Pakistan is the traditional and historic gateway to India, and succeeding waves of invaders came down from Asia to conquer the rich plains of the subcontinent. Aryan, Scythian, Greek, Turkic, Mongol, Afghan and Persian armies came this way, but the narrow mountain passes also acted as conduits for movements of peoples, ideas and wealth, with several branches of the Silk Road meeting here. This immensely rich cultural interchange has left a diverse range of cultural remains ・carefully laid out Hellenistic cities, the astonishing combination of Greek and Hindu influences that is Gandharan art, a Mogul royal capital and the cantonments of the British.
A particular highlight is a visit to the Baltit Fort in the Hunza Valley, now restored as part of a project supported by the Aga Khan Foundation. The project included the restoration and in many places the reconstruction of this 700-year old fort, as well as the building of a new sanitation system. The fort re-opened in 1996 as a cultural centre, and the project has regenerated the local economy, revitalising the traditional skills of local craftsmen, and generating economic opportunities through the production and sale of traditional local goods. Journeying along the famous Karakorum Highway, through truly awe-inspiring scenery, you shall discover not only great ancient sites, but also experience something of the lives of contemporary peoples in this remote frontier region.