Snuggled in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, the Kalash Valley is a hidden gem of Pakistan. Tucked away in the rugged terrain of the Hindukush, the Kalash people have made this hidden gem their home. Geographically, the Kalash Valley shares borders with the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan. A visit to Kalash Valley opens a window to new attractions like the valleys of Birir, Bumburet, and Rumbur, with a rich history dating back 400 years. These valleys are situated in proximity to Kalash Valley. The idea floats around among historians that these people have roots leading back to Alexander and the Greek era.  However, the people of the Valley regard this claim as unfounded. This mesmerizing remote valley in the north of Pakistan is the most sought-after tourlist destination. Every year tens of thousands of nature lovers and escapists proceed on a visit to Kalash Valley.

In the past, the population of these three valleys was around 200,000. With time, this population reduced to 3000 to 4000. The main reason for the fall in the population was the conversion of the Kalasha to other religions.

Kelash Girls in traditional dress - A visit to Kelash Valley

Cultural Heritage of Hunza Valley

This scenic Kalash valley finds its place in the western Himalayas at an average height of around 1,800 to 2,100 meters above sea level. It is enouraging that a large number of tour enthusiasts pay a visit to the Kalash valley annually and contribute to the development of this remote valley. These travellers trek through the enchanting Valley amid the prestine towering mountains and experiences strange tradition, costoms and culture. If you’re planning your next vacation, consider Kalash. It’s where everyone wants to go!  Prepare for a vibrant encounter with its peculiar rituals and warm-hearted people while on a visit to Kalash Valley.

Undertake a visit to Kalash Valley and experience spiritual practices

A visit to Kalash Valley unveils a lot of strange and interesting rituals you never come across before. Explore beyond just scenery in your journey; dive into historical treasures as well while visiting picturesque Kalish Valley and learning about the ancient times of Chrithal. Apart from this, the dwellers of Kalash Valley are hypothetic Indo-Aryanigion who follow unparalleled customs and culture. Accordingly, the characteristics of the religion followed by the Kalasha resemble Animism. They believe that all natural things like mountains, trees, and entire natural objects have the power to perceive the activities of human beings. Traditionally, these people worship the deities (wooden Horses and statues) placed in the altars. They sacrifice goats and sheep in these alters on special occasions such as “Thanksgiving”.

Grave in Kelash valley - A visit to Kalash valley

Death Ceremony in Kalash

Don’t miss discovering the rituals if you are on a visit to Kalash Valley. The people of Kalash do not mourn the death of a family member but, instead, celebrate the loss. What’s more, with dances, beating drums, and gunfire, the colourful funeral ritual is an expensive celebration of a loved one’s life. They use to see off departed souls in a joyful manner. It’s quite interesting to see how different cultures handle the final rites and management of someone who has died. The Kalasha, instead of burial, place the coffin in a graveyard under the open sky and leave it there. In the same way, people use to put the belongings of the deceased in the coffin. But because many things were getting stolen, they have ceased to practice this ritual anymore.

Kalash valley - scenery

Kalash A Traveler’s Tale

A visit to Kalash Valley in Pakistan let you discover a world of hidden treasures and cultural wonders. Imagine embarking on a thrilling exploration with Kalash—a special map that reveals paths never walked before! You’ll get better at picking up on how others are feeling.  Many people, both from inside the country and from other countries, arrive Pakistan and embark on a visit to Kalash Valley to see the historic tribes and their rituals, tradition and culture up close.

The Marriage ceremony

I experienced some exciting rituals duriing a visit to Kalash Valley which filled me with mixed excitements of wonder and thrill. For instance, arranged marriages are alien to the Kalash community, as virgins are free to marry anyone they choose. Kalash marriages are rooted in their ancient culture and tradition. Tourists often become engrossed by the fascinating rites they witness here. Usually, the people celebrate marriages with traditional dances, songs and feasting. The exchange of gifts between the families of the bride and bridegroom takes place. This custom is the manifestation of reciprocal unity and love. Step into Kalarchik’s remarkable community; each corner unveils deep-rooted customs and colourful traditions amidst stunning isolation.

