By Asheq Ali
The foothills of Hindukush range provide an amazing landscape to our home: Chitral. The hostile mountain ranges surrounding the valley give a phenomenal portrait of nature. The natural architecture of Alpine forests cover the mountains providing a wonderful sculpture to the north. Grasses carpet the land and bushes along with large trees make a stable climax community of the forest. The pasture areas of Chitral are heavens for many beautiful birds and endangered animals, including chakor, snow cock, golden eagle, markhor, ibex and the mighty snow leopard. These areas are completely organic with diverse species of mushroom and wild vegetables inhabiting our home for centuries.
Chitral is among the few regions in the world where people completely experience all four seasons. The climate of Chitral is mild during the summer and freezing cold during the winter season. To make these four seasons livable, the calendar of Chitral is marked by some historical festivals which attract tourists from round the globe. We embrace the spring season with an amazing three-day Qaqlasht festival. The event is held when the spring season is at its peak. In the gala, players show great talent to uphold trophies. In the contests, more than 10 games are played.
Further, during the summers our polo grounds remain engaged. First, the district polo tournament is held among different teams of Chitral. After this tournament, the greatest rivalry of horses is witnessed in the highest polo ground of Shandur between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit. Summers are also beautified by the colourful Chelimjusht festival of Kalasha people. Moreover, the golden sunsets of autumns are sparkled by the festival of Broghil and we say goodbye to the year with yearly trophy hunting of markhor in the Shahre Sham valley and many more festivals.
Although the infrastructure of the area is not well developed, it is among the famous tourist resorts of the country. The presence of national parks, historical buildings and pattern of mountains with over 440 glaciers make Chitral a perfect tourist destination.
Furthermore, the colourful people of Chitral are hospitable and always follow their cultural norms. In Chitral, along with Muslims we have a minority group of Kalasha community. This group of people lives in the three remote valleys of Chitral.
Peace of Chitral is credited to its people because of unity among them. Speaking up to 14 languages, following different rituals still we stood in a same line. This shows cooperation, unity and respect for each other.
Historically, Chitral has been a part of the British Colonial rule as a princely state which was ruled by Mehtars of Chitral. After merging with Pakistan constitutionally, political activities started in Chitral. People of Chitral were given an opportunity to be part of parliament and raise their voice at the national level.
Since the time of the first Mehtar the dominant language has been Khowar. It is said that Khowar is a 1,300-year-old language. Like other languages, the poetic touch portrays our Khowar beautifully. Poets such as Baba Siyar, Gul Nawaz Khaki with beats of Sitar by Sonoghoro Malang and Mir Walid have given most amazing dimension to the language.
In addition, geographically Chitral shares borders with different provinces of Afghanistan. The route through Bashqar pass leads to Swat and Dir. Through Wakhan Corridor Chitral provides a short routes to China and Central Asian Republics.
To conclude, our home isn’t just a home but a festival blend calendar and a welcoming door to guests. The government needs to have special focus on Chitral for its beauty, history, colourful people, strategic importance and the indigenous languages.