SHIGAR: A man belonging to a royal family that once ruled what is now a scenic district of Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region said in a recent interview with Arab News that he decided to turn a portion of his residence into a museum to preserve his area’s culture by collecting its historic artefacts.
A medical doctor by profession, Muhammad Hassan Khan Amacha continues to live in Shigar which used to be governed by his family in the past. The district is internationally known to backpackers and high-altitude climbers since it is a major tourist destination and the main gateway to the world’s second tallest K2 mountain.
“There is no connection between my profession and the museum since I am a doctor,” said the 78-year-old owner of the facility. “However, I belong to the royal family and over 50 items and a few books displayed here come from my own house.”
Asked about his motivation to undertake the project, Amacha said that he wanted to keep the history of his forefathers alive.
“I am also writing a book on Shigar,” he continued. “Its content is almost ready and tells the story of this place and its rulers.”
He said that his decision to build the museum elicited an enthusiastic response from the residents of the area.
“Many people decided to present rare and valuable items belonging to their forefathers to me,” Amacha added. “Some also sold interesting artefacts in their possession. Now there are over 200 items in the museum.”
Among the museum assets is a 10-foot-long antique firearm which is thought to be over 400 years old.
“There are 18 rifles in the museum,” he said. “The length of one of them is 10 feet and I have not seen such a weapon in any other part of the country.”
Amacha said the rifle had been used in a war fought in 1634 when the Mughal army, under Shah Jahan’s rule, tried to invade Baltistan.
He maintained it was specifically designed for the war which had to be fought in the mountainous region.
Other museum items include local kettles, stone pots and hookahs which were preferred by smokers in olden days.
“The long rifles, pitchers, samovars and stone pots are my favorite,” he said while curating the facility with pride. “One of the pitchers was found a few years ago when a resident of Shigar was digging the land to build a house. It is also the oldest thing here.”