Wednesday, July 12, 1989

Land of Pastures


Swat was a Princely State and is known for its natural beauty and famous and Switzerland of Pakistan amongst tourists.

Swat - This is one of the most beautiful valleys in Pakistan's Northern Areas. It is sandwiched in between Chitral Valley and the Northern Areas of Pakistan. There are a number of hiking tracks that connect this valley to far away valleys in Chitral, Dir, Kashmir etc. The capital city is Mingora/Saidu Sharif (sister cities) and is just 4-5 hours drive from Islamabad and almost the same distance from Peshawar. All the routes into Swat start from Mingora. The major Passes to connect outside this valley are Shangla Pass that connects the valley to Northern Areas through Besham Qilla and Kaghan, Lowari Pass to Chitral Valley and the main highway going through Malakand Pass towards Islamabad and Peshawar.

Swat is not only famous for its greenery, mountains and lakes but is also known for the ancient budist monasteries. There are precious stone mines in Swat alongside precious views of the most beautiful rivers and lakes. The main river passes through the valley along with several smaller versions is the River Swat. It is a white water river and flows at great speed towards the plains far away. The river is rich with Trout which is considered to be most delicious fish in Pakistan.

Travel Month:

Aug 1989




Mountains, Lakes, Meadows

Total Distance Covered:


This trip has a flavour of both rough n tough and luxury travel as we enjoyed both to the max. Though the rough n tough pleasure is always priceless.

There was a golf tournament organized by Army in Kabal and beautiful 18 holes gold course in the foot hills of Swat's pretty mountains and in very closer proximity of Saidu Shareef the Swat's capital. And that was our oportunity to visit the place yet another time as we were officially invited to enjoy the tournament and the good weather. We drove from Lahore to Islamabad and stayed a night there before continuing to Mingora. We were four people including myself, one of my friends Shahid, my father and one of his friends. So basically one old pair of friends and one young pair of friends.

It was summer and as usual the plains were very hot and the drive was through very hot terrain initially but it started getting better as the scenery got better. Mountains and especially the green ones always bring pleasure to my eyes and give me more power and strength naturally. I think I'm gifted with performing better in difficult terrain as my stemina increases as it gets tough and my hunger to see more and enjoy more multiplies. So the more we got closer to Kabal I got more and more charged up.

The drive goes through Rawalpindi, Islamabad (where we had a little break) then Wah Cant followed by Naushera (now you are already in Pukhtoon area, where they speak Pushto - people driving from Peshawar also turn towards Maradan from here and leave the GT road) and once you reach Mardan you turn towards Batkhela to enter into Swat Valley through the Malakand Pass.

Once you are in Swat the river Swat accompanies you whereever you go, it never leaves you. The main valley and the cities and almost all the small towns are along this river. It come all the way up from Lake Muhodund after Matiltan, one of the most beautiful lakes that I've seen. And trust me I've seen several lakes in several countries. And the other leg of this river comes from the Gabral Valley.

We had to reach Kabal which is not far from Mingora and we made it to our destination safe and sound and high spirits in the afternoon. We were offered two types of accomodations, either we could have stayed in a rest house which the older pair opted for and the other option was full service tents which we the younger pair chose for our next two nights. The tents were errected right next to the golf course providing views of surroundings. The tents were big with two small beds in them and interestingly the pot-o-potty was attached right behind each tent in a small . This we had not seen before atleast. There was a person assigned to take care of the needs of guests for each tent. A very interesting and new setup for us. The oldies dropped us here and went to their rest house to take some rest and we started having a walk around the golf course.

It is a glorious golf course, big and beautiful, green and serene, I cant find more words to explain its calibre. There was an old building at the enterance used as the golf club. The golf course has several big and very old trees. Swat is rich with timber and possesses very old and tall trees on the mountains and in the valleys. Swat is lush green, no wonder the tourists call it the mini Switzerland. Evening was falling in and temperature had dropped to a very pleasant number. We had to put on a jersey in the evening to warm up. The evening was even more impressive, as it is always at a hill station. To add more flavour to it there were a few events arranged including the sword dance (a traditional dance performed by men with swords in their hands performing different tricks) and a few other not of our interest.

The dinner was served in buffet style with a number of dishes cooked to perfection. We filled ourselves up and went back to the tent. There we found a small group sitting in a circle and all of them were Army officers, who invited us for a cup of coffee. We had a long and interesting discussions on a number of topics late into the night. Once we retired for the day, we had a nice sleep with a comforter on to protect us from the cold as the night turned out to be quite cold. It was such a contrast from the morning temperatures, when we were driving in the plains.

A hearty breakfast was served in the tent as per our request as we did not want to go to the dining room. The whole day was spent watching gold and roaming around in the lush golf course setup. There were different events performed the whole day. Lunch was very tasty and the evening brought the Chief of Army Staff as a chief guest for prize distribution. It was a very disciplined ceremony followed by a wonderful dinner. Once the diner was over a Mehfil-e-ghazal was arranged and one of the famous singers Abida Perveen performed late into the night. That was definitly a fairytale night, enjoying the music at the golf course surrounded by mountains and tall trees.

Very late at night we headed to our tent as we had to leave early for our trip to upper swat valley. Myself and Shahid decided to go further a couple of days and let the oldies go to Peshawar and we would join them later there. So we started very early when it was still dark on a suzuki open van towards Mingora, from where we would head towards Kalam.

Under compilation...

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