Kalash Valley, Pakistan

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Sitting with our Kalash friends during a break in the dancing
Sitting with our Kalash friends during a break in the dancing

In May 2012, I was lucky enough to take what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip, to a remote corner of the Hindukush mountains in northwest Pakistan. Near the town of Chitral (at an elevation of 3, 700 ft), and a 26-hour drive from my hometown in the plains, Lahore, the Kalash Valley is home to a small but unique tribe of people, the Kalash, “the wearers of the black robe”, Indo-Aryans who settled among these rugged peaks thousands of years ago, and have held on to their ancient beliefs, language and customs since then, while the rest of Central Asia assimilated to Muslim culture.

We visited the Kalash village of Bumburait at the time of their annual Spring Festival, “Chilum Josh“, and got the chance to see the iconic Kalash in all their pomp and glory. Their population, which was once fast declining due to forced conversions, is now on the rise; protection by the Pakistani government and growing local tourism has helped them maintain cultural independence.

Let this album take you on a photographic journey, from the windswept highways of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to the bustling streets of Chitral town, to the vibrant, beautiful faces of Kalash women and the windy, shadowy alleys of their hamlets on the hill.

Many thanks to the brilliant folks at Adventure Travel Pakistan for organizing the trip!

The Hindukush Mountains, en route to Chitral
The Hindukush Mountains, en route to Chitral
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8 thoughts on “Kalash Valley, Pakistan

    Amna K said:
    July 11, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Finally, you posted something! But this is not enough Manal. You should write more often.

    BaBa said:
    July 11, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Lovely photography, but we need to see a more detailed write up with your usual passion and brilliant expressions.For those who don’t know the real Pakistan this will be a real joy

    Zuhaib said:
    July 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I think the above two comments said enough :) Missed your writing like anything!

      manalkhan responded:
      July 16, 2012 at 11:30 am

      thanks for your patience guys :) i know i don’t write enough, but hope to break that bad habit…don’t give up on me!

    Nooruddin Jalal said:
    July 17, 2012 at 3:53 am

    You might be interested to read my piece about Chitral and the mountain fairies.
    http://nooru.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/chitral-where-time-stops-and-the-fairies-tread/

    Muhammad Shahbaz Asif said:
    November 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Manal you are one of those writers who can leave any one in trans for hours and hours, it will be your generosity to write often :)

    Kiran said:
    April 17, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Your writing is truly amazing and you definitely never fail to paint a picture in the reader’s mind :)

    […] transition. Cliff-diving in Khanpur under a shower of shooting stars, dancing arm-and-arm with Kalash women as spring blossomed in the Hindukush,  tracking brown bears and chasing golden marmots in the […]

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