TOWN OF MINGOWARA
Mingora (Pr. Mingawara) the center of economic activities and the only urban area of the valley is adjacent to Saidu Sharif t offers traditional, Pakistani and western food outlets, restaurants and hotels. Locally produced beautifully displayed at its main bazaar, shops, show rooms etc. include semi-precious stones, embroidered dresses, hand woven ladies shawls, bed sheets and woodwork. Traditional ornaments and antiques are available at shops. Visitors on trips to Swat valley usually stroll in its bazaars for shopping at the end of their journey can find emerald mines in hills northward of the city famous worldwide for their expensive and valuable emeralds
Being capital city of picturesque Swat valley. Saidu Sharif is the principal seat of administration for looking after and managing regional government affairs several colleges, schools, government offices are situated here. Swat museum, the tomb of the Akhund of Swat, beautifully built buildings of Swat State era. Especially Jehan Zeb College, wooden building of Mehmankhana and archeological sites of Butkara I, 2 and 3 are worth seeing places in Saidu Sharif
Encircled by mountains the picturesque tourist resort of Miandam is at a distance of about 57 km from Saidu Sharif Surrounding mountains during the summer do not allow the gun to cast its shadows on this attractive resort making it the coolest place in the area. A PTDC motel, few hotels and official guest houses keep this beautiful place alive in summer seasons. It provides a refreshing view of large forests, fruit orchards and flowing streams
The valley of Madyan is situated about 56 kilometers in the north of Mingora (Pr. Mingawara) city. It lies on the main road that leads to Bahrain, Kalam and other beautiful valleys of Swat. Its riverside location and cool climate make it an attractive spot with rows of shops, hotels and restaurants queued along the road. A trout hatchery adds to its fascination. Local handicrafts embroidery and antiques are displayed at roadside shops.The slightly wider valley of Madyan is different In comparison to other valleys in the sense that almost every type of modern facility and amenity is available here i e. internet, cellular networks, cable and satellite TV, hotels, restaurants and other basic necessities of life.Apart from these up to-date facilities, tall mountains covered with green foliage and dotted with small mud and concrete houses from three sides surround the beautiful town of Madyan. The roaring and foaming river Swat looks like a ferocious monster here as the huge mountains on both sides appear to fetter and restrain its movement.
This riverside small town, at a distance of 66 km from Saidu Sharif and just 10 km from Madyan, is most frequently visited resort because of its location on the road leading to other beautiful resorts.A humming bazaar with shops. Eateries and hotels make it a popular place.Household traditional decoration items are available at shops, eateries and hotels make it a popular place.Architectural beauty is fully evident in wooden-made pillars and fixtures of mosques and buildings arousing interest of visitors.Nearby valleys full of lush green thick jungles offer hiking on narrow mountainous paths
Being home town of Kohistani inhabitants, Kalam is like an earthly paradise in Swat Valley. Located at a distance of 40 km from Bahrain, Kalam is the main town of this region presenting one of the most panoramic natural beauties. The people known as Kohistani are its original inhabitants proud of their own language and still unchanged traditions.A fascinating view of 6471m Falaksair Peak with its melting snow even during summers from Matiltan (3000m) is breathtaking. The journey is incomplete without seeing and going to Mahodand, a famous lake, about 23 km beyond Matiltan.The picturesque Kalam provides road access to reach magnificent valleys of Ushu (2286m) Utrot (2225m) and Gabral (2286m) above sea level, where journey through green forests and beautiful view of landscape is memorizing. Rivers and lakes at Kalam offer good trout fishing after getting permits obtainable from the Fisheries Department
The beautiful valley of Swat is a mix of different and varied valleys and plains. The southern region is comparatively wide and open consisting of plains that are cultivated throughout the year andyield extremely large quantity of fruit and crops. The Northern region is a congregation of tall high rising mountains where small valley provide little ground for cultivation and residential area for the small mass of population scattered in different groups and families The valley of Mankial is one such place located in the north of Swat on the main road leading to Kalam. The total distance of the valley from Saidu Sharif is about eighty kilometers. The condition of the road is not good but still the scenic beauty along the Swat River keeps the visitors engaged.The fascinating valley of Mankial is famous throughout Swat for its several sharp and jagged summits or peaks, which can be seen hundreds of kilometers away from down the plains The tallest peak’sheight is 18750 feet above the sea level
The Matiltan Valley runs northeast from Kalam and offers magnificent view of Mount Falaksair(5918 M). It is the most famous peak in the area. The valley offers numerous picnic spots and first-class fishing and hiking opportunities.
