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Kalash Festival of Chilim Joshi

  • Itinerary:
    Islamabad - Taxila - Besham Gilgit - Karimabad - Khunjerab Pass - Karimabad - Gilgit - Gupis - Phandar Lake - Shandur Pass - Mastuj - Chitral - Birir - Bomburet - Lowari - Saidu Sharif - Karkara Pass - Swabi - Islamabad
  • Duration:
    15 days / 14 nights
  • Price:
    on request
  • Tour program
    Itinerary of «Kalash Festival of Chilim Joshi»
    Day 01: Arrive Islamabad – Flt
    Meeting on arrival assistance and transfer to your hotel
    Afternoon sightseeing tour of Islamabad visit Shakerparian Hills – the wonderful view point, later visit Lok Virsa – the Folk Heritage Museum. Drive through the main avenues of Islamabad, passing by important Govt buildings. Also visit a living village of Saidpur and Faisal Mosque
    Meals and overnight

    Day 02: Islamabad/Taxila/Besham – 280 kms
    Morning depart for Besham enroute see Taxila
    We shall visit Taxila Archaeological Museum one the best with its large collection of artefacts and Statues from nearby monasteries. Later we shall proceed to the sites of Sirkap city ruins was founded by Bactrian Greeks with their typical chessboard pattern.
    See the town plan, the shrine of Double Headed Eagle, a private stupa the acropolis in the distance.
    Later we shall proceed to the Buddhist monastery of Jaulian dating from 2nd to 5th AD – it is one of the most preserved of monastery with its plan, the stone walls, the stupa court with its beautiful figures, the main monastery courtyard with its other establishments
    later continue to Besham with lunch stop at Abbotabad – we shall continue on the Karakoram Highway though beautiful landscape of terraces rice fields to narrow valleys.
    We shall drive on the mouth of the valley meeting river Indus at Thakot – not far from this point higher above is the defile of mount Ora or Aornos of the Greeks, captured by Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army. We shall then cross river Indus and drive to Besham and on arrival transfer to motel by the river
    Overnight

    Day 03: Besham/Gilgit – 347 kms
    Morning depart for Gilgit on the Karakorum Highway we shall drive by the river Indus flowing down through the gorge with might furore. There are some scenic points with wonder views of the valley. Our first stop will be at Shatial near the bridge to see a large collection of rock art work – the rock drawings and inscriptions dating from 1st BC to 7th AD these collections of stupa drawings, bronze period signs, various inscriptions in Kharoshti, Khotanese, Brahmi, Devanagari and Chinese.
    Later we shall continue and on a clear day we shall see the first glimpse of Nanga Parbat(8125m) more famous as the killer mountain is known to be the most difficult. As we continue further we shall see some great views of other peaks like Haramosh and Rakaposhi. Arriving in the late afternoon to Gilgit and transfer to Hotel.
    Early arrival will enable us that we may see the game of Polo in town!!!
    Overnight

    Day 04: Gilgit/Karimabad – 110 kms
    Morning we shall visit Gilgit town – the rock engraved image of 5th or 7th century Buddha.
    The town bazaar a walk across the old bridge on river Gilgit
    Lunch at hotel
    Later depart for Hunza valley with short stops enroute see the beautiful Rakaposhi peak (7788m) continue to Karimabad and on arrival transfer to Hotel.
    Short hikes in the village around the hotel
    Dinner and overnight

    Day 05: Karimabad/Khunjerab Pass/Karimabad
    Today we shall explore the upper Hunza valley as it tends to be narrow through the high mountain scenery surrounded by glaciers Passu peak(7478m) see the glacier under its shadow by the same name. Drive through Passu village we drive past a huge ice mass of Batura Glacier about 58 kms long. As we drive through wonderful mountain views through the village of Khyber valley open up at Sust village – the border formalities point. We are escorted by border guards as we start climbing though the narrow passage climbing gradually to Khunjerab Top(4934m) – the highest point on the road stands the cross over point into China. Later after some moments on top we shall start to return in the afternoon the mountain light changes with sun as we can see some stunning moments of Gojal Peaks in bright afternoon sun
    We shall visit Ghulkin village and shall have meal with a local Wakhi family
    Later return to Karimabad
    Overnight

    Day 06: Karimabad
    Morning we shall visit Baltit village and Fort and later drive to Altit village and fort
    We shall have lunch with local family house – see the way of life and interact with the family members
    Later return to your hotel and in the afternoon we shall make an excursion to Hoper village in the valley across in Nagar
    Overnight

