Swat, the land of enchanting beauty is a mesmerizing and peaceful valley situated in the Hindukush mountain range. Its majestic beauty attracts tourists from all over the world who enjoys the beauty, tranquility and peaceful environment of the valley. Any tourist who visits Pakistan never returns without visiting Swat.

History of Swat goes back around 2000 years and the region has witnessed many rulers, cultures, civilizations & religions. Alexander the Great came to Aornos (present day Swat Valley) where the last siege of his famous campaign in this part of the world took place in the winter of 327 – 326 BC. He fought for six months with Raja Arnos of that time and was fatally injured in a battle.

Sultan Mehmood Ghaznavi arrived in Swat and conquered the entire valley in the 11th Century AD. He assigned the task of defeating Raja Geera to one of his Generals Pir Khushal. The Raja was killed while escaping the fortress. Pir Khushal, too, was martyred in this battle. His mausoleum is located in Odigram Swat.

Swat Valley remained under the control of Dalzaks and Swatis. Consequently, Yousafzai from Afghanistan (Kabul) captured Swat through Bajaur and Dir.

Zaheer-ud-din Babar observed the rising power of the Yousafzai in the valley and sensed a grave threat from them. He ordered his military to attack the Yousafzai force. The then Head of Yousafzai, Malak Ahmad and his advisor confined themselves in the fortress and Mora Mountains. Babar brutally failed to break into the fortress and therefore offered a treaty to Malak Ahmad as his main aim was to invade the entire India which seems impossible without the active support and help of Yousafzai.

In 1555, Man Singh attacked the Yousafzais with an army of fifteen thousand soldiers but faced defeat. In 1787, Raja Tordal camped at Attock Fort and prepared for a battle with the Yousafzais but ultimately had to cease fighting and sign a treaty.

In the 1800s, British observed the significant strategic value of the Swat Valley and in the year 1863, they attempted to crush the freedom fighters in Buner (one of the districts of Swat). The people fought bravely and defended their land by defeating British soldiers at Ambela. After a few years, in 1897, the tribesmen of Swat under the command of Swat Sartor Faqir won the battle against Britishers and stopped them from entering Swat.

However, the Swat valley witnessed many wars and some political rivalries through the ages. Miangul Abdul Wadood brought many social, economic and political changes in the valley. In 1949, he handed over Swat’s government to his son Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb.

Jahanzeb tried his best to improve the system of Swat state in conformity with the requirements of modern times. He improved the fields of communication, Education and Health. He promoted Tourism in the area by holding fairs on Eid festivals. The princely state of Swat was merged into the provincial setup through a presidential ordinance issued by the then military ruler, General Yahya Khan on 29th July, 1969.

The valley saw a short Taliban rule in 2007 followed by a military operation which was able to evict Taliban and return normalcy to the region. Tourism was badly affected due to terrorism. However, the situation now has significantly improved and the tourism has returned to the area. Current government is endeavoring hard to develop tourism as an industry and has focused its efforts to develop Swat as a tourist hub with requisite facilities. The valley saw gradual improvement in tourism on yearly basis since last five years. However, this year tourism has declined sharply due to corona pandemic.

About the author

Sabeen Arshad

Sabeen Arshad

Leave a Comment