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Coordinates: 35°36′N 74°39′E / 35.600°N 74.650°E / 35.600; 74.650

National Highway N–35 shield}}

National Highway N–35
Karakoram Highway
شاہراہ قراقرم
Route information
Part of Asian Highway 4
Maintained by National Highway Authority (Pakistan) and Transport Department of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (China)
Length1,300 km (800 mi)
Pakistan: 887 km (551 mi)
China: 413 km (257 mi)
Existed1966–present
HistoryCompleted in 1979, open to the public since 1986
Major junctions
North endChina Kashgar, Xinjiang, China
Kokudou 314(China).svg China National Highway 314 (Khunjerab Pass–Kashgar–Ürümqi)
ChinaPakistan Khunjerab Pass
 35National Highway N–35 shield}}

National Highway N–35
Karakoram Highway
Urdu: شاہراہ قراقرم‎, romanizedśahirāh qarāquram; known by its initials KKH, also known as N-35 or National Highway 35 (Urdu: قومی شاہراہ 35‎) or the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) is a 1,300 km (810 mi) national highway which extends from Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province of Pakistan to the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit-Baltistan, where it crosses into China and becomes China National Highway 314. The highway connects the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa plus Gilgit-Baltistan with China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The highway is a popular tourist attraction and is one of the highest paved roads in the world, passing through the Karakoram mountain range, at 36°51′00″N 75°25′40″E / 36.85000°N 75.42778°E / 36.85000; 75.42778 at maximum elevation of 4,714 m (15,466 ft) near Khunjerab pass.[1][2][3] Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World.[4][5][6] The highway is also a part of the Asian Highway AH4.

History

Route of Karakoram Highway.
Rakaposhi Peak as seen from the Karakoram Highway near Nagar, Gilgit.

The Karakoram Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway in China, was built by the governments of Pakistan and China. It was started in 1959 and was completed and opened to the public in 1979. Pakistan initially favored routing through Mintaka Pass. In 1966, China citing the fact that Mintaka would be more susceptible to air strikes recommended the steeper Khunjerab Pass instead.[7] About 810 Pakistanis and about 200 Chinese workers lost their lives,[8] mostly in landslides and falls, while building the highway. Over 140 Chinese workers who died during the construction are buried in the Chinese cemetery in Gilgit.[9] The route of the KKH traces one of the many paths of the ancient Silk Road.

On the Pakistani side, the road was constructed by FWO (Frontier Works Organisation), employing the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers. The Engineer-in-Chief's Branch of the Pakistani Army completed a project documenting the history of the highway. The book History of Karakoram Highway was written by Brigadier (Retired) Muhammad Mumtaz Khalid in two volumes. In the first volume the author discusses the land and the people, the pre-historic communication system in the Northern Areas, the need for an all-weather road link with Gilgit, and the construction of Indus Valley Road. The second volume records events leading to the conversion of the Indus Valley Road to the Karakoram Highway, the difficulties in its construction, and the role of Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers and their Chinese counterparts in its construction.[10]

The Highway

Jingle trucks on the Karakoram Highway.

The highway, connecting the Gilgit–Baltistan region to the ancient Silk Road, runs approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) from Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang region of China, to Abbottabad, of Pakistan. An extension of the highway southwest from Abbottabad, in the form of the N-35 highway, meets the Grand Trunk Road, N-5, at Hasan Abdal, Pakistan.

The highway cuts through the Mintaka Pass. In 1966, China citing the fact that Mintaka would be more susceptible to air strikes recommended the steeper Khunjerab Pass instead.[7] About 810 Pakistanis and about 200 Chinese workers lost their lives,[8] mostly in landslides and falls, while building the highway. Over 140 Chinese workers who died during the construction are buried in the Chinese cemetery in Gilgit.[9] The route of the KKH traces one of the many paths of the ancient Silk Road.

