Kalash Valley: A Complete Traveling Guide

Are you tired of the daily general routine of work or studies? Do you feel like it’s time to pack your bag and take a break from daily mundane life activities? Or, are you a nature explorer who cannot wait to visit northern areas of Pakistan. Well, one adventure that you can add to your traveling expedition is Kalash Valley Tour.

Surrounded by Hindu Kash, Kalash valley is the most stunning and wonderful place that you must visit at least once. The indigenous community of Kalash people resides in these valleys. The locals still adhere to their customs and traditions. The mystical and untouched beauty of the place attracts local and international tourists from all around the world.

You might have already traveled to Naran and roamed around its various famous tourist spots. Kalash valley in the Chitral district is a comparatively less explored region. Here, we will provide you with a complete guide for planning a perfect and most enjoyable tour to Kalash. Let’s start with getting familiar with local culture and its history.

Everything about Kalash Valley

Buildings in Kalash

Image of Kalash Valley from Google

Kalash or Kalasha is a compound of three valleys in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan. Bumburet valley is the most famous tourist destination in the Chitral District. The famous village of Baltik is also present in this valley. The other two valleys are Birir and Rumbur. Kalash valley is surrounded by the Hindukush mountain range. There picturesque valleys of Kalash have green and yellow fields and a wide lunch green meadow. The walnut and apricot tree simply add to the tourist attraction of the valley.

In contrast to Bumburet valley, Biriri and Rumbur are less developed from a tourism perspective. It will take you three hours to reach Rumbur valley from Chitral city. It is present in the heart of the Hindukush Mountain range. The valley has a very peaceful environment and you feel very close to nature as there are fewer tourists in the area of Kalash valley. The inhabitants are very hospitable and admire visitors for appreciating their culture and language.

The third valley in the region of Kalah is Birir valley. The inhabitants of this region are also from the Kalash community. Many tourists are less aware of this region of Kalash valley. There is a Birir trek that you can take to reach Bumburet valley. Together, these valleys are famously known as Kalash valley.

People of Kalash Valley

People of Kalash Valley

Photo of Kalash Valley from Google

Kalash people belong to a religious minority with a population size between four to five thousand. They speak a very unique language, Kalasha. They are very friendly towards both national and international tourists. People of the Kalash community have continued to stay true to their practices and tradition till this take, although the number of Kalash people has started to decline.

Kalash valley people are particularly famous for their garments. Kalash men generally wear Salwar-Kameez, the traditional dress of Pakistani men. However, females of the Kalash community are famous for their embroidered black garments. They wear loose black cotton tunics with long headdresses. Their shirts are heavily embroidered at hems, collars, and cuffs. They also complement glass bead jewelry that gives a perfect finishing to their attire.

There are several theories about the origin of the Kalash people. Some historians believe that their origin lies in Tsiyam, a region in South Asia. This theory is reflected in the traditional folk songs and stories of the Kalash people. The Kalash people together form a scheduled tribe that has legal and constitutional protection in Pakistan.

Culture of Kalash Valley

people enjoying spring festival in Kalash valley

Image of Kalash Valley Festival from Google

In Kalash culture, individuals do not marry outside of their ethnicity. but, they do maintain a peaceful relation with people belonging to other religions. Their culture also includes various festivals and is interlinked with their religion. In 2018, UNESCO declared it an “Intangible Culture Heritage.”

Festivities, celebrations, singing, and dancing are an essential part of Kalash people’s culture. Chilam Joshi in Spring, Uchau in Summer, and Chorus in winter are the three main festivals that people of Kalash valley celebrate each year. The spring festival, Chilam Joshi, is the most famous one that many local and international tourists travel to attend.

The purpose of the Kalash festival is for young male and female members of the Kalash community to find their right spouses. They wear traditional attires and dance in circles on the beat of drums. The air is full of joy, leisure, and festivity. It depicts the true picture of vibrant Kalash culture. It also sends out the message of peace and harmony to the world. For more insight on Kalash culture, you must visit the Kalash Dur museum in Bamburet.

Traveling to Kalash Valley

Image of the route to Kalash valley from Google Maps

You can opt for several routes and means of transport to travel to Kalash valley. The cheapest way to this tourist destination is by bus or personal car. But, if you are a nature lover and enjoy road trips, you can choose to travel by private car or by bus. The road distance between Kalash and Islamabad is approximately 400 km.

Islamabad to Chitral by Air

You can fly to Gilgit and then hire a taxi to take you to Kalash valley. However, it is not a recommended route unless you have designed your itinerary. Flights of Pakistan Int’l Airlines leave from Islamabad and Peshawar airport to Chitral Airport several times during the week. Three flights from Islamabad airport depart for Chitral on a weekly basis. Ticket prices can change depending upon the season you are traveling and the tourist’s influx. It is the safest and convenient way to travel to Kalash.

Islamabad to Chitral by Road

road to Chitral

Image of Kalash Valley from Google

It is the most adventurous route across the northern regions of Pakistan to reach different valleys of Kalash. Tourists can choose to travel by local buses as they are not expensive. There is a luxury bus service, Hindukash Express, available as well to take you from Islamabad to Chitral. Obviously, you travel in your personal vehicle with your friends, particularly your family, to go on this adventure.

