Saturday, January 29, 2011

SWAT VALLEY: THE SWITZERLAND OF PAKISTAN:

SWAT VALLEY: THE SWITZERLAND OF PAKISTAN:

SWAT VALLEY

I was surfing through  T.V channels and stopped at the entertainment news showing that the skiing was ON in Swat ..yes I was sooo jealous of everyone who was there:/
Anyways right now I cannot go there but I decided to write a  post about it:D

I went to Swat with my family a good 10 years ago(OMG seems like yesterday)
It was lovely. We loved everything about it. The weather was lovely, the people (blond with blue or green eyes)were warm, there were a million tourists(as If whole Pakistan came to Swat for vacation) and the places we discovered while hiking were WOW…like we were in wonderland or in some sort of a fantasy world.

Two things that I remember about Swat are

1: We were staying at this motel not very far away  from PTDC (in Malam Jabba) and out of nowhere clouds came and it started pouring heavily..all our plans for the day were postponed and us all siblings were like NOW WHAT TO DO….well we ordered for French fires and sat in the window of the room to enjoy them and we could not believe what we saw:  we were above the dark clouds and the rain was pouring beneath us :D  our room was on the first floor.It was awesome and it made our day and we told everyone that we were above the clouds and it was raining beneath us:D

2: A local there at the motel told us that there is an awesome waterfall not far away  from here and you can easily reach there by a 1 hour hike..so we set off to discover by ourselves this waterfall..it was a tiring hike and we were like lets go back papa there is no waterfall, that guy has made a fool of us ,..but father insisted that we were almost there , so we kept on the move and suddenly our father stopped and we were like WHAT? He said come see for yourself..and we could not believe what we saw,,it was a green pasture as far away as we could see, flowers everywhere and horses moving about freely, running, grazing..it was WOW…I just don’t have the words the describe the beauty..we all had goosebumps at seeing such beauty…any ways after a long hike we did reach the water fall and it was also lovely but could not stay for long as It was getting dark and we set off towards our motel.

There are many places that no tourist guide or magazines or your friends can’t  tell you about once your are there, allow yourself to seek some adventure and you will come across many beautiful and worth treasuring experiences.

SOME FACTS ABOUT SWAT:

Swat is a valley which has gone through many rulers such as Alexander the great, Mahmud of Ghazni, the Chinese pilgrim, Fa-Hsien,Sun Yun,Hsuan-Tsang and Wu-Kung and civilizations, whose traces can be found here and there. It has seen the Buddhist , the Ghandara, the Hindu dynasty, and the Muslim rule as well.

It was a Princely state and was annexed to Pakistan in 1947.

The people of Swat are mainly Gujars ,Pashtuns and Kohistanis. The people claim them selves to be the descendants of the army of Alexander the Great.

The religion followed is Islam and people understand the national language as well along with the local languages.

The valley falls in the premises of the province Khyber Pakhtunkhua and is located at a distance of 160 km from the federal capital Islamabad.


It forms the upper valley of the river Swat (hence the name) and goes up to the Hindu Kush mountain range.

Saidu Sharif being its capital while the most famous town being Mingora.

It is said that Buddha himself came to swat and preached the people there during his incarnation as Gautama Buddha. Swat is considered as a holy land of Buddhist learning and piety among the Buddhist world.

Buddhist art also developed and flourished throughout India and china from swat.

GHANDARA RUINS
Many stupas and Buddhist Monasteries were built.


Butkhara-1, containing the original relics of Buddha was found in the excavation sites of swat.
Temples, fortresses and other architectural buildings were built by the Hindu rulers whose traces can be found in various locations.

HOW TO REACH SWAT:

One can go via road or by air as well. Regular flights take off from Islamabad to the Swat capital town of Saidu Shaif and if you want to go via road you can take a 160km drive from Peshawar or a 250 km drive from Islamabad. Local buses and taxis will also take you there but going by your own private vehicle is what I would suggest.

WHERE TO STAY IN SWAT:

There are various hotels where you can stay and enjoy your trip such as


PTDC(Pakistan tourism development corporation) motels in Malam Jabba, Miandam, SaiduSharif,
The Swat Continental Hotel.
Hotel White Palace
Swat Serena Hotel
And Any other local hotels you can easily find.

PLACES TO VISIT:

Swat is a vast valley offering various tourist attractions but some of the places worth visiting include:

MARGHAZAR:
WHITE PALACE MARGHAZAR


In Marghazar you can visit the Safad Mahal or the White Marble Palace of the former ruler of swat. It can be reached from Saidu Sharif by covering a distance of only 16 km.

