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Ruins of ancient city in Swat mesmerise trekkers

Ruins of ancient city in Swat mesmerise trekkers

MINGORA: The local students and trekkers on Monday trudged high to the ancient walled city of Ora to explore the pre-Islamic history and culture of Swat valley.

The walled city of ancient Ora, the present-day Udigram, located on a high mountain, is considered the capital of Uddiyana. The ruins of the castle of the last Hindu ruler before the advent of Islam, known as Raja Gira castle, originally Rajgiri, are present there.

“We started our trek from Akhun Baba area in Shagai village and climbed the Gira Mountain to see the historical ruins of the Hindu Shahi period. We reached the huge semi-circular bastions on the top after two hours of tiresome but interesting trek,” said Zafar Ali Khan, one of the trekkers. He added that the architecture of the bastions were worth-seeing.

The students and trekkers said that the castle was built on a steep cliff, overlooking the entire lower Swat.

“A wall was built around the city and the castle. From many places, the top of the mountain is inaccessible. There are huge passages, cut into rocks, probably for the movement of soldiers and horses,” said Amjad Ali.

The major portion of the castle has lost its grandeur. The castle was connected with other parts of the hillside through a narrow ridge that could be easily closed and controlled.

“The ruins are important in many ways for students and people as it is an important chapter of history and architecture. People should come here to learn about history and architecture,” Tariq Aziz, a teacher and trekker, told Dawn.

However, he showed displeasure over the mismanagement at the place. He demanded of the authorities to keep the area clean and take care of the walls of the castle.

Mirwais Zafar, a ninth grader, said that it was a great trek as it included adventure and useful information about history and architecture. “Unfortunately, we cannot find about our rich cultural heritage and history. It is a question mark over our education system,” he added.

Reference about the Rajgiri (Raja Gira) can be found in the itinerary of Chinese as well as Tibetan travellers, who visited Swat during fifth and 17th century.

Famous Tibetan monk, Orgyan Pa, who visited Swat in the 13th century, wrote about it: “Then in one day we reached Ra yi k’ar (Rajgiri), which is said to have been the capital of King Indrabote.”

Prof Tucci, a well-known Italian orientalist, who worked on the archaeology of Swat from 1956 to late 80s, said 'sTag ts ‘an ras pa, a Tibetan traveller called it Rayis’ar when he visited Swat in 17th century.

The area was identified by Aural Stein as Ora, the city where Alexander the Great fought one of his battles.

Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2016

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