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The Kalash People Picture Source By Google Image

For centuries, the Kalash People lived in a remote mountainous region which now spreads contiguously across Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, Kalash people who lived in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan carried on the legacy. The natural beauty of this region, almost isolated from the earth.

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The people, known as Kalash. They are said to have descended from soldiers of the army of Alexander the Great who traveled this way in 324 BCE. The animist Kalash is outwardly different from the darker-skinned Pakistani Muslims who live in the lowlands below them. Today, they form the smallest of Pakistan’s minority ethnic groups (numbering between 3,000 to 4,000 people) and can be found in three valleys: Bumburet, Rumbur, and Birir. The Kalash language is said to be part of the Dardic group of Indo-Aryan languages.

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Who Is This Kalash people

They say their ancestors came from Greece. There is a lot of evidence of it in history. According to historians, Alexander the Great conquered the mountains of northern Pakistan 2,000 years ago, where the Kalash now live. The people of Kalash have also been living here for almost two thousand years. There is no resemblance between Arabic or Urdu, the language spoken by the people of the Kalash tribe, which belongs to the Indo-Iranian language. According to Kalash people said that Alexander came to India even before Islam. When he returned to Greece after winning the war, some of his comrades remained. They like the natural beauty of Hindu Kush. Married local women. The infidel Kalash of Hindu Kush are their descendants.

The New York Times found that the Kalash people’s DNA seems to indicate that they had an infusion of European blood during a “mixing event” at roughly the time of Alexander’s conquests. These isolated people are thus most likely the direct descendants of the ancient Greek-Macedonian armies who set up outposts in this region 2,300 years ago.

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They Follow Ancient Culture

The Kalash people kept their pagan rituals and worshipped their ancient gods in outdoor temples, despite the fact that most Pakistanis converted to Islam throughout the decades. Most importantly, they produced wine much like the Greeks of antiquity did. This is a Muslim country that forbade alcohol.

They cultivate on the slopes of the hills for their livelihood. They have a life full of dance, song, entertainment. Earlier, the people followed a simple life, mostly dependent on agriculture and cattle rearing. Buckwheat and other crops were grown in the river valleys. The food prepared in wood-fired ovens. They followed a nature-oriented faith. which later some researchers equated with the animistic form of worship while others found similarities with ancient Hindu concepts.

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Customs

The customs of the Kalashas are very strange. One of them that has been much discussed is the custom of sending menstruating as well as pregnant women to the ‘Bashaleni’, a dorm-style building far from the main village. It is frequently referred to as a type of oppression by modern cultural interpreters. But according to Kalash people, it is the women who handle the bulk of everyday work; the time out.

The Kalash follow various social customs and rituals. When a boy goes from adolescence to youth, the boy, sent to the high mountains with sheep for the whole summer. When he survives and comes back to the village, Badulak festival is happing. In this festival, he will stay for one day, with any married, unmarried, and virgin girl in the village. For this, if anyone is pregnant, everyone in the village will consider it a blessing.

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Festival

Barbara West, a professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester. He says in the Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania that “Kalash religion is a form of Hinduism that recognizes many gods and spirits” and that “given their Indo-Aryan language … the religion of The Kalasha is much more closely aligned the Hinduism of their Indian neighbors.

There are three main religious festivals of Kalash. In May, ‘Chilam Joshi’ is ‘Uchau’ in autumn and in mid-winter, the best festival is ‘Kaumus’. In this festival, they create human chains around the whole village. The priest of the temple spread the leaves of the juniper tree on the devotees like leather. At the end of the day, everyone dances and eats in a place called ‘Charso’ in the middle of the village.

The Kalas believe that at this time their most revered deity is ‘Baloman’ or they go around the valley and listen to everyone’s prayers. So big fires and torches are lit in the mountains to pay homage to the deity. Then they play the flute around the fire, play drums made of pinewood, clap their hands, and dance in circles.

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Modern Lifestyle

Numerous Kalash men and women in Nuristan, Afghanistan, have been forced to convert by the Taliban. But the Pakistani Kalash people are still fighting to preserve the tradition they have held for thousands of years. They are trying to hold on to their ancient culture. The traditions continue even today but have been much influenced by the incursions of modern lifestyle as motorable roads (rough and dusty) have made the remote villages accessible. Shops have opened in the valleys which provide meat and other food items, consumer products, etc. Electrification has made televisions, mobile phones and computers accessible. 