On the Pakistani side, the road was constructed by FWO (Frontier Works Organisation), employing the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers. The Engineer-in-Chief's Branch of the Pakistani Army completed a project documenting the history of the highway. The book History of Karakoram Highway was written by Brigadier (Retired) Muhammad Mumtaz Khalid in two volumes. In the first volume the author discusses the land and the people, the pre-historic communication system in the Northern Areas, the need for an all-weather road link with Gilgit, and the construction of Indus Valley Road. The second volume records events leading to the conversion of the Indus Valley Road to the Karakoram Highway, the difficulties in its construction, and the role of Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers and their Chinese counterparts in its construction.[10]

The Highway

Jingle trucks on the Karakoram Highway.

The highway, connecting the Gilgit–Baltistan region to the ancient Silk Road, runs approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) from Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang region of China, to Abbottabad, of Pakistan. An extension of the highway southwest from Abbottabad, in the form of the N-35 highway, meets the Grand Trunk Road, N-5, at Hasan Abdal, Pakistan.

The highway cuts through the collision zone between the Eurasian and Indian plates, where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan come within 250 km (160 mi) of each other. Owing largely to the extremely sensitive state of the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan, the Karakoram Highway has strategic and military importance to these nations, but particularly Pakistan and China.

On 30 June 2006, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Pakistani National Highway Authority (NHA) and China's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) to rebuild and upgrade the Karakoram Highway. According to SASAC, the width will be expanded from 10 to 30 m (33 to 98 ft), and its transport capacity will be increased three times its current capacity. In addition, t

On the Pakistani side, the road was constructed by FWO (Frontier Works Organisation), employing the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers. The Engineer-in-Chief's Branch of the Pakistani Army completed a project documenting the history of the highway. The book History of Karakoram Highway was written by Brigadier (Retired) Muhammad Mumtaz Khalid in two volumes. In the first volume the author discusses the land and the people, the pre-historic communication system in the Northern Areas, the need for an all-weather road link with Gilgit, and the construction of Indus Valley Road. The second volume records events leading to the conversion of the Indus Valley Road to the Karakoram Highway, the difficulties in its construction, and the role of Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers and their Chinese counterparts in its construction.[10]

The highway, connecting the Gilgit–Baltistan region to the ancient Silk Road, runs approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) from Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang region of China, to Abbottabad, of Pakistan. An extension of the highway southwest from Abbottabad, in the form of the N-35 highway, meets the Grand Trunk Road, N-5, at Hasan Abdal, Pakistan.

The highway cuts through the collision zone between the Eurasian and Indian plates, where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan come within 250 km (160 mi) of each other. Owing largely to the extremely sensitive state of the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan, the Karakoram Highway has strategic and military importance to these nations, but particularly Pakistan and China.

On 30 June 2006, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Pakistani National Highway Authority (NHA) and China's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) to rebuild and upgrade the Karakoram Highway. According to SASAC, the width will be expanded from 10 to 30 m (33 to 98 ft), and its transport capacity will be increased three times its current capacity. In addition, the upgraded road will be designed to pa

The highway cuts through the collision zone between the Eurasian and Indian plates, where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan come within 250 km (160 mi) of each other. Owing largely to the extremely sensitive state of the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan, the Karakoram Highway has strategic and military importance to these nations, but particularly Pakistan and China.

On 30 June 2006, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Pakistani National Highway Authority (NHA) and China's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) to rebuild and upgrade the Karakoram Highway. According to SASAC, the width will be expanded from 10 to 30 m (33 to 98 ft), and its transport capacity will be increased three times its current capacity. In addition, the upgraded road will be designed to particularly accommodate heavy-laden vehicles and extreme weather conditions.

China and Pakistan are planning[when?] to link the Karakoram Highway to the southern port of Gwadar in Balochistan through the Chinese-aided Gwadar-Dalbandin railway, which extends to Rawalpindi.

