All You Need To Know About The 8th World Wonder: Karakoram Highway

With its twists and turns, Karakoram Highway is one of the most beautiful roads in the world. With gushing streams, lush valleys, and majestic mountain peaks, it is sure to blow your mind.

Published On Feb 28, 2024 | Updated On Mar 07, 2024

Image

Besides the Himalayan peaks of India, our neighbouring country, Pakistan, is also blessed with breathtaking mountain scenery. One of the most scenic routes that guarantees these views that'll take your breath away is the 1300 km long Karakoram Highway, often called The Eighth Wonder of the World. The Karakoram Highway officially connects China and Pakistan. In China, people refer to it as the China National Highway 314 (G314), while in Pakistan, it officially goes by the name N-35.

Image

The route goes about north-south over the Karakoram mountain range, passing via the Khunjerab Pass near the border. In Pakistan, it goes from Abbottabad to the border, passing through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan provinces. After crossing the border, it travels across part of China's Xinjiang province to Kashgar.  
The 8th World Wonder, Karakoram Highway, has played an important role in strengthening economic connections and cultural interchange between Pakistan and China. It has not only facilitated trade, but has also opened up the region to tourists, therefore contributing to the growth and wealth of the communities along the route.

Image

The construction of the Karakoram Highway took place between 1959 and 1978. The highway stretches over 1300 Kilometres across some of the world’s highest mountain ranges, which includes Karakoram and the Himalayas. The construction of the Highway required extraordinary engineering, such as cutting tunnels through mountains and constructing bridges across deep valleys making the highway The Eighth World Wonder. Khunjerab is the highway’s highest point which is at 4,693 meters (15,397 ft) making it the highest paved international roadway. The construction was done in a unique way for oxygen delivery, vehicle operations and road maintenance at such high altitudes.

Image

Geographically and culturally, the Karakoram Highway links several significant locations.This includes places like Kashgar in China, which was an important economic centre on the historic Silk Route. The eighth wonder also connects to Islamabad in Pakistan, and if you are headed that way, do explore Faisal Mosque to soak in the contemporary architecture. 
For a flavour of Pakistan, different from the mainland, you can also explore the area of Gilgit Baltistan which is renowned for its natural beauty and indigenous way of life.

The Karakoram Highway also connects various smaller villages and settlements along its course, each with its own culture and customs.
It serves as an important commerce route between China and Pakistan, moving products and promoting economic activity.

Image

The Karakoram Highway, known as the ‘8th Wonder of the World’,  provides an extensive range of beautiful views and amazing experiences. As you ride along this renowned road, consider these as things to do on the eighth-world wonder:

  1. Experience the rich history and culture of Hunza Valley. You can discover old forts such as Altit Fort and Baltit Fort and also understand better the distinctive architecture of Karimabad Village. Another interesting thing to learn near Karakoram Highway, which is the eighth world wonder is the region's unique irrigation system.
    Where: Hunza Valley, Pakistan
  2. The lovely region surrounding the Eighth World Wonder offers hikes through lush meadows, towering glaciers, and snow-capped hills. The panoramic views from Nanga Parbat Base Camp are worth all the gruelling hikes and from this point, you can also observe the spectacular Nanga Parbat which is the second-highest peak in the Karakoram range of mountains.
    Where: Fairy Meadow, Pakistan
  3. Witness the turquoise waters of the breathtaking Attabad Lake, created by a natural dam in 2010. Take a boat trip on the glacial lake, enjoy the peaceful surroundings, and photograph the magnificent views around Eighth World Wonder.
    Where: Attabad Lake, Pakistan
  4. Experience the highest point of the Eighth World Wonder, at an impressive altitude of 4,693 meters (15,397 ft). Serving as the dividing line between Pakistan and China is the Khunjerab Pass. Experience the beauty of the surrounding mountains and glaciers while you commemorate this remarkable milestone.
    Where: Khunjerab Pass, Pakistan

Image

The valleys surrounded by the Karakoram highway are inaccessible throughout the winter because of snow and lower temperatures. The highway will be serviceable throughout the year, however, be mindful that the temperatures drop significantly during October and November.
You must have a valid visa and required permits to enter both Pakistan and China. Self-driving is possible if you have travel experience and proper licenses/permissions. 
The ideal time to witness this 8th World Wonder would be the Spring (April-May) and the Fall (September-October) which has mild weather. However, during winter, certain portions are closed because of the snow.

Depending on where you start, you should carry both Chinese Yuan (CNY) and Pakistani Rupees (PKR).


Photo: Shutterstock

POPULAR ON ZEST