MINGORA: Buddhist tourists from Thailand on Wednesday praised the scenic beauty, pleasant weather and rich cultural heritage of ancient Buddhism in Swat valley and invited tourists from Southeast Asia to visit the valley and enrich their knowledge.
This was the first international tourists group of 25 members coming to the scenic Swat valley since the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government withdrew the condition of no-objection certificate for foreign tourists to enter Swat valley from March 30.
Swat valley has thousands of Buddhist archaeological sites of high importance and the valley is considered sacred to the Buddhists and Hindus alike.
During their visit to the Swat Museum, the group from Thailand took keen interest in the Buddhist archaeological records and artefacts decorated in its various galleries.
25-member group from Thailand visiting the valley
Ramida, a tourist from Bangkok who has visited Pakistan two times but entered Swat for the first time, said, “When we heard that Swat valley is open to foreign tourists we came here to see the rich cultural heritage of Buddhism because I have read about it in different books and magazines.
“It really inspired us to see the artefacts, structures and the beautiful art of ancient Buddhism which is quite interesting for Buddhists. Seeing this here shows that we have something common which is a very good sign,” she said with excitement.
She praised the museum’s architecture and termed the Buddhist artefacts very useful for Buddhists all over the world. “It tells us how we were in the past and gives a lesson to how we should be in future,” she said.
Andy Phanachet, a mechanical engineer by profession, was observing different artefacts in the museum closely. He told this correspondent that the history of Buddhism in Swat valley was of high importance and interesting.
“I see the history of Buddhism in relation to Hinduism and Islam here in this part of the world. The carvings, statues and other artefacts are very beautiful and interesting here in the museum,” he said and appreciated the pleasant weather of the valley apart from its scenic beauty.
Dr Kanoknart Chintakanon, a dentist by profession who had some archaeological background, said that the display of the Swat Museum was attractive. “We really enjoyed visiting the museum and seeing the important historical artefacts. Visiting and seeing all this enriched my knowledge and fulfilled something that I missed in life,” she told Dawn.
However, she suggested that it would be very good if there were a sort of explanation displayed with each artefact so that the visitors could read it and understand it without the help of a guide.
The tourists urged Buddhists and other tourists from the Southeast Asia to visit the Swat valley, at least, once in their life to experience the rich cultural heritage and scenic beauty of the valley.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2016