On 4 January 2010, the KKH was closed in the Hunza Valley, eliminating through traffic to China except by small boats. A massive landslide 15 km (9.3 mi) upstream from Hunza's capital of Karimabad created the potentially unstable Attabad Lake, which reached 22 km (14 mi) in length and over 100 m (330 ft) in depth by the first week of June 2010 when it finally began flowing over the landslide dam. The landslide destroyed parts of villages while killing many inhabitants. The subsequent lake displaced thousands and inundated over 20 km (12 mi) of the KKH including the 310 m (1,020 ft) long KKH bridge 4 km (2.5 mi) south of Gulmit.[11][12][13]

It is highly questionable whether the lake, which reached 27 km (17 mi) in length in 2011, will drain. Goods from and to further north were transported over the lake by small vessels, to be reloaded onto trucks at the other end.[14] In July 2012 Pakistan began constructing a revised route around the lake at a higher elevation with five new tunnels, with total length of 7.12 km, and two new bridges. The work was contracted out to the China Road & Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and was completed in September 2015.[15]

At 806 km (501 mi) in length[16], the Pakistani section of the highway starts at Abbottabad, although the N-35 of which KKH is now part, officially starts from Hasan Abdal. The highway meets the Indus River at Thakot and continues along the river until Jaglot, where the Gilgit River joins the Indus River. This is where three great mountain ranges meet: the Hindukush, the Himalaya, and the Karakoram. The western end of the Himalayas, marked by the ninth highest peak in the world, Nanga Parbat, can be seen from the highway. The highway passes through the capital of Gilgit–Baltistan, Gilgit, and continues through the valleys of Nagar and Hunza, along the Hunza River. Some of the highest mountains and famous glaciers in the Karakoram can be seen in this section. The highway meets the Pakistani-Chinese border at Khunjerab Pass.

Karakoram Highway reconstruction

As part of the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, reconstruction and upgrade works on the Pakistani portion of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) are underway. The KKH spans the 806 km (501 mi) long distance between the China-Pakistan border and the town of Hasan Abdal. At Burhan Interchange near Hasan Abdal, the existing M1 motorway will intersect the Karakoram Highway. From there, access onwards to Islamabad and Lahore continues as part of the existing M1 and M2 motorways, while Hasan Abdal will also be at intersection of the Eastern Alignment, and the Western Alignment which will lead towards the port city of Gwadar.

Karakoram Highway Realignment (China-Pakistan Friendship Tunnels)

A large section of the highway was damaged by a landslide in 2010 that created Attabad Lake. The resulting landslides cut off both the Hunza River and Karakoram Highway resulting in the formation of the reservoir. Prior to completion of the bypass, all vehicular traffic had to be loaded onto boats to traverse the new reservoir. Construction of the tunnels began in 2012 and required 36 months for completion. The 24 km (15 mi) long series of bridges and tunnels was inaugurated on 15 September 2015 at a cost of $275 million[clarification needed] and was hailed as a major accomplishment.[17][18] The route comprises five tunnels and several bridges. The longes

A large section of the highway was damaged by a landslide in 2010 that created Attabad Lake. The resulting landslides cut off both the Hunza River and Karakoram Highway resulting in the formation of the reservoir. Prior to completion of the bypass, all vehicular traffic had to be loaded onto boats to traverse the new reservoir. Construction of the tunnels began in 2012 and required 36 months for completion. The 24 km (15 mi) long series of bridges and tunnels was inaugurated on 15 September 2015 at a cost of $275 million[clarification needed] and was hailed as a major accomplishment.[17][18] The route comprises five tunnels and several bridges. The longest tunnel is 3,360 m (11,020 ft), followed by 2,736 m (8,976 ft), 435 m (1,427 ft), 410 m (1,350 ft) and 195 m (640 ft), while the Shishkat Great Bridge on Hunza River is 480 m (1,570 ft) long. The realignment restored the road link between Pakistan and China.

Chinese section

Tarim Basin. The road from Kashgar goes southwest about 80 km (50 mi) and then turns west to enter the Gez (Ghez) River canyon between Chakragil mountain on the north and Kongur mountain on the south. From the Gez canyon the population becomes Kirgiz. Having climbed up to the valley, the road turns south past Kongur, Karakul Lake, and Muztagh Ata on the east. Below Muztagh Ata, a new road goes west over the Kulma Pass to join the Pamir Highway in Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan. The main road continues over a low pass (where the population becomes Tajik) and descends to Tashkurgan. Further south, a valley and jeep track leads west toward the Wakhjir Pass to the Wakhan Corridor. Next the road turns west to a checkpost and small settlement at Pirali, and then the Khunjerab Pass, beyond which is Pakistan, the Khunjerab River and Hunza.

Major towns

KKH passing through Passu in Pakistan.