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Pakistan in Winter December 2006

Pakistan in Winter                   

Kalash Solstice Festival         December 9th to October 19th 2006      This was a trip with Wild Frontiers

 

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Introduction to the trip

This trip organized by Wild Frontiers (www.wildfrontiers.co.uk) started from Heathrow on Saturday 9th December 2006.  The flight was a good introduction to Pakistan as the passengers, beside six of our group, were nearly all of Pakistani decent with the majority traveling out to various weddings.  We were met early on December 10th at Islamabad airport by Jonny Bealby  and one other member of the group, the other three had arrived a day earlier and we were to meet them in Peshawar later.  Once we were packed in a small bus we drove to Peshawar with a short tea stop near Attock Fort.

After lunch at the Khan Klub, our accommodation for the next two nights, we had an interesting tour around the old bazaar with a visit to the mosque.

Fish seller

 

In the bazaar

 

 

 

Inside an old

merchants house

In the bazaar

 

 

Inside an old

merchants house

 

Making Chapattis

 

 

In the bazaar

Making Chapattis

 

In the bazaar

 

 

In the bazaar

In the bazaar

 

In the bazaar

 

 

In the bazaar

In the bazaar

 

Art deco influence

in Peshawar

 

The Mahabat Khan Mosque

The Mahabat Khan Mosque

 

 

December 11th 2006

As their had been cloud over the Lawari Pass our flight to Chitral was postponed by a day and so we took a trip up the Khyber Pass.  The journey took us along the Jamrud road to Jamrud Fort and the gateway to the Khyber Pass.  Foreigners are required to obtain passes and have an armed escort for the journey.  The road winds its way through the hills passing picket posts and small forts before reaching Landi Kotal, a bustling town a short way before the Michni Check post which is as far as we were allowed to go.  We could see the border down in the valley.  It was a clear day and we could see the snow capped mountains of Afghanistan. 

The entrance to the

Khyber Pass

 

 

The road up to the

Khyber Pass

Ali Masjid, the narrowest

part of the Pass

 

Badges of the many army

units which have served

in the Pass

Details of the many armies

to have past through

the pass

 

December 12th 2006

Off to the airport early for our flight in a Hercules C130 aircraft to Chitral.  The aircraft owned by the Pakistan Air Force was the type used for parachute  jumps and delivering supplies by air.  We sat in webbing seats in four parallel rows down the length of the aircraft.  Snack boxes were passed down hand to hand together with plastic cups and large bottles of drinks - it was self service.  It was very noisy and you could just stand up but it was impossible to walk about as we were very cosy sitting knee to knee!  We landed in Chitral after 45 minutes to a snowy landscape.  There had been eight inches of snow earlier in the week.  After lunch at the Mountain Inn we set off for our first attempt to see a snow leopard in Chitral Gol National Park.  We walked along the river side and saw a cave where there had been previous sittings of a snow leopard but all we saw was the wild Markhor goats.  It was very cold.  There was no sign of a snow leopard. 

Preparing for departure -

Hercules C130

 

Chitral Gol National Park

The seating plan

 

'Snow Leopard Cave'

 

 

Chitral Valley

Cattle returning home

 

Chitral Gol National Park

 

 

Chitral Gol National Park

 

Chitral Valley

 

 

 

December 13th 2006

In the morning we drove in the jeeps high up on the valley side to a communication tower and walked in the snow and ice along a path.  Two of our party had decided to walk up this valley to spend the night with some scientists and a film crew hoping to see a snow leopard.  After lunch we went back to Chitral Gol to try once more to see the snow leopard.  As we arrived the BBC film crew were waving at us to come up to the view point.  Why?  As we approached we heard someone say 'she' and we knew they were talking about the snow leopard.  It was difficult to be able to see her as she was so well camouflaged.  She walked about the hillside about two hundred yards or so away, sitting and looking at times.  After watching her for two cold hours she made a chase for a Markhor goat and went over a ridge and out of site.  She had made a kill!  We were all so very exited at seeing her but sad at the thought that two of our group were down in another valley and had missed her.  May be they had seen another snow leopard?

