The Charms of Chilam Joshi Festival at Kalash Valleys Chitral Pakistan

The visit to Northern Areas of Pakistan especially Chitral is really awesome for one looking for adventure , fun , trekking , photography , cheap hoteling ,extreme roads and what an  adventurous soul is looking into at travel.

Chitral is a very vast and big valley comprising of many small valleys and towns. While planning a tour to Chitral, one must keep the Kalash Valleys at top on the visiting list.

The most beautiful, exotic, scenic valley of Chitral is Kalash Valley. Kalash Valley consists of three sub valleys namely Bamburet, Birir and……. The best of all and having more tours attractions and facilities is Bamburet village. This is also a good choice to visit first because it can be accessed easily from Ayon village.

You can visit the Kalash Valley almost any time of the year round, but if you are keen to observe the culture and values of Kalsha People, then must make a plan on their seasonal festivals. The most famous of all is the Chillum Joshi Festival. Joshi Festival held in the month of May.

Tourist from all over the world visit the Kalash Valley for its unique antique culture, life style, dresses and dance.

Things you must do in the Kalash Valley:


1-Enjoy the Kalasha Dance:

When in the Kalash Valley, in the Bamburet Village, their festival held and Kalasha people from all other valleys gather here to celebrate the festival. Men and women dance equally in a special place made for dance. Their festival continues about three days. At the day time, they dance while in the night they drink or simply sleep.

Tourists, visitors and locals of Chitral can enjoy the dance sitting at the chairs for VIPs or standing outside the dancing arena.

The couple get marry at the eve of festival. Young boys and girls at the end of the day together and throw leaves at one another.

The colorful dresses and other special items of beauty and fashion make the Klasha women different of others. The charming young Kalasha girls amuse the visitors with their natural beauty.

2-Visit the Old Museum

The old Museum is located in the Bumburet village. As the history of Kalash People is very very old and their culture is almost entirely different from the rest of Pakistan and even world; that’s the reason people from far off place come here to see and observe this distinct and endangered culture and nation.

The museum contains many old and gold things of the Kalash Nation which are just limited to the Kalash Valley. Kailash’s people believe in the Multi God and believe that there is some Power of every happening.

3-Trekking from PTDC Motel to Old graveyard and Fish Farm:

There are many hotels in the Bumburet Valley starting in the start of village till the last town of the village. The village is spreaded over many small colonies/towns. If you are staying in the start of the village, then pack your bag or simple you can trek from the hotel keeping your backpacks there.

The river alongside the trek towards Old graveyard leaves mesmerizing effects on your soul and mind and walking alongside it makes your body fresh too. The water in the river is too fast and don’t try to take a bath in the middle of it. Further, the water is also very cold; coming directly from the melting of snow so, it could cause you to fell from fever or sinusitis.

4-Visit Old Graveyard:

If you haven’t visit the Old graveyard, during your visit to Kalash Valleys, your tour is just half-left.

Kalash People used to keep the dead bodies in the coffin openly. While visiting Old graveyard, you`ll see the many coffins putting openly there, Though the trend have changed now, they have started to bury their dead`s for many years. But, you can still see the human bones, skulls in the graveyard.

When I inquired about this change of custom of burying the dead one from a local Kalsha. His answer was interesting and sad. “There are two big reason why we have started burying the people: The open dead bodies caused big air pollution and other diseases and the second reason was many medical students during their visit to Kalash Valley started stealing the skulls and bones and took them away with themselves

5-Fish Farm:

There is a big fish farm from the last village/population of Bumburet. A very rough and tough trek leads to the fish farm. At this point the border of Afghanistan is very close and in the recent past Taliban had made the attacks to this village by this pass.

To our misfortune, the day we planned to go to the fish farm and the end of this village. There was arrival of some army officer and we were just stop to visiting that beautiful place.

6-Buy some Handicrafts:

You will see many home based shops running by old ladies in the village, keeping many unique cultural handmade items in the shop. These handicrafts are available only in these village and nowhere else in the world. So choose some good items from a big collection and buy it for yourself or your loved ones.

All items are available at a very fair price.

7-Observe the Homes and Domestic Culture:

Although, the Kalsaha people are very open minded and modern but their women are way much reluctant to local Pakistanis. They usually don’t allow to photograph in the festival days. But, if you have some good friends or you have made them recently, they will show you their homes; will make you comfortable at their homes and will present you some chai, kahwa or probably the red wine.

Qadir, young Kalasha boy, was our new friend to show us their homes, their places of worship/festivals, meet some new people and introduced us to their family members.

Qadeer, a young shy boy, make us visit to the last village Bumburet Valley. His mom was fermenting yogurt in the hide of an animal. The home was so small and was located over height in the village.

He also showed a special room for their winter festival. In this room, the wall art of animals was so beautiful it forced me to take some photographs.

8-Drink Pure Red wine:

In the 1971 constituent of Pakistan, the liquor is ban in the country. But, in some special cases, like for foreigners and non-Muslims it’s legal to brew and drink.

Kalsha people are Non-Muslims, so they are allowed to brew and drink the wine and alcohol.

Brewing of wine from the grapes is a common practice in the Kalash valley. Their one of main source of income is also alcohol.

I see many Kalasha girls who were full high by alcohol. You can also buy some wine and alcohol from the village easily by just making some good friends there. You can avail the pure red wine one litter bottle at the cost of only 700/- PKR and a bottle of alcohol brewed from the Shehtoot at the cost of 300 PKR only.

Note : Wine and alcohol products are only for non-Muslim and foreigner visitors. Being a Pakistani Nationalist , you can`t take drugs and alcoholics in Pakistan.

9-Make Photographs at River side:

The river passing in the middle of valley just along the main road of the village, making a great noise, producing sounds like it is singing the songs and casting a spell over your mind and body.

Must spend at least 30 minutes along the river dipping your legs in the cold water of river. Make some good travel photographs there. The scene from river is marvelous and amazing.

Farming is the major profession of Kalasha tribes. Female also equally take part in the farming.

During their pregnancy and menstrual cycle , female are not allowed to enter their homes, instead they reside in a special place in the village. However, females can go to the fields and work.


10- Photograph the Kalasha People:

In case you are visiting the Kalash Valley during festivals, must make video and Photos of beautiful Kalash girls, women, children, boys, and men. It makes you easier to photograph the Kalash beauty with your DSLR if you succeed in making some Kalash friends over there.


Some Pro-Travel Tips to visit Kalash Valley:

1-      The hotel rates on the festival days are surge too high starting from five thousand to twenty thousand per day for a single room. So, make your plan accordingly or book your room early by calling. We visited the Bumburet Valley, on the last day of Chillum Joshi Festival and find a room @1000/night in the Hotel Foreigner. Everyone was leaving the valley on that day after enjoying the festival. Couchsurfing is also a big option for someone who has a friend there already or has the guts to create close relations in to time.

2-      Many tour groups in Pakistan arrange special tours to Kailash Valley at the eve of Chillum Joshi Festival at a reasonable price of about 15000/ for four to five days.