A BRIEF GUIDE TO A TOURIST
The beautiful and historic valley of Yasen/Brooshi or Wehrchogoom (Yasin) is situated 135 Ms to the North of Gilgit, consisting of 45000 population and 7436 Sq. Km area. To the North of Yasen (Yasin) are Badakhshan procince of Afghanistan and Pameer of Tajakistan, while to the West is Goopechh (Gupis) , North West Chhitrar/Koistn (Chitral) and to the South is Pooyaal (Punyal). During Sulaiman Shah Tham rule, Yasen stretched from Chaqansarai (Ceded by British Empire to Afghanistan, with the aim to keep Russia away and to punish Yasen for the murder of Hayward in 1873) to Gor (Goharabad) of present district Diamar near Chilas and from Chhitrar, Baresan to Astore and Baltistan. The area was more than 6500 Sq. Km . Before 1860, the Branes North of Chhitrar, Koh-Ghazer, Goopechh and Ishhqamen were integral parts of Yasen. But the British took revenge of Lt. Colonel George Hayward’s murder in Yasen by dividing Mestooch, Kohe-Ghazer and Ishhqamen in to small state. After defeating Sulaiman Shah, his nephew Gohar Aman became Tham (Ruler) of Yasen. He fought several wars with the Sikhs and Dogras oif Jammu & Kashmir and defeated them repeadtly. He annihilated the Sikh invaders of Kashmir in 1852 at Bop Singh Padi (gorge near Gilgit, where Sikh Commander Bop Singh was defeated) at the place where Bagorote River joins with river Gilgit. But in 1863 after the death of Gohar Aman Tham, Sikhs succeeded and conquered Yasen with the help of Azmat Shah son of Sulaiman Shah and Arsala Khan of Sandhi Yasen. The people of Selgan did not fight this war against Sikhs. During the ruining of the Moodoori Khan (fort), Dal Sandhi Sikhs of Kashmir joined by the people of Pooyaal, Gilgit, Nagir, Astore and Kohistan massacred the besieged soldiers of Moodoori Khan. Sikh soldiers even did not spare the infants and women, as a revenge for their losses at Bop Singh Padi and different wars. The throne of Yasen was awarded to Azmat Shah the son of Sulaiman Shah Tham. But Azmat Shah escaped via Assombar to Ishhqamane and reached Gilgit before Sikh forces could reach Gilgit. The people of Yasen including those of Selgan did not co-operate with Azmat Shah, because of the Sikhs barbarism. The reason of invitation to Sikh of Kashmir was the constant aggression of Yasen against the rulers of Pooyal, Gilgit, Nagir, Astore, Gor and Dangari (Darel and Tangir).
The people of Yasen defended their motherland against the invaders from Russia, China and Afghanistan besides Chhitrar (Chitral) and other neighboring states. The Russian fort Qalmaqe Khan (fort) at Bahrkohiti is the evidence of Russian presence and expulsion from the state. The fort of Bahrikhn at the last corner of Thaoos to the north was being used for the war between Yasen and China in 735 AD. The engraved Chinese script on a stone across the Moohrkye Bridge testifies the Chinese invasion. In Yasen near Naazbar river had a place called Phiti Das the boulder, it has engraving of animals and men of pre-historic era.
There is a cluster of beautiful villages in Yasen valley. Woven into each like beautiful pearl necklace. When we proceed from Goopechh the first Yasen village is Chheliharang, which we can call the starting point of Yasen from the south. This, then, leads to a number of other villages such as Ginday Moohrkiye, Atkash, Boojayote, Yasen (Domyaal) and Naazbar, Thaoos, Hooyehiti, Ghojahiti, Sandi (the biggest village). Thooy, Bahrkohiti (the second biggest village) Hoondoor. Tehrchhet, Oomehlichhet and Dahrkoot. Dahrkoot is the valley situated at the distance of more than 50km from Goopechh and five hours’ walks to Wakhan of Afghanistan from Dahrkoot Pass via Broghol.
