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Swat (Pakistan)

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Swat (Pakistan)

This article is about all aspects of the administrative district. For the Swat river itself, see Swat River.
Swat District
سوات
District
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan.
Country Pakistan
Province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province
Capital Saidu Sharif
Area
 • Total 5,337 km2 (2,061 sq mi)
Population (1998)
 • Total 1,257,602
 • Density 236/km2 (610/sq mi)
Time zone PKT (UTC+5)
Area code(s) Area code 946

Swat (pronounced [ˈsʋaːt̪], (Pashto:سوات, Urdu: سوات‎) is a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora.[1]

It was a princely state (see Swat (princely state)) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa until it was dissolved in 1969. The valley is almost entirely populated by ethnic Pashtun Awankhel. The predominant language spoken in the valley is Pashto, while minor languages include Torwali and Kalami in Swat Kohistan.

Languages and demographics

The primary local language of the Southern Swat region is Pashto; people in the northern Swat Kohistan areas speak Kohistani languages like Torwali, Gojri and Kalami. Urdu being the national language is also spoken and understood, and to a lesser extent English. The population at the 1981 census was 715,938, which had risen to 1,257,602 at the next census in 1998. Main Tribes are Mohmands , Khattaks , Awans , Yusufzais, Akhund Khel , Uthmanzai or Utman Khels , Miangan (Syed), Chitralis, Kohistanis, Akhund khel Yousafzai, Nooristani and some Mehsuds and Wazirs migrants from Bannu and Waziristan.

History

Swat has been inhabited for over two thousand years. The first occupants created well-planned towns. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Udegram and Barikot and stormed their battlements. In Greek accounts, these towns have been identified as Ora and Bazira, respectively. Around the 2nd century BC, the area was occupied by Buddhists, who were attracted by the peace and serenity of the land. There are many remains that testify to their skills as sculptors and architects.

In the beginning of the 8th century AD, the Gabari Swati Pashtun tribe advanced through Laghmanat, Nangarhar, and Dir. By the early 13th century, they captured Swat, defeating the local Buddhists and the Hindus. This war was headed by Sultan Pakhal Gabari and later on by the Jahangiri Sultan Behram Gabari rulers of Kunar Pech and cousins of the rulers of Kashmir.

Later some Dilazak encroached on the area and settled among the Gabari. They were ousted in turn by the Yusufzais, backed by the Mughal Badshah Zahiruddin Muhammad Baber, considered the super power in 1519 and 1520. The historical paradox was that the Yusufzais were ousted from Kabul by Mirza Ullegh beg, the uncle of Baber, who killed 600 malak of Yusufzai. Yousofzais refugees settled among the Gabaris in the Dir and Swat regions.

With the help of Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the Yousofzais encroached upon the Gabari state. They demolished the Gabar-Kot (fortress) in Bajour in 1519 and advanced to the Swat. The last Gabari king, Sultan Awais Gabari, fled to Upper Dir, where he established his rule in Chitral, Wakhan, Badakhshan and other towns along the upper Oxus River.

The ancestor of the present family of Swat was the Muslim saint Abdul Ghafoor, the Akhund of Swat, a Safi Momand of Hazara district. He migrated to the Buner territory. He was a pious man and the people respected him so greatly that they called him Akhund Sahib.[2]

During the mid-19th century, Muslim tribes fought against each other to control the Swat Valley. On the intervention of Akhund Sahib, the killing was stopped. The chiefs of the tribes unanimously chose him the ruler of the valley. Akhund Sahib administered the valley according to Muslim laws. Peace prevailed, and agriculture and trade flourished. Akhund Sahib had two sons by his wife, who belonged to Nikbi Khel.

After the death of Akhund Sahib, the tribal chiefs fell into open warfare again, which continued for years. Eventually the tribal chiefs gave control of the valley into the hands of the Gul Shahzada Abdul Wadood, the son of Mian Gul Abdul Khaliq, son of Akhund Sahib. The wife of Mian Abdul Wadood was the daughter of Mirza Afzal-ul-Mulk, the ruler of Chitral. The British put Chitral under the suzerainty of Kashmir. The Chitral ruler gave two horses every year to the Rajia of Kashmir, and the Raja provided Chitral with grain and sugar, etc. Swat went under protection of the British.

