Swat the land of magnificent scenic beauty and rich historical places. Its lush green fertile valleys, towering mountains, rushing streams, ice cold lakes, fruit orchids and flowers – filled slopes are some of the gifts nature has bestowed upon this ancient land. Swat valley 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 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.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 said that the Swat was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education.
Swat valley can reach through Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The total distance from Peshawar is 151 km and from Rawalpindi via Nowshera- Mardan and Malakand Pass is 270 km. We can easily find regular flights to Saidu Sharif, the capital city of Swat. When travelling on personal vehicles, the Motorway (M-1) can be used to reach Mardan Interchange from Islamabad which takes approximately 1.5 hours . From Mardan, a distance of 112 km can be covered via Takht-e-Bai, Dargai, Malakand Pass, Batkhella, Chakdara to reach Mingora or Saidu Sharif. It takes almost 5 hours to cover the distance of 247 km. The travelling routes are open throughout the year. Nowadays public transport facilities have also improved. Daewoo buses are commonly used for travelling.
Swat museum is famous for the old culture of the Gandhara civilization. It is located between Mingora and Saidu Sharif. The museum exhibits the main antiques and Buddhist artifacts which are proof of the famous civilization. The ancient jewelry, wooden articles are preserved with care for preserving the old culture findings.
Swat valley is known as Buddhist sites. Archeologists discovered more than 400 hundred sites in Swat valley. The Stupa of Shingadar is situated about 3km to the northeast of Barikot village. The Shingardar Stupa was discovered by Colonel Deane and S.A Stein. It was built between the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. The total height of Stupa from the dome to the existing base is 27 meters. The masonry comprises large slabs of white stone separated by small columns of dark slate pieces. Some traces of stucco plaster on the drum are still visible. Originally the stand of the Stupa was square in the plan but the resident of the village removed the well-dressed facing stone and also the great portion of the interior masonry for the construction of their houses and roads.
Amluk Dara stupa
The stupa of Amluk Dara 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 protected by the great Mount Elum. The stupa is raised on a magnificent square stand with base moulding in torus and Scotia pattern, measuring 34 meters in diameter. The height of the square shape base plinth is about 4 meters.
The White Palace at Marghazar built-in 1940 by the first king of Swat, Miangul Abdul Wadood.The small town of Marghazar is situated about 13 kilometers away from Saidu Sharif. Located at 7000 feet above the sea level on Marghazar hill, the palace built with white marble is surrounded by lush green meadows and springs. The architect used Indian white marble in the building, which has increased its beauty. The white marble was brought from the Indian state of Rajasthan, the same marble has been used in the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. White Palace Swat now used as a hotel in Marghzar to the tourists with the architectural design and heritage in it.
Fort Of Raja Gera
Remains of Raja Gera Castle is located in the city of Odigram on a distance of 15 km from the main city of Mingora. This castle is built during the role of the last Buddhist ruler. Raja Gera who was the king of the last Hindu Shahi period had a great empire in Swat. It is one of the oldest places ruled by the Hindu Shahi Raj. It was discovered by the Italian mission in 1956 and identified by Aurel Stein before. This castle had an underground water supply through a bucket from Manglawar about 500 feet below the fort and 20 km away from the fort. In 1048 AD the army of Mehmood Ghaznavi attacked this Shahi castle several times and the Muslim army cut off the water supply about which many myths are famous. Aftermath, the Hindu shahi period came to an end and the Muslim period started in swat. Odigram is a historical village with historical significance. Here, the scattered archeological evidence argues that this area would have been the center of civilization and culture in some time.
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi Mosque
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi Mosque is one of the oldest mosques of northern Pakistan. It is about 7 km away from Mingora on the GT road towards Peshawar. Historians estimated that the mosque in swat was constructed in 440 AH (1048-1049 AD ) during the role of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi. Discovered by Italian archeologist in 1985. The mosque represents a magnificent of old Muslim architecture. In 1984 an inscription in an Arabic engraved on a black marble was found on the slopes of the hills below the castle of the Raja Gera. After uncovering the ruins, the most noticeable aspects were traces of a 30-foot high wall, a graveyard, common rooms, student rooms, and a watermill. The renovation project is a part of the overall $100 million Archeological Project, jointly signed by the Italian and Pakistani government under an Italian DEbt-Swap agreement in 2006.
Cake Shaped monument
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Bridge and Cake Shaped monument of Pak-UAE friendship are built and funded by UAE to connect 15 towns and 45 villages of Swat valley in Pakistan. The UAE funded bridge is 448 meters long, 10.7 meters wide and 10 meters high and will serve around 50,0000 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province north-west of Pakistan which was severely affected by flooding. The new bridge will serve 4,000 cars per day on two reserved lanes as pedestrians on two others.
Butkara No 1 is also called Butkara or the local name of Gulkada. Butkara Stupa is an important Buddist stupa near Mingora, in the area of Swat. This site produced one of the swat’s richest collections of artifacts, all now in the museum. The huge central stupa was built by Akosha in the 3rd century BC. Surrounding it were over 200 little stupa built by wealthy devotees.
