MINGORA: People are not wrong when they call Swat Valley the Switzerland of Asia as similarities between the two, in terms of their natural beauty, are remarkable. As described by tourists and locals alike, Swat Valley is known for its majestic forests and magical green meadows.
In the north of Kalam, Mahodand waterfall welcomes the multitude of tourists as they begin their journey towards Mingora. On their way, another scenic waterfall known as Jarogo in Chatekal Valley of Matta tehsil greets them. It is 55 kilometres from Mingora in the northwest and makes the journey for tourists all the more memorable.
In between the green mountainous area of Shingrai, or Shingrai Dand as locals pronounce it, lies one of the longest and most picturesque waterfalls in the world. The waterfall is not popularly marketed and advertised thanks to the absence of a tourism and development industry.
This stunning, yet unpopular, waterfall is located nine kilometres from Manglor and around 18 kilometres northeast of Mingora.
The drive to the lake takes about 40 minutes from the main city. The water flows down over a vertical series of drops in the course of a river and is about 10,000 feet above sea level. It is 70 feet in diameter and about 30 feet in height.
The tourists have to cross miles of the area on foot in order to capture the unmatched beauty of this waterfall. People make their way to Mingora city and then start their journey towards the waterfall—a walk of nine kilometres.
Even the narrow and dilapidated roads do not demotivate them from their journey.
A considerably large number of local and foreign tourists can be seen from March till October at the Shingrai waterfall on the weekends. The place has remained hidden as it is surrounded by mountains. Locals believe the lake is quite deep and may result in drowning, but people still manage to enjoy a swim in the chilled water during hot summers.
The thick forests surrounding the lake are rich with tall trees and flowers. The flowing water of this lake is part of a course that is connected from different rivers and streams. The water level usually rises in midsummer as glaciers melt following the heat. People prefer to stay away during the period as melting glaciers make swimming and other activities more difficult.
“More tourists will visit the site to further explore the unseen waterfall if the government constructs a solid road and provides proper resting areas,” Manglor union council nazim Sarwar Khan tells The Express Tribune reporter.
He also says that there is only one unpaved road towards the waterfall even though it is just a few miles from Mingora. These logistical and transportation hurdles dissuade people from visiting the area. Lastly, the absence of sitting areas and other facilities also makes it difficult for tourists to comfortably spend their time in the valley. If these facilities are provided, Shingrai waterfall will gather larger crowds.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2016.