One of the many things that Yasen is famous for is the existence of various kinds of springs (Boolaing), which attract people from different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and abroad. The “spring” at Dahrkoot, which flows at the height of about 11,000 feet near glacier of Dahrkoot, is extremely hot, and can boil an egg and potato within a few minutes. It is useful for skin diseases and chronic joint pains, but harmful for leprosy. Another spring of the same nature in Thooyi Dooshter near Tehlti. Lying at the distance of one-hour’s walk from Bahrkohiti valley at Chhelipey, this spring lowers the body temperature during the high grade fever, and also proves as an effective treatment for hot tempered people, besides reducing high blood pressure and treating peptic ulcer. This spring water has a taste very much similar to that of 7 UP, lying at the distance of one hour walk from Bahrkohlti valley at Chhehlpey. This spring lowers the body temperature during high grade fever and also proves to be an effective treatment for hot nature people, reduces high blood pressure and highly effective in peptic ulcer.
DARBAN AT DAHRKOOT
Darban at Dahrkoot is a well-known defence point in the martial history of Yasen. This is a place which is about five miles away from central Dahrkoot towards the border of Pamir, where the forces of Yasen used to stand guard against the aggression of Chhitrar (Chitral),Afghanistan andRussia several times in history.
1. The unbeaten Teherchhet mountain is seen from a distance of 18 miles from Yasen proper. This mountain is covered with glacier throughout the year.
2. The other highest mountain of Yasen at Oomelchhet, which looks like a sharp edge, was first climbed by a British team during the last century.
3. In Thooyi Mooshibar owned by Choona the sub-caste of Begale and other valleys, there are several high mountains, which can prove extremely interesting for mountaineers.
4. Hoondoorpar Mountain
5. Garmash-1 and Garmash-II
I, A truckable road links Yasen to Gilgit through Goopech (Gupis) and Pooyaal (Punyal). Beyond Goopechh there is also a truckable road which leads to Chhitrar (Chitral) via the beautiful Shandur pass, where the highest polo ground of the world is situated “within the territory of Goopechh” which is internationally famous for the July polo festival played by the people of Chhitrar (Chitral) and Gilgit.
The prospects of trekking are great in Yasen valley. One of the possible trekking spots is Naazbar valley of Yasen that stretches to Baooshhter of Koh-e-Ghezer and Mastuj in Chhitrar (Chitral). A pony trek links Gazen, a remote and last village of Chhitrar (Chitral), to Mooshibar, Thooyi, the last pasture to the west of Yasen. Another extremely attractive trekking spot is the beautiful valley of Asoombar, which leads to the valley of Ishhqamen. Garmashbar pass near Phirani Dookhatoom to Ishhqamen and Dahrkoot. Dahrkoot links with Thooyi, Ishhqamen, Garmash, Boroghol and Pamir, Qohrqohiti links Yasen to Goopechh by a beautiful valley of Darmanda.
NATCO, a government transport company, and other private companies operate bus and coach services at reasonable rates from Gilgit to different valleys of Yasen. Jeep service is also available to all the high altitude valleys of Yasen namely Thooyi. Qohrqohiti Naazbar and Dahrkoot. The first village you enter from Goopechh is Chheliharang, where water power house has been built some years back. The second slaal village is Damalgan, then a lengthy and plain village starts which is called Gindaye. After Gindaye and Neoh Ziyarat on the right bank of river Yasen. When you cross Moohrke bridge towards Bojayot a relatively high ground will welcome you. At the end of Boojayot, you will find a beautiful and long valley Yasen and then Thawoos after crossing a bridge. In Yasen will find the ruins of Yasen Khan (Fort) on the left bank of Yasen river. From Yasen you have to choose one route either to Naazbar which is beautiful but narrow valley of Yasen or you have to cross the long bridge towards Thawoos. There are two ancient forts (Khan) one on the River Naazbar (Nawchhologh) and another at the end on the opposite side of Ghojahlti which is called Bahrikhan. From Thawoos whether you have to select Sandi by crossing Met Basczh (bridge) or to proceed towards Hooyehlti via a small village Met, High School and a private College. Hoyehlti is a very narrow village of Yasen due to River Thoi encroachment a large scale of land has been turned in to barren land or river bank. From Hooyehlti you have to select one route either to Thoi or Bahrkohlti by crossing Brandaas bridge. You have to turn left for Thoi and straight for Bahrkohlti, Hoondoor, Oomehlchhet and Dahrkoot in the last. From Sandi you have to go Qohrqohlti valley or you can choos the way for Bahrkohlti by crossing Qohrqohlti and Asoombar Rivers and then Shahaman and then Bahrkohlti by crossing Thamarai where a ruin of ancient fort can be seen on the way.
