Ganish Village

Ganish "The King Makers"

Ninety Kilometer and 2-½ hours traveling time from Gilgit, lies Ganish, directly under Karimabad, the principal town of the Hunza valley. Spreading over the mountain, opposite the world famous Rakaposhi Peak in Nagar across Hunza, Karimabad is renowned for the Altit and Baltit Forts, built by the rulers of this former princely state.

GANISH is the oldest and first settlement on ancient Silk Road in Hunza.You may see different old watch towers,old traditional mosques,religious centers,and a water reserviour .Ganish Village is situated in central Hunza near Hunza river. Some people call this village as land of warriors and [king makers] because people belonged to this village had been involved in battles with Nagar and decision making during royal system in Hunza.

Speciality of this village is "S" shape road which cuts the village through its heart,old sacred rocks of Ganish Village are also located near this village. The village has won a Unesco award for its cultural heritage.

Ganish Village is located on flat land near the Hunza River and the Hunza hill at an altitude of 7,500 ft. Though it has several new Khuns (clusters), Bitan Khun, Suni Khun, Buldus, Ganish Shukonoshal, Chaboikushal and Tsill Ganish, Ganish Khun is the oldest. The original layout of Ganish Village Khun is mostly intact, even after damage caused by a flood in 1960 and the construction of the KKH through it in the 1970s. Ganish Village’s existing historic fabric is a typical central Hunza Khun layout, which comprises 39 houses dating back to the 15th century. This fabric contains a number of buildings (Imam-bargah, Himaltar and Shikaris Sawab-Ha, mosques, schools, guest house etc) and open spaces that are outstanding in their spatial layout, architecture and decoration. Ancient chinar’s, mulberry and willow trees testify to the age of the settlement.

The village’s surroundings consist of thousand of year’s old meticulously constructed terrace houses, lush green agricultural terraces, orchards and meadows. The orchards and meadows terrace down to the Hunza River and create a most beautiful form of landscapeeritage. [ [] ] [ [] ]


Ganish village is located on flat land near the Hunza River and the Hunza hill at an altitude of 7,500 ft. Though it has several new Khuns (clusters), Bitan Khun, Suni Khun, Buldus, Ganish Shukonoshal, Chaboikushal and Tsill Ganish, Ganish Khun is the oldest. The original layout of Ganish Khun is mostly intact, even after damage caused by a flood in 1960 and the construction of the KKH through it in the 1970s. Garnish’s existing historic fabric is a typical central Hunza Khun layout, which comprises 39 houses dating back to the 15th century. This fabric contains a number of buildings (Imam-bargah, Himaltar and Shikaris Sawab-Ha, mosques, schools, guest house etc) and open spaces that are outstanding in their spatial layout, architecture and decoration. Ancient chinar’s, mulberry and willow trees testify to the age of the settlement.

Few years ago there were 14 watch towers covering Ganish village from offenders in old days but only 3 of them are staning in their actual condition due to Shimshal Flood in 1960s.

The village’s surroundings consist of thousand of year’s old meticulously constructed terrace houses, lush green agricultural terraces, orchards and meadows. The orchards and meadows terrace down to the Hunza River and create a most beautiful form of landscape.

Caravans from Central Asia and China used to stay in this village because Ganish comes in the way of Ancient Silk Route. Some of those signs still can be seen on Karakorum Highway near Ganish Bridge, nowadays known as Sacred Rocks OF Hunza.

alient Feature(s):

The historic settlement nestles in the man-made surroundings consisting of agricultural terraces that lie beneath the breath taking view of Karimabad, the Baltit fort, the Altit settlement and its fort as well as the famous Rakaposhi, Ultar, Golden Peak, and Diran mountains. Added to this the settlement over looks the Hunza River. Garnish’s historic Khun has retained much of its original form and is a testimony to the fabric of traditional settlements, its buildings, and the historical architecture of the Hunza valley.

