For some videos of Swat, including ones that capture some rivers/watery areas of Swat, please click here and here (this one is specifically of the Kanju bridge). Otherwise, enjoy the following photos.
Also, some of the pics aren't clear because they're taken from a distance and/or from a moving car. There are several reasons for this, among them: it's difficult for a female to take pictures (imagine taking pictures covered from head to toe, with your face covered as well); and most of the following photos are of rivers and other bodies of water that are currently dangerous due to fallen bridges--and reconstruction is taking forever to be complete, and so there's a ton of traffic on these bridges, which means you can't just get out of your car and walk across the bridge just for photos. Basically, forgive the bad quality of some of the pics!
Oh, and lemme just say that I actually didn't take photos of the rivers in other Swati villages/towns, like Dadahara, Khwazakhela, and Kabal (in Kabal, I didn't get to go out much; in Dadahara, I was with family friends, not with family or friends, so we didn't stop by the rivers to enjoy the cool breeze and scenery; in Khwazakhela, we were only passing by it on our way to and from Baghderai (pictures below) so didn't stop for pics or enjoyment. I do have videos of the Khwazakhela bazaars and some rivers, though, just no pics), or even Madyan/Bahrain/Kalaam! The day we'd planned to go to Madyan, my mother's aunt passed away--God bless her soul--and so we didn't go anywhere for the next three days. Ka khairee, next time I go to Swat, it'll be for a much longer period of time, so I'll go all over ... or maybe this time I'll just relax and actually talk to people, no? I will be sure to let you know whatever I decide then (lol?).
The point is: I hope you enjoy the following - and learn something from them about the valley called Swat, also commonly referred to as Heaven on Earth or the Switzerland of South Asia. I'm gonna go with the Heaven on earth title, 'cause I don't think Swat can be compared to any other part of the world, not in beauty, not in hospitality, not in love, ... not in destruction! And, yes, it's still as beautiful as ever despite the recent war there. May it live forever and forever! Aameen.
|Da Hazaare Pul (Hazara Bridge - Hazara is the name of a village in Swat)|
About the picture to the left: My maternal aunts had come to our village to welcome us, and when they were going back, I decided to go with them. It was at least 20 of us in one sozakey (an automobile the picture of which I'll show in another blog post soon, ka khairee), and so on our way, hagha sozakey penchar sho! (It got a flat tire, haaaa haaaa!) And it stopped working right in front of this bridge, so we decided to take a walk and I took this picture. It was my first one in Swat - and this was after having been in Swat for a few hours. This bridge is the connection among several villages, of course, and it (the bridge) has suffered so much - first during the Taliban (where an uncle of mine was shot right below it because he was in a car with a lawyer friend; the lawyer friend got killed at that same time), and then during the floods of Summer 2010. It was shaky a year later as well - not, of course, that the government has made any efforts to rebuild it. You'll see pictures of the bridge in Kanju as well, which is even worse, since that river has expanded so much.
|A portion of the Kanju Bridge (Swat River)|
|Portion of the Kanju Bridge (there used to be fields (and buildings, even homes) on both sides of the river. Gone with the floods now.|
|A portion of the Kanju Bridge|
This picture right above is another portion of the Kanju Bridge - aunts and uncles were telling me this is an expansion of the river as a result of the floods (Summer 2010). There used to be a madrasah, an Islamic institution where the Qur'an and hadiths were taught. The madrasah, along with all the hotels and other buildings surrounding this bridge, was destroyed by the floods.
So, this picture to the left is what a long part of the bridge looks like. As you can see, it's made of metal. Click here for a video of it as I rode through it. During evening time, say around 3-6pm, this area becomes deathly dangerous: Strong, ominous winds begin to blow, and there are long lines of cars/automobiles waiting to pass the bridge, as it's the connection between major towns/cities of Swat (e.g., Saidu and Mingawara (Mingora) on one end and Kabal, Bandai, Kotlai, (Mata, too?) etc. on another end). So if you get stuck on this bridge during that time, you have only your God to protect you. I went shopping with my aunt and by the time we returned, it was evening-ish. We were sitting in a rikshaw and it was the scariest moment of my life. I was willing to throw all the clothes and other stuff I had bought as long as I got home safely. The worst part of it was that the river, huge and flowing so fast, was to our left and right, and had our rikshaw blown off (since it's really light, the chances of that happening are very high), there's no doubt we wouldn't have survived. My cousins often narrated stories to me of people falling off the bridge, and there's no one to help pull them back out. Silly me didn't take a picture of the Fizagat area, which is a touristy town near Kanju that many Swatis visit regularly, and another major part of the river flows there as well. The most disturbing thing? There's NO railing there!!!! There was one, but it was washed away by the floods, and a new one still hasn't been built. Also, the river has expanded to the pedestrian area so that the trails are much narrower now than before. Fizagat is also very busy during night time. When I was there, it was night, say around 9pm. And it killed my insides to think that anyone could fall off that trail into the river and die instantly with the extremely fast pace of the river's flow.
|You can still see some of the destruction of the floods|
|Another metal portion of the Kanju bridge|
|This part of the bridge goes quite a looooong way (it's at least a one and a half minute drive in an ordinary car)|
|A portion of the river from Fizagat side|
|Me :D In the Fizagat area|
|This is the Baghderai area|
|Me again :D Baghderai|
|Baghderai - those men over there were dancing Attanr (traditional Pukhtun/Afghan dance) to a Nazia Iqbal song.|
|Closer view of the Attanr|
|The Baghderai bridge - you can see some of the flood destruction here|
|I'm assuming this is also a part of the Baghderai part of the river ... or Kanju? Can't tell. They all look the same to me!|