Welcome to Swat Valley Khyber Pakhtunkhwa !
- Getting There
- Top Things To Do
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- Climate & Weather
The lush green and historic Swat Valley Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lies between 34°-40′ to 35° N latitude and 72′ to 74°-6′ E longitude and is part of the Provincially Administrated Tribal Area (PATA) of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The valley is an integral part of the strategic and significant region where three parts of the Asian continent–South Asia, Central Asia and China, meet.
The names found in ancient sources for Swat are Udyana and Suvastu because of the scenic beauty of the valley and the name of the river respectively.The historical and cultural remains of the area provide evidence about human activities covering a large span of time.
Alexander the Great came here in 327 BC en route India and conquered Bazira and Ora. At his departure the inhabitants of the area threw off Greek yoke, and enjoyed either independent or semi-independent status subsequently. In the meantime Buddhism penetrated here and Swat became center of Buddhist/Gandhara civilization. The Turki Shahis incorporated Swat in their kingdom but at the decline of their power it remained exposed to Hindu Shahis’ influence.
In early tenth century CE/AD, the Muslims occupied Swat. Consequently, Afghans from different tribes, commonly called Swati Pukhtun, came and settled here. They remained independent of the neighboring powers.
he Yusufzais conquered Swat in the first quarter of the sixteenth century and emerged and remained dominant segment. Instead of forming a government they lived in the tribal fashion, divided into two dalas (factions) headed by their own tribal chiefs called Khans and Malaks. The Swat Yusufzai enjoyed freedom and neither had paid taxes to Delhi or Kabul not yielded obedience to any foreign law or administrative system. They fought Akbar’s mighty arms for years and incurred great losses over them.
The people of Swat Valley Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not only fought the British in the historic battle of Ambela in 1863 but frequently raided British controlled territories and provided asylum to anti-British elements. When British forces were sent against Umara Khan of Jandol to relieve their garrison in Chitral in 1895 the Swatis commanded all the three main passes leading to Swat: Morah, Shahkot and Malakand. In spite of tough resistance, the British, however, succeeded in making their way by a stratagem. They established garrisons at Malakand and Chakdara and created the Agency of Dir and Swat, commonly called Malakand Agency, in 1895 for protecting their strategic interests. Political Officer later Political Agent was posted in Malakand for dealing and communicating through him with the local states (Dir, Chitral and later Swat as well) and the tribes. The rulers and tribal chiefs in the Agency were paid subsidies for pro-British services and role. The Swatis, however, rose en mass in 1897 to oust the British from Malakand and Chakdara under the leadership of Sartor Faqir, but in vain.
The left-bank lower valley was brought under loose British control and protectorate in 1895, but the rest of the left-bank valley continued to enjoy independent status till the emergence of Swat State. The right-bank valley was, however, already made part of Dir State during the years 1879–1881 and hence remained part of Dir State since then but with the interval for the years 1907–1911. The Shamizai, Sebujni and Nikpi Khel sections, however, made common-cause and put an end to Dir’s authority over the area, in March 1915. They constituted five-member council to look after the affairs of their area and finally brought Abdul Jabber Shah from Sithana and installed him as king of Swat, 24 April 1915.
Abdul Jabbar Shah remained in power for more than two years, but on 2 September 1917 the jarga broke relations with him and asked him to go back. On his departure the jarga installed Miangul Abdul Wadud as the next king. He ruled till 1949 and extended and consolidated the state. He abdicated in favor of his son Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb on 12 December 1949, with which Jahanzeb became the next ruler and ruled till the merger of the state in 1969.
During Abdul Wadud and Jahanzeb’s reign Swati territories forming part of Swat State enjoyed an amazing peace and development in the fields of education, health and communication.
International flights arrive at Islamabad Airport from many global hubs. From the airport, take the Motorway (M-1) and reach Mardan interchange from Islamabad in about one and a half hours after covering a distance of 131 km. From Mardan onwards they can travel via Takh-e-Bai, Dargai, Malakand Pass, Batkhella, Chakdara and finally reach Mingora/Saidu Sharif after covering a distance of 112 km in an additional two and a half hours. The total distance from Islamabad to Mingora/Saidu Sharif is 247Km and it takes around 5 hours with one stop for lunch and refreshments. This route is open for all kinds of traffic throughout the year.
Using the above mentioned route from Mardan onwards, the distance from Peshawar to Mingora/Saidu Sharif is 151 km. Total driving time from Peshawar or Islamabad is around 4 hours.
