Chitral Valley at an elevation of 1128 meters has Afghanistan on its North, South and West.It is surrounded by the Wakhan, Badkhshan, Asmar and Nooristan area of Afghanistan in the north, west and south-west. On its southern boundary lies Dir. In the east lies Gilgit agency and Swāt Kohistan. The narrow strip of Afghan territory, Wakhan, separates it from Tajikistan. The 7,788 meters (25,550 ft) Trichmir, the highest peak of the Hindukush mountain, dominates this 322km long exotic valley. No mountain in the region is less than 4000 feet and more than 40 peaks have an altitude of 20,000 ft. Chitral is divided into small valleys by the mighty Hindukush range.
Chitral is undoubtedly the most romantic, captivating and enchanting place in the majestic Hindukush range. It is a mountainous area in the extreme north of Pakistan. The landscape of Chitral is extremely mysterious, with its steep harsh mountains, lush green valleys, beautiful meadows and big glaciers, which have made it one of the most difficult and inaccessible area of the world.The weather in Chitral is extremely harsh and cold in winter while the summer is very pleasant. There are certain famous places and valleys in Chitral like Garam Chashma valley, Booni, Golen valley, Madaklasht valley, Arandu, Birir, Rumbur and Bumburat.
Historically Chitral was known as an independent princely state. After the independence, Chitral was the first state to declare the accession to Pakistan. In 1970, it was declared as district of Pakistan and attached to the Malakand Division.
One of the major attractions of Chitral are the Kalash valleys-the home of the Kafir-Kalash or “Wearers of the Black Robe”, a primitive pagan tribe. Their ancestry is enveloped in mystery and is the subject of controversy. A legend says that five soldiers of the legions of Alexander of Macedon settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kafir-Kalash.
The 3,000 strong Kafir-Kalash live in the valley of Birir, Bumburet and Rambur in the South. Bamburet, the largest and the most picturesque valley of the Kafir-Kalash, is 40km from Chitral and is connected by a jeep able road. Birir, 34km away is accessible by a jeep able road. Rumbur is 32km from Chitral. Their picturesque headgear is made of woolen black material decked out with cowrie shells, buttons and crowned with a large colored feather. In parts of Greece even today some women sport a similar head covering. The Kalash people love music and dancing particularly on occasions of their religious festivals like Joshi Chilimjusht (14th & 15th May – spring), Phool (20th – 25th September) and Chowas (18th to 21st December)
Situated on the main crossroad to Central Asia, Chitral has a long and fascinating history. In fact, it is this strategic location that compelled invaders to capture it before any other area in the region. The recorded history of Chitral begins with the Tibetans invading Yasin Valley in early 8th century AD, followed by the Chinese 7M) AD and the Buddhists in 900 AD. Later, the Kalash also ruled Chitral for decades. In the 14th centry Chitral became a unified independent under the rde of Shah Nasir Rais. In 1570, the Rais dynasty was replaced by the Katoor dynasty. The famous mehtar of Chitral Aman-ul-Mulk ruled from 1857 to 1892 In 1895, the siege of Chitral Fort took place and lasted a month, after which Chitral an independent state under British rule. Finally, in 1969 it was merged into Pakistan.Today, Chitral hosts ancient Chitrali Tribes as well as nomads who ‘Vere invited by the mehtars to settle in the state. Chitral is also home to the ancient pagan tribe of the Kalash who are now confined to the three valleys of Bamburat, Rambur and Birir. The original state of Chitral covered a greater area, with its borders reaching as far as Badakhshan and Bashqal in the north-west and Kunar Valley in the south (these areas are now part of.In addition, the state extended to Sherqilla on its north- eastern front and which lies in Gilgit today.
The culture of Chitral bears traces of Greek, Iranian,Tatar and Turkish influences due to its unique location and historical links with Central Asia and Europe.The Chitrali people call the land of Chitral “Kho” and their language is Khowar. Persian is spoken only Madaglasht Valley. Pushto and Urdu have also made their into Chitral. Other languages spoken in Chitral include Kalash, Gujari, Nuristani, Dameli, Wakhi, Kirghiz, Yidgha, Gawar-Bati and Phalura. The tradition of hospitality can be observed throughout northern Pakistan but in few places it is offered as generously as in Chitral. Chitralis also have a strong musical tradition. The Chitrali sitar, a string instrument, can often be heard at many places and family gathering. Polo is the most popular sport in Chitral which has attained dary status. Matches are festive occasions, inevitably many tourists. The world famous Shandur Polo Tournament is held between Gilgit and Chitral every year from 7th to 9th of July at Shandur Pass near Laspur Valley.
