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Swat Valley


Behrain  ||  Birkot  ||  Butkara Stupa  ||  Gabral  ||  Gumbat Stupa  ||  Kabal  ||  Kalam  ||  Khawazakhela  ||  Kundalo Lake  ||  Madyan  ||  Mahondand  ||  MalamJaba  ||  Matiltan  ||  Miandam  ||  Mingora  ||  Saidu Sharif  ||  Udi Gram  ||  Ushu  ||  Utrot  || 

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Swat is known as the Switzerland of Pakistan. The river Swat is a clear water river starting from the Ushu rage of mountains to the spread of the valley of Swat. It is on of the most green valleys of the Northern Pakistan and is well connected to the rest of Pakistan. There are regular flights from Islamabad to Swat and back. One can also get here either from Peshawar (160 KMs) or Islamabad.(250 KMs) The valley of Swat is located in the middle of foothills of Hindukush mountain range. The main town of the valley is Mingora and Saidu Sharif.

Swat is a place for leisure Lover , Hikers , and archeologist. There are many comfortable hotels where one can stay a while to relax. In Kalam upper Swat there are some very pleasant walks since weather is pretty pleasant one can easily walk over the hills for hours and enjoy the unspoiled nature. The Swat is garden of Ashoka and was a prosperous land in the Buddhist times (2nd BC to 5 AD) There are at least over 100 archeological sites in the valley less then 10% of the are excavated. One can explore some of those sites in a half day tour of Swat. Swat is the most historically interesting valley in Pakistan. It is also one of the most beautiful - certainly much greener and more fertile than the valleys further north because it lies within the monsoon belt.

In Lower Swat, the valley is wide, the fields on either side of the river are full of wheat and Lucerne, and the villages are prosperous and surrounded by fruit trees. In Upper Swat, the river tumbles through pine forests hemmed in by snow-capped mountains. For the historical and amateur archaeologist, Swat offers several hundred archaeological sites spanning 5,000 years of history. For the sportsman and trekker, it offers good fishing and hiking. The people of Swat are Muslim Pathans, Kohistanis and Gujars. Some have very distinct features and claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great.

Dresses:

The Swat women wear colorful embroidered shirts and shalwars (baggy trousers). The men wear shalwar-gamiz and embroidered caps or silk turban. Swat has been inhabited for over two thousand years. The first inhabitants were settled in well-planned towns.

History:

In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Udegram and Barikot and stormed their battlemens. In Greek accounts these towns have been identified as Ora and Bazira. Around the 2nd century BC, the area was occupied by Buddhists, who were attracted by the peace and serenity of the land. There are many remains that testify to their skills as sculptors and architects. In the beginning of the 11th century AD Mahmud of Ghazni advanced through Dir and invaded Swat, defeating Gira, the local ruler, near Udegram. Later the land was taken over by the Dilazak, who in turn were ousted by the Yusufzais.

Historical Places:

Swat Valley is full of historical treasures and tales. It was at this pass that the Emperor Akbar lost most of his 8000-man army in an abortive attempt to invade Swat in 1586. The 45 km-long road from Pir Baba (RA) to Barikot passes through Mount Ilam rising through mature pine forests to Karakar Pass. The hillsides abound with forts, a testament to the region's strategic importance. Alexander the Great and his army marched through Chakdar, and subsequent invaders left their mark: the town still has remains of Buddhist monasteries from the 1st to 7th centuries, while Hindu forts from the 8th to 10th centuries loom on the hilltops. Worth visiting are the valley's graveyards, which have been used for 3,500 years. A number of monuments dot the valley that talks about its rich and vibrant past. Some of the archaeological sites that one can visit on tour to Swat Valley include Butakara 1 and Butakara 2, Shingardar Stupa and Udegaram. Mount Ilam (2,811m, 9,222 ft) has been considered sacred since prehistoric times. A trek to the top brings visitors to a group of massive square blocks of stone, which archaeologists guess were used as an ancient altar.

Handi Crafts:

The handicrafts of Swat include needlework, embroidery, rug/carpets and wood work. The wooden artwork in fact has no parallel anywhere in the area.

Swat Valley is an ideal place for trekking and fishing. One can take a walk from Kalam to Ushu. The trek takes leads to some beautiful spots between Kalam and Ushu. Visitors who want a taste of northern Pakistan's historical variety should head for this lush valley. Located in the monsoon belt, it receives more rain than most northern areas, so the land is particularly fertile and green. The Swat River and its tributaries gush through rocky gorges and are particularly known for trout fishing. The houses of the small villages in the area are stacked one on top of the other up the mountainsides, with the roofs of one level of houses used as a front street for houses on the next level. Karakar Pass (1336 m./4384 ft.) is a mountain pass in the Hindu Kush in lower Swat Valley. From the top of the pass, one can view Buner Valley. In short, it is the most green valleys of the Northern Pakistan and is well connected to the rest of Pakistan. Swat is a place for leisure lovers , hikers , and archeologists. There are many comfortable hotels where one can stay a while to relax. There are regular flights from Islamabad to Swat and back. One can also get here either from Peshawar (160 kilometres) or Islamabad.(250 kilometres).

