Kalash Valleys of Chitral

Pictures of Kalash Women: A Kalash woman helping her daughter cross a stream on a bamboo pole, both dressed in black traditional dress - Photos of Kalash Women, ChitralBrief History: The Kalasha or Kalash are indigenous people who live in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They speak the Kalasha language and practice polytheistic religion (Belief in many gods). They are related to the Nuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan (Previously known as Kafiristan) province of Afghanistan. However, most of Nuristani people had embraced Islam by the end of 19th century.
Kalash people live in three remote mountain valleys: Bumburet, Rumbur, and Birir. These valleys are opening towards the Kunar River, some 20 km south of Chitral city. A mountain pass, located at a height of approximately 3000 m, connects the Birir and Bumburet valleys. The Kalash villages in all three valleys are located at an altitude of about 1900 to 2200 m. The maximum temperature in summers varies between 23° and 27 °C (73° to 81 °F) and the minimum temperature during winters varies between 2° and 1 °C (36° to 34 °F).
The Kalash people have a distinctive culture which is completely in contrast with the other tribes living close by. In their religion, sacrifices are offered and festivals held to  thank their gods for the bountiful resources in their area. Kalash valleys are made up of two peculiar cultural regions, the valleys of Rumbur and Bumburet forming one and Birir valley the other, Birir valley being the most traditional of the two. Kalash are much closer to Indo-Iranian traditions, but some of  them claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers, however, extensive genetic testing has shown no connection. Kalash people have blond hair, fair skin, and green eyes.

Map Showing Three Kalash Valleys (Bumburet Valley, Rumbur Valley, and Birir Valley)

Pictures of Kalash Valleys, Chitral, Pakistan: Map of Chitral District also showing three Kalash valleys; Bumburet Valley, Rumbur Valley, and Birir Valley - Kalash Photos

PTDC Motel in Bumburet, Kalash. The PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) Motel is located at Bumburet in Kalash Valley. It has 14 cozy rooms and a restaurant. Foreign tourists need a permit to enter Kalash Valley which is issued at the entrance of Kalash Valley. Tourists entering the valleys have to pay a toll to the Pakistani government, which is used to preserve the Kalash culture.

Pictures of Kalash Valleys : PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) Motel at Bumburet, Kalash, with cozy rooms and a restaurant - Kalash Photos, Chitral

How to go to Kalash ValleysThe best time to go to Kalash is summer (May to September). You can take a PIA  flight from Islamabad or Peshawar. This 50 minutes flight operates 4 days in a week, subject to weather ((Flight status and schedule can be checked at the official website of PIA: http://www.piac.com.pk/ ). You can also go to Kalash by road both from Islamabad and Peshawar. It takes around 10 hours from Islamabad to reach Chitral by road and about 7 hours from Peshawar. You can rent a vehicle with a driver to go to Kalash from Chitral and it takes about two hours to reach Bumburet valley. Foreigners need special permit to go to the area.
The best deal to visit Kalash is to book a trip through Hindkush Trails, one of the best tour operators in the area. The website is www.hindukushtrails.com

 Hindukush Heights is the best hotel in Chitral. Tatler, UK, in its travel guide 2010 ranks it among “the best 101 hotels in the world”. The hotel is run by its owner Siraj Ulmulk, an ex PIA pilot, and his wife Ghazalla Ulmulk. For more details and reservation, please see the website www.hindukush.com.pk

A Smiling Kalash Girl. Kalash girls are married at an early age. Marriage by elopement is very common among Kalash people.

Pictures of Kalash Women: A smiling Kalash girl wearing conventional Kalash dress, embroidered with cowrie shells - Photos of Kalash Women, Chitral

Two Kalash Girls Wrapped in an Embroidery Shawl

Kalasha Pics, Images: Two Kalash girls wrapped in an embroidery shawl - Kalash Valleys Photos

A Handsome Kalash Boy Poses in Front of a Camera. Photo by Tahir Khan Kayani.

Kalasha Pictures: A handsome Kalash boy poses in front of a camera - Photos and Images of Kalash Valleys

Kalash Girls in Their Traditional Dress Making Victory Sign

Pictures of Kalash Women: Three joyous Kalash girls in their traditional dress, two girls making victory sign - Photos of Kalash Women, Kalash Valleys, Chitral, Pakistan

A Beautiful Kalash Girl, Wearing Colourful Headdress. Photo by manalahmadkhan.

Pictures of Kalash Women: A beautiful Kalash girl, wearing colourful headdress - Photos of Kalash Women

FC (Frontier Corps) Mess at Bamuret, Kalash. Photo by Tahir Khan Kayani.

Kalasha Pictures: FC (Frontier Corps) Mess at Bamuret, Kalash - Photos of Kalash Valleys

Traditional Black Dress of Kalash Women. Kalash women usually wear long black robes, often embroidered with cowrie shells. For this reason, they are known in Chitral as “The Black Kafirs”. In this photo, a Kalash woman is helping her daughter cross a stream on a bamboo pole, both dressed in black traditional dress.

