The Swat Valley is one of the most fertile and easily accessible mountainous areas in the Northern Pakistan. The main attraction is its scenic beauty – lush green valleys with thick green pine forests, surrounded by snowy peaks and pleasant climate in summer. In addition the area is rich in historical sites dating back to Gandhara Buddhist period and earlier. Swat is one of the most popular hill destination for local and international tourists. The down-side of this is some of the hill resorts have been heavily developed with new hotels springing up rapidly in a haphazard fashion. The main resort can also get extremely crowded during the peak summer season. However there are still plenty of beautiful spots, quite and unspoilt, just that like bit away from the main tourists centers.
Nemogram Monastery: 7kms beyond Landakai, a turning left leads across the river, giving access to Nimogram Monastery and stupa.
Mingora / Saidu Sharif: The twin-towns of Mingora/Saidu Sharif have now all but merged into each other. Mingora is the old bazaar town, with the most of the cheaper hotels, and all the main markets, while Saidu Sharif, to the south across the river, is the administrative centre. Together they form the largest urban centre in Swat, and Mingora in particular has become heavily congested.
Swat Museum: Refurbished in 1994 with the help of ‘culture grand’ from Japan. This museum is excellently laid out and well worth a visit. The impressive collection of Gandhara Buddhist statues, friezes, etc demonstrate clearly the remarkable range of styles, from Oriental through to Graeco-Roman, which evolved during this period. There are also various terracotta and stucco pieces, knives, arrowheads, pieces of grave pottery, etc dating back as far as the 4th century BC.
Shrine of the Akhund of Swat: the small colorful shrine to the Akhund of Swat is housed in the marble courtyard of a mosque in Saidu Sharif, it is tucked away amongst the narrow alleys between Marghazar Road and Aqba Road.
Saidu Stupa and Monastery: This site consists of lower terrace with the remains of main stupa, and higher terrace with the monastery remains. Excavations were carried out between 1963 and 1972 by Italian archeological team. This site is the most accessible of the various Gandharan Buddhist remains to be found here, being within walking distance of the main road through Saidu Sharif.
Malam Jaba: At an altitude of over 3000 meters, Malam Jaba has snow until May. It was identify as the ideal location in which to develop a ski resort. With Austrian funding a chair lift was build, along with a large luxury hotel. There are excellent views down into the main Swat Valley and some pleasant walk in the area. The resort is a popular picnic venue in the summer. Hidden in a depression to left as you face up the chair lift, there are the ruins of a Buddhist Stupa and other building, although little now remains to be seen.
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