Swat valley is one of the major tourist attractions of Pakistan . It is known as the Switzerland of Pakistan , it has one of the oldest civilizations history and one of the beautiful scenery one could ever see. It lies between 34-40 to 35 N latitude and 72 to 74-6 E longitude. It is located between the foothills of Hindukush mountain range. It is the part of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The location of Swat valley has a major strategic importance as it lies in the region where South Asia, Central Asia and China meet. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty and is popular with tourists. Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the The Yusafzai State of Swat called it “the Switzerland of the east. Swat is surrounded by Chitral Valley , Upper Dir and Lower Dir in the West, Gilgit-Baltistan in North Kohistan, Buner and Shangla in the East and south East. The southern tehsil of Buner was granted the status of a separate district in 1991.
|City Council:||Govt of KPK|
|Type:||A River valley and district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa|
|Local Language Name:||Urdu,Pashto,English|
|Coordinates :||35°23″N 72°11″E|
|Government Type:||Govt of KPK|
|Total Area:||5,337 km2 (2,061 sq mi)|
|Density:||236/km2 (610/sq mi)|
|Total Population:||2,161,000 (2014)|
|Time zone:||PKT (UTC+5)|
|Vehicle registration:||Three letters beginning with S and random four numbers|
The history of Swat valley goes back to around 2000 years ago. It was known as Udyana and later the name was changed to Suvastu. The valley was a very peaceful area for living until the 11th century. The game of power led to the disruption the valley and it was first conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni. The ritual of acquiring the lands continued and Swat valley was then taken over by the Yusufzais. Hazara district, from where he went to Buner territory. He was a pious man and the people respected him so greatly that they called him Akhund Sahib. Swat Valley is known as the mini Switzerland. Its landscapes are a proof of natural beauty and it was one of the most visited areas and had a major tourism industry. There were events which led to the downfall of the tourism which was one of the major sources of income of the Swats economy. The conflicts between the Taliban and the Pakistani army have effected the valleys attractions. The whole conflict started in 1990s when Sufi Muhammad, a cleric figure tried to impose the sharia law on the people of swat valley. In 2007, his son in law tried to follow his foot step by imposing the religion with strength of arms. The Pakistan army took control of the situation and in 2008 the war of Swat was put to an end. Another factor that also contributed in diminishing the tourism industry include the floods in 2010 in which most of the infrastructure was destroyed including the roads and bridges leading to difficulties in traveling to Swat valley.Swat has been inhabited for over two thousand years. The first inhabitants were settled in well-planned towns. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Odigram and Barikot and stormed their battlements. 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. Later some Dilazak entered the area The originator of the present family of Swat was the Muslim saint Abdul Ghafoor, a Pashtun and Akhund of Swat, a Safi Momand of
Buddhism in Swat Valley
Swat valley is also famous in the world as the ï¿½holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. It was one of the major hubs of Buddhist pilgrimage. It was said in the early times that Buddha himself came to Swat in the process of his last reincarnations and he spread the learning of peace and harmony. It was also given the name of cradle of Buddhism. As mentioned earlier the name of swat was Udayana and it stands for the ancient epics. It was also mentioned in the history that Alexender of Macedonia had fought many major battles in this land before he was crossed the delta of Indus River. Swat valley has also been named as the valley of hanging chairs.The history also states that Swat was once the cradle of Buddhism where 1400 monasteries had survived and flourished and they also made a Gandhara School of Sculpture. Although it is generally accepted that Tantric Buddhism first developed in Swat under King Indrabhuti, there is an old and well-known scholarly dispute as to whether Uddiyana was in the Swat valley, Orissa or some other place. Padmasambhava (flourished eighth century AD), also called Guru Rimpoche, Tibetan Slob-dpon (teacher), or Padma ‘byung-gnas (lotus born), semi-legendary Indian Buddhist mystic who introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet was, according to tradition, native from Uddiyana He is revered as the second Buddha in Tibet. Padmasambhava is said to be the son of Indrabhuti, king of Swat in the early eighth century AD and one of the original Siddhas. Indrabhuti’s sister, Lakshminkaradevi, is also said being an accomplished siddha of the 9th century AD. As Buddhist art developed and spread outside Gandhara, Gandharan styles were imitated. In China the Gandhara style was imitated in bronze images, with gradual changes in the features of these images over the passage of time. Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is celebrated throughout the Buddhist world as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. Swat was a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims. Buddhist tradition holds that Buddha himself came to Swat during his incarnation as Gautama Buddha and preached to the people here.