It will take you around 8 to 9 hours to reach Kalash valley link road from Islamabad. The suitable time to depart from the capital is as early as 3-4 am in the morning.  You will start your journey from motorway M1 and move to GT road to travel towards Mardan and finally reach Malakand. From there you will get on GT N45 and get to Dir. You can stay here and enjoy your surroundings for around 30 minutes after a journey of 6-7 hrs.

Panchuka river accompanies the road on one side from Dir, making the scenic view more stunning and impressive. From Dir, you follow the river and either travel by Lowari top or Lowari Tunnel. Do keep in mind that the Lowari tunnel is not open to traffic throughout the day. It is only open between 9 am-1 pm and 3-7 pm in the evening. It will ultimately lead you to Darosh or Ayun in Chitral.

The Journey from Chitral to Kalash

Going to Kalash Valley

Photo of Chitral from Google

Once you have reached Chitral, getting to any Kalash valley follows a similar means of transport. Jeep is the commonly used public transport in Kalash valley. Around noon, you can get one from the central bus stand near Bank Alfalah, in Chitral city. A single seat in the jeep will cost you between Rs 2000-300. Besides jeeps, some tourists opt for shared cars too.

All the jeeps and shared minibusses pass by Ayun to reach the Kalash valleys. Ayun is a small village in the Chitral District, present at a distance of 7.3 Km from the main Chitral city. Many tourists like to spend a night in Chitral at various resorts, but you can find inns in Ayun village as well.

From Ayun, you travel to Rumbur (20Km), Bomborate (21.4 km), and Birir (11 Km). Note that jeep drivers will only travel to Birir in case of more demand. The road to Kalash villages is not carpeted and the ride is extremely bumpy. There is also no fence to protect you in case of falls and accidents. It can be a very dangerous yet highly adventurous part of your journey before reaching your final destination.

Where to Reside in Kalash Valley

guesthouse in Kalash valley

Photo of a residence place in Kalash valley from Google

There are several hotels, hostels, and guest houses that you can stay at while in Kalash.  If looking for a genuine Kalash culture experience, you can stay at Kalash’s house. The locals are very hospitable and offer tourists to stay at their residence. A way of responsible tourism is to appreciate their culture, food, and beverages. That way, you can help to provide economic benefits directly to the Kalash community.

You can easily find an inn for a night’s stay in Bamburet, as it is a more famous and generally visited valley. Kalash House in Brun, Kalash View, and Kalash Galaxy area are among a few examples. There are two to three Kalash-run Guesthouses in Rumbur. For instance, you stay at Kalash Home Guesthouse. They usually cost you perpers and prices can vary during peak tourism times.

The third valley, Birir, is considerably remote. You will also find fewer facilities there compared to other valleys. There are places like Irfan Guesthouse in Biri. This valley offers a perfect escape from the normal hustle-bustle Bamburet and Rumbur. You can not get any closer to nature than being in Birir.

Which mobile service works in Kalash Valley?

Many individuals need to stay connected to the outside world, especially when traveling to mystical yet remote areas like Kalash Valley. Of course, updating your Instagram feed with picture-perfect views is also alluring enough to have access to mobile service and internet connection. So, you can keep a Telenor mobile network SIM card with yourself, as it only works in the Kalash area.

Traveling Guidelines during Covid-19 Pandemic

Tourists follow Covid-19 related restriction guidelines in Kalash Valley. Traveling is not hampered, but you can follow some instructions. For instance, visitors are asked to wear masks and maintain a healthy distance of 1.5 meters. You must also follow safety guidelines while traveling to Kalash valley. There is a special National Coronavirus helpline is 9245746. If you feel like having Covid-19 symptoms, call on this number and get help from an official.

FAQs

What is Kalash Valley famous for?

Kalah valley is famous for its scenic views that give the necessary escape from busy daily life. The shimmering water streams criss-cross through green meadows which give a magnificent view. Another thing that is particularly famous of Kalash valley among female tourists is the traditional ornamented dresses of Kalash females. All such aspects attract tourists from around the world to Pakistan to go for the Kalash valley tour.

Is Chitral safe to visit?

Chitral is perfectly safe for national and international tourists to visit.  The weather conditions for going to Chitral are perfect during the months of January and February. This is the peak time for traveling as the weather is very pleasant. You can either opt for traveling by air from Peshawar airport or go by road via the Gilgit route to Chitral.

What is the religion of the Kalash people?

Kalash people are followers of polytheism. Their culture is interlinked with their religion that includes offering sacrifices to their gods. The religion of the Kalash people includes several celebrations and festivities as well.

What does Kalash mean?

The word Kalash has its roots in Indian culture, and it means Sacred water vessel or Pot. Kalash valley people practice Hinduism as well. Kalash is the name of boys in Indian culture.

What does the word Chitral mean?

The word Chitral is from the language Khowar, and its literal meaning is a field. Chitral is a city in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is also the capital of the Chitral district in KPK.

Why is Chitral valley famous?

Chitral is extremely famous for its picturesque views, culture, and hospitality. The most famous and widely visited tourist attraction in Chitral is Kalash Valley. The Kalash community, Kalash culture, and  Kalash festival bring in crowds of visitors to Chitral each year.

To summarize

while traveling to Chitral, you cannot skip paying a visit to Kalash villages. It is the untouched jewel of Pakistan, rich in history, culture, and natural wonders. You can follow our guide and travel to this mystical land, especially during their spring festival.

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