By Tahir Imran Khan
Though there are several places to the interest of tourists like snow capped peaks, cascading waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, thick pine forests, emerald green river, several foaming streams, plateaus and excavated sites in Swat but Mallam Jabba has now resurged in full glory like a phonix.
Mallam Jabba in thickly forested plateau is located at an altitude of 2636 meters above sea level, only 46 kilometres away from Saidu Shareef, the capital of Swat Valley. The place was famous as a summer resort but now it is a lovely winter ski resort as well.
The concept to develop Mallam Jabba as a skiing resort came as far back as 1962 from Austrian Government but the project started in 1980. This project limped for the past fifteen years, but it was completed only in 1988.
Recently, in August 1998, after rectification of technical problems, Ministry of Tourism, owner of the resort handed over it to Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation with directions to open it for tourists in the forthcoming season. PTDC should be appreciated to complete the given task within allotted period.
Mallam and Jabba, are tow villages around; Jabba is usually used for a plateau in local language. The picturesque route over the valley offers superb scenery in summer temperatures ranges from 10 to 25 degree centigrade. In winters it plummets to -5 to -10 degrees with heavy snowfalls.
Due to these heavy snow falls the mountains slopes become excellent spots for skiing. Since there was no super-structure or facilities available to stay there and to enjoy the un-surpassed beauty of the area, but now there is a hotel with 52 rooms.
The valley is surrounded by mountains on the way there are Malakand, Shangla and Lowari Passes to be crossed en route from Islamabad / Pehsawar, Gilgit / Besham and Dir / Chitral respectively. Swat Valley is also connected by air with Islamabad and Peshawar.
Mallam Jabba is connected by an all weather metalled road turning off from Manglore, a small place on main road to Kalam.
Skiing at Mallam Jabba
Skiing is a neglected sport in our country. Adventure Foundation is the lone institution which offers some training courses of basic skiing but they do not have their resort. They only resort with the facility of chair lifts is owned by Pakistan Air Force at a couple of places for their private use. However the opening of Mallam Jabba Ski Resort now is great news for adventure lovers as this resort which is open for tourists with all facilities on very reasonable rates. It has two platforms and the facility of chair lifts with an 800 meters long cable with the highest point to start skiing down the slope at 2804 meters.
Its strategic location makes it convenient for tourists and adventure enthusiast to visit some equally interesting destinations with a variety of activities like Kabal, with an eighteen hole golf course. Miandam, for its scenic route and hikes in surrounding hills and Kalam, the main attraction of the valley and for trout fishing. Mallam Jabba is an experience never to be forgotten.
Historical background of Mallam Jabba
Despite the scenic beauty and adventure Mallam Jabba has several remains of Buddhist ear. Two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries in scattered archaeological remains over the slope are available opposite to the skiing resort. The ancient mound at Mallam Jabba, surrounded by the slopes of mountains is only a kilometre away from the resort. A spring of drinking water is also there on the eastern side.
Rock-carved figure of Lord Buddha at Jehanabad, en route to Mallam Jabba is the best and largest drawings found in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. It is believed that in summer season Buddhist monks used to migrate to another place near Mallam Jabba at a height of 26000 meters from sea level, which can still be visited and is distinctive due to its remarkable height. There are remains of a main stupa, which is now about 1.5 meters high with a diameter of 13.01 meters