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Swat Valley

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[[Swat Valley]], is located in [[Khyber Pakhtunkhwa]] , [[Pakistan]]. Swat, is the only region upon which the Creator has been over gracious and benevolent regarding natural beauty and serenity. This realm of beauty and serenity is situated to the north of Pakistan in Hindukush mountain range and has been the abode of several ancient cultures. Apart from its historical significance, valley Swat is reputed all over the globe for its fascinating landscapes, crystal clear water torrents, diverse flora and fanna, hospitality, ancient relics and mesmerizing lakes which attract innumerable number of diverse nature lovers from all over the world.
The '''[[Swat Valley]]''' is an area in [[Khyber Pakhtunkhwa]], [[Pakistan]].
The tourist spots of swat valley are divided in the following categories :
# Valleys'''
==Get in==
# Lakes'''
# Archaeology of Valley Swat'''
# Hotels and Resorts'''
# Skating'''
'''Marghazar Valley :''' Marghazar 16 km away from Saidu Sharif is famous for its “Sufed Mahal” the white marble palace of the former Wali (Ruler) of Swat.[[File:marghazar swatvalley x012.JPG|thumb|Sufid Mahal Marghazar [[Swat valley]]]]
==Get around==
'''Malam Jabba Valley :''' Malam Jabba (also Maalam Jabba, Urdu: مالم جبہ) is a Hill Station in the Karakoram mountain range nearly 40 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley, Peshawar, 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.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.
[[Image:Malam Jabba Ski Resort.jpg|thumb|250px|right|[[Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation|PTDC]] Motel at [[Malam Jabba]] Ski Resort]]
'''Miandam Valley :''' Miandam is a small summer resort ten kilometres (six miles) up a steep side valley and 56 kilometers (35 miles) from Saidu Sharif, making it an hour's drive. The metaled 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 behives 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 Valley :''' By the time you reach this small town at 1320 m and about 60 km from Mingora, the mountains have closed in and the valley is almost snug. Here one senses why Swat is so popular among the tourists. There are a lot of embroidered shawls in the Bazars of Madyan.At 1,321 metres (4,335 feet) above sea level,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.
'''Behrain Valley :''' A quarter of an hour past Madyan, the road squeezes through Bahrain. Tourists stop to shop or have a look around for beautiful carved wood chairs and tables and other handicrafts. Behrainis are a mix of Pashtuns and Kohistanis.Bahrain is ten kilometres north of Madyan and only slightly higher, at about 1,400 metres (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.
[[File:Bahrain swatvalley x001.JPG|thumb|[[Bahrain]], [[Swat valley]]]]
[[File:Kalam swatvalley x006.JPG|thumb|left|[[Kalam]], [[Swat valley]]]]
[[File:Kalam swatvalley x007.JPG|thumb|[[Kalam]], [[Swat valley]]]]
'''Kalam Valley :''' Kalam, Swat valley 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 miles) 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 un-named peak 6096 metres (20,000 ft.) high.
'''Usho Valley :''' Usho 3 km from Kalam Valley and 117 km from Saidu Sharif.
[[File:Usho swatvalley x009.JPG|thumb|[[Usho]], [[Swat valley]]]]
[[File:Usho swatvalley x010.JPG|thumb|left|[[Usho]], [[Swat valley]]]]
'''Utror Valley :''' Utror 16 km from Kalam Valley and 120 km from Saidu Sharif.Utror valley is situated between 35° 20′ to 35° 48′ N latitudes and 72° 12′ and 72° 32′ E longitudes. The population of Utror is 6888 and the area of the valley is about 47400 hectares. Utror valley is surrounded by Gabral and Bhan valleys on the east, upper Dir district on the west, Kalam valley on the south and Gabral valley on the north. It is 15 km from Kalam, the centre of Swat Kohistan. The altitude of the valley at Utror proper is 2300 meters and reaches to 2900 meters at Kandol Lake.
==Get out==
[[File:Utror swatvalley x011.JPG|thumb|[[Utror]], [[Swat Valley]]]]
[[File:Ghabral swatvalley x003.JPG|thumb|[[Ghabral]], [[Swat Valley]]]]
[[File:Ghabral swatvalley x004.JPG|thumb|left|[[Ghabral]], [[Swat Valley]]]]
'''Ghabral Valley :''' Gabral valley lies between 35° 20′ to 35° 48′ N latitudes and 72° 12′ and 72° 32′ E longitudes over an area of about 38733 hectares. The population of Gabral is 3238. The valley is surrounded by Chitral District in the north, Utror valley in the south and south west, upper Dir district in the west and Bhan and Mahodand valleys in the east. It is 5 km distant from Utror proper and 20 km from Kalam. The altitude of the valley ranges from 2580 metres at Baila to 5160 metres at Karkaray Lake top.In Utror and Gabral, 44 medicinal plants are collected during the months of May, June, July and August. Only 14 of them are traded to National and International markets while the rest are used locally. A survey by Pakistan Forest Institute concludes that 75 crude herbal drugs are extensively exported and more than 200 are locally traded in Pakistan. Indigenous people, who have no training in sustainable harvesting, post-harvesting care and storing of medicinal plants, collect 85 percent of these crude herbs from the wild.
