When gazing at the serene beauty of Attabad Lake in Northern Pakistan you wouldn’t guess that the formation of this lovely sight is the result of a disaster. On January 4th, 2010 a massive landslide occurred in the remote Hunza Valley. It ended up creating a dam in the Hunza River, and completely submerging four villages — Ainabad, Shishkat, Gulmit, and Gulkin. The event caused the death of 20 people and displaced as many as 6,000. Moreover, about 20 km of the Karakoram Highway, which was the only route to the remote region.
Five months after the disaster, Attabad Lake grew to about 21 km in length. Despite the tragic origins of its formation, the spectacular beauty of Attabad Lake cannot be denied. The turquoise water snakes around the valley like a serpent, glistening in the sun. The valleys of Gilgit and Hunza have already been dotted with quite a few magnificent mountain lakes, and naturally, this large new body of water became a big draw for tourists.
A small number of hotels and guesthouses have sprung up around the lake, offering recreational activities such as boat rides, fishing, and even jet skiing. However, for a while, there was a contradiction between the joy and picturesque view the lake offered, and the hardships it created for those affected by the landslide.
With the highway flooded, vehicles, passengers, and cargo had to be ferried across the water in wooden boats. It was a major hassle for the local residents. Fortunately, five years after the calamity, the Karakoram Highway was diverted along the shores of the lake, which eased the lives of locals immensely.
Despite its tragic origins, the history of Attabad lake is not all bad. Currently, 10 years after the formation of the lake, the Lake provides a livelihood for many in the region.