The Lower Karakorum Highway: Our Trip 1

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Featured Image: Harvesting Wheat Taxila, near the Museum & archaeological site, lower KKH, 1995

Featured Image: Harvesting wheat, Taxila, near the Museum and Archaeological Site, Lower KKH, 1995

ORT_Logo Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  3 May 2021

The Lower Karakorum Highway: Taxila, Abbottabad, Khagan Valley and the Alai Valley

Background

I wrote in the last article The Karakorum Highway why it was still important to write about a trip undertaken in 1995. It was soon difficult and dangerous to travel the KKH after 2001 until not that long ago. The landslide in 2010 that created Attabad Lake closed the KKH and made it difficult to travel on the KKH for some years. The changes in Kashgar covered in another article on the Kashgar Sunday Market and China’s repression of the Uyghur population have made Xinjiang problematical for the responsible traveller. And, eventually the new upgrades to the whole KKH may make the trip no longer adventurous. The towns mentioned are no longer the same, whereas in 1995, they still retained some of the flavour of the 19th century British colonial entry into the region.

As I concluded in my last article, 1995 was a more innocent era and we need to remember rather than to lose reminders of our recent past.

The Trip

We flew to Lahore from Thailand on 28 April, 1995. I’d encouraged Denise to undertake the KKH when we took a year of in 1995. As I said in the last article:

I‘d done this firstly because I’d always been fascinated by Hunza and Nagar kingdoms when I first heard about them in 19th century British colonial writings. Although not in Tibet, they symbolized a sort of Shangri-La beautiful, remote and exotic. Subsequently, I’d heard about the Karakorum Highway or KKH and thought it would be marvelous to travel up it to China.

Naran, Looking Upwards
Naran, Looking Upwards

We both subsequently read William Dalrymple In Xanadu for inspiration though we didn’t stay with British ambassador’s or the Wali of Swat while setting out.

The Lower KKH

Taxila (4-7 May)

Gandhara Buddha (1st-2nd century), Tokyo National Museum
Gandhara Buddha (1st-2nd century), Tokyo National Museum

We took a bus from Lahore to Rawalpindi and another local bus to Taxila (37 km) arriving in the late afternoon on 4 May, the beginning of our KKH adventure.

Taxila in those days was a village surrounded by pleasant agricultural lands. The Youth Hostel was a lovely old building outside the village run by a charming but garrulous old man as chowkidar (caretaker). The surrounds of the world heritage site were beautiful. Across the road was the Taxila museum — magnificent — with the archaeological ruins just beyond.

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