Archeological Sites:
Visit Butkara1 Butkara 2 , Udegaram , and Shingardar Stupa all sites of the Kushans Period. Later a detailed lecture in Swat museum on the chronology of Swat.

Lower Swat Valley:

The Lower Swat Valley has been occupied for the last 3000 years. The area between Chakdara Bridge and Saidu Sharif is littered with the remains of pre historic Aryan's Gandhara grave culture, Buddhist shrines and buildings of the Hindu Shahi Period. These archaeological sites are concentrated around three towns; Birkot, Udegram and Saidu Sharif.

Near Chakdara Bridge there are ruins of Hindu Shahi Period and stupas at Haibatgram, Top Dara and Landakai.

About 25 kilometres from Chakdara Bridge, Birkot is the site of ancient town Bazira sacked by Alexander in 326 BC. This town is situated on ancient route on the River Swat from Nawa Pass. Here ancient route take a turn to south through Karakar Pass into Buner which further lead to Shabaz Garhi in Peshawar Valley.

Gumbat Stupa is situated 9 kilometres south of Birkot in the Kandag Valley. This is one of the best preserved stupas of Swat. It consists of a cell of about 12 feet square with windows. It is surrounded on all sides by a narrow passage intended to walk around sacred images while worshiping. Before Gumbat is a large building known as Kanjar Kot, meaning Dancer’s Mansion.

Mount Ilam, 2811 meter High Mountain is considered sacred since ancient times. In the valley of Amluk-Dara near the foot of Mount Ilam is the ruin of a stupa.

Three kilometres from Birkot towards Saidu Sharif is Shingerdar Stupa. 1.5 kilometres from Shingerdar is a large Buddha Carving on a cliff facing the road.. Further after 6 kilometres is the Gogdara Rock Carvings. These 3000 years old engraving consist of different animals. There are some carvings in which humans were driving two wheeled war chariots. These carvings were probably works of ancient Aryans. On the same rock there are some Buddhist carvings.

Saidu Sharif/White Palace:

Just two Kilometer away from Mingora, Saidu sharif is an ideal picnic spot for visitors. There is White Palace Hotel there to stay and enjoy the scenic beauty of this area

Udegram:

Udegram is located 8 kilometres before Saidu Sharif. Aurel Stein identified this with Ora, a city where Alexander fought one of his battles. Italians excavated this site in 1950’s. This site was occupied from 1000 BC to 14th century AD. During Hindu Shahi period from 8th century to 10th century this was the regional capital of Swat. Ruins of Raja Gira’s Fort, the last Hindu ruler were excavated by the Italians in 1950’s. The first mosque built in Swat was excavated in 1985 below the Hindu Shahi Fort in 1985.

Mingora:

Mingora is the district headquarter and commercial centre of Swat. the Swat Museum, located between Mingora and Saidu, has a rich collection of Gandhara art which is worth viewing.Mingora is one of the most important town of the Swat Valley. It is situated 2km from Saidu Sharif. On the other side of River Swat near Mingora Airport a site of Gandhara Grave Culture was discovered by Italians at Aligrama. The site was dated to 1000 BC. Near Mingora in Jambill River Valley a lot of Buddhist remains and carvings are found. At Panr stupa and monastery of 1st AD century had been excavated. At Loebanr and Matalai, Italians archaeologist unearth 475 Aryan graves dated 1700 BC.

Swat Museum:

Swat Museum is on the east side of the street, halfway between Mingora and Saidu. Japanese aid has given a facelift to its seven galleries which now contain an excellent collection of Gandhara sculptures taken from some of the Buddhist sites in Swat, rearranged and labeled to illustrate the Buddha's life story. Terracotta figurines and utensils, beads, precious stones, coins, weapons and various metal objects illustrate daily life in Gandhara. The ethnographic section displays the finest examples of local embroidery, carved wood and tribal jewellery.

Butkara (Butkada) Stupa:

One of the most important Buddhist shrines in Swat, is near the museum. Take the dirt track on the left (north) side of the museum for one kilometer (about half a mile). The stupa is 400 meters (above a quarter of mile) across the fields to the left (north).
The stupa, which dates from the second century BC, was possibly built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka to house some of the ashes of the Buddha. In subsequent centuries, it was enlarged five times by encasing the existing structure in a new shell. Italian excavators working in 1955 exposed the successive layers of the stupa, each layer illustrating a stage in the evolution of building techniques.

Kabal:

Kabal is a golfer's paradise: an eighteen-hotel course is open all year round and anyone can play there by paying the green fees.

Upper Swat Valley:

The Swat Valley becomes more beautiful the higher you go. In mid-winter it is sometimes blocked by snow above Bahrain, but in summer you can drive up beyond Kalam and from there trek north to either the Chitral Valley or the Gilgit Valley. From Khwazakhela, the road across the Shangla Pass to the Karakoram Highway is usually open only from April to December.

Malam Jaba:

Visit these magnificent points above 7000 ft. Have a stroll in the villages and enjoy the green scenery.It is outstanding place for skiing and other activity. There is a chairlift also.

