The Swat Valley

The Swat Valley can be easily reached from both Peshawar and Islamabad. From Islamabad, one can follow the GT Road as fr as Nowshehra, and then head north to Mardan. The road over the Malakand Pass Passes the extraordinary Buddhist remains at Takht-e-Bahi, 13 Km from Mardan. The remains are the most astounding, exciting and imposing relics of Buddhism in Pakistan and date back from 2nd to 5th century AD.

From Takht-e-Bahi, the road continues north through fertile countryside. The next major town is Dargai, after which the road climbs steadily up to the Malakand Pass.. On the way up there are good views south onto the Peshawar Valley. The road descends gently from the Pass, arriving at the market town  of Bat Khela, which is spread out over a large area. From Bat Khela, the road follows the Swat River upstram and the countryside around is green and fertile, and the road lined with trees. In springtime the orchards are bright with blossom and in summer the rice fields are ready to be harvested. July is peach time, and farmers put up stalls by the  roadside. 

Further on there is bridge across the Swat River to Chakdarra, marking the border with Dir District, and the start of the route to Dir and Chitral via the Lowari Pass. The road continues through the fertile fields and reaches Mingora whcih is the biggest town in Swat. It is situated with its twin town of Saidu Sharif, the administrative capital of Swat. Both the twin-towns have now all but merged into each other and together they form the largest urban centre in Swat, and Mingora in particular has become heavily congested. Both are 3,250 feet above sea level and are very hot in summer. 

At a distance of 13 km from Saidu Shaif, at the head of the Saidu Valley, is Marghzar (4,222 ft), the former summer palace of the Wali of Swat. The entire administration of Swat was moved up to the Safed Mahal (White Palace) for the season. The White Palace is now a luxury hotel and it’s situation at the head of the valley is idyllic. 

From Mingora, the highway runs towards north, following the river. At Manglaur, the first town north of Mingora a metalled road lead off to the right to Malam Jabba. At an altitude of over 8,700 ft, Malam Jabba is the most promising hill resort of Swat. It is a ski resort which gets 6 to 10 feet of snow fall on average annually. There are excellent views down into the main Swat Valley and some pleasant walks in the area. 

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