Military Report on Dir , Swat and Bajour (First Edition) was compiled by the Intelligence Branch , Division of the Chief of Staff, India, Shimla, in the year 1906. This report was compiled by Major A.C.M, Waterfield, M.V.O., D.A.Q.M.G. Further it covered the geography, communications, climates, resources, ethnography, history, administration, military and political aspects of Dir, Swat and Bajour areas. Those parts which are related to Swat are produced here for the interest of readers.Part 2 of this series is given below relating to the then communication/routes of Swat.
“… The total distance from Khar in Lower Swat to the village of Utrot (Utror) in Swat Kohistan is 99 miles. The route is practicable for camel transport as far as Mingaora(Mingora) in Upper Swat 30 miles from Khar, or in winter, when the river is low, as far as Chowarai (Now Madyan), 65 miles, and thence for mule transport only. The path leaves the main Chitral road at the Amandara kotal between Khar and Chakdara. After the large village of Thana, the Landakai spur, which forms the boundary between Upper and Lower Swat, comes down to the river leaving only a narrow causeway between it and the river. The path keeps between the irrigated rice fields on the north and the unirrigated upland cultivation on the south. Before mingaora, the largest village in Upper Swat, is reached there are several places similar to the Landakai causeway where spurs come down from the south on to the river or irrigated land and where the road is either carried round the foot of the spurs by narrow stone causeways or leads over these spurs which are in all cases negotiable by infantry. In winter when the river is low there would be no difficulty in negotiating these causeways and alternative tracks could be made over the rice-fields which are not at this season irrigated. During the summer floods, however, these causeways are often under Water and become damaged, in which case it would be necessary to take the alternative tracks over the spurs. The side valleys from the south open out where they join the main valley forming broad alluvial fans, where, in many places, ample space is to be found above the irrigated land for camping grounds for a force of one or two brigades. Water, fuel and fodder are plentiful. At Mingaora(Mingora) a spur from the Dosiri peak impinges on the river. In winter the path is carried round the foot of this spur and for some distance up the dry river-bed, but in summer it is necessary to cross this spur by the Shamelai pass which lies about 3 miles cast of, and is 1,000 feet above, Mingaora (Mingora). This path is practicable for mules but would require to be improved. Before reaching Khwaja Kilai, the second stage from Mingaora (Mingora), the path is carried round a spur on a causeway above rice-fields similar to those passed between Landakai and Mingaora (Mingora). Mingaora(Mingora) was the furthest place reached by our troops in August 1897 and information regarding this route beyond Khwaja Kilai is from a reconnaissance made by a native soldier. AS far as Chowarai (Madyan), 34 miles or 4 stages beyond Mingaora, the route presents no difficulty, the valley is about 2 miles wide with rice cultivation along the river. Beyond Chowarai (Madyan) the character of the valley changes, it becomes much narrower and more wooded, rice cultivation ceases and the track becomes much rougher. At Barannial (Now Bahrain), 5 miles beyond Chowarai (Madyan), the boundary between Upper Swat and Swat Kohistan is reached and the Yusafzai tribes give place to the alien non-Pathans, Garhwis, Torwals and Gujars. From this point northwards the river runs through a narrow gorge and the path crosses to the right bank by a wooden bridge 75 feet long and 5 feet wide, and, though rough, continues to be passable for mules. The hillsides become much wooded. Water, fuel and grass are plentiful.
Twenty miles, 2 stages, beyond Barannial (Bahrain) the village of Kalam is reached. It is situated in an open plain, described by the native reconnoiter as being as wide as the Lower Swat valley about Khar, at an elevation of 6,500 feet at the junction of the Ushu and Gabral valleys from the north-east and north-west, respectively. These streams here unite and form the Swat river. A track continues to ascend the Gabral or more westerly valley, and in 9 miles Utrot (Utror), 7,300 feet, the largest village of the Kohistan, is reached. Here there is an open plain some 3 miles in length by 2 mile wide very little of which is under cultivation. It is said to be used by the inhabitants as a race course and must resemble the murgs or upland meadows which are to be found in Kashmir and have a very similar summer climate. There would be ample space here for a large camp or summer quarter for troops; water and fuel is abundant.”
Military Report on Dir , Swat and Bajour (First Edition), Intelligence Branch , Division of the Chief of Staff, India, Shimla (1906), Page 6-7.
TO BE CONTINUED…