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Gojal Hunza

Gojal, also called Upper Hunza, is situated in the far north of Pakistan. It borders China at the Khunjerab Pass and Afghanistan at the Chipurson valley. In 2019, Gojal Valley became the second Sub-Division within the Hunza District.

gojal hunza

The valleys and villages of Gojal were settled over time by people from surrounding regions. Kirghiz nomads initially used the areas in Upper Gojal as winter pastures. Wakhis migrated from Wakhan to this region, the Yishkuk (Chipursun) valley, the Avgarch area of Gircha and Sost villages were settled in the upper Gojal while in the lower Gojal Hussaini [ur] is considered an ancient settlement. When Hunza was under the Central Government of Gilgit the Ishkook settlement was wealthy and paid cattle and other dairy products to the Raja of Gilgit. As Hunza emerged as an independent state during the early 15th century so it can be inferred that different valleys in upper Gojal were inhabited by the Wakhi speaking migrants prior to the emergence of the Hunza state. Later, the oral history holds, a catastrophic flood destroyed the Ishkook settlement during the 18th century. The dominance of Central Hunza or Kanjud became significant during Mir Shah Salim Khan’s period (1790-1824). Mir Shah Salim Khan was raised by his foster mother lady Gulbahar wife of Ashoor of the Buduley family of Gulmit Gojal. Lady Gulbahar was the daughter of the Qazi of Wakhan Qazi Makhtum. When Shah Salim Khan became the Mir of Hunza he paid attention to expansion of the settlements of Gulkin and Gulmit and initiated the resettlement of Chipusan to increase revenue. One of the wives of Mir Salim Khan Princes Khushal Begum was the daughter of Qalam Ashqagha of Siriqol. Khushal Begum was gifted agriculture and grazing land and rights over collection of taxes from settlements in Siriqol by her father. Through this the state of Hunza extended its control to the areas of Siriqol. From Khushal Begum Mir Salim Khan had a son named Shah Abdullah Khan who was the youngest amongst five other sons of the Mir. Mir Shah Salim Khan died in 1824 in Gulmit. After the death of Mir Shah Salim Khan his elder son Shah Ghazanfar Khan (1824-1864) became the Mir of Hunza. Mir Shah Ghazanfar deputed his younger brother Shah Abdullah Khan as the Governor of Gojal and also assigned him the additional responsibility of the Commander of the forces of Hunza. It was this time when the resettlement of Chipursan valley was materialized by moving families from Gulmit, Gulkin, Hussaini and Passu villages and bringing major parcels of land under irrigation. Other new areas in Gojal that were brought under irrigation were Abdullah Khan Abad, Zar Khan and Zar Abad. Shah Abdullah Khan was based in Gulkin and the adjacent areas of Jalalabad, Shah Abad, Shah Mal and Yashbandan were part of his personal jagir. During this period Hunza emerged as a regional power and extended its borders to Siriqol, Yarqand and Wakhan. The Wakhi people of Gojal emerged as warriors and took part in many wars. The forces of Hunza fought and won wars against Khojas, Kyrghiz and Badkhshan. During Abdullah Khan’s period Gojal emerged as a strong hold and the center became increasingly dependent both for its revenue and military power on Gojal. This increasing dependency on Gojal and increasing power of Abdullah Khan was seen as a threat by many in the center which resulted the murder of Abdullah Khan by prince Ghazan Khan, the elder son of Mir Shah Ghazanfar with support from a group of killers from Altit and Karimabad. Ghazan Khan later murdered his father Mir Shah Ghazanfar also and became the Mir of Hunza. Abdullah Khan had five children including one daughter and four sons. The daughter named Mirona was the eldest amongst all and was married in his father’s lifetime in Siriqol. Amongst his sons the eldest was Ali Parast who was married to Princes Bi Bi Aftab, the daughter of Mir Shah Ghazanfar and was given Jagir in Hyderabad Hunza by Mir Shah Ghazafar however later during Ghazan Khan II’s period migrated to Passu, others were Muhammad Bari, Ali Fatah and Abdullah Beg. Muhammad Bari migrated to China with Mir Safdar Khan during the British invasion of Hunza in 1891. Ali Fatah was settled in Ghulkin and Abdullah Beg in Chipusan. After the death of Mir Shah Salim Khan who was the first ever Ismaili in Hunza, Shah Ghazanfar and Abdullah Khan were amongst the few people in Hunza who got exposure to the Ismaili faith and became Ismaili during the first half of the 1800s. Mir Shah Salim Khan accepted the Ismaili faith as a result of the discussions with an Ismaili missionary Said Shah Ardabil during his visit to Gulmit. Mir Shah Salim was the first person in Hunza whose funeral was performed as per the Ismaili Tariqah and Chiragh-i-Roshan was performed for the first time in history of Hunza for him in Gulmit.

In the later part of the 1800s a major land slide near Sarat village blocked river Hunza and in three years time a major lake was formed which inundated major parts of the villages of Gulmit, Hussaini and Passu. Major portion of the fertile land and orchards came under the lake. Most recently in 2010 another major land slide occurred in the same area in Attababad village which again inundated parts of Shiskat, Ayeenabad and Gulmit.

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