The Kalasha valleys of Mumuret, Rukmu and Biriu lie approximately twenty-two miles south of Chitral. Population is in the region of 10,000 inhabitants, of whom less than a third are Kalasha. These valleys are the last enclaves to withstand conversion to Islam in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area .
Mumuret is the largest of the three Kalasha valleys. Mumuret also pronounced Bumburet by outsiders with its sparkling streams, shady meadows, groves of mulberry, apricot and walnut trees, wide mountain vistas and yellow and green fields, it is thought by any to be the most beautiful. Most of the hotels are run by outside Muslims, so that there is little economic benefit for the Kalasha. At the top end of the 9-mile valley, near the government rest house, there is a Nuristani village. Here begins the route, through a side valley, which leads on to the Shawala Pass, the highest into Nuristan and once a trail belonging to the ancient Silk Road. Here the great cedar trees still cling to the mountainsides.
Rukmu, which lies to the north of Mumuret, has fewer Muslim homesteads and sees fewer tourists. It is considerably narrower than Mumuret, and without that valley’s numerous shady meadows, Rukmu is rugged and majestic; the mountain ridges higher, the river much wilder. Again, at the very top end of the valley, there is a Nuristani village.
At first glance, Biriu seems narrow in comparison to the other valleys, although it is actually wider than Rukmu. There are fewer shady meadows here than in Mumuret, and the valleys is not so open. Moreover, at this level (it has the lowest altitude of all three valleys, is the hottest and grows the best grapes), it does not have the majestic awe-inspiring ruggedness of Rukmu. But the narrow rocky valley, with the shallow river running down its centre, is full of ‘secret’ nooks, where the emerald turf is splashed with sparkling rivulets of water. Higher up the mountain slopes, through the branches of the trees, the rugged mountain tops of the Hindu Kush appear stretched out on the horizon, while others loom in close, dark and mysterious or bathed in glorious sunlight.