About Swat and the Swat Valley
Swat (Pakhto: سوات) is a valley and an administrative district in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan located 160 km/100 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. It is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora. With high mountains, green meadows, and clear lakes, it is a place of great natural beauty that used to known as the "the Switzerland of Pakistan".
Swat has been inhabited for over two thousand years and was known in ancient times as the Udyana. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Udegram and Barikot; and by 305 BC, the region had become a part of the Mauryan Empire.
Buddhist heritage of Swat
Padmasambhava, one of the most famous Tibetan masters of the eighth century AD, and titled ‘the second Buddha' is reputed to have established the first buddhist monastery here. According to tradition, Padmasambhava was the son of Indrabhuti, king of Swat in the early eighth century AD. Swat was a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims. Buddhist tradition holds that Buddha himself came to Swat during his incarnation as Gautama Buddha and preached to the people here.
It is said that the Swat valley was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education.
Hindu Shahi Rulers and Sanskrit
Swat was ruled by the Hindu Shahi dynasty who built an extensive array of temples and other architectural buildings now in ruins. Hindu Shahi rulers built fortresses to guard and tax the commerce through this area. Their ruins can be seen in the hills of Swat: at Malakand pass at Swat's southern entrance.
Advent of Islam by Mahmud of Ghazni
In 1023 Mahmood of Ghazni attacked Swat, crushed the last Buddhist King, Raja Gira in battle and introduced Islam to the region.