Korean delegation terms Swat sacred place for Buddhists


South Korean monks pay respects to a Buddha rock carving in Jahanabad during their visit to Swat on Wednesday. — Dawn
South Korean monks pay respects to a Buddha rock carving in Jahanabad during their visit to Swat on Wednesday. — Dawn

MINGORA: The members of a delegation of Buddhist pilgrims and researchers said here on Wednesday that Swat was rich in ancient Buddhist heritage and was an important sacred place for Buddhists all over the world.

They were talking to local journalists after visiting different Buddhist archeological sites and Swat Museum during their visit to the district. Republic of Korea Ambassador to Pakistan Kwak Sung-Kyu was heading the delegation during the visit.

The tour to different Buddhist archaeological sites by Korean team including Buddhist pilgrims, researchers, professors and businessmen was organised jointly by provincial tourism, culture, sports and archaeology department and South Korean embassy in Pakistan.

The members of the delegation visited various Buddhist sites including Butkara-I, Saidu Sharif stupa, Jahanabad Buddha in Manglawar, Swat Museum and other places in Barikot tehsil.

Ambassador Kwak Sung-Kyu said that Swat was sacred for Korean Buddhists as it had a long bond with Korea. He said that in 723 AD, monk Hyecho visited Gandhara and ancient Uddiyana, the present Swat.

“Swat valley is not only rich in Buddhist ancient sites but it is also very beautiful and scenic where people are hospitable,” he said, adding that more Koreans would love to visit the beautiful valley in future.

Joungkoo Park, dean of international affairs at Dongguk University, Korea, said on the occasion that Swat was beautiful beyond his imagination and he was excited to visit the Buddhist sites in the valley.

“Swat valley is home to the ancient Indian and Gandhara civilisations. Many Korean pilgrims, monks and other people love to visit it. I am excited that I am part of the delegation that for the first time visited this beautiful valley and saw some of the most beautiful ancient Buddhist sites,” said Mr Park.

He said that Pakistan and Korea must work to promote the Buddhist heritage sites in Gandhara region including Swat valley.

The members of the delegation said that Swat Museum was also a point of attraction for Koreans as it had hundreds of masterpieces of Gandhara art and artifacts.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2019