Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chitral and Kalash

One of the not-to-be-missed stops in Northern Pakistan is the Chitral Valley. Chitral town, situated west of Gilgit, it is a common side trip for travellers along the Karakoram Highway. Why? Two main reasons.

One, the journey between Gilgit and Chitral passes through Shandur Pass,
and it is here that the world's highest polo game is held. Every year, 2 polo teams, one from Gilgit, and one from Chitral, will compete at the Shandur Top at almost 4000 metres! Unfortunately, my trip was in August, and the match is held in July. Thus, I did not manage to see the games :(. Nevertheless, the area is very pretty, and hence, even though the journey can be done in 1 full day, I opt to do it over 2 days via a private jeep rental.

Chitral is also home to a unique tribe of people known as the Kalash. For me, this would be the highlight of a visit to Chitral. They are the original inhabitants of the valley until it was invaded. Now residing in 3 remote valleys, you can arrange transportation and guide in Chitral town itself to goto these valleys.

The Kalash people, unlike the Pakistanis, are non-Muslims. The women still wear their traditional clothings, and their cultures strange and interesting. So it is highly recommended that you engage a guide here. My main regret is that I only did a day trip. There are excellent trekking opportunities to be had in the valleys. Hence, if you have the opportunity, my suggestion is to reserve more days in Chitral!


Herbert Wong said...

Totally agree with your recommendation and rationale. Gilgit-Chitral is one of the highlight of Pakistan. You have some nice photos of the journey as well.

Wanderer said...

Thanks Herbert,
you've been and seen it all as well, and really, how to come away *without* any nice photos?! It's just awesome everywhere! :)