The Kalash Valley of Chitral in Hindu-Kush Mountains of Pakistan!

The Kalash is a very small ethnic community of the mountain people, surrounded by the mountains of Hindu-Kush called the Kafir Kalash or Kafiristan, kafir means non-Muslim and Kafiristan means the land of non-Muslims. This small mountain community is not Muslim by religion. They have their own religion, language, cultural and dress, those are unique in the world. Their religion is little in common with Islam and it is thought that it may have roots in early Vedic religion. There is one creator God and several other Gods. The people of these valleys are called Kalashi, who are inhabited only in three valleys in the eastern Hindu-Kush Mountain Range, Birir, Bumburate and Rumbur. These three valleys lie close to the border with Afghanistan (Nuristan), surrounded by the high peaks and they are hardly 3000 altogether, still practice their ancient religion and some of them already converted into Islam due to influence of the surrounding atmosphere. Theories about as how the people of Kalash came to inhabit their lofty valleys, some say that they are the descendants of the tribes who intermarried with followers of Alexander the Great, but there is no any evidence that he passed this way. Some people discern traces of Greek civilization and physical characteristics among the Kalash. The Kalash are fair in complexion and rosy cheeked some people are blond and blue eyes, whatever their origin, are unique with their culture, religion and language in this part of the world. These people are very fond of dancing and wine. Their livestock have ritual significance, especially the goats. Women are not veiled and Kalash society as whole can be considered as an open and very generous one. These characteristics have long been exploited by neighboring communities. The houses are made of stones and wood, are poorly equipped and have an open hearth. In the summer, most of the day life takes place out. There are very specifics dresses for women, is probably more visible cultural feature for any newcomer.

KALASH FESTIVALS:

Every religious ceremony is accompanied by dancing and rhythmical chant to a beat of the drum. The women wearing their traditional black robes, ornate cowries shelled head dresses and adorned with colored necklaces, dance in a circle. Then the men join in, it may be a man and a woman or a man in the middle with a woman on each side, lovers being free to intermingle. One hand is held round the waist of the partner and the other round the shoulders. Tribal chiefs in colorful dresses narrate stories of bygone days and events.

"JOSHI /CHILIMJUST"

the spring festival, in the middle of May lasts for three days. The spring festival honors the fairies and also safeguards the goats and shepherds before they go to the pastures. Before the festival the women and girls gather from all over the valley and decorate their houses. Inside the houses local wine and milk products are shared. The women then sprinkle milk on Goddess "Jestak “the protector of their children and home. The festival begins at Rumbur where the Shaman (soothsayer) and tribal chiefs lead a procession to the “Malosh altar", high above Grum, to sacrifice goats to the Gods. Later the festival moves on to Bumboret and ends up at Birir, a few days later.

“UCHAL FESTIVAL”,

in Augusts marking the harvest of wheat and barley and bringing down of cheese from the high summer pastures. It is celebrated in Rumbur and Bumboret. Earlier in July it starts as the “Ranat” with dances held on alternate days performed by the young girls and boys in order to safeguard the maize crop.

“PHOOL FESTIVALS”,

Festival, is only held in Birir around mid of October to celebrate the grape and walnut harvest. Grape being a staple requirement in the Kalash society for making wine are grown on trees in protected sites. They are picked throughout the valley on a particular day and an occasion for joy and merry making. It is also an occasion of the shepherds returning from the high pastures.

“CHOMOS FESTIVAL”,

as winter starts around mid-December the Chomos Festival begins. The festival is observed for the divine, the living and dead relatives, for the crops and the goats to be safeguarded, while the community, the village and the valley are purified prior to the coming year. Sighting a fox is a good omen and great efforts are made in this regard. At dusk torch lit processions are led from all the nearby villages culminating at the “Charsue” which is the main customary dancing place. Most of the festivities are indoors where the local wine is handed around as the dance gathers momentum carries out till late in the night round the bonfire. While the tribal elders sit on hill tops at dawn to watch the rising sun and declare the New Year. Goat sacrifices are then made to the Godess “Jastak”, blood from the animal is sprinkled at the temple Jastak An. This is the time when “Balimine” another great God visits the Kalash valley once a year and sacrifices are made at his “Malosh Altar” too. The Kalash valleys are connected with Chitral by jeep road 30-35 Km and around 2hrs drives by jeep. The Chitral (1500M) is the main town of the Hindu-Kush Mountain Valley of the Pakistan. The town itself very interested and worth to visits its colorful bazaars and Shahi Mosque against the backdrop of the Tirchmir 7700 M, highest peak in the Hindu-Kush Range. Chitral is also gateway of many trekking routes in the Hindu-Kush Mountains and connected to the capital of the country, Islamabad and Peshawar by flight as well as by road via Swat Valley and Lowari Tunnel, there is motorway from Islamabad to Swat, also accessible from Gilgit 400 Km via Shandur Pass 3800M. The flight to Chitral is subjected to weather condition (mountain flight), if weather is bad does not operate.

