Karakoram / Karakorum

Karakoram has been one of my must visit places since before I’d ever heard of  bucket lists. Heard Karakorum mentioned several times in today’s BBC R4 In Our Time as Marco Polo interacted with the Grand Khan of the Mongol Empire. In fact the Mongol Empire is itself a fascinating piece of history.

Political instabilities notwithstanding, I first saw Karakoram as a road trip holiday through Gilgit after visiting Baluchistan, Pakistan in the aftermath of the Russian / Afghan war and becoming fascinated with the peoples of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact if you take northern Iraq as the early cradle of human civilisation, then all points north of Karakoram into the central Asian republics – Tajik, Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Turkmen – are its crossroads.

So what does the Karakoram Highway, in Northern Pakistan, named after the Karakoram Mountains have to do with Karakorum / Qara Qorum still further north between Urumqi and Ulan Baatar in modern Mongolia ? Maybe nothing apart from a common root in naming the “black place”.

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