In 1947 during the rule of Mian Gul Muhammad, Abdul Haq Jehanzeb, the son of Mian Abdul Wadood, the state acceded to Pakistan. The present prince, Muhammad Aurzngzeb Khan, son of Jahanzeb, married the daughter of Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan in 1955. By intermarriages with the other castes, the family developed strong relation with other nobles of the area such as he Lala (Sayyeds) family. They supported the Royal family in administrative as well as in the military affairs of the state. Jahznzeb started a Degree College at Saidu Sahrif, the capital of the State, and four High Schools at Mingora, Chakesar, Matta and Dagar. Fourteen middle schools, twenty-eight lower middle schools, and fifty-six primary schools were established. A girls' high school and high-class religious schools were established at Saidu Sharif. At all the schools, the poor students were granted scholarships.

The state was an exemplary state during British rule. The Gujjars were traditionally very poor people in the Swat Valley. They are gaining education and are holding good posts in government services. They also have a firm stand in politics of Pakistan. The current Prince Aurangzeb Khan was also Governor of the province of Baluchistan, Pakistan.

Buddhist and Dardic heritage of Swat

Although it is generally accepted that Tantric Buddhism first developed in the country of Uddiyana or Odra Desha under King Indrabhuti, there is an old and well known scholarly dispute as to whether Uddiyana or Odra was in the Swat valley, Odisha or some other place. There are some claims that Tantric Buddhism first developed in Swat under King Indrabhuti.[3] One of the original Siddhas, Indrabhuti flourished in the early eighth century AD and was the king of Oddiyana in the Kabul valley. His son Padmasambhava, a legendary Buddhist mystic from the valley who introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet, is credited with establishing the first Buddhist monastery here.[4] Indrabhuti's sister, Lakshminkaradevi, was also an accomplished siddha of the 9th century AD.[5]

Ancient Gandhara, the valley of Peshawar and Kabul River, with the adjacent hilly regions of Swat and Buner, Dir and Bajaur was one of the earliest centers of Buddhist religion and culture following the reign of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, in the third century BC. The name Gandhara first occurs in the Rigveda, which is usually identified with the region.[6]


The Swat museum has footprints of the Buddha, which were originally placed for devotion in the sacred Swat valley. When the Buddha ascended, relics (personal items, body parts, ashes etc.) were distributed to seven kings, who built stupas over them for veneration.

The Harmarajika stupa at Taxila and Butkarha (Swat) stupa at Jamal Garha were among the earliest Gandhara stupas. These were erected on the orders of King Ashoka and contained the genuine relics of the historic Buddha. The Gandhara school is credited with the first representations of the Buddha in human form, symbolically as the wheel of the law, the tree, etc.


As Buddhist art developed and spread outside Gandhara, Gandharan styles were imitated. In China the Gandhara style was imitated in bronze images, with gradual changes in the features of these images over the passage of time. Swat is celebrated throughout the Buddhist world as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. Swat was a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims. Buddhist tradition holds that Buddha came to Swat during his incarnation as Gautama Buddha and preached to the people here.

At one time, the Swat valley was said to have 1400 stupas and monasteries, which held as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon. Archaeologists have found more than 400 Buddhist sites, covering an area of 160 km2 in Swat valley alone. Among the important excavations of Buddhist sites is Butkarha-I, containing original relics of the Buddha. A stone statue of Buddha stands in the village Ghalegay. There is also a big stupa in Mohallah Singardar Ghalegay.

