Mahodand Lake – A tribute to the majestic ‘Switzerland of the East’
Beauty is an attribute which characterises itself by persuading the desirous. Gigantic mountains, roaring rivers, and fascinating waterfalls invite you to come and get lost in endless magnificence. That is only when and how one can resolve the mystery within.
Albert Einstein once said,
“Look deep into the nature and then you will understand everything better.”
A piece of land which is known as Swat– and commonly referred to as the ‘Switzerland of the East’ – is famous for its abundance of unimaginable natural beauty. Wherever your footstep is, that moment and that vista will become memorable.
This year, I took a family trip to Mahodand Lake, which is about 40 kilometres from Kalam in the Ushu Valley of the Swat District, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). We stayed in Kalam which provided an ethereal view of the valley.
Mahodand Lake is situated in the Hindu Kush range of mountains at an elevation of 9,400 feet (2,850 metres) and spreads over two kilometres by length approximately. It took us around three hours to cover a distance of 35 to 40 kilometres from Kalam to the lake.
We started our journey early morning by road in a jeep, and after crossing the Kalam Forest, we had our first stopover in Usho. There are some lodges in the area which provide an excellent view of the valley. Not only are the gushing streams merely a sight for the tourists and its inhabitants, but it’s also a resource for producing electricity for the locals.
On our way, we crossed many nomads with their herd traveling deep into the valley, and most of the times, we had to stop and wait for the road to clear up. This is a usual sight for the locals residing there; however, this would surprise most of us visiting from the metropolitan. After crossing Matiltan, we stopped at Mahi Banal, one of the most picturesque places on our way to Mahodand Lake.
After further travelling for about half an hour, we ended up at the Mighty 22 falls, another popular tourist spot. The picture below cannot even justify the beauty this piece of land holds. During summers, these falls transform into an extraordinary wonder that will remain etched in your mind forever. Up until we reached Mahodand Lake, we came across local shopkeepers selling cold drinks and other eatables. We stayed here for 15 to 20 minutes, took some pictures and then moved on to our next stop.
The overwhelming beauty was unfolding with every mile we crossed. But that is not all what this heaven on earth had to offer. We found ourselves in front of another majestic view that took our breath away when we stopped by the road to capture its spectacular scenery. It then occurred to me that even a momentary pause can deliver what you cannot find in a life time.
After traveling for another half an hour approximately, we reached a place called Chashma-e-Shifa. Locals believe that water flowing into this stream is a cure for any disease. We stayed here for some time while soaking in the beauty of the surrounding area.
When visiting Swat Valley, one cannot omit to see Mount Falak Ser, the highest mountain of the valley with a height of 19,416 feet (5,918 metres). It was quite an experience laying my eyes on this distinct gigantic snow-covered mountain which can be viewed from the lush green Ushu Valley.
Since Mahodand Lake is not far from Mount Falak Ser, it took us about 15 to 20 minutes to reach our destination. But distance and time are not the factors which defined our feelings before reaching the lake. With a combination of excitement and happiness, we reached the lake, and amazed by the mesmerising view, we were left speechless. After the beauty of this wonder had finally sunk in, with cheerful sentiments, we proceeded towards Mahodand Lake tourist spot.
Since majority of the lodges were providing Pakistani cuisine to the tourists, it was evident that the locals definitely loved serving poultry as the choice of meat. Along with the amazing view of the lake and the surrounding area, our meal was surely a pleasant experience. The only drawback was the much-needed provision of basic facilities which can contribute to enhancing tourism activities in the area.
We spent quite some time discovering the lake and then decided to hire a boat to cross the lake to reach an island at a distance of 50 metres approximately. Deforestation was quite evident and needs attention of concerned authorities in order to improve and attract local tourism. Same is the case with unpaved road from Bahrain till Kalam, which increases travel time manifold.
As the sun set, we were bound to fly back to our nests, regardless of our strong urge to stay longer. With great resignation, we departed from the lake, leaving with memories of the experience we had.
If you are planning a trip with your family, Mahodand Lake should definitely be your next destination. It will be an experience worth your time and will increase your appreciation for the beauty this country holds tenfold.
All photos: Murtuza Mahmud
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.