Fizagat Park is a recreation arena for the tourists and the locals situated at 1 kilometer from Mingora city. Situated along the bank of the River Swat, tourists enjoy bath and pleasant climate in summer.
Marghazar 16 km away from Saidu Sharif is famous for its Sufed Mahal the white marble palace built by the first Wali (ruler) of Swat. It used to be the ruler’s summer residence. Queen of England was hosted there once as well. The marble used to build White Palace was the same marble which was used to build Taj Mahal. It was turned into a hotel.
Malam Jabba (also Maalam Jabba, Urdu: مالم جبہ) is a Hill Station in the lower Swat mountain ranges nearly 42 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 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. On the main Madyan-Kalam road, the road turns to the right at Manglor town (12 km from Saidu Sahrif), for the Malam-Jabba Dara which has a series of small villages and settlements like Salanda, Jehanabad, Talegraam, Badar, Ser, Malam, Kishora, Spine Oba, and finally Jabba. Malam is small village comes prior to Kishora village on the main Malam-Jabba road. Malam is nearly 17 km from Manglor while Kishora is at 18 km distance. Jabba (12 km from Kishora) is the upper most part of the whole Dara (gorge). 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. Unfortunately the resort was destroyed by the Taliban when they were in hold in swat valley. Now that writ of the government has been reinstated and peace established, tourism has picked up. The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa(KPK) has awarded the tender for rebuilding the Malam Jabba skiing resort to a private company. Work is going on in full swing and is slated for a 2017 completion date. Skiing has already been restored and a skiing festival was held in Jan 2015. Malam Jabba, as its name suggests, has many green pastures and meadows surrounded mostly by pine trees. One of the major mountains of Malam Jabba is Sagarrh Sar (ساگڑ سر)at 9,400 feet approximately above sea level and is very prominent in the whole Dara (gorge)of Malam-Jabba. Tourist from other parts of Pakistan and around the world throng into Malam-Jabba in both summer and winter seasons. The area offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in Pakistan.
Swat Museum is on the east side of the street, halfway between Mingora and Saidu. Japanese aid has given a facelift to its seven galleries which now contain an excellent collection of Gandhara sculptures taken from some of the Buddhist sites in Swat, rearranged and labelled to illustrate the Buddha’s life story. Terracotta figurines and utensils, beads, precious stones, coins, weapons and various metal objects illustrate daily life in Gandhara. The ethnographic section displays the finest examples of local embroidery, carved wood and tribal jewellery. For the last three years the museum is occupied by Pakistan army and it is not known when they would be leaving it.
Miandam is a small summer resort ten kilometres (six miles) up a steep side valley and 56 kilometers (35 mi) from Saidu Sharif, making it an hour’s drive. The metalled 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 beehives 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.
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. Both bespeak the Swati’s love of decoration.
A quarter of an hour past Madyan, the road squeezes through Behrain. 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 (Torwali). Behrain 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. Because of intersection of two rivers this place is said to be call Bahrain. (intersection of two Rivers)
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 mi) 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 unnamed peak 6096 metres (20,000 ft.) high.
Usho (also spelled Ushu) is a hill station in the north east of Kalam valley. It is situated at a distance of 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) from Kalam and 123 kilometers (76 mi) km from Saidu Sharif at the height of 2,300 metres (7,550 feet). It is accessible through a non metalled road from Kalam by jeeps only.
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.
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.
Mahodand valley, 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 (4×4) 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.
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 needed.
is situated to the South of Bashigram valley near Madyan (56 km from Saidu Sharif). Bashigram Dara (gorge) is one of the beautiful gorges of the Chail Dara (A sub-valley and in the East of Madyan). From Madyan a jeeb able road goes alond the Chail Dara covering villages like Shinko and reaches Bashigram village. Trek to Bashigram Danda (lake) starts from Kas banda ( “Banda” is a local term for small human settlements) and ascending through Kafir Banda, Deenai Banda and finally Dand Banda. Lake is just after Danda Banda. Total trekking distance is around 9 km and takes seven (7) hours to reach to. The trek to the lake offers some breathtaking views of Bashigram Dara and its majestic human settlements. The Lake of Bashigram is covered by a towering peaks. Mount Pyazai Sar ridge rises above the lake on its North-West side. The green water of Bashigram Danda looks very enchanting. The glaciers floats on the surface of it almost all the year. The giant glacier – which for whole part of the year does not melt completely – is at the south end of the lake, has become very famous and known among the tourists who have visited the lake. The stream that comes out of this lake is called Bashigram Khwarr (stream) which is a clear and greenish water source for the Chail Khwarr. The shepherds from time to time moves along these settlements with their herds for grazing purposes. The lake can also be trekked from Maindam and Alpurai valleys of Swat and Shangla districts respectively.
