Kalash Valley in Pakistan – festival and attractions
Kalash Valley in Pakistan is still a mysterious place. Close your eyes and try to smell the wood burning. Suddenly you find yourself in a remote valley where its inhabitants remained hidden from the modern world until 1975. These inhabitants are the Kalash people, located between the mountains in the northern part of Pakistan. For hundreds of years, Kalashi successfully defended their territories and managed to remain independent. Only 50 years ago, Pakistanis and various explorers came to this remote, inaccessible place for permanent residence, and the valley and the habits of Kalash began to change. I hope my article “Kalash Valley in Pakistan – festival and attractions” will allow you to broaden your knowledge about this mysterious place.
If you’re looking for travel inspirations for example in Poland, Turkey or Greece, you can also check this travel blog.
Kallash Valley in Pakistan – map and location
Kallash Valley in Pakistan – how to get there?
Kalash Valley is not easy place to reach. It is still hidden between mountains and roads leaded to the valley are not in the best conditions, therefore you have to be prepared for a long and slow journey.
It’s also not easy to pass by other cars – drivers must be very careful.
Kalash people in Pakistan
How do the Kalashi live?
- The Kalash have their own religion, but many of them converted to Islam since 1975 (which was initially associated with disapproval from the local community).
- Old houses are made of only three components – wood, mud and stones. The house has one large sleeping room for the whole family, the kitchen is located outside, and there are no bathrooms (for this they go to the nearby jungle).
- Kalashi have their own language and religion (they believe in many Gods).
- Women wear characteristic, richly decorated clothes – long, black dresses with colorful embroidery.
- Kalash believe that they are descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great who reached this valley in the 4th century BC However, studies do not confirm kinship with the European population.
- The people of Kalash have blue eyes and a fair complexion, which makes them different from the Pakistani people.
If you want to find a place, when you can wear Kalash dresses, visit Lali Gul Kalash Dress House. Best experience!
Kalash Festival in Pakistan – main attraction in the Valley
Chillam Joshi Festival in Kalash Valley
Chillam Joshi Festival in Kalash Valley is celebrated in the middle of May. In 2022, the festival was held on 14-16 May, and luckily I had an opportunity to participate in it on May 14 in the early morning. During celebration Kalash people wear their festive clothes and dance in the the accompaniment of drums. Before festival, Kalash people collecting milk from animals, keep it for 10 days and during celebration distribute it to everyone in the village to protect people and animals.
Uchau Festival occurs in August. Kalash people dance, sing and serve new made cheese.
Chowmos Festival is celebrated in December and it is the most important festival in Kalash Valley. During celebration, Kalash people worship their God Balimain and thank God for the annual harvest.
Customs of the Kalash people
Getting to the Kalash Valley was not the easiest one. We were welcomed by the smell of burnt wood and colorfully dressed residents who are opening up more and more to the modern world. However, this openness is associated with an irreversible change – the landscape of this place changes from year to year, losing its original character.
It is of great importance to ask Kalash people before taking them photo.
- Women during the period, childbirth and up to 40 days after the birth of a child are considered “unclean”, therefore they must be in another, isolated place during this time and cannot show themselves to anyone else (only other women).
- There are sacred places in the village which women cannot pass by and must walk over them. In these places animals are sacrificed, prayers, but only men can do it.
- When a man died, his body was brought to a large room, and for 1 day people danced around him (women were not danced around). Until the 1970s, the bodies were not buried in the ground, but when the place began to become more and more touristic, the corpses began to be robbed of their valuables and Kalashi began to burial the bodies.
- The people of Kalash produce their own local wine.
- Cows have charms on their heads to protect them from the evil eye.
Kalash Valley in Pakistan – hotels
During my stay in Kalash Valley I spent 2 nights in Hotel Alexander. Room was comfortable and breakfast with dinner was included during the stay.
If internet in the hotels don’t work, it is always worth to buy your own SIM card – in the Kalash Valley Telenor SIM card is recommended.
Travel to Pakistan
I was travelling to Pakistan with Polish-Pakistani team – TukTuk Tours. If you’re looking for a trip to Pakistan and you don’t want to travel alone, then I highly reccomend you to contact TukTuk Tours. I spent with them 2 amazing weekends exploring north areas – adventure of a lifetime!