At the end of the Mauryan period (324185 BC) Buddhism spread in the whole Swat valley, which became a very famous center of Buddhist religion.After a Buddhist phase the Hindu religion reasserted itself, so that at the time of the Muslim conquest (1000 AD) the population was solidly Hindu.In 1023, Mahmud of Ghazni attacked Swat and crushed the last Buddhist King, Raja Gira in battle. The invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni is of special importance because of the introduction of Islam as well as changing the Chronology. The first Muslim arrivals in Swat were Pakhtun Dilazak tribes from south-east Afghanistan. These were later ousted by Swati Pakhtuns, who were succeeded in the sixteenth century by Yusufzai Pakhtuns. Both groups of Pakhtuns came from the Kandahar and Kabul valley.
Malam Jabba (also Maalam Jabba, is a Hill Station in the lower Swat mountain ranges nearly 42 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is 314 km from Islamabad and 51 km from Saidu Sharif Airport. Malam Jabba is home to the largest ski resort in Pakistan. On the main Madyan-Kalam road, the road turns to the right at Manglor town (12 km from Saidu Sahrif), for the Malam-Jabba Dara which has a series of small villages and settlements like Salanda, Jehanabad, Talegraam, Badar, Ser, Malam, Kishora, Spine Oba, and finally Jabba. Malam is small village comes prior to Kishora village on the main Malam-Jabba road. Malam is nearly 17 km from Manglor while Kishora is at 18 km distance. Jabba (12 km from Kishora) is the upper most part of the whole Dara (gorge). The Malam Jabba Ski Resort, owned by the Pakistani Tourism Development Corporation, had a ski slope of about 800m with the highest point of the slope 2804 m (9200 ft) above sea level. Malam Jabba Ski Resort was the joint effort of the Pakistan government with its Austrian counterpart. The resort was equipped with modern facilities including roller/ice-skating rinks, chair lifts, skiing platforms, telephones and snow clearing equipment. Unfortunately the resort was destroyed by the Taliban when they were in hold in swat valley. Now that writ of the government has been reinstated and peace established, tourism has picked up. The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa(KPK) has awarded the tender for rebuilding the Malam Jabba skiing resort to a private company. Work is going on in full swing and is slated for a 2017 completion date. Skiing has already been restored and a skiing festival was held in Jan 2015. Malam Jabba, as its name suggests, has many green pastures and meadows surrounded mostly by pine trees. One of the major mountains of Malam Jabba is Sagarrh Sar at 9,400 feet approximately above sea level and is very prominent in the whole Dara (gorge)of Malam-Jabba. Tourist from other parts of Pakistan and around the world throng into Malam-Jabba in both summer and winter seasons. The area offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in Pakistan.
2070 m high and 100 km from Mingora, it was the centre of an independent state in the 19th century. It was later taken by Chitral then given to Swat after partition. Kalam, 29 kilometres (18 mi) from Bahrain and about 2,000 metres (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 metres (19,415 ft.), and another unnamed peak 6096 metres (20,000 ft.) high.
Swat museum is famous for the old heritage of the Gandhara civilization. It is located between Mingora and Saidu Sharif. The museum showcases the main antiques and Buddhist artifacts which are the proof of the glorious civilization. The ancients jewelry, wooden articles are preserved with care for preserving the old culture findings.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 labelled 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. For the last three years the museum is occupied by Pakistan army and it is not known when they would be leaving it.
The pastoral valley of Swat has abundance of precious resorts of nature where one can find solace and respite from the never-ending struggle of life. Kundal or Kandolo Lake is one such place here upon which the Maestro of nature has spent extra time and effort to paint. Kundal Lake is situated in the north of Utror valley. One can easily access it from Kalam via Utror from where a link road ends in a green valley called Ladu in the foothills of the lake. You can either hike to Ladu from Utror or take a four-wheeler to ease and minimize your journey. It consumes almost two hours to reach the beautiful valley of Ladu. For the adventurous kind, a walk in the romantic valley will unravel several new mysteries. The people who take temporary residency over here during summer plow the open land and harvest potatoes and turnips, which are famous all over the country for its exotic taste. There is also a small hut in Ladu where you can take tea and get something for eating. From Ladu it takes almost four hours to reach the lake. Some locals can guide you and even take your luggage if properly paid. The mountains around this small valley are covered with tall cedar and pine trees and meandered by different streams and torrents. The people are friendly and provide you guidance if needed.
