Another few hundred meters towards north from the central Karimabad in Hunza, lays the ancient and mesmerizing Ganish Village- humble abode of the Ganishkuz (residents of Ganish).
Predominantly Ismaili Muslims, the Ganishkuz have retained their ancient ways of living for almost a 1000 year. Stepping into the Ganish Village catapults you right into the antiquity where every step feels like you are walking on the sets of a Hollywood Medieval flick.
Entrance is a small dirt alley on Karakorum Highway which can be easily overlooked if there were no signboard for the Ganish Village.
There’s a tailor shop right at the corner of the alley which issues entrance tickets of worth 200/- Rupees for locals. Interestingly this tailor shop is owned by a lady who also dispenses community service for collecting funds and taking care of the main entrance to the village.
This main entrance is accessed through a small door which leads into a courtyard heavily shaded by hundreds of years old walnut tree with its exposed roots creeping through the courtyard.
Another small door leads into the village made out of stone and wood masonry of some ancient construction style somewhat similar to the old village adjacent to the Altit Fort, though looks a tad bit older.
A maze of alleys between the houses leads to the center of the village which is less of a center and more of a "multiple-Mosque Square" with no less than four ancient mosques pitched right in front of each other.
The mosques are no bigger than a small store room which can accommodate no more than five people at one time.
These four mosques are named after the four major tribes of Ganish namely Yarikutz, Rupikutz, Kuyokutz, Mamororkutz, which embarrassed Islam in early 16th Century.
The historic watch tower of Ganish is also one of the oldest which was used by the warriors of Ganish to protect their assets from the neighboring Nagar.
Ganish is a closely knit settlement where the whole village is one big extended family. Entrance to the houses is through small doors built under relative shades to avoid heavy winter snow to creep inside.
Cattle and livestock are housed close to the homes in small yurt like structures to keep them warm in extreme winters.
Spring and fall are two of the most serene times to visit this wondrous place jolting out of antiquity. The Cherry Blossom in spring and multi-colored fall adds jaw-dropping serenity to the settlement.
Ganish Village has twice been awarded the coveted UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Cultural Award for the outstanding restoration and preservation work carried out by the Agha Khan Cultural Services Program (AKCSP).