Even though the Kalash people and their culture, changing slowly over time. The elderly keepers are worried that the advent of modern lifestyle and the younger generation’s proximity to the Islamic lifestyle. A leader of the Kalash, Saifullah Jan, has stated, “If any Kalash converts to Islam, they cannot live among us anymore. We keep our identity strong.” About three thousand have converted to Islam or are descendants of converts, yet still, live nearby in the Kalash villages and maintain their language and many aspects of their ancient culture. 

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Tourism Kalash Valley

Tourism has also made inroads into the Kalash villages. Unless hindered by political situations, tourists arrive in spring and summer to see the rugged breathtaking beauty of the region and the unique lifestyle of the Kalash people. The villagers too look upon tourism as a way of earning and have set up homestays and hotels, and shops selling local handicrafts. One of the best occasions to visit the Kalash villages is during their colorful festivals.

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Travel brings surprises with a new trip. Travel teaches me how to earn people. I always get excited before travelling to a new place and rarely fall asleep the night before. Before my trip to Nagaland, I got to hear a lot about the place from known and unknown people. Those were so full of predictions and hallucination that a normal person would drop the idea of visiting Nagaland. But when I finally reached Nagaland, I was overwhelmed to see Naga people’s hospitality.

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The Unknown Trip

During a trip, we get to mingle with locals which is vital too. And once we get to mix with them, their culture, their life becomes much easier for us to understand. During my Nagaland trip, I get in touch with some Nagas. We gel very easily, which smoothen my way to understand their culture. I have a lot of stories in this regard, all in all, this blog will not end in one page, it may become a little book. The story I will share here has changed my whole thought about Nagaland and its people.

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The Naga Hospitality

Hornbill Festival is one of the biggest tribe festivals in Nagaland. More than two lakh people from all over the world come here every year to attend this festival. The main purpose of this festival is to showcase the culture of the sixteen tribes of Nagaland to the whole world through the carnival. And I meet here some local people who are my age. I get a lot of information about Naga culture, Naga food and their daily life from them. They tell me about some authentic naga food and for my first-time experience, they order some of the items too. And no one allows me to pay the bill. The reason for them is simple and straight, they can’t allow their guest to pay for anything.

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Cheers

New Bonding

Life is beautiful not because of the things we see or do. Life is beautiful because of the people we meet. The people of Nagaland have made me feel like family. After our lunch at the Hornbill Festival, they drive me to different places around Kisama village. It turns out to be a special evening for me in Nagaland. I remember the moment when they take me to a hill to have coffee. We sit for a long time there and sing Hindi movie songs with hot coffee. At that moment it feels like I am at home with my people. They all start forcing me to spend my rest days in Nagaland with them in their house and I can no longer stay at my guest house.

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New Bonding

They Are Waiting For Me

Next morning a car comes to pick me from my guest house. They talk to the guest house owner and pick me from there. For the next few days, I belong to a Kohima house. I don’t know the name of that place.

From morning to afternoon, we roam around various places in Nagaland. I taste a lot of authentic Naga food, which is not usually found in any restaurant, only made at Naga home. They never miss keeping my only request of one cup of tea in the morning. They request their Bengali neighbors for that tea. I don’t know how to say thank you to them. Every night we go to parties at hidden places in Nagaland. One night I pay our food bills secretly. But as they find out, they request me not to insult their culture. I feel ashamed. At that moment I don’t know what to say to them.

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On the day of my return, they insist on driving me from Kohima to Dimapur. Kohima to Dimapur it’s around 4hr journey. I can’t let that happen. And somehow I manage to convince them. I already have my bus ticket from Kohima. I still remember when they come to see me off at the bus stand, we all group hugged. They say that next year too they will wait for me.

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Naga By Birth ..love the tag line

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Hanoi is a perfect blend of history and contemporary. The city is being developed for over 1000 years since 1010, because of the constant destructions by the different invaders from time to time. It inspires the visitors with its combination of oriental lifestyle, French colonial construction, tree-lined roads, and peaceful lakes. 

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Found Yourself In Old Quarter:

In Hanoi, make sure to head to the Old Quarter. This is the historic heart and commercial centre of the city. It’s noisy with heavy traffic, but it is a collection of about 36 streets, which all specialize in selling goods like jewellery, pillows, shirts, baskets, toys, shoes, sunglasses etc. You can find many bars; restaurants and the biggest demonstration of street food places and the travel agencies, which are selling tours to Sapa, Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh, Perfume Pagoda etc.

TIP: 

Make sure to survey online before booking a tour in one of the agencies. In Old Quarter make your landmark St. Joseph’s Cathedral church it’s been there since the late 1886s. It’s popular and a meeting place in the city. Be careful with the directions as the difference of language may create confusion for you. 