 MALAM JABBA:
MALAM JABBA SKI RESORT(PTDC)


Malam jabba is where I stayed..it a beautiful hill station located at 40 km from Saidu Sharif. It is home to the largest ski resort in Pakistan. Unfortunately we went there in summers so could not skiL but the same area offers a wonderful experience via chair lifts during summers:D… PTDC(Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) owns the Malam Jabba ski resort and offers a ski slope of 800m with the highest point being 9200ft.
The resort is equipped with everything needed for skiing, roller/ice skating, snow clearing machines, chairlifts, food, telephones etc etc.

BAHRIN AND MADYAN:
WONDERFUL VIEW OF BAHRIN


These places are famous for their bazaars filled with the traditional handicrafts including tribal jewellery, embroidered shawls, carved wooden doors, pillars, balconies and what not.

SWAT MUSEUM:
SWAT MEUSUM

Almost half way between Saidu and Mingora is the Swat Museum. With the help of Japanese aid the galleries are rebuilt and shows a vast collection of Ghandara sculptures from the various Buddhist sites in Swat telling the life story of Buddha. Beads, coins, terracotta figurines and utensils, precious stones, various metal objects, weapons are displayed. If you want to know about the Ghandara civilization this museum is a must visit.

KALAM:
KALAM VALLEY
Kalam is a pure nature lovers spot.if you want to just relax and ease yourself out you must go to Kalam for a day or two.it is about 6800ft above sea level. Here the two rivers Ushu and Utrot join in to form the Swat river.

GABRAL VALLEY:

Is home to more than 44 medicinal plants, which are collected during the month of may and June. The valley is surrounded in the north by the Chitral District.
An export of 75 herbal drugs take place from this area and more than 200 are locally traded.

THE LAKES:
BASHIGRAM LAKE

Some  of the most famous lakes include the Pari Lake, the Kundol Lake, Bashigram Lake, the Spin Khwar( wild stream) Lake and the Daral Lake.
The lakes are famous for tales of the dwelling fairies, potato and turnips harvest which are known for their delicious taste, the surrounding mountains covered by pine and cedar trees, for camping, and herding for the locals.



MY RECOMMENDATIONS:


With all the recent fights going on there in swat I wonder if it still the same..one of my friends husbands is posted there and he says it still is like Switzerland here,
So if you want to enjoy beauty and indulge yourself in ancient civilizations or explore the valley by yourself you should go to the Switzerland of Pakistan before it is too late and everything is destroyed(GOD FORBID).



18 comments:

  1. It is indeed greatly informative post. Swat Valley is one of the most beautiful place on this planet Earth. I went their few years back and I plan to go there soon.

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  2. Beautiful description of yet another beauty of Pakistan.It was a pleasure to read it.

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  3. Hello!
    It looks like to a beautiful place!
    Peace to there!

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  4. must visit place on the planet EARTH

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  5. thankyou rama..
    @amin:yup hope is all we have.
    @umair..hai na.hav u been there?
    @irfanuddin:why not make your wish come true?go ahead and plan a vacation.u will lov it for sure.

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  6. Your pictures are breathtaking. Such beautiful country.

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  7. It seems like such a beautiful place. It reminds me of Kashmir, which I visited when I was a child before it started getting ruined by militancy. The same is happening to such a beautiful place as you mentioned -- Swat. Sadly, we only read about it in the context of continuing war. Lovely post.

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  8. Thanks. I am beginning to see the 'other' side of Pakistan, if you know what I mean. We only get to read about the not-so-happy news all the time. Sadly Swat Valley was in context of a war few years back.

    Such beautiful place; heaven on earth. Hope it stays the way forever for our future generation to experience and enjoy

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  9. Beautiful narration of the place I have seen when there was peace. Now I am happy that Malam Jabba has seen skiiers after three years of closure and militant's threat. I hope the PTDC motel will be rebuilt once again.

    I have linked this to my blog Jaho Jalal.

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  10. @rachna, insignia:thankyou..m glad i am able to potray a different image of my country:)
    @jalal thnx:)

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  11. Thanks for visiting my blog. It's a shame that such beautiful places in Pakistan are now almost inaccessible to foreigners.

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  12. I have visited swat just once but your post really reminded me of the awesome time that i had spent there so thank for that : )I really pray that the fight going on there ll soon end Inshallah.

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  13. @clipped wings..thankyou:)
    @neena..yup it is ...but swat is recovering now:) and most prbbly will be stable soon:)
    @shirazi :you bet it is..hav u been there?
    @kiran:no problemo:D and yup hope it gets over soon INSHALLAH :D

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  14. Really nice pictures:)

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  15. the comment written above is from usama :)

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