Mintaka Pass

Coordinates: 37°00′14″N 74°51′04″E / 37.0039°N 74.8511°E / 37.0039; 74.8511
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mintaka Pass
A Pakistani border marker near Mintaka Pass
Elevation4,709 metres (15,449 ft)
LocationChina–Pakistan border
RangeKarakorum Mountains
Coordinates37°00′14″N 74°51′04″E / 37.0039°N 74.8511°E / 37.0039; 74.8511
Mintaka Pass is located in Southern Xinjiang
Mintaka Pass
Mintaka Pass
Location of the Mintaka Pass within the greater Karakoram region
Mintaka Pass is located in Gilgit Baltistan
Mintaka Pass
Mintaka Pass
Mintaka Pass (Gilgit Baltistan)
Mintaka Pass
Traditional Chinese明鐵蓋達坂
Simplified Chinese明铁盖达坂

The Mintaka Pass or Mingteke Pass[1] or Mintika Pass[2](Chinese: 明铁盖达坂[3]) is a mountain pass in the Karakorum Mountains, between Pakistan and Xinjiang in China. In ancient times, the Mintaka Pass and the nearby Kilik Pass, 30 km (19 mi) to the west, were the two main access points into Gojal (the upper Hunza Valley) from the north. The Hunza Valley is a mountainous valley near Gilgit in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. In addition, the two passes were also the routes used to reach Chalachigu Valley and Taghdumbash Pamir from the south. The name of the pass – Mintaka means "a thousand ibex" in Kyrgyz.[4][5]


During ancient times, Mintaka Pass and Kilik Pass were the shortest and quickest ways into Northern India from the Tarim Basin and were usually open all year, but extremely dangerous and only suited for travellers on foot. From Tashkurgan one travelled just over 70 km (43 mi) south to the junction of the Minteke River, modern day Chalachigu River. Heading some 80 km (50 mi) west up this valley one reached the Mintaka Pass, (and 30 km further, the alternative Kilik Pass), which both led into upper Hunza, from where one could travel over the infamous rafiqs or "hanging passages" to Gilgit and, from there, on to either Kashmir, or to the Gandharan plains.[6]

Laden animals could be taken over the Mintaka and Kilik passes into upper Hunza (both open all year), but then loads would have to be carried by coolie (porters) to Gilgit (an expensive and dangerous operation). From there, cargoes could be reloaded onto pack animals again and taken either east to Kashmir and then on to Taxila (a long route), or west to Chitral which provided relatively easy access to either Jalalabad, or Peshawar via Swat.

The "Sacred Rock of Hunza" has numerous petroglyphs depicting mounted horseman and ibex along with Kharoshthi inscriptions that mention Saka and Pahlava rulers. Historians assess that Maues must have used the Karakorum route via Mintaka or Kilik passes to capture Taxila in the first century BCE.[7]

Mintaka Pass was the main route used until the recent advance of glaciers. After the glaciation of Mintaka Pass, Kilik Pass has been favoured by caravans coming from China and Afghanistan as it is wider, free of glaciers and has enough pasture for caravan animals.[8]

Current status[edit]

In 1966, when the Karakoram Highway connecting Pakistan and China was being constructed, Pakistan initially favored routing through Mintaka Pass. However, China, citing the fact that Mintaka was more susceptible to air strikes, recommended the steeper and higher Khunjerab Pass instead.[5] Eventually, the new Karakoram Highway was built through the Khunjerab Pass.

As of late 2010s, on the Pakistani side, there are some trekking companies that offer tours to Mintaka Pass.[2] On the Chinese side, the entire valley around Mintaka Pass is closed to visitors; however, local residents and herders from the area are permitted to access.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dueck, Harold J. (2008-10-01). Uncommon Providence. Xulon Press. p. 224. ISBN 9781606478738. Retrieved 2017-02-07. We were approaching the Mingteke Pass at 15,000 feet above sea level.
  2. ^ a b Nisar Ali Rozi. "Treks / Kilick". Hunza Adventure Tours. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  3. ^ 中华人民共和国政府和巴基斯坦政府关于中国新疆和由巴基斯坦实际控制其防务的各个地区相接壤的边界的协定  [China-Pakistan Border Agreement] (in Chinese). 1963-03-02 – via Wikisource. 明铁盖达坂(山口)
  4. ^ Kumara Padmanabha Sivasankara Menon (1947). Delhi-Chungking: A Travel Diary. Indian Branch, Oxford University Press. p. 48. 'the Pass of the thousand Ibex'–for that is what Mintaka means in the local language
  5. ^ a b 刘欣 (2013-05-03). "重寻玄奘之路" [Rediscover the path taken by Xuanzang] (in Chinese). 东方早报 (Dongfang Daily). Retrieved 2017-02-02. "明铁盖"在柯尔克孜语中是"一千只公黄羊"的意思...1966年,时任新疆军区副司令员的张希钦在主持修筑中巴公路时,为避敌国空袭,放弃了巴方主张的走宽阔的明铁盖达坂的方案,而取道地势高峻的红其拉甫山口。
  6. ^ Hill, John E. (September 2003). "Section 20 The Kingdom of Suoche 莎車 (Yarkand).". The Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu. University of Washington. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  7. ^ Puri, B. N. (1996), "The Sakas and Indo-Parthians" (PDF), in János Harmatta (ed.), History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to AD> 250, UNESCO Publishing, pp. 185–186, ISBN 978-92-3-102846-5
  8. ^ "Historical Kilik and Mintika Pass". 2006. Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. Retrieved 2017-02-02.