Friday, 26 August 2016

The Lowari Pass, Pakistan

Lowari Pass is also called Lowari Top is a high mountain pass that connects Chitral with Dir in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Lowari Top / Lowari Pass is a relatively low pass, by far the lowest pass to enter Chitral, the others all being 12,000 to 15,000 feet. The Lowari Top crosses the Hindu Raj Mountains, a spur of the higher Hindu Kush, and on the Chitral side of Lowari Top are the people of Ashret, whose native is Palula language and were assigned by the Mehtar of Chitral to be the guardians of Lowari Top.

Although, Lowari Top is shut down by snow from late November to late May every year. During this difficult time, jeeps cannot cross so peoples must travel by foot. The local peoples are so strong and powerful, so they’re habitual of crossing Lowari Top by foot. This is extremely treacherous, as there are high mountains on each side of Lowari Top, and a fatal avalanche can come at any moment without warning. Therefore, in every winter a few individuals are killed by avalanches while crossing Lowari Top. So, their dead bodies are buried under the snow and it is only happens when the summer comes and the snow melts that their dead bodies are found and their fate learned. However, Lowari Top remains one of widespread place because it is the shortest route from Chitral to Peshawar. Although, the alternative way would be down the Kunar River to Jalalabad through hostile Afghan Territory or the much longer route across Shandur Top to Gilgit. 

Moreover on the other side which is called Der reside Khowars, some of whom make their living as porters carrying loads across Lowari Top. More than 60 years ago, when in 1954, the Mehtar of Chitral was killed when his airplane crashed into Lowari Top. However, in these days, even PIA pilots often turn back because of winds and fear of crossing Lowari Top. The word "Top" is thought not to be the English word "top" but a word from an ancient language no longer spoken there. The Lowari Top is one of the four major mountain passes to enter Chitral. Hence, the others are the Dorah Pass from Badakshan in Afghanistan, Shandur Top from Gilgit, and Broghol from the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. Furthermore, in 2009 the Lowari Tunnel was constructed beneath Lowari Pass by a Korean company.  Though, the tunnel was abandoned presently thereafter and has since fallen into shabbiness.

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