Approached by the Ganish residents, AKCS-P/AKTC developed a conservation and rehabilitation master plan for the settlement. The Ganish Town Management Society is implementing the master plan in stages. The Society is responsible for raising funds through an entrance fee from tourists, and by motivating Ganish residents to provide voluntary manpower for on-going projects. AKCS-P/AKTC provides the necessary technical input and management guidelines.

UNESCO AWARDS The Dawn08 April 2003 Tuesday 05 Safar 1424 By Farman Ali

Unesco heritage distinction award for Ganish-Hunza ISLAMABAD, April 7: Hunza has once again achieved Unesco's Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation, a statement issued here on Monday said.

The award of distinction for the year 2002 has been given to Ganish, a small settlement in central Hunza in the Northern Areas, for preserving four historical mosques.

In all, 142 entries from 37 Asia-Pacific countries competed for the Award, bringing to world attention the high quality of conservation work being done around the region.

Richard Engelhardt, the Unesco regional adviser on culture for Asia-Pacific, presented the award to the community at a ceremony at Ganish, some 110 kilometres off Gilgit, on Saturday last.

The ceremony was attended by Unesco country director Ingeborg Breines, federal secretary for culture Ismail Niazi, representatives of AKCSP and the Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO), besides all the community members as well as many people from the surrounding villages of Altit and Karimabad,

The award, established in 2000, is given in recognition of the efforts and contributions of individuals and organizations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the Asia-Pacific region.

The programme aims at promoting conservation of the region's architectural heritage, which is threatened by unchecked development, neglect, or inappropriate reuse.

The living historic village, popularly known as Ganish Khun, is about one thousand years old, with a small community working towards improving its quality of life. With the spread of Islam, the Yarikutz, the Rupikutz, the Kuyokutz and the Mamorokutz - the then leading families of the area - constructed four mosques and watch towers dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. These unique structures, which were decaying owing to the ravages of time and lack of financial and technical resources, have been restored to some of their old glory with the assistance from Norway and Spain, through the Aga Khan Cultural Services Programme (AKCSP).

Encouraged by this support, the local community began to pave their streets, restore the old unstable houses, improve the sanitation system, and is now in the process of building a water filtration plant.

Ganish Khun is now seen as a model village, inspiring other settlements of the area to follow suit, thus substantiating Unesco's belief that recognizing successful preservation efforts helps spur additional projects within the same community, advocating the culture of preservation and conservation through the use of appropriate conservation techniques and approaches.

In awarding the prize to the Ganish project, the panel of judges cited: "The restoration of four 300-year old wooden mosques in Pakistan's Hunza Valley has successfully revitalized the village "chataq", the traditional public heart of the Ganish historic settlement. Initiated and undertaken by the villagers, with professional guidance, the project has rebuilt community spirit in a rural village which has undergone major socio-economic change and natural disasters over the years.

"The restrained conservation approach has stabilized the buildings which were in danger of collapse, while retaining the rich historic patina and showcasing the intricate detailing of the structures. Modern materials were selectively incorporated alongside the use of traditional materials and techniques. The preservation of the surrounding buildings and infrastructural improvements was sensitively executed, consequently strengthening the traditional town fabric while upgrading the quality of life of the residents. The project presents an outstanding example of a community-led initiative strategically facilitated by outside support".

This is the second time that Hunza has been honoured with the Unesco award. Earlier, the 700 years old historic Baltit Fort, which was preserved and renovated by the AKCSP, was the first project which bagged the Unesco Cultural Heritage Award in 1999.

The Another issue which is dedicated to Ganish

2002 Award of Excellenc

Approximately 300 years old, the four wooden mosques, Yarikutz, Rupikutz, Kuyokutz and Mamorukutz are considered some of the finest in the Hunza region of northern Pakistan and together present a highly significant cultural ensemble.

Located in the small mountain khun (village) of Ganish, the four mosques surround the village chataq (common public space), an open courtyard area paved with stones. Ganish, an ancient village dating back nearly 1000 years, is 110 kilometers north of Gilgit and is located on the branch of the Silk Road that crosses the Karakoram mountains and goes as far as Uighur in China.

