Aug 20, 2009

Hunza Blossom

Spring being the beginning of season usually from early April welcome you to the Northern Areas. Hunza & Nagar in Bloosom present an aesthetic panorama. The lush green tarraced fields surrouded by blooming trees and the village itself guarded by snowbound sky kissing mountains displaying scene enough to overwhelms visiters. Moreover, besides the appealing vistas, the fragrance emanating in the villages add charm to the visual beauty. This breathtaking tour in beautiful spring in the north gives you the huge variety of natural splendors. This panorama can be seen throughout in the North along the KKH and off the road.
Start it from Gilgit, the capital of Northern Areas. When you arrive in Gilgit you will feel that you are somewhere you need to be in Spring. Bagrot valley in Gilgit is at around an hour drive famous for its panoramic outlook in spring and summer. Kargah Buddah in the tiny Kargah valley is about 30 min drive from the city. It is more famous for the carved Buddha in a rock about 12 meters from the pathway.
Proceed further to Hunza. Karimabad is about 95 km from Hunza and usually takes 3 hours but with repeated cessations on the viewpoints could prolong the journey double as longer up to Hunza. You will stay in Hunza even if you never liked to do that. Drive further to upper Hunza for added beauty, hit the Khunjarab Pass (The highest border linking China and Pakistan at an elevation of 4757m) and start the journey back. You can spare a day to visit Nagar valley off the KKH opposit Hunza valley. You can drive up to the Hoper Glacier flowing down by the valley with picturesque mountains in the surroundings

Aug 19, 2009

Silk Route

For centuries, the ancient Silk Route was one of the land links connecting Northern Areas with the outside world; the armies of Alexender the Great, the early pilgrims taking Buddhism to China, caravans of spiece and silk traders, and mysterious explorers-cum-spies playing out the "Great Game" of imperial rivalry between the Russian and British empires have all trodden this path.
All these people who explored the adventure of this route brought new ideas and influences instrumental in shaping the way people think and see. The sluggish Process of change in Northern Areas, due to remoteness, suddenly speeded up with conversion of this historic path into Karakoram Highway (KKH) in early 1979?s.
Initially KKH, connecting Pakistan with China spurred feeling of openness, connectivity, hope and business opportunities. However, true potential of KKH as a means to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the broader NA society has yet to be realized.
For its sheer mountain grandeur and beauty, few places can match the landscape through which Karakoram Highway passes. A fantastic spectacle is the passage of the highway along the Batura glacier, rated among the world?s seven largest. The Khunjarab pass, which the Highway crosses, and the nearby Mintaka pass lies on the ancient Silk Route connecting Europe with Asia.
The 809 kms (570miles) black-top Karakoram Highway, great marvel modern engineering, links the northern region of Pakistan with Chinese Province Xinjiang. The highway follows the ancient Silk Route that was used by Chinese traders during the rule of Han Dynasty 2,100 years ago. There has always been a steady flow of visitors, scholars and traders through this route. Famous scholars like FaHian, Huen Tsang and travellars like Marcopolo also used this route. A brisk trade of tea, silk and porcelain from China and Gold, Ivory, jewels and spices from the India-Pakistan subcontinent flourished almost 2,000 years ago. Where the ancient trade caravans took months to cross the mountains, the same distance can now be covered in hours over an all-weather metalled road.
Karakoram Highway took about twenty years to complete. The 775 kms long Highway was hacked through the world?s toughest terrain. It involved the service of 15,000 men of Pakistan Army and Chinese workers. During the course of construction more than 900 workers both from China and Pakistan laid their lives. Their memorial can be seen near Nomal and at Danyore. The road between Shatial and Chilas is particularly interesting as on its stretch ancient rock-carvings and etchings can be seen which date back to the Buddhist times.

Polo in Northern Areas

The game Polo
(chaugan) described as “the game hockey played on horse back, polo being properly in the language of that region” the ball used in the game (yale and burnell on p.719). in the article on chicane and chicanery which as words are traceable to the game chaugan or horse- golf, polo is a game looked upon as hockey-on horse back while just above it is conceived as golf on horse back. However hockey is much faster game than golf. While deriving the word chicane from chaugan the problem has been created as to how chicanery can be associated with polo. This requires dealing with the evolution of the game which will be discussed after the etymology of chugan has been explained.
With regard to its etymology, a probable origin of chaugan would be an Indian, prakrit, word meaning four corners. Plats (in Urdu English dictionary) give this word as chugana, four-fold the name of the polo ground. This means that the game was invented in India where it was named after the playground. There is however another theory, which takes polo to Persia. The concise Oxford English dictionary while explaining the word chicane, states that in Greek polo is called tzoukanaiza which has been derived from the Persian word chaugan, meaning polo stick. Thus chaugan is a persain game and as word means polo. C .diem (p.126) has written a whole book on polo. He refers to and attempts showing that in Pehlavi polo chauvigan or chopgan. The latter word would be a variant of chobgan in which chob-stick but nevertheless would remain unknown.
However according to Diem, and to the Oxford English dictionary, (chaugan) has been the name in Balti, is for polo which makes it the ball game. The discrepancy is obvious. Coming to chicane it is a degenerated form of the word from which chaugan itself is derived. Diem transltes the Greek word for chaugan as tzykanion meaning polo and derives chicane from it. He writes that the Byzantine emperor, Theodosius 2 played polo at Constantinople about 401 A.D. Much earlier it was played in ancient Iran during the time of Darius, 522-486 B.C.
During the reign of king Khusrou Parvez 2 even his queen and her ladies played the game. Summarizing what has been discussed so far polo is an Indian game and the word chaugana four cornered has been modified as chaugan. Polo then was named after the polo ground. Another theory makes polo a Persian game with chaugan derived from chobagan, chob being the polo-stick, but Gan is left unexplained. At any rate as Persian word chaugan would be polo stick.
Diam gives following terms in Chinese. Ball (chiu), chhiu himself translated with an aspirated, polo-stick chhiu-chang.
The evolution of the game polo indicating the country of its birth, Polo has been rightly described by Yule and burn ell as hockey on horse back hence horse comes first to be considered. If we can conceive “Aspasthan” in Persian or horse land it would be magnolia. The Mongols have been nomads and being always on the move most of their time was spent on horseback. In Mongolia the horse was the unit of wealth. So, Mongol pick up lambs to provide more tasty (as booty) meet while the horse was still in full speed, because it is a small horse called pony. It was a dexterous performance which only the Mongols could claim to their credit.