Pari Lake is one of the lakes in Swat region which is located at a very high altitude in the foot of the tallest peak in the range with a considerable depth. The name Pari or Khapiro is given to the lake due to the widespread belief that the lake is the abode of fairies where they live and bathe in the cool, pure and clear water of the lake. It is located to North-east of Utror valley and can be accessed only by trekking. Trekking to the lake needs endurance and love for nature as the trail is exasperating as well as dangerous therefore, utmost care should be taken while trekking on the narrow bends and turns leading to the lake. The lake is accessible from both Izmis and Kundal lakes. Two ascending tracks lead to this lake from Kundal and Izmis lakes taking almost five hours to reach this roof top of Swat. The trail is very steep from both sides but the surrounding beauty and eye-cooling green pastures and exotic flowers not only boost the trekker’s stamina but compel him to explore further.
Bashigram Lake is situated to the South of Bashigram valley near Madyan (56 km from Saidu Sharif). Bashigram Dara (gorge) is one of the beautiful gorges of the Chail Dara (A sub-valley and in the East of Madyan). From Madyan a jeeb able road goes alond the Chail Dara covering villages like Shinko and reaches Bashigram village. Trek to Bashigram Danda (lake) starts from Kas banda ( “Banda” is a local term for small human settlements) and ascending through Kafir Banda, Deenai Banda and finally Dand Banda. Lake is just after Danda Banda. Total trekking distance is around 9 km and takes seven (7) hours to reach to. The trek to the lake offers some breathtaking views of Bashigram Dara and its majestic human settlements. The Lake of Bashigram is covered by a towering peaks. Mount Pyazai Sar ridge rises above the lake on its North-West side. The green water of Bashigram Danda looks very enchanting. The glaciers floats on the surface of it almost all the year. The giant glacier – which for whole part of the year does not melt completely – is at the south end of the lake, has become very famous and known among the tourists who have visited the lake. The stream that comes out of this lake is called Bashigram Khwarr (stream) which is a clear and greenish water source for the Chail Khwarr. The shepherds from time to time moves along these settlements with their herds for grazing purposes. The lake can also be trekked from Maindam and Alpurai valleys of Swat and Shangla districts respectively.
Daral lake is situated to the northeast of Sidgai Lake and can be accessed through Saidgai after two three hours of rigorous trekking. The trail to Daral is full of fun and amusement because it runs over sky touching heights of the mountains, providing spectacular sights and panoramas for the beauty-hungry eyes of nature lovers. A close look towards the south reveals the long and winding sellouts of the River Swat in the horizon. After walking and trekking for about two and a half hours on bare and nakedï¿½mountains, the trail starts descending towards the East where Daral Lake is located.
Education has yet to make its way to the national priorities list, particularly when it comes to resource allocation and utilisation. The ground realities paint a gloomy picture across the rural and urban divide in the Swat Valley. The majority of students in remote rural areas of the valley face access problems that lead to much higher dropout rates at the high school and college level. Moreover, rural schools are also ill-equipped in terms of resources such as computers and science laboratories and tend to have fewer qualified teachers in subjects such as mathematics and physics.A 2012 report regarding government schools issued by the Elementary & Secondary Education Department of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa shows a steady increase in enrolment since 2006-07 that is inching towards gender parity at the primary level, but depicts a massive dropout at middle and secondary levels. These findings were also confirmed by a study we undertook.The majority of respondents in our study stated that the purpose of education was to get jobs and wealth. At the same time, the majority of the students we interviewed did not reflect critical thinking nor any sociopolitical analyses in their responses. Our study also noted that some of the respondents spoke of their desire to join the military. Although the majority of the interviewed youth supported Malalaï¿½s stance on female education, they also cited social pressure as a reason for not sending their own sisters to school beyond the primary level.
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Gwalerai village located near Mingora is one of those few villages which produces 18 varieties of apples due to its temperate climate in summer. The apple produced here is consumed in Pakistan as well as exported to other countries. It is known as the apple of Swat.