CHITRAL: The vast Qaqlasht plateau in Upper Chitral, which used to be thronged by thousands of local people for picnic during March and April, wears a deserted look in the wake of coronavirus threat this year.
Facing Terich Mir, the highest peak of Hindu Kush system of mountains, and located at the confluence of Mulkhow, Torkhow and Biyar valleys the 12-km long plateau is these days lush green and dotted by wild flowers of numerous colours.
In the wake of coronavirus threat, the centuries-old Qaqlasht festival was cancelled this year though the former rulers in the 18th and 19th centuries had been holding it regularly to welcome spring season after the harsh winter.
Of late, the four-day festival was being used by the government for promoting tourism.
This year, the vast expanse remains deserted as the local administration and police have imposed ban on visitors coming for picnic.
However, only herdsmen are allowed to cross the rivers of Mulkhow and Biyar to enter the area with their goats and sheep.
Shah Nawaz, 53, a resident of Kosht, said it was for the first time that he did not go to Qaqlasht during spring season. He said in past he would go there regularly riding his horse to play polo match.
He said that there were numerous polo grounds in Qaqlasht and over 50 per cent of polo players of Chitral belonged to this region.
Mazhar Ali Shah, who works in Peshawar, said he regularly visited the plateau along with his family in spring season, but this year he did not go there as he practiced social distancing to protect himself from coronavirus.