Ganish was remote and isolated until the Karakoram Highway (KKH) was completed the 1970s. The KKH now winds around Ganish village and provides a link to the rest of the world. With this connection have come fundamental changes and challenges, altering the traditional lifestyles and customs of Ganish community members. As a result of these and earlier social changes, the four historic mosques and chataq of Ganish had fallen into disuse and prior to their restoration the mosques were practically in a state of collapse.

In the interests of promoting social development and heritage conservation, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), a private charitable organization, has initiated a number of preservation projects in Pakistan through its Historic Cities Support Programme (HCSP). The HCSP has coordinated projects through the Aga Khan Cultural Services of Pakistan (AKCSP) in a number of villages and settlements in the Hunza region, including the Baltit Fort in the Karimabad village.

Although a draft National Charter for the Conservation and Preservation of Cultural Property (1989) exists, it is not in effect and no heritage legislation or regulations exist in Pakistan to protect ancient structures. Likewise, no enforceable guidelines exist for the maintenance or restoration of built heritage. The AKTC relies on the guidelines set out in international Charters such as the Athens Charter for the Restoration of Historic Monuments and the Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites.

Building History With the advent of Islam in the Hunza region, seven private mosques were constructed in Ganish khun and were named after the families (sub-clans) that built them. According to oral histories and architectural evidence, the four mosques surrounding the village chataq, belonging to the four families of Yarikutz, Rupikutz, Kuyokutz and Mamorukutz, are estimated to have been built in the early 1700’s, probably around 1715.

The mosques share the same architectural theme and are of a similar size, ranging between five and nine meters wide. Built on a square platform of rough boulders, each mosque has a portico on two sides and an inner prayer chamber. The structure of the inner chamber walls is in the form of a cribbage (cage made of timber beams) filled with rubble or adobe blocks. In two of the mosques the exposed timber elements, doors and windows are intricately carved. The roof structure is the typical ‘rotated square within a square’ form of timber bracing common to the region, finished with a thick earthen roof held in place with wooden fascia boards.

Project History Inspired by the Karimabad village conservation project coordinated by the AKCSP, the elders of Ganish approached the AKCSP and requested they oversee a similar project in Ganish. Together with the AKCSP, the Ganish community developed a plan to upgrade services and generally restore the built environment in Ganish khun. As part of the wider village conservation plan, a project was designed which specifically aimed to restore the four mosques and chataq area.

Project Scope and Framework The project set out to restore the mosques to a usable and structurally-sound state and to improve the courtyard area (chataq). The main aim was to enable reutilization of the mosques, strengthen community cohesion and to revitalize the function of the chataq as a gathering place for community meetings and festivals.

The restoration project sought to stabilize the mosques while retaining the traditional style, historic fabric and decorative details of the buildings. In addition to restoring the mosques, the project aimed to make necessary alterations to a number of residential buildings around the courtyard in order to reinstate the original layout and ambiance of the chataq. Meetings were also planned with owners of buildings bordering the chataq to ensure that any private renovations and additions to the buildings they had in mind would be made in keeping with the style of the ancient chataq area and to make certain that views from the courtyard of the surrounding countryside would not be disturbed.

Conservation Methodology and Materials Conservation activities in the village began with the sanitation and services project in 1996. A storm water drainage system, an underground electricity distribution network and a new piped water system were installed and the entire street network was repaved with the original type of stone.

In the chataq area, restoration activities began in 1999 and during that year the mosques were restored one by one, electric cables were put underground in the courtyard and the chataq was repaved. In addition, a number of modifications were made to surrounding residential buildings.

The mosques were leaning and were structurally unsound. In realigning the mosques, the heavy earth-covered roofs were removed to lighten the load on the timber structure and the mosques were carefully shifted into a vertical position and pegged with timber dowels to ensure structural stability. The traditional roofs were then replaced using new soil, compacted by foot in the traditional manner.

Inappropriate additions and structures were removed from the chataq area and mosques, such as the electricity tower that had been constructed in the centre of the verandah of Mamurukutz mosque.

