ISLAMABAD HunzaNews,24-Feb-2016 – At times called the Switzerland of Pakistan alongside such other valleys as Kaghan or Hunza, the nerve-soothing Valley of Swat has a host of tourist-friendly spots in its sprawling bosom some known or some not so known.
But overall the Valley cries for attention to rebuild its infrastructure for its residents (or for visitors alike), destroyed in the wake of militancy or during the devastating floods of July 2010.
The River Swat, stemming from the mountainous Ushu rage and criss-crossing the Valley of Swat embellishes its God-gifted beauty.
The rich green environment of the Valley is a treat to watch and behold.
The rather obscure tourist sites of the Valley include Marghazar, 16 km away from Saidu Sharif, famous for its “Sufed Mahal,” the white marble palace of the former Wali (ruler) of Swat and even Malam Jabba, the largest ski resort of the country.
Among other such spots is Miandam, a small summer resort and a Valley 56kilometers from Saidu Sharif, Madyan, a small town at 1320 m and about 60 km from Mingora which is 4,335 feet above the sea level.
Antique and modern shawls, traditional embroidery, tribal jewellery, carved wood and antique or reproduced coins are sold along the main street.
Among the well-places is Bahrain, a quarter of an hour past Madyan.
Ten kilometres north of Madyan, the road squeezes through Bahrain.
Tourists usually stop to shop or have a look around for beautiful carved wood chairs and tables and other handicraft.
The Valley is upto the boundary of Kalam which is another popular riverside tourist resort, with bazaars worth exploring for their handicrafts.
Kalam is 100 kilometres from Mingora and 29 kilometres from Bahrain.
The Valley opens out into a small but fertile plateau on the bank of the river.
In Kalam the Ushu and Utrot rivers join the Swat River.
Mateltan, Utror, Ghabral,Mahodand are also famous tourist spots besides Birkot, Butkara Stupa, Gabral, Gumbat Stupa, Kabal, Khawazakhela, Udi Gram, Ushu, Utrot.
The lakes such as Pari Lake, Spin Khwar Lake (White Stream), Kundol Lake, Bashigram Lake, and Daral Lake are also famous for its beauty.
Manager Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP), Zara Alam, said, “The Corporation has four ongoing developmental schemes in Swat region including rehabilitation of Bahrain Park, acquisition of land for Rest Houses at Saulatan & Gabeen Jaba, Tehsil Matta, establishment of picnic spots for tourist facilitation at suitable places in Malam Jabba,” she added.
The Manager Media said, for the establishment of walking & jeep-able tracks and tourists camps in KPK, the TCKP has decided to introduce camping pods in the province which would later be extended to other parts of country.
The reconstruction and repairing work on damaged resort and chairlift of Malam Jabba is also in full swing, she added.
But the destroyed building of schools, hotels, shops, houses, and hospitals on the roadside affected by militancy tell a sorry tale about the infrastructure of the area as most of these buildings are neither rebuilt nor repaired.
Devastating floods in July 2010 also affected the area badly, destroying over 1500 houses, 43 hotels, hundreds of shops, thousands acres of cultivable land and pastures.
The floods washed out all the link bridges, the main road of a distance of over 70 km and the side link roads.
“The area has not been given due importance as due to non-availability of road infrastructure, electricity and water, the tourists are facing a lot of problems during their stay,” said Muhammad Sharif Khan, the owner of Dimsun restaurant in Bahrain, while emphasising what importance these amenities carry for people of the area.
Hashim Khan, the manager of Insaf Restaurant in Madyan also had similar feelings when he said, “Business of restaurants was affected due to militancy and military operation as decline of foreign tourists has been witnessed in the area.
Now after restoration of peace, government needs to focus on developmental work such as building new picnic parks and roads, he added.
A tourist in Miandam, Sajjad Khan said, “It is our national responsibility to preserve the natural beauty of the region.
He urged the provincial government of PTI to focus on development of KP’s tourism sector.
As compared to previous years after restoring peace to the region, last year, there was a greater flow of domestic tourists in the area, he added.