TOURISM IN SWAT VALLEY

Swat Valley, with marvelous landscape and wonderful history, is situated in Provincially Administrated Tribal Area (PATA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. The ancient names of Swat Valley are Udyana and Suvastu. Alexander the great entered the Valley in 327 BC, through Indian route, and captured the areas of Bazira and Ora. Later on it became the hub of Budhists/Gandhara Civilization. At the beginning of tenth century, Aghani Pakhtuns got settled down in Swat Valley, hence the territory came under the influence of Islam. The Yusufzais took over Swat in the first quarter of seventeenth century.
Swat Valley is often called mini Switzerland of Pakistan and it is located in the middle of Hindu Kush mountain range. The main towns of the valley are Mingora and Saidu Sharif. It is among of the most of the green valleys of the Northern areas of Pakistan, which are well connected to the rest of Pakistan, via roads and telecommunications. The Air Services from Islamabad to Swat are functioning on regular basis. One can also reach there either from Peshawar (160 KMs) or Islamabad (250 KMs).
Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is famous for, being the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety, in the world and considered a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. Buddhists belief that Buddha came to Swat himself, during his last reincarnation as the Guatama Buddha and preached the people there. It is said that the Swat had had fourteen hundred Stupas and monasteries, which had as many 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. There are more than 400 Buddhist sites in the area of 160 Km in Swat valley. Butkarha-I is the most important place, containing the original relics of the Buddha, is found in excavation of Budhists sites.
Swat Valley is rich with its natural beauty and cultural heritage of Archeology. Some of its tourists’ sites are as follows;

Gumbat Stupa is 9 kilometres in the South of Birkot in Kandag Valley. This is one of the well-preserved stupas of Swat.

Udegram is 8 kilometres away from Saidu Sharif. Aurel Stein identified this site as Ora, a city where Alexander fought one of his battles.

Saidu Sharif is the head-quarter of Swat and Swat Museum is its distinction, which contains one of the finest collections of Gandhara Art.
Mingora is the twin city of Saidu Sharif and many sites of Buddhist ruins of stupas.
Marghazar, 13 km away from Saidu Sharif, is famous for its “Sufaid Mahal” the white marble palace of the first Wali (Ruler) of Swat. It becomes a hotel now, where tourists come to stay in.
Butkara (Butkada) Stupa is one of the most important Buddhist shrines in Swat. It is near the museum.
Kabal is 6 km away from Saidu Sharif. It has an excellent golf course.

Malam Jabba is located 40 kilometres (25 miles) away from Saidu Sharif. It is fine place for skiing and other such activities. There is a chairlift facility as well.
Khuwaza Khela is a mid-point between Mingora and Kalam. A path from here also leads to Shangilla Pass, and to Besham on Karakoram Highway.
Miandam is a small summer resort, about 49 kilometres (30 miles) from Saidu Sharif.
Madyan is another tourist resort on the bank of Swat River. It is about 1,321 meters (4,334 feet) above sea level.
Bahrain is in 10 kilometres North of Madyan and its height is about 1,400 meters (4,593 feet) above sea level.
Kalam is 29 kilometres (18 miles) from Bahrain and about 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) above sea level.
Ushu/Utrot/Gabral Valleys are behind Kalam. There is some good fishing for trout in Utrot Valley. Foreign tourists are advised to contact the local police authorities at Kalam before preceeding to these valleys.
Mahodand Lake is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Kalam and only reachable by Jeep from Kalam. It is a worth watching place.

Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan

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Five Famous Lakes in Swat Valley

There are numerous of beautiful lakes in the Swat Valley, the mini Switzerland of Pakistan. Some of these are reachable through trekking only. The tourists, who want to enjoy trekking, like physical activity and want to stay in touch with nature, must visit these fairy-tale lakes. Below is the brief description of the lakes in Swat Valley.

lakes in swat valley

Pari/Khapiro Lake:

It is in the North-East of Utror Valley, located at a very high altitude in the highest mountain range. It is a beautiful lake, naturally made by flowing from the mountains. It is a deep lake. In some languages of Pakistan, Pari means fairy and it is believed that the beauty of the lake is due to the fairies come here to enjoy in taking bath.
The only way to reach the lake is trekking. Walking on the track needs strength, as climbing on the steepy turns and slopes is quite an exhausting and a dangerous activity. There are two tracks from where the lake can be reached; first track starts from Kundol Dand Lake and the second from Izmis Lake. It takes almost five hours walk to reach the lake from either side.