    Day 07: Karimabad/Gilgit/Gupis – 240 kms
    Morning depart for Gupis west of Gilgit – we shall make a brief stop at Gilgit and later proceed to Ghizer valley. Enroute we shall make a short detour to Sher Qila, once the central part of the valley – we shall visit village and after a meal at local house proceed to Gupis. Many short stops at the villages enroute to see the daily life of the people living west of Gilgit. These valleys are inhabited by Shina Language speaker which is Indo-Dard group of languages. Before the arrival of Islam local people professed Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrian faith. Unfortunately the signs of old beliefs are gone however they preserve their ancient religions in present day Islamic traditions. They still regard fire as holy and believe in spirits controlling the world
    On arrival transfer to PTDC motel
    Later we shall make a short drive up north to Yasin valley to the village of Tawus
    Return to Gupis
    Overnight

    Day 08: Gupis/Phandar Lake/Shandur Pass/Mastuj – 129 kms
    This will be an interesting day as we make short visits enroute making stops at the villages enroute. This is mostly photographic stretch and we will make stops at the people doing their daily work in the fields or carrying fire wood – on arrival at Phandar Lake we shall see a wonderful sight of the whole valley from top. Later after a short stop we shall start decent into the valley and again climb up a steep ravine to reach an opening at 3800m is Shandur
    Pass with a large lake. This marks the boundary between Gilgit and Chitral and as we enter into Chitral the language changes again – locally it is called Khowar we shall continue driving to Mastuj, the district Head Quarters once was used for the caravans coming from Wakhan
    On arrival transfer to local Guest House
    Overnight

    Day 09: Mastuj/Chitral – 116 kms
    Morning we shall depart on a paved road to Chitral – we shall make short stop at the sights of beautiful Bonizom Peak (6542m) of Hinduraj group of mountains later continue further to Chitral we shall see on our back Tirichmir Peak (7708m) the highest of Hindukush range
    On arrival transfer to Hotel
    Later we shall have walking tour of Chitral visit Old Fort of Chitral with nice view of TirichMir in the background. Later walk to Shahi Mosque the oldest of Chitral and the Bazaar
    Late afternoon we shall check if Polo Game is in progress and if so shall see polo game
    Overnight

    Day 10: Chitral/Birir/Bomburet – 70 kms
    Morning depart for Bomburet Kalash valley – we shall first visit the village of Birir the more orthodox of the three valleys. Visit the village of Guru up on the hill
    Later after spending some time we shall depart for Bomburet – the main valley of the Kalash - on arrival transfer to Guest House, make short hikes in the valley visit the Kalash village of Batrik and afterwards to Shiekhnandeh – the people from this village came from Nuristan in 1893 during the Afghan Kings purges for forcible conversion to Islam. They settled in this valley for a long time though converted and keep strict adherence to Islam
    If the tour happens at the time of Joshi Festival – we shall visit the village of Batrik and see the first rituals and dances of start of the festival
    Overnight


    Day 11: Bomburet
    Morning we shall have walking tour of Batrik and Anish village Kalash villages – it will be an interesting opportunity to visit their houses and places of worship to know about Kalash pantheon the mill houses and schools. These are great photo ops. keeping in view the customs and traditions of Kalash people.
    At the time of Chilmjusht or Joshi – we shall see and walk around with the Kalash to celebrate with them the festival in full fervour. See their dances and music in full swing of their traditional cultural performances
    After lunch at the Guest House we shall proceed on excursion to Rumbur village the second Kalash village – see also how they celebrate
    Later return to your hotel
    Overnight

