Garam Chishma

Garam Chashma-Chitral Road forks forks from Kunar River towards north though lush green countryside that is at its best after the months of harsh winters. The pebbled road runs along Lutkho Gol and the scenery is ever becoming different.

Sitting on the front seat, on my right I could see the distant snow covered Trich Mir Top changing its shades as per the slant of the sun. Nearly all the road passes though the mountain glen. Terraced fields and fragrant orchards of walnuts, apricots, grapes, apple, mulberries and brilliant alpine species of flowers are strung up the valley on the mountain walls. I was sharing my seat with another passenger – a local teacher from Garam Chashma by the name of Shah Pir who voluntarily took over as my guide and kept telling me the tales and pointing at things. During our journey from Chitral to Garam Chashma he narrated his risqué story of hunting expeditions. Moreover, he discussed every thing from the foreigners he had met to Soviet Occupation in Afghanistan and from ecology in the area to why Chitrali keep the legs of newly born babies tied so that they remain straight once they grow. He also lectured me on Tamur pedigree, which he said he belonged to. Silently, I bore the onslaught of knowledge.

The driver had a short break on a makeshift roadside teahouse in village Morgh. This is a busy midway stop. I had one of the tastiest (and much needed) cups of tea there and met couple of travellers from Karachi who were coming back from Garam Chashma. They advised me about where I should stay and eat while in Garam Chashma. The small village’s claim to fame is “Patti” – clothe made by hand from raw wool. Patti is in great demand through out the country.

There used to be a refugees camp during Russian occupation in Afghanistan in Garam Chashma – a tehsil headquarters of Chitral District. The open ground where Afghan children used to play and elder used to contemplate their future during forced exile is lying vacant as a strong reminder of the past. Herd of goats was resting in the vast ground. The track to Dorah Pass leading to Afghanistan is also deserted. Small bazaar in the town is lined with humble tea shops, eateries, modest provision stores that are mostly stocked once Lowari opens to road traffic during summers and a few shops selling Lajvard (Armenian stone) and Zamurrad (Emerald) that find their way in the town, for the tourists mostly. There is a high school in the town. People seem to be living in peace with themselves. No hurry, no worry. Cut of from the mainland, may be this is the best way of life for them.

East of the main road near the town is a famous hot spring. The hot water comes from the hills. Near the residential area, a small steaming stream branch off to enter bathrooms and swimming pool (constructed by Chitral Scouts) before it joins the main course again. There are quite a few legends (or facts) famous about the hot spring. As per Shah Pir, the water of hot sparing is a cure to Gouts and numbers of other skin diseases.

I only reveled into the hot water to freshen up. It was very comforting.

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