Khuwaza Khela :

Khuwaza Khela is a mid point from Mingora to Kalam. It has a small bazaar. A path from here also leads to Shangilla Pass then to Besham on Karakoram Highway.

Miandam:

Miandam is a small summer resort ten kilometres (six miles) up a steep side valley and 56 kilometres (35 miles) from Saidu Sharif, making it an hour's drive. The metalled road passes small villages stacked up the hillside, the roofs of one row of houses forming the street for the row of houses above. Tiny terraced fields march up the hillside right to the top.
Miandam is a good place for walkers. Paths follow the stream, past houses with beehives set into the walls and good-luck charms whitewashed around the doors. In the graveyards are carved wooden grave posts with floral designs, like those used by Buddhists 1,000 years ago.

Madyan:

Madyan is a tourist resort on the Swat River. At 1,321 meters (4,335 feet) above sea level, it is neither as cool nor as beautiful as Miandam, but it is a larger town and has many hotels in all price ranges and some good tourist shopping. Antique and modern shawls, traditional embroidery, tribal jewellery, carved wood and antique or reproduced coins are sold along the main street. This is the last Swati village, offering interesting two-and three-day walks up to the mountain villages... ask in the bazaar in Muambar Khan's shop for a guide. North of Madyan is Swat Kohistan where walking is not recommended without an armed guard.
The central mosque at Madyan has carved wooden pillars with elegant scroll capitals, and its mud-plastered west wall is covered with relief designs in floral motifs. Both bespeak the Swati's love of decoration.

Bahrain:

Bahrain is ten kilometres north of Madyan and only slightly higher, at about 1,400 meters (4,500 feet). It is another popular riverside tourist resort, with bazaars worth exploring for their handicrafts. Some of the houses have carved wooden doors, pillars and balconies. These show a remarkable variety of decorative motifs, including floral scrolls and bands of ornamental diaper patterns almost identical to those seen on Buddhist shrines and quite different from the usual Muslim designs.

Kalam:

Kalam, 29 kilometres (18 miles) from Bahrain and about 2,000 meters (6,800 feet) above sea level, the valley opens out, providing rooms for a small but fertile plateau above the river. In Kalam the Ushu and Utrot rivers join to form the Swat river. Here, the metalled road ends and shingle road leads to the Ushu and Utrot valleys. From Matiltan one gets a breath-taking view of the snow-capped Mount Falaksir 5918 meters (19,415 ft.), and another un-named peak 6096 meters (20,000 ft.) high.

PTDC offers motel accommodation in Miandam, Kalam and Besham. for booking please contact: PTDC Motels, Ground Floor, Block 4-B, Markaz F-7, Bhitai Road, Islamabad. Tel: (92) (51) 111 555 999.

Kalam, is the most beautiful part of the Swat valley. The galaxy of about 150 hotels, land of water falls, lakes, pastures, site of hiking and glaciers, having all the latest facilities of the modren age. Surrounded by lush green mountains, covered with forests and vegetation, a diverse and oldest cultural values to witness and above all the friendly and hospetile people. strawberries are found every where in the forests of Kalam. Don't forget to have a gesture of it. See you there at the top of the mountains

Ushu Valley:

The valleys of Ushu, Utrot and Gabral beyond Kalam, constitute some of the most beautiful parts of Swat. There is good trout fishing around Utrot. Foreign tourists are advised to contact the local police authorities at Kalam before preceding to the valleys of Ushu, Utrot and Gabral.
Swat is ideal for camping, trekking and mountaineering. Permits are necessary, and can be obtained from the Tourism Division, Government of Pakistan, Markaz F-7, Islamabad.
The waters of the Swat River around Kalam and in the valleys of Ushu and Gabral abound in brown trout. Fishing licenses must be obtained from the office of the Assistant Commissioner, Fisheries at Madyan and Kalam.

Mutiltan:

Visit Butkara1 Butkara 2 , Udegaram , and Shingardar Stupa all sites of the Kushans Period. Later a detailed lecture in Swat museum on the chronology of Swat.

Utrot and Gabral Valleys:

The valleys of Utrot and Gabral beyond Kalam, constitute some of the most beautiful parts of Swat. There is good trout fishing around Utrot. Foreign tourists are advised to contact the local police authorities at Kalam before preceding to the valleys of Utrot and Gabral.
Swat is ideal for camping, trekking and mountaineering. Permits are necessary, and can be obtained from the Tourism Division, Government of Pakistan, Markaz F-7, Islamabad.
The waters of the Swat River around Kalam and in the valleys of Utrot and Gabral abound in brown trout. Fishing licenses must be obtained from the office of the Assistant Commissioner, Fisheries at Madyan and Kalam.

Lakes of Swat Valley:

Mohodand Lake:

Mohodand Lake is on a jeep trek from Kalam passing through Ushu Jungle and Mutiltan Valley. It is a very worth seen place. You can see many water falls on the way to Mohodand Lake.

Kundalo Lake:

It is in Utrot valley.One day trek from Kalam will take you to Kundalo Lake. It is still untouch lake.It is full of trout and one can do fishing in it.

 


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