Shimshal village in Autumn

This is the wonderful scenery of Shimshal village in late October, enveloped in the golden, yellow, red shades of Autumn. Livestock have returned from Pamir and the village is ready for a tough winter ahead.

 

The yaks who returned from Pamir were in the field. Large males and some females remain in the Pamir over winter. It is a tradition to survive the cold and tough winter with limited food.

 

A sunny day, good for washing! Shimshal village on a warm sunny day.

 

Karun Koh seen from the Shimshal valley. The altitude of Karun Koh peak is 6,977m, 7,164m, or 7,350m depending on the documents.

 

Just outside the Shimshal village, there are Molonguti Glacier and Disthagil Sar 7,885m.  From here we drive off the valley for 3 hours to reach the mighty Karakoram Highway near Passu.

Visit beautiful village of Shimshal – One step off from Karakoram Highway !

 

Photo : Mariko Sawada  Text: Mariko & Sarosh

Visit: Oct 2014, Shimshal, Gilgit-Baltistan

 

 

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > ** Mountains of Pakistan > - Shimshal
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Shimshal in Autumn – At the suspension bridge on the Shimshal River/Autumn Kuch 4

Finally, the goats, sheep and villagers who have had spent the summer in Pamir safely arrived at Shimshal village. Most villagers go to Pamir temporarily to carry livestock, but some women take care of livestock and make dairy products during the summer.

Unfortunately, these traditions are slowly disappearing.

 

People waiting eagerly for livestock on the other side of the river.

 

Came back from Pamir: sheep, goats and villagers.

 

It’s soon towards the suspension bridge.

 

People waiting for the arrival of family and livestock.
I was engrossed in taking pictures of this beautiful scene.

 

A villager crossing the suspension bridge carrying a lamb that is still small and unable to walk.

 

Villagers, sheep and goats walk to the center of the village as they cross the bridge.

 

Collected in the village, goats and sheep just came back from Pamir.

 

The villagers confirm the goats and sheep that they have kept and return each of them to the respective home-owner.

On this day, what I witnessed …. the arrival of KUCH in Shimshal village …. It was such a beautiful tradition that villagers together cooperated and built, something unknown to the world outside.

One should experience the Kuch tradition for once in their lifetime!

 

Photo: Mariko SAWADA Text : Mariko & Sarosh

Visit : Oct 2014, Shimshal, Gilgit-Baltistan

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > ** Pakistan's domestic Animal > - Shimshal
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Shimshal in Autumn – Yaks return to the village /Autumn Kuch -3

Finally, it is the day to return to Shimshal village with the yaks.
From Wuch Furzeen to Past Furzeen, there are steep climbs and sliding areas.

 

Yaks carefully descends the vertiginous slope.

 

I saw goats and sheep moving on a steep slope from the bottom. The right side curve was really scary and precipitous.

 

Goats and sheep rush to the village. Their pace is slower than that of yaks, so they will arrive to the village the day after the yak’s arrival.

 

Yaks and villagers strenuously climb the mountain slope.

 

View of the incredible Yazghil Glacier on the way to the village.

 

“The white horn of Shimshal”, Adver Sar (6,400m).

 

And it’s down Ghare Sar. When you get off here, it is Shimshal village.

 

Crossing the Shimshal River. The villagers protect the small yaks.

 

To the Shimshal village where the family awaits anxiously.

 

At last! The villagers and yaks have arrived at Shimshal village. It was really a good work. Cheers!

 

Photo : Mariko SAWADA Text : Mariko & Sarosh
Visit : Oct 2014, Shimshal, Gilgit-Baltistan

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > # Pakistan's Livestock & KUCH > - Shimshal > Yak
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Shimshal in Autumn – Yak, goat and sheep return from the Pamir/Autumn Kuch -2

When we started to leave Arbab Parien camp, we received an information that the livestock had already been departed from Shuijerav. There, we decided to wait for “Kuch” at the pass near from Arbab Parien.

While waiting for “Kutch”, we saw a baby yak who was walking with the villagers towards to the village yesterday.  It ran away to get back to the Pamir where the mother yak remained. However, villagers caught the baby yak.

The female yaks are divided into two groups ; a group returning to the village and a group remaining in Pamir during the winter. The mother of this baby Yak didn’t  return to the village and spend the chilling winter in the high Pamir.

 

The very first arrival from Shuijerav is a small herd consisting of baby yaks and female yaks.

 

Then a herd of sheep and goats continue towards the pass.

 

Baby getting milk from mother sheep while walking.

 

Yaks crossing through the small gate of Parien Sar.

 

It’s a difficult and dangerous place down to Parien Ben. Yaks rushing down the slope raising the sand in the air.

 

Yaks going down the slope. Shimshali villagers rushing down at the same speed as of yaks, so we followed them vigorously. Indeed, this inclination is quite scary.

 

Subsequently, crossing over the river of Parien Ben.