When you decide to go to Thoi, then turn left after crossing Barandaas bridge. The first village come on the way to Thoi is Ghaingchhel and then Tapes on the right way and Trach when you cross a small bridge. After crossing Trach you will find Hahrpoo, kono, Nahlti and in the last Thehlti. It’s the end of road. You have to go byfoot from Moshibar if you have to enter in to Chhitrar (Chitral). The first village you will see in Chhitrar is Gazen. From Dahrkoot you will enter Boroghol which is part of Chhitrar and then you will enter in to Badakhshan and Pameer.
The people of Yasen are known for their generosity and hospitality throughout the region of Gilgit Baltistan. Outsiders are commonly regarded as guests irrespective of their creed, caste and nationality. Free accommodation and food are provided throughout the area. Apart from hotel small-scale teashops are cater to the visitors. Besides a PWD rest house in Yasen also provides accommodation and food facilities on payment.
In Yasen there are a number of lakes, which adds to the spectacular natural beauty of the valley. A brief information about the most famous lakes is as follow:
1. Qohrqohlti lakes: In Qohrqohlti, there are beautiful lakes ascending at a distance of three hours walk from the Jeepable road towards the green plains of Makooli in Qohrqohlti Valley, where colourful flowers and ibexes could be seen in summer.
2. Garmashbar lake: in Garmash bar, which belongs to Hilbitingey of Bahrkohiti, near Boi-mo-shani. there is an extremely beautiful lake. It takes around five hours to reach the lake on foot. This lake is surrounded by colourful flowers that presents unforgettable scenery. The second lake is situated at a high altitude in Booniga-Bar which links with Boolenter of Oomehhlchhet and the third lake is called Ishhqer-phari. 3.Dahrkoot lake: At the distance of one-hour’s walk from Dahrkoot, we have the famous Dahrkoot Lake. The temperature of this lake remains freezing almost all the year. One of the outstanding characters of this lake is that one can find a surprisingly large variety of water birds in it. This lake is said to be a sort of transit camp for migatotry birds who come mostly from Siberia and go back before winter. There is a second lake named Khahlter Lake situated at the distance of three hours walk on a steep land to the east. This is the lake where a good number of trout fish are found.
4. Lake in Asoomber: Asoomber (owned by Shhamoone) in Sandi is widely known for its natural beauty and trekking spots. At the same time, in Asoomber there are three pectacular lakes – Neophari, Echoghon-Phari and Eshqer-Phari – which have more recently become a center of tourist attraction.
5. Bottomless lake: At the junction of Mooshibar and Khymet at a high altitude, a vast, colourful and bottomless lake and six other lakes are found with different colours. They are also popular for their medicinal effectiveness for skin diseases (except leprosy) and chronic joint pains. Another spring of the same nature is situated in Thooyi Dooshter near Thehlti. There is another spring which has a taste very much similar to 7UP, lying at the distance of one and half-hours’ walk from Bahrkholti at Chhelpay.This spring lowers the body temperature during high grade fever and also proves to be an effective treatment for hot natured people, reduces high blood pressure and highly effective for the treatment of reptic ulcer.
Certain glaciers in Yasen lend a great deal to its natural beauty. Here is some information on those glaciers:
1. At the distance of about six hours’ walk from Yasen, on top of mountain of Moohrkiye, a glacier spreads over an area of three miles. Precious stones are also found near this glacier.
2. In Garmash valley at a walk of five hours from Yasen near Pherani Dookhatoom, the plains of glaciers could be seen, which cross the valley of Garmash towards Ishhqamen to the east.
3. At a half-hour’s walk near Tehrchhet valley, a rocky glacier embraces the unbeaten mountain of Tehrchhet to the west. Hunters have often observed golden frogs, weighing 20kg under the deep layers of the glacier.they can attack human being, it is said.
4. A glacier is situated at the distance of about two hours’ walk beyond Rawat of Dharkoot in front of a hot spring.
5. Another glacier can be seen after three hours’ walk from the hot spring of Dharkoot to Boroghil.
The region of Yasen is rich in precious,semi-precious and industrial mines viz iron ore potash, alum, storex (genetic name momiyai), antimony, sulphur, copper and salt ect. Gold is very likely to be found in Moohrkye, Thoi, Asoombar, Garmash, Hoondoor, Dahrkoot and Naazbar valleys.