ITINERARY-01:
Day-01/ 09th May: Arrival Islamabad, transfer to the hotel sightseeing/hotel
Day-02/10th May: Drive to Peshawar/hotel
Day-03/11th May: Continue to Swat Valley/hotel
Day-04/12th May: Drive to Chitral
Day-05/13th May: Continue to Kalash Bomburet, overnight at hotel
Day-06/14th May: Festival attending/hotel
Day-07/15th May: Festival/hotel
Day-08/16th May: Festival after drive to Ayun/hotel
Day-09/17th May: Fly to Islamabad or drive to Swat/hotel
Day-10/18th May: Full day visit to Taxila, or arrival to Islamabad/hotel
Day-11/19th May: Departure from Islamabad (drop to the airport)

ITINERARY-02
Day-01/11th May: Arrival Islamabad airport then continue to Peshawar/hotel
Day-02/12th May: Drive to Swat Valley, overnight at hotel in Swat
Day-04/13th May: Drive from Swat to Kalash Bumburet 7-9 hrs,
Day-05/14th May: Festival attending/hotel
Day-06/15th May: Festival/hotel
Day-07/16th May: Festival attend and evening drive to Chitral/hotel
Day-08/17th May: Drive to Mastuji 5-6 hrs drive/hotel
Day-09/18th May: Drive to Phunder via Shandur Pass 7-8 hrs drive/hotel
Day-10/19th May: Continue to Gilgit 6-7 hrs drive and visit Kargh Buddha and Bazaar
Day-11/20th May: Drive to Karimabad Hunza from Gilgit 2hrs/hotel
Day-12/21st May: Drive to Hoper 2 hrs drive, back and visit to Baltit and Altit Forts and drive to Duikar/hotel
Day-13/22nd May: Drive to Passu, and back to Karimabad
Day-14/23rd May: Drive to Besham 8-9 hrs/hotel
Day-15/24th May: Continue to Islamabad 6-7 hrs drive and e-route visit to Taxila Museum
Day-16/25th May: Departure from Islamabad (drop to the airport)

ITINERARY:
Day-01/12th August: Arrival Islamabad, transfer to the hotel sightseeing/hotel
Day-02/13th August: Drive from Islamabad to Naran via Abbottabad, Mansehra, Kaghan/hotel
Day-03/14th August: Drive to Gilgit from Naran via Babu Sar Pass/hotel
Day-04/15th August: From Gilgit continue to Karimabad-Hunza/hotel
Day-05/16th August: Drive from Karimabad to Passu and back to Karimabad/hotel
Day-06/17th August: Drive from Karimabad to Gopis/Kalti/hotel
Day-07/18th August: Drive from Gopis to Mastuj 8-9 hrs via Shandur Pass 3800M/hotel
Day-08/19th August: Drive to Chitral 5-6 hrs/hotel
Day-09/20th August: Drive from Chitral to Rumbure then to Bomburet/hotel
Day-10/21st August: Full day in Festival, follow up the festival events/hotel
Day-11/22nd August: Attending the festival, follow up the event in Kalash Valley
Day-12/23rd August: In the morning drive from Bomburet to Swat Valley/hotel
Day-13/24th August: Drive from Swat to Peshawar/hotel
Day-14/25th August: Drive from Peshawar to Islamabad, en-route visit to Taxila/hotel
Day-15/26th August: Departure from Islamabad (drop the airport)

ITINERARY:

Day-01/05th October: Arrival Islamabad, transfer to the hotel sightseeing/hotel
Day-02/06th October: Arrival Islamabad, transfer to the hotel sightseeing/hotel
Day-03/07th October: Drive to Karimabad-Hunza/hotel
Day-04/08th October: Drive to Hoper and back to Karimabad, visit of Altit Fort then to Duikar/hotel
Day-05/09th October: Drive to Passu /hotel
Day-06/10th October: Drive from Passu to Khunjerab Pass 3-4 hours and back to Karimabad/hotel
Day-07/11th October: Jeep drives from Karimabad to Gopis/hotel
Day-08/12th October: Drive to Mastuj via Phunder and Shandur Pass (3800M)/hotel
Day -09/13th October: Drive to Chitral/hotel
Day-10/14th October: Drive to Bomburet/hotel
Day-11/15th October: Drive to Brir and attend the Phool festival, follow up the event /hotel
Day-12/16th October: Drive to Swat Valley via Lowari Tunnel/hotel
Day-13/17th October: Drive to Peshawar 4-5 hours’ drive, en-route visit to Takhet-e- Bahi/hotel
Day-14/18th October: Continue to Islamabad and visit Rawalpindi/hotel
Day-15/19th October: Departure from Islamabad (drop to airport)