Into the Heart of Kalash

The very title of the journey, beckons with the promise of a transformative odyssey. It leaves forever an indelible mark on the traveler’s heart. In the Kalasha culture, gender segregation is uncommon, fostering peaceful coexistence and mitigating conflicts. If a man selects a virgin bride, he pays a customary amount to her parents. Interestingly, married women can choose new partners and leave the former. However, the new spouse will have to compensate the previous one double, either in cash or commodities . Escaping to marry is a frequent practice, accepted without annoyance, reflecting society’s open-mindedness. Imagine peeling back the veils of mist to reveal the serene purity of Kalash Valley, a peaceful haven enclosed by rugged mountains.

Customs

You will come across unique things and experience strange events in a visit to Kalash Valley. It sounds amazing that the Kalash people send their women to a remote chamber during their periods. The women have to stay in the remote secluded room until they’ve completely cleaned. Throughout their stay there, they regularly receive a supply of food and fuel wood. When they return home, the family observe a ritual called “Cleansing ceremony”. Joy fills the air as they reunite with relatives at this ceremony, putting an old custom behind them.

Adherence to culture

Observing the Kalash culture is like stepping into ancient traditions and vibrant rituals that weave the past and present. The Kalasha people are strongly committed to upholding and safeguarding their ancient beliefs, traditions, and cultural heritage. They resolutely resist any external doctrines or beliefs that may threaten these cultural entities. Consequently, when a Kalash member converts to another faith, he has to leave his ancestral home and community.

Anyhow, there are a few converted individuals living on the outskirts of the valley, maintaining proximity to their relatives. The converted individual, however, stays away from his community respecting their steadfast dedication to their rich traditions and customs.

Enjoy Trekking while on a visit to Kalash Valley

A trip to the land of tradition, Kalash, is a captivating immersion into ancient customs and vibrant celebrations. You’ll feel like a time traveller getting to know ancient customs firsthand – it’s an exploration of rich cultural roots! Trekking in Kalash is exciting. Venture through breathtaking nature while experiencing firsthand how captivatingly diverse life is with each step you take in learning about Kalash customs. The journey takes you across fresh grasslands with flowing streams at your side—each step unveils centuries-old practices from within the heart of this mountaintop society.

Language

Traditions in Rumbur and Bumburet valleys are much the same. But in Bhirr Valley, they’re a bit different. They have a special language called Kalasha-mun, which is a mix of Indo-Aryan dialects. Unluckily, the Kalash language is going to extinct as the Khowar language from Chitral is rapidly taking its place. With time, the Kalasha original language is becoming less common in Kalash.

The Wonders of the Kalash Valley

A visit to Kalash Valley offers a journey far from the typical tourist paths, into truly exceptional landscapes and cultures. In the faraway part of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, you’ll find a scenic Chitral Valley. Here live the Kalash people who are celebrated for their colourful and unique customs. When you go there, you’ll come into contact with beautiful things – green fields, clear rivers, and huge snowy Hindukush mountains.

But it’s getting to know about each ritual and folklore from local interactions which leaves lasting impressions on visitors who explore this area. Engage with their festive spirits; appreciate the craftsmanship of local artisans; listen to tales woven through their ancient languages—all beckoning from within this stronghold of tradition. Experience nature’s grandeur like never before during a visit to Kalash Valley. As much as its beauty captivates your senses, this spot equally enlightens you about enduring traditions and cultures which etch themselves in your memory forever.

Don’t miss Festivals while on a visit to Kalash valley

The Kalasha people have three primary festivals in their cultural calendar. These include Chilam Joshi, occurring in mid-May, and Uchau during the Fall season. Luckily, during a visit to Kalash Valley in early December, I had a chance to witness the Chawmos festival. Chawmos is, however, the main festival of Kalash Valley. They celebrated this festival for two weeks in early December. Coincidently it is the period when agricultural labour subsides, allowing the community to relax. Joining the festive atmosphere are catchy rhythms paired with animated dance steps while communal eating—highlighted by preparing goats—is central to bonding participants.

