowner has tried, with partial success, to emulate the school.

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