Kabul Shahi rulers

Swat was ruled by the Kabul Shahi dynasty, who built an extensive array of temples and other architectural buildings. These are now in ruins. [7]

Kabul Shahi rulers built fortresses to guard and tax the commerce through this area. Their ruins can be seen in the hills of Swat at Malakand Pass at Swat’s southern entrance.[8]

Advent of Islam


At the end of the Mauryan period (324-185 BC), Buddhism spread in the whole Swat valley, which became a famous center of the religion.[9] The Hindu religion expanded again as Buddhism retreated east. By the time of the Muslim conquest (1000 AD), the population was mostly Hindu.[9]

In 1023, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Swat and defeated the last Buddhist king, Raja Gira, in battle. The conquest by Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi is of special importance because he introduced Islam. In addition, he changed the way of telling time in history.[10] The Swat region became predominantly Muslim by the force of the rulers and missionary Sufi saints, whose dargahs dot the landscape of Swat.

Arrival of Yousafzais

The first Muslim arrivals in Swat were Pakhtun Dilazak tribes from south-east Afghanistan. These were later ousted by Swati Pakhtuns. They were succeeded in the sixteenth century by Pakhtuns. Both groups of Pakhtuns came from the Kandahar and Kabul Valley.[9]

Geography

The valley of Swat is situated in the north of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 35° north latitude and 72° and 30° east longitude, and is enclosed by the mountains. Chitral and Gilgit–Baltistan are situated in the north, Dir in the west, and Mardan in the south. The Indus River separates it from Hazara in the east.

Physical features: Swat can be divided into two physical regions - mountains and plains.

Mountain ranges

Swat lies in the lap of mountain ranges, which are the offshoots of the Hindu Kush, so the larger part of Swat is covered with high mountains and hills. The ranges run irregularly: some to the west while the others to the east, but the general direction is north-south. The ranges enclose small valleys.

Eastern ranges

  • In Swat Kohistan, the chief knot of eastern ranges is Mankial.
  • Its northern branches separate Swat Kohistan from Abasin Kohistan. These ranges form a barrier between Gilgit and Swat, and between Chitral and Swat.
  • The southern extension of Mankial ranges reaches proper Swat. There they join Shangla ranges. Shangla ranges separate proper Swat from Shangla Par area (Shangla Par district).
  • In Shangla district, there are Karora Ranges, which separate Puran from Kanra and Ghurband.
  • The continuation of Shangla ranges joins Dwasaray. On the one hand Dwasaray separates lower Swat from Puran, on the other, it set aside the Buner from Puran.
  • The general direction of the ranges now turns westward and are called Elum. Elum range is a big wall between the proper Swat and Buner. The Elum ranges at last join mountains of Malakand.

Western ranges

  • Western ranges start from the mountain and hills of Gabral, Swat Kohistan and join the hills of Kundal (Utror).
  • There these ranges meet the Daral Ranges that form a border with Dir district. They run west ward and are named according to the locality. For example Lalko ranges Manrai and Chaprai etc.
  • Then they join the hills of Adenzee and Shamozee.
  • Manrai ranges send off some off shoots southward. They the hills separate Arnoyay valley from the widest valley of Nekpikheil valley.

Plains

The valley of Swat starts from the foothill of Malakand but this section is about Landakay to Gabral (Gulabad), the area within the administrative boundaries of Swat.

The length of the valley from Landakay to Gabral is 91 miles. Two narrow strips of plains run along the banks of Swat River from Landakay to Madyan. Beyond Madyan in Swat Kohistan, the width varies but the average width is 5 miles. The widest portion of the valley is between Barikot and Khwaza Khela. A good view point where a major portion of the valley is seen is at Gulibagh on main road, which leads to Madyan. There are some subsidiary valleys called "Daras". A Dara is a narrow passage between mountains, and sometimes, the upper course of a river is also called Dara. Imagining the main valley as a stem of a tree the subsidiary valleys form its branches.

Swat River and its tributaries drain Swat. The boulders and stones are rolled, which causes destruction in the upper courses. When the loaded water reaches areas of low gradient, the heavier materials are deposited. The whole plain of Swat valley is strewn by the running water, and is made up of fine alluvial soil.

Cultural diversity

In Swat seven languages are spoken. Besides Pashto, the majority language, Torwali, Gujri, Gawri, Qashqari, Ushojo and Badeshi are also spoken in Swat, although Badeshi and Ushojo are now moribund. Gujri is a commonly known language in Pakistan and its speakers are scattered throughout the whole Swat; however, other languages are much less well known. Torwali, Gawri, Qashqari (a variety of Khowar/Chitrali language), Ushojo and Badeshi are all among the Dardic group of languages of the Indo-Aryan family.

