Saidu Sharif, only two kilometers from here (Mingora), is the most modern city of Swat. It is linked with Mingora city in such a way that it becomes difficult to determine boundaries of both cites. Saidu Sharif and Mingora appear like twin cities.
In 1957, Mingora and Saidu Sharif were brought under the administration of one municipal committee. After merger of Swat (State) with Pakistan, Saidu Sharif was declared capital of Malakand Division in which apart from Swat, Buner, Shangla, Dir, Chitral, Malakand Agency and Bajaur Agency were also included. Due to its central position all offices of Swat district are established here.
A metaled road passing through Nowshera, Mardan and the Malakand Pass, covering a distance of 255 kilometers, reaches Saidu Sharif, whereas the distance of Peshawar from Swat is 172 kilometres. Another road from Gilgit and Bisham reaches Saidu Sharif. Flying coaches, buses and mini buses ply on these roads.
Saidu Sharif, an ancient and historical city, has seen many ups and downs. In the hay days of Buddhism, Saidu Sharif was known as Baligram. It is surrounded by mountains from three sides. It worked as a central link among the castle of Gira to the west, Panr (a beautiful village) to the east and Shirarai (another beautiful village). Once Saidu Sharif was known as Sadugan. In Pushto Sadugan is plural of Sadu (Monk). In the past a number of Buddhism followers were settled here and worships in caves. That is why, it became known as Sadugan which later on changed into Saidu.
In 1845, when famous spiritual head, Akhund Sahib of Swat (Abdul Ghafur nick name Saidu Baba) left Spal Bandai for Saidu Sharif and laid foundation of a mosque here, people began thinking it a sacred city. During his time Saidu dominated as a spiritual centre. His tomb is now in Saidu Sharif, which is a worth seeing place for everyone.
Saidu Sharif is surrounded by tall mountains from three sides while there is a plain on its northern side. This place is at the height of 3,500 feet from the sea level and road lead to Swat from here. A branch road leads to Marghzar along a stream.
Marghzar is situated at a distance of 13 kilometres from Saidu Sharif, which has extraordinary fame for its unique beauty. This beautiful place is important for tourists simply for the reason that it is nearer to Saidu Sharif and one can reach it easily the ‘White House’ here is especially worth seeing for visitors. The palace had remained the residence of the Founder of Swat in summer season. It has now been changed into a hotel.
To the north east of Saidu Sharif, encircled in mountains, is a beautiful place call Uqba. Its old name is Baringal. There exists a small beautiful mosque. Its high and grand minarets are witness to its spiritual status. The mosque was built by the founder of Swat. Big and beautiful slabs of white marble are used in its construction which have doubled its beauty. The nearby mountains of Uqba are suitable for tracking and camping. In Uqba, Badshah Sahib, the iron man of Swat is lying in eternal rest.
Going to Saidu Sharif and not visiting the shrine of Saidu Baba is an incomplete excursion. The Jahanzeb Post Graduate College, Wadudia Hall in front of it, where all political and cultural meetings are held, are worth seeing. Do not forget to visit Swat Serena Hotel. The office of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, Swat, is working in this hotel.
The population of Saidu Sharif consists of 15,000 persons. All facilities of city life are available here. There exist a big post office, telegraph and public call office and beautiful hotels.
(Note: This Article Was Published In Daily ‘The News’, On Tuesday, September 12,1995).