The Kalasha Valleys are valleys in Chitral District in northern Pakistan. The valleys are surrounded by the Hindu Kush mountain range. The inhabitants of the valley are the Kalash people, who have a unique culture, language and follow a form of ancient Hinduism. As such, the Kalasha Valleys are a source of attraction for Pakistani as well as International tourists. There are three main valleys. The largest and most populous valley is Bumburet (Mumuret), reached by a road from Ayun in the Kunar Valley. Rumbur and Acholgah are side valleys north of Bumburet. The third valley, Biriu (Birir), is s side valley of the Kunar Valley south of Bumburet.
The Kalasha or Kalash, are a Dardic indigenous people residing in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They speak the Kalasha language, from the Dardic family of the Indo-Aryan branch. They are considered unique among the peoples of Pakistan. They are also considered to be Pakistan’s smallest ethnoreligious community, practising a religion which some scholars characterise as a form of animism, and other academics as “a form of ancient Hinduism”
The neighbouring Nuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan (historically known as Kafiristan) province of Afghanistan once practised the faith adhered to by the Kalash. By the late 19th century, much of Nuristan had been converted to Islam, although some evidence has shown the people continued to practice their customs. Over the years, the Nuristan region has also been the site of much war activity that has led to the death of many endemic Nuristanis and has seen an inflow of surrounding Afghans to claim the vacant region, who have since settled among with the remaining natives. The Kalash of Chitral maintained their own separate cultural traditions.
The culture of the Kalash people is unique and differs in many ways from the many contemporary Islamic ethnic groups surrounding them in modern northwestern Subcontinent. They are polytheists and nature plays a highly significant and spiritual role in their daily life. As part of their religious tradition, sacrifices are offered and festivals held to give thanks for the abundant resources of their three valleys. Kalasha Desh (the three Kalash valleys) is made up of two distinct cultural areas, the valleys of Rumbur and Brumbret forming one, and Birir valley the other; Birir valley being the more traditional of the two. Kalash mythology and folklore has been compared to that of ancient Greece, but they are much closer to Indo-Iranian (pre-Zoroastrian-Vedic) traditions. The Kalash have fascinated anthropologists due to their unique culture compared to the rest in that region.
The language of the Kalash is a sub-branch of the Indo-Aryan group, itself part of the larger Indo-Iranian family. It is classified as a member of the Chitral sub-group, the only other member of that group being Khowar. Norwegian Linguist Georg Morgenstierne believes that in spite of similarities, Kalasha is an independent language in its own right.