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 need 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 recommended as these huts are in a poor condition due to lack of maintenance.
Daral lake is situated to the northeast of Sidgai Lake and can be accessed through Saidgai after two three hours of rigorous trekking. The trail to Daral is full of fun and amusement because it runs over sky touching heights of the mountains, providing spectacular sights and panoramas for the beauty-hungry eyes of nature lovers. A close look towards the south reveals the long and winding sellouts of the River Swat in the horizon. After walking and trekking for about two and a half hours on bare and naked mountains, the trail starts descending towards the East where Daral Lake is located.
The Buddhist sacred precinct of Butkara identified as the monastery 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 encasing the older from 3rd century B.C down to 10th century A.D.
Nemogram Stupa and Monastery:
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. The drum is divided by a bold cornice supported by brackets at intervals of 0.30cm. A second cornice projecting farther runs below the bottom course of the dome. The height of the stupa from the floor level on the ground up to the existing top of the dome measures 20 meters. The stupa has a flight of ascending step on the north, which is 04.26m wide connecting the pradakshina patha on the ground level with the ambulatory passage on the top of the plinth. The pradakshina patha on the top of the plinth is approached by another step 03.65m wide which leads to the third pradakishna patha. It is only here that a hole measuring 04.57m deep was dug in the drum to reach the relic chamber. The entire stupa building from base to the top shows a remarkable fine, semi-ashler masonry, preserving good stretches of the architectural decoration, typical of the Gandahara valley during the period Kushanas.
The semi-ashler facing was originally covered by a coating of stucco plaster, traces of which are still observed at some places. The podium and lower drum are decorated by Corinthian columns of small dark stones. On the eastern side of the stupa podium lie in heap four stone “Umbrellas”, once raised above the dome and now fallen over the year. The largest of them measures 04m, the smallest 1.82m in dia and 30 cm in thickness.
On the eastern and northern side of the main stupa, the ruins of the monastery, stupas and miscellaneous remains can still be seen. They are mostly disturbed by the illegal diggers. Stein recorded a number of coins from the Kushanas to the Turki Shahis dating from the 2nd to 7th century A.D.
The site was investigated by Barger and Wright in 1938. They recovered some Gandahara sculptures but did not investigate further to ascertain the exact period of the site.
Stein says, “the Amluk-dara lies on the route followed by the Hindus of lower Swat on their annual visit to the sacred height of Mount Elum, which forms so striking a background to the ruined stupa. The top of the mountain was an object of pious pilgrimage already in Buddhist times, and may well have been connected in some way with the pious legends which once clustered around it and in a modified form have lingered to the present day” (1930).
The stupa with its separate components of socle, podium, drum, and dome is the best example in Swat.
The stupa of Amlokdara is exposed to The treasure hunters have badly damaged the Stupa.The concern department should notice it, if they neglect the damages the stupa has received so for, the coming generation will not see this magnificent monument of glorious past. The time is appropriate to excavate the site at Amluk-dara stupa in order to protect the monuments and the hidden antiquities from the clandestine activities of unauthorized diggers.
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. The folds of the robe are stringy, with a planned alteration of high and low ridges. Though the figure exhibits the Gandahara style in the drapery with pleats and the hair, the rather solemn, powerful form of the torso and representation of the folds of the robe are in agreement with the usual form adopted in the area for the other figures of the Buddha.
Some scholars point to the strong influence of the western style but such similarities are not so close. Hence the image of the Buddha carved on the rock at Jehanabad may probably be dated to the 7-8th century A.D, when a large number of other rock-carvings of similar workmanship in Swat are dated to the later centuries of the 1st millennium A.D.
It may be stated that a vast number of Buddhist images in ancient Udyana were destroyed by the people in ignorance and there remains a small number of such rock carvings to be now seen. The few figures that have survived in the valley over the centuries should be preserved from the cruel hands of vandals and must be shifted to the museum for security and preservation. It is fear that such beautiful carved images shall perish into oblivion, and posterity will be deprived the cultural heritage of the past times.
Colossal Statue of Buddha at Ghaligay Swat:
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.
The graceful statue is 04m in height and seems to be enlarged size of a typical Gandahara Buddha.
It is carved out of the marble stone cliff; and seated on a high throne in meditation pose. The carved statue with its drapy arranged in string like folds, which cover the body and throne. It corresponds to the late phases of Gandahara sculpture (7th-8th century A.D).
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.
