Chitral Valley, Pakistan
The iconic valley of Chitral is one of the most beautiful valleys located at an elevation of 1,494 m, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan. Also known as “Palace of Fairies”, the valley is spread over an area of 1,4800 km but 90% of its area is under mountains. It has 35 small valleys and the most famous ones are Kalash, Mastuj, Shishi Koh, Broghail, Tor Khow, and Or Khow. It is also home to one of the highest peaks of Hindukush Range “Tirich Mir” which lies at 24,263 ft. Nearly all the peaks here are above 4000 ft.
October to March
Winters are very cold and the facilities are limited. Though the city remains open throughout the year, but during winters many tourist spots around Chitral remain disconnected due to heavy snowfall.
April to May
During spring, the weather is mostly unpredictable with regular rain and landslides making few places around Chitral unapproachable.
June to September
It is the best time to visit as the temperature is moderate and all the places are open. During the summers, visitors can enjoy famous festivals of Chitral.
Visit Chitral National Park
The park is known as “Gol National Park” and is a two-hour drive from the town of Chitral.
The polo tournament or ‘Shandur Polo tournament’ has been held at Chitral since 1936 and is an absolute delight for any polo enthusiast.
Mountains covered with a green grass carpet is the perfect backdrop to paragliding.
Some of the trekking routes are from Drosh to Madaklasht, Golden, Kuguzi ending at Chitral and another route starts from Chitral to Shoghore, Saasum, Ovir ending at Mroi.
Archery, swimming, rock climbing, cliff rafting, horse races and other recreational activities are some of the things which can be enjoyed while visiting Chitral.
Tikki: A bread baked over coals in a special mould and is eaten for breakfast. One can also find Khesta, Phulka and Rishiki bread variations served with honey and cottage cheese.
Dry Meat Dishes: Roasted mutton seasoned with salt called Rondijhzu and delicious crispy roasted chicken Taaw Kahak are popular local delicacies. Tawa Machi, made of brown and rainbow trouts is also a favourite dish among tourists.
Soups: The famous soups of the region include a Chitrali noodle soup, Kalli, Leganu, Lajhaik (similar to Kashmiri hareesa), khhamalogh and Kawirogh.
Experience the Culture
Chitral is famous for its gemstones, Chitrali caps, waistcoats, long coats, rugs, carpets, finely embroidered shawls and indigenous folk Music especially the Chitrali sitar. In 1995, Princess Diana also wore the Chitrali Cap during her visit to Chitral.
Khowar (Chitrali) is the main language of the region. In addition, 14 other languages like Palola, Kalasha, Ursoonwar, Gawarbut, Pashto, Goshti, Dari, Dangariwar, Sheikhwar, Yadgha, Wakhi, Shina, Balti, Guri and Gujari are also spoken here.
Festivals Celebrated in Chitral
The Qaqlasht Festival
It is celebrated in the month of April. Major events of the festival include polo matches, tug of war, falcon prey, racing, shooting, hockey, football and other activities like mushairas (poetry readings), traditional food stalls and paragliding.
Shandur Polo Festival
The three-day Shandur Polo Festival has developed steadily in recent years into a massive celebration of mountain polo.
It is a week-long festival celebrated in mid-September each year. This festival features cultural activities and traditional sports of the Hindukush & Karakorum communities.
The main events of the Baroghol Festival include horse Polo, Yak polo and the Buz kashi (which includes a horse rider carrying a goat carcass and defending himself against opponent riders). Tourists enjoy the cuisine, participate in musical concerts and dance to the beat of Wakhi music and ride yaks and mountain ponies.
Kalash Valley Festivals
Seasonal festivals like Joshi Spring Festival (May 13-16), Uchal Festival (August 20-21), Phool Festival (mid-October) and Chaumas Festival (December 7-22) are celebrated in the Kalash Valley.