Max Altitude:1,517 m (4,977 ft)
Duration: 11 Days/ 10 Nights
Sightseeing: 10 Days
The Kalash believe they are originally from Tsiam, although no one yet knows where that is. It is more likely they are descendants from Indo-Aryans (about 2000BC). Many historians believe the Kalash are descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great.
The kalash valleys of Rumbur, Bumburet and Birir are within Chitral District of Pakistan. The kalash people are the only non-Muslims for hundreds of miles. They may be a little wary of strangers, but usually do welcome who wants to become acquainted with the kalash way of life.
The 3500 Kalash of the valleys live in unique houses made of local stone and wood which are stacked on top of one another at steep hillsides. The roof of one house is the verandah of another, on top of the lower house. They make their living with staple crops like lentils or wheat and by goat herding. Life is very traditional, like in many parts of the world, and the work division between men and their women is elaborate. Family life, cattle herding and harvesting form their main livelihood with the occasional distraction of a festival or two. Women move into a Bashaleni house when giving birth and also when they are menstruating. Many aspects of the society are both communal and segregated and typically, marriages are made by arrangement.
The Kalash are famous for their festivals and dress code. They for example know how to let their hair down in style. There is much dancing where the elders chant legends with drum accompaniment and the women dance around in the open place. Locally brewed wine is drunk in copious quantities. The festival dates are only fixed to a certain extent as the people and the dates depend on the harvest.
The festival of Chilimjusht or Joshi is for spring harvest and last 4-6 days around mid May and the Uchal festival on 20th August celebrates the pre-harvest with cheese, corn and wine. Chitirmas in mid December celebrates the winter solstice and is the most impressive festival, lasting for up to 10 days.
The kalash worship many gods of Kafiristan like Balomain, the heroic demi-god of the kalash Balomain’s spirit is said to pass through the valley counting the people of Kalash and collecting their prayers to return them to Tsiam, the mythical land of the kalash.
The Kalash people thank the creator during their festivals. Each festival is meant to give thanks to the Almighty. The dancing is one way of showing happiness and thankfulness towards the Creator.
Much of the dancing take place in large circles around a bonfire and people chant with mesmerizing repetitions – with just a drum beat accompanying the voices. The girls wear intricate dresses made of cowry shells, coins and beads with beautiful hair braiding and headwear. Each heavy headdress weighing several pounds is presented to a girl by her uncle. The jewellery includes necklaces made from apricot kernels, a traditional gift during the festivals. Single women are expected to find themselves a husband during these festivals. Just before the main festival, seasonal food is offered to the ancestral spirits and a kotik, light for the ancestors, is lit. After this ritual the food, considered impure, is offered to the elderly women to be eaten.
This festival takes place in the middle of May and lasts for four days. It honours the fairies and also safeguards the goats and shepherds before they go to the pastures.
Before the festival the women and girls gather from all over the valley and decorate their houses. Inside the houses local wine and milk products are shared The women then sprinkle milk on the goddess Jestak, the protector of their children and home. The festival begins at Rumbur where the Shaman and tribal chiefs lead a procession to the Malosh altar, high above Grum and sacrifice goats to the Gods. Later, the festival moves on to Bumboret and finally ends up at Birir.
The first day of Joshi, “Milk Day”, is celebrated in Bumboret. Kalash ladies move from homestead to homestead, singing and dancing and receiving libations of milk that have been saved for ten days prior to the festival.
Every religious ceremony is accompanied by dancing and rhythmical chanting to a beat of the drum. The women, wearing their traditional black robes, ornate cowries shell head-dresses and countless strands of coloured necklaces, dance in a circle. Then the men join in: it may be a man and a women or a man in the middle with a women on each side, lovers being free to intermingle. One hand holds the waist of the partner and the other goes around the shoulders. Elders in colourful dresses narrate stories of bygone days and events.
We will spend 4 nights in Rumbur Valley, staying at a Guesthouse.
Rumbur is rugged and majestic; the mountain ridges are high and the river is wild. With its sparkling streams, shady meadows, groves of mulberry, apricot and walnut trees and yellow and green fields it is a beautiful, picturesque area. As there are few tourists, the Kalasha are less shy and less nervous, and no one objects, if asked, to having their photograph taken. Only seldom does the sound of jeeps destroy the peaceful silence of the valley. At the top end of the valley there is a Nuristani village.
We arrive in Islamabad in the early hours of the morning. Islamabad is a modern sprawling metropolis which merges imperceptibly into its more ancient twin city of Rawalpindi. The Grand Trunk Road runs through ‘Pindi, as it is universally known, and Rudyard Kipling was stationed here briefly in 1885 on his first posting to British India as it then was. We stay at the comfortable Shalimar Hotel in the Cantonment area of the city. The nearby Rajah Bazaar makes for a fascinating and eye-opening sightseeing trip
Fly to Chitral
Visit Fort and Bazars in the evening
Drive to Bamborat for the Kalash Festival
It is 2 to 2 & half hour drive from Kalash to the largest village of Kalash the most colorful tribe of Hindukush. We drive along the Chitral Dir road and than turn right to Ayon and continue to jeep road to Kalash.
Drive back to Chitral
Fly back to Islamabad
Contingency Day or Day free in Islamabad
Fly back to Home
|1 Departure||10 May - 20 May||10-May-2016||20-May-2016||Spaces|