CASTE And LANGUAGES
The people mostly belong to Brooshoo caste. Ninety percent people speak Brooshaaski, nine percent Khowar (migrated from Chitral) and one percent Shhena in Boojayot. It is commonly recognized that the Brooshaaski (which is spoken in Yasen) is various linguistic grounds is more original than the similar language spoken in Nagir and Hoonz (Hunza). Pooyaal people and Wehrchigoom by Chhitrari (Chitrali) people also know Yasen as Brooshi. A famous Kashmir! intellectual Sheraz Kashmiri has written in his book that the Brooshaaski is the mother of Khowar, Shhena and Kashmiri languages. Brooshaaski is the only surviving shoot of ancient Torani language. All these three dialects, i.e. Kashmir, Khowar and Shhena have come into being by amalgamation of Brooshaaski and Pashacha languages. There is no evidence of origin of Brooshoo from any other part of the world. Therefore, it is believed that Brooshoo are the indigenous people of the land. Broosbaaski is the ancient and isolated dialect of the world.
FESTIVAL HOUSE (Takhte Hah)
Takht-e-Hah is a traditional house which is situated at Yasen (Manichi ).This house is used as a central place for various programs during annual festival called Boh. Before cultivation of crops, normally in the first week of March, this local festival is organized to celebrate the start of new crop year. This festive is believed to bring good luck for farmers in the new season. On this occasion people from almost all over Yasen assemble and arrange various of programs such as horse racing, polo matches, men dance on drum beat and observe Hemaaz (pouring flour towards the roof and sky as a mark of joy).
Stone circles, which are said to have existed from the time immorable are found across the bridge at the starting point of BahrkohIt (which is called “Brandas”) and to the east of Dahrkoot river at the end of Hoondoor valley, which is called “Aazoor-e-makhdooring”. An archaeological study of these stones can possibly lead to reveal the historical facts, which has not been done so far due to lack of any professional guidance and knowledge. In Yasen near Naazbar river, at a place Fiti Das, there is a boulder. It has engravings of animals and men of pre-historic era. Pharang-e-bar: In Dahrkoot, Pharang-e-Bar also receives considerable attention from local as well foreign tourists. This was the place where Col George Hayward, a member of British Royal Geographical Society, was murdered by Mir Wali Raja of Yasen in 18’the century when he was on way to Pamer [(the plain links Yasen with Afghanistan and Tajikistan (the then USSR)].
Raja Sulaiman Shah, a very powerful ruler of Yasen, ruled for 42 years. His dominion stretched (from Chaqansarai of Afghanistan to Gilgit, Hunza, Nagir, and Gor in Diamar, Barenas in Chhitrar (Chitral) to Astore and Baltistan. Raja Gohar Aman, the nephew of Sulaiman Shah, took the reign of great Yasen by defeating him. He is the big name in the history of Yasen who with the sheer help of the martial race of Yasen made his mark in the history of the battles fought in Gilgit Baltistan. Though he ruled only for nine years but he accomplished remarkable achievement and ruled over Pooyaal Nagir, Hunza, Gilgit. Gor, Dangari, Astore, Baltistan and Chhitrar (Chitral). He always remained in war with the Sikhs, the invaders from Kashmir, and with the local rulers. Both Sulaiman Shah and his nephew Gohar Aman are buried at Chootrang, on the right bank of Naazbar river, across the Dorkhn (Yasen fort) in the foot of Thaoos. Besides the graveyards of these popular rulers of Yasen, there is also a shrine of a saint at Noh (Noh Ziyarat). There are famous ziyarat in Met, Hooyehlti, Branadaas and the graveyard of the famous seven brothers along with their father in Bahrkohti Yasen. These have become the center of attraction for people from various walks of life.
MIRACLE HOUSE at BAHRKOHLTI
The miracle house at Bahrkohiti is also a significant spot from historical point of view. A very old traditional house, which belongs to the most ancient Yasen caste called Gholbashere, which is considered to be the original “Brooshoo” and the first dwellers (BOOMKI) of Yasen who settled in BahrkohIti. This house is now owned by Bodol. The youngest son of Ghofran Atalegh (Prime Minister), who also ruled over Yasen between 1934 and 1935.
Written by Abdul Hamid Khan