Hunza Valley

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For the clan see Hunza
Map of Hunza

Hunza (Burushaski and Urdu: ہنزہ‎) is a mountainous valley in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan. It was known as Hamsamarga (हंसमार्ग) in Mahabharata (VI.10.68).

Location

The Hunza is situated in the extreme northern part of Pakistan. Hunza River is flowing through the valley.

Variants of name

Jat clans

History

V S Agarwal [1] writes about Mountaineer Sanghas – A very important group of martial Sanghas comprised those occupying some parvata or mountainous region in north-west India.


[p.435] Evidently this parvata region must have been outside the plains of the Vahika Country, which brings us to the highlands of north-west as the homeland of the ayudhajivins. The Kashika mentions Hrdgoliyas Hridgola, probably Hi-lo of Yuan Chwang (modern Hidda south of Jalalabad); Andhakavartīyāḥ of Andhakavarta, perhaps Andkhui, a district in the north-east Afghanistan and Rohitagiriyas of Rohitagiri, which last is important as reminiscent of Roha, old name of Afghanistan. All this portion of the country is up to the present day peopled by hardy and warlike Mountaineers.The Markandeya Purana refers to mountain-dwellers of the west, including such names as Nihāras (Nigrahāra of Vayu, same as Nagarahāra or Jalalabad where Hṛidgola or Hiḍḍā is situated) and the Haṁsamārgas (modern Hunza in the north of Dardistan). Thus country of mountaineers extended from Kashmir to Afghanistan and most of the people settled in these mountains and their valleys were of the Ayudhajivin class. The Bhishmaparva specially mentions Girigahvaras (गिरिगह्वर) (VI.10.66), dwellers of mountain caves, as a people of the north-west (Bhishmaparva, 9.68, Udyogaparva, 30.24), and this epithet appropriately applies to the tribes of the north-west. They were the same as Sanghah girichāriṇaḥ and girigahvara-vasinah (Dronaparva, 93.48).

Arrian mentions these mountainous Indians as fighting in the army of Darius against Alexander at Arbela (Anabasis, III,8.3-6). It was these Parvatiya Ayudhajivin that offered stout resistance to Alexander in Bactria and Gandhara.

The approximate location of these Parvatiyas should be sought for in the region of the Hindukush on both sides of it. Roha, of medieval geographers, Rohitagiri of Panini, the ten Mandalas of Lohita (Sabhaparva, 24.16) and Rohitagiriyas of Kashika, all together point to the mountainous regions of the central and north-east Afghanistan as being the Parvata Country, which name survives in Kohistan.

Hunza (princely state)

Hunza (Urdu: ہنزہ‎), also known as Kanjut, was formerly a princely state bordering Uyghurstan also called Xinjiang (autonomous region of China) to the northeast and Pamir to the northwest, which survived until 1974, when it was finally dissolved by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The state bordered the Gilgit Agency to the south and the former princely state of Nagar to the east. The state capital was the town of Baltit (also known as Karimabad); another old settlement is Ganish Village. Hunza was an independent principality for more than 900 years.

Hunza was an independent principality for centuries. It was ruled by the Mirs of Hunza, who took the title of Thum.

The Hunzas were tributaries and allies to China, acknowledging China as suzerain since 1761. When the Hunzas raided mountainous places of Karakorum and Kunlun mountains, including Xaidulla, where some groups of the nomadic Kirghiz were the main inhabitants, they sold some Kirghiz slaves to the Chinese.[2]

The British gained control of Hunza and the neighbouring valley of Nagar between 1889 and 1892 through a military conquest. The then Mir/Tham (ruler) Mir Safdar Ali Khan of Hunza fled to Kashghar in China and sought what would now be called political asylum. [3]

The first seat of power of the formerly Hunza State was Altit. Later it shifted to Baltit (modern-day Karimabad). Until the fall of princely state in 1974, Baltit served as political center of Hunza and hence its capital. Today, Baltit is one of the major tourist destinations in Hunza. The center of activities has however shifted to the nearby Aliabad, which is a commercial hub in the region and has most of the governmental infrastructure.

People of Hunza

The local languages spoken include Burushaski, Wakhi and Shina. The Life style of People of Hunza is very simple and they are considered to be very warm and welcoming. Most of the inhabitants of Hunza are Ismaili Muslims, followers of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, while in Ganish more than 65% are Shia Muslims.

The Hunza region is principally home to people of four ethnicities:

  • The Lower Hunza area - from Khizerabad to Nasirabad is mainly inhabited by the Shinaki people who are Shina speakers.
  • The Central Hunza area - from Murtazabad to Attabad is mainly inhabited by Burushaski speakers, however, there is a centuries-old locally inhabiting community as well that is known as the 'Domaki' which lives in a village lying in the immediate vicinity of 'Baltit' called 'Mominabad'.
  • The Upper Hunza area, known as Gojal - from Shiskat to Khunjerab is mainly populated by Wakhi speakers and burusho speakers.

Mahabharata

Bhisma Parva, Mahabharata/Book VI Chapter 10 Describes geography and provinces of Bharatavarsha. Hamsamarga (हंसमार्ग) is included in verse (VI.10.68) in the list of The other Provinces in south.[4]

References

  1. V S Agarwal, India as Known to Panini,p.434-435
  2. Ralph Patteson Cobbold (1900). Innermost Asia: travel & sport in the Pamirs. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 22
  3. Valley, Hunza. "Hunza Valley". www.skardu.pk. Skardu.pk.
  4. तामरा हंसमार्गाश च तदैव करभञ्जकाः, उद्देश मात्रेण मया देशाः संकीर्तिताः परभॊ Mahabharata (VI.10.68)

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