Traditional names of places in Chitral

.. by Prof Rahmat Karim Baig

CHITRAL: In an article last week I had given a small scale coverage to a historic local spot that falls on tourist route but was not appreciated by members of our new generation and came to argue. In Chitral we have numerous places of historical, mythical and geographical importance that have to be kept intact and should be brought to the knowledge of the youth otherwise their info on Chitral will remain incomplete and may prove harmful during any stage of their career. For example there used to be a legendary Chinar tree at Jughoor-close to the present Muslim School and College. It was a gigantic tree and stood just on the roadside but during the widening of the present road by FWO in early 1980s the Chinar tree was uprooted and so it disappeared and the present day man of Chitral city cannot identify that proper place. Soon after its extraction Mubarek Khan late had composed a poem lamenting the loss of the Chinar. That Chinar was known as  Chumuti Chinar. Who had planted it and when cannot be ascertained. But those who have some interest may find the late poet’s elegy in one of his Albums. It will be safe with our artists.

Another famous tree in the town was Guruli Rogh, on the spur of Chitral gol. It stood just by the road at a turn  at midway from Chitral Bazar to Birmogh Lasht. The Rogh- pine tree- has been forgotten and nothing left of it but men  of old generation talk of it as a tree which provided shade to pedestrians up to the Fortress or down from that height in summer. As far as I know few people remember it but it was worth remembering. The word Guruli means a goiter that used to be very common in Chitral but iodized salt has proved useful against it. The Chinar must have a number of such goiter like growths on its trunk.

Another such name had been given to a big boulder in the Arkari valley below Oveer, near the river. It was so named that Sangin Ali Mehtar of Chitral had been shot death at that boulder while he was very busy to catch ibex by a special net. The ibex were driven down from the hillside and he stood on top of that particular stone and one of his enemies had been waiting in ambush,  was not noticed by any one of the aides of the ruler. The man fired his matchlock and killed him and ran away towards the mountains from where he crossed the border into  Zebak region. The name of the stone became known as Sangal Marini from that time onward and tells something about the history of Chitral.  The old names of places, lands etc. have to be kept alive as part of our culture and the stories behind them should also be kept in use . Where new words are entering Khowar very briskly the old words  and the traditional side of our cultural past requires our attention. Think and you will find in scores. .. Prof. R.K Baig, Chitral 03 Oct 2021

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