Friends are telling me that the kalaishi people are very unique. They are right. Visit their holy cemetery and you will see what i mean. There you can find hundreds of coffins wide open for you to peep inside and see...the bones and whatever remains of the dead. They used to practise this before however nowadays i heard they bury the coffins instead since they do not want any stray dogs or animals to mess with the remains of the dead body...well this is what they told me themselves..a unique place to be..totally out of this modern world..however due to my faulty camera, unable to display any picture here. Worth the trip anyway.
From Chitral different trekking itineraries could be followed which’re at some hours distance from the main town but here I’d let you know about a famous and one of the most exciting itineraries in Chitral which starts from one of the Kalash valleys and comes to an end in the last valley, furthermore, it’s abundant in lush green pine forests, white waters, and there’re some pints where from one can easily take the photographs of some of the famous peaks in Hindukush (Terichmir 7778 m).
Day 1: Excursion to Birir (3rd Kalash valley), 2 hrs drive from Chitral town, on a bumpy road, overnight stay at guest house,
Day2: Trek to Bamborate (2nd Kalash valley), over Gumbak Pass (3010 m), 6 to 8 hrs walk,
Day3: Trek to Achulgah valley, 5 to 7 hrs, over Donson Pass (2900 m), overnight camping,
Day3: Trek to Romboor Valley (3rd Kalash Valley), over Kundayak Pass ( 2080 m), 6 to 8 hrs, overnight sat at guest house,
Day 4: Drive back to Chitral.
The itinerary’s cheap, neither you need porters nor a lot of stuff for cooking but a guide’s highly recommended because the trails’re dodgy inside the forests and it’s also a restricted zone due to its close location to Nooristan ( Province of Afghanisatan).
Enjoy the marvels of Pakistan,
The Kalash People are found in 3 valleys the Rumbur, Bumburet and Birir. The Kalash are not Muslims but follow their own Religion which is made up of single creator called ‘Dezau’ with 12 male and female gods the major God is Mahandeo and some folks say this is the same god as Ares is known as Mars by the Romans. Most Kalasha are Mediterranean looking. The men wear largely traded traditional goat-skin tunics and the women wear black reaching to the ankles. They have beautiful embroidery. Here is the official position of the Pan Macedonia Society of the USA -- 13. The Kalash of the northern Himalayan region of the Hindu Kush Mountains of Pakistan are Hellenic descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great. The Kalash Indigenous people have sustained their ancient culture and traditions since the 4th century B.C.
Good overview video of this area and the Kalash
How to visit the Kalash first you need a permit from the office in Chitral that overseas foreigners travel in this part of Pakistan or at the Pakistan tourist development office the one in Chitral is at the PTDC Motel, Main Bazaar, Chitral (NWFP) Tel:(0943) 412683. But I would recommend that you go with a guide. There is one that posts on Virtual Tourist imranthetrekker his e-mail is below and you can read his page -- he might be a good person to ask. But arrangements can be made easily via your hotel I would strongly recommend that you ask for a guide form the Kalash culture itself. I found a student by the name of Afiyat but was working as a guide during her vacation. This made it very nice as I had a built in access to her family. I located here by asking in three or four place but finally from the concierge at the Hindukush Heights hotel. The trip up the Valley is about 30 Kilometer and you really need to have a 4 wheel drive. They also sell tour group excursion type engagements with 4 wheel drive in groups of 8 to 30 again your hotel will know.
Greece, has established a museum — Cultural Centre of Kalasha (Kalashadur) -– in the Bumburet town, Chitral district, where more than 200 objects depicting the culture and lives of Kalash people have been put on display. If you like this VTer are interested in culture and people this is a goldmine of information. The person to talk to is Athanasios Lerounis, formally a teacher at a technical school in Athens had started work on the museum in 1995.
New Greek Artefacts Revealed in Kalash
May 15th, 2007 News by Sikandar G. Kha
In March the 28th the British High Commission at Islamabad handover a number of artifacts to the Department of Archaeology & Museums of the Government of Pakistan. The items where discovered and have been kept in safe by a farmer at the region of Hindu Kush, North-West Frontier Province and Northern Areas of Pakistan.
…these new artifacts’ discovery and official cataloging in the Peshawar Museum provides essential anthropological and archaeological evidence on Greek influences at the area.
The farmer, who identified as a member of the local Kalash community, handover the items that were held for generations by his family to the British Council in Peshawar in the 20th of March. The artefacts are twenty-three in number and in very good condition. They include an Alexander’s Medal, one glass cup, a number of pieces and bracelets, bowls and two necklaces. The importance of these new artifacts’ discovery and official cataloging in the Peshawar Museum, as James Head points out, provides essential anthropological and archaeological evidence on Greek cultural influences at the area.
The Greek Embassy was informed from the initial steps of the artefacts recovery and its staff is continually informed for the cataloging process.
All the sides involved were extremely conscious and their professionalism proved essential for caring out this case successfully with the result of the artefacts’ well-being and formal cataloging.
Start trekking from Birir valley via Gambak Pass; it is 3200m above sea level.
Normally it is a six hour trek; view the range of Hindu Kush Mountains, Birir and Bumburate valley. Stay night in Bumburate valley. Eat Kalash food, camping or at hotel.
Start trekking from Bumburate valley via Don Soun Pass, it is 3400m above the sea level. It takes five hours to get into the high pasture called Achua Gah. It is one of the beautiful high pastures where all the Kalash people have their cattle and land there. This high pasture is very famous for the Fairy Tales. People have many interesting stories about the Fairies, hunters, Sacrifice places and Shepherd’s lives. Camping for night stay.