Pure charm in natural sights

Imagine towering mountains wrapped in green oak blankets overlooking the charming Kalasah valleys—a truly mesmerizing sight you will see in a visit to Kalash Valley! These valleys come alive with the uninterrupted flow of streams, nurtured by transparent icy mountain waters. Imagine walking into a mesmerising scene that sticks with you forever; that’s how these natural sights magnify this land’s mythical essence. In essence, if one were to remove the influence of nature, these valleys would lose a substantial portion of their grandeur. Get ready, lace your shoes and embark on a visit to Kalash Valley to experience cultural feast and nature’s grandeur of Kalash Valley.

If you’re chasing the Kalahs Dream, prepare for an incredible trip into the heart-stirring landscapes. Get ready for two amazing experiences in one as you uncover both awe-inspiring natural beauty and deeply rooted cultural heritage during your visit to Khalash Valley. Imagine wandering through landscapes that take your breath away while being immersed in the deep traditions of the locals.

The Source of income of Kalasha

Agriculture, being the main source of income in this region, remains devoid of mechanization, with farmers relying on conventional tools for cultivation. As they wind their way across the landscape, these ribbons of the river have dual jobs—turning millstones to grind our wheat and watering agricultural land so we can harvest bountiful crops. In this fertile land, a variety of crops flourish, including grapes – primarily cultivated for winemaking. With abundant apple orchards, thriving apricot plantations, and sprawling fields of walnuts – this locale is an agriculturist’s paradise!

Economy

The primary income sources of the residents of these three valleys is farming and livestock. However, there has been a noticeable shift away from traditional agriculture and animal husbandry towards cash-based businesses. The thriving tourism industry has become a vital source to improve the lifestyle and living standards of the people of G.B. Tourists embark on a visit to Kalash Valley both from within the country and abroad and enjoy a variety of services thanks to the locals who have opened quaint shops and cosy guest houses.

Education in Kalash

Tourists, who intend to set on a visit to Kalash Valley, are bound to pay a government toll. Funds from this revenue are poured into developing tourist attractions and elevating the standard of living for locals. To enhance accessibility to the valley, the government of KPK, Pakistan, has constructed the first drivable road. leading to this valley. Since 1970, there has been a shift in the community’s priorities, with a growing emphasis on educating their children. The Kalash people are now in pursuit of various professions, including military and police service which reflects a variation in their livelihoods.

In 2017, Mr Wazir Zada, a figure of the Kalash Valley, made history. He was the first Kalasha member elected against a reserved minority seat in the KPK Assembly. Back in 2019, by joining festivities at a local Kalash celebration, the Duke and Duchess brought worldwide focus to its colourful cultural tapestry.

Embark on a visit to Kalash Valley by Road

Kalash is located approximately 325 kilometres from Peshawar by road, with an estimated travel duration of 6 hours and 25 minutes. The actual journey time may vary based on the chosen route, vehicle type, and the driver’s skill. Your route will be dotted with inviting hotels, and stunning landscapes worth a photo stopover or two that have views that’ll make your jaw drop in awe! And don’t worry—there are plenty of gas stations to keep you moving forward too! Additionally, airline services connect Peshawar and Chitral, with approximately three weekly flights covering 211 nautical miles in about 50 minutes on a non-stop flight. It is, suggested that local and international tourists must pay a visit to Kalash Valley at least once a year.

Travelling by Lowari Top

Alternatively, travellers can share a jeep, locally referred to as a GATTU, with fellow passengers. Jeep services typically cease after dark. The road distance from Peshawar to Kalash Valley is approximately 312.1 kilometres. The most thrilling experience the visitor faces while crossing the Lowari Pass is characterized by its rugged terrain and challenging topography. Along this winding road framed by harsh cliff faces and shadowy woods, glimpses of magnificent mountainscapes open up to awe any traveller.