 

What a wonderful view. Goats and sheep in a uniform row crossing the suspension bridge, aiming forward for today’s campsite, Wuch Furzeen.

 

Photo : Mariko SAWADA  Text:Mariko & Sarosh
Visit : Oct 2014, Shimshal, Gilgit-Baltistan

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > # Pakistan's Livestock & KUCH > - Shimshal > Yak
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Shimshal in Autumn – to the Shimshal Pamir / Autumn Kuch -1

KUCH, the traditions of Shimshal village
Kuch in Shimshal village is a large movement with livestock.  “Autumn Kuch” is the movement of  all the livestock who went to Shimshal Pamir in the summer in search of pastures come back together.

In October, I went to Shimshal village to greet the “Autumn Kuch” coming back from the Pamir.

 

Preparing for a trip to Shimshal Pamir

In the morning, yaks carrying luggage start gether in.
The way to Simshar Pamir is not easy …. it is steep. I have visited Shimshal Pamir twice so far, but when I got tired of walking, I started riding on the back of the yak and customized it to be comfortable.

Nevertheless, staying together with Yaks is a great thing, especially for animal lovers.

This is the Yak who can carry people on hardest trek of Shimshal Pamir.  He will be customized by attaching a Saddle and  a mat.

 

Departure from Shimshal village
When you leave Shimshar village towards Pamir, you have to cross the Shimshal river first. Some yaks can cross the suspension bridge, but most of them walk across the river.

 

A yak crossing the beautiful Shimshal river.

 

Climbing of Ghare Sar. The magnificent valley’s scenery carved by the Shimshal river spreads out to the horizon.

 

Arrived at Past Furzeen, today’s campsite. Yaks carrying the heavy load is also cheers for good work!

 

Photo : Mariko  Text : Mariko & Sarosh

Visit : Oct 2014, Shimshal Village to Past Furzeen, Gilgit-Baltistan

 

Category : ** Pakistan's domestic Animal > - Shimshal > Yak
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Black-winged Stilt – Soon Valley

A Black-winged Stilt observed at Uchhali lake in the Soon Valley. It was feeding on the underwater invertebrates in the shallow water.
Black-winged Stilt is a widely spread water bird; mainly found in Europe, Africa, and South Asia, and is characterized by its long red foot.
When it flies, its feet resemble the tail feathers.
In Pakistan, it travels as a summer bird in northern Punjab. Moreover, it is observed all year round in the waters of southern Punjab, Sindh and on the coast of Balochistan.

 

Uchhali Lake with black saltwater reflecting the exquisite scenery around the lake.

 

The lake is surrounded by lush green mountains and tranquil villages.

 

If there is no wind, the lake surface reflects the view as a clear mirror.

 

A beautiful and crystal-clear sight of Black-winged Stilt reflected on the surface of the lake, just like a mirror.

 

Photo: MARIKO  Text: MARIKO & SAROSH
Observation: end of March 2019, Uchhali Lake, Soon Valley, Punjab
Reference: Birds of Pakistan, Birds of the Indian Subcontinents (Helm Field Guides)

Category : # Punjab > ** Birds of Pakistan > - Soon Valley
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Stoat of Deosai Plateau

It is a Stoat, also known as a short-tailed weasel, which I observed at Deosai National Park, in October.
The morning and evening temperatures were below freezing point during this season. The Stoat was completely engulfed in white winter fur; protected from the predators and the harsh cold weather.

A Stoat is widely distributed in northern Eurasia continent and North America. In Pakistan, it is found in the northern mountainous areas.

There was no one where we stayed at Bara Pani campsite. A calm and peaceful place and only cold wind were blowing… Ultimately, a Stoat came quite close to us without any fear! Thus, we had the perfect opportunity to photograph it.

Photo: Mariko  Text: Mariko & Sarosh
Observation: Oct 2015, Deosai Plateau, Gilgit-Baltistan

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > - Deosai National park > - Stoat
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Northern Pakistan’s autumn feature: meet the movement of livestock in Passu

This is one of the most highlighting feature of the northern Pakistan in autumn; the great movement of the livestock. In October, livestock such as goats, sheep, and yaks that spent the summer in high altitude pastures return to the village all at once.

 

When I was traveling north on the Karakorum Highway, villagers brought livestock appeared in the backdrop of Passu mountains.

 

Villagers with their livestock who spent the summers on the highland pastures.

 

Goats and sheep collected from various houses in the village are gathered together and moved together. Finally, when they arrive at the village, they are divided into their respective homes for winter preparation.

 

A very healthy herd of livestock passing by, extremely wonderful herd sheep & goats, with signature long and twisted horns directing towards the back.

 

Villagers moving with their livestock, the village is already near.