Bashigram Lake is situated to the east of Bashigram valley near Madyan The road to this valley is partly metalled for vehicles. It takes almost forty to fifty minutes to reach this picturesque valley inhibited by simple and hospitable folk. From here. trekking of four to five hours. depending on professionalism and enthusiasm of the trekkers lands you in the realm of a serene and enchanting lake of Bashigram
Daral lake is situated to the northeast of Saidgai Lake and can be accessed through Saidgai after two three hour rigorous trekking. The trail to Daral is full of fun and amusement because it runs over sky touching heights of the mountain. It provides spectacular sights and panoramas. A close look towards the south will reveal the winding silhouette of river Swat disappearing in the distant horizon.After walking and trekking for about two and a half hours on bare mountains, the trail start descending towards the East where Daral Lake is located. The descent towards the lake is tricky and treacherous: therefore, utmost care and precaution must be taken climbing down the gully.Lake Daral is sprawled over a huge area like a giant amoeba. Large rugged and jagged boulders of various shapes and sizes surround it. Lush-green grass and exotic flowers blanket the edges of the lake. A rare leaping frog in the lake is a spectacle.The magnificent Daral Lake is guarded and shackled from all sides by gigantic mountains and not even a trickle of water escapes the huge and sprawling lake. The widely held notion that Oar-al Lake is the origin of Daral river/torrent appears absurd. as the lake ig literally land locked.
A trip to Swat is incomplete without seeing Malam Jabba, about 44 km from Mingora, a modern hill resort with surrounding mountains enhancing its natural attraction and beautiful landscape. In the past this resort had a four star hotel and chairlift besides a mini golf course and a ski run that provided good entertainrnent. Unfortunately the facilities were destroyed by’ miscreants in 2008-9. There are plans to rebuild these facilities at a height of about 2743 m above sea level. Malam Jabba offers beautiful landscape of mountain peaks full of snow, green valleys and sprawling forests refreshing minds in a cool and more serene atmosphere generously gifted by nature.
It is 16 km (10 miles) up the Utror River to Utror Village. Utror Valley, about 2, 200 meters (7, 200 feet) above sea level hag shaded picnic spots and strewn streams full of fish. The modern Muslim graves in this area are surrounded by intricately carved wooden railings.
Often described as one of the most scenic spots on earth, the Mahodand valley, which lies in the North. 35 km from Kalam, is famous not only’ among mature 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. After driving for about four to five hours from the vast valley of Kalam, you will enter the wonderful and spectacular valley of Mahodand where the small lakes, towering trees and sprawling pastures welcome you. Some temporary restaurants and hotels have been constructed by the locals. which provide essential facilities of accommodation. They also provide boating facilities in the lakes.The valley is long and wide and touches the border of Chitral in the extreme North. There is a proper track through which trekkers can either reach Shandoor Top or Gizar in Chitral. The river here is divided into a series of small and large lakes. which once teemed with brown and rainbow trout fish introduced by the former ruler of Swat State. Due to over fishing by the locals for dally’ income and the illegal use of fishing methods i.e. electrocution. dynamiting and large nets.The valley is a heaven for trekkers and provides several beautiful camping sites with abundance of cool water and firewood. But the trekkers are advised to arrange for their own gas cylinders. which will not only reduce the burden on the natural ecosystem but also preserve the deteriorating environment of the valley. Mahodand valley is a true artistic gift of nature for those who cherish such things
