Must see attractions in Karakoram Highway

  • Sights in Gilgit

    Uprising Memorial

    The Uprising Memorial, is a memorial to those who rose against the Maharaja in 1947. It includes the graves of the local heroes, Mohammed Babar Khan and Safiullah Beg of the Gilgit Scouts, and Mirza Hassan Khan of the Kashmir Infantry.

  • Sights in Karimabad (Baltit)

    Baltit Fort

    The oldest parts of Baltit Fort date from the 13th century. Over the years more houses and towers were added, and it was fortified. To cement an alliance with Baltistan's Maqpon dynasty in the 17th century, Mir Ayesho II (great-grandson of the legendary Girkis) married a daughter of the Balti ruler, who sent artisans to build a fort at nearby Altit. The princess then came to live in Hunza, bringing her own artisans to improve Baltit Fort.

  • Sights in Ganish

    Ganish Village

    The restoration of Ganish Village is particularly good and won a Unesco Asia Pacific Heritage Award. While Baltit Fort shows how the cream of society lived, Ganish shows another side of traditional Hunza life. Behind a shaded, tranquil tank are several richly carved wooden mosques, 100 to 200 years old, the restoration of which clinched the award. Legend has it that Ganish warriors practised their river-crossing techniques in the tank before crossing the Hunza River to attack Nagyr villages.

  • Sights in Chilas

    Petroglyphs

    Chilas is surrounded by wonderful Petroglyphs, which are easy to access, though be prepared for high temperatures and take plenty of water. There is a sign to the 'Chilas II' site near the KKH police checkpoint. Less than 1km down a jeep track there is a huge rock covered with hunting and battle scenes and Buddhist stupas. A common image is the long-horned ibex, ancient symbol of fertility and abundance, and an elusive trophy animal even now.

  • Sights in Karimabad (Baltit)

    Channel Walk

    A three- or four-hour walk along the main water channels from Ultar Nala is a good way to see Hunza at its best. Try to avoid the delicate side channels.

  • Sights in Skardu

    Karpochu

    Ali Sher Khan probably built the fort on the east end of this rock in the 17th century, but the Dogras trashed and rebuilt it. It's a half-hour climb to the partly reconstructed fort, from where there are fine valley views. The path starts beside the Hilton International Hotel. From the polo ground, there is a track around the base of the rock. Knock and yell for assistance if the fort door is closed.

  • Sights in Mansehra

    Ashoka Rocks

    On the north side of town is Mansehra's tourist attraction, three granite boulders on which 14 edicts were engraved by order of the Mauryan king Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. Appalled by the destruction wreaked by his military campaigns, Ashoka converted to Buddhism and tried to dictate a new morality based on piety, moderation, tolerance and respect for life. He was greatly revered, but his reforms (and his empire) didn't last much longer than he did.

  • Sights in Karimabad (Baltit)

    Queen Victoria Monument

    The Queen Victoria Monument at the top of the rock face behind Karimabad can be reached in an hour from Baltit. Take the channel path above the polo ground. Five minutes out, cross the channel and climb stone steps beside an old watchtower. At the top of the village, scramble over to a shallow cleft with some very large boulders. Go straight up to the base of the cliff before crossing over to the monument; avoid a diagonal crossing of the face because the top Ultar water channel spills down it.

  • Sights in Gulmit

    Mir's Palace

    The Mir's Palace is under restoration. Until the early '70s the mir of Hunza lived here for three months of the year, presiding over local durbars (councils). A cluster of houses to the left of the palace is the original village. The tallest of these is said to be Gulmit's oldest, possibly 200 years old; before the palace was built the mir stayed in it on his Gulmit sojourns.

  • Sights in Shigar

    Fong Khar

    The main landmark in Shigar village is Fong Khar, the former Raja of Shigar's fort-palace, now a luxury hotel and museum showcasing the impressive rustic architecture and the fascinating lifestyle of Shigar's rich and famous. The timber-and-stone palace has natural rock foundations and merges almost seamlessly into the mountainside, on top of which are the ruins of an earlier fort, Sinigma Khar. It's a five-minute walk from the road, up the left side of the stream, and has a lovely restaurant worth investigating even if you're not staying the night.

