Chitral Valley is undoubtedly the most romantic, captivating and enchanting place in the majestic Hindukush range. It is a mountainous area in the extreme north of Pakistan. The landscape of Chitral is extremely mysterious, with its steep harsh mountains, lush green valleys, beautiful meadows and big glaciers, which have made it one of the most difficult and inaccessible area of the world.
Chitral Valley Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is the capital of the Chitral District, situated on the western bank of the Chitral River (also called Kunar River), in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It also served as the capital of the princely state of Chitral until 1969. The town is at the foot of Tirich Mir, the highest peak of the Hindu Kush, which is 25,289 ft (7,708 m) high. It has a population of 20,000.
The elevation of the valley is 3,700 ft (1,100 m).On its southern boundary lies Dir. In the east lies Gilgit agency and Swāt Kohistan. The narrow strip of Afghan territory, Wakhan, separates it from Tajikistan. The 7,788 meters (25,550 ft) Trichmir, the highest peak of the Hindukush mountain, dominates this 322km long exotic valley. No mountain in the region is less than 4000 feet and more than 40 peaks have an altitude of 20,000 ft. Chitral is divided into small valleys by the mighty Hindukush range.
The weather in Chitral is extremely harsh and cold in winter while the summer is very pleasant. There are certain famous places and valleys in Chitral like Garam Chashma valley, Booni, Golen valley, Madaklasht valley, Arandu, Birir, Rumbur and Bumburat.
Historically Chitral was known as an independent princely state. After the independence, Chitral was the first state to declare the accession to Pakistan. In 1970, it was declared as district of Pakistan and attached to the Malakand Division.
One of the major attractions of Chitral are the Kalash valleys-the home of the Kafir-Kalash or “Wearers of the Black Robe”, a primitive pagan tribe. Their ancestry is enveloped in mystery and is the subject of controversy. A legend says that five soldiers of the legions of Alexander of Macedon settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kafir-Kalash.
The 3,000 strong Kafir-Kalash live in the valley of Birir, Bumburet and Rambur in the South. Bamburet, the largest and the most picturesque valley of the Kafir-Kalash, is 40km from Chitral and is connected by a jeep able road. Birir, 34km away is accessible by a jeep able road. Rumbur is 32km from Chitral. Their picturesque headgear is made of woolen black material decked out with cowrie shells, buttons and crowned with a large colored feather. In parts of Greece even today some women sport a similar head covering. The Kalash people love music and dancing particularly on occasions of their religious festivals like Joshi Chilimjusht (14th & 15th May – spring), Phool (20th – 25th September) and Chowas (18th to 21st December)
Chitral Valley Culture
The culture of Chitral bears traces of Greek, Iranian,Tatar and Turkish influences due to its unique location and historical links with Central Asia and Europe.The Chitrali people call the land of Chitral “Kho” and their language is Khowar. Persian is spoken only Madaglasht Valley. Pushto and Urdu have also made their into Chitral. Other languages spoken in Chitral include Kalash, Gujari, Nuristani, Dameli, Wakhi, Kirghiz, Yidgha, Gawar-Bati and Phalura. The tradition of hospitality can be observed throughout northern Pakistan but in few places it is offered as generously as in Chitral. Chitralis also have a strong musical tradition. The Chitrali sitar, a string instrument, can often be heard at many places and family gathering. Polo is the most popular sport in Chitral which has attained dary status. Matches are festive occasions, inevitably many tourists. The world famous Shandur Polo Tournament is held between Gilgit and Chitral every year from 7th to 9th of July at Shandur Pass near Laspur Valley.