Some modern materials, such as cement, were incorporated in the restoration process to ensure stability and enhance the function of the structures, but were used sensitively so as not to detract from the overall aged appearance of the buildings. To improve structural soundness of the mosque walls, for example, the rubble in the cribbage walls was removed and replaced with stabilized blocks of 1:1:8 of cement, sand and salt whilst the old adobe blocks were replaced with new blocks of adobe stabilized with cement and sand.

In the interests of improving the function of the mosques, the packed-earth floors of the mosques were removed and replaced with timber flooring in deodar wood. All timber surfaces in the buildings were treated using the traditional wood preservation technique of applying walnut rind followed by linseed oil.

Important IssuesMobilizing resources and peopleThis restoration project was initiated by the elders of Ganish and supported by the entire community. The Ganish community contributed physical labor, materials, ideas and determination, while technical and financial resources were sourced externally (from the AKTC, The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Spanish Government).

Once the chataq had been restored it began to be used once again for its original purpose, for meetings and public gatherings. By gathering in the chataq, the community members could not but become more conscious and proud of the beauty and value of their ancient heritage. Community spirit and cohesiveness grew and in the spring of 2001, the thirty-odd households of Ganish met in the chataq and resolved to establish the Ganish Khun Heritage, Social and Welfare Society (GKHSWS) in order to manage the conservation and ongoing maintenance of the village’s heritage resources.

Project Sustainability and ViabilityThe GKHSWS will continue to mange, conserve and maintain the built heritage of Ganish village. Since its establishment, GKHSWS has shown impressive progress in the organization and management of the village as a tourist attraction, thus providing a source of revenue to ensure the project’s sustainability.

Project ImpactThe project has restored a sense of unity and The project has preserved the built heritage of this small mountainous village and has transformed the community by strengthening community pride and giving Ganish a strong cultural identity. As a result, the community is also now better equipped to sustainably conserve their heritage.

With initiation and very active participation by the community, this project is now leading the process of the establishment and consolidation of community-wide institutions and is a role model for managing community assets.

Quotation from the Project ArchitectThis restoration was carried out in remembrance and consideration for those who lived, who live and who will live in the Ganish khun, and of those who planted the now giant chinar trees to surround and keep alive the community’s well, its source of life.

The project was performed with dedication and care, revealing the ‘greatness of small things’. As a result, Ganish, like a blossom in spring, has re-emerged from under layers of earth, dust and decay.

Sufi poem:“There is a soul within the soul, look for that soul. There is a jewel within the mountain of your body, look for the mine of that jewel.Oh Sufi, passer-by, look within thee and not outside”

The Bangkok Post

The Bangkok Post

25 September 2002

Thai temple among Unesco winners

Khon Kaen project praised for high standard of grassroots conservation work

Ahhichatragarh Fort in Nagaur, Rajasthan, India, has been honoured with an Award for Excellence from Unesco, one of the Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Awards handed out this year.

The Australian Hall in Sydney, and the Yarikutz, Rupikutz, Kuyokutz and Mamorukutz mosque complex at the Ganish Historic Settlement in central Hunza, Pakistan, received Awards of Distinction.

Five Awards of Merit, including one for Wat Sratong in Khon Kaen, and five Honourable Mention Awards were also announced.

The Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Awards recognise the contribution individuals, organisations or companies have made to the conservation and restoration of a structure or a series of structures which is/are more than 50 years old. Houses, buildings used for commercial, cultural, religious, industrial or institutional purposes, gardens and bridges are all eligible for consideration. Public-private partnership projects such as the conservation of historic towns, urban districts and rural settlements where the essential elements are more than 50 years old are also eligible.

This year's awards programme drew 46 projects from 15 countries and administrative areas in the Asia-Pacific region. The selection process was conducted by a panel of international conservation experts in architecture, urban planning, landscape design and heritage conservation, who met over three days to select the winners.

Ahhichatragarh Fort in Nagaur was praised for its minimalist conservation approach, resulting in varying levels of intervention which responded to the range of damage suffered. The ambitious large-scale restoration of the abandoned 12th-century fort and palace complex has created a living research laboratory which provides valuable field education for conservation professionals and students. The physical preservation of the complex returns the largest area of open ground in the region to the public as a venue for festivals, cultural performances and religious events, thereby allowing for the continuity of the fort's rich history.

