Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Photo Travelogue of Mary Loosemore: Chitral - the land of Tirich Mir

Shahi Masjid, Chitral, with Tirich Mir in the background (2)
Shahi Masjid, Chitral with mighty Tirich Mir in the background

After spending three days in the strange, fascinating and a world of its very own - the Fairyland of the Kalash Valley, the Mary Loosemore Hindu Kush adventure group moved to their next destination - Chitral, the land of the Tirich Mir. 

Tirich Mir is the highest feature of the Hindu Kush mountain range, located close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which stands 7,708 metres tall and is visible from places as far as Ayun. Tirich Mir is also the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalaya-Karakoram range. 
Map of Chitral [Google Earth map]

For their onward journey to Chitral and beyond, the Hindu Kush adventure group traced their route back east from the Rumbur Kalash Valley to the road Ayun-Chitral, and turning left and north for Chitral. The distance between Ayun to Chitral is 24 kilometres.
Tirich Mir, taken from the Rumbur road heading back to Ayun
Tirich Mir as seen from Rumbur Road while going back to Ayun for Chitral
"Welcome to Chital Scouts" - just in case you didn't know you were in Chitral
Welcome sign by the Chitral Scouts - the para military force responsible for maintaining law and order in Chitral and policing the Pakistan - Afghanistan border

The group reached Chitral and was tucked in the Chitral Inn and hurriedly settled down for a quick refreshing cup of tea as seen below.
A nice cup of tea in the gardens at the Mountain Inn, Chitral
Joan, Ann, Ali, Annie, Amanda, Trisha, Thelma, Rob 

After the tea and wash up, the group, specially females headed to Chitral town to visit local landmarks shop the local specialties. 
Gatehouse to Chital Fort and former Mehtar's Palace - badly damaged by the 2005 earthquake

The group watching the gateway to the Chitral Fort (above), which in fact is the former Mehtar's Palace. Chitral, was a princely state till 1969 when it was formally merged in the territories of Pakistan in 1970. Chitral was made a district of the Malakand Division and is presently the largest district of Khyber Pakhtunkwa province of Pakistan, spread over an area of  14, 850 square kilometres. The local language is the Khowar, or the Chitrali language, which is spoken in 13 different dialects. Beside Khowar, Pushto and Urdu are also spoken in the area. Till its merger, the state was headed by the chieftain known as the Mehtar. The fort was badly damaged during the 2005 massive earthquake that jolted the Northern areas of Pakistan. 
Framed view of Shahi Masjid, taken from the Water Tower, Chitral Fort
Shahi Masjid - as seen from the Water Tower of the Chitral Fort
Ornate doorway in Chitral Fort
Ornate doorway in the Chitral Fort
Chital Fort and former Mehtar's Palace, with canon
Chitral Fort - the guns of former Mehtar's army are now lined up in one of the corridors of the fort
Chaikhana / tea stall
The day starts with tea - the Chitral way
Breakfast at the Mountain Inn, Chitral
The first breakfast in Chitral: Zafar, Rob, Thelma, Ali, Ann, Annie, Amanda, Trisha

On the first day, the visit to Chitral Fort and the former Mehtar's was undertaken. The next morning dawned with the hearty breakfast, which looks like an English Breakfast of bread and eggs with milk-less tea, as seen above.
Traffic jam, Chitral town with Tirich Mir in the background
Chitral Town street - with Tirich Mir in the background
Hardware shop, Chitral
Spice seller, Chitral
Smiling spice seller posing
Chitrali hatmaker
Chitrali cap maker

One of the specialty of Chitral is its traditional cap and gown made of pure lamb wool. Anyone visiting Chitral is tempted to buy at least one cap and gown for self, beside carrying these for friends and family. Besides, the  handicrafts, traditional jewelery, wooden works and dry fruit of Chitral are equally tempting specialties.
Iqrar Cap House and the tailor I bought my coat from, New Bazaar, Chitral
Mary at the Iqrar Cap House, buying a embroidered Chitrali coat for self
Markhor, Chitral Gol National Park (1)
Markhor  seen on the mountain slopes of the Chitral Gol National Park

The Markhor (Capra Falconeri Falconeri), which  mainly inhabits the sparsely wooded mountainous regions in Northern and Western Pakistan, at an elevation of 600-3,600 m, is  a rare and almost on the verge of extinct, due to excessive hunting by poachers. There are two main species of Markhor: the Kashmir Markhor, and the Astor Markhor.
Markhor, Chitral Gol National Park (2)
Close up of a Kashmir Markhor

The total world population is mainly found in Pakistan, and thus is the symbolic national animal of Pakistan. Efforts are at hand to conserve Markhor in the Chitral Gol National Park, which is at a two hours drive from Chitral. The park which is spread over three valleys is crisscrossed with numerous streams, abounds in tall cedar trees and several glaciers. The park is home to the extinct snow leopard, black bear,red fox, yellow throat ed martin, the Tibetan wolf, Siberian ibex, Himalayan otter and the Ladakh urial, beside the markhor goat.
Chitral Gol National Park
Scenic view of Chitral Gol National Park
Tea on the lawn, Hindu Kush Heights, Chitral
Tea at Chitral: Benedict, Ali, Trisha, Amanda, Ann, Annie, Joan, Thelma, Rob, Stanley
Menu for our dinner at the Hindu Kush Heights
Thew tempting dinner menu

The menu above gives details of the dinner: Chitrali Soup, Zera-Kismish Pulao (Cumin Seed-Raisin Pulao), allo Gosht (Curry of potatoes and meat), Gofta Curry (meatball curry), Bengan Burany (some dish of Eggplant ) - the last two are self explanatory.
Morning view of Chitral (and its landing strip) from the Hindu Kush Heights hotel
Morning view of Chitral from the hotel in Chitral

After Chitral, the group ventured north and north east towards Shandur Pass and onward to Gilgit, the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan. The journey onward is through spectacular scenery, awesome overlooking mountains and lakes with reflections of snow covered peaks. The journey onward will be covered in my next post.


All photos above, except where specifically mentioned, are the property of Mary Loosemore


Dejuregullie said...

Indeed a heaven on earth, will definitely make a trip in near future for this place, need suggestion which would be more cheaper Air or By road?

Mr. Shah said...

I am a local Google guide. I can guide you if you and anyone else reading this post is planning to visit chitral. You can write @ sayedalicl_2004@hotmail.com

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