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Himalaya

Day 10: Chitral

Michael Palin - Himalaya The Ul-Mulk family were at the centre of events. Siraj's great-grandfather Aman died in 1892 after a 35-year reign, instigating a vicious war of succession in which his various sons quarrelled with, plotted against and killed each other, until one decided his best hope of survival was to create a local alliance aimed at throwing the British out of their kingdom.

The siege of Chitral may not be as well known as those of Khartoum or Mafeking, but it was pretty heroic stuff, as the defenders, mainly Sikh troops under British officers, forced to eat their horses to survive, held out for 48 days before being relieved by a force of men, mules and cannons that had marched over the high passes of the Hindu Kush in the middle of winter.

The fort where the horse-eaters held out is still there, sitting low on a promontory round which the muddy grey river swirls. Its 25-foot-high, 240-foot-long walls still stand, but they look a little sad, with plaster cracked and fallen away, revealing the bare bones underneath. Groves of tall trees loom over the bedraggled ramparts and beneath them contented cows chomp their way through fields of wild cannabis.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 10: Chitral
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Chitral
  • Book page no: 30

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