GANISH, a beautiful village in Hunza valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, is famous for its rich history, splendid wooden mosques, impressive village guest house, imposing towers that mark the landscape. It is situated on the right bank of Hunza River and is one of the oldest settlements of the valley.
There are many interpretations of the name Ganish. Iftikhar Hussain, an oral historian, says there are three meanings: one, it denotes crossroads since it is located on the junction of Hunza and Nagar; second, it means gold that people in the past used to prospect from the waters of Hunza River; third, it means a place from where a road takes you somewhere.
Ganish is believed to have been founded by Shish Kin, a Chinese visitor. After him many other people and tribes namely the Shigri from Baltistan and Hamachiting settled down in Ganish. Then a number of prominent persons whose names survive made Ganish their home. Their descendants bear their names. The descendants of one Barcha are called Barchating. He had his three sons Sukh after whom the Sukhkutz are named, Barah from whom sprang Brahkutz and Bak, after whom the Bakkutz are named. When they embraced Islam, some of the families of the Barchating, Raley Ramal and Shish Kin built mosques which carried their names. Some also built towers to keep an eye on the outsiders.
According to Mumtaz, a graduate from Quaid-i-Azam University, there were total 14 towers of which three survives, including Tamorukutz tower, Shaikutz tower, and Rupikutz tower. While the others namely Dodasen tower, Lutoting tower, are believed to have swept away the flood that inundated the Ganish village in 1958.
There are total eight mosques carrying the names of the lineages which include Budinkutz, built by Budin, Shaikutz, built by Shai, Kuyokutz, built by Kuyo I, Kuyokutz II, Yarikutz, built by Yari, Mamorokutz, built by Mamoro and Rupikutz, built by Rupi and Balkhankutz, built by Balkhan. Except for Balkhankutz, all other mosques are one-chambered. Of these, however, the Mamorokutz, Rupikutz, Harikutz, and Shaikutz are noted for intricate carvings. The Mamorokutz, Rupikutz, Harikutz and Kuyokutz mosques are located at jastaq in the Ganish Khun. The jastaq is open space used for communal gatherings. Ritual congregations, dancing and singing festivities also take place in the jastaq.
All these four mosques are located at the jastak. The Rupikutz mosque which was restored by AKCSP-P is noted for the floral and geometric designs. The designs of the lotus flower and swastika is found on the Rupikutz mosque. The swastika has been the favorite design of the artists in the Hunza val ley. One finds the most impressive swastika designs on the pillars of the Qirghiz Bhai house in Ghulkin, Gojal. The mosques at Altit and Baltit forts also bear swastika designs.
The mosques of Badun Kutz, Kuyokutz II and Mamorokutz also bear the swastika designs. The door frame of the Budinkutz mos que also carries the swastika designs. The door frame and bracket volutes of the Kuyokutz II mosque?s pillars also contain swastika design.
Both Rupikutz and Mamorokutz bear stupa-like niches. The decoration on these two mosques is remarkable as compared to other mosques.
Apart from mosques, the other historical building that dots the landscape of the Ganish Khun is the Sawab-Ha (village guest house) which is belived to have been built by Oyumkutz family for the travelers. The travelers passing through the silk route were given food and accommodation free of cost in the village guest house. It is two story building located near the Pharee (pond). The carvings on the guest house indicate the aesthetic and taste of the builder. However, it has also been restored by the AKSCP.
Written by Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro. The writer is Staff Anthropologist at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad. He can be reached at: ?email@example.com