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Historic routes of Chitral

Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

As most of our readers know Chitral is hemmed in by high sierras with a few routes to be used in winters since the time when conditions inside the valleys of Chitral had become habitable despite hard geographical conditions. 

The oldest settlements in various valleys needed tracks and trails over cliffs and rivers. The gorges of the rivers were almost impassable in summers so winter trails were different from the summer trails but were selected closer to water sources wherever possible. There were many historic routes of Chitral.

The tracks from upper Chitral to lower Chitral presented a number of hurdles at more than a dozen places besides the crossing of the rivers. In the shadow of the mountains and vertical cliffs the routes often got damaged and new ones were to be carved out. The old tracks went on both sides of the main river but crossed at the easier point such as the one which started from upper Chitral passed through Kosht-Gohkir to Parpish on the right side of the river and then it went down to Prayit and at the lower end of that village there was a bridge which was used to enter Mroi and then down to Chitral.

The Kosht to Prayit trail is no longer useable but its traces are visible for a student of history. This trail had been used for centuries.

The trail via Kalak – below Kuragh – was used in winters but at the middle it climbed up a steep and dangerous pasture and landed lower Zait and rejoined the river bank to Reshun. Then at Kari it went up once again and reached a great height where the rocks were negotiated for hundreds of meters and descended into Nirdedgol. Then it once again went along the river and reached Denin where there was a fort of the old days which is known  to only a few  and that site is now called Paranu Noghorgher – the site of old Fort- which had been built there before the construction of Chew bridge.

The river then flowed close to Balach (then a waterless waste land) and the site of that Fort is now the place where there is the slaughter House of TMA. That Fort was one of the oldest ones and the Jang Bazar area was not the main area of Chitral town.

It is to be noted that communication was almost impossible in summers but swimmers could reach the destinations where some assignment was to be performed. Swimming was then a very popular pursuit and one of the best skills of the old Chitralis which had its own ethics and techniques to be discussed later.

Another route among the historic routes of Chitral started from Kosht and went to Oveer from where it took the trail to Susoom and Shoghore in the Khuzara valley. This was an alternate route and had been used by many state dissidents and asylum seekers.

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