Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Healing Hot Springs of Garam Chashma - Chitral, Pakistan

Natural springs with hot water oozing out of sulfur rich mountains are famous the world over for healing skin diseases. While visiting Ramsar, Iran, I visited one of the springs and saw the fuming hot sulfur rich water and people taking bath. The Northern Areas of Pakistan too are rich in such hot springs where more than tourists patients abound for healing their skin related diseases.

One of the hot spring rich areas is Garam Chashma - or the Hot Springs as its is exactly translated into English. It is a small place some 45 kilometers north-west of Chitral, located at 1859 meters (6,100 feet) above mean sea level, overlooked by the famous Trichmir, the 7,700 meters high peak. Going exactly by its name, the place has hot water springs mixed with sulfur that have water as hot as above the boiling point.  

The sulfur springs are famous for healing a number of skin and joint diseases. This is what people of the area believe and thus attract a large number of tourists and patients to this scenic place for treatment. For the convenience of tourists special bathrooms have been constructed around the springs.
From Chitral, a narrow metaled road travels up north and then turns north-west along thr the Lotkuh River and on to Garam Chashma. The road is at most places washed off due to falling rocks and stones of the stony and muddy mountains due to rains and melting snow. Thus it is better to hire a jeep from Chitral or use a sturdy vehicle. 
Lotkuh River (seen in photo above), which passes through Garam Chashma, is famous for its brown trout fish. For anglers fishing is allowed from April to September for which permit has to be obtained from local fishery department.

Ali, a sturdy young man from Garam Chashma, who works as a helper with us, recently showed a number of photos of his village on his mobile that in fact urged me to write this post. All photos shared in this post, except for the Markhor and Murgh-e-Zareen (for which source are give) all photos have been taken by Ali.
Ali posing during spring but snow has still not melted

The mountain slopes on both sides of the Lotkuh valley abound in pine, ‘deodar’ and fir trees. In the valley, one comes across vast stretches of cherries, mulberry, apricot, apple pear, grape, pomegranate and melons gardens, besides Chinar and walnut trees. The pomegranates of Garam Chashma taste heavenly sweet and tourists take loads of pomegranates when departing this beautiful land - and I have already requested Ali to get me box full of these !!.
Ripe cherries of the season
Beside growing food orchards and trees, the locals till the rugged mountain patches with hard labour and assistance of animal drive plough to grow food for them. Mostly wheat and barley is cultivated.
Ploughing with snow clad mountains 

For those interested in wild life, the place is a bliss and one can spot by luck the near extinct snow leopards and Pakistan's national animal markhor besides ibex, urial, wolves and black bear. For hunters, however, there is a caution as these wild animals are protected by the wildlife department. 
The mighty Markhor (Photo Source)
Ali posing with the mighty horns of a Markhor
The beautiful multi coloured Murgh-e-Zareen (Photo Source)

Garam Chashma and surrounding areas also have majestic birds like Murgh e Zareen and various species of Chikor including the Ram Chikor or the snow partridge which clucks and whistles high on the stony steppes. Murgh e Zareen or surkhaab is a species of pheasant and is also known as the Himalayan Monal and is hunted for its crest feathers. 
Ali's father in his last days before he expired of illness six months ago
Ali posing with a Chitral Scout

I could not find a video on YouTube showing the exact hot springs of Garam Chashma except the one below which show pools of sulfured water coming from the springs.
There is much more to Pakistan and its scenic beauty hidden in the mountains and plains of the country. Do scroll through my blog for some very interesting and beautiful places of my country - Pakistan.

Video courtesy Faheed Iqbal
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S A J Shirazi said...

At least one former Prime Minister and me had taken bath in there; healing may be, cozy yes.

Jalal HB said...

Really Shirazi - who was the PM?