The Torwali community is said to be descended from the original inhabitants of pre-Muslim Swat, before the invasion of Swat in the second millennium. Recent research, and excavation (2012) by the Italian Archeological Mission in Swat, show traces that suggest that the Torwali community was inhabiting Swat even before the Buddhist and Hindu period.[11] The region between the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas – from Nuristan and Laghman provinces in Afghanistan to the bottom of Himalaya including Indian Kashmir via the ranges of Karakorum – was the land of Dardic or Darada (a Romanized name for Herodotus’ Dadakai) people, with indigenous worldviews different from the major religions. The Torwali community is now confined to a part of Swat Kohistan – the upper narrow but beautiful valley beyond the town of Madyan up to the boundary of Kalam in the north; and to the Chail Valley to the east of Madyan. The speakers are a little over 100,000 people.

Gawri, another Dardic language, is confined to Kalam and Utror valleys with about 60,000 speakers; however, a considerable number of Gawri language speakers also dwell in the Kohistan of Upper Dir generally known as Dir Kohistan.

Qashqari is a variety of Khawar, which is also a Dardic language. Qashqari is spoken by a few thousand people in Kalam and Mitiltan.

Ushojo is now moribund. It is Dardic in origin and resembles the Shina language of Gilgit. It has now a few hundred speakers. Badeshi is now completely extinct; its last two speakers died a couple of years back.


The situation of Ushojo and Badeshi is critical. While Badeshi is no longer alive Ushojo is on the verge of death as no documentation or preservation has occurred. [12]

Administration

The region has gone through considerable changes since the dissolution of the princely state in 1969. Members of the former Royal family have on occasion been elected to represent the area in the Provincial Assembly and National Assembly.

The region elects two male and one female members of the National Assembly of Pakistan (MNAs). It elects seven male and two female members of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (MPAs).[13]

In the 2002 National and Provincial elections, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of islamist political parties, won all the seats amidst a wave of anti-Americanism that spread after the United States' invasion of Afghanistan joining the Northern Alliance against the Taliban.

Economy

Approx 38% of economy of Swat depends on Tourism, and 31% depends on Agriculture.

Wild life When shrubs and bushes covered slopes and foothill areas, hares, porcupine, fox, jackal, wolf, pigs, and hyenas were in large number. Deforestation has resulted from the residents' use of wood as fuel, and wildlife has decreased with the loss of habitat. In the forests, monkeys are often found.

Hawks, eagles, and 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 honey 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 at low prices.


Fisheries There is a large fishery in Madyan where trout fish are reared. Swat Kohistan operates some private fisheries. In Buner the fish are reared in Barandu, Dagar. The Swat River serves as a permanent fishery throughout the year, while its tributaries are used for fishing only in spring.

Mineral resources Mines' production plays an important role in the economy of a country because local people get the opportunities to earn their livelihood. But the Swati mines have no importance for the local people in this respect. Swat's mineral wealth is mainly in china clay, marble and emerald.

China clay: China clay exists at “Kathyar” in Nekpikheil (on the road that leads to Shahderai at a distance of 15 miles from Mingora). This is the largest mine, having the finest quality, of china clay in Pakistan. The clay is mined here, and is transported to Shaidu in Nawshehra (which is at a distance of around 100 miles from Swat). It is not so advantageous for the local people, because they have no opportunity to work in the complex.

Soap clay Soap clay has been discovered between Alpurai and Kanra on the side of Gilgit Road (Shahrah-e-Resham).

Marble Marble is dug near Charbagh, Murghuzar, and Barikot in the proper valley of Swat. In Buner, it is mined in Thor Warsak, Bampokha, and Sawawai.

Emerald Emeralds are mined in Swat and exported to international markets.

Industries Handicrafts The handicrafts of Swat are famous.