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Hanoi Train street
Train Street

Train Street: 

Just before the train speeds past, with a couple of feet of clearance, drying clothes are carried inside, children ushered indoors and the bikes pulled to the side of the road. The train passes the narrow road early in the route that connects Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. It is located between Le Duan and Kham Tien street in the Old Quarter. Homes and business go side by side of the railway lines. You can enjoy your snacks and coffee while experiencing a train to pass an inch away. 

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake

Walk Around Hoan Kiem Lake:

In the centre of the Old Quarter, beautiful and charming Hoan Kiem Lake (also known as Turtle Lake) is one of the unmissable things with amazing views. The best part is that there are no cars and no scooters, so it’s a nice break from the terrible traffic of Hanoi. You just need to cross the red bridge which leads to the island at the centre of the lake, as this is where the lovely Ngon temple is located. The Turtle God’s figure is persevered there, which makes you believe the myth. It costs 20000 Vietnamese Dong (VDN), which is less than $1.

Temple of Literature Hanoi
Temple of Literature

Visit The Temple Of Literature:

Dedicated to Confucius, the temple was built in 1070. It then became a male university for Mandarin students. Around the temple, there are stelae which are dedicated to the students. To know the civilization and, presently, you just need to know their past. 

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Take A Ride: 

On the sidewalks, you will find many drivers with their motorbikes, who are ready to take you anywhere around the city if you ask. You can also use the apps Grab or Uber to book a ride. It’s cheap.

Ta Hien street  Vietnam
Ta Hien street PC- levitalks.com

Be In The Beer Street:

Known as “Beer Street” Ta Hien street is THE place to party on any night of the week. In this area, everyone is sitting outside on small chairs, drinking beer and eating BBQ with their friends before heading to the clubs until the early hours of the morning. Grab a local beer and wander around Ta Hien to see street performers!

One pillar Pagoda Hanoi
One pillar Pagoda

Visit Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda:

Hanoi has a variety of museum. Check out Hoa Lo Prison, Ho Chi Minh Museum and Fine Arts Museum. Uncle Ho’s figure is preserved in the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Close to that, there also is Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House and the One Pillar Pagoda, which are two of the utmost famous Hanoi attractions. 

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Please Note: 

The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is closed after 10:30 A.M and on Monday and Friday.

Hanoi Opera House:

One of the most beautiful buildings in Hanoi is the Opera House, which was built in 1911 under French rule, now known as the French Quarter. The Opera House was pretty much left to the elements when the French left Vietnam, but it was renovated in 1997. You can experience Vietnamese opera performances, concerts and even ballet. The prices start at around $4.

Go To The Water Puppet Show:

The Water Puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is a huge tourist attraction. The “classic puppet show” in water, consists of strange instruments and entirely held in Vietnamese, showcases Vietnamese way of life, culture and even religion. The show lasts about one hour and it costs around $10.

Go Shopping:

Vietnam is an excellent shopping destination. There are various markets around Hanoi. One of the most famous ones is the Dong Xuan Market. The building is anything but charming, but if you passed the fish section, it can be a cool place to shop. The market closes at 7:00 pm.

Weekend Night Market:

Open only on weekends, starting at about 7 PM and going until about midnight, you will find hundreds of mini vendors side by side in tents selling everything from shirts to Shoes to lamps. You should bargain for everything. 

TIP: 

Sharpen your bargaining skills well!

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If you can smell better then you can see better and can hear better. That means all your senses are working fine and you are safe and sound. To protect your senses, your family’s senses you must visit The Perfume Pagoda in Vietnam as the “Viet” does. Besides the blessings, as a bonus, we will get to see something so beautiful, so serene, so peaceful that you will never forget. This striking complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines is built into the Karst cliffs of Huong Tich Cave (Mountain of the Fragrant Traces). Among the better-known sites are Chua Thien Tru (Pagoda Leading to Heaven); Chua Giai Oan Chu (Purgatorial Pagoda), where the faithful believe deities purify souls, cure suffering, and grant offspring to childless families; and Huong Tich Chu (Pagoda of the Perfumed Vestige).

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Perfume Pagoda
Perfume Pagoda

Position: 

This pilgrim is extremely popular with Vietnamese tourists from February to April. It is located about 60 km southwest of Hanoi; and getting here requires a journey first by road, then by the river, then on foot or by cable car. The journey is half the fun, but don’t try and do it without a guide: most tour operators offer day-return trips here from US$30 to US$50, which serves the purpose. From Hanoi you need to travel by car for two hours to My Duc. There you can go to the restroom, drink tea and buy offerings for the pilgrims as well. Then take a small boat, rowed by women from the local village, to the foot of the mountain.

