PESHAWAR: The snowfall lovers have thronged to famous Kalam and Malam Jabba valleys where winter tourism get boom due to construction of Swat Motorway, making scenic destinations in far flung areas accessible for tourists and adventure sports enthusiasts.
Following the Met Office forecast of rains and snowfall over the hills in Swat from (Jan 3-7), tourists along with families from plain districts of KP and Punjab have thronged to Kalam and Malam Jabba to enjoy the moderate to heavy snowfalls.
Kalam is blessed with about 50 lakes including the famous Mahodand lake covering two-kilometre area and 2,865 meters above the sea level at Usho valley, attracting tourists and snowfall lovers from across Pakistan in winter season.
These days, Kalam’s adjoining scenic hilly areas including Matiltan, Ushu, Utror, Gabral and Mohdand viz a viz Kundol lakes’ hotels are jam-packed with tourists amid hide and seek between sun and clouds besides snowfalls over the mountains taking them into state of ecstasy.
The winter tourism has witnessed great boom in Kalam, Malam Jabba, Madain, Behrain after construction of Swat Motorway, which made a positive impact on tourism related businesses in Swat district where a record 1.5million tourists had visited during Eidul Azha’s holidays last year.
As result, hotels and transport sectors have witnessed a great boom in Khyber Pakthunkhwa where a record Rs66 billion revenue generated and Rs27 billion businesses achieved by the rural economy following the arrival of record 2.77 million tourists during Eid vacations.
“Kalam is my favourite place for winter tourism due to its amazing mountainous beauty and snowfalls features,” said Ehtisham Khan, a lecturer of Urdu in a private college from Nowshera district told APP.
He said River Swat coming out of Kalam valley enhances its scenic beauty and make it an ideal tourist destination of Pakistan.
“Whenever I got an opportunity, I visit this scenic hilly station of Pakistan in winter to spend a few days in its cool and pollution-free weather besides enjoy its moderate to heavy snowfalls.”
Kalam’s waterfalls, River Swat’s whitish-blue water and hide and seek between the sun and clouds are adding colors to this awesome hilly station,” he said, adding “I have been visiting Kalam for the last three years and this year my joy was doubled after my three hours were saved by Swat Expressway.
KP Government, in line with PM’s vision, are constructing roads projects amounting to Rs11 billion to provide an easy access to tourists to explore the archaeological and tourism treasures of Khyber Pakthunkhwa including Swat.
Latifur Rerhman, Spokesperson KP Tourism and Archaeology Department told APP that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture and Tourism Authority (KP C&TA) has been working on a number of development projects for promotion of tourism and uplift of new potential destinations to reduce tourists’ load in existing destinations on Kalam, Nathia Gali and Naran-Kaghan.
A new tourism valley “Ganool” carrying splendid natural beauty, is being introduced to reduce load on existing tourists resorts, he added.
To strengthen roads’ connectivity imperative for bolstering of tourism and alleviation of poverty in KP, he said that Kalam-Kumrat Road, Aywon-Kalash, Bamborat and Rambor Valley and Chitral-Garam Cheshma Road would be constructed to open up Malakand division for tourists and adventure sports lovers.
Rs. 4,812.700 million would be spent on roads’ development in tourist areas of Malakand division, Rs 4,655.134 million on Hazara’s access roads, Rs. 3044.553 million for construction of approach road to Sheikh Badin DI Khan’s tourist resort and Rs. 2,200 million for development of tourist spots in the province. Jeepable tracks costing Rs500 million in touristic’ areas would also be constructed.
Work on DI Khan-Peshawar and Dir motorways, the two mega communication infrastructure projects of the PTI Government with a proposed allocation of Rs276.5 billion, has been entered into advanced stage and practical work on it is expected to launch this year.
Out of Rs276.5 billion allocation for both the mega projects, an official of Khyber Pakthunkhwa Highway Authority told APP the 30 kilometers long Dir Motorway would be constructed with an estimated cost of Rs33.5 billion, which would convert the entire Malakand division comprising seven districts including Upper Chitral, Lower Chitral, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Swat, Shangla and Buner into a hub of tourism, trade and investment.
Dir Motorway would be initially four lanes and later to be extended to six lane full-fledged motorway to be constructed on a public private partnership basis, he added.
Dir motorway would start from Chakdara to Rabat town and after completion would reduce distance between these cities by 27 kilometres. Two tunnels and three interchanges would also be constructed on Dir Motorway.
Consultancy is in progress for establishment of ski resorts in different places besides establishment of Culture and Tourism Authority’s offices at divisional level.
New tracks including Thandyani-Nathiagali (40 km) track covering Bringali, Dagri Bangla, Miranjai Top having over 150 years-old trees and Thandyani-Tastu Bangla constructed in 1902 during colonial era would be developed.
Mahnoor-Biyari Forest-Anso Lake-Saiful Malook lake covering in three days and two nights and Shinkyari Top-Kand Bangla-Shaheed Pani, Nadi Bangla and Mosamasla carrying 40kms length would also be constructed along with rest houses, washrooms and tours guides.
Besides the splendided natural beauty, Swat is a home to Ghandhara civilization and archeo-religious sites, attracting tourists, archeologists, Buddhists and monks from across the world to explore its archeological treasures.
Recently, a-2000 year-old Buddhists fresco paintings at Abba Saib Cheena Swat believed to be used for archeo-religious and education purposes had been unearthed and preserved by KP Archeology Department.
The feasibility studies of 14KM long Cable Car to connect Kumrat Dir Upper with Madakhast Chitral has been completed and an estimated cost of Rs32 billion would be required for its completion with a potential to attract around 10 million tourists to Khyber Pakthunkhwa per year.
KP Government has decided to setup camping pods projects in 10 new scenic places and search for five new suitable sites are in progress in the province.
A tourism survey in all seven tribal districts of merged areas is being conducted for establishment of camping pods, picnic spots, making tourism areas accessible through roads connectivity, rest houses, tourism and cultural activities, arranging festivals and others many schemes that after completion would make erstwhile Fata a hub of tourism.