By Munir Hussyn Fatimi
Kuragh is a small but scenic village, situated about 81 kilometers in the north of the Chitral town, at the confluence of Mastuj and Mulkhow valleys (Dara).
It has great historical importance. The narrow passageways through the mountains near Kuragh saw fierce battles between the British troops and local warriors under Mehtar Sher Afzal Khan. Historians have called the war as Jang-e-Kalak.
Captain G.J. Younghusband, the author of The Relief of Chitral, writes on page 33 of the book: “About half-a-mile after leaving Kuragh [he says] the road enters a narrow defile. The hills on the left bank consist of a succession of large stone shoots, with precipitous spurs in between; the road at the entrance to the defile for about hundred yards runs quite close to the river”.
On page 36, he further states: “There was also a heavy fire kept on us from the Sangars on the right bank of the river. A large number of sepoys were killed, or so severely wounded as not to be able to move, by the stones down the shoot which ran right into the river, and Captain Ross himself was killed in front of one of the Sangars”.
Ghulam Murtaza in Nai Tarikh-e-Chitral adds: “Kalak is situated between Zait and Kuragh. The siege of the British soldiers by Sher Afzal Khan’s warriors from both sides and throwing of stones on them from above forced the invaders to flee leaving many of their soldiers, including Captain Ross, dead.” (Page 169).
An elderly resident of Kuragh told ChitralToday that one of the British soldiers was buried in Kuragh Dok.
Due to its location, Kuragh is still considered to be high military and security significance and Chitral Scouts are stationed in their cantonment here since 1973.
Population: There are about 250 houses in Kuragh, inhabited by people belonging to both the Sunni and Ismaili communities. These people are known for their unity and have lived in peace helping each other even in building their worship places. Last year, the people also showed their unity when they built a road in front of Shogram on a self-help basis.
The Kuragh village’s population comprises Syed, Wazir Bagay, Batekay, Mashuqay, Paney, Ukilay, Ashiray, Bobakay and Kalashay tribes.
One of the old residents of Kuragh told ChitralToday that most of the people living in the village were outsiders whose forefathers came here from other parts of Chitral such as Sonoghur, Reshun, Rech, Ovir and Lon. There is a shrine of a saint named Qalandar Shah, who was one of the descendants of Muhammad Rizae Wali who is buried at Sonoghur. Kuragh has become a hub for the supply of both residential and commercial daily-use items.
There is the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School for Girls that has added to the charm of the village and is producing prolific minds in the shape of brilliant students. Besides, there are also two government primary and Aga Khan schools. A hospital has also been established in the village by a foreign organization which is not only providing healthcare facilities to the residents but is also offering jobs to the local residents. This has put a very healthy effect on the society in the form of generating income and providing healthcare facilities to the local residents. There is also Chitral Scouts post in Kuragh. There are some hotels for tourists like Little Stars and famous Gul Dada hotel that will not let you go away without having a cup of tea.
Mir Wali alias Kuragho Master, is well-known singer and he also belongs to this village whose melodious voice touches many hearts.
Shamsud Din, a Chitral-based writer, educationist and trekker, in his article in mahraka.com paid tribute to this old artist and his contribution to the local culture. He writes: “Mir Wali, 74, of village Kuragh, is a known folk singer and artist of Chitral. In recognition of his long, outstanding contribution to Chitral’s folk music, he earned the nickname Master. His resonant voice characterizing unreserved pathos and poignant note—a style that has the power to evoke feeling—can have a magic spell on listeners.” (Photo of Master Mir Wali courtesy Mahraka.com).
Social work: A son of soil after graduating from the Institute for Ismaili Studies (IIS) London has established a society to work for the welfare of the needy children.
Ali Sher Khan, the graduate from the IIS, who runs the Shahada Welfare Society in Kuragh, told ChitralToday that his society worked as an orphanage, medical centre and an early childhood development centre.
The orphanage providing care for abandoned children by trained nurses and arranging for the secure placement of the abandoned children through finding genuine guardians at national and international level.
The medical centre provides general medical and mother and child health facilities to the patients with the help of a doctor, three nurses and a lab technician.
The ECD centre provides early childhood development activities to youngsters of ages three years and above. A school with the name of Queen Academy provides quality education to students up to class 5th with the help of six trained teachers, both men and women.
By Munir Hussyn Fatimi