 

Mist in the Chitral valley

 

 

Hercules C130

leaving Chitral

Chitral valley

 

Walking along the

snowy track

 

View while walking

above the Chitral valley

Jonny Bealby

 

Jonny Bealby

 

 

Hercules C130 at Chitral

View while walking

above the Chitral valley

Chitral Valley

 

 

High above Chitral

Tirich Mir

 

Snow Leopard Photos

Snow Leopard Range

 

 

Snow Leopard Cave

Chitral Gol National Park

 

Group with BBC

camera crew

 

Snow Leopard

Mark - BBC cameraman

 

Snow Leopard

 

 

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

 

December 14th 2006

Our two overnighters rejoined the group at lunch time after we had walked down to the Fort and been shopping.  The main group then made there way to Ayun a little further down the Chitral valley while I joined the two overnighters on another visit to Chital Gol.  With some difficulty we climbed up onto a ridge so that we could look down into where the snow leopard had made the kill.  We could see the carcass and several Golden Eagles but no leopard.  Then it was time to travel to Ayun where we stayed at Ayun Fort, the home of the Prince of Ayun.

Chitral Main Street

 

 

Tirich Mir

Shahi Masjid Mosque

 

Snow Leopard kill photos.

Site of Markhor Goat Kill

 

 

Golden Eagle on Kill

Golden Eagle on Kill

 

Golden Eagle

 

 

Looking down at our

vehicles

Our Group

 

December 15th to 19th 2006

These days were spent in Rumbor valley with the Kalash people. 

There were times when we were not involved in the festival and we spent time walking in the valley, visiting homes and photographing the Kalash.

Non Chamos Festival photographs.

Rumbur Valley

 

 

The six ladies in our group

in Kalash Dress and

some local girls

Kalash women washing

 

Maureen, Alice, Liz

and Amanda

 

Typical house

Maureen, Alice and Liz

 

Kalash Gram

 

 

Children on the roof top

Children in Kalash Gram

 

Playing with an apple

 

 

Milling flour

Looking up the

Kalash valley

Jonny

 

 

The route to the

outside toilet

Rob's room

 

Goats on the hillside

 

 

Hillside in the

Rumbur valley

Always better further up

 

The Rumbur Valley

 

 

Balanguru

Jonny having a bracelet put

on his wrist

Balanguru and the

Rumbur Valley

 

Rumbur Valley

Rumbur Valley

 

Walking up the

Rumbur valley

 

Balangurur

Rumbur valley

 

Chamos Festival photographs.

 

The Kalash Festival of Chamos

December 15th 2006

We left Ayun at eight o'clock and drove up the valley to the village of Balanguru arriving at ten o'clock.  The ladies in the group then had to wash one another (the Kalash ladies were washing in the river when we arrived) and then to put on Kalash clothes.  During the morning the men of the village made walnut chapattis in Jastakhan temple.  At the temple the ladies had water poured over their hands and given six of the chapattis.  They then stood around the fire where they had blazing juniper twigs passed over their heads and were required to eat some of the walnut chapattis.  They were then cleansed.  During the rest of the day and evening their was dancing in this village.

Cooking chapattis for the

cleansing ceromony

 

Walking to the

cleansing ceremony

Cooking chapattis for the

cleansing ceromony

Waiting to go in to

the temple

 

Washing outside

the temple

Waiting to go in to

the temple

Washing hands

 

 

Blazing juniper twigs

passed over their heads

Presenting their chapattis

 

Presenting their chapattis

 

 

Razia dancing in

the evening

Amanda leading the dance

 

December 16th 2006

Now it was the men's turn.  At breakfast time the men showered and then the men of the village gathered and waited for men from the other villages to arrive.  While we waited their was dancing of course.  The men walked up the valley to Sagigor Temple, located in a coppice of holly oaks, walnut and other trees, where only men are allowed.  The path was narrow and very icy in places.  At the altar a fire was burning.  The 'butcher of Rumbur' then started to slaughter the 45 goats as a sacrifice to the God Mahandeo.  Throats cut the head was placed around the fire and the tip of each ear thrown on the fire. Some of the blood was then thrown on the fire and on the altar.

Then it was back down the valley with a member of each family carrying a goat back to their home.  When the men reached back down to the village the men made a long line and walked three times round the women.  The young children were then given new clothes in the Jastakhan temple and their were large bowls of grapes and fruit.  Everyone then had Shuman placed around their necks.  These Shuman were really colourful woollen belts made during the year by plaiting or weaving. 