The Large Stupa is probably the best preserved in this area. It consists of a hemispherical dome, upper and lower drums resting on a square podium and socle. The stupa court is 32m long to south-north and 72m east-west, fortified by a wall. The main stupa was surrounded by the votive stupas which have been completely destroyed by unauthorized diggers. Faint traces of the votive stupa can still be seen.
The stupa stands to a height of 15m from the ground level and the square plinth of the stupa is measuring 22x22m. Seven steps of a staircase in the middle which is 05.50m in width on the west side, lead to the top of the podium. The main stupa had originally four columns at the four corners of the berm of the square storey, which is indeed a peculiar feature; Such style of structural composition may be seen in the main stupas of Saidu and Gumbatuna. The exterior of the stupa is executed in diaper pattern originally covered by the coating of lime plaster.
The drum of dome which measures 10.67m in diameter, is decorated with two cornices framed as usual by thin vertical slabs of stone projecting at intervals between horizontal courses.
The stupa had already been dug out at the centre from the top in search of antiquities by the robbers which damaged the stupa structure and the surface finds.
Above the stupa and at a distance of 12m from the southern side of its lowest base, there rises a large walled terrace, measuring 53x53m, containing extensive remains of a monastic quadrangle.
This monastery is rectangular in plan, with its major axis running south-north. It has two entrances: one on the north leading to the main stupa and another on the south leading to an assembly hall. There are six domed cells, square in shape, measuring 03.35m which occupy each side of the Complex. Some of the cells still reserved the vaulted roof. There are ventilators and small niches in each cells for keeping statues or lamps.
Near the south-western corner of the monastery court, there are the high walls of a big hall probably used as an assembly hall for the Buddhist community, measuring 16x15m and 06m height from the ground level. To the east the assembly hall, lie the remains of another ruined stupa enclosed by walls on three sides. The stupa depicts a square plinth measuring 13.71×13.71m with base moulding and stands square to a height of 04.26m. The stupa is ascended by flight of steps with 04.26m width from the north. The stupa is built in large dressed slabs of stones. The stupas were originally graced with Corinthian pilasters, traces of which can still be seen. Ruins of isolated cells lie on the slope of the valley against the rock.
On the eastern side of the glen, about 45m above the monastic quandrangle, lies a cave with its high entrance which is blocked about half of its height by a wall. This cave was probably used by the monks for meditation.
In the area along the streamlet, are the remains of an aqueduct for the purpose of bringing water for domestic use, ablution and also for irrigation purpose.
Below the aqueduct, there are the remains of another ruined stupa about 1.82m in height
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.
The lower zone comprises the main stupa encompassed by the votive stupa and columns bounded by the enclosure wall.
The main stupa stands on a square plinth measuring 17m each side with an offset projection 3.71m long by 3.82m wide for step on the east. The huge stupa is probably the best preserved in ancient Udyana consisting of a dome, upper and three lower drums, resting on a square podium and scole. The structure above the dome comprises harmika and umbrellas, which are now missing.
The stupa is square in plan and consists of base bounding in straight Scotia pattern (H.O 50cm). The podium or the square plinth stands to a height of 3.90m from the top of the base moulding. The top of the plinth is paved with slabs of schist from which project a corine (H. 0.35cm) built in corbelling fashion.
The pradakshina patha around the drum is paved with large stone slabs of schist of various size, from 0.20cm to 0.60cm (in width).
Around the base of the first drum at the four corners the square bases of columns are still preserved indicating that once the stupa was decorated with four columns. Such decorative elements were also noticed at the stupas of Saidu, Najigram and Amlukdara in Swat valley.
The drums of the stupa is cylindrical in shape measuring 04.70m in height. The drum is surmounted by a hemispherical shaped dome (height 04.80m) and 10m in diameter. It is cut all through from the east and a shaft 2m wide sunk down the centre from the top by relic hunters. The stupa is ascended by a flight of twelve steps on the east side leading to the top of the podium. A circumambulation path of schist stone was provided around the base moulding of the stupa plinth. The masonry of the main stupas is executed in diaper.
Architectural remains of votive Stupas
The main stupa was surrounded by 27 votive stupas of different sizes, square in plan, all composed in the styles of diaper masonry. The floor around these stupas was paved with slabs of schist stone. The upper parts of the votive stupa are missing except votive stupa No.16 and 27 which exist up to the drum. The facing of the plinth built in diaper style in plain in case of some stupas, while stupa numbers 14, 15 and decorated with Corinthian pilasters.
