Autumn in the Kalash Valley

After not having been able to visit in a few years, I was able to return to the valley of the Kalash people, to a village called Bumburet. Mid-October proved to be a truly beautiful time to visit with the fall colors and corn harvest taking place.

On October 16, 2019, the Royal Couple Prince William and his wife visited Kalasha Valley where they enjoyed seeing traditional dances. The social media and news was flooded with “The Royal Couple” and “Kalasha” where trending amongst the Pakistani people.

> Kalash Valley “Where did the Kalash people come from?”

>Religion of Kalash Valley

 

Taking a turn off the main road, and crossing the bridge brings you into Ayrun village. It is like traveling back in time. You will see as you enter into the village, narrow fields and the beautiful traditional Pakistan. You will eventually come to the intersection of Bumburet and Rumbur Villages.

 

The road into Bumburet village hasn’t changed. It is still the small dirt road that has pull-offs to allow two small cars to pass each other.
However, as we entered into the village, I was a little shocked at the changes I saw. The women we saw were dressed in the traditional Karasha clothing but about half of them were also wearing the shalwar kameez (national dress of Pakistan). And the number of guesthouses was a bit overwhelming.

Where did the traditional style houses go? In recent years, an increase in domestic tours and a shortage of lodges for the tourists to stay, naturally meant that the number of guesthouses increased suddenly. Most of the managers of these guesthouses are from the outside. I hoped they would build them in the traditional style to match the landscape and keep the flavor of the original village.

 

Walking on a path between the corn fields, I went to visit an acquaintance. The Kalasha children I met on the way.

 

This is the School  dress of the Kalasha young ladies. There seems to be more girls wearing scarves then before.

 

Just off the main road through the village I could see this beautiful figure taking a walk.

 

Children playing next to a cornfield where their parents are busy harvesting.

 

No on can stop change that comes with progress, but I hope that these beautiful sights can continue into the future.

 

On the way out from the Kalasha Valley, we could see the village of Ayun sitting at the base of Tirich Mir. The highest peak of Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir (or Terichmir stands at 7,708 meters) was bathed in the hues of the setting sun.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Visit : Oct 2019, Bomboret Village, Kalash Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Excellent Fishing! Kund Malir Fishing Port (Balochistan)

While camping around Kund Malir, there was a night with no waves or wind and we could see the fishing light thru the darkness of night. The next morning of such a calm night, we visited the fishing port.

 

Kund Malir is a really small fishing port. The system here is that the larger fishing vessles off load their catch to the smaller fishing boats to bring them into the beach. When we arrived at the beach, there were already many boats out gathering off the harbor.

 

This is the fishing boat. They had already caught so many fish. As I was wondering what fish that was…I found out it was a largehead hairtail (or beltfish). They say that these adult beltfish come to the surface of the sea in the early morning hours.

 

The smaller fishing boats offload their catch onto the beach for transport.

 

Locals carry the fish to the trucks. Even in such a small fishing village there is an Ice Factory. The fish are packed in ice and transported directly to Karachi.

 

The local people all pitch in to help with the haul. They were kind enough to allow us to see their catch for today.

 

These are the largehead hairtail. Now that we have seen them, we cannot resist buying a little. Such a fresh catch! We loaded it in our cooler and took it to camp. Working with our cook Noor, we prepared the 15 beltfish and made sashimi. We grilled some with salt over the charcoal and ate our Fish Nanban (escabeche). It turned out to be a gourmet meal with our steamed Japanese rice and all kinds of prepared fish for dinner.

 

At our campsite, we dined on our fresh fish sashimi with the beer and wine we brought along with us.

 

This really amazing beltfish grilled with salt…was beyond delicious. This night, there were 7 Japanese people to gorge themselves on the 15 fish that were prepared. In my many long years of travelling thru Pakistan, it turned out to be the best dinner I ever had.

 

Photo & text : Mariko SAWADA (Including photos taken from drone footage)
Visit: Nov 2019, Kund Malir, Balochistan

Category : ◆ Balochistan > - Kund Malir
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Visiting the Land of the Baloch (Gorakh Hill, Sindh)

In the Gorakh Hill Station area of Sindh state, we  visited the local villagers of the Baloch. The Baloch people are a minority that make up only 4 percent of the total 200 million people living in Pakistan and are mainly living in the three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The majority of Baloch live in Balochistan making up 50% and in Sindh 40% of the people living there (respectively).

Speaking Balochi, a northwestern Iranian language, the women of Baloch are famous for their elegant clothing and accessories. The Balochi people, are actually made up of as many as 130-150 different tribes. This time we met with the tribe members of the Buzdar clan.

 

Being a very conservative people, simply visiting them in Balochistan  province can be quite challenging, just as daunting was getting their permission to photograph them. It might only be because they are accustomed to Pakistani visitors to Gorakh Hill Station, that (for now at least) we can be welcomed as foreigners to the area.

