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Mahodand (Fish Lake):

Some places on earth are so wonderfully and spectacularly designed by the hands of Mother Nature that one finds it hard to describe the beauty and serenity of the area in written words. To experience the true and real beauty of these areas, it becomes binding to visit the area and explore the uniqueness and exquisiteness personally. Moreover there are several categories of people and all of them have their own standards and parameters of beauty as it is aptly said, “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. For me it is the best place in the world to escape from the routine hectic and busy life and spend some moments in the lap of pure and serene Mother Nature though some people may consider it madness or lunacy to leave the comforts and facilities of home and suffer, though sometimes, the bitterness of nature. Anyway let us take a walk in the domains of fairies where greenery inspires you, streams sing for you, cool gusts of wind caresses you and move its invisible fingers through your hair.

A huge lake with grazing animalsA bird eye view of the sprawling River Swat

Mahodand valley, which lies in the North of Kalam, is famous not only among nature lovers, and escapists but also the exotic trout fish hunters. The valley can be accessed through an un-metalled road from Kalam in a four by four (4x4) vehicle. The road is bumpy and tricky but the surrounding landscapes engrosses you so severely that you wish for more and expect to discover new panoramas. The small hamlets that are scattered in the mountains and the bellowing smoke that spirals into the sky from the houses are some, which lives in the memory forever. Swat River, which is born here, is shackled by the tall mountains, which has turned its water into a roaring monster trying to release itself from its fetters, but there are some places where the river is calm and silent without showing any sign of rebellion. After driving for about four to five hours from the vast valley of kalam, you will enter the wonderful and spectacular valley of Mahodand where the small lakes, towering trees and sprawling pastures welcome you. Some temporary restaurants and hotels have been constructed by the locals, which provide essential facilities of food and accommodation. They also provide boating facilities in the lakes.

The valley is long and wide and touches Chitral boundary in the extreme North. There is proper track through which trekkers can either reach Shandoor Top or Gazar in Chitral. The river here is divided into a series of small and large lakes, which once teemed with brown and rainbow trout fish introduced by the former ruler of Swat State. Due to over fishing by the locals for daily income and the illegal use of fishing methods i.e. electrocution, dynamiting and large nets, the population of the fish is deteriorating gradually. The authorities must take drastic initiatives to curtail the problem and conserve this rare feature of the valley. Some migratory have also been spotted by the locals while several species of pheasants thrive in the area. Small birds that are also called non-game birds fill the air with their mellifluous music all the daylong.

The valley is a heaven for trekkers and provides several beautiful camping sites with abundance of cool water and firewood. But the trekkers are suggested to arrange for their own gas cylinders, which will not only reduce the burden on the natural ecosystem but also preserve the deteriorating environment of the valley. There are several small huts constructed by the nomads who take their livestock there for grazing in summer. The tourist can also stay in these huts but sometimes they are infested with different parasites, therefore its better to arrange your own good quality tents and spend the night in lush green lawns of nature.

A beautiful waterfall on the way to MahodandA magical view of Mahodand

Several spectacular waterfalls reinforce the beauty of the valley. They are of different lengths and sizes. The greater the size, the greater the sound that echoes throughout the valley. The murky water of these waterfalls not only feed the river but also leaves the visitor awestricken and baffled looking at the immense height from which the water falls with cracking sound on the rocks.

In a nutshell, Mahodand valley is a process and artistic gift of nature for those who love nature, meditate and identify their creator through His creation. The spectacular landscapes, the canopy of tall cedar trees, the vast pastures, the roaring waterfalls, the shimmering lakes, the sky touching mountains, and the exotic fragrance of wild flowers and herbs leave such strong imprints on the mind that the visitor is always in search of other opportunity to become one with nature again.

Courtesy: Naveed Hussain, Principal City Schools Saidu Sharif, Swat.