Butkara 3 Archeological Remains
Further along the Jambil Valley is Butkara No 3, a partly reconstructed courtyard of enclosed stupas. To get here, continue 500m past the turn-off to Butkara No 1 until you reach a culvert. Then climb five minutes up a gully to the right. It can be difficult to find, but there’s a village on the way and someone from there can probably show you.
Lakes of Sawat Valley
Spin Khwar (white stream) Lake
The beautiful Spin Khwar is in the north of Kandol Lake and southeast of Ultor valley. The small white stream in the east flows down to the lake from the surrounding mountains. The lake is accessible through four treks, The first trek from Ladu Village, Ultror after 2 to 3 hours trek. The second one from Kandol is very steep but shorter. The third route is from Desan meadows, and the fourth possible route is through Godur pass is Kalam.
Saifullah Lake is situated in the north of Kalam and Mahodand Lake. The beautiful lake is famous for its freshwater trout fish. There is also a huge waterfall near Saifullah Lake which spreads freshness in the air. The valley can be accessed through an unmetalled road from Kalam in a four by four vehicle which ends in Mahodand Lake. From Mahodand a track is up to maximum one hour to reach Saifullah Lake. The road is bumpy and tricky but the surrounding landscape is worth watching.
The one kilometer long and a half kilometer wide Saidgai Lake is situated above 12,000 feet above the sea level.Saigai Lake is located in the peripheries of Swat and Dir mountain ranges and serves as a huge lake of water for Hushirai Khwar , Dir. Saigai Lake lies in the Hindukush chain of mountains, spread by several small and large lakes, which runs from the western edges of the Pamir plateau, west of the Karakorum. The Lake can be reached from three trails: Sulatanr Rodingar, Lalko Sakhra in upper Swat and Hushirai valley in Dir.
Mahodand Lake swat
Mahodand Lake is about 40 kms from Kalam in the Ushu valley of the Swat District ,Khyber Pakhtunkhwa . Mahodand Lake lies at the foothills of Hindukush mountains at the elevation of
2,865 m ,surrounded by the meadows , mountains and forests. Mahodand Lake is covered by pines and pastures that serve as a camping site during the summer.The Mahodand lake is fed by melting glaciers and springs of Hindukush mountain.The lake is accessible by a four wheel drive and one can go for fishing and boating.
The Kandol Lake is one of most beautiful and stunning lake in the North of Ultror valley in Swat at a distance of 20.8 kms away from kalam.Kandol Lake lies in the lap of Hindukush mountains at an elevation of 9,950 feet.It can accessed by unmetalled road from kalam up to Ultror in a four-wheel vehicle where link road ends in a green valley called Ladu in the foothills of the mountain.Kundol Lake is accessible only during the summers , during the winter ,the roads are closed due to heavy snowfall.
Pari 1 Lake
Pari Lake 1 is comparatively a smaller lake that feeds the bigger “Pari” Khapiro lake located below it. The shape of the lake is a triangle . Several waterfalls and streams from the surrounding mountains and glaciers feed the lake with their crystal clear water.
Pari-Khapiro Lake is located approximately 14,442 feet above sea level, in the mountain ranges of Utror Valley, Kalam, Swat Valley. It is comparatively greater in size and depth than the other lake situated in its vicinity and remains open in the months of July till September. The western face of the lake is open and its water flows down to the gigantic Kundol Lake which is situated in the foothills.
The name pari or Khapiro is given to this lake because of the belief that this lake is the house of fairies, where they reside and bathe in the pure, cool and clear water of the lake. To the North east of the Utror Valley this lake is situated and one can get access there by trekking.
Daral Lake also known as Daral Dand is an alpine scenic lake in the hill top of Bahrain, a region of Swat Valley. It is situated to the northeast of Saidgai Lake. Daral Dand is situated in the western upper reaches of Bahrain, in the foothills of Spinsar Mountain and to the northeast of Saidgai Dand at an elevation of 3,505.2 m . The lake is fed by melting glaciers of the surrounding mountains and gives rise to Daral Khwar which is the main left tributary of Swat River. The lake appears as a giant amoeba like in shape and stretched over a huge area.Near the lake, there is an ancient mosque where shepherds and visitors offer their prayers and use it as a resting place for night.
Anakar lake, also Andrab lake, is in the Anakar valley of Kalam. It is less an explored lake of Swat valley. The trek starts from the Anakar village, which becomes a popular tourist hub now, on the way to Utror valley. From the Utror valley, a 10 kilometres trek leads to the lush green forests up to the lake at the altitude of 10,840 feet above sea level.
Swat Valley is famous for aesthetic sceneries.There are many places in swat ,which are yet to be explored.One of such unexplored place is Shingrai Waterfall .Shingrai Waterfall is situated at the hill of Daresay peaks about 20 kms north from Mingora.The huge Shingrai Waterfall gives a enormous sounds between the mountains which gives a pleasant and peaceful environment.