After lunch the men of each family went to the family cattle shed on the hill side.  We joined the men going to Saifullah Jan's shed for the ceremony of Istngas.  Another goat was sacrificed and the blood thrown onto each man and boys face with blazing Juniper twigs passed over our heads.  We were now purified.  Back down in the village their was more dancing.

Waiting patiently

 

 

Men gathering to go

to Sagigor

Like a goat to the slaughter

 

Walking up to Sagigor

 

 

The Altar at Sagigor

Walking up to Sagigor

 

Slaughter time

 

 

Carrying the carcase back

to the village

The Altar at Sagigor

 

Carrying the carcase back

to the village

 

Gifts of fruit

Carrying the carcase back

to the village

Walking up to the

Cattle shed

 

Blood being thrown

as a purification

The Kalash Butcher

 

A family dressed in

their new clothes

 

Dancing

Dancing

 

December 17th 2006

This morning we again walked up the valley to Sagigor Temple.  So that the God would know how many Kalash people were in the valley a willow stick for every male was thrown onto the altar and a representative of each family placed a piece of a walnut chapatti on the fire and on the altar for each member of the family.

In the afternoon some of us visited a family in Grum before the celebration bonfire in the evening.  Other villages arrived with blazing Juniper torches which were thrown on the fire and the dancing began only to finish in the early hours of the next day.

Dancing

 

 

Throwing the willow sticks

The Altar at Sagigor

 

The Sagigor Altar with

willow sticks

 

Ladies waiting for their

men to return from

the hills

Wooden carvings by

the altar

Amazing headdressess

 

 

Blazing Juniper torches

Dancing round the fires

 

December 18th 2006

Mainly a rest day after the night before.  Jonny went up to his house high up on the hillside and I walked up the valley with him before walking with a few of the group back up the valley to see the mountains and villages in their snowy beauty.  In the afternoon I went up to Grum to deliver some photos I had taken on a previous visit.

The Rumbur valley

 

 

Amanda, Alice

and Maureen

Hillside houses

 

 

Rob Burton

 

 

The Rumbur Valley

The Rumbur Valley

 

December 19th 2006

In the morning some of the men dressed as women and some of the women as men, both with their faces covered.  The couples danced in the middle of a ring of dancers and another man from outside would attempt to steal a 'women' where upon the 'man' would give chase to recover 'his' partner.  We followed the group up to Kalash Grum for more dancing before we made our farewells and drove back to Chitral.

Dancing

 

 

Dancing in Kalash Grom

Kalash Grom

 

Gulistan

 

 

Singing and dancing

Dancing in Kalash Grom

 

 

December 20th 2006

Back in Chitral we made another visit to the fort and the town before another trip to Toshi in the Chitral National Park.

The shahi Masjid Mosque

 

 

Making a Chitrali Cap

Shopkeeper in Chitral

 

December 21st 2006

There was no flight out available for us so in the morning we visited the Chitral Scouts Officers Mess.  Some of us walked part of the way to Tushi in the afternoon and were picked up by the Jeeps along the road.  Saw many Markhor.

Polo Ground Chitral - one

of the largest in Pakistan

 

Chitral River

Chitral Rifles Officers Mess

 

December 22nd 2006

All packed and ready for a flight to-day.  The problem is four of us only have stand by seats!  Five minutes before the boarding we are given our passes and we board the Hercules C130 for the flight back to Peshawar.  Because we were a day late we had to drive straight to Islamabad.

Tirich Mir with morning sun

 

 

From the Hercules C130

From the Hercules C130

 

 

December 23rd 2006

We boarded our flight for Heathrow mid morning after what has been a very busy two weeks.  What a trip not only were we privileged to be among very few westerners to have ever seen the Kalash Chamos in the Rumbur valley but we were among the few people in the world to have seen and photographed a snow leopard in the wild.

Kalash Headdresses.

Headdress of women

with chapatis

 

Headdresss for a

special occasion

A typical sight

How many headdresses?

 

 

Headdress

Headdress

 

 

Headdress

 

 

Headdress

Headdress

 

Chitral Fort

Recently restored entrance

to Chitral Fort

 

Shahi Masjid Mosque

from the fort

Chitral Fort

 

 

Chitral Fort from

the west tower

 

West tower of Chitral Fort

Chitral Fort

 

Light Gun at Chitral Fort

 

 

Chitral Fort in

the background

Wall of Chitral Fort

 

 

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