Exploring Silk Route, a delightful experience

  • Posted at: 17 May, 2017, in World

After exploring the cultivation of Silk worms in Shanghai and Suzhou and the methods of extraction of Silk threads from the cocoons to the final production of silk fabric the team reached Islamabad.Team members travelling along the historic Silk Road reach Islamabad amid sweltering heat while exploring cultural, economic and historical evolution along the route.Taxila, near Pakistan’s capital, was an important staging point on the Silk Road along with Peshawar.The crossing over from China to Pakistan at the Khunjerab Pass (4,693 meters) was a delightful experience. China has a very structured and disciplined security environment, even going to the bathroom had to be in a queue and the line moved under an army escort only after 10 people had accumulated.It did not matter if you were about to leak out! In Pakistan, there was a deep sense of friendliness of the police and people. It was a feeling of freedom and we felt like kissing the ground. We understand that slowly the China processes are improving and becoming much more humane. The same feeling was there at the Pakistan Immigration and Customs check post at Sost.We had a glimpse of 4 Ibex just 10 meters away as they were leaping down to approach the fast flowing Hunza River, certainly an experience that is seen in documentaries only.At Passu two more members joined the team (Mehvash Ali from Sharjah and Mohammed Khan from Los Angeles), we had a long walk within the village to observe local life and architecture. Gulmit was an experience by itself. The people were so friendly and they repeatedly invited our team of 10 people to their homes for a cup of tea.We had lunch in one of the village homes. They have a close-knit living surrounding. There is a big room with a “Bokhari” (wood burning stove) in the center. All the cooking is done here.Three sidesare reserved for men, women and guests. The fourth side is the kitchen preparatory area. Our meal was wheat bread with apricot oil interlayered and a fine paste of apricot syrup. There was a flat pasta with spinach. There is a big skylight in the center, which is closed during heavy rains or snow.Dr Imran Chaudhry connected the healthy diet and life style to explain the long life of the Hunza folks. We also visited the Bulbulik School for Music and were treated to a wonderful mix of songs in the local Wakhi language.This school is preserving the Wakhi music style by bringing in young students to be trained by maestros. We walked over to Husseini Village and across a suspension bridge over the raging Hunza River. The bridge had wooden planks about 2 feet apart and it was an art to navigate the length without plunging through the gaps. The village folks happily trudged across it without a break in their gait. For us it was a major exercise!We used an inflatable raft to pedal a 6 km stretch to the Attabad Lake. The muddy river water turns deep blue within a meter, a striking difference.  For more than 2,000 years’ merchants and monks formed rafts using inflated cow or yak hides and used these to cross gushing rivers. We could now understand the difficulties that these Silk Road adventurers could face.At Karimabad we visited the Altit and Baltit forts. Altit Fort is perched on a cliff on a bend of the Hunza River. The commanding views provided an excellent opportunity to spot lucrative caravans or approaching marauders!The team visited a section of the historic Silk Road at Kino Kutto which is now not in use. Here three generations of the Silk Road could be observed at one spot – the Karakorum Highway (KKH) concrete bridge with a graceful suspension bridge of the recent past and then the historic Silk Road perched precariously on a mountain ledge.The Commissioner of Gilgit Mr. Sibtain Ahmed hosted a dinner for the Silk Road Expedition and the Team Leader Khwaja (KM) Ali mentioned that the team could get a good overview of the upcoming CPEC based road and infrastructure projects. There is a tremendous hope that the projects are successfully completed.At Haripur the team visited a government run Agriculture Farm office and were explained the Silk worms rearing procedure. The cocoons had already been formed. Sadly the silk worm rearing industry is decaying in Pakistan, while in China and other countries it is showing a healthy growth.The Silk Road continues to influence industry and trade between China and Pakistan. The Silk eggs are imported from China while Silk worms are reared here! The Buddhist rock carvings that the team observed all along the route within Pakistan and the frescoes and paintings in the grottoes in Dunhuang and Turpan bear witness to transportation of ideas and religions along the Silk Road.On Wednesday the team members depart for their final stretch to Gwadar. There is a high concern for security and the route plans are being modified accordingly.  – local channel

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