Editor ChoiceSwat History

‘The Yusufzai State of Swat’ By Major. W. R. Hay (Part 8)

The Swat valley is one of the beauty spots of northern India, rivaling even Kashmir. Fed from numerous sources amongst the snows of the Kohistan the Swat river cleaves its way through forest-clad slopes down to Paiti (Now Fateh Pur), where the valley begins to broaden out until it attains a width in places of 3 or 4 miles. The river also grows wider and splits here and there into numerous channels enclosing fertile islands. It is difficult to say whether the valley is more beautiful in the early autumn when the full river winds its way through vivid rice-fields and the hill-slopes are green after the summer rains, or at the beginning of spring, when the more slender stream laces the valley with the deepest blue, and the young wheat and barley crops are full of pink-and-white tulips and blue lilies, and the mustard-fields light up the skirt of the hills with a blaze of yellow, while every turn presents a new vista of snow-clad peaks.

The side valleys too are full of charm. Those on the left bank are mostly short and steep with brooks that hurtle down through a tangle of scrub, past narrow terraced fields and occasional clumps of lofty chinars, while those on the right bank are larger and more open. Two of the latter call for special mention. The first of these is the Harnawai valley, which is upwards of 20 miles long and is the home of two important sections, the Shamzai and Sebujni. It is usually referred to by the inhabitants of the main valley as Bar (Upper) Swat. The Harnawai stream has its sources in mountains 13,000 feet high and supplies sufficient water for extensive cultivation. The second valley, which is known as Nikpi Khel from the section which inhabits it, is an open expanse of undulating country drained by several converging watercourses. Cultivation is largely dependent upon rain, and the people in consequence are not so prone to malaria and are of better physique than the rest of the inhabitants of the Swat valley.

In the Kohistan I have only been on the ground as far as Baranial, but in May 1933 I was privileged to fly over the top of the highest peak, Mankial Tsukai, which is 18,750 feet. The Wali was a passenger in the same flight. The whole country is a maze of peaks and ridges intersected by deep forest-clad valleys.

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