On the culture, languages, literature and history of Chitral

chitrali qaleen


In Google Earth, when one looks on the North of Pakistan, the great mountain systems like Himalaya, Karakorum and Hindu Kush look just a maze of snow-clad peaks and glaciers, broken here and there by narrow and barren valleys. But when you descend to a lower altitude, the valleys become alive with oasis like patches of vegetation which are the result of thousands of year’s human efforts. Humans have been living in this maze for not less than four millennia (oldest archeological remains found here are said to be that old). Almost locked in this maze, and hardly accessible from outside and one another, the people evolved in to distinct civilizations, with their own cultures and languages. One such civilization grew on the banks of the river, called variously as River Chitral and River Kunar, and its numerous tributaries. The civilization had its origin in a side valley called Khow, thereby called the Khow civilization. The civilization slowly spread to the entire upper basin of the above named river. Later it spilled over to the east of the Shandur Watershed, and diffused in the north-western valleys of the present Gilgit-Baltistan Province of Pakistan. The entire area therefore was called Khowistan Zamin, by the outer world

In the past, that part of the Khowistan Zamin, which comprises the Chitral River basin, was called Qashqar, by the people to the South. Now it is universally called Chitral, after the name of its capital town. Presently it is an administrative district in the KPK Province of Pakistan.

Mahraka.com represents Khowistan Zamin’s Civilization. Pages of this site contain quality articles and other materials, on the history, cultures,languages and literature of Khowistan Zamin.

What is 'Mahraka'?

Mahraka Tradition is one of the main elements of Chitrali Culture. Its concept is related to gathering of a group of people with a ruler, a religious figure or a community elder, as its head. Age and wisdom are the only qualifications necessary for entrance to such gatherings. Topics and quality of discussions in these gatherings are always of a very high standard. The institution of Mahraka plays very prominent role in the decision making, formation of public opinion and the dissemination of indigenous wisdom and culture. The socio-economic changes in our society are making it very difficult to preserve established norms and practices of our society. Institutions like 'Mahraka' seem to bear little or no relevancy to our present day social structure.

Institutions like 'Mahraka' seem to bear little or no relevancy to our present day social structure. This website is an effort to re-introduces the tradition of 'Mahraka' in a somewhat different way. It will provide a forum for all those interested in the culture, history and languages of Chitral. You are welcome to visit this site, share ideas, and contribute something to it .


Dear editors,
By chance I came across your internet site. This is a wonderful effort and great achievement!
Wish you strength, endurance and success on your further steps.
Yours sincerely

Wolfgang Holzwarth
Orientalisches Institut
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenber

It was really a pleasant surprise to visit Mahraka.com today.I do congratulate your team for the good work.It is very interesting and informative. I fear, I shall be one of edicts.in the days to come.
Please convey to Prof Murad Ali my appreciation for the creative translation of Khowar poetry.
With best wishes and warm regards

Dr.Inayatullah Faizi (Tamgha-e-Imtiaz)
Chitral, Pakistan

I was pleasantly surprised today to find your website on Chitrali history. I research the history of Badakhshan and Sarikol and Chitral comes up a lot in my work. Please continue adding items to your website!...Your website is a great resource and anything you can add would be useful to scholars around the world. I was especially pleased to see materials from the Hidayat ur Rahman Historical Archives in Chitral on your site, as it would be incredibly difficult for me to travel there. Best Regards,

David Straub
Indiana University,USA

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A Website on the Culture, History and Languages of Chitral.
Contact: mahraka.mail@gmail.com