Hunza (princely state)

Hunza (princely state)

Hunza (Urdu: ہنزہ) was a former princely state in the northernmost part of the Northern Areas of Pakistan, which existed until 1974. The state bordered the Gilgit Agency to the south, the former princely state of Nagar to the east, China to the north and Afghanistan to the northwest. The state capital was the town of Baltit (also known as Karimabad). The area of Hunza now forms the Aliabad tehsil of Gilgit District.


Hunza was an independent principality for 900 years. The British gained control of Hunza and the neighbouring valley of Nagar between 1889 and 1892. The Tham (Chief/Mir) of Hunza escaped to China.

The British retained Hunza's status as a 'principality' until 1947. According to Habib R. Sulemani, the people of Hunza were ruled by a local Mir for more than 900 years, which came to an end in 1974.

Although never ruled directly by neighbouring Kashmir, Hunza was a vassal of Kashmir from the time of Maharaja Ranbir Singh of Jammu and Kashmir. The Mirs of Hunza sent an annual tribute to the Kashmir Durbar until 1947, and along with the ruler of Nagar, was considered to be among the most loyal vassals of the Maharaja of Kashmir.

Accession to Pakistan

On 3rd November 1947, the ruler, Mohammad Jamal Khan sent a telegram to Mohammad Ali Jinnah acceding his state to Pakistan. It stated:

I declare with pleasure on behalf of myself and my State accession to Pakistan


The state was governed by hereditary rulers who took the title Mir (ruler) and were assisted by a council of Wazirs or Ministers. Details for early rulers are uncertain with the first definite dates available from 1750 CE onwards.

Reign Mirs of Hunza
Uncertain dates Salim Khan II
Uncertain dates Shah Sultan Khan
1710 - uncertain date Shahbaz Khan
Uncertain dates Shahbeg Khan
~1750 - 1790 Shah Kisro Khan
1790 Mirza Khan
1790 - 1825 Salim Khan III
1825 - 1863 Ghazanfur Khan
1863 - 1886 Mohammad Ghazan Khan I
1886 - Dec 1891 Safdar Ali Khan
15 September 1892 - 22 July 1938 Mohammad Nazim Khan K.C.I.E
22 July 1938 - 1945 Mohammad Ghazan Khan II
? 1945 - 25 September 1974 Mohammad Jamal Khan
25 September 1974 - State of Hunza Dissolved BY Z.A.Bhutto Prime Minister of Pakistan


The Hunza valley is situated at an elevation of 2,438 metres (7,999 feet). The former capital Baltit has an elevation of 2477 metres (8129 feet)

For many centuries, Hunza has provided the quickest access to Swat and Gandhara for a person travelling on foot. The route was impassable to baggage animals; only human porters could get through, and then only with permission from the locals.

Hunza was easily defended as the paths were often less than half a metre (about 18") wide. The high mountain paths often crossed bare cliff faces on logs wedged into cracks in the cliff, with stones balanced on top. They were also constantly exposed to regular damage from weather and falling rocks. These were the much feared "hanging passageways" of the early Chinese histories that terrified all, including several famous Chinese Buddhist monks.

The last independent ruler was Mir Safdar Khan, who ruled from 1886 to December 1891 - until the British conquest in December 1891. His younger brother Mir Mohammad Nazim Khan was installed by the British and Maharaja (Raja) of Kashmir in September 1892.


Most of the people of Hunza are Ismaili Muslims. The local languages are Brushuski, Wakhi and Shina although Urdu and English are also widely understood.

See also


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