 

We were able to visit three villages in the Gorakh Hill Station area, and at each new stop we were welcomed by the eldest patriarch. They welcomed us by showing us their homes and introducing us to their family members. Other than the patriarch, the men worked in the fields at the foot of the hills or taking their cattle out grazing. The women gather local plants and work hard to weave sturdy mats from them.

 

Near the Gorakh Hill was a village called Jarra Buthi. The elder was the 6th generation of his tribe who settled here. Women were working to weave their mats and sell them to earn an income. One mat is 500 Rupees.

 

The traditional dress of the Balochi people is beautifully embroidered.

 

The Balochi people somehow make a living in the harsh nature and conditions of the Kirthar Mountain Range. As Pakistan is changing and progressing, these people are still living in their beautiful villages with a very traditional lifestyle.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Visit : Nov 2019, Gorakh Hill, Sindh

Category : - Gorakh Hills > ◆ Sindh
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Encounters On The National Highway NH-5 : Harvest Season !

In November, it is the harvest season for wheat and millet in Sindh State.

 

Travelling along the National Highway 5 from Karachi towards Thatta, we could see the trucks completely overloaded and overflowing as they were heading to Karachi. These trucks are carrying the wheat harvested from the local farmers. They are probably headed towards the livestock feed companies in Karachi.

 

On the way, we could encounter the field workers who were manually carrying the harvest to load the trucks.

 

This grueling work is conducted by about 15 men who work from the early morning hours for 9 hours. The weight the trucks carry fully loaded can be about 24 tons.

 

With the truck loaded, and their work complete, the workers also climb on top of the truck for the ride back. Taking their time, the trucks roll along towards Karachi. This is a typical scene that one might see in Pakistan during harvest season.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA
Visit : Nov 2019, On NH-5 road from Karachi, Sindh

Category : - National & Indus Highway > ◆ Sindh
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kashmir Markhor – Gahirat Castle 1912

A lovely place to stay …  a  hotel introduced by a hunter acquaintance for the observation of Kashmir Markhor, Gahirat Castle Hotel 1912.

There are several hotels in the Chitral area that belong to the former Chitral princely state. Gahirat Castle 1912 is one of that and it has a private game reserve of 95,000 hectares, where about 700 Kashmir Markhors live.

 

In the morning and evening, you can see Hindu Kush’s highest peak Tirich Mir 7,708m from the vicinity of the Gahirat Castle. The perfect view beyond the wide Chitral Valley.

 

Gahirat Community Game Reserve—It is in a mountainous area, upstream of the Gahirat River. It’s vegetation is an ideal environment for Kashmir Markhor and the valley is narrow which is suitable for our observation as well.

 

A female Kashmir Markhor continuously looking at us.

In 2009, when the current owner began protecting Kashmir Markhor, the game reserve had only about 60 Kashmir Markhor.   Consequently through protection in accordance with the rules of trophy hunting and enforcement of laws against illegal hunting, it is said that number has increased to about 700 as of 2019.

Trophy hunting at the Gahirat Community Game Reserve has a quota of one Kashmir Markhor per year.  The amount of shooting permit from the government starts from about USD 100,000 (It is a surprise).  This is a system in which a hunting company drops it at an auction and sells it to customers. Most of this revenue is returned to the community. Nine gamekeepers were cracking down on illegal hunting for one trophy hunting in this game reserve.

 

Official trophy hunting began in 2000 at Gahirat Community Game Reserve, and there are 18 records by 2019.  The trophy hunting is limited to those old males with more than 40 inches horns.

The Kashmir Markhor displayed in the hotel’s living room is the trophy of the current owner’s grandfather, with 58 inches horn, the third-largest Kashmir Markhor trophy in the world.

To be honest, I don’t accept hunting or trophy hunting but I think it’s much better than the time when illegal hunting was rampant, encouraging local residents to understand conservation even the purpose for Trophy hunting.

 

Finally, when you come back from the Game Reserve, Gahirat Castle 1912 is a wonderful place to stay.  When you enter the building, you will be greeted by the historical heritage gems.

 

Pair of Himalayan Bulbul.

 

At 6:30 in the morning, you can hear the birds chirping. A blissful moment to go out in the middle of the garden and observe the birds.
I observed a good number of Himalayan Bulbul, White-eared Bulbul, Blue-whistling Thrush, Great Tit, Eurasian tree sparrow, Bank Myna, Streaked Laughingthrush, etc.
A great stay in nature, the Gahirat Castle 1912.

 

Photo & text : Mariko SAWADA
Visit :Oct 2019, Gahirat Castle 1912 & Gahirat Community Game Reserve, Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Markhor > - Chitral > ◇ Wildlife of Pakistan
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,