Finds and chronology
The excavations at Gumbatuna were limited to the northern, southern and western sides. The area in front of the main stupa has yet to be excavated in order to complete the salvage operation at the site. The excavations were limited, as also the sculpture robbers had disturbed the site and removed the antiquities, although a good number of sculptures and an impressive stupa complex were uncovered. These sculptures include Buddda, Bodhisattvas, architectural elements in stone and stucco. The site has yielded no coins which could have helped in providing clue to absolute dating. Nonetheless, the sculptures in stone, stucco and the diaper masonry seem to belong to the 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.
The ruins at Jogyano Sar clearly manifest that it was a hub of religious activities in the past where yogis resided in monasteries with austerity to meditate and contemplate on nature and its Creator. The vagaries of time have taken its toll and destroyed the places of worship today but some people say that all the monasteries were razed to the ground by the first ruler of Swat.
Ram Takht has also been demolished by treasure hunters in the hope of acquiring ancient treasures. Toorda Pacha whose family has resided here since time immemorial says that one of the yogis was killed by a nomad in the hope acquiring wealth. Later the nomad lost his sanity and his whole family disappeared mysteriously from the place.
Ram Takht can be accessed through different routes of Karakar, Char, Dokada, Bezo Sar, Amlokdara and Murghazar. One can reach the place in five hours from Murghazar easily. Several cool streams adore the way while most of the dense forest has been chopped down by timber mafia. The way is well treaded and there is no fear of straying away. The exotic valley of Swat and the holy district of Buner are the spectacular panoramas visible from Ram Takht.
Mount Elum has a profound spiritual and holy past. The famous saints Peer Baba and Durrani Baba had visited this place, worshipped and meditated here. Today they are in their eternal slumber in the lap of Mount Elum.
early Kushana era. Therefore, it seems probable that the Gumbatuna site flourished during the 2nd century A.D. and lasted until the 7th-8th century A.D.
Wild Life: In early days when the shrubs and bushes covered slopes and foothill areas, hares, porcupine, fox, jackal, wolf, pigs, and hyenas were in large number. Now the need for fuels decreased the scrubs and trees, so these animals have decreased considerably. In the forests, monkeys are often found. Among the birds: hawks, eagles, falcons are found in the high mountains, while pheasants, partridges, hoopoes, larks, sparrows, quails, doves, swallows, starlings, nightingales, crows, kites, vultures, owls, bates are the common birds.
Bees: The bees were kept in Swat commonly, and the pure honey of was famous all over the country. But now the moveable beehives have affected the Swat locally reared bees greatly. Now, the local good honey is found in remote areas only, while the honey of moveable hives is available everywhere in low prices.
There are many things to do in Swat Valley but visiting ancient archaeological sites is one of the best thing to do. There are many historical places where you will feel an aura of ancient civilizations.
Swat is also known for precious stones such as emerald. Emerald is a type of unique stones. People can buy such a precious stones and also some ancient remains from the market.
Mingora and Saidu Sharif:
Important Landmarks are The shrine of the Akhund of Swat, Residence of former Wali of Swat, Swat Museum, Swat Serena Hotel, Archeological remains of the Butkara.
Malam Jabba: (also Maalam Jabba,
A hill station in the Karakoram mountain range nearly 40 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley, Peshawar, Pakistan, 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.
Swat Museum: Swat Museum is on the east side of the street, halfway between Mingora and Saidu. Japanese aid has given a facelift to its seven galleries which now contain an excellent collection of Gandhara sculptures taken from some of the Buddhist sites in Swat, rearranged and labelled to illustrate the Buddha’s life story. Terracotta figurines and utensils, beads, precious stones, coins, weapons and various metal objects illustrate daily life in Gandhara. The ethnographic section displays the finest examples of local embroidery, carved wood and tribal jewellery.
There are a number of limited accommodation facilities ranging from basic to three star.
Swat can be reached by bus from Islamabad and Peshawar as well as from Lahore.
Many restaurants offering locally sourced food and fresh fish from swat river.
With a mild and generally warm and temperate climate, Saidu Sharif features a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) under the Köppen climate classification. The average annual temperature in Saidu Sharif is 19.3 °C, while the annual precipitation averages 894 mm. Even in the driest months, there is a lot of precipitation. November is the driest month with 22 mm of precipitation, while August, the wettest month, has an average precipitation of 134 mm.
June is the hottest month of the year with an average temperature of 29.2 °C. The coldest month January has an average temperature of 7.5 °C.
|Climate data of Swat city|
|Average high °C (°F)||13.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||7.5
|Average low °C (°F)||2.1
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