  • Sights in Naran

    Lake Saiful Mulk

    At 3200m, surrounded by moody, snowy mountains, Lake Saiful Mulk (or Muluk) is said to be inhabited by fairies. Legend has it that in ancient times a mortal, Prince Saiful Mulk, fell in love with a fairy there and married her.

  • Sights in Karimabad (Baltit)

    Altit Fort & Village

    The picturesque fort overlooking the village of Altit beside the Hunza River was undergoing extensive renovation at the time of research and was closed to the public. The 1000-year-old village has been renovated and rehabilitated and you can be walked around the charming village with the aid of a local guide. The fort is about 1.5km from Karimabad. Turn right after the jamaat khana (Ismaili community hall) and pass the old village pool to the fort gate. Fort is gela (geh-lah) in Burushaski.

  • Sights in Gilgit

    British Cemetery

    The well-kept British Cemetery has some surprisingly recent graves of adventurous trekkers and mountaineers among the more historical plots. Buried here is Captain George Hayward, a British explorer murdered in Yasin in 1870 by a son of Gohar Aman. On the side of the shack inside the grounds you'll find a useful map with some interesting stories from the grave. If Ghulam Ali, the caretaker, is around you'll be shown more interesting items for a small donation to the cemetery's upkeep.

  • Sights in Satpara Lake & Buddha

    Buddha Relief

    Across Hargisar Nala from the track is a Buddha Relief carved on a rock in about the 7th century. About 200m beyond the Baltoro resthouse turning and a cluster of government offices, and just past an Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) office, turn right on a small path. Near the end of this is a footbridge across the nala, and a track up to the Buddha. There and back is a detour of about an hour.

  • Sights in Chapursan Valley

    Baba Ghundi Ziarat

    Beyond Zood Khun is the mystical and holy Baba Ghundi Ziarat, a shrine to a Sufi saint said to have miraculous powers, and a popular pilgrimage site. The shrine is surrounded by meadows which host herds of sheep in summer and, sporadically from June to September, Kyrgyz traders from Afghanistan who traditionally cross the Irshad Pass with horses, yaks and sheep to trade with the Chapursan villagers.

  • Sights in Ganish

    Sacred Rocks at Hunza

    Sacred Rocks at Hunza is about 1.5km east on the KKH at a place called Haldekush are several stony rises. The rocks, with pictures and inscriptions from as early as the 1st century, are a 'guest book' of the valley. In addition to local traditions, they tell of Buddhist pilgrims, kings of the Kushan empire, a 6th-century Chinese ambassador, 8th-century Tibetan conquerors and even KKH workers.

  • Sights in Chapursan Valley

    Panja Shah Ziarat

    Just beyond the northern limit of Afiyatabad the winding link road to Chapursan intersects with the KKH. After travelling through crumbling mountains and sliding scree slopes that make the trip adventurous at any time but exceedingly dangerous during rain, the simple but colourful Panja Shah Ziarat, a shrine to a Sufi saint, is reached after about 40 minutes.

  • Sights in Karimabad (Baltit)

    Mominabad Village

    In the Northern Areas there are traces of an ancient caste system, in which musicians and artisans ranked low. In the past they were often segregated in their own separate villages. Though it's quite ordinary looking, Mominabad (old name Berishal), near a turn on the Ganish-Karimabad road, was such a village. Its people even speak their own dialect, Berishki.

  • Sights in Mansehra

    Sikh Fort

    Up a laneway 300m past the library is a fort, built in the early 19th century by Sikh governor general Man Singh (after whom Mansehra is named), and rebuilt by the British after the Second Sikh War and the annexation of the Sikh state. It now houses a police office and a jail. Very few traces of the original mud-and-rock structure can be seen inside.

  • Sights in Abbottabad

    Shimla Peak

    The hills cradling Abbottabad are Shimla Peak to the northwest and Sarban Peak to the south. Shimla's cool, pine-clad summit is woven with trails and features fine panoramas of the town and its surroundings. You can walk up (three steep kilometres) or take a passenger Suzuki from upper Pine View Rd; ask for Shimla pahari (pa-ree).