This 322 km.(200-mile) long mountain hideout, nesting high in the Hindu Kush range, is a place of fascinating scenic beauty and grandeur. Chitral’s collection of rugged mountains, sulphur springs, rivers teeming with trout, orchard-dotted slopes, friendly people and annual festivals are enchanting beyond description. For the modern-day traveler, this scenic region offers an exciting experience. It is easily accessible by air from historic city of Peshawar.
Alexander of Greece marched through this valley in 327 B.C, and left behind traces of Greek heritage, which can still be seen.
Chitral District is bounded on the north, south, and the west by Afghanistan and is separated from the Soviet Union by a narrow strip of Wakhan, a province of Afghanistan and from China by Hunza area. It lies between latitude 35 51 N and longitude 71 47’E.
Area And Elevation
Area: 14504 square meters (5,600 square miles).
Elevation: 1278-7700 meters (3700-25264 feet).
Summers are generally pleasant but the winters are extremely cold. Chitral has unpredictable during spring with frequent rains and snowfall. Autumn is pleasant with mild temperatures.
Ideal time for visiting Chitral is from June to September.
The majority of the people are Muslims. The only non-Muslim ethnic minority in the Chitral valley are the Kafir Kalash. Numbering about 2,500 to 3,000 they inhabit Birir, Bumburet and Rambur valleys in the south of Chitral. Their lifestyle is characterized by their own ancient and religion.
The local dialect is “Khowar” (Chitrali). Urdu is understood by a large number of people while Pushto is spoken and understood in Chitral and Drosh.
The women wear “shalwar-kameez” (long shirts with baggy trousers) and “dupattas” (flimsy scarves draped around the Shoulders).
In winter the man wear “shuqa”, loose , long woolen gowns with long sleeves. The popular headdress is “pakol” which is also of woolen material.
The Kalash men distinguish themselves from the non-Kalash by wearing Chitral woolen hats to which they add feathers or little metal bells. Traditional dress, reserved for blue, very simple with a hole cut out for the neck. The wear long woolen belts and their shoes are often of goat-skins, usually rigged directly to the feet and laced with woolen or leather thongs.
The Kalash women wear black gowns of coarse cotton in summer and handspun wool dyed black in winter. They also wear picturesque headgear, which weighs between three and four pounds. It is made of woolen black material encrusted with cowry shells, buttons and crowned with a large colored feather.
What To See
(All distances are given from Chitral).
Elevation: 1518meters (4,980 feet).
The picturesque Chitral town lies on the Chitral River. Worth seeing is the Shahi Masjid (Grand Mosque) against the backdrop of Trichmir peak 7700 meters (25,264 feet), ex-ruler’s fort, and the local style of Khowar houses of the friendly locals. Also worth exploring is the fascinating bazaar, which offers a host of handcrafted treasures.
Chitral is famous for its polo tournaments, held from April to July and September to October.