Pictures of Kalash Women: A Kalash woman helping her daughter cross a stream on a bamboo pole, both dressed in black traditional dress - Photos of Kalash Women, Chitral

A Kalash Girl Carrying Her Younger Brother in Her Lap, Rumbur ValleyPhoto by Carol, bag_lady’s.

Kalasha Pics, Images:A Kalash girl carrying her younger brother in her lap, Rumbur Valley - Kalash Valleys Photos

Two Kalasha Girls Taking a Walk in Their Village

Kalash Photos, Images; Two Kalasha girls taking a walk in their village - Kalash Valleys Pictures, Chitral

A Cute Little Smiling Kalash Girl. Photo by Carol, bag_lady’s.

Kalasha Pics, Images: A cute little smiling Kalash girl in her traditional dress - Kalash Valleys Photos

A Kalash Girl with Green Eyes, Wearing Beads

 Kalash Valleys Pictures: A Kalash girl with green eyes wearing beads - Kalash Photos, Chitral, Pakistan

A Kalash Girl with Cowrie Shells Headdress 

 Kalash Pictures: A Kalash girl with colourful headdress made of cowrie shells - Kalash Valleys Photos, Chitral, Pakistan

A Kalash Girl in Traditional Dress with Flowers in Her Headdress 

Kalasha Pics, Images: A Kalash girl in traditional dress with flowers in her headdress - Kalash Valleys Photos

Two Kalash Women standing Outside a Shop at Rumbur. Photo by Tahir Khan Kayani.

Kalasha Pictures: Two Kalash women standing near a shop at Rumbur - Photos of Kalash Valleys

Three Dancing Girls of Kalash. Photo by Imran Schah.

Kalash Pictures: Three dancing Kalash girls in colorful dresses - Kalash Valleys Photos, Chitral, Pakistan

Kalash Students Entering School Building. Kalash students walk to class through the entrance of the Kalasha Dur School and Community Center in Brun village, located in Bumburet Valley. Photo by Imran Schah.

Kalash Pictures: Kalash students are entering Kalasha Dur School and Community Center - Kalash Valleys Photos

Kalash Students Learning Kalasha Alphabet in School. Teacher Noorzia Khan, 16, writes letters from the Kalasha alphabet on a blackboard during a lesson at the Kalasha Dur school and community center in Brun village, located in the Bumburet Kalash Valley.

 Kalash Pictures: Kalash students learning Kalasha alphabet in Kalasha Dur School - Kalash Valleys Photos

Four Kalash Girls during Spring Festival, 2012. The three main festivals of the Kalash are the Joshi festival in late May, the Uchau in autumn, and the Chawmos in midwinter.

Kalasha Pics, Images: Four Kalash girls sitting under a tree during spring festival, 2012 - Kalash Valleys Photos

Kalash Women  Dancing at Joshi (Spring) Festival. The Kalash people celebrate the end of winter in May each year with the Joshi (Spring) Festival. The first day of Joshi is Milk Day. People go from house to house, dancing and singing. Each household offers milk that has been saved for 10 days before the festival. As hours of dancing reach a climax on the final day, men and women separate in dancing areas and each take branches of walnut to wave as they dance. At the shout of a Shaman, they throw their branches in the air. Photo by Hector Salazar.

Kalasha Pics Images: Kalash women dancing at Joshi (Spring) Festival - Kalash Valleys Photos

Joshi Festival. Two Kalash girls at Joshi Festival. Photo by imranthetrekker.

Pictures of Kalash Women: Two Kalash girls at Joshi Festival, wearing customary Kalash dress,colourful bead necklaces and caps - Photos of Kalash Women

A Young Kalash Girl Sitting on a Stool, Rumbur Valley. Photo by Carol, bag_lady’s.

Kalasha Pics, Images: A young Kalash girl sitting on a stool, Rumbur Valley - Kalash Valleys Photos

A Kalash Girl in the Doorway of Her House in the Village of Balanguru, Rumbur Valley. Photo by Carol, bag_lady’s.

Kalasha Pics, Images: A Kalasha girl in the doorway of her house in the village of Balanguru, Rumbur Valley - Kalash Valleys Photos

A Kalash Family at Rumbur Valley Cleaning the Rice. Photo by Carol, bag_lady’s.

Kalasha Pics, Images: A Kalash family at Rumbur Valley cleaning the rice for the evening meal - Kalash Valleys Photos

A Kalash Woman, Shazia Bibi, Cooking the Bread for the Evening Meal, Rumbur ValleyPhoto by Carol, bag_lady’s.

Kalasha Pics, Images: A Kalash woman Shazia Bibi cooking the bread for the evening meal, Rumbur Valley - Kalash Valleys Photos

An Old Kalasha Woman with Colorful Headdress and Bead Necklaces. The women folk of Kalash make their clothes and headdresses in the winter season when they are unable to work in the fields because of severe cold. Photo by Carol, bag_lady’s.

