Shimshal is a village located in Gojal Tehsil of Hunza District, in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan formerly known as Northern Areas of Pakistan. It lies at an altitude of 3,100 m above sea level and is the highest settlement in Hunza Valley of Pakistan. It is the bordering village that connects Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan with China. The total area of Shimshal is approximately 3,800 km2 and there are around two thousand inhabitants with a total of two hundred and forty households. Shimshal is made up of four major hamlets; Farmanabad, Aminabad, center Shimshal and Khizarabad. Farmanabad is a new settlement that comes first on reaching Shimshal. Aminabad is announced by vast fields of stones hemmed in by dry stone walls, and fortress-like houses of stone and mud. As you approach Shimshal look for a glimpse of Odver Sar (6,303m) also known as Shimshal Whitehorn. Shimshal has hydroelectricity from Odver stream for five months from June to October of the year (when the water isn’t frozen). Non availability of electricity for seven months is a major problem of the local community because during this period they have had to rely on kerosene oil, firewood, solar plates and Compressed Natural Gas in cylinders as an alternatives. A small hydro electricity power station of 0.200MW is under construction at Kuk area of Shimshal that is scheduled to be complete in 2017. How the residents of Shimshal are setting a shining example for Pakistan. Click here for Urdu
The village was inaccessible by motor road until October 2003, when a new road from the Karakoram Highway at Passu was constructed. The construction of non-metallic Jeep-able road started in 1985 and completed in 2003. Eighteen years (1985-2003) of handwork finally become successful because of hard work, dedication and self-help. It become possible to connect Shimshal with rest of the world by mutual cooperation of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Government of Pakistan and the local community. It now takes maximum three hours to reach Shimshal by jeep from Passu. Self-help or Nomus ( in local Wakhi language) is the major factor for infrastructure development in Shimshal. Brock University Canada has recently launched a new project A Critical Ethnography of the Shimshal Road.
Shimshalis use numerous seasonal mountain grasslands, located several days walk from the village, to sustain herds of yaks, goats, and sheep. The area was founded by Mamo Singh and his wife named Khudija.They have the only son Sher. According to Shimshal’s history and tradition, their first child won the local polo game from Kargiz (Chinese) riding yak while the Chinese rode horses.The Shimshal River comes from this area and then transforms the shape of Hunza River, which mixes with the Indus River below the capital city Gilgit.
The people of Shimshal are Wakhi and they speak the Wakhi language. They belong to the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam.
The entire community is the follower of Aga Khan as their 49th spiritual leader who is the direct descendant of Muhammad. The Ismaili Community
Two books by Pam Henson about Shimshal, “Shimshal” and “Women of Shimshal” have been published by the Shimshal Trust. Henson is a teacher from New Zealand and wrote these books based on her experiences teaching and living in Shimshal. Details about her books are available on Shimshal Trust website. شمشال بے مثال written by مستنصر حسسیں تارڑ Mustenssir Hussain Tarrer is one of the best books on Shimshal in Urdu. For knowing more about his book visit Sang-e-meel Publications website
Shimshal valley has its largest adventure area in Hunza and is a major attraction for tourists. Its mountains like Distaghil Sar (7,885 m), Shimshal White Horn (6,303 m) Minglik Sar (6,150 m), Lupghar Sar (7,200 m), Yazghail Sar (6,000 m), Kunjut Sar and others are well known among mountaineers. Gigantic glaciers include Malangudhi, Yazghail, Khurdopin (5,800 m), Braldu, Odver, Ver Zharav, and main passes are Chafchingoal, Khurdopin, Mai Dur, Braldu, Boi Sam and others. Shimshalis are to Pakistan as Sherpas are to Nepal. More than twenty well known mountaineers from this valley have made Pakistan proud in the field of tourism. Some people call it ” The Valley of Mountaineers”. Some of them are Rajab Shah, Mehrban Shah, Shambi Khan,Aziz Ullah, Qudrat Ali, Sarwar Ali, Shaheen Baig, Ali Mussa, Amr Uddin Shah, Amin Ullah Baig, Sajjad Karim, Aziz Baig, Qurban Muhammad, Tafat Shah, Farhad Khan, Wahab Ali Shah, Fazl Ali, Hasil Shah,Yousaf Khan, Muhammad Ullah, Ezat Ullah, Muhammad Bari, Shafa Ali, Muhammad Abdul,Saeed Ahmed,Jalal Uddin,mehrban karim and others. Rajab Shah has the distinction of scaling all five peaks more than eight thousand meters located in Pakistan. Rajab Shah and Mehrban Shah have received Presidential Award for Pride of Performance in recognition of their extra ordinary achievement in the field of tourism and mountaineering.