The Sacred Rock of Hunza, also known as “Maiun-e-Chakar” in the local language, is a massive boulder located in the town of Karimabad, Hunza Valley, in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. It is believed to be a symbol of the ancient animistic religion that was practiced in the area before the arrival of Islam.
The Hunza or Haldeikish Sacred Rocks are one of the oldest Petroglyph sites along the ancient Silk Road. It is a cultural heritage site in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Rock carvings date from the 1st millennium AD.
The Haldeikish name translates as “place of many male ibex”, with carvings of ibex scattered across the rock faces, a message to all travelers that wild ibex were plentiful in the area.
The rock is located at the entrance of the Karimabad bazaar and is considered one of the most significant cultural and historical landmarks in Hunza. The boulder is around 4 meters high and 12 meters in circumference, and it is made up of granite. The Sacred Rock of Hunza is a place of great reverence for the locals and has a deep-rooted history and significance.
According to local legends, the Sacred Rock was originally used as a place of worship by the people of Hunza, who practiced the animistic religion of Shamanism. The rock was considered a symbol of their beliefs and was believed to possess spiritual powers that could bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. The locals would often gather around the rock to perform their religious rituals and offer sacrifices.
The sacred rock is divided into two parts, the upper part and the lower part. Both parts bear carvings on them which are basically inscriptions and pictures from the prehistoric era. In ancient times, there used to be many Buddhist shelter caves, which later collapsed or fell, only a few have survived.
The upper part of the rock consists of inscriptions which are carved in Sogdian, Kharosthi, Brahmi, Sarada and Proto Sarada languages. The names of the Kushan Empire emperors Kanishka and Huvishka appear in these inscriptions. King Trukha Ramadusa’s name is also mentioned in inscriptions which are carved in Brahmi script.
The lower part is engraved with the image of ibex. These ibex are depicted in various situations, including hunting. The carvings also feature Horned-human deities playing with ibex. The ibex carvings are proof that the ibex is an animal that has cultural significance for Buddhists and the region in ancient times. One of the carvings also depicts the likeness of an ancient Chinese king. Some carvings show a Tibetan-style stupa.
When Islam arrived in the region in the 15th century, the Sacred Rock was converted into a shrine, and a mosque was built nearby. The rock still holds religious significance for the local Muslims, who believe that the rock has miraculous healing powers.
Apart from its religious and cultural significance, the Sacred Rock of Hunza is also an essential archaeological site. The rock has numerous inscriptions in the Kharosthi script, which dates back to the 4th century AD. These inscriptions are believed to be the earliest examples of writing in the region and are considered an essential source of information on the history and culture of the ancient Hunza civilization.
In recent years, the Sacred Rock of Hunza has become a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world. Tourists can explore the bazaar, admire the rock’s inscriptions, and witness the locals’ religious ceremonies.
The sacred rock of Hunza is a cultural heritage of Pakistan and is currently well preserved, but still some carvings bearing inscriptions are due to aging. There were many Buddhist shelter caves, which disappeared over time and only a few have survived.
The Commissioner for Northern Areas of Pakistan and the Director of Archeology are responsible for the protection of the site, both acting under the Government of Pakistan. Due to the recent flooding in the Hunza River, the site will face extreme danger in the future.
In conclusion, the Sacred Rock of Hunza is a unique and significant landmark that represents the rich history and culture of the Hunza Valley. Its spiritual significance, archaeological value, and stunning beauty make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the region.