Kalash Festivals | Chilam Joshi, Uchal & Choimus
Start point- Islamabad
End point- Islamabad
Trip Duration- 11 days
- Chilam Joshi (Kalash spring festival) May 13 – 16 May
- Uchal (Kalash summer festival) 20 Aug – 22 Aug
- Choimus (Kalash winter festival) 15 Dec – 22 Dec.Deep in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the remote Kalash Valley (also sometimes called Kalasha, which actually consists of three separate valleys) is home to Kalasha people. Quite distinct from the rest of Pakistan’s people, the Kalasha are said to be descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great.
Long cut off from other communities by their remote location, the Kalash Valleys are a cultural world apart from the predominantly Muslim population of Pakistan. The (literally) colorful Kalash practice a religion said to be closely tied to ancient Hinduism, they have a plethora of unique traditions and festivals found nowhere else in Pakistan.
The inhabitants of the Kalash valley celebrate a number of festivals all year round. The three predominant festivals are as follows:
1) Joshi Spring Festival (May 13-16)
Joshi festival marks the arrival of spring. People wear new clothes and women accessorize heavily.Girls are sent to the hill side for dancing and singing. Women decorate their houses and collect milk from the cattle. Moreover, one year old babies and their mothers are also purified in this festival.
2) Uchal Festival (August 20-21)
The people of Kalash valley celebrate the famous annual harvesting festival Uchal with singing, dancing and paying respect to the nature for blessing them with barley and wheat harvest season. Special foods: cheese, buttermilk and corn bread are prepared for the event. Women in traditional dresses preform dances.
3) Chaumas Festival (December 7-22)
The most important Kalash festival is the Chawmos, which is celebrated for two weeks at winter solstice. It marks the end of the year’s fieldwork and harvest. It involves music, dancing, and the sacrifice of many goats. It is dedicated to the god Balimain who is believed to visit from the mythical homeland of the Kalash for the duration of the feast. Food sacrifices are offered at the clans’ Jeshtak shrines, dedicated to the ancestors.
At Chaumos, impure persons are not admitted. They must be purified by a waving fire brand over women and children and by a special fire ritual for men; involving a shaman waving juniper brands over the men. The ‘old rules’ of the gods are no longer in force, as is typical for year-end and carnival-like rituals. The main Chaumos ritual takes place at a Tok tree, a place called Indra’s place. Ancestors, impersonated by young boys are worshipped and offered bread; they hold on to each other and form a chain and snake through the village.
Highlights of the Tour!
Spectacular mountain vistas include Tirch Mir (7,708 m) the highest of Hindu Kush range.
Experience the pagan culture of ethnic minority community of Kalash.
Meet the descendent of Alexander the great & his troops.
Dance with the Kalash people and learn their culture.
UNESCO listed Kalash culture as intangible cultural heritage
Peshawar- one of the most ancient living cities on earth.
Day 1 – Islamabad
After meeting you from the airport and checking in to your guesthouse, we will take a short tour of Islamabad. It is assumed guests will arrive in the small hours of the morning.
Overnight in Islamabad.
Day 2 – Fly from Islamabad to Chitral
We will catch a scenic flight over the heart of the Hindu Kush to the remote Chitral valley. Chitral is cut off from the rest of Pakistan for six months of the year and feels very different from the Punjabi plains of Islamabad. The afternoon in Chitral can be spent visiting the fort, Shahi Mosque and the local bazaar.
Overnight in Chitral.
(If the flight is delayed then we will take a full day to drive to Chitral)
Days 3-7 – Chitral and the Kalasha Valleys
We will spend 5 days visiting Rumbour and Bumboret valleys staying with locally owned guesthouses and eating locally grown food while witnessing colorful festival of indigenous people. The days will be spent relaxing, walking or driving to the Kalasha villages of these isolated valleys.
The main objective behind the festivals is to reflect unique cultural richness, the harmony in their society and message of peace to the world. They ask for blessing from their gods and pray for a prosperous year of agriculture and health and safety.
We will ensure that the accommodation is with Kalasha families so that you get a chance to immerse yourself in the unique culture of the Kalasha.
Overnight stay in Chitral or the Kalasha valleys.
DAY – 8: Kalasha Valleys – Peshawar
Early morning drive down to Chitral – Islamabad road and head down to Peshawar through the Lowari Tunnel, this is going to be a long drive of approx 10-12 hours to reach the destination.
Overnight stay at hotel in Peshawar
DAY – 9: Peshawar
Peshawar is among one of the most ancient living cities on earth and was the gateway between the subcontinent and Central Asia. It has all kinds of professionals and manufacturers, from goldsmiths to silversmiths, traditional carpets, pottery, clothing and artwork on wood and stones.
In Peshawar, you will be able to stroll around the old side of the city’s narrow streets. Pashtuns, Hazara, Tajik, Chitrali and Uzbek faces all mingle and business is conducted over endless cups of Qawa (cardamon flavoured green tea).
You will have the chance to visit famous food street of Peshawar to taste the local recipes of the city.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Peshawar
DAY – 10: Peshawar– Takht e Bhai –Islamabad
We head out to Islamabad today while visiting another UNESCO world heritage site en route. Takht e Bhai, an archaeological wonder, considered to be significant because of its unique design and well-structured Buddhist monasteries from the Ghandaran period when this region was a Greco-Buddhist kingdom.
Resume drive back to Islamabad for overnight.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Islamabad
DAY – 11: Islamabad sightseeing – Fly out
You will have a short tour around Islamabad city if there is enough time for this, then transfer to airport 3 hours prior to your homebound flight’s departure.
- One internal flight (Islamabad-Chitral)
- Private transport for the length of entire trip
- All accommodations, one room twin sharing basis (medium range, neat & clean)
- All three times meals (Pakistani food based on available menu)
- Mineral water
- Entrance Fee
- English speaking guide (Assisting staff if required)
- Toll & Tax
- Sales & Services
- Visa support in form of Letter of invitation
Trip doesn’t include
- Any extras in hotel/ on the way
- Any personal nature expenses, cell phone, laundry etc.
- Insurance Liabilities
- Any service which has not mentioned