Sights of Sounds of Pakistan: Chitral Part-5
The scions of the Katur dynasty are still widely respected and honoured by the people of Chitral today, but the current Mehtar, H.H. Saif-ul-Mulk Nasir does not hold any royal powers.. During the reign of Mehtar Aman-ul-Mulk, known as Lot (Great) Mehtar,
the dynasty’s sway extended from Asmar in the Kunar Valley of Afghanistan to Punyal in the Gilgit Valley.
Tribes in Upper Swat, Dir Kohistan and Kafiristan (present day Nuristan, not to be confused with the Kalasha valleys which have always been an integral part of Chitral) paid tribute to the Mehtar of Chitral.
The ruler’s title, Mehtar, is unique; his male descendants were styled Mehtarjao, equally rare, until the higher (Persian) royal style Shahzada, originally reserved for the Crown Prince (Tsik Mehtar, again unique, as Heir Persumptive, becoming Wali-Akht
Sahib when heir Apparent), was extended to all princes of the Mehtar’s blood since the rulers at that point.
A personal museum of one Mr Wazir on way up to Drosh fort has many interesting collections including one letter written by the British district political agent to the grand Mehtar stating that it has been observed with "concern" that locals do not get up
and pay respect to the British when passing by on the road and that he is "advised" in his own interest to inform everyone that all locals to stand and pay respect to the passing by vehicles even if no British is sitting inside as mark of respect, lest the
offender will be taken as a Russian spy and dealt with accordingly."
The Mehtars dominated till the British, threatened by a possible Soviet invasion, established a garrison in Chitral in the 19th century. However, when these fears were ill founded, the British lost interest in Chitral, and the Mehtars were left to govern
as they wished until the late 1960s, when the state was dissolved in 1969 and made part of Pakistan.
However, the scions of the Katur dynasty are still widely respected and honoured by the people of Chitral today, however they do not hold any royal powers.
The easiest way to Chitral is by air from Peshawar. PIA, the national airlines, operates daily Fokker flights to Chitral on subsidized rates. The flight takes 55 minutes but as is the case with all flights to the northern areas, this too is scheduled by
To be continued…