Woollen blankets: These blankets are known as "Sharai". They are prepared of wool obtained from the local sheep. The weight of a medium-size blanket is four kilos. This is the best source of warmth during severe winters. The blankets are woven in Dewlai, Kala Kalay, Salampur, Puran, and Ghurband. These villages prepare the items on a commercial scale.

Shawl Shawls are woolen sheets, light in weight. Sometimes, cotton is added. Shawls are prepared in Salampur and Dewlai "Jolabad".

Rugs Rugs are made from local fleeces, prepared in the villages by pressing wool with the help of water spray. After preparation, it is beautified with the use of color. Rugs were the traditional carpets of shepherds, but now are used everywhere.

Embroidery The embroidery of Swat is famous. This art is an indoor hobby of the ladies in Swat, particularly in Nekpikheil. There are three types of embroidery: Panrey or Panrhey is the traditional embroidery of shoes, still used by the old persons in Swat. They are made in Swat with tanned leather. The cobblers make ladies shoes and sandals adorned with golden lace work.

Shkor A Shkor is a pot in which chapatis (bread used in India and Pakistan) are kept. The ordinary Shkors are prepared everywhere in Swat. A special design is made in Puran and Chagharzee. (These Shkors are high-based pots made of wheat stalks with art, not easily available in bazaar).

Furniture Furniture is made in the district, such as cots, tables, chairs, dressing tables, and cradles are made in Mingora, and in nearly all large villages.

Tourist attractions

Marghazar


Marghazar 16 km away from Saidu Sharif is famous for its “Sufed Mahal,” the White Palace of the former Wali (ruler) of Swat.

Malam Jabba

Malam Jabba (also Maalam Jabba, Urdu: مالم جبہ) is a hill station in the Karakoram mountain range nearly 40 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley, Peshawar, Pakistan. It is 314 km from Islamabad and 51 km from Saidu Sharif Airport.

Today Malam Jabba 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 is equipped with facilities including roller/ice-skating rinks, chair lifts, skiing platforms, telephones and snow clearing equipment. During the Swat operation (rah-e-rast), this hotel was demolished by terrorists in 2008. It has not yet been rebuilt.

Swat Museum

Swat Museum is halfway between Mingora and Saidu. Japanese aid has given a facelift to its seven galleries, which contain a collection of Gandhara sculptures taken from some of the Buddhist sites in Swat. They have been 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 local embroidery, carved wood and tribal jewellery. After closure due to damages caused during the militancy period, the Swat Museum has been reopened on December, 2012.[14]

Miandam

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 metaled 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.

Madyan

By the time this small town at 1320 m and about 60 km from Mingora is reached, the mountains have closed in. Embroidered shawls are for sale in its bazaars. Madyan is 1,321 metres (4,335 feet) above sea level. 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 two-and three-day walks up to the mountain villages.

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 show the Swati's love of decoration.[15]

North of Madyan is Swat Kohistan. It is the most cherished destination for drifters and summer tourists. Here multiple unexplored sites for winter sports exist. Swat Kohistan was not much effected by the 2007–10 militant insurgency in Swat. But the worst floods in July 2010 affected the area badly destroying over 1500 houses, 43 hotels, hundreds of shops, thousands acres of cultivable lands and pastures. The floods washed out all the link bridges, the main road of a distance of over 70 km and the side link roads. Many primary, high and middle schools were also destroyed. Most of them are still in rubble.

With its azure lakes, foggy waterfalls, lush green pictures, gold gleaming sonow packed peaks and mildly cold breeze Swat Kohistan is a paradise on earth. But the area is mostly like a hinterland.

The people (Torwalis, Gawris (Kalamis) and Gujars) are tolerant and hospitable. In the whole valley tourists are called 'guests' by the local people. This valley is one of the best sites for trekking in north Pakistan. The side valleys such as Daral, Gurnal (Gurnai), Mankiyal, Ladu (Utror), Mitiltan and Mahudand are rich in ecological diversity besides many springs and fountains. Koʂen (the Mankiyal Peak) is the central highest peak and is visible from almost all parts of Swat.[16]

Bahrain

A quarter of an hour past Madyan, the road squeezes through Bahrain. Tourists stop to shop or have a look around for beautiful carved wood chairs and tables and other handicrafts. The people of Bahrain and side valleys up to the boundary of Kalam are mainly Torwali speakers. In addition Torwali community also inhabits the Chail valley to the east of Madyan.

