Better visit Hunza before it's all gone.

THE area of Karimabad in Hunza Valley is becoming the 'New Murree'. About 685km from Islamabad and two-and-a-half hours from Gilgit airport, the area is fast becoming the most popular tourist spot in the country. The valley offers exotic views and attracts both international and local tourists, just like Murree once did.

Karimabad has a road similar to the popular Mall Road of Murree, just a bit narrower. Lined on both sides with shops, the road remains choked with traffic because apparently the act of walking is frowned upon in this 2km stretch. Tourist-laden coasters and cars make their way up, down and sideways on the road to reach their destinations.

While we wait for the traffic to move, we do get to see narrow, almost hairline glimpses of the valley between the buildings on either side. The visual periphery is being filled with buildings as, of course, one would want in any mountainous area. What is life in the mountains without concrete structures, huh?

With so many people coming to the area, it is only natural that there are hotels and restaurants aplenty. Most of the branded outlets you see in the cities have their presence here, ensuring that one does not miss out on one's branded burgers. What is life in the mountains without the burgers, huh?

The region now has a double skyline; one with mountain range, and the other with bed-and-breakfast structures. The number of hotels goes up every season because the number of tourists is increasing every season, and, of course, controlling the influx of people or vehicles in such an area is an awful idea. Let us not even think of such steps.

All the new structures are not built by the locals. A number of people from other areas of the country are doing the honours by opening up hotels and guest houses here not because they see an opportunity to capitalise on, but rather to help the local community. Of course.

Also, the existing hotels are expanding vertically to accommodate the increasing number of tourists because that, as you know, is the only strategy to deal with such a situation. One step off the road, and you find yourself standing in the lobby of some hotel. One hotel chain particularly decided to expand so much that it now sits like a Godzilla, hawking a major chunk of the valley views.

Don't we all love to pay a fee to enter this hotel, give an additional Rs40,000 per night for a view which the management has claimed as its property? Of course, we do. That is...

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