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Chitral

Introduction

District Chitral is the north-most district of Pakistan, situated just across the border fro m Afghanistan. It is situated in between the succession range of Koh Hindukush. It is one of the largest district of NWFP provinces, which consist of two tehsils of Chitral and Mastuj. It is bounded on the north side with the Wakhan Patti of Afghanistan through Dorah pass, which is a link between Pakistan and Tajikistan, on the north-west by the Hindukush mountains, on the east side with swat, on the north-east side with Gilgit through the Shandoor pass, on the west side with the Afghanistan province Noristan through the Kalash valley, on the south side with the district upper Dir through the lowari pass, on the south-west side to the Afghan province Kunar through the Arrundu.

From ancient times, Chitral was an important point on the trade routes from northern Afghanistan (ancient Bactria) and the Tarim Basin to the plains of Gandhara (in northern Pakistan), and the region near Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan.

The people belong to over a dozen different cultures and speak more then 14 languages. As a result of its unique location and historical links with the Central Asia and Europe, the material and non-material culture of Chitral bears traces of Greeks, Iranians, Mongolian, Tatar and Turk influences. It remained an independent state for centuries with its own culture and language. In the late nineteenth century it became part of British India.

One of the famous products of Chitral is Chitrali Patti. . Chitrali Patti, called “Shu” in Khowar, is a pure wool fabric, woven from entirely hand-spun yarn. It comes in natural shades of white, gray, black and brown, and the distinctive walnut-dyed, red.

Shandur is the highest polo ground in the world, the game of polo is played between Chitral and Gilgit in every year of July. Besides polo, Shandur Festivities have much to offer to the tourists, who start arriving almost a week before the three-day festivities that from July 7-9 each year. Nights are usually spent playing cards and dancing on local tunes. Music competitions are also held between groups from Chitral and Gilgit. During day the tourists go to nearby Phandar Valley for freshwater fishing.

Chitral is also home of the Kalash tribe who reside in three remote valleys southwest of Chitral Town. Between the town of Drosh and Chitral city, a track turn to the left from village of Ayun on Kunar river to the Kalash Valley, where these strange yet attractive people live in three villages of Rukmu, Mumret and Biriu (called Rambur, Bumburet and Birir in local Kalashi language), south of Chitral. Bumburet (above right), the largest and the most picturesque valley of the Kafirs, is 40 kilometres from Chitral and is connected by a jeepable road.

The general population is mainly of the Kho people, who speak the Khowar language (or Chitrali).