{{IsPartOf|Khyber Pakhtunkhwa}}
'''Shanku & Bashigram Valley :''' Both the valleys of Shanku and Bashigram are located near to each other. Shanku is situated on the right side of the stream above the road. Most of the house are built on the mountain terrain and are scattered far and wide. The maximum to reach this charming valley from Madyan is thirty minutes in a vehicle. The area is provided with all basic facilities of telephone and electricity. There is a small market place where every thing of daily use can be easily procured. Most of the people are involved in farming but the new generation is evolving and is taking interest in education and modern professions. The population of the area is exceeding 1500 according to 1998 census. The surrounding mountains are covered with dense forests and foliage, which provides ideal habitat for several species of wild animals and birds. Kohistani is the major language spoken in the area but everyone understands Pashto.
[[WikiPedia:Swat, Pakistan]]
'''Chail Valley :''' The maximum time to reach this picturesque valley from Madyan is fifteen minutes in a vehicle and thirty minutes by feet. The valley is divided in to two segments; old Chail and new Chail.The village situated beside the stream is called new Chail while the scattered houses in the mountainous terrain above the stream is called old Chail. Both these villages are located on the left side connected by a bridge with the main road. The new Chail is approachable through vehicle but to reach old Chail a person must walk at least for fifteen minutes from new Chail.
'''Mankial Valley :''' The beautiful valley of Swat is a conglomeration of different and varied valleys and plains. The southern region is comparatively wide and open, consisting of plains that are cultivated through out the year and yield extremely large quantity of fruits and crops. The Northern region is a congregation of tall high rising mountains where small valleys provide little ground for cultivation and residentiary area for the small mass of population scattered in different groups and families. The valley of Mankial is one such place located in the north of Swat on the main road leading to Kalam. The total distance of the valley from Saidu Sharif is about eighty kilometers.
'''Mahudan :''' Mahodand which lies in the North of Kalam, is famous not only among nature lovers, and escapists but also the exotic trout fish hunters. The valley can be accessed through an un-metalled road from Kalam in a four by four (4x4) vehicle. The road is bumpy and tricky but the surrounding landscapes engrosses you so severely that you wish for more and expect to discover new panoramas. The small hamlets that are scattered in the mountains and the bellowing smoke that spirals into the sky from the houses are some, which lives in the memory forever. Swat River, which is born here, is shackled by the tall mountains, which has turned its water into a roaring monster trying to release itself from its fetters, but there are some places where the river is calm and silent without showing any sign of rebellion.
'''Pari(Khapiro) lake :''' 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.
[[File:Lake Swatvalley x100.JPG|thumb|[[Kundol Lake]], [[Swat valley]]]]
[[File:Lake Swatvalley x102.JPG|thumb|left|[[Kundol Lake]], [[Swat valley]]]]
'''Kundol Lake :''' 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 required
'''Bashigram Lake :''' Bashigram Lake is situated to the east of Bashigram valley near Madyan. The road to this valley is partly metaled and can be plied by a four by four or any ordinary vehicle. It takes almost forty to fifty minutes to reach this picturesque valley inhibited by simple and hospitable folk. From here, trekking of four to five hours, depending on professionalism and enthusiasm of the trekkers lands you in the realm of a serene and enchanting lake of Bashigram.
'''Spin Khwar (White Stream) Lake :'''Spin Khwar is a beautiful lake hidden in the lap of mountains towards the north of Kundal Lake and east of Utror valley. The name Spin Khwar has a clear significance as a small white stream in the east flows down to the lake from the surrounding mountains and is a major source of water for the lake. The lake is accessible through two tracks, one from Kundal and the other from Ladu valley. The track from Ladu is comparatively easy to walk and less tiring while the track from Kundal is not only difficult but alarmingly dangerous although it is short and links Kundal and Spin Khwar. Its steepness and dangerous bends needs an experienced trekker and unending physical strength. The grazers in the area have built small huts and a mosque where one can stay but a personal tent is more recommendable as these huts are in a poor condition due to lack of maintenance.
'''Daral Lake :''' Daral lake is situated to the northeast of Sidgai Lake and can be accessed through Saidgai after two three hours rigorous trekking. The trail to Daral is full of fun and amusement because it runs over sky touching heights of the mountains provides spectacular sights and panoramas for the beauty hungry eyes of nature lovers. A close look towards the south will reveal the long and winding sellouts of river Swat in the horizon.After walking and trekking for about two and a half hours on bare and naked mountains, the trail start descending towards the East where Daral Lake is located.
