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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