Saidgai Lake is situated in the Hindukush chain of mountains, interspersed by several small and large lakes, which runs from the western edges of the Pamir plateau, west of the Karakoram The mountains have snow- covered tops and are crossed by’ some minor glaciers. Saidgai Lake is located in the peripheries of Swat and Dir mountain ranges and serves as a huge reservoir of water for Hushirai Khwar (Stream), Dir.The lake can be accessed through three different trails and sides: Hushirai valley, Dir Sulatanr, upper Swat and Sakhra lalko, upper Swat The Lalko (name cf village) trail to the lake is the easiest and breathtaking. A jeepable and unmetalled road ends in the beautiful and exotic valley of Lalko where your trekking and hiking chapter starts. From here, continuous trekking for almost seven to eight hours will lead you to your desired destination. On the way dark green pine, conifer and cedar forests keep you cool and refreshed: and small scurrying streams quench your unappeasable thirst (Tip: Own batted water advisable). On the way you will come across a vast pasture, which is called Gabina jaba (Honey marshes) in the local vernacular.The pastures wear a blanket of countless arid innumerable variety of flowers of different shades that tempt different species of rare birds and insects.The best season to visit and explore the lake is during the months of July to September every year. In the remaining, a thick coat of snow covers the lake and makes difficult for the observer to differentiate it from the surrounding landscapes.Saidgai is considered as one of the largest lake in the area and several adventure loving people swarm the area to discover and explore this spectacular jewel of nature.
Pari Lake lI is located at the highest altitude in the mountain ranges of Swat near Pari Lake l. It is comparatively greater in size and depth than the other lake situated in its vicinity and remains open in the months of July till September. The western face of the lake is open and its water flows down to the gigantic Kundal Lake which is situated in the foothills down. The towering mountains surrounding the lake are a safe haven for the bulky Snow-cock and brightly colored Monal pheasants. Therefore a tent must be taken if someone wants to stay for a night here (Tip: Due to the sheer altitude of the lake’s location, no fire-wood can be found. Therefore, a gas cylinder must be on top of your trekking list).The lake is almost quarter a kilometer in length and is surrounded by steep pastures where the grazers take their livestock. Pari or Fairy Lake II is a place worth visiting not only due to its ecological importance but the immense natural recreational potential the lake possesses.
This lake is located at a distance of roughly 10 kilometers from Mahodand and takes one dav to reach here. The hike is gentle and the trek ascends gradual’/ There is a camping area near the lake where tourists can pitch their tents and spend a day or two comfortably. A little further is the Katchikuni top or pass which leads into neighboring Chitral
About 13 km from Saidu Sharif, is situated the serene small town of Marghzar at the foot of Mount Elum. Its White Marble Palace, built by’ ruler of Swat in I940, adds to the grandeur of this peaceful small valley’. The palace has now been converted into a top class hotel with excellent lodging and boarding facilities. While voyaging towards Margazar you can see a road turning towards Slampur. A small village famous for its wool cottage industry.
Another picturesque valley which is accessible from Utror and is at the terminus of the hiking trail. Kharkharai Lake is located here.
Kundal (or) Kundol 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. It takes almost two hours drive to reach the beautiful valley of Ladu from Kalam There is also a small hut in Ladu where you can take tea and grab something to eat. From Ladu it takes almost three hours to reach the lake. Some locals can guide you and even take your luggage for a fee. The people are friendly and can provide you guidance if required.The trail to the lake from Ladu easy to follow as a huge stream flows down from the lake, which mingles with River Swat in Kalam valley. It goes beside the stream at-us leads you to the lake. The mountains around the lake have scarce trees scattered far and wide but grass and thick vegetation pervade the surrounding landscape that reinforces the beauty of the lake.Two other lakes, Khapiro (Faries). and Spin khwar (White Stream) are located in the peripheries of Kundal Lake and can be accessed through the lake in five to six hours. visit all the three lakes in one go takes almost four days and nights. which can be rather fatiguing.The length and width of the lake is one kilometer. During full moon, the dim and cool light of the bright moon transforms the whole atmosphere like magic. The panoramic galaxies of stars twinkle and sparkle in crystal clear skies.