Day 16: Hunza to Sust.
by Dr. Mansur Ahmad
Hunza, Sacred Rock, Gulmit, Passu, Batura Glacier , Gircha, Sust.
9th July 2000
Route: Just beyond Ganesh, the KKH crosses onto the south side of the Hunza river, where there is a turning for the jeep track to Nagar. Just after the turning, to the left of the KKH, are the Sacred Rocks of Hunza. Beyond this is the Chinese built and run brick factory.
The KKH passes through the small settlement of Ayeenabad, and then continues on to Nazimabad. This is the boundary of central and Gojal Hunza. The KKH re-crosses the Hunza river and continues to the police check post 2 kilometers before Gulmit. Beyond Passu the KKH crosses the snout of the Batura Glacier, and ever-present threat to the road. A bridge crosses the Hunza river here, and a new jeep track proceeds a short distance to the difficult gorge of the Shimshal valley, beyond Jamalabad the KKH continues through the other 'Abgerch' village of Gircha before reaching Sust.
The morning breakfast at the dinning lounge was a buffet laid out with cornflakes and fried eggs, porridge and omelets. The table was fully occupied with our whole troupe in session, they had set the table specially to accommodate us. After thew sumptous breakfast we drove up to the shopping center of Karimabad. Before departing towards Sust, last minute munchies shopping was carried out. A few km down the KKH the new bridge takes you across to the left bank of the river and the road follows the bank for a good distance.
The Sacred Rock of Hunza is situated on the left of the road towards the river side, it is a huge rock with carvings of Ibex and Markhors cut into the rock face. These inscriptions have endured the test of time and remind us of the days of yore. The road then travels on the left bank of the river for quite a distance, and short of Gulmit it crosses again to the right bank of the river. Just a few yards from the crossing is a spectacular waterfall which originates high up on the rock face to the left of the road and then crashes down along the solid cliff face before it hits the road, it then carries on to the river as a stream. Only parts of the waterfall are visible high up on the top of the hill. The fall disappears behind the rock face to emerge again a little bellow closer to the road. The last part of the fall where the water gets airborne before hitting the road is a good fifty yards. The chill in the air is from the dispersion of the water as aerosols evaporate in the atmosphere, it gives a cool freshness to the surroundings and is very pleasant.
Gulmit is a few km down the road from here and we stopped at the famous Silk Route Lodge on the main road. We had stayed here on the last trip to the Kunjerab with Rizwan and family. Tea was quickly served, though the souvenir shopping took quite a while. I bought an old bayonet as a souvenir from the shop across the road, it is an old English make and was probably used in the days of Col. Durand, and his fellow officers, during the Battle of Nilt in 1891 when two Victoria crosses were won here on the battlefield.
The road past Gulmit crosses through the Passu plateau and the great Batoro Glacier comes into view suddenly it is a big expanse of snow that extends up into the crevasses of the valley between the mountains. The local boys were playing cricket in an open field and being an avid cricketer, I had to have a go, so we played cricket with the locals to their amusement before driving on towards Sust.
Sust is a small border settlement which has taken the shape of a town. To one end is the PTDC guesthouse and on the other the shops. The manager made us very welcome. We had news that there was no diesel in town so we drove up to the PSO pump which is about five km beyond Sust to investigate, the dealer said that the pump was dry as he had not had any delivery for the past two weeks. We were out on the extreme corner of the country at the last petrol pump and without fuel. I had to twist the owners arm a bit because I had this inner feeling that he was not telling us the whole truth, a bit of hard talk and arm twisting resulted in him deciding that it was in his own interest to give us twenty liters each, this would take us to Kunjerab and back. We would then decide what to do next.
Dinner would be at the PTDC hotel. We went out on a stroll to the shops to find the boys playing pool on the open roadside café eating Yaq meat tikkas, which were very delicious, five rupees a seekh. That night we had a marathon dance party and everyone had a good laugh before bed. There was bad news late in the night that the KKH was closed due to a landslide about ten kilometers from Sust.
Posted in Khunjerab 2000, February 26, 2004, by Dr. Mansur Ahmad