Remote and isolated Zoodkhun, the high mountain village of Gojal in Gilgit Baltistan, is a remarkable place to observe and to photography night skies.
The gate to another endless world
In the Upper Hunza, on the borders of Central Asia, at the end of the narrow Chapursan Valley, Zood Khun is surrounded by the high ranges of Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir. There, by the end of twilight, the observer does not feel himself in a wide space encircled by the lower edges of a celestial vault. He gets nearly the sensation of being in an almost closed environment. However, he soon understands his first impression was wrong. While, looking up, it seems to him, in the contrary, that the real world is not on the planet where he stands. This one would be only a tiny cell. For the night is neither black nor blue. It is not “one.” It is not a lid. It does not exist. It’s a different day. The day of a gigantic and brilliant universe.
A vertiginous astonishment
The fading of the last sun rays awakens, in an unknown vertigo, an overcrowded space, a multiple and inconceivable luminosity. Darkness is like replaced by sand where each grain is glittering. The viewer, then, tells himself the anthropic light pollution deprives him, everywhere else, of such a vision. Even, in the Atlantic Ocean or in the Mediterranean Sea, even far off the shores, it is impossible to access this revelation because of the evaporation.
A glittering infinite thanks to a crystal clear air
In Zoodkhun, the pure atmosphere is frequently too dry to be veiled with an imperceptible mist, that an arid soil would, nevertheless, be hardly able to provide. At an altitude close to 3,500m, the rarefied air does not prevent the radiations of the stars as it happens in lower lands.
The village is so far away from any urban center and from the Karakoram Highway (KKH) that no artificial light might pollute the sky. During nights with no winds, no dust tarnishes the crystal clear firmament. Thus, the eye, if it avoids being distracted by the regular falling stars, distinguishes an almost contiguous multitude of colored glitters.
Behind these ones, other gleams extend towards an obvious infinite. Although its measure defies all imagination.
- This article is the translation of the French one published by Bernard Grua, from France, on his travel blog: “Chapursan, quand la nuit de Zoodkhun dévoile l’univers”.
- All pictures are © Bernard Grua and cannot be used without his written approval.
Bernard Grua, Nantes, France, January 8, 2020