Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig
As discussed briefly in the previous article, the tracks were not chosen only along the main river but sometimes they were over the hills or passes that connected the side valleys.
The main route to Chital from upper Chitral had one great obstacle at Karbiteli – below Kari – which was impassable round the year but in winters the mountain trail to the south-west of Kari came under snow and no one could dare to take that route so the travellers crossed a bridge at Kuju and walked on the right bank of the river and ascended the slope below lower Kuju and reached a grove of trees called ‘Kayon’ from where there was a good track to the top of the hill between Kari and the village of Seen by the Lotkuh river.
This route was known ‘Tunjobilen’. During the pandemic in 1918-19 (summer) the Mehtar was at Birmogh Lasht and did not allow anyone from the town of Chitral to reach his residence as in the town the whole population was suffering from that disease so for the Body Guard men from upper Chitral he had given orders not to come to the town but cross the river at Kuju, take the Tunjobilen route and then take the trail well above Singoor and reach the summer palace through the pine forest, fearing the pandemic.\
In summer, the route through Shah Sha below Shoghore remained cut off and the travelers had to climb a steep mountain of the range which took many hours to descend to the track once again. Because the gorge at this site is very narrow and the river unruly, hitting the rocks on both sides of the gorge and pedestrian traffic with some load was very hard. The people of Karimabad trekked through Bohtuli Gol – bypassing the Sha Sha gorge. The people of Oveer also preferred crossing the Oveer Aan to Kiar and then to Chitral via Sha Sha but in summer via Bohtuli Gol.
The Rech valley has seen a number of raids in the past by the rulers of Wakhan and the adjoining areas who came through Broghil and entered the upper parts of Rech valley, looted all food items and livestock and returned through the same route viz. Sha Jinali pass before the Mehtar of Chitral could manage to reach that distant part of his state. There were also high passes in the north of that valley known as Phurnisini, Ochili and Anosha but these were not feasible for large scale invasion and are now glaciated and impossible to cross.
Mehtar Sangin Ali of Chitral had come back with a good number of fighters hired in Swat after his return from India and entered Chitral via Kachi Khani pass above Sorlaspur valley and reached Mastuj before the ruler of the Raees family got intelligence report of his entry. So the routes mentioned above have their historic importance and the cragsmen of Chitral have never failed to use older trails or have carved out new ones to be able to meet emergencies.
The more important and the locally used trails are part of our heritage and require to be documented. Who will do it is simple to answer that since they are the heritage of Chitralis and they are to glean information about them and then document them. The NGOs working in Chitral must be made bound to fund such projects from the donations received each year and not to waste them on works of lesser value.
Historic routes of old Chitral