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Another ancient castle discovered in Swat

Another ancient castle discovered in Swat

MINGORA: The culture activists discovered another castle of the Hindu Shahi period during their visit to the Bar Tangai Mountain in Dadhara area of tehsil Kabal here on Monday.

Located on the top of the Dadharra Mountain, spur on the bank of the Swat River, the castle is part of the network of castles of the Hindu Shahi period. The castle is in dilapidated condition as it has been damaged by illegal excavators and treasure seekers.

Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, the head of Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat, said that the site was impressive with round bastions, a real Hindu-Shahi and early Muslim castle. “It is a real castle, with central stronghold surrounded by raised walls with round hollow bastions of different diameters and sizes. The castle belongs to the 9th century, late Hindu Shahi and early Ghaznavids and Ghurids periods in Swat,” he told Dawn.

Dr Olivieri said that there were about six major castles and around 30 watchtowers between Swat, Buner and Dir. He said that all the forts, castles and watchtowers in Swat were part of a complex network of fortifications. “Every site is visible from the other and the forts cover all the mountain ridges along the Swat River and in Malakand and Buner,” he added.

Strategically, the castle was built at an important location to control the lower parts of Swat till Malakand Pass, Thana, Dir and Buner areas. However, owing to negligence of government, the important archaeological site is being vandalised by illegal excavators and treasure seekers.

“The beautiful round bastions of the castles have been cut by people to seek treasure. They have done nothing but destroyed the rich site,” said Salahuddin, a university student, who likes to visit archaeological sites. He added that the site was worth protection and preservation as it was an important chapter in the history of Swat.

Local people do not know its importance and consider it the remnants of Kafirs (infidels). “I personally don’t know what building is this but it seems a type of guarding area as it is located on the peak. Some years ago the building was in good condition but now it is in bad shape as many groups come here and dig out various spots to find treasure,” said Ikramullah, a resident of Bar Tangai area.

He said that people often removed stones from the walls and bastions for construction of their houses.

The culture activists in Swat demanded of the government to protect the site and properly document it for history, research and tourism purposes.

Dr Abdul Samad Khan, provincial director of archaeology and museums, when contacted, said that he had directed curator of Swat Museum to visit the site and submit his report to the archaeology directorate immediately.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2017

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