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Ginani Festival Held at Baltit Fort in Karimabad Hunza

The traditional Ginani Festival was celebrated in the capital town of Karimabad, the Hunza valley. Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, who also happens to be the Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, led the rituals at the Baltit Fort in an event attended by local elders, youth, tourists from the south and even foreigners.

Imran Ahmed Hunzai

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Ginani Festial - Hunza traditional band

The traditional Ginani Festival was celebrated in the capital town of Karimabad, the Hunza valley. Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, who also happens to be the Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, led the rituals at the Baltit FortĀ in an event attended by local elders, youth, tourists from the south and even foreigners.

Long before the construction of Karakoram Highway (KKH), the people of Hunza were mainly dependent on farming. Wheat, corn and potatoes were the main crops. The cultivation of wheat, however, had great significance. During those days, the fresh harvest was marked with an event called Ginani (Burushaski). In upper Hunza Gojal,Ā it was known asĀ Chineer (Wakhi). Other regions of Gilgit-Baltistan held similar events, likeĀ Ganoni (Shina)Ā in Gilgit andĀ Strublah (Balti) in Baltistan.

Although the farming dependency is no more ever since Hunza got connected to the rest of the world through KKH but the people of Hunza still celebrate this festival with traditional zeal.

Hunza Ginani Festival in Pictures

Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan arriving at Balti Fort for Ginani Festival

Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan arrives at Baltit Fort for Ginani Festival

Mir Ghazanfar meeting with local elders

Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan is greeted by local elders

Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort in Hunza

Shah Saleem Khan is being escorted for the traditional rituals

Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort in Hunza

Locals waiting for arrival of Mir of Hunza.

Shah Salim Khan at Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort in Hunza

Shah Salim Khan arriving back to the Baltit Fort after performing the rituals in a nearby field.

Locals elders and leaders gathers in Chataq at Baltit Fort for the Ginani Festival.

Locals elders and leaders gathers in Chataq at Baltit Fort for the Ginani Festival.

Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Mir of Hunza and Governor Gilgit-Baltistan

Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Mir of Hunza and Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan listens as the curator of Baltit Fort reads opening speech.

Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort in Hunza

Traditional rituals in progress

Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort in Hunza

Locals and foreigners enjoying traditional music at Baltit Fort as part of Ginani festival celebrations in Hunza.

Deputy Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan and Minister Works Gilgit-Baltistan at Ginani Festival

Najieb Alam Secretary to Governor, Deputy Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan and Minister Works Gilgit-Baltistan at Ginani Festival. Raja Shahbaz Khan and Raja Nazeem ul Amin can also bee seen in the background.

Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort in Hunza

Deputy Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan and Minister Works Gilgit-Baltistan performing traditional dance.

Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort in Hunza

The crowd at Ginani Festival held at Baltit Fort in central Hunza

A gathering was held at Chataq in Baltit Fort where the Mir of Hunza performed the traditional ritualsĀ along with his wife Rani Atiqa and his elder son Prince Saleem Khan.

Later, a cultural dance event was organized in the Baltit FortĀ yard. Many political figures like Minister Works Gilgit-Baltistan and Deputy Speaker Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) were also part of the gathering.

Video with thanks to Ikram Najmi of Sujo Hunzo.

Imran Hunzai is a Digital Media Consultant and activist based in Islamabad, Pakistan. When free, he likes to travel, do photography and play Rabab. He also runs a HONY inspired blog called Humans of Hunza. Follow him of Twitter @ihunzai.

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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Chitral as part of their Royal Tour in Pakistan

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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Chitral, Pakistan
PHOTO CREDITS: WIREIMAGE

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge flew from Islamabad to Chitral on their third day of Royal tour in Pakistan. This is the first royal tour of Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton to Pakistan.

The two were welcomed with traditional Chitrali Pakol, a traditional Chitrali cap, and Chitrali Chogha, a traditional long coat in often presented to dignitaries, at the Chitral Airport.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Chitral Airport
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Chitral Airport where they were presented with traditional Chitrali cap and Chitrali Chogha. Photo: WireImage

The royal couple had landed in Islamabad on Monday evening as part of a 5-day long royal tour in Pakistan. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had a busy first day in the capital where they had a meeting with PrimeĀ  Minister Imran Khan. Earlier, the royal couple visited Islamabad Model College for Girls, a government-run school in the capital city.

