Mingora – The Panoramic Mingora City in Swat
Pakistan’s northern areas are the epitome of beauty, and no one can deny this. There are so many places and valleys that one would love to explore while visiting this country full of natural beauty. But of all the cities, Mingora is one of the most captivating places in this region. Once, this city was a major tourist destination, and Queen Elizabeth described it as the “Switzerland of the Former Empire.” But now, because of its difficult location in a volatile area of Pakistan, it has gotten much less tourist appeal.
Well, these things don’t make it any less serene and panoramic. If you visit the place after a tiring journey, you’ll know the effort was worth it. It is genuinely a heaven that should be explored and seen at least once.
Mingora is a panoramic city in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It’s the third largest city in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the 26th largest in Pakistan. It is the biggest city in the Malakand division and the hub of social, economic, and cultural activities.
Let’s have a detailed outlook of the city and what attractions are worth exploring here.
History of Mingora City
The city has a rich history, and one would be fascinated while learning about it. The city has long been colonized, as proved by the many Indo-Aryan graves and two horse skeletons found by Italian archeologists, and are believed to be dated somewhere between 1520 and 170 BC.
Excavators found another proof on the other side of the river Swat at Aligrama near the airport of Saidu Sharif. It was a point of Gandhara grave culture found by Italian archeologists and dated to 1000 BC.
Mingora also witnessed Buddhism’s arousal when the Gangetic plains monks arrived here. During this period, this region became a launching point for Emperor Ashoka, who made Buddhism stand firm in this area.
So many Buddhist carvings and remains have been found in the region in the Jambi river valley. Also, there was the largest Buddhist monastery and significant carvings of the footprints of Buddha.
After the Buddhist rule collapsed, the Hindu Shahis seized control of this area. Their rule again brought Hinduism to the region after years of Buddhist domination.
The Hindu rule collapsed with the Islamic rule of Mahmud Ghaznavi. In 2007, the city was captured by the Taliban, and Pakistan lost its control in this region; there was entirely a rule of Taliban who changed the traditions and culture. The then-leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Fazlullah, created a pirated FM channel in this region and encompassed the city.
The Taliban largely oppressed girls’ education, medical treatments, and freedom of expression, eventually becoming a challenge for locals. Mingora’s green square, previously the hub of cultural and social activities of this region, became the execution ground of the Taliban, where they used to hang the corpses of their opponents publicly.
However, after two years, in 2009, operation Raah e Raast brought Mingora again into Pakistan’s control.
It has a subtropical climate with an average annual temperature of 19 degrees and an annual precipitation of 897 mm.
The dry month is November, when there’s little to no rainfall; on the contrary, August is the wettest month with extreme rains. The average temperature in summer is 29 degrees which is in June, and the most fantastic month of the year is January, with a temperature of 7.6 degrees.
It snows during December and January but rarely reaches a point where all normal activities are hampered because of the snowfall.
Its weather is perfect for a visit throughout the year, but April and May are considered the best times to visit here because of the pleasant weather and blooming flowers in full bloom.
When to Visit Mingora?
The ideal time to visit depends on which weather you want to see. The hottest months are June and July, when the average temperature is 30 degrees.
However, the coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature becomes nearly 5 degrees. That’s the freezing weather, and mostly at night, the temperature falls below sub zero up to -15 degrees.
Still, the overall weather is relatively mild and warm compared to the upper regions of Swat. So the ideal time to visit is between March to May and between September to November.
Top Attractions in Mingora Swat
It is a stunning destination with numerous attractions you can visit while in the city. This region is known for its rich cultural heritage, scenic beauty, and natural resources. The city boasts some of the most iconic places, like the Swat River; let’s look at it in detail.
Here are some of the best areas to explore during your trip to the region:
1. Swat River
The Swat River is one of the most scenic rivers located north of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It comes from the glaciers of Hindukush and flows through the Kalaam valley, and joins the river in the region of Swat.
Swat river serves as the source of cultivating crops for the nearest regions, and this water is also used for drinking by the locals and residents.
Swat river has always been a major tourist attraction, and thousands of tourists visit this place to get fascinated by the beauty of this region. Moreover, more than six lakes flow from the Swat river, which adds to the beauty of this place.
2. Fiza Gatt Park
This park is located in Mingora, Swat, and is the largest recreational park on the bank of the Swat river at Fizagat. The place is known for its lush green grass, colorful flowers, mesmerizing views, and beautiful landscapes.
It was developed in 1984 and soon became a tourist spot. But during the 2010 floods, some park areas were damaged, which were restored in a project in June 2012. Once again, the park got revamped with cooperation from the Government of Japan in 2013.
