Chitral is a beautiful corner of Gods earth in Pakistans mountainous north, with rich traditions and gentle people. We found this out when I and an equally footloose friend arrived here more than four decades ago after an adventurous road journey, details of which were the subject of my last weeks column. Having ensconced ourselves in a rest house and caught up on our lost sleep, we set out to explore the town and its surrounding area. I have always maintained that if one wants to know more about places and the people who inhabit them, one must take a walk through the local bazaar. Chitrals only bazaar was what one would expect to see in a place far removed from materialistic urban cities. The people we encountered were simple, soft spoken and friendly. The small stores appeared to be moderately stocked and we were told that much of the stuff had to be brought in from Peshawar by the Fokker aircraft service run by Pakistan International Airlines or by an arduous and sometimes risky road journey across Lowari Pass. It was, however, the shops selling local products that drew us and other visitors to them and it was here that one found thick hand woven woollen cloth known as patti, chitrali caps, embroidered gowns or chogas, dry fruit and handicrafts, at bargain prices. Chitral Fort was constructed on the bank of Chitral River by the rulers or 'Mehtars from the 'Katoor Dynasty, some 400 years ago. The structure had a unique architecture and was made entirely out of timber, stones and mud. This was a place where every inch had a story to tell and it was often that my imagination played tricks on me bringing to me the distant clashing of sword upon shield, as if opposing armies were locked in battle on the ancient ramparts. It was here that the famous 'Siege of Chitral, so romantically dramatised by the British, began on March 15, 1895. The fort was then occupied by Indian troops under the command of Captain Townsend, an officer of the Indian Staff Corps. For 30 days, the force held out against a local uprising till relieved by two British columns, one of which under Colonel James Kelly made a forced march from Gilgit. During our tour of the fort, we were told that the Mehtars Palace was also located inside the walls and was still occupied by his descendants. It was unfortunate that we could not access that part of the great structure, although many years later I had the pleasure of meeting one of the family members in Islamabad. The Jami Mosque was an impressive gleaming structure opposite the fort. Beautifully decorated with inlay work, it was constructed by one of the Mehtars and remains a major attraction for visitors to this day. It was early next morning that we hired a jeep to take us to Garam Chasma. The place was known for two reasons: First, it had a number of hot sulphur springs that healed people with skin ailments, and second, it was the production centre for the famous woollen patti. We started off with our driver constantly chattering about life in this part of the world, till we realised that he was probably doing it to keep our minds off the road that we were now traversing. We were shaken out of our wits, when our jeeps canvas top was suddenly ripped by an overhead rock and it dawned on us that we were driving at breathtaking speed along a thin ribbon of road flanked on one side by a vertical drop into a raging river and on the other by a high rock wall with jutting overhangs. We reached Garam Chasma after having exhausted all the prayers that we had learned during our lifetime, but forgot the perils of the journey after taking one look at the beauty of the place. The day was spent lolling in the soothing hot waters and the return journey was begun as the day wore on into dusk. I do not know whether it was the therapeutic effect of the springs or fatigue, but I appear to have fallen asleep, to awaken just before our vehicle entered Chitral Bazaar. That evening, we cornered the old caretaker of the rest house and drew him into conversation over a hot cup of tea. The wizened old man, who appeared to be a hundred years old, but was as fit as a fiddle, told us about a terrifying event that occurred in the area from time to time. According to him, there were times when a huge whirlwind emerged from the gorges and sucked up everything in its path as it swept through the valleys. To us it was a perfect description of a freak tornado, but to him it was the work of the supernatural. By now, you must be wondering as to when Bonzo, Booby and Henry would make an appearance in this column as promised. I am afraid you will have to wait another week for that event to materialise, as any more lines and I shall be 'put in stocks by my editor for overshooting space. n The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.