Lower Swat Valley in Swat and Lower Dir Districts in Pakistan is an area
of important archeological sites.
valley of the Swat
River has been occupied for the last 3000 years.
between Chakdara Bridge and
Sharif is littered with the remains of pre historic
Aryan's Gandhara grave culture, Buddhist shrines and buildings of the Shahi Period.
These archaeological sites are
concentrated around three towns: Birkot, Udegram and Saidu
Near the Chakdara Bridge there are ruins from the Hindu Shahi
Period and stupas at Haibatgram
About 25 kilometres from Chakdara Bridge (About 20 kilometres
before Saidu Sharif ), Birkot is the site of ancient town
sacked by Alexander
in 326 BC. This town is
situated on ancient route on the River Swat from Nawa Pass. Here
ancient route take a turn to south through Karakar
into Buner which further lead to Shabaz Garhi in
is situated 9 kilometres south of
Birkot (locally known as Barikot) in the Kandag Valley. This is one
of the best preserved stupas of Swat. It consists of a cell of
about 12feet square with windows. It is surrounded on all sides by
a narrow passage intended to walk around sacred images while
worshipping. Before Gumbat is a large building known as
, meaning Dancer’s Mansion
place is beautiful but it is nor advisable to walk there without
the help of locals. From the end of the road to the stupa you need
to walk about 30 minutes (at least). Besides the remains of the
stupa, there are some remains of the monastery. Nothing has been
done so far to preserve the site, but the stupa itself is in a
rather good condition.
, 2811 meter High Mountain is considered
sacred since ancient times. In the valley of Amluk-Dara near the
foot of Mount Ilam is the ruin of a stupa.
Three kilometres from Barikot towards Saidu Sharif is
(on your right hand side). You can
easily access up to the stupa by car. The site is close to the road
and safe. 1.5 kilometres from Shingerdar is a large Buddha
on a cliff facing the road.. Further after 6
kilometres is the Gogdara Rock Carvings
3000 years old engraving consist of different animals. There are
some carvings that show people driving two-wheeled war chariots.
These carvings were probably works of ancient Aryans. On the same
rock there are some Buddhist carvings.
Udegram is located 8 kilometres from Saidu Sharif. Aurel Stein
identified this with Ora
, a city where
Alexander fought one of his battles. Italians excavated this site
in 1950’s. This site was occupied from 1000 BC to 14th century
During the Hindu Shahi period from 8th century to 10th century this
was the regional capital of Swat. Ruins of Raja Gira’s
, the last Hindu ruler were excavated by the Italians
in 1950’s. The first mosque built in Swat was excavated in 1985
below the Hindu Shahi Fort in 1985. Barikot is a very nice place,
surround by mountains and very friendly people
One of the most important Buddhist shrines of Swat is
near Saidu Sharif. This was built by
in 2nd century BC. It was
enlarged many times. In 1955 it was excavated by Italians. Most of
the stone carvings are now displayed in the museum around the
world. Stupa was repaired last time in 8th century than it was
abandoned and allowed to crumble.
Sites around Mingora
Mingora is one of
the most important town of the Swat Valley.
It is situated
2km from Saidu Sharif. On the other side of River Swat near Mingora
Airport a site of Gandhara Grave Culture
was discovered by
Italians at Aligrama.
The site was dated to 1000
BC.Sites are known as "Butkara I" (easily accessible, small fee)
and Butkara II (an excavation lost in the hills and harder to find,
free access). Both sites are safe.
Near Mingora in Jambill River Valley a lot of Buddhist remains and
carvings are found. At Panr stupa and monastery of 1st AD century
had been excavated. At Loebanr and Matalai, Italians archaeologist
unearth 475 Aryan graves dated 1700 BC.
For sites locations see map of Ghandhara