Friday, 3 June 2016

Where to go in Chitral

Kalash Valleys

The prime attractions of Chitral are the Kaslash Valleys in the South of Chitral, the home of the non-Muslim Kafir Kalash situated South-west of Chitral town between the Kunar River and Afghan Border. These valleys are Barir, Bumberet and Rumbur are on the age of monsoon belt, so the vegetation is dense the large walnut and fruit trees of grapes, apricots, mulberries and beautiful swiftly flowing streams. Lush, green fields of wheat, barley, vegetables and ever green forest on the ridges between the valleys add to the beauty of the valleys.
 There are about 6,000 Kalashi are the smallest group among the religious minorities in Pakistan. Unlike the other minorities in the country, they exclusively live in a particular geographical region. They have come from Kafiristan before 1896 Afghanistan ting a Central Asian origin. Around 1500 AD the Kalash were dominis now Nuristan.  The Kalash oral tradition tells that they are descended from Alexander the Great’s brave general Shalak Shah of Tsiam, to whom Alexander gave the Chitral Valley as reward. They speak Kalasha language which belongs to the ancient Dardric branch of the Indo European languages, suggesant throughout southern Citral; with their eight Kalasha kings. About the local people outside the valley often find remnants of buildings revealing evidence of former Kalash settlements.
  After the Kakasha period, Islam became dominant in Chitral. According to the Kalasha oral tradition Islam at first seems to have been adopted by the kings who then converted their subjects more or forcibly. The most persistent of the Kalash took refuge from conversion in the less accessible side valleys. As a result the Kalasha became marginalized; subjugated people bound to pay tributes and labor to the Rajas economically exploited and subject to frequent raids from neighbors in what is now Nuristan.
When the British established the Durand Line the Kalasha Valleys became the part of British India and so part of present Pakistan. This protected the Kalash from the forcible conversations to Islam carried out by Afghan king Abd-ru-Rehman in 1896. Groups of Red Kafir fled these conversations into Chitral. The refugees were given land in the upper parts of Kalasha valleys and still have their villages there. Ironically they all later gradually converted to Islam. In 1969 the Kingdom of Chitral became part of Pakistan. Then the Kalasha people got freedom and allowed them to practice their religion. Now they freely do their religious practices and celebrate festivals as their customs allow them. The Kalash community is at the stage of transition. The building roads linking the valleys with outside world and has brought with it development, schools, health system, money, commercial goods, new ideas, electricity and tourism as mentioned above they valleys have great attractions.
Bumberet Valley:
It is worth to visit Kalash Valleys when you are in Chitral and enjoy the unique culture of the people. The people are friendly and you can speak and take pictures of colorful dressed Kalasha women unlike any other part of Pakistan.  The valleys are easily accessible by van and jeep from Chitral. Bumbret and Rumbur are both reached via the villages of Ayun situated in the west bank of Kunar River approximately at the distance of 15 kilometers from Chitral. It is easily accessible with local transport.
The Kalash Valleys are most popular in terms of tourism and has most of the hotel especially Bumeret on of the best villages. In some ways it is also has the most picturesque, being the widest of three valleys with villages and long fertile fields of crops.
Birir Valley: it is situated to the South of Rumbur and Bumberet Valleys. It can be reached either from Ayun, or via a bridge crossing at the village of Gahiret, further south along the road to Drosh and Lawari tunnel/pass. This is the smallest valley of Kalasha Vsalleys. People are as friendly as the other two valleys and warmly welcome you to visit their village and discover their unique culture. You can visit their homes and offer you tea and local dishes. You will enjoy your visit. Very few visit here as compare to the other valleys.
There are also nice trekking routes in the Kalash Valleys. The trek between the Barir and Bumberet can be done in one day. It is a steep hot climb over a 3,000 meter ridge with little shade along the way. It is better to have a local guide for this trek as it is easy to get lost on the way. There is a trek between Bumberet and Rumbur of two days and another two days trek to Chitral from Bumberet can be done too. A guide is recommended for all the treks in Kalash valley in order to be safe of getting lost.
I hope you will enjoy reading this post and hopefully inspire to visit this wonderful part of the Earth and spend your holidays with fun and joy with local cultures and costumes.
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1 comment:

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