Hunza Attabad Lake

Written by Alina Fayaz 11:47 am

Hunza’s Attabad Lake: A Miracle in Tragedy

In 2010, a disastrous landslide claimed the lives of 20 people in the Gojal region of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. This very landslide resulted in the water from the Hunza River being blocked for five months and formed one of the most beautiful lakes in Pakistan – the Attabad Lake. Today, the existence of the Attabad Lake reminds many of the tragic loss of life but its beautiful turquoise water surrounded by snow-capped mountains also provides the tourists and locals with a sense of tranquility. The author, Alina Fayaz, notes that the treetops in the middle of the lake are a constant reminder of the natural disaster which created the lake. She explains that despite the lake’s history, the scenic view of the lake and the numerous tourist activities attract foreign and local tourists alike.

About the Author(s)

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Ms. Alina Fayaz is currently pursuing a Bachelor's in International Relations from National Defence University, Islamabad.

The History of the Attabad Lake

In Pakistan, various recreational sports are marked by breathtaking sights that make us think about what the beauty of heaven would hold. This article aims to attract readers to visit one such magnificent site—the Attabad Lake in the Hunza Valley—and to realize the beauty of nature that God has bestowed upon Pakistan.

Present in the Gojal region of Hunza Valley, Gilgit Baltistan, the Attabad Lake was a beautiful accident of nature that happened in January 2010 due to a regional landslide. In the region of Gilgit Baltistan, this lake has attracted many tourists and provides many tourist activities including jet-skiing, fishing, and boating.

Although Attabad Lake itself has mesmerizing beauty, it has a tragic history. The landslide which created this beautiful tourist attraction sadly resulted in twenty deaths and a five-month blockage of the Hunza River water flow. During the time of crisis, many Pakistani political leaders, including Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, and Yousuf Raza Gillani, also visited the lake and announced reliefs for the victims and their families. The downstream area was under serious threat of flood and had to be evacuated.

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Since the birth of this beautiful lake was a result of a natural disaster, it has been given another name as well—the Attabad disaster. The 21 kilometer-long Attabad Lake in Hunza Valley is also a time called a juvenile as it had only existed since 2010.

The naturally created lake runs through Hunza Valley and now after 11 years, the Attabad Lake serves as a source of livelihood for many people as many guest houses and hotels are formed in the nearby region. The clear blue water surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of Karakoram mountains gives an appropriate description of poets’ imaginations.

Karakoram Highway

According to the history of Attabad Lake, many areas of the Karakoram Highway that pass from this region have been submerged due to this landslide. The Karakoram Highway patch was 24 km long and was realigned with five tunnels at the Attabad Barrier Lake. Nearly $275 million were spent on the realignment project and was inaugurated by the prime minister at that time, Mian Nawaz Sharif, on September 14, 2015.

The road link between China and Pakistan was thus refurbished and the trade continued between the two countries. Currently, the track comes under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This connection, at an elevation of 4,693 meters, is the highest paved international highway in the world.

Tourism Site

Ever since the creation of this eye-catching lake, it has served as a spot for tourist attractions. The color of the lake is unique and has developed an utter desire for tourists to witness this deep blue color, serving as a prime tourist and Instagram photo spot. The barren treetops in the middle of the lake give an insight into what led to the creation of this natural treasure.

The setting sunshine mixed with a deep shade of turquoise turns water into fire, with a bright contrast of orange hue penetrating the mighty mountains surrounding the 25 kilometer-long lake. The beauty does not come to an end when the sun sets, as the moonlight brings a whole new level of mesmerizing grace to the sight.

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It is not difficult to get captured in the serenity that the lake might offer. Water sports and hiking paths are available, with an expanding number of hotels to accommodate the growing influx of visitors.

Baba Jan

The creation of Attabad Lake is marked by a major landslide that resulted in several causalities and evacuations. In 2010, villagers belonging from the submerged areas demanded compensation. These protests were organized by a political leader named Baba Jan who was accompanied by some Labour Party Pakistan members.

Ultimately, the government compensated the families but singled out 25 households which sparked outrage among the people and resulted in increased protests. One of the protests belonging to this group resulted in tear gas against the protestors, batons, and open fires; the protestors then responded by burning a police station. This led to the imprisonment of Baba Jan along with a few others under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

People, even now, demand justice for these prisoners, but the woes fall on deaf ears. Many people consider this as another factor contributing to the ignorance of the rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Owing to the non-recognition of Gilgit-Baltistan as a province, higher courts are out of reach for cases like that of Baba Jan and so the people can only grieve with each melting drop of the glaciers.

Cleanliness as an Attraction

The region around Attabad Lake is not only known for its beauty but also for the cleanliness of that area. The region has a very strict policy against litter, and no one is allowed to throw trash. This is one of the biggest attractions for the people of Pakistan, as most of the places are dirty and it is rare to find a beautiful clean spot. The local citizens also do not allow the visitors to pollute the area and thus they successfully preserve the beauty of the region.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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