By Shujaat Ali
Some years back, the local Ismaili community of Shimshal constructed a small but only one of its kind building known as Farmon Khona for safekeeping of sacred religious books, essential documents and other valuable resources when there was no concept of library and resource centre. Today, we are witnessing the construction of new buildings in every village of Gilgit-Baltistan, with state-of-the-art equipment and features. As a result, we are gradually forgetting the historical background and significance of such an extraordinary building.
This old, historic and unique structure of Farmon Khona in Shimshal valley of Gilgit-Baltistan needs the desperate attention of concerned authorities before it gets irreversibly damaged. The rough mud wall is already damaged as clearly depicted in the photo, and the wooden stair is no more seen here. Its distinctive style of foundation, the wooden door and the lock (Clith in Wakhi language) are major attractions for everyone. Necessary steps for restoration of this momentous library and resource centre need to be taken without further delay. It will not only help the local Ismaili community to preserve this treasure-house for young generations but also become a major fascination for tourists.
Date posted: Monday, August 27, 2012.
About the contributor: Shujaat Ali is a young development professional from Shimshal valley of Hunza-Nagar district in Pakistan. After passing middle school examination, Shujaat left his home town for higher studies in Gilgit and Islamabad. In 2006 he graduated in Economics and Finance from International Islamic University, Islamabad. He then joined United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO) in its Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of Education System Program in Pakistan. He has closely worked with UN agencies in earthquake affected areas. He has got good experience in educational planning, environment education, journalism, tourism and community development. He contributes on different issues in leading English newspapers and blogs in Pakistan.
Shimshal is a remote Ismaili village which lies at an altitude of 3,100 metres above sea level, and is the highest settlement in the Hunza Valley of Pakistan. It is surrounded by innumerable, fascinating and awe-inspiring peaks, glaciers, alpine meadow and trekking routes. It is the bordering village that connects Gilgit-Baltistan province of Pakistan with China. The village of about 2000 devout Ismailis was inaccessible by road until October 2003, when a new road from the Karakoram Highway at Passu was constructed with the mutual cooperation of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, the Government of Pakistan and the local community. Shimshalis use numerous seasonal mountain grasslands, located several days walk from the village, to sustain herds of yaks, goats, and sheep. It is said that the ‘sons of the land’ are matchless in terms of their mountaineering prowess, techniques and skills, and are recognized as amongst the world’s best mountain climbers.
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