Kundol Dand Lake:

It is located in the North of Utror valley. Passing through Kalam via Utror Valley; a link-road leads to the foothills of the lake into the valley called “Ladu”. It takes two hours on foot, to reach to the Ladu Valley. By hiring a four-wheeled Jeep, the journey takes much lesser time. Trekking area is safe and tourists can enjoy the natural scenery around them. Native people come down from the hills in the winter season, because weather gets very harsh. People stop here for some leisure time and enjoy tea and other beverages with snacks. The lake is four hours away to Ladu Valley. It is a good place for trekking. It is recommended to hire a guide, who could lead tourists to the top of the lake.

Bashigram Lake:

It is another beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains and eye catching scenery. The lake is situated in the East of the Bashigram Valley, near Madyan. The lake is at a walking distance of four to five hours from Bashigram Valley. The people of the Valley are very cooperative and kind to the tourists. They have proper knowledge of the area and extend their services as guide.

Spin Khwar (White Stream) Lake:

This Lake is formed by rainfall and water of melting snow from the mountains, that flows downwards to take a shape of a clear water stream. The spin Khwar Lake is situated in the North of Kundol Dand Lake is in the North of Utror Valley. Trekking from Ladu Valley is safe and easy. It is best for camping, for those people who want to stay here and enjoy the nature, trekking and camping in leisure.

Daral Lake:

It is situated at a very high altitude where one can feel the clouds. It is in the North-East of Sidgai Lake. It takes three to four hours to reach the Daral Lake while walking on a rough trail, which first leads to the top of the hill and then to downward; it ends up near the Daral lake.

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MAHUDAND LAKE KALAM (SWAT)

MAHUDAND LAKE KALAM (SWAT)

Mahodand Lake Swat

Mahudand Lake is located in the Upper Ushu Valley, at a distance of about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Kalam, Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of North-Western Pakistan. It is a famous Resort for holiday-makers and tourists from all over the World.
Mahudand Lake (Lake of Fish) is situated in the Hindu-Kush Mountain Range, at an elevation of 9,603 feet (2,927 metres) and expands over two kilometres long piece of land. It takes around three hour journey to cover a distance of 35 to 40 kilometres from Kalam towards the lake.

On starting the journey, by the road on a four-wheel jeep, one can enter into the Forests of Kalam and after crossing it, the first stop-over is Ushu Valley. Some patches of the Valley are really fantastic and eye-catching. Gushing water of streams not only gives a spectacular view, but it is also a source of water supply and Power generation for the locals.

The way towards the Lake, one can see many nomads with their herds of sheep/goats, travelling deep into the Valley. One has to stop and often wait for the clearing-up of the road, when herds are crossing the roads. It is a routine scenario for the locals; however it could be a surprise for the visitors/tourists, especially for the foreign tourists. Mahi Banal is the next milestone after Matiltan, a picturesque place towards the Mahudand Lake.

There is another popular tourist resort of the 22 Mighty falls, after half an hour further journey. There is a small market on the way to Mahudand Lake.
The Mahudand Lake, the Majestic gift of Nature, lies at the foothills of Hindu-Kush Mountain Range, at an elevation of 9,603 feet (2,927 metres), surrounded by the lush green meadows, snow-capped mountains and thick forests. The tall and lofty Pine trees enhance the beauty of the Mahudand Lake manifold.

Mahudand Lake gets frozen during heavy snowfall in the winters, on the contrary in the Summers the surface of the lake is full of wild flowers like Geum, Blue Poppy, Potentilla and Gentian etc. The Pine trees provide shelter to the hundreds of the birds. The lake is a ideal location for the anglers, as it contains a plenty of trout fish, yet fishing is allowed only to the licensed anglers, which could be obtained from relevant authorities.

Tourists can enjoy the amusing beauty of the Lake, camping, fishing and above all trekking to the nearby mountains. The water of Mahudand Lake is divided into many streams, which contained brown and rainbow trout fish abundantly, but due to excessive and illegal fishing by using destructive fishing methods like electrocution, dynamiting and large netting, the species reduced to the alarming level.

Mahudand Lake must be at the top of one’s priority list while planning a trip to Swat and Kalam Valley. It will be a pleasant and unforgettable experience of one’s life. Its charms, landscape and imperial elegance make it highly dignified in the pool of distinguished lakes of Pakistan in all the world.

Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan

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