The Karakoram Highway (known by its initials KKH, also known as N-35 or National Highway 35 or the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway) is a 1,300 km (810 mi) national highway which extends from Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province of Pakistan to the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit-Baltistan, where it crosses into China and becomes China National Highway 314.
The highway connects the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa plus Gilgit-Baltistan with China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The highway is a popular tourist attraction and is one of the highest paved roads in the world, passing through the Karakoram mountain range, at 36°51′00″N 75°25′40″E at maximum elevation of 4,714 m (15,466 ft) near Khunjerab Pass. Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions under which it was constructed, it is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The highway is also a part of the Asian Highway AH4.
The highway, connecting the
Gilgit–Baltistan region to the ancient Silk Road, runs approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) from Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang region of China, to Abbottabad, of Pakistan. An extension of the highway southwest from Abbottabad, in the form of the N-35 highway, meets the Grand Trunk Road, N-5, at Hasan Abdal, Pakistan.
The highway cuts through the collision zone between the
Eurasian and Indian plates, where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan come within 250 km (160 mi) of each other. Owing largely to the extremely sensitive state of the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan, the Karakoram Highway has strategic and military importance to these nations, but particularly Pakistan and China.
The KKH is best travelled in the spring or early autumn. Heavy snow during harsh winters can shut the highway down for extended periods. Heavy
monsoon rains around July and August cause occasional landslides that can block the road for hours or more. The border crossing between China and Pakistan at Khunjerab Pass is open only between 1 May and 31 December. [ source]