Swat History


Major Henry George Raverty’s brief work with the title, ‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta in the year 1862.  That work of Major Raverty is produced here on this website for the interest of the readers and research scholars. Raverty wrote: (PART 21)

From the writings of Khushhal Khan, the renowned chief of the Khattaks, in the reign of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb his son, we find that the descendants of Khan Kachu were several times dispersed; hence their present comparative diminution of power, and smallness of territory, and want of worldly goods.

The most celebrated and powerful chiefs of Suwat, indeed the two families who exercise the chief  power over the whole valley, are those of Tarnah, already mentioned, and the chief just named; otherwise all Afghans are Khans, particularly when from home, or on their travels. My business here, too, as you are aware, lay more with Mullas; and I endeavoured to avoid the chiefs as much as possible. At Allah-ddandd, however, Suhbat Khan, son of Hukamat Khan, Sher Dil Khan’s brother, has also a portion of the Rarrnizi country; but he is four or five years older than his nephew, who is the chief of this branch of the Yusufzi tribe.

The tomb of Khan Kachu is at Allah-ddandd, also that of the famous Malik Ahmad, who took so prominent a part in the affairs of the Yusufzis, from the time of their being expelled from Kabul by Mir Ulagh Beg, grandson of Timur-i-lang, up to the time of their conquest of Suwat and Panjkorah, and other districts about Peshawar, which some have stated to have been theirs, already in Alexander’s day.  I could not discover any thing about Shaykh Mali, or his descendants. I here heard, however, that the hook I was in search of, and for which I had chiefly undertaken this journey—“ The History of the Conquest of Suwat,” by Shaykh Mali—was in the possession of Mi-an Ghulam Muhammad of Tsanakott, and that whenever there is any dispute between families, respecting the right to lands, they get the book, which contains an account of the distribution of the whole of Suwat by the Shaykh and Malik Ahmad, at the conquest ; and as the book shows they agree to without further dispute. I was quite elated at this piece of good news, and wished to set out forthwith for Lower Suwat; but those who accompanied me did not agree, as they had no acquaintances there; and, moreover, that part of the country was in a disturbed state. I urged upon them that we had but eight or nine miles remaining, which we could get over in a few hours; but, all I could do, I could not induce them to go. Having no help for it, I dismissed the Suwatis who had accompanied us so far, and set out with Nek Muhammad, the confidential clansman whom the Khan Sahib left with me, and proceeded towards Butt Khel, and thence passed on to the village of Sliair. Here I took counsel of my trusty companion, and proposed that we should proceed alone, to Tsana-kott. He said he would go wherever I wished, but he had one thing to mention, and that was, as follows. “In the first place, we have no excuse to make for this journey, if obstructed or annoyed. We could not state that we are going to pay our respects to the Akhund, or that we are students going to read with some teacher in his vicinity. Here such excuses are not likely to be listened to, and trading would be the only plea available; whilst, at the same time, we have no goods to trade with. The best way to put off this new journey for another opportunity, when the Khan Sahib has promised to accompany you for a period of two months, and then we can see all the country.” This advice of my companion was sound, and I acted accordingly; so we set out on our return to Peshawar by the Mala-kand Pass.

This Pass is much less difficult than that of Morah, by which we entered Suwat. About half way up the northern side of the Pass there is a spring of cool and pure water, round which the spikenard plants flourish most luxuriantly; indeed, throughout Suwat, wherever there were springs or rivulets, I observed they were surrounded by these beautiful plants. The mountains round this part of Suwat are, also, more densely wooded, than about the Morey Pass, with forests of pine and zaitun or wild olive. On the summit of the Pass there is a large open plain, and here there are several kandahs or trenches in which a number of bodies have been buried. I have been informed, that there are fissures in many parts of these kandahs, where hundreds of sculls may be seen, as also arrows, swords, knives, &c. It would appear that some great battle had been fought here when the Yusufzis first invaded the country, and that the slain were buried on the field of battle; and what is more natural than to suppose that the people took post in the Malakand Pass, to resist the invaders? (In foot note Raverty wrote that, “The history of the Yusufzais and the account of the conquest of Suwat, I have found in a work in the Library of the India House, written however in a most strange manner, in Pushtu and Persian. The author was an Afghan; and he goes on to relate in Persian, and then all at once breaks into Pushto and vice versa). On the southern side there are no rivulets; and no water is procurable, save from two wells which have been dug between the village of Dar-gaey and the foot of the Pass. Near one of these wells there is another road, apparently very ancient, over Malakand, the whole of which to within a short distance of the summit, is built up with slabs of stone and lime; but like that of Khandallah, between Bombay and Poonah, it has many turnings and zig-zags, and thus appears to have been scientifically designed; but although it is the shortest way, with all its turnings, the Afghans prefer using the other road.

Reference (Source Details):

‘An account of Upper and Lower Suwat, and the Kohistan, to the source of the Suwat River; with an account of the tribes inhabiting those valleys’  was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal  (Volume XXXI, No.I. To V. 1862) Calcutta, pages 259-261



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