Historic routes of Chitral

Historic routes of old Chitral-3

Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig

In the previous two articles, the historic routes – internal old trails – had been discussed summarily and some readers were interested in that type of work and asked for more.

About the historic routes, I understand that the work needs better and fresher mind and physical condition with greater resources to travel and glean information about each trail, its history, its advantages and disadvantages along with true and folk tales attached to each trail that is each trail has a wide scope of history and could be a topic for research scholars. Let this part be left aside for those students of history.

I feel that Chitrali students of today take little interest in the history, culture (except dance and music) in resources, in potentials, in its geology, its land, the names of the villages, the tribes who lived here and developed many skills to be able to live independently.

I would like to go back to the old tracks that led out of Chitral in the distant past but now have become impassable due to heavy glaciations. In the Ujnu Gol valley of Torkho, there is a grave site called ‘Wokhikan gumbad’ ie  graveyard of Wakhi people. The people from Wakhan in summer travelled over the glaciers above 5,000m and reached Torkho through Ujnu Gol and went back with essential items. Once someone had died for some reason the bodies were buried there inside Chitrali territory. Their route was over a plain glacier now called Khotgaz glacier.

There is another Kotgaz – grassy pasture in the Roshgol valley of Terich – and they must have kept in mind that which one was easier.

Another of the historic routes through the sierras of Hindu Kush was via Roshgol valley that crosses a col at 5,468m but it is now heavily glaciated and there is no record of crossing the col in living history but ruins of Sangars tell that it was also used as an invasion route long long ago when hordes of central Asian tribes crossed those glaciers due to extreme hunger in that region, perhaps due to less glacier  on the north face of the col, into the Roshgol valley which is now a closed one.

These routes were also used by state dissidents and adherents of the exiled princes of the royal family of Chitral to cross such cols in summers to convey secret reports about the ruler of Chitral and his popularity or vice versa and possible invasion.

 

To be concluded

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