PLACES TO VISIT IN CHITRAL
This lofty mountain peak is the highest of Hidukush range. Tirich Mir can be viewed from a higher place of Chitral Town (Like roof top of the hotel where you stay) in a clear weather. It can also be viewed from the palace of Chitral’s King. This mountain is also highest in the world apart from Himalaya and Karakoram ranges.
This is another beautiful building of Chitral. One can easily view Tirich Mir from here in a clear weather.
Barmoghlasht is a beautiful and charming resort. It is situated 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) from Chitral. It is definitely a place worth visiting.
Koghazi and Goleen:
Fourteen kilometers from the town of Chitral; Koghazi and adjacent Goleen are literally a piece of paradise on the earth. This is a valley of flowers, fruits, lush green meadows, canals, waterfalls, springs, and beautiful landscapes.
Chitral Museum with antiques, weapons and other stuff from the old times of monarchies provides great knowledge about history and culture of Chitral and Kalash people.
SHAHI QILA(SHAHI FORT)
Shahi Masjid of Chitral was built in 1924 A.D. It was built by Shujaul Mulk, the Mehtar of Chitral (1895 – 1936). The mosque is famous for its strong and cultural architectural style.
Polo is a famous and perhaps most favorite game of Chitral. There are many polo grounds in Chitral; the famous one is in Chitral Town. A visit to polo ground will provide you with information about interesting game of polo, and if you are lucky then there might be match going on that you can enjoy.
The lush green marvelously beautiful and the most favorite among tourists for its natural beauty; the Ayun Valley is situated between Chitral Town and Kalash. It is sited at the bank of River Chitral. People of Ayun Valley are welcoming and cooperating like the people in rest of Chitral.
An important practice in Kalash mythology is the close observation of the Kalash astronomers in the beginning of New Year in December. The Kalash believe that a new sun is born on Dec 21 and the time and style of new sun affects the flora and fauna of the land.The traditional female dress includes a black robe and an embroidered long cap decorated with cowrie shells, ornaments and beads. This style of dress is still popular among local women despite the availability of a variety of modern clothes. The Kalash seclude women during monthly periods and pregnancies by confining them to a place called Bashali. Each Kalash village has a Bashali outside the settlement. The women are allowed to work in the fields but are not allowed to go home or inside the village. Kalash belief is based on the strict separation of the pure (Onjeshta) and impure (Pragata) realms. Women, according to it, are considered untouchable and impure during their time in the Bashali. Kalash houses and monuments show that the community has a rich background of skills in various arts and crafts, especially woodwork and woollen products. Effigies and Privileges of human and animal figures in Kalash monuments are a testimony to their skill. The Kalash have unique funeral rituals. According to their beliefs, the departed soul is eager to leave the body and meet other souls after a long separation. They sing special songs and perform a funeral dance.
At the distance of almost 2 hours, is located the ancient valley of Injigan, nowadays Garam Chashma, and could be approached by a jeep, car etc. but better to be inside an open jeep to enjoy the scenic beauty enroute to the area while visiting the challenging and breath taking rocky spires of Shoghore (A village), and if one has the guts then some rock climbing could be done in the area, as it has become one of the favorite spot for rock climbing after the training camps of Adventure Foundation Pakistan for a couple of years.Garam Chashma, famous for its hot springs and the water is perceived for centuries, as a natural medication to cure the skin disorders and maladies, therefore the valley is visited by local tourists as well as foreign during the season. Overnight stay at the valley could be one of the most amazing experiences while enjoying the serenity and peacefulness of the area, especially the beauty of the mountains and landscape may enchanter you. Don’t forget to obtain a permit from the fisheries department of Chitral before leaving for the valley, if you are interested in doing some angling in the Garam Chashma river and want to taste the trout.There are hotels, restaurants where some Afghani rice is offered with some vegetables but when I make an excursion to the area I prefer to stay at hotel Injigan, with a nice hot swimming pool, and the prices are also plausible