Bahrain is ten kilometres north of Madyan and only lightly 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 variety of decorative motifs, including floral scrolls and bands of ornamental patterns almost identical to those seen on Buddhist shrines ancient Dardic cemeteries and caves; and quite different from the usual Muslim designs.

Kalam

Kalam is 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Mingora and 29 kilometres (18 mi) from Behrain, Pakistan about 2,000 metres (6,800 feet) above sea level. It was the centre of an independent state in the 19th century. Later it was taken by Chitral, then given to Swat after Partition in 1947. The valley opens out into a small but fertile plateau on the bank of the river. In Kalam the Ushu and Utrot rivers join the Swat river. Here, the metalled road ends and shingle road leads to the Usho and Utror valleys. From Matiltan, visitors get a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Mount Falaksir 5918 metres (19,415 ft.), and another unnamed peak 6096 metres (20,000 ft.) high.


Mateltan

2 km from Usho 5 km from Kalam and 117 km from Saidu Sharif. Mateltan is a very lash and green plains village. It is 5 km on the way from Kalam to Mahodand. It has one middle school and three mosque madrasas. The main masjed of the village is well designed. Most of the homes are built as two stories because of the high level of snow fall each year.

Utror

Utror is 16 km from Kalam and 120 km from Saidu Sharif. Utror valley is situated between 35° 20′ to 35° 48′ N latitude and 72° 12′ and 72° 32′ E longitude. 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 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.

Ghabral

Ghabral lies between 35° 20′ to 35° 48′ N latitude and 72° 12′ and 72° 32′ E longitude 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 May, June, July and August. Fourteen of them are traded to national and international markets while the rest are used locally. A survey by the Pakistan Forest Institute shows that 75 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.



Mahudan

Mahodand valley, which lies in the north of Kalam, is famous not only among nature lovers, and escapists but also among trout fishers. The valley can be accessed through an un-metalled road from Kalam in a 4x4 vehicle. The road is bumpy and tricky, with small hamlets scattered in the mountains.




Pari (Khapiro) Lake

Pari Lake is a lakes which is located at a very high altitude at the foot of the tallest peak in the range.The name Pari or Khapiro is given to the lake due to the 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 the 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.

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 the lake.

Kundol Lake

Kundal Lake is situated to the north of Utror valley. It can be accessed from Kalam via Utror from where a link road ends in a green valley called Ladu in the foothills of the lake. The tourist can either hike to Ladu from Utror or take a four-wheeler. It takes almost two hours to reach the beautiful valley of Ladu.

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 a small hut in Ladu where tea and food can be obtained. From Ladu it takes almost four hours to reach the lake. Locals can act as guides and take luggage. The mountains around this small valley are covered with tall cedar and pine trees and meandered by different streams and torrents.

Bashigram Lake

Bashigram Lake is situated to the east of Bashigram valley near Madyan. The road to this valley is partly metaled and can be plied by a four by four or any ordinary vehicle. It takes almost forty to fifty minutes to reach this picturesque valley. From here, a trek of four to five hours leads to the serene and enchanting lake of Bashigram.

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 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 easy to walk and less tiring while the track from Kundal is not only difficult but dangerous although it is short and links Kundal and Spin Khwar. The grazers in the area have built small huts and a mosque where one can stay but a personal tent is recommended as these huts are in a poor condition due to lack of maintenance.

Daral Lake

Daral lake is situated to the northeast of Sidgai Lake and can be accessed through Saidgai after two three hours rigorous trekking. A look towards the south will reveal the long and winding river Swat on the horizon. After walking and trekking for about two and a half hours on bare and naked mountains, the trail start descending towards the east where Daral Lake is located.

Gallery

Swat Valley in panorama view

See also

References

External links

Coordinates: 34°46′58″N 72°21′43″E / 34.78278°N 72.36194°E / 34.78278; 72.36194

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