To avoid the treacherous and zigzag terrain of Lowari Pass, tourists can drive through the Lowari Top Tunnel by the N-45 National Highway. In 2017 the National Highway Authority (NHA) completed construction of the tunnel. The tunnel then became operational in 2018 and now it remains operational for vehicular traffic for at least ten hours per day.

A visit to Kalash Valey by PIA

Undoubtedly, Kalash Valley is a Peek into Pakistan’s Enigmatic Wonderland. Securing a flight from Peshawar to Chitral can be challenging due to frequent cancellations caused by adverse weather conditions, often leaving passengers stranded for days. Notably, Pakistani airlines do not offer alcoholic beverages on domestic flights, though policies may differ on international routes. When flying through Chitral Airport, passengers enjoy the perk of internet connectivity that keeps them linked to what matters most despite local travel challenges.

Kalash Valley exploration through KPK

While heading on a visit to Kalash Valley, many Pakistani tourists, particularly the younger generation, prefer the adventurous road journey through the Dir and Tamergara Districts to reach Kalash. For those who prefer adrenaline over ease, this path’s steep slopes and serpentine terrain contrast sharply with the passive experience of air travel. To hire a vehicle, it’s advisable to reach District Dir KPK early in the morning and book a jeep for Chitral Valley from this point. You can also avail services a shared jeep.

Lowari top - A visit to Kalash valley

Accommodation in Kalash Valle

Certain precautions must be observed while paying a visit to Kalash Valley. Keep in mind that accommodation options in the Kalash Valley are primarily limited, but offer a unique and authentic experience.  Travellers can find guesthouses and small hotels run by residents serving Halal food. Immerse yourself completely by staying at these local spots where you can embrace the customs and lifestyle of the Kalash people. While the amenities may be basic, hospitality and the stunning natural surroundings make the stay memorable for those seeking a genuine and off-the-beaten-path adventure.

FAQs about A Visit to Kalash Valley

  1. How Kalasha people celebrate the death ceremonies?
    • Answ: The Kalasha people celebrate the death of a family member with dances, beating drums, and gunfire, rather than mourning. They place the coffin in a graveyard under the open sky. Traditionally, the belongings of the deceased are put in the coffin, though this practice has mostly ceased due to theft incidents.
  2. What are some of the primary festivals of Kalasha people, and when do thiey take place?
    • Ans: The Kalasha people celebrate three primary festivals. These uniques festivals are Chilam Joshi in mid-May, Uchau during the Fall season, and Chawmos in early December. Chawmos is the main festival celebrated for two weeks.
  3. What changes have occurred in the population of the Kalash Valley over time, and what has contributed to these changes?
    • Ans: The population of the Kalash Valley has decreased from around 200,000 to 3,000-4,000. The main reason for the population decline is the conversion of many Kalasha people to other religions.
  4. How has tourism impacted the economy and lifestyle of the Kalash people?
    • Ans: In addition to agriculture, tourism has also become a vital source of income for the Kalash people. It is leading to an improvement in their lifestyle and living standards. Many locals have opened shops and guest houses to cater to tourists, shifting away from traditional agriculture and livestock farming.

By Munir Jan

With over two decades of writing experience, I am a seasoned male blogger who delves into deep insights and shares vast knowledge through engaging content. My journey has seen me enriching my blog with valuable perspectives, and establishing myself as a credible authority in my field. Presently, I contribute to my website (mjadil.com), where I have published several blogs, with numerous similar contents on various topics soon to follow. Focusing primarily on Local and International Tourism for the time being, I hold a Master's degree in English Literature. This background empowers me to craft articles, content, and blogs across multiple topics. My tenure includes teaching English Literature at Oxford College in Pakistan and participating in seminars and workshops sponsored by international donors. My blogs have garnered wide appreciation from optimistic readers worldwide. Eager to collaborate with renowned clients, I aim to share my extensive experience and acumen as a passionate freelancer.

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