Hunza Through Foreign EyesFeroza Gulzar - Al Who Traveled Alone For The First Time Wrote A Letter To Hunza

Dear Hunza,

I remember I was asleep when I first saw you, I usually don’t sleep while I’m traveling but this time I did, and I’m glad. When I opened my eyes you were breathtaking, and I instantly fell in love with you. I’ve been dreaming about you for the past 10 years, I wanted to see you, wanted to feel you, and yet when I saw you, I had a mixture of feelings, I was nervous and excited for what I had signed up for, away from family on my own, new people, new language and new city.  You taught me no matter how bad things are, I’ll always find a way to deal with it.

I’ve never traveled on my own, it has always been friends or family, but this time when I did travel alone, you made me much more independent and tolerant. Here is a thank you letter in the form of photographs for you.

The first time I saw Karakoram Highway and it led me to you.

Girl in Hunza valley

Photo: Feroza Gulzar

I kept looking at how beautiful your roads were until I saw Attabad lake, and I was speechless after looking at how breathtaking this lake was and how you’ve kept it even after what it did to you.

There have been many times I’ve traveled and experienced the darkness of tunnels, but what you gave me was more than an experience.

I remember when the Attabad Lake tunnel was about to end, I saw the light with trees and a portion of Attabad lake, I knew it was different from the tunnels I’ve seen before.

The magnificent mountains that you are surrounded by, made me realize how tiny human beings are.

I loved visiting your small villages and towns while exploring you, but Sost was one of my favorite escape.

The more I traveled on your roads the more I fell in love with you and this was the road that led me to my final destination, which was Chipursan Valley.

Finally, when I saw a herd of sheep, I knew I was closer to my destination to where I would spend a month with you.

Finally, you made a dream come true and now I had to do something for you in return.

What led me to you was a small initiative called IEI Pakistan that works for the betterment of education in small villages of Pakistan.

Innovate. Educate. Inspire Pakistan

Photo: Innovate. Educate. Inspire Pakistan

This was the Inside of a traditional house in Kirmin, your village where I lived for a month.

These houses are made with one window on the roof that spreads light in the entire room, with five to seven layers of wood, that are earthquake resistant. You made me look at houses in a new perspective

Hunza, it was time to give something back to you, and I did that in a form that I love the most, which is Art.

I led three main activities in Kirmin. The First activity (upper left) was for the students to mark their heights on the trees and personalize them afterwards. In this way, they would be able to come back to these trees after years and see what they did and what their height was at that time.

The second activity was to collect materials from their surroundings except for natural materials. It was for them to learn about recycling and how to use materials that we are surrounded by to produce art. They made sculptures out of the waste materials and converted their old Kirmin school into an industry made with the waste material.

The third activity was to paint pebbles and rocks without moving them from their actual place and transforming the space into a colorful area surrounded by stones. For the last class, they were asked to draw these three activities on paper and explain their experience with drawing.


Feroza Gulzar

Photo: Usman Zubair

One of my friends Minal took story reading classes after school in different villages called Noorabad and Aliabad, near Kirmin.

Along with Minal, I spent this time roaming around your beautiful villages.

Hunza, you made me see the beauty within you from the top of the mountains where we reached after six hours of trekking and stayed for another day in our camps.

You made me choose my favorite spots, this specific spot in this yellow and blue tent was my most favorite because it was placed perfectly to see the sunset every day.

You made me witness shooting stars and galaxies for the first time, and I will forever be grateful to you for doing that.

Karakoram Highway, Passu Hunza

Photo: Feroza Gulzar (Facebook)

You made me see this beautiful bridge, Hussaini suspension bridge, which was frightening yet thrilling.

And when I thought I’ve seen all of you, you led me to Babusar Pass on my way back home.

I never knew that I’ll be able to see it because it opens for a very limited period of time due to monsoon and winters, but I guess you wanted me to see more, and you showed that there is a never-ending beauty that you are surrounded by.

Lastly, I would like to thank you for everything you did for me. This goodbye has been the hardest, but it’s more comforting when I think of coming back to you. A piece of me will always be with you.

Goodbye, until next time.
The story originally appeared on Letters to Cities.