The old name of Fizagat park was Qazagat, and the prominent feature of this park is the stream of freshwater river Swat that flows inside the park. Tourists can also enjoy a boat ride in the park, one of the most popular attractions.
3. Butkara Stupa
The Butkara stupa is an essential and ancient stupa near Mingora, Swat, and is believed to have been built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka.
The Stupa dates back to around the 3rd century BC, making it one of the oldest sites in Swat valley. It is a vast structure, and visitors can explore the ruins of this ancient Stupa.
Butkara Stupa was enlarged five times in different centuries, and it got encapsulated on the previous structure every time. This Stupa is now used as a tourist sight to visit in the city.
4. Swat Museum
The Swat museum, located on Saidu Sharif road at a distance of 1.9 km from the city center, is a historical museum that features Gandharan figurines depicting the life of Buddha.
Swat museum dates back to 1957, and it houses an impressive collection of Gandharan sculptures, coins, weapons, jewelry, and other regional artifacts. In addition, visitors can get a glimpse into the history of Swat Valley, which has existed since the 4th century BC.
The museum was conceived under the Italian Archeological and Wali of Swat to preserve his artifacts.
The museum got expanded later with the coordination of the Japanese government, but it got severely damaged by the 2005 earthquake. The museum got restored in 2011 and is open to tourists now.
5. Chena Shopping Market
The Chena Shopping Market is a busy shopping center located in the City. It is known as the ‘Little Singapore’ of Swat and attracts thousands of tourists worldwide who come to shop for local goods at excellent prices.
There are also plenty of souvenirs to buy for remembrance. You can shop for gifts for your friends and family and also make sure to buy a few things for yourself.
Which are the Best Things to Do in Mingora?
Mingora city, commonly known as Mingora Bazaar, is the biggest business hub in Swat valley. It’s considered the twin city of Saidu Sharif as both are adjacent at a small distance.
If you’re looking for exciting activities, there is plenty to choose from. From traditional sightseeing tours that include famous landmarks like the Swat River and Fiza Gatt Park, exploring the breathtaking Butkara Stupa, or getting lost in the Swat Museum – you can do it all here.
Other activities include:
- Exploring the Chena Shopping Market to buy local goods.
- Engaging in rafting and boating along the river.
- Visiting the various shrines that are located around the city.
It serves as the gateway and base station to the Swat valley. Most tourists land here through the Swat motorway, as the city lies in the southern part of the Swat valley.
How to Reach Mingora?
It is well connected with the rest of Pakistan by a network of roads and highways. From Islamabad, it usually takes only 3 hours via N5 and N-95.
One would travel through M-1 in Islamabad from the Srinagar highway for 22 minutes to reach here. Then follow M-1 and M-16 to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for 1 hr 52 minutes and finally get on the Bahrain road/N-95 to GT road in Mingora, Swat for another hour.
Best Hotel in Mingora Swat?
The best places to stay offer various accommodations to meet all budgets and needs.
Swat hotel is one of the most popular hotels in the area, with its affordable prices and excellent services. It also offers free Wi-Fi and onsite restaurant facilities.
Other top choices include:
- Sunrise Hotel.
- Swat Hills Hotel.
- Grand Holiday Hotel.
- Sarhad Hotel.
- Hotel Relax Cottage.
- Serena Swat Hotel.
- Hotel Intercon.
Islamabad to Mingora Distance?
Islamabad to Mingora distance is 233 km. It takes roughly 4 hours by car to cover this distance, depending on the traffic situation!
The most convenient route is to take the M-1 from Islamabad to Srinagar highway and then follow the M-1 and M-16 to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Mingora known for?
It is a significant tourist destination in Pakistan, especially for its natural beauty and historical attractions. It is known for its scenic Swat River, lush green valleys, ancient Buddhist monuments, including the Butkara Stupa and Swat Museum, and numerous shopping markets.
What did the Taliban do to Mingora?
In 2009, the Taliban took control of Mingora and imposed a harsh rule over its citizens. That included closing schools, banning music, forcing women to wear burqas, and punishing those who violated their rules. They also destroyed many of the ancient Buddhist monuments in the city.
Is Mingora the largest city in Swat Valley?
No, Mingora is not the largest city in Swat Valley; instead, it is the third largest, with the capital city in the region being Saidu Sharif. Despite this, it is still a central hub of activity in Swat Valley and attracts many local and foreign tourists yearly.
Mingora is a beautiful city located in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan. The town has been around since the 16th century. It is home to many ancient Buddhist monuments and an array of attractions, including the Swat River, Fiza Gatt Park, Butkara Stupa, and Swat Museum.
There are many things to do here, from exploring the ancient ruins of Swat Valley to shopping at the Chena Shopping Market.
There is also an array of activities for visitors, such as trekking, rafting, and fishing. So visit it and explore all that it has to offer!