 

Photo : Mariko,  Text : Mariko & Sarosh

Visit: Oct 2014, Passu, Gilgit-Baltistan

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > # Pakistan's Livestock & KUCH > - Passu
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Religion of Kalash Valley

The Kalash’s religion is considered to be closer to Vedic and Pre-Zoroastrian cultures, even though it has a valuable existence that retains the old form of the Indo-Aryan religion. There is a God of Creator “Dezau” and many gods. There are gods closely related to life and nature, such as “Balumain”, “Sajigor” and “Mahan Deva” which appear at the Chaumos Festival and the goddess “Jestak” who protects the house. The place of prayer is called Dewa, and in each village has small altar at temple of Jestak han and the outskirts of the village.

 

Temple of Jestak han

Jestak is a goddess who controls the family, housework, marriage and each clan has a temple, not every village.There is a sheep motif at the entrance, Laternendeke ceiling which is typical in Pamir architecture decorations. There is a wood carving on the back of the temple that shows “Balumain” and there is mural painting from the Chaumos Festival.


There are two clans living in Karakal village in Bomboret Valley, and Jastak han has two entrances for each clan in one building.
The picture is Jastak han of Anish village. Designs and decorations inspired by goats and sheep. Laternendeke ceilings of typical architectural styles specific to mountains of Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor area.

 

The Gandao – Wooden statue

A wooden image created to admire the memories of dead person, contributions, and achievements. The production and rituals of this Gandao are very expensive and require a lot of goats, cheese and ghee. Thus, it can only be created by the rich men who are influential. In Bomboret Valley, two sons made two Gandao for their father and uncle, who died more than 10 years ago in Brun village in 2008. (It can still be seen in the Brun village cemetery).
The Gandao is at the center of the ceremonial place. People dance around it and after the ritual is completed, the Gandao is transported to the graveyard.

 

Cemetery Mandawjaw

The original burial of Kalash was to only put body in a wooden coffin and place in a cemetery. But about 50 years ago, they started practicing burial like Muslims. At present, things that seem to be whitening are old things about 50 years ago. In the past, it was said that if not covering the coffin, it was easy for the soul to free and naturally weatherable.

 

“Pure” and “Impure” concept

The Kalasha has the strong concept for “Pure” and “Impure” in their life. Therefore, there are many rituals to purify the things that they believe are impure.
The representative one is Bashari. It is a hut where women during menstruation gather and live together. Delivery is also carried out here, and after the delivery it is possible to return to the house where the husband is eagerly waiting after the purification ceremony. There is one in each village, and women in Bashari who are under menstruation should not touch others. For example, to pass the things to other person, She can throw it but cannot hand it over.

In short, it’s not easy to understand just by talking. You must visit here and see it for yourself !

Photo : Mariko SAWADA Text :Mariko & Sarosh
※  The photo was taken during the visit between 2006 and 2014.

Category : # Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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Kalash Valley “Where did the Kalash people come from?”

Pakistan is a multiethnic country. The Kalash people are the unique existence among the various ethnic groups in Pakistan. Living inside “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan”, the Kalash people believe in their own god not Islam and they live only in Pakistan.

In the 1970s, they were forced to convert to Islam, and the fate of Kalash ethnic group was threatened. Thereafter, the government started the subsequent protection of the Kalash people. Thus, the population of the Kalasha had grown significantly over the past 20 years or so.
Now they have a strong identity as a Kalasha Ethnic group, so the conversion rate to Islam became low. Also a Kalasha mother tends to have 7-8 children to increase population of the people of Kalash.
The population of Kalash is approximately 3,000 according to the old guide books and brochures. However, if you visit the local 3 villages (Bumburet, Rumbur, Birir), you will be told that there are more than 4,000 altogether.

“Where did they come from?”

There are three theories regarding this. One theory is that they are the descendants of the army of Alexander the great, from the 4th Century BC, due to their white skin and blue eyes. There is no proof that the army of Alexander the Great passed through this area, but there are many tourists from Greece and NGOs are also active in this valley.
The other is that they moved to Afghanistan from South Asian land called “Tsiyam” that appears in Kalash’s legends and epics.
And the other is a general theory that their ancestors moved from Afghanistan around 2nd century BC to a region centered on the present Chitral and in the 10th century the power spread around the region including Chitral. Between 12-14th century, it became a powerful kingdom. However, it is said that the conversion to Islam in the neighborhood then went on and only left in the current three valleys.

The Kalash people live in three village of Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir located along the border area with Afghanistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The group speaks Dardic-based Kalasha language, belonged to Indo-European language. Once there was “Kafiristan” where the same Kalash people lived on the Afghan side across the border. However, the conversion to Islam was thoroughly done in 1896, and the place was renamed to “Nuristan [a country of light, a country of light of Islam]”, Now, the only Kalash people left in the world are situated in Pakistan.

Kalash people … Legends full of mystery, beautiful and charming blue eyes on white skin, exotic costumes of beautiful women…. You will surely be captivated.

Photo : Mariko SAWADA  Text : Mariko & Sarosh
※ The photo was taken during the visit between 2006 and 2014.

Category : # Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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