The story of “The beauty born of adversity” begins in the year 2010, on a cold and eventful afternoon of January 4. Around 2pm PST, a face of the mountain, just south of Gulmit, towering above Hunza river broke off and fell. The scale of this landslide was so massive that it shook the surrounding areas with a mini earthquake. Luckily there was no major settlement directly under the path of falling rubble but still this massive destruction took the lives of 20 unlucky individuals.
All this rubble created a dam in the path of Hunza river and the water levels kept on rising for months to follow, until in June 2010 it began flowing over the top. By that time the lake was 100m deep and stretched over 21Km upstream, displacing more than 6000 people living around the banks of Hunza river.
This landslide and the resulting lake also blocked and submerged the Karakoram Highway cutting off the only road link these upstream villages had with Karimabad in Hunza valley. It is estimated that another 25000 people were left stranded and cut off from the southern regions, without food & supplies, for a major part of the year following this incident.
This disaster left its mark on every single family of surrounding areas in particular and the whole of Gilgit Baltistan in general.
Due to inaccessibility from and to the southern regions, locals were forced to lookout for their own. In these difficult times, the resilience of locals, their social bonding and their collective struggle were major factors in the survival of whole Gulmit & Gojal community. With the help of FWO, they established a boat crossing system which could move multiple trucks from one side to another. While the land routes were still under construction, the boat crossing over Attabad lake was the only trade route between Sost and South.
Then, after 5 and half years of tunneling in the mountains, Karakoram Highway was ready for routine traffic. The realignment project for KKH included construction of 5 tunnels with a total span of 7Km. Achieving this feat was no less than painting a masterpiece, and a MASTERPIECE it is…!
The magnificent colors of the water, make Attabad lake one of the most beautiful lakes of Pakistan, attracting a ton of tourists bringing livelihood for the locals. After the opening of road in 2015, the essential boat crossing which was once a necessity, turned into a recreational attraction. Now, Attabad lake is a major tourist hot spot in the Gojal district of Gilgit Baltistan, equipped with lodging, dining & several recreational activities including water sports in summer and ice skating over the frozen waters in winter.
With the passage of time, it is shown that what started as a calamity and a disaster, turned out to be a blessing and source of livelihood for the people. It is truly “The Beauty born of Adversity”.