Trek from Achua Gah to Bahuk Lake, which takes full day to get there. It is the magic lake on the top of the mountain. This lake has very famous story in Kalasha legends. Good place for camping and stay overnight. Eat food with the Shepherds.. They provide cheese and chapattis. Camping for night stay.
Trek straight to Rumbour valley via Chumik Soun. Normally it takes six hours to get into one of the Kalasha village Balan Guru in Rumbour. Stay overnight in one of the Kalasha owned Guest House or camp.
The festival chawmos is celebrated when the month called “chawmos mastruk” starts. Chawmos is also called “ghona chawmos yat” which means, the great memorial chawmos festival. The Chawmos festival is celebrated without using any musical instruments in the valleys Rumbur and Bumborate, whereas in Birir valley they use the musical instruments. It is a series of celebration. This festival is celebrated after the Kalash finish all their fieldwork and store all the sources of their basic needs. By this time of the year cheese is stored fruit and vegetables and grains are stored. When every thing gets home then this festival is celebrated because this festival requires many offerings. And every ceremony in this festival has its own traditions, foods and songs. The chawmos festival is considered to be a very sacred festival. After all it is the start of the New Year. It is the last festival of the year. It is the time when the entier family sacrifice and eat meat, it is celebrated by feasting, drinking of wine and merry making.
This solstice is marked with the great two-week Chaumos festival, for which, the Kalasha believe, the god Balimain comes from distant Tsyam (the mythical Kalasha homeland). To welcome him, the village is purified with juniper bonfires, and every married female receives a gift of bread. Men bake little models of animals made of wheat paste, which the boys stone in a mock hunt. Food is offered at the temple of Jeshtak, and the people withdraw while the ancestors, drawn by the lit torches, come to eat the offering outside. . . Balimain presents himself to count the strength of the Kalasha men who encircle their women in a display of unity. The festival ends with a great bonfire and a fox hunt to predict about the coming year.
This festival is celebrated in the month called “ucaw mastruk.” The rat’nat’ festival is celebrated for many weeks and then comes ucaw festival. First the elders in all villages announce the festival. The next day after the declaration day is the preparation day. In these two days the “rat’nat’” festival is celebrated. After the preparation day is gone the festival “ucaw” starts. It starts with the ceremonies performed on the high places or the altars. Offerings are offered and food is eaten on the alters by the men only. Women eat at home. After all this the festival starts, and it goes on till late night or till the next morning in Bumborate. The ucaw festival is celebrated for the harvesting and bringing the cheese from the higher pastures.
Spring is welcomed to the valleys with girls singing and dancing on the roofs for the Kirik Pushik, the festival of the first flower blooming. In spring women are allowed to enter the restricted upper valleys, with the Siu Wajik rite, in which a girl crushes three walnuts as an offering on the boundary bridge.
Joshi, the main spring festival, is held in May. All the houses and the temple of the goddess Jeshtak are decorated with walnut branches and flowers, and milk is distributed to all the villagers. Dressed in new clothes, the women dance while the elder men sing songs of epic and romance. All the fairies in the hills gather, it is said, to watch the Kalasha wave walnut branches in time to the chanting of sacred Gatch (asking for abundant milk) by the religious leaderAfter this festival is announced people store milk in their barns where they keep their livestock. Those who have big flocks and milk in greater quantity, they do not start storing their milk from the first day. Those who have small flocks they start storing their milk from the first day to the tenth day. After ten days are completed women and children go to bring the yellow flowers ( bisha push) from the pastures. These flowers bloom when no other flower blooms in the area. The next day early in the morning these flower are put in the doors of all the houses and barns and the temple doors. All the doors of the buildings owned by Kalash are decorated with these flowers. On this same day the festival starts, this day’s celebration is called “c’irik pipi”. Which means, “drink the milk.” The words of this phrase are the polite accents of the two words “c’ir” milk “pi” drink. In this festival women sing the melodious song “para para may bayaa zhoshi gos’t’ para c’irik pipi o shishamond hawaw.” Which means “I went to my brothers barn on the festival of zhoshi and look it is the time of c’irik pipi.” After this festival they take the goats to the higher pastures.We celebrate the arrival of spring season with new hopes and aspiration.
Kelash is actually a very old greek civilization. The people beloning to this civilization are called 'The Kelash'. And the place, the kelash valley. There are actually about three valleys here. I have been to one of them - Bamboret. The people are just so different from the rest of us. They have their own very distinct culture. But its not just the people, but the amazingly beautiful scenery that makes this place a must visit for everyone having a chance. The mountain is lush green with lots of streams. The valley is full of apple and appricot trees.
(There isn't a listing for the Kalash Valleys so this is where i'll put them in...)
The Kalash Valleys are made up of 3 valleys - Bumburet (or Bumburait, Bumboret), Rumbur (or Rumboor) and Birir.
The most visited are the first 2, Bumburet, and Rumbur... being the most accessible and the most picturesque.
(I'm not going to upload many photos here as the scan-quality is pretty bad.)
Tucked into three picturesque valleys , two hours drive from Chitral town, live the Kalash tribe. They worship nature and their ancestors and are quite different from the rest of the population of Chitral. They have been the interest of anthropologists and tourists alike. The Greeks take great interest in the Kalash because they have traced them to Alexanders Army who got lost here in 320BC.
Mid may 2012. The weather so cold at nite and so refreshing in the morning. Wear your flat shoes or sport shoes thats the best and just go out and explore the beautiful scenery and people too..