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Historical Kilik and Mintika Pass

 
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Misgar is a very strategic valley within Gojal, which is situated at a distance of 12 km from Sost, the border check post of Pakistan with China. The valley encompasses two historically significant passes leading into China – the Kilik and the Mintaka Passes. While both passes are relatively low (Kilik 4827m, Mintaka 4709m) and mostly snow free, each pass has its own claim to fame in history.

 

The Mintaka pass was the main one used in ancient times until the fairly recent advance of glacier ice forced people to use the so-called "New Mustagh Pass" (5,800 m or 19,029 ft), about 16 km further west; but this is also heavily glaciated and very difficult. It offered the shortest route into China, which was of interest to the Mir of Hunza who held trade relations with the Chinese. He also used the Mintaka Pass for raids into Chinese territory, which was the basis of Hunza’s claim over parts of the upper Pirali district of Taghdumbash Pamir.

 

After British occupation in 1891, again, easy access to China, now to strategically important Kashgar, was the key advantage of the Mintaka Pass. In more recent times, actually right up to the construction of the Karakoram Highway over the Khunjerab Pass in the 1970s, Misgar was a busy hub for trade between China and Pakistan. The main route taken, was once again, the Mintaka Pass. The broad trail to the pass, demarcated with large rocks and boulders, is today a visible reminder of these busy times. Caravans and traders coming from China and Afghanistan via the ancient Silk Route favored the broader Kilik Pass. Glacier free and grass covered.  It provided enough pasture land for the horses, yaks and camels of arriving caravans and domestic animals alike. Still today, the area around Haaq and Sad Buldi, near Kilik provides some of the best grazing for the Misgari’s livestock.

 

Early tombs of Kyrgyz nomads who periodically occupied the region and a series of ancient rock carvings, dating from Buddhist times, let assume that the passes had been known to travelers, pilgrims and traders for a very long time.

Summit of Mintaka Pass. 1918.

 

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