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Himalaya

Day 9: To Chitral

Michael Palin - HimalayaAs we near Chitral, orchards and tranquil stretches of woodland cluster beside the road. We pass groups of men shaking mulberries from the trees with long sticks, and a line of very small children coming out of school, all dressed in vivid green shalwar-kameezes and looking like a procession of parrots.

The Hindu Kush Heights Hotel is set on the side of a hill with a fine view of the valley and Chitral town. Recently built, the emphasis is firmly on local design and craftsmanship at the expense of televisions and mini-bars. In the garden the heat smells of rosemary and jasmine.

The owners and creators of this remarkable hotel are both of that great Chitral dynasty, the Ul-Mulk family. Siraj, a man of my own age and a one-time Pakistan Airlines pilot, is one of several sons of the last ruler or Mehtar (Persian for prince) of Chitral. His father was married to Siraj's mother for 80 years.

'They were two and four when they got married.'

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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 9: To Chitral
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Chitral
  • Book page no: 28

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