Kalasha Pics: An old Kalasha woman with colorful headdress and beads necklaces - Kalash Valleys Photos

A Very Old Kalash Woman With Fancy Headdress

Kalasha Pics, Images: A very old Kalash woman with fancy headdress - Kalash Valleys Photos

‘Bashalani’, a Segregated Building for Kalash Women. According to Kalash religious custom, the menstruating girls and women are sent to live in a separate building, called the “Bashalani”, during their periods, until they regain their “purity”. They are also required to give birth in the Bashalani where they are shifted during the last month of pregnancy.
In this photo Kalash women are standing outside the Bashalani to take the clothes for washing from their relative women inside the Bashalani. Photo by Gul Hamaad Farooqi.

Pictures of Kalash Women: Kalash women standing outside the Bashalani to take the clothes for washing from women inside the building - Photos of Kalash Women

A Kalash Girl Standing Outside the Bashali of Krakal Village . Photo by Tahir Khan Kayani.

Kalasha Pictures: A Kalasha girl outside the Bashali of Krakal village - Photos and Images of Kalash Valleys

Funeral Rituals by  Kalsah People. Kalash people leave their dead on a wooden coffin exposed to the weather and let it rot.  After one year a wooden statue is placed near the coffin in a ceremony to project the bravery of the dead man and his other good qualities. This ceremony is done in pomp and show followed by a feast.
Women are kept in the same clothes, which they wore at the time of death. For women and children there is no singing and dancing. If a women died during the course of delivery or during menstruation period in the Bashalani, her dead body would be directly shifted to the cemetery.  For the old women enjoying respect in the society, the relatives consider it a privilege to give her all possible honour by dressing her nicely and beauty touch is given to make her more attractive. Sometime artificial ornaments are also placed in her coffin. In the past, shoes with which she danced in her life time were also kept in her coffin.

Pictures of Kalash Valleys: A Kalash Cemetery showing wooden coffins exposed to the weather conditions - Kalash Photos, Chitral
Wooden Funeral Statues Made by Kalash Craftsmen. These wooden funeral statues are placed near the dead in a ceremony held one year after the death.
Pictures of Kalash Valleys: Wooden funeral statues made by Kalash craftsmen are placed near the dead in a ceremony held one year after the death - Kalash Photos, Chitral

Kalash Museum at Bumburet

Kalasha Pics Images: Kalash Museum at Bumburet - Kalash Valleys Photos

Related Pages:
Photos of Chitral
Photos of Abbotabad
Photos of Kaghan
Photos of Naran
Photos of Nathia Gali
Photos of Peshawar
Photos of Swat

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Comments

  1. Muhammad Irfan says:

    I like Kalash culture. I want go there but it is impossible.

  2. I would love to visit & if ever the Taliban are under control I just might.

  3. Abdul Rehman says:

    Thanks for these excellent pictures. Please add more images of Kalash Valley

  4. Sohail Nazeer says:

    Thanks dear.

  5. A.Z. Khan says:

    Wow!! I can’t believe it.

  6. Zain Ali Hashmi says:

    Awesome!!! I have made my mind to visit Kalash Valley.

  7. Adnan Rashid Idreesi says:

    Nice place with the nice people of Pakistan.

  8. Maj Siraj Syed (17 PMA Long Course), USA says:

    Great job done by Col Rashid Cheema, the Admin of Native Pakistan, to bring out the most gorgeous pictures of Chitral and the people with beautiful looks and clothes. My American friends cannot believe Pakistan is so gorgeous and beautiful. Colorado is supposed to be the most beautiful State of USA and they have created a town known as Ogalala which is like Switzerland, but seeing Kalash Valley, I feel it beats Ogalala. If the Kalash Valley had such beautiful wide roads, this country could have been considered the Number One wonder of the world which is now held by Peru.
    One agricultural engineer from Colorado goes to Pakistan twice a year and he happened to meet me in the Health Club I attend. He told me the best terrain in the whole world is in Pakistan where the land sloped all the way along the Indus till it reaches Karachi to the Arabian Sea. He said this place can produce sufficient wheat and other cereals for the whole of the world for the next hundred years. He also said if the menace of terrorism was not there, Pakistan could be the number one INTERNATIONAL CITY OF THE WORLD. He also blamed the Government of Pakistan which is so corrupt that it does not use the money to improve the country.

  9. Azam Gill, France says:

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures – a rare collection.

  10. Rana M Sadiq says:

    It is just a very small area picture of Pakistan. We have heaven like places on earth which could attract millions of tourists if we have peace and finish terrorism. It is a good effort to post these. I appreciate the effort.

  11. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    Thanks for such interesting, detailed and comprehensive information. Regards.

  12. Editor says:

    Pakistan is a Paradise for tourists. There should be more hotels and fool proof security arrangements to attract maximum tourists in Kalash Valleys.