Kalash is a small valley located in Chitral district in the north of Pakistan. Many people have heard of the beauty of the Kalash Valley as it is often mentioned in many children’s books, T.V shows, movies, blogs, etc. but many people have had the chance to actually visit the place. The actual valley is much more beautiful and dazzling then what can be described with mere words. Just like a lot of other people I had heard about the Kalash Valley but never got a chance to visit the place. Due to this fact I was very thrilled when I finally got the chance to visit the place. I was going on a 5 day trip to Kalash Valley, Chitral with some of my friends and a bunch of photographers and journalists from various major cities of Pakistan including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Some trip organizers were also included.
First those of us from Karachi traveled to Islamabad. We reached Islamabad in the evening and traveled around the city for a while. We spent the night at a local hotel. In the morning we left to catch an early flight to Chitral from Islamabad airport where we met our future companions from other cities who shared the same destination as us. We boarded the plane and started to think about our journey ahead. The flight from Islamabad to Chitral was a short one. It only took us about an hour to get there. We landed at the relatively small Chitral airport excited with a sense of adventure. We waited at the comfortable and cozy lounge area while our jeeps arrived. There were four jeeps that would take us all the way to Kalash Valley. The drive from the Chitral airport to Kalash valley was a rough and bumpy one but we did not feel tired. Instead we were blown away by the magnificent beauty around us and the amazing views that captivated our eyes. It was a fun journey throughout. It took us about 2.5 hours to get there and we reached the Kalash valley in the afternoon.
When we arrived in the kalash valley there was a Kalashi women waiting there for us to greet us in the traditional Kalashi way. To spend the night surrounded by rough and tall mountains there were several pods arranged for us. The night experience under the starry night surrounded by deep and dark mountains was a scary but also fun experience. We woke up early in the morning and were greeted by a seraphic view of the mountains through the windows of our pods. Our night was very relaxing and peaceful and we slept without any worries. These special pods we stayed in were not yet open to the public and were being deployed rapidly. We were allowed to stay in the pods with the permission of KPCTA (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture and Tourism Authority). They also told us that soon these pods will be made open to the public to stay in.
The KPCTA told us that this trip was arranged to promote tourism to Kalash valley. According to them, Kalash valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth with astounding natural beauty and ethereal views. But due to its remote location and difficulty to reach this place, very few tourists actually visit this beautiful place to witness its marvelous beauty. They organized this to raise awareness about the fact that KPCTA was doing its best to promote tourism in the valley. They want the world to know of the splendid beauty of Kalash valley.
The Kalash valley is home to the pagan minority of Kalasha or Kalash. These are the only pagans in KPK province. The valley is home to approximately 5,000 people . These people have their own culture and tradition. Their language is called the lalasha and is of Dardic origin. The Kalash valley actually consists of 3 main valleys including Birir, Rumbur and Bumburet. The people of Kalash valley have preserved their culture to this day. The oldest village in Kalash valley called Batrik village located in the largest valley Bumburet still reminds you of ancient times. Thisplace sees many tourists, relatively speaking from all around the world. The place itself is very beautiful with fantastic views, meadows. There are springs here full of fresh water. The trees are beautiful and at time of harvest full of different kinds of fruits like walnuts and apricots. The mountains are tall and covered with snow in winter.
There are places here including some new and some old places where you can spend the night. These places include hotels and guest houses.
As Bumburet is the largest valley there are many facilities here to make your stay comfortable. The others(Rumber and Birir) are not as large and as developed as Bumburet. So there are not many facilities there for tourists. But if you are a pro adventurer and really want to get close to nature then you should visit the other valleys as they are full of natural wander and their traditions are the most pure and closest to natives.
The origin of Kalash Valley and its inhabitants of Kalasha are as mysterious as their mystical views. There are many theories about the origin of these people. Some believe that these people came here from central asia. Others believe that they are actually the descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great who came here to conquer and ended up settling down here. One of the more mysterious theories is that these people came from a mysterious region in south asia called Tysiam whose mention can be found in their folk tales and fables. Thisplace is now believed to be in Thailand.
The architecture here is a mixture of many different types. There are traces of magnificent wooden pillars,animal figures, sculptures and mythical paintings all over the valley. The architecture mostly combines descriptive art with woodcraft.
The Kalash Valley not only has amazing views and beautiful culture but their food tradition is also great. There is an amazing restaurant here that we often visited during our stay here. The place offered many dishes all from the traditional cuisine and they had their tables set under the shadow of a beautiful and large oak tree.
The traditional cuisine consists of many local dishes; some dishes found all over Pakistan were also common here. Their cuisine also has many fruits that are grown locally here. One of the staple foods of the local cuisine here is the local walnut bread called Billi here. Chai is also very common. It is no surprise that people here consume a lot of tea in the form of Chai, especially a specific version of Chai called Doodh Patti. The nights here are filled with calmness. People here often have barbecue at night while singing songs, playing music and enjoying themselves.
Of course a visit to any historical site can’t be completed without visiting the local museum. A museum is like a snapshot of history. It preserves the ancient cultures, traditions and history for us to see and appreciate with our own eyes. The Kalash valley museum is located in the Bumburet valley. The construction of the museum building started in 201 and it was finally completed in 2005. The museum has a vast collection of various items belonging to the ancient kakashi culture of this magnificent valley. There are over 1300 items in total that are exhibited here. The items range from ornaments, instruments, clothes, utensils, weapons, tools, etc. all the items are handled with extreme care and the museum staff is very trained.
The kalash is a majestic jem hidden in the northern mountains of Chitral waiting to be discovered by the casual tourists with all its beauty. If you are in search of your next holiday destination or just looking for your next adventure then you should give Kalash Valley a try.