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The Journey of perfume pagoda
The way Google Image

The Journey: 

The entertaining boat trip takes an hour and travels along scenic waterways between limestone cliffs. Allow a couple more hours to climb to the top and return. The path to the summit is steep in places, and if it’s raining, the ground can get very slippery. There’s also a cable car to the summit (one way/ 100,000 – return/160,000d); a smart approach is to take the cable car up and walk down. The bus journey, an hour’s boat ride, half an hours trekking will reach you to the first pagoda. And there the history and story will take you to the era of the medieval age. 

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The Myths:

Perfume Pagoda

Thien Tru Pagoda:

As a popular belief, if you don’t pray here, the sky will be angry on you. Thien Tru Pagoda is also known as Heaven’s Kitchen. The starlight falls exactly on the spot where the king’s kitchen was, there the entire kingdom’s food used to be cooked.

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Huong Tich Chu Pagoda:

Post pleasing the sky you can climb up more 3 storied stairs and take a ropeway ride to reach the second pagoda, Huong Tich Chu, which belongs to the lady buddha. The Cave Pagoda has the appearance of an open dragon’s mouth with Chu Nho characters carved in a wall at the mouth of the cave. Again, a breathtaking visual and mind goggling story is waiting for you, how the younger daughter of a King became the lady Buddha with thousand hands and eyes post the greatest selfless sacrifice.

Inside of pagoda

On the route from Thien Tru to Huong Tich cave is Giai Oan Temple, also called ‘Clearing Unjust Charges’ Pagoda. There is a pond called Thien Nhien Thanh Tri (Natural Blue Pond), also called Long Tuyen Well, and Giai Oan stream, with its 9 sources.

Perfume Pagoda I recommend as a must if you fit to take the journey. 

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Find Your Reason To Visit Hanoi:

Things To Do In Hanoi

Vietnam is the port of Southeast Asia because of its position on the world map. And it occupies the eastern portion of the mainland. Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital with a growing population above 9 million people and It is located in the northern part of the country. Because of its scenic beauty, Vietnam’s popularity is increasing day by day among travelers. Therefore, you will get to see a lot of tourists and backpackers in Hanoi, mostly Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Australians. As a result, civics has become more outgoing, more subtle. They are positive about the mixing as well as overseas friends.

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In large Hanoi, the most happening place we will get to see is the Old Quarter. And here you can chill 2 – 3 days max while visiting loads of cafes, restaurants, hotels, bars, lounges, markets, clubs, street food vendors, and many more. Another, the city generally closes around 7 to 8 pm, except for the night market.

Hanoi train street
Hanoi Train Street

Besides Old Quarter you must visit Tay Ho (means West Lake). Generally, refugees and English teachers live in this part. That’s why it has all the fancy restaurants and foreign foods to offer. So, you can change your taste there when you want to.

A local told me once, “we have a population of 10 million with 8 million motorbikes”. And it is true because buying a car is a luxury to the Viet. While buying one, they have to pay almost 40 percent road tax. So, motorbikes save their lives and money day to day basis. But you may face challenges while crossing the streets. Hence, you must keep maintaining your pace while walking and crossing the road, then the drivers will go around you. If you slow down or speed up, then there might be trouble.

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The People PC The Statesman

Hanoi People:

People in Hanoi mostly love to spend time chilling outside on the streets, drinking tea and spitting sunflower seeds, sitting in small chairs and tables. Nobody seems to be in a rush. You might find it a sight. If you are not very tall you can also enjoy the sit.

They mostly don’t speak English or speak at a very beginner level, except the workers in hotels, restaurants, cafes, and college-goers. So, it is necessary for you to be prepared.

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Vietnamese Words To Know:

It is in your best interest to learn a few Viet words for interactions as I told you earlier people are not good with English. PFB a few essentials:

Xin Chao – Hello

Cam On – Thank you

Khong co chi – You are welcome

Hen gap lai – See you again

Tam Biet – Goodbye

Ban giup toi duoc khong – Can you help me

Xin Loi – Excuse me

Money & Prices –

Vietnamies Dong

The currency is the Vietnamese Dong, and the exchange rate is $1 = 23,000 DONG as of February 2020. Therefore, in Hanoi, you may feel like a millionaire and it can boggle your mind. But my advice is to start shopping for the reality check, as a bottle of water will cost you 20,000 DONGS. With the exception, everything in Hanoi is cash only, so make sure to have double as much cash as you think you’ll need. Also, it’s pretty normal to be confused with Vietnamese Dong.

That being said, almost everything is cheap in Hanoi – $1 for a bowl of Pho, $0.50 for a taxi ride around the city, and $1 for a T-shirt! Just sharpens your bargain skills. And don’t be fooled.

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