    Kalash Kafirs:
    Kalash literally means ‘wearers of black robes’ once associated with a large group of people spread across into Afghanistan. The part in Afghanistan is called Nuristan – the land of lighted people. Nuristan prior to invasion in 1895 by the Emir or King of Afghanistan was known as Kafiristan – land of infidels. At that time Emir of Afghanistan was facing struggle of survival after his progressive reforms were rejected by the clergy and in order to dampen their anger he waged a so called ‘Holy War’ against the Kafirs forcing their conversion to Islam by power and bribe.
    Infact prior to the invasion of Kafiristan Surgeon Major GS Robertson had visited in 1893.
    He wrote interesting intercourse with Kafirs an authoritative account in his book called ‘Kafirs of Hindukush’ writes about their daily life, character and their rituals.
    His was infact first ever visit of any western traveller into Kafiristan valleys. Kafirs living on the Afghan part were called ‘Red Kafirs’ due to their fair complexion while Kalash the Black Kafirs were considered lower in order and wore black robes and were living in the domains of British India, the part of Chitral State which is now Pakistani territory.
    Being on British Indian territory they survived the purges of Emir of Afghanistan. But then at the time of ‘Holy War’ interestingly many Red Kafirs fled across into British Indian part to escape prosecution. They are found settled in all the three Kalash valleys at the end of each village and maintain their identity. Though they are also converted to Islam in due course of time as they had kept their relation across the border.
    Kalash are subdivided into three valleys, Bomburet, the biggest and wider, Rumbur is the smallest while Birir is more orthodox adhering to Kalash religious belief. The villages in these valleys are mostly built as huge wooden structures artfully clinging to a mountain slope or to cliffs. Nuristani or Shaykh villages at the end of each valley are artfully carved very true to Nuristani architecture where a well know village called Kamdesh is most beautiful and known for wood work.
    Kalash pantheon is a low form of idolatry with every village having wooden effigies of various gods put at a prominent village. Their rituals and religious practices and presence of many deities could be early form of Vedic rituals or beliefs. The chief deity and the supreme called ‘Mahadeo’ is placed above a village and its abode is the site of various sacrifices. Groma or place of worship is a large room built of huge logs from pine or cedar trees. This place is mostly used in winter months when outside when outside is cold. Kalash celebrate four annual festivals: Chilimjusht – the spring festival from May 13-16 marks the beginning of spring season and is the time to start tiling the fields. Pul is celebrated in Sep on a full moon day – this marks finishing the work at fields when the produce is gathered.
    Uchau is celebrated in Oct marks the collection of grapes, apples and shedding of walnuts and collection of corn. This also marks the preparation of wine which is kept in cellars or wooden store houses – box looking.
    Chaumas – the mid-winter Dec-Jan festival which is indoors and celebrated with final vigour by drinking the already matured wines and sacrificing goats to gods.

    Ritual dancing and chants: Every ritual or religious ceremony starts with a sacrifice of goat by the chief priest who utters few chants. On important occasions these sacrifices are followed by ritual dances and chants – well Kalash have lost meanings of their ritual practices but they know these are for enticing a certain deity or god. Sometimes trees are considered as abodes of their deities. They are basically animist believers where as each act of nature is associated with a certain deity. The beliefs are a mixture of Vedic and Avestan practices in their nascent ages. They could have emigrated from the Caucasus region as their burial practices are similar to some early group of nomadic people. They dress the decease in full garb and place it in a wooden coffin which is then placed at an isolated hillside and revisited after certain period of time celebrating the freedom from worldly luxuries to heaven. Normally in the olden times they used to place an effigy signifying the dead person and elaborated with fine wood carving according to the status of the deceased

    Day 12: Bomburet/Lowari/Saidu Sharif – 297 kms
    Morning depart for Swat Valley – we shall drive passing through Drosh town on to Lowari Tunnel and later descend into Dir – we shall stop for Lunch
    Later continue to Saidu Sharif and after arriving at Chakdara head in the valley. We shall make short stop to see Shenghardara Buddhist Stupa
    continue and on arrival transfer to Hotel
    Overnight

    Day 13: Saidu Sharif
    Morning we shall drive upto Jehanabad to see rock carved image of Buddha dating from 5th AD – later visit Madyan village and later return
    Afternoon visit Swat Museum – see the wonderful collection of artefacts and statues reflecting the northern Gandharan sculpture. This collection comes from nearby sites
    Afterwards proceed to Butkara Buddhist monastery – Saidu Stupa this place was excavated and restored by the Italian mission under Dr Tucci
    Later return to your hotel
    Overnight

    Uddiyana – the Buddhist Kingdom:
    Uddiyana or Garden of the Buddhists, Swat valley was once cradle of Buddhist thought and culture. It once boasted of numerous Buddhist monasteries and stupas spread all over the valley which mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Huen Tsang at 1400 in number. These monasteries when visited by the Chinese pilgrim were already in decadence as described by the pilgrim that in the monasteries there are monks but they do not know meaning of their chants. Prior to his visit these badly destroyed during the brazen invasion of the White Huns in 5th AD who supplanted Kushan rule in the region.
    Swat the land of the birth of Padmasambhavan the 8th century sage – initiated in Tibet with great reverence and founder of Tantric Buddhism.

    Day 14: Saidu Sharif/Karkara Pass/Swabi/Islamabad – 277 kms
    Morning depart for Islamabad we shall drive up Barikot (Bazira of the classical writers) towards Karkara pass. Afterwards proceed to down into the plains to reach Shahbazgarhi
    See the rock edicts of Ashoka the Great dating 250BC – later continue to Islamabad
    Arrive in the late afternoon and transfer to Hotel
    Farwell Dinner at local restaurant
    Overnight

    Day 15: Islamabad/Depart – Flt
    Early morning transfer to airport for your departure flight
    Assistance on departure
  • Details
    Details of itinerary & map

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