== Archaeology ==
'''Saidu Sharif Museum'''
[[Image:StandingBuddha.jpg|thumb|150px|Standing Buddha, [[Gandhara]], [[Pakistan]], 1st century CE.]]
'''Buddhist Shrines In Swat'''
[[File:Buddhist-heritage swatvalley x002.JPG|thumb|left|Buddha heritage in [[Swat valley]]]]
A fairly large number of Buddhist sites preserving stupas, monasteries, viharas, settlements, caves, rock-carvings and inscriptions are scattered all over the Swat Valley. This heritage of immense interest may be seen both in plains and in the hilly tracts. Fa-Hein, who came to Swat in 4th century A.D, wrote about 6000 monasteries in the valley. The report of Sung-Yun, who visited the enchanting valley in the 6th century A.D, saw 6000 images in the sacred monastery of Talo (Butkara). The most famous of all the Chinese pilgrims, Hsuan-Tsang who graced the valley by his presence in the 7th century A.D, mentioned 1400 monasteries in Swat, which eloquently confirmed the extensive remains of the Buddhist period.
Even today over 400 Buddhist stupas and monasteries may still be seen in ruins in Swat covering an area of about 160 square km.
The Buddhists built mostly their stupas and monasteries higher on the hills with the aim that agricultural economy may not suffer and also to provide a sort of protection and security to them from the invaders.
'''Butkara :''' The Buddhist sacred precint of Buutkara identified as the monestry of Ta-Lo, mentioned by Sung Yun (520 AD) visited and described by the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims of the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries AC lies at the eastern end of the ancient capital of Udyana Meng-Chich-Li, present Mingawara. The main Stupa stand in the middle, around it are crowded monuments Stupas, Viharas and columns, on the Northern side stands a great building and further to the north and west the inhabited area. The Great Stupa under event five reconstruction, each new one incasing the oldery from 3rd century B.C down to 10th century A.D.
'''Shingardar Stupa :''' The Shingardar stupa was identified by Colonel Deane and S.A Stein with the famous stupa built by King Uttarasena on the spot where the white elephant that carried the King’s share of the relics of the Buddha halted. When he had arrived at this spot the elephant suddenly dropped down and, dying, changed himself into a rock . By the side of this rock the King at once erected this stupa. This myth of the stupa is derived from a local tradition (Deane, 1886,Stein, 1930). The tradition is preserved by Hieum Stang who visited Swat in the 7th century A.D.It is said that when the elephant reached this spot with the relics of Buddha on its back, his body miraculously turned into stone after dying at this spot. It is further claimed that the hilly ridge opposite the great stupa on the north depicts a faint figure on it, visible only to the pious eye. G.Tucci, does not agree with the identification, and says that this stupa was not erected by the King Uttarasena.He places the stupa of the legend some where near the Naway kaliay about 500 meters to the north of Kota village. The controversy about the transportation of Uttarasena’s share of the relics of the Buddha to Swat on elephant back and transforming of the animal’s body into stone needs further investigation and research.
'''Nemogram :''' The Buddhist site of Nemogram is situated about 45 km west of Saidu Sharif and about 22 km from Birkot,on the right bank of Swat river in sub valley of Shamozai.This site was discovered in 1966 and excavated in 1967-68.The site consists of three main stupas in row from north to south with a courtyard of 56 votive stupas and the adjoining monastery on the west of the main stupas.At the present state of infor m ation collected during the excavations, it is difficult to give a definite date to the monuments at Nemogram. Nevertheless,the decovrey of a few coins of Kushana period, the site may be dated to the 2nd–3rd century A.D. Apart from the coins and pottery of Scytho-Parthian period,a large number of stone ,stucco sculptures depict various scences of Buddhist mythology.These sculptures are on display in Swat museum.
'''Amluk Dara Stupa :''' The stupa of Amlukdara is situated about 2km on the north of Nawagai village in the beautiful small valley of Amlokdara, on the main road to Buneer.One is required to walk about 1km through the village in order to reach the site.The high stupa stands prominently visible from the surrounding area, naturally sheltered by the great Mount Elum. The stupa is raised on a magnificent square plinth with base moulding in torus and Scotia pattern, measures 34 meters in diameter. The height of the square shape base plinth is about 4 meters.On the high square plinth rests a three tiered drum in cylindrical form measuring 9 meters leaving an approx. 5 meters wide ambulatory. The stupa is further surmounted by a hemispherical dome measuring 7m in height. The drum on which the hemispherical dome rests has a diameter of 21m, probably being the largest in the Ilam valley.
