Buddhist heritage in Sawat
Although it is generally accepted that Tantric Buddhism first developed in Swat under King Indrabhuti, there is an old and well-known scholarly dispute as to whether Uddiyana was in the Swat valley, Orissa or some other place. Padmasambhava (flourished eighth century AD), also called Guru Rimpoche, Tibetan Slob-dpon (teacher), or Padma ‘byung-gnas (lotus born), semi-legendary Indian Buddhist mystic who introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet was, according to tradition, native from Uddiyana. He is revered as the second Buddha in Tibet. Padmasambhava is said to be the son of Indrabhuti, king of Swat in the early eighth century AD and one of the original Siddhas. Indrabhuti’s sister, Lakshminkaradevi, is also said being an accomplished siddha of the 9th century AD. Ancient Gandhara, the valley of Pekhawar, with the adjacent hilly regions of Swat and Buner, Dir and Bajaur was one of the earliest centers of Buddhist religion and culture following the reign of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, in the third century BC. The name Gandhara first occurs in the Rigveda which is usually identified with the region
Buddha heritage in the Swat Valley
The Swat museum has acquired footprints of the Buddha, which were originally placed for devotion in the sacred Swat valley. When the Buddha ascended, relics (personal items, body parts, ashes etc.) were distributed to seven kings, who built stupas over them for veneration. The Harmarajika stupa (Taxila) and Butkarha (Swat) stupa at Jamal Garha were among the earliest Gandhara stupas. These were erected on the orders of King Ashoka and contained the genuine relics of the historic Buddha. The Gandhara school is credited with the first representations of the Buddha in human form, rather symbolically as the wheel of the law, the tree, etc.
As Buddhist art developed and spread outside Gandhara, Gandharan styles were imitated. In China the Gandhara style was imitated in bronze images, with gradual changes in the features of these images over the passage of time. Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is celebrated throughout the Buddhist world as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. Swat was a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims. Buddhist tradition holds that Buddha himself came to Swat during his incarnation as Gautama Buddha and preached to the people here.
It is said that the Swat valley was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. Archaeologists now know of more than 400 Buddhist sites covering an area of 160 km2 in Swat valley alone. Among the important excavations of Buddhist sites in Swat an important one is Butkarha-I, containing original relics of the Buddha. A stone carved statues of Buddha, are still existent in the village Ghalegay and Jehanabad Manglawar. There is also a big stupa in Shingardar Ghalegay and other ones are located in Amlukdara near Barikot and Shnasha stupa near Batora village.