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Trip at Buddhist Heritage in The Swat Valley (25th July 2022)

September 11, 2023


The third day of the seventh sattahaya, or day away from the Taxila Museum, where I had sworn to go on my rain retreat, had just passed. As a mark of respect for the Buddha’s imprints in the sandstone, we were permitted to spend the second night in the Swat Museum. The stunning patterns and chakra in each sole’s center correspond to the Buddha’s imprint. These prints are still visible after many centuries. Because of this, there are fissures on both sides, but when put together, they make a whole.

The Significance of Buddha’s Imprints

Chinese monk Faxian recorded in “A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms” that the left footprint was discovered in the Swat Valley in the domain of Wu-Chang, which translates to “Udyna or Garden” and is situated in the northern part of Punjab, extending beside Suvastu River or Swat River.

We can observe how Buddhism flourished concurrently with Swat, Peshawar Valley, and Taxila Valley, all governed by Gandhara at the time. Taxila, ancient Gandhara, Punjab, Pakistan; dispensation – errands permitting monks to leave the temple for seven days during rain retreat.

On July 25, 2022, we traveled to Jahanabad Village to pay respects to the Buddha carved into a sandstone cliff. Hence, Jahanabad Buddha’s name! The drive by automobile from Miangul Aurangzeb’s home took less than an hour. We took a winding, old path up the mountain. The neighborhood residents gathered peaches and boxed them up for sale at the marketplace. Each box costs 500 Pakistani rupees or 90 baht.

Historical Accounts of Buddha’s Footprints

A square-shaped pond two meters wide and three to four meters long was also visible. This historic man-made pond was constructed to gather clean water and is fed by the mountain stream. The water has been shown to contain several herbal medicine characteristics, making it popular among locals. It was believed that the monks used this pond for bathing and drinking when they arrived to live and practice their Dhamma at the vihara on the mountain.

They learned that the water had organically incorporated herbal treatments in this way. On a sandstone cliff, there is also a Buddha that has been sculpted and is ornamented with rocks of all sizes, looking orderly and safe.

The Visit to Jahanabad Village

It took 20 to 30 minutes to make the short ascent up the steep mountain to the Buddha’s shrine. Those who traveled to the mountain monastery to perform religious rituals might rest their feet on several rough steps. The impressive Buddha sculpture on the sandstone cliff is in exact proportion and measurement, and it is seen perfectly from all viewing angles, demonstrating a skillful understanding of drawing and carving.

Even though the Taliban defaced various portions of the Buddha, particularly the face, it is still in good shape. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Archaeology and Museums have now totally restored these parts.

According to estimates, the Jahanabad Buddha was constructed between the second and third centuries of Buddhism, or the seventh century AD. He stands six meters tall. At the proper altitude of the mountain, the Buddha is ideally situated. We felt even better when we arrived at the mountain’s summit. We were able to recall the Buddha’s virtues in addition to taking in the expansive perspective, the splendor of nature, and the towns on either side of the Swat River. The abundance of different crops suggests a lush and fertile agricultural landscape.

The Impressive Buddha Sculpture

Constructing monasteries, Buddhist sites, and stupas on the mountain has always been quite popular. It calls for a great deal of work, mindfulness, and knowledge. Thus, attaining a high level of parami was a common practice, and this was the case throughout the reign of King Kanishka of the Kushan kingdom.

I led the monks and lay followers in a salute to the Jahanabad Buddha. We performed the chanting. I spoke about the Dhamma. We all engaged in meditation practice and chanted significant suttas, such as the Anattalakkhana, Satipatthana (a condensed version), and npnasati (a full version), that were appropriate for the setting and suitable for mind development practice.

We concluded by chanting to honor the merits of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. I led them in extending loving-kindness. The Swat Museum employees and the security police who remained to look after us while we visited this site of Gandharan civilization were present to see this.


The Swat Valley continues to be a great place to practice the Dhamma. My field excursion to the local Buddhist heritage site was incredibly joyful. During the rain retreat in Taxila, Gandhara, I was journaling about my Dhamma path travel from the Swat Museum. I visited the Buddhist historical sites in the Swat Valley for the first time, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. I fully believe in doing good deeds and have lived and learned the Dhamma on this planet. The Dhamma’s power may envelop all beings in all dimensions and grant them true happiness and tranquility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What was the purpose of the July 25, 2022 field trip? 

Ans: The purpose of the field trip was to pay homage to the Buddhist heritage in the Swat Valley.

Q2: What is significant about the Buddha’s imprints mentioned in the text? 

Ans: The Buddha’s imprints in the sandstone are marked with unique patterns and chakra, which are still visible after many centuries.

Q3: Who recorded the discovery of the left footprint in the Swat Valley?

Ans: Chinese monk Faxian recorded the discovery of the left footprint in the Swat Valley.

Q4: What is the connection between Buddhism and the regions of Swat, Peshawar Valley, and Taxila? 

Ans: These regions were governed by Gandhara then, and Buddhism flourished concurrently in these areas.

Q5: How was the journey to Jahanabad Village described? 

Ans: The journey involved driving to Jahanabad, taking a winding mountain path, and witnessing the gathering of peaches by residents.

Q6: What is the significance of the historic man-made pond mentioned in the text? 

Ans: The pond was constructed to gather clean water and was believed to contain herbal medicine characteristics. Monks may have used it for bathing and drinking.

Q7: Describe the Buddha sculpture on the sandstone cliff. 

Ans: The Buddha sculpture is six meters tall, perfectly proportioned, and well-preserved. Despite some defacement by the Taliban, it has been restored.

Q8: What was the author’s experience at the mountain summit where the Buddha was located?

Ans: The author described the serene atmosphere, the panoramic view of nature and the Swat River, and the historical significance of constructing Buddhist mountain sites.

Q9: What rituals and activities occurred during the Jahanabad Buddha visit?

Ans: The author led the monks and lay followers in paying respects to the Buddha, chanting, discussing the Dhamma, and engaging in meditation practice.

Q10: What is the message the author conveys in the conclusion? 

Ans: The author reflects on the Swat Valley as a great place to practice the Dhamma, expresses a commitment to doing good deeds, and emphasizes the power of the Dhamma to bring true happiness and tranquility.

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