^ Home
< Back
? Search
Print this page




Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

Directory Listings





Parish Records




War Memorials



Map of Chitral Region

A modern map showing Chitral today

The Chitral Region now forms part of Pakistan


In the years since the article quoted below was written, the world atlas has been re-drawn many times as boundaries changed, countries disappeared, merged or acquired new names, and colonial empires fell apart. 1911 was the year when King George V  (who had come to the throne in 1910), journeyed across the world with his wife Queen Mary, to visit India as Emperor and Empress - the first visit to India by a British Monarch.

From The Encyclopedia Britannica dated 1911:

(16 years after the Siege of Chitral occured)


A native state in the North West Frontier Province of India. The state of Chitral is some-what larger than Wales, and supports a population of about 35,000 rough, hardy hill men. Previous estimates put the number far higher, but as the Mehtar assesses his fighting strength at 8000 only, this number is probably not far wrong. Both the state and its capital are called Chitral, the latter being situated about 47 miles from the main watershed of the range of the Hindu Kush, which divides the waters flowing down to India from those which take their way into the Oxus.

Chitral is an important State because of its situation at the extremity of the country over which the government of India exerts its influence, and for some years before 1895 it had been the object of the policy of the government of India to control the external affairs of Chitral in a direction friendly to British interests, to secure an effective guardianship over its northern passes, and to keep watch over what goes on beyond these passes. This policy resulted in a British agency being established at Gilgit in Kashmir Territory, with a subordinate agency in Chitral, the latter being usually stationed at Mastuj (65 miles nearer to Gilgit than the Chitral capital), and occasional visits being paid to the capital.

Chitral can be reached either by the long circuitous route from Gilgit, involving 200 miles of hill roads and the passage of the Shandur Pass (12,250 ft.), or (more directly) from the Peshawar frontier at Malakand by 100 miles of route through the independent territories of Swat and Bajour, involving the passage of the Lowarai (10,450 ft.). It is held by a small force as a British outpost. 

The town of Chitral (pop. in 1901, 8128), is chiefly famous for a siege which it sustained in the spring of 1895. Owing to complications arising from the demarcation of the boundary of Afghanistan which was being carried out at that time, and the ambitious projects of Umra  Khan, chief of Jandol, which was a tool in the hands of Sher Afzul, a political refugee from Chitral supported by the Amir at Kabul, the Mehtar (or ruler) of Chitral was murdered, and a small British and Sikh garrison subsequently besieged in the fort. A large force of Afghan troops was at that time in the Chitral river valley to the south of Chitral, nominally holding the Kafirs in check during the progress of boundary demarcation. It is considered probable that some of them assisted the Chitralis in the siege.

The position of the political agent, Dr Robertson (afterwards  Sir George Robertson), and his military force of 543 men (of whom 137 were non-combatants) was at one time critical. Two forces were organized for the relief. One was under Sir R. Low, with 15,000 men, who advanced by way of the Malakand pass, the Swat river and Dir. The other, which was the first to reach Chitral, was under Colonel Kelly, commanding the 32nd Pioneers, who was placed in command of all the troops in the Gilgit district, numbering about 600 all told, with two guns, and instructed to advance by the Shandur pass and Mastuj.

This force encountered great difficulties owing to the deep snow on the pass (12,230 ft. high), but it easily defeated the Chitrali force opposed to it and relieved Chitral on the l9th of April, the siege having begun on the 4th of March. Sher Afzul, who had joined Umra Khan, surrendered, and eventually Chitral was restored to British political control as a dependency of Kashmir. During Lord Curzon's vice-royalty, the British troops were concentrated at the extreme southern end of the Chitral country at Kila Drosh and the force was reduced, while the posts vacated and all outlying posts were handed over to levies (platoons of local men) raised for the purpose from the Chitralis themselves. The troops in Swat were also concentrated at Chakdara and reduced in strength."

The Chitral Valley today
The Chitral Valley in summer


^ Home
< Back
? Search
Print this page