'''Elephant Paw: Shahkot Pass :''' Shahkot Pass, lying between the Mura Pass on the East and the Malakand Pass on the West, is an enchanting valley, on the North-East lie vast plains and a small hamlet, Shahkot Banda, with numerous Buddhist settlements, on the South-West is located the famous Hathi Darra, or the Elephant Paw, near village Zalam Kot, about 10 miles from village Thanra , on the main road leading to Swat.A Buddhist road, about 20 feet wide and meandering 6 miles across the mountain, joining both sides of the pass, was magnificently constructed for the elephant caravan of a ruler of the Kushan period. This ancient road, which came to be known as "The Elephant Paw", and the famous Queen's throne on top of a hillock near Hathi Darra, are a feast for the eye and can be developed into an excellent tourist resort.
'''Najigram Stupa & Monastery :''' The Buddhist site of Tokar-dara is situated about 5km on the south of Barikot on the way to Karakar pass and lies about 1km from the modern village of Najigram at the mouth of a small picturesque valley.E.Barger and P.Wright wrote:”An experimentally clearance of the western side of the stupa produced a few extremely battered stone carvings, and portions of the fallen umbrella of the stupa”. After small excavation on the site by Barger and Wright, the treasure hunters robbed the site. The architectural remains of the Buddhist stupa and monastery are spreading over a range of 228m north and south 206m east and west.The site consists of a large stupa, the associated monastery, living quarters, assembly hall, and an aqueduct cave, two other stupas badly damaged and several unidentified remains.
'''Colossal Statue of Buddha :''' The colossal statue of Buddha lies near the village of Ghaligay some 18km away from Mingawara at the foot of rocky slopes, on the left side of the main road leading to Mardan. The Buddha facing west is situated about 1km from the left bank of the river Swat.This statue is carved on the live rock of the hillside in the heart of the Swat valley. It is one of the hundreds of monumental stone carving Buddhas that witnessed the glorious past of people of Swat, the ancient Udyana
Unfortunately, this statue sustained some damages caused by the ignorant human hands in the process of touching and scratching which also coupled partially with the weathering effect. However, the lower part of the body is still in good state of preservation. The upper part of the statue is much defaced, and only traces of the head and the halo behind it are visible
'''Janabad Seated Buddha :''' The huge image of a seated Buddha carved into a high rock face of reddish colour that rises on the hillside to the southwest of Janabad (Shakhorai) village. It is situated at a distance of 5km to the N-E of Manglawar. This huge image of the Buddha can also be visible from the road, on the right side when one is on the way to Malamjaba.Due to its high position above the narrow terrace, it is well preserved except the nose seems to have been damaged by the vandals. The Buddha figure is about 7 meters in height and is certainly the most impressive piece of sculpture to be seen in Gandahara region.
This excellent figure of the Buddha is seated on a high throne in the attitude of mediation. The snail shell curls of this Buddha are very carefully rendered.  His eyes are more than half closed, there is a prominent Ushnisha and long ear lobes.
'''Gumbatuna Stupa :''' A.Stein in the Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India first mentioned the site of Gumbatuna in 1930. Berger and Wright who carried out some small-scale excavation (Berger et al. 1941). Professor G. Tucci followed it in 1955-56.
The site of Gumbatuna (Gumbatuna is the plural form of “Gumbat”, the Pashto word for “dome”) is a Buddhist establishment situated on the right bank of the river Swat, 6km west of Barikot village along the metalled road leading towards Nimogram in a wide valley. The valley is broadly drained by the Swat river which flows in several braided channels through the area. The archaeological remains are scattered over a range of 1500 meters north to south and 1000 meters east to west in wides terraced fields sloping unto the hills behind, known as Shamozai range. A spring is located in the picturesque gully, north of the sacred area.The excavation of the first season was limited only to the terraces, which comprise the huge main stupa, and the votive stupas partially uncovered by the treasure hunters. The middle terrace is composed of circular monastery now occupied by the modern village of Gmbatuna. The upper terrace is composed of different group of monastic settlements, caves, viharas and stupas.
'''Ram Takht (Ram’s throne) :''' Ram Takht is one of the sacred places in Hinduism. It is only second to Amarnath Cave regarding its sacredness and sanctity. Ram Takht is situated on the top of Mount Elum at an altitude of 9200 feet above sea level. This point is called Jogyano Sar(yogi peak).The dune of Barikot which is also famous for its sacred ruins is visible from here towards the North-West.
The Hindus believe that Ram Chandra Jee Maharajah spent three years of his Banr Bass (jungle life) here. The Hindu pilgrims visit this place once a year in first day of Sawan, to pray, worship and seek unity with Almighty. A holy spring flows near Ram Takht where most of the yogis came to seek union with the divine entity.
{| class="wikitable"
! Explore the beauty of [[Swat valley]]
== External links ==
* http://www.valleyswat.net/tourism/valleys.html
* http://valleyswat.org/tourism.php

Revision as of 08:17, 16 September 2011

The Swat Valley is an area in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.


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