Skiing Returns to Malam Jabba

The recreational activity of snow tubing is becoming popular in Malam Jabba as it has become a source of income for the local people. There was a time, according to the residents of Malam Jabba, when they would prefer to stay at home during snow period as they had nothing to do but to pass time around the fire telling stories to each other.
However, now snow tubing has become a source of income for the residents of the country’s only ski resort. The local people have to buy a tube and come to the ski slope and start earning by giving their tube at Rs20 for a session of a down ride. “We charge Rs20 for one session that is a ride from half of the slope to the bottom. Sometimes tourists take it for hours for which there are no specific rates but have to bargain,” said Ali Khan, who was pulling his tube behind and motivating tourists to have fun by riding his tube down the hill.
He told Dawn that he earned an average of Rs1,000 daily. He was happy to have a source of income.
The recreational activity has become a source of income for local people The operators usually tie a rope to their tubes to control their speed during sliding down to avoid any unpleasant incident.
“Although no skill or training is needed for tubing on snow covered hill yet we tie a rope to the tube and run with the tourist during descending to control the speed and direction,” said Ikram, a young tube owner. He added that they earned more on Fridays and Sundays from December to March. “Flow of tourists remains high in the month of March and we enjoy it as we earn a lot in this month,” he said.
Not only children and youth but elderly people also like snow tubing. “Children and women take great interest in tubing and when they slide down they scream. When they complete a session, they demand more. The more sessions they have the more we earn,” said Nek Mohammad, a fifth grader holding a tube.
He comes to the slope after school time. About 100 families, according to local sources, are directly connected with snow tubing and it is a major source of livelihood for them. For those tourists, who cannot ski, snow tubing is an experience to have fun of winter recreation. “We tried to do skiing but failed as skiing needs proper training. We saw many young boys holding tubes. After tubing one session we found it a great fun so we made many rounds and enjoyed it,” said Bushra Abbas, a tourist from Lahore, who came to enjoy snow and winter sports with her family. Sometimes enthusiastic youth make races on tubing to add thrill to the fun.

Usho Valley Sawat

Usho (also spelled Ushu) is a hill station in the north east of Kalam valley. It is situated at a distance of 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) from Kalam and 123 kilometers (76 mi) km from Saidu Sharif at the height of 2,300 metres (7,550 feet). It is accessible through a non metalled road from Kalam by jeeps only.


2070 m high and 100 km from Mingora, it was the centre of an independent state in the 19th century. It was later taken by Chitral then given to Swat after partition.Kalam, 29 kilometres (18 mi) from Bahrain and about 2,000 metres (6,800 feet) above sea level, the valley opens out, providing rooms for a small but fertile plateau above the river. In Kalam the Ushu and Utrot rivers join to form the Swat river. Here, the metalled road ends and shingle road leads to the Ushu and Utrot valleys. From Matiltan one gets a breath-taking view of the snow-capped Mount Falaksir 5918 metres (19,415 ft.), and another unnamed peak 6096 metres (20,000 ft.) high.


A quarter of an hour past Madyan, the road squeezes through Behrain. Tourists stop to shop or have a look around for beautiful carved wood chairs and tables and other handicrafts. Behrainis are a mix of Pashtuns and Kohistanis (Torwali). Behrain is ten kilometres north of Madyan and only slightly higher, at about 1,400 metres (4,500 feet). It is another popular riverside tourist resort, with bazaars worth exploring for their handicrafts.

Some of the houses have carved wooden doors, pillars and balconies. These show a remarkable variety of decorative motifs, including floral scrolls and bands of ornamental diaper patterns almost identical to those seen on Buddhist shrines and quite different from the usual Muslim designs. Because of intersection of two rivers this place is said to be call Bahrain. (intersection of two Rivers)


By the time you reach this small town at 1320 m and about 60 km from Mingora, the mountains have closed in and the valley is almost snug. Here one senses why Swat is so popular among the tourists. There are a lot of embroidered shawls in the Bazars of Madyan.At 1,321 metres (4,335 feet) above sea level,but it is a larger town and has many hotels in all price ranges and some good tourist shopping. Antique and modern shawls, traditional embroidery, tribal jewellery, carved wood and antique or reproduced coins are sold along the main street. 

This is the last Swati village, offering interesting two-and three-day walks up to the mountain villages… ask in the bazaar in Muambar Khan’s shop for a guide. North of Madyan is Swat Kohistan where walking is not recommended without an armed guard. The central mosque at Madyan has carved wooden pillars with elegant scroll capitals, and its mud-plastered west wall is covered with relief designs in floral motifs. Both bespeak the Swati’s love of decoration. 

Swat Museum

Swat Museum is on the east side of the street, halfway between Mingora and Saidu. Japanese aid has given a facelift to its seven galleries which now contain an excellent collection of Gandhara sculptures taken from some of the Buddhist sites in Swat, rearranged and labelled to illustrate the Buddha’s life story.

Terracotta figurines and utensils, beads, precious stones, coins, weapons and various metal objects illustrate daily life in Gandhara. The ethnographic section displays the finest examples of local embroidery, carved wood and tribal jewellery. For the last three years the museum is occupied by Pakistan army and it is not known when they would be leaving it.


Miandam is a small summer resort ten kilometres (six miles) up a steep side valley and 56 kilometers (35 mi) from Saidu Sharif, making it an hour’s drive. The metalled road passes small villages stacked up the hillside, the roofs of one row of houses forming the street for the row of houses above. Tiny terraced fields march up the hillside right to the top. Miandam is a good place for walkers. Paths follow the stream, past houses with beehives set into the walls and good-luck charms whitewashed around the doors. In the graveyards are carved wooden grave posts with floral designs, like those used by Buddhists 1,000 years ago.