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The Lower Swat Valley in Swatmarker and Lower Dir Districts in Pakistanmarker is an area of important archeological sites.

The lower valley of the Swat Rivermarker has been occupied for the last 3000 years. The area between Chakdaramarker Bridge and Saidu Sharifmarker 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 Sharif.


Near the Chakdara Bridge there are ruins from the Hindu Shahi Period and stupas at Haibatgram, Top Dara and Landakai.

About 25 kilometres from Chakdara Bridge (About 20 kilometres before Saidu Sharif ), Birkot is the site of ancient town Bazira 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 Pass into Buner which further lead to Shabaz Garhi in Peshawar Valley.

Gumbat Stupa 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 Kanjar Kot, meaning Dancer’s Mansion. The 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.

Mount Elam, 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 Shingerdar Stupa(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 Carving on a cliff facing the road.. Further after 6 kilometres is the Gogdara Rock Carvings. These 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 AD.

During the Hindu Shahi period from 8th century to 10th century this was the regional capital of Swat. Ruins of Raja Gira’s Fort, 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

Butkara Stupa

One of the most important Buddhist shrines of Swat is Butkara Stupa near Saidu Sharif. This was built by the emperorAshoka 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

Mingoramarker 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

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