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Notes on the Geography of Pakistan: Above Baltit

Pictures from or near Pasu, a farming village upstream from Karimabad.

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Pakistan: Above Baltit picture 1

Spread out on an exfoliating granite sheet, split apricots dry in the intense summer sun. The dried fruit is too hard to chew without some slavering, but the fruit is intensely flavored and makes a nectar with real bite. Apricots drying like this are commonplace in Hunza, but the backdrop here, with the Karakoram behind the Hunza River, is arresting even for this part of the world.

Pakistan: Above Baltit picture 2

Fields at the village of Pasu.  Many farmers have moved on to the tourist trade, but irrigation water continued to flow. It comes not from the Hunza River, in the background, but from the Batura Glacier via a canal.

Pakistan: Above Baltit picture 3

The start of the canal: the glacier is right there in front of you but buried under rubble. On the spot you won't miss it, because an otherwise hot day is cooled by a distinctly icy breeze coming down the valley.

Pakistan: Above Baltit picture 4

Every now and then, the Hunza villagers bite off more than they can chew. Here, above Pasu, a channel was being cut around a cliff face but was abandoned before completion. Down below, the Karakoram Highway.

Pakistan: Above Baltit picture 5

Three suspension bridges cross the Hunza River near Pasu. The one in the middle was very much in use.

Pakistan: Above Baltit picture 6

"The winds of change." Harold Macmillan was thinking about African independence, but the words apply equally here, where a villager who once would have truly needed these tiny fields of wheat harvests them now as an exercise in sentimental agriculture. In "real" life he was a school teacher.

Pakistan: Above Baltit picture 7

Big sister, little brother.


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