The Australian Hall in Sydney, winner of an Award of Distinction, was praised for its unique approach in restoring a colonial building of historic significance. The other winner of an Award of Distinction was the Yarikutz, Rupikutz, Kuyokutz and Mamorukutz mosques at the Ganish Historic Settlement in central Hunza, Pakistan. The repair work done on the complex of mosques was praised as an outstanding example of a community-led initiative facilitated by outside support. The restoration of the four, 300-year-old wooden buildings has not only successfully revitalised the village chataq, the traditional public heart of the Ganish historic settlement, but also rebuilt community spirit in an authentic rural village which has undergone major socio-economic change and natural disasters over the years. The restrained conservation approach has stabilised the buildings, while retaining the rich historic patina and accentuating the intricate structural details.

The winners of the Awards of Merit are as follows:

- Cheng Hoon Teng Main Temple, Malacca, Malaysia: ``Demonstrates high standards of technical execution and sets a worthy precedent for other conservation work in Malaysia and the region. The project successfully illustrates the faithful use of original materials and the integrity of artisan techniques, and has revived the historic building for the community as a centre of worship."

- Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, Singapore: ``Represents a laudable effort in urban conservation. The success of the project as a lively urban hub underscores the valuable potential from both a commercial and heritage point of view in revitalising, rather than abandoning, historic buildings.

- Polsheer House, Jolfa, Isfahan, Iran: ``Illustrates an exemplary conservation approach by adhering to all aspects of the conservation process, thereby maintaining the essence of the existing building fabric and exquisitely executing the restoration of the jewel-like interiors. The project sets a technical benchmark for conservation and gives momentum to private-sector conservation in Iran."

- Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney, Australia: ``Provides a new focal point for downtown Sydney while raising the standards for conservation in the region. The excellent documentation of the historic structures has been translated with great clarity in the conservation process, resulting in the rigorous restoration of the historic building fabric, the removal of unsympathetic additions, and the careful distinction between the new and the old."

- Wat Sratong, Khon Kaen, Thailand: ``Demonstrates the high standard of conservation work which can be achieved through a grassroots approach. The cooperative approach taken by the project sets a model for local conservation initiatives which is worthy of emulation, particularly in the context of administrative decentralisation occurring throughout the region."

The Honourable Mentions include:

- Broken Hill Heritage & Cultural Tourism Programme, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia: ``Establishes a conceptual framework that can be adopted by other communities in Australia and the region. The initiative of the local government in setting up associated programmes to conserve and manage the city's built heritage is not only noteworthy, but also demonstrates how municipalities can play an effective role in the conservation process."

- Centre for Khmer Studies, Siem Reap, Cambodia: ``Sets an encouraging example for the preservation of non-monumental heritage in Cambodia and makes a persuasive case for the involvement of private-sector institutions in conservation activities."

- Jaisalmer Streetscape Revitalisation Project, Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan, India: ``Represents a holistic approach to conserving the living public realm. With its basic gesture of harmoniously integrating infrastructural amenities, it has the potential to create the momentum to drive larger conservation projects, serving as a case study for other communities to learn from."

- Kow Plains Homestead, Cowangie, Victoria, Australia: ``Clearly demonstrates solid understanding of conservation guidelines set forth by the ICOMOS Burra Charter. The community's initiation and ownership of the project deserves praise for their collective efforts towards conservation."

- No. 125 Huajue Alley, Huajue Alley, Xian, China: ``Presents a noteworthy example for cooperation between an outside technical adviser and local residents, while setting a technical benchmark for the conservation of domestic architecture in China."


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  • Farman Ali — Farman Ali, is a senior journalist,and has remained a political worker as well.He lives in Islamabad, working as the Edition in Charge/news editor of Islamabad Metropolitan of Dawn , the most prestigious English language daily newspaper of… …   Wikipedia

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