Jaroga Waterfall is situated in Chatekal valley of Matta tehsil , about 55 kms from Mingora towards northwest.The Jaroga Waterfall is known as the highest Waterfall in all of the Pakistan.The waterfall covered more than 120 meters area.Jaroga Waterfall nested in between two huge mountains surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna.
Shangla is a district in Malakand division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, consisting of small valleys. Shangla is situated between the hillocks and surrounded by high mountains full of forests.The average elevation of the district is 2000 to 3000 meters above sea level.The highest point about an elevation of 3,440 m is near Kuz Ganrshal in the north of the district.
Shahi Bagh is located at a height of about 10,000 feet between high mountains at a distance of about 14 kms from Ultror and 30 kms from Kalam valley ,Shahi Bagh offers unique landscape to the visitors.This place is a paradise on earth with calm streams running around it making it a small island where one can enter through a wooden bridge.It is a calm and serene place providing peace and satisfaction.This place is perfect for camping site.
A wonderful hill station located 56 kms from Mingora.Miandam is a very attractive tourist spot at an elevation of 1,800 meters above sea level. Miandam is enriched in medicinal plants, due to which the town is the site of a World Wide Fund for Nature project promoting sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants, and now about 1,000 people are dependent on the medicinal plant trade for their entire income.
Maltiltan ,Kalam swat
Maltitan is located at a distance of 11 kms from kalam valley.Maltitan Valley has large glaciers ,dense forest , high mountains ,and eye catching glaciers.One of the tallest peak of Farak Sar mountain can be seen from this valley.It is accessible through an unmetalled road from kalam by four-wheel vehicle.The place is a renowned picnic spot and provides a panoramic view of the highest mountain of Swat .Matiltan is a quite beautiful and pictorial valley with Its charming landscape and tall mountains adorned with tall pine trees and is located at the maximum north of Kalam, region Swat. It is a paradise on earth. Here one finds oneself very close to mother nature and can enjoy the clean purity of life.
Mankial Village- Swat
Towards the north of Swat, another fascinating village is the valley of Mankial which is famous for its pointed peaks.Several adventurous tourists have attempted to reach the summits of this region. Though the condition of roads is much better, the cool breeze, gurgling water, dazzling peaks, and enchanted atmosphere keep the tourists engaged and delighted.
Madyan is considered one of the most beautiful hill stations of Swat valley. The place is located at 56 kilometers distance from Mingora.The place is famous for its delicacy of trout fish, markets with shops of embroidered and handicraft accessories, hotels, and restaurants.The uniqueness of this valley is the availability of modern facilities such as the internet, cellular network access, and satellite TV, etc.The view of the Swat River in this valley is beautiful because the mountains on both sides are unable to enfetter its flow.
Kalam Town -Swat
Kalam is located at 99 km distance from Swat valley and 54 km distance from Bahrain, can truly be considered as paradise on earth.The valley is full of picturesque sceneries with rich green hills and Swat River. The reason is famous for cool and pleasant weather, enchanting sceneries, and breathtaking views of dense forests.Matiltan, Usho, Utror, and Gabral are famous sites of Kalam, each with its own beauty and uniqueness. Rivers and lakes at Kalam are the best spots for trout fishing. Visitors can see the snowy mountains from Matiltan, including Falak Sair Mountain, with the height of 5, 918 meters and an unnamed peak of 6,096 meters height.
The Hindukush mountain range is also known as Caucasus Indicus can be explored through Swat.The highest mountain peak of Swat district is Falak Sar located in Ushu valley at an altitude of 5,918 meters is also a part of this mountainous range. The second is the Mankiyal mountain peak.
Gabral is another scenic valley of Swat located at a 20 km distance from Kalam at an altitude of 7,500 ft. The valley is easily accessible from Utror and surrounds a wonderful freshwater river flowing across the valley. Kharkharai Lake is located in this valley.
Fizagat Park is located in the vicinity of Mingora.Fizagat Park is one of the famous tourist spots in Swat valley and is the best place for recreational activities, mouth watering food, and sightseeing.The panoramic view of crystal clear waters of River Swat can truly be caught at this point.
Chail valley in Madyan located next to Nawe Chail is one of the spectacular spots with natural beauty and remains of ancient civilizations.
Bahrain is a riverside small hill station located at an elevation of 4700 feet above sea level.It is the most visited place of Swat due to its natural landscape and beauty, a vibrant market with shops, cafes and resorts, architectural buildings, and lush green jungles with hiking spots.One of the trails in Bahrain leads to Daral and Saidgai lakes.
The capital of Shangla located at an elevation of 1,587 meters above sea level.
Malam Jabba is a hill station in the Hindu Kush mountain range nearly 40 kms from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is 314 kms from Islamabad and 51 km from Saidu Sharif Airport.Malam Jabba is home to one of the very few ski resorts in Pakistan. The area also contains two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries that are scattered around the resort. The presence of the monuments at such a height indicates that the area has been inhabited for over 2000 years.Tourists can enjoy the serenity of waterfalls, panoramic views of lush green mountains, cool breeze from sprawling forests, trekking on ski sloped trails, and winter sporting at Malam Jabba.