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Town & Places - Swat


Of the charmed land of Swat, Khushhal Khan Khattak thus:

Swat is meant to give kings gladness,
Every place in it befits a prince...

Not surprisingly even in ancient times it was known as Udhiyana / "Garden", as recorded in Hindu epics. On the banks of the Swat River or Suvasta, records Rg Veda, the Hindu scripture, was a battle fought and won in 1700 B.C. by invading Aryans. The Swat River is formed by the junction, at Kalam in Swat Kohistan, of the Gabral and the Ushu rivers. From here it flows southwards for about sixty-eight miles until it joins the Panjkora. Together they appear in the Peshawar Valley. Swat, inhabited during the Stone Age was, and is, prized for its fertility and health-enhancing qualities. Spread over 10,360 sq. kms, at an elevation of 975m, this mountainous enclave, with lush, green valleys, snow-fed lakes and streams and abundant fruit orchards, remains amongst the most endearing places in the country.

Alexander of Macedon fought four battles, met severe resistance and suffered two arrow wounds - in the shoulder and ankle-when he passed in 326 B.C. through this region known as Souastos or Souastene in Greek. His successor Seleucus, unable to hold the territories of Kunar, Bajaur, Buner and Swat surrendred them to Chandragupta Maurya twenty years later.8 During the Maurya dynasty Buddhism spread to, and flourished in, Swat for a millennium. Once it had as many as 1,400 Buddhist monasteries. It was a flourishing centre of Gandhara civilization in the fifth and sixth centuries when the Chinese pilgrims Hiuen-Tsang and FaHien journeyed to these parts. Ruins of Buddhist stupas and monasteries are still scattered across this undulating expanse.

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