PESHAWAR – The scenic Broghil valley, which is bestowed with natural beauty including snow covered peaks, glaciers, meadows, lakes and trekking routes is going to be a new destination for the world tourists.
Located in the extreme north of Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the grassy land of Broghil is especially fascinated in the month of July with moderate temperature and greenery.
Broghil festival is celebrated every year, but steps has been taken to make this event a regular feature like Shandur Polo Festival and attract more local and foreign tourists to this unexplored ancient civilization where still people living in caves in their true culture from centuries.
Managing Director Tourism Corporation Junaid Khan informed the local and foreign journalists soon after returning from his week-long visit to Broghil valley that “We want to organize this gigantic event every year similar to Shandur festival so it could also receive international response.”
The festival, he said, would carry events including yak polo, Yak Race, free style Polo, Buzkashi, Horse Race, Donkey Race and Polo, Tug of War and Traditional Wakhani Music.
Yak polo and yak race are the special part of the event, which are unique in its kind in the whole world. All these events take place above 13,000ft from the sea level, he explained.
Junaid said that he held meeting with the local organizer of the festival Chiantar Welfare Society Broghil, Deputy Commissioner Upper and Lower Chitral so to make things in appropriate manners by developing an easy access to the tourists.
Without any doubt Broghil valley is close to the nature and certainly when explored people would love to visit to beat the heat. We will also invite people from different walk of life to the roof top of the world so they could enjoy a trekking on beautiful terrains besides taking ride on horses and use jeep able roads to reach to the festival, he said.
He said govt has taken a bold initiative by withdrawing NOC condition for the foreign tourists that lead to influx of the foreign tourists. In good old days, a large number of foreign tourists could be seen visiting far-off villages of Chitral every summer. But with the passage of time as Pakistan witnessed terror activities, the country started losing its status of being an attractive destination for tourists.
After years of insurgency and militancy, now we are heading toward a complete normalcy as foreign tourists again moved on coming to Pakistan, including Chitral. The foreign tourists and even some time the local and media persons were bound to first obtain a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the interior ministry and security agencies but now after abolishing such, a good number of foreign tourists and around 2 million local tourists throng to scenic northern areas.
Moreover, Kalash valleys, the most attractive destination for foreign tourists were restricted for them.
However, with the abolition of the NOC condition, the number of foreign tourists arriving in Chitral has increased this year. Many tourists from European and other countries witnessed the recent spring festival in Kalash valleys. They are now visiting different parts of Chitral.
A large number of foreign tourists witnessed this year Shandur festival as well. Local people said the government should take more steps to facilitate the tourists and ensure reconstruction of roads to the tourist spots so that local tourism industry could be promoted.
Broghil valley is a remote mountainous valley in the Chitral district of province. It is a narrow long valley, located around 250km away from Chitral city. From Mastuj a jeep-able road takes one full day to reach Lashkargaz village.
Broghil valley receives 5-6 feet snow in the winters hence communication is cut off with the rest of the county. In summers, the valley is full of grass with plenty of water streams, which join the Yarkhoon river.
Life in upper stretches of the valley is very hard as there is not much land for cultivation. Yaks is the favorite animal of the area because of the cold weather. By end of August people start cutting grass in order to stock it for winters. The valley is a home of many wild animals e.g. bears, marmots, snow leopards, foxes etc.
Broghil valley runs parallel north east along Gilgit-Baltistan and Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan along north-west. The far north end of the valley ends at Karomber pass. Karomber pass is boundary between Broghil valley and Ishkoman valley. The famous mighty Karomber lake is also situated at Karomber pass.
Broghil valley is a favorite destination for trekkers. Not only local Pakistanis trekkers wish to explore Broghil valley but also foreigners are more eager to explore this area.
Only few foreigners have been able to get permission from the authorities to explore this majestic valley. For example this Hindukush Traverse done by Gabriel from Germany is a rare example of a foreigner doing trekking in the region in recent times. It is also one of my most favorite areas in the northern areas of Pakistan.
Broghil village Nazim Amin Jan Tajik when contacted, he said, they want to show showcase the different aspects of the ancient and unique Wakhi culture while yak race and yak polo were such like events that attract local and foreign tourists.
Broghil is the home of Chiantar glacier surrounded by many other glaciers which feed the Chitral River, while the Qarambar Lake is said to be biologically active supporting a wide range of diversity.
He said soon after announcement by Deputy Commissioner Yak sellers from Broghil start arriving in town. Mostly the residents of Broghil valley sell their yaks to Chitral town and purchase household items for the imminent five months long winter season when their area will remain cut off from the rest of the district.
Mr. Tajik said yak was the only animal to bear the unkind weather of the area, which remained covered in snow for five months. He said the people sold their yaks every year before the advent of the winter season as it was the sole source of income for most of them and that the money generated that way helped them meet their household needs.
The nazim said shops had opened in the valley over the last couple of years where most of the commodities of daily consumption were available unlike the past when the people used to store food at home for the entire season.
He said the valley residents herded yaks both to Chitral and Ashkoman area of Gilgit-Baltistan to sell them. Mr Tajik said the buyers also showed up in large numbers but the residents preferred to take their animals to the market by themselves to avoid middleman for better earnings.
He said the yak sellers had preferred this year to come to Chitral instead of Gilgit-Baltistan as the pass between Broghil and Gilgit had received snow before the normal time.
The meat of yak is available in great quantities in the Chitral market due to the arrival of the animal from Broghil valley in large numbers. The meat is sold at the rate of beef, which is Rs. 380 per kg. The yak meat became available in the market only in the days short before the advent of winter season as the yaks are not sold by the residents of Broghil and Laspur throughout the year. The yak meat was very fervently consumed by the people as it bore the characteristics of mutton and that due to the free grazing of the animal in the pasture throughout the year, its meat was considered to be in the ‘purest’ form.
Yaks were not kept in corral like other domesticated animals but they were left to graze in the wild even during the snowfall season and so, their meat was as palatable and tasty as that of wild animals which were hunted.
The C&W has proposed construction of roads to five new tourist destinations in Chitral district at a cost of Rs. 9.2 billion, Junaid Khan said. The proposed roads to the tourist resorts include Karimabad valley (35km), Garam Chashma-Gobor valley (18km), Madak Lasht (45km), Mastuj-Broghil (148km) and Golen valley (26km).
The roads’ construction would not only attract tourists to the valleys in numbers but would also benefit over 30,000 local people. Of the project, Mastuj-Broghil is the longest costing Rs. 4.4 billion which connects the district with Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan in the north. The roads would also connect the remote valleys with rest of the district throughout the year which remained cut off in winter.
A senior journalist of working in Chitral Times when asked to comments, he said said the roads to the five major valleys would prove a game changer for the tourism industry as new venues would be explored to the outer world. He said at present a tourist in Chitral could only go to Kalash valleys while an eco-tourist yearned to see maximum number of places. He said all the five proposed destinations had fabulous attraction for the tourists which included the Wakhi culture of Broghil, its unique landscape and the legendary Qarambara Lake and the Chiantar glacier.
“The Yarkhun-Broghil valley has the capacity to keep the tourists engaged for well over a week while Broghil festival will be the chief extravaganza, leaving behind the Shandur festival. The road will also help the locals to sell their yaks in the major market of Chitral,” he explained. He said the Sheshi Koh-Madak Lasht valley was yet another paradise for tourists which borders Swat valley in the east and is known for its picturesque landscape.