The Villages of Gojal: Chaporsan Valley

Located in the upper Gojal Valley of Hunza District, the Chaporsan Valley is politically a part of South Asia, but its geography, history, culture, economy and climate are more closely related to the Upper Pamirs of Central Asia. Chaporsan is not a village, but a long valley in the neighborhood of Wakhan, Afghanistan, with many villages.


All the villages of Chaporsan, except Ramanji, are inhabited by Wakhi speakers. Broshki is spoken in Ramanji, and it was in this soil that the famous mountaineer Nazir Sabir was born.


To get to Chaporsan, you’ll need to turn left a few kilometers from Sost Town, and take a dirt road. Small vehicles travel to the end of the Chaporsan Valley.


Along the way, many influential villages, large and small, such as Green City, Rasht, Kerman, Yashkok (brown spring in Wakhi language), Zodkhon (Probably a combination of Persian and Wakhi language, “more home”, or more population), Shatmargh, , yerzrich and spinge (similar to the English word sponge) seem to be a picture of natural beauty and human toughness.


Rasht also has an ancient fortified village. But don’t think of Qila Lahore or Qila Baltat here with the word Qila, but rather a cluster of many small and large houses connected to each other by narrow streets, where at one time people may have been “fortified” and natural. And live to avoid human disasters. Now probably no one lives in these houses. The village of Rasht has spread to the river bank.


A few towering buildings are also relatively high at the site of Yerzrich, which may have been of military importance at one time.


Zod Khun is the last human population in the Chaporsan Valley. Beyond this is a low-lying area called Rufaiya in the local language. According to local tradition, in ancient times there was a large lake here, in which lived an eight-headed man-eating dragon. The locals used to give this man-eating dragon a baby to eat every day. People were upset.


In such a situation a miraculous elder appeared, became aware of the sufferings of the people, and killed the dragon with several strokes of his sword, and brought peace to the locals.


The story is long, but it is said that after the killing of the dragon, when the suffering of the people went away, they became intoxicated. The same charismatic elder appeared again to test the people, but no one recognized him, but made fun of him. There was only one compassionate old woman, who, despite her poverty, cared for the elder, who introduced himself as Baba Ghund (Ghund is the name of an area in Afghanistan).


The narrator says that after informing the old woman, the elder used his spiritual power, and drowned the whole population in a great flood as a punishment for foolishness and ingratitude. It is said that only the old woman’s hut survived the flood. Even today there is a small population called “Kampir Dewar” (“village of old age” in Wakhi language).


Locals say that a small excavation found fossils resembling large bones beneath the ground in the middle of a dry lake, which according to local tradition belonged to the dragon that was killed by Baba Ghund. It is not possible for me to comment on this story and point without researching its veracity.


It is a fact, however, that there are signs of a major flood in the area. Geographical indications also suggest that there may have been a large glacier here at some point in time, which has now shrunk and disappeared, but many traces have been left behind.


This is a research tradition. A study of the geographical features and these bone-like fossils can confirm the story, as well as disprove it. It is possible that a major flood wreaked havoc in the area, which is still part of the local folklore tradition, and that some miraculous, but instructive, words have been added to enhance the story!


A term used in Wakhi poetry is Yashkoke Bozor (Yashkok’s Bazaar). It is said that at one time Yashkok was a major center of human population, which was destroyed by the floods. God knows best


The Chaporsan Valley is connected to the 16-and-a-half-thousand-foot-high Irshad Pass (Yarshod, local pronunciation) to the Wakhan border region of Afghanistan, while the Challenge Pass (17,000 feet high) connects the Qarambar area of ​​Ghazar District.


Consider Baba Ghund, and his shrine, the guardian of the border area. There is a shrine called Panja Shah in the inner area of ​​Chaporsan on the way from Sost. It is said that the symbol of an elder’s claw is engraved on a stone.


Beyond Baba Ghund’s last resting place are mountain ranges, through which one can reach Wakhan (Afghanistan), the main area of ​​Wakhi speakers.


The Kyrgyz and Wakhi-speaking inhabitants of the Pamirs used to trade freely with the inhabitants of Chaporsan, but at present these relations are not as easy as before. For the past few years, due to the security situation, security personnel have been living in barracks near Baba Ghund’s shrine, monitoring visitors, and registering data from their ID cards.


Thousands of people from all over Gilgit-Baltistan come every year to visit Baba Ghund’s shrine, make offerings at the grave, arrange anchorage, circumambulate the shrine, and carry holy water in bottles. It is drawn from a spring on the banks of a Galician river near the holy water shrine, and according to local tradition, the spring comes from under the shrine of Baba Ghund.


For believers, the journey to the Chaporsan Valley is not just for tourism but a spiritual one. They see the miracles of God as well as pray at the shrine of Baba Ghund to seek blessings.


For the past few years, an international festival called Baba Gund-i Festival has been organized to promote tourism. The number of viewers is increasing every year. Kyrgyz from Wakhan and Pamir have been participating in the festival for some years. Buzkashi and polo competitions are held, handicrafts are on display, and mystical music is performed.



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Rizwan Haider Shah

Written by Rizwan Haider Shah

Mr. Rizwan Haider Shah is Executive Director & Bureau Chief Gilgit-Baltistan at Global Affairs. He can be reached at

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