The Villages of Gojal – Masgar

The village of Masgar, near the Sino-Afghan border in the far north of the Gojal Valley in the upper Hunza district, is of great historical, defense and tourist importance.


The name Masgar is probably a combination of two Wakhi words, Miss (nose) and Gohar (stone). It is said that there is a stone here which resembles a nose, and this is probably why it has become a denomination.


One hundred percent of the population of Masgar village near the Pamir plateau speaks Broshki, the most unique, beautiful and fertile language of the majority population of Hunza district.


The settlers of Masgar were brought here from different parts of Central Hunza around 1844. The Broshki-speaking people are said to have been settled here by the astute Hunza rulers for defensive and strategic purposes. Initially, 21 people, belonging to the four major tribes of Hunza, settled here, and over the last one and a half hundred years, these workers have turned this charming valley into a beautiful landscape.


There are two main passes in Masgar. One is Dara Mantka, and the other is Dara Click (read / spoken like a computer click). Both the Mintaka Pass and the Kilk Pass give access to China’s semi-autonomous region of Xinjiang, and for centuries groups of merchants, raiders, shepherds, and others have flowed through these passes. Leading author Salman Rashid has described the Mintaka Pass (15,400 feet above sea level) as an “ancient alternative route” to the subcontinent. He writes that two hundred years before Christ, a European Asian-Eurasian gypsy named Sethin, who ran horses through the pass, entered, whose traces still exist.


Some Kyrgyz gypsy graves are said to have been found in Morkushi, a suburb of Masgar. In these areas, rock carvings are also found, with Buddhist symbols and animal figures. These monuments show that there has been human migration across these gates.


The importance of these gates was appreciated by the Mir of Hunza as well as the British government occupying the area. Therefore, a relatively small military fort was built at a place called Qalandarchi in the 1930s, which still exists today. It was the British who built the first post office in the history of Gojal in Masgar, so that the official mail could be easily delivered to China.


About 30 km west of Dara Mantka is Dara Klik, which is about fifteen thousand eight hundred feet above sea level.


The British are said to have captured Hunza in order to take control of important international routes, including Mantaka and Klik.


From a tourist point of view, Klik and Mantaka are very interesting, but it is not so easy to reach these gates, as one can drive through the beautiful village of Masgar to Qalandarchi fort, after which one would need to travel on foot.

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Rizwan Haider Shah

Written by Rizwan Haider Shah

Mr. Rizwan Haider Shah is Executive Director & Bureau Chief Gilgit-Baltistan at Global Affairs. He can be reached at

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