Later, the British High Commissioner for Pakistan Thomas Drew hosted a reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Pakistan Monument in Islamabad. The royal couple arrived at Pakistan Monument in an auto-rickshaw.

Duchess of Cambridge in Chitrali Cap
The Duchess of Cambridge at Chitral Airport wearing a traditional Chitrali cap and Chitrali Chogha.

The Duke had spoken of the challenges Pakistan faces from climate change at a reception at Pakistan Monument in Islamabad.

“Tomorrow we will be seeing some of these impacts first hand and meeting some of the communities adjusting to the new realities and new challenges that climate change has brought to their towns and villages,” he said.

He further added:

“I hope to learn what more we all can do to help prevent and mitigate this impending global catastrophe.”

William and Kate are also expected to visit Gilgit-Baltistan and the historic city of Lahore as part of their royal tour.

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5 Facts You Might Not Know About the Baltit Fort Hunza

You must have heard about the famous Baltit Fort of Hunza but how much do you really know about this architectural monument of historic importance? Let’s explore.

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Baltit Fort Hunza

The region of Gilgit-Baltistan is not only blessed with some spectacular natural scenery but some man-made wonders also add up to the glory of this part of Pakistan. One of the prominent names that come into the mind while talking about Hunza valley is the Baltit Fort. The fort is located at an elevation

We recently visited the Baltit Fort and we have compiled a list of 5 interesting facts that might not know about the historic monument.

1. Baltit Fort is over 700 years old

The foundations of Baltit Fort were first laid some 700 years ago. Over the next couple of centuries, restoration work was carried out. The biggest one took place in the 16th century when artisans from Baltistan came to Hunza and changed the entire shape of the fort. The Ladakhi/Tibetan architecture influence of the fort comes from the same restoration period.Ā This restoration work by Balti artisans was done as part of a dowry of a princess who got married to a prince of Hunza at that time.

Inside Hunza Baltit Fort

2. It was home to the royal family of Hunza for centuries

Baltit Fort was not the only home to the family of Mirs – the royal rulers of Hunza. The royal family was based out of an even older Altit Fort which is located in the village of Altit at a huge elevated rock. However, a conflict resulted in one of the two brothers settling in BaltitĀ Fort. The brother who remained in Altit Fort was killed hence BaltitĀ Fort became the seat of the Hunza state.

For centuries, BaltitĀ Fort remained home of the royal family of Hunza. Not only that, many festivities and important meetings were held inside specially built portions inside the fort.

Even today, festivals like Ginani are celebrated in Baltit Fort.

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Portraits of some of the many Mirs of Hunza who ruled the state of Hunza.

Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort in Hunza

Shah Saleem Khan is being escorted for the traditional rituals of Ginani Festival at Baltit Fort.

3.Ā The Fort was abandoned in 1945

Baltit Fort was abandoned in the mid-1940s.Ā The family of then Mir of Hunza moved to a newly built palace within Karimabad town. For decades, the fort remained a haunted place while it slowly turned into a ruin. During this time, a lot of important items disappeared, a number of which were never recovered.

From 1945 until the 1990s, no repair work was done in the fort which posed a threat to a possible collapse of the building.

Photos of Baltit Fort taken in 1930's.

Photos of Baltit Fort taken in 1930’s.

Baltit Fort 1930

Baltit Fort in 1930’s

4. It took 6 years to renovate the Baltit Fort

The fort was renovated by Aga Khan Cultural Services for Pakistan (AKCSP) and opened for public in September 1996. The restoration work of Baltit Fort took AKCSP about six years to complete with the support of Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The fort was inaugurated after restoration by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan and then president of Pakistan Mr. Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari.

Baltit Fort Hunza

Inside the Baltit Fort Hunza

5. BaltitĀ Fort is now a museum

After the restoration of Baltit Fort in 1996, the fort was opened for public. It is now being managed by theĀ Baltit Heritage Trust. An estimated 15,000 people visit the BaltitĀ Fort every year which includes locals, domestic and foreign visitors.

Ginani Festival Baltit Fort Hunza

Local elders and leaders of tribes gather in Chataq at Baltit Fort for the celebrations of Ginani Festival.

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baltit-fort-hunza-gilgit-baltistan (4)

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