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Saturday, August 21, 2010


Swat, Pakistan

Country Pakistan

Province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province

Capital Saidu Sharif




- Total 5,337 km2 (2,060.6 sq mi)

Population (1998)

- Total 1,257,602

- Density 236/km2 (611.2/sq mi)

Time zone PST (UTC+5)

District Council

Swat (Pashto: سوات, Urdu: سوات) is a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan located 160 kilometres (99 mi) from Islamabad, the capital of 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. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty that used to be popular with tourists as "the Switzerland of Pakistan".[2]

In December 2008 most of the area was captured by the Taliban insurgency and was considered dangerous for tourism. The Islamist militant leader Maulana Fazlullah and his group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi banned education for girls and bombed or torched "more than 170 schools along with other government-owned buildings."[3] The Pakistani government in late May 2009 began a military offensive to regain control of the region. Swat is now cleared of Taliban and is open for tourism.

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[edit] History

See also History of Swat (princely state)

The Swat River is mentioned in the Rig Veda 8.19.37 as the Suvastu river.[4] The first historical mention of the valley goes back to a hymn of the Rigveda[5][6] Swat has been inhabited for over two thousand years and was known in ancient times as the Udyana. The independent monarchs of this region came under Achaemenid influence, before reverting back to local control in the 4th century BC.[citation needed] In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Udegram and Barikot. In Greek accounts these towns have been identified as Ora and Bazira. By 305 BC, the region became a part of the Mauryan Empire.[citation needed]

[edit] Buddhist heritage of Swat

Although it is generally accepted formaly that Tantric Buddhism first developed in the country of Uddiyana under King Indrabhuti, there is an old and well-known scholarly dispute as to whether Uddiyana was in the Swat valley, Orissa or some other place.

Padmasambhava (flourished eighth century AD), also called Guru Rimpoche, Tibetan Slob-dpon (teacher), or Padma ‘byung-gnas (lotus born) legendary Indian Buddhistic Mystic who introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet and is credited with establishing the first buddhist monastery there.

According to tradition, Padmasambhava was native to Udyana (now Swat in Pakistan).[7] Padmasambhava was the son of Indrabhuti, king of Swat in the early eighth century AD. One of the original Siddhas, Indrabhuti flourished in the early eighth century AD and was the king of Uddiyana in north western India (identified with the Kabul valley). His son Padmasambhava is revered as the second Buddha in Tibet. Indrabhuti's sister, Lakshminkaradevi, was also an accomplished siddha of the 9th century AD.[8]

Ancient Gandhara, the valley of Pekhawar, 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 [9]

The secular Swat museum has acquired 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 (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.[citation needed]

The Gandhara school is credited with the first representations of the Buddha in human form, rather symbolically as the wheel of the law, the tree, etc.[citation needed]

As Buddhist art developed and spread outside India, Indian 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, the land of romance and beauty, 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 himself came to Swat during his incarnation as Gautama Buddha and preached to the people here.

It is said[by whom?] that the Swat valley was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. Archaeologists now know of more than 400 Buddhist sites covering an area of 160 sq km in Swat valley alone. Among the important excavations of Buddhist sites in Swat an important one is Butkarha-I, containing original relics of the Buddha. A stone statue of Buddha, is still there in the village Ghalegay.[citation needed] There is also a big stupa in Mohallah Singardar Ghalegay.[citation needed]

[edit] Hindu Shahi Rulers and Sanskrit

Swat was ruled by the Hindu Shahi dynasty who have built an extensive array of temples and other architectural buildings now in ruins. Sanskrit was the language of the Swatis.[10]

Hindu 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.[11]

[edit] Advent of Islam by Mahmud of Ghazni

Scenery from a restaurant near Mingora, Swat ValleyAt the end of the Mauryan period (324-185 BC) Buddhism spread in the whole Swat valley, which became a very famous center of Buddhist religion.[12]

After a Buddhist phase the Hindu religion reasserted itself, so that at the time of the Muslim conquest (AD1000) the population was solidly Hindu.[12]

In 1023 Mahmood of Ghazni attacked Swat and crushed the last Buddhist King, Raja Gira in battle. The invasion of Mahmood of Ghazni is of special importance because of the introduction of Islam as well as changing the Chronology.[13]

The first Muslim masters of Swat were Pakhtun Dilazak tribes from south-east Afghanistan. These were later ousted by Swati Pakhtuns, who were succeeded in the sixteenth century by Yusufzai Pakhtuns. Both groups of Pakhtuns came from the Kabul valley.[12]

Later, when the King of Kabul Mirza Ulagh Beg attempted to assassinate the dominant chiefs of the Yusufzais they took refuge under the umbrella of the Swati Kings of Swat and Bajour. The whole area was dominated by the Swati/Jahangiri Sultans of Swat for centuries. According to H. G. Raverty, the Jahangiri Kings of Swat had ruled from Jalalabad to Jhelum. After more than two decades of guerrilla warfare, they were dispossessed by the Yusufzais.

[edit] Demographics

The population at the 1981 Census was 715,938, which had risen to 1,257,602 at the next Census in 1998. The main language of the area is Pakhto. The people of Swat are mainly Pakhtuns, Yusufzais, Kohistanis and Gujars. Some have very distinctive features[neutrality is disputed]. Most probably they are originated from the same tribe that roamed around the great trans-Himalayan mountain ranges thousands of years before, and now remained in some isolated pockets of the Himalayan mountain ranges.[citation needed]

The Dardic people of the Kalam region in northern Swat are known as Kohistanis and speak the Torwali and Kalami languages. There are also some Khowar speakers in the Kalam region. This is because before Kalam came under the rule of Swat it was a region tributary to Chitral the Kalamis paid a tribute of mountain ponies to the Mehtar of Chitral every year.

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