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The loss of chinar trees


CHITRAL: Two weeks have passed since the devastating flood in Chitral River swept away two centuries-old Chinar (maple) trees flanking the royal fort but the locals still widely bewail the loss of the old trees, which they call part and parcel of their heritage.

The social media platforms of the locals is brimming with posts and comments about the loss of the trees, which witnessed the rise and fall of many dynasts over the period of 200 years.

The president of Anjuman-i-Taraqqi Khowar, Shahzada Tanvirul Mulk, said the trees had the status of icons for the whole city and standing at the left corner of the fort, they afforded a panoramic view with Shahi Masjid building in the backdrop.

He said in the history books of Chitral, one could find a large number of the description of the chinar trees in different contexts, including the events of war between the local rulers and the British forces, who annexed Chitral in 1895.

Mr Mulk said as per law of preservation of archaeological sites, any building or tree attaining the age of 100 years and above was termed heritage. He added that those trees had the status of heritage and the relevant department was duty bound to ensure their preservation.

Dr Inayatullah Faizi, former manager of an IUCN project in Chitral, said that the natural age of a Chinar tree in Chitral had been estimated at 400 years that was about 700 years in Kashmir. The trees in question had crossed the age of 200 years, he added.

He said that about half-a-century ago, the trees stood at a distance of 100 feet from the course of river while the river was approaching them in the recent years and it went unheeded while last year the distance had reduced to about 10 to 12 feet.

Syed Harir Shah, the owner of a leading tour operating company, expressed his deep anguish and sorrow over the loss of the historic trees and said that those were one of the points of attractions for the foreign tourists in Chitral.

He said that the trees offered a magnificent look of the royal fort and attracted the very attention of the tourists when they passed through the Chew Bridge to enter the city.

Mr Shah demanded of the relevant authorities to preserve the building of royal fort, which seemed to be the next target of the high flood in Chitral River next year. “It will be a big tragedy and irreparable loss for Chitral,” he added.  


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