Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora. Swat Valley was a princely state in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa until it was dissolved in 1969 along with many other princely states like Dir state and Chitral state. The valley is populated mostly by ethnic Pashtuns and Gujjar and Kohistani communities. The languages spoken in the valley are Pashto, Gojri, Torwali and Kohistani. Most non-Pashtoon people of the area are bilingual and fluent in Pashto along with their native languages. Throughout the district, there is a less tendency of ethnic discrimination and all of the inhabitants of Swat refer to themselves as Pashtoon irrespective of the communities they belong to.
Swat is surrounded by Chitral, Upper Dir and Lower Dir in the West, Gilgit-Baltistan in North and Kohistan, Buner and Shangla in the East and South East. The Valley is bestowed with many natural scenic sites that are huge tourist attractions since decades for both the domestic and international tourists. We picked 10 most popular tourist spots in Swat to plan your next vacations.
Marghazar is 16 km away from Saidu Sharif and is famous for its Sufed Mahal the white marble palace of the former Wali (Gujjar Ruler) of Swat. It was built in 1940 by the first king of Swat Miangul Abdul Wadud, who is commonly known as Badshah Sahb. The palace now serves as a hotel. The White Palace at Marghazar was the summer residence of the Wali of Swat. Located at 7,000 feet above sea level on Marghazar Hill, it was later converted into a tourist resort.
2. Malam Jabba
Malam Jabba (also Malam Jabba is a Hill Station in the Karakoram mountain range nearly 40 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley. It is 314 km from Islamabad. Malam Jabba was 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. During Militancy in Swat the Resort was destroyed but it is being rebuilt by the Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through a Lahore based firm.
Kalam is a cool heaven for tourists in the northern upper reaches of Swat Valley along the bank of Suvastu River. It is surrounded by lush green hills, thick forests and bestowed with mesmeric lakes, meadows and waterfalls which are worth seen. It is the birth place of River Swat which forms with confluence of two major tributaries of Gabral river and Ushu river. There are a lot of grand hotels in Kalam, where one can stay for night and enjoy the cool breeze of Swat river.
Bahrain is a popular hill station of the Swat District Pakistan. It got its name (lit. “two rivers”) because of its location at the confluence of the Daral and Swat rivers. The region is famous for its riverside tourist resorts and local handicrafts. Bahrain offers a superb view of gushing river Daral and natural waterfalls. The people of Bahrain are expert in the cottage industry of wood carving, that’s why wood work can be seen everywhere in the region. A charming trek can be enjoyed from here up to Daral and Saidgai lakes. It is the cultural center of the Torwali-speaking community.
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 meters (4,335 feet) above sea level, it is a large 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. 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.
Usho 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 meters (7,550 feet). It is accessible through a non metal led road from Kalam by jeeps only.
Miandam is a charming hill station in the foothills of Hindu Kush mountains. It is located at a distance of 55 km away from Mingora, and 56 kilometers (35 mi) from Saidu Sharif. It is a very picturesque tourist spot at an elevation of 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) above sea level and is enriched in medicinal plants, owing to which the town is the site of a World Wide Fun Nature project promoting sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants, and now about 1,000 people are dependent on the medicinal plant trade for their entire income. The primary economy of the region is based on tourism and agriculture.
Ghabral is a scenic hill station of Swat Valley. 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. In Utror and Gabral, 44 medicinal plants are collected during the months of May, June, July and August. 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 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 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.
10. Kundol Lake
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 Kandol 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.. 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. The mountains around this small valley are covered with tall cedar and pine trees and meandered by different streams and torrents.