The Jahanabad Buddha Swat is watching over the valley

jahanabad buddha swat

Jahanabad Buddha of Swat is the second tallest illustration of Buddha Carved in rock anywhere in the world. The tallest one is in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

Jahanabad Buddha rock from distance

History of Jahanabad Buddha Swat

The Jahanabad village was part of the Oddiyana Princely state in the olden days, which also included the Manglawar (Manglore) town of Swat.

Naturally, the place still has the highest concentration of ancient Buddhist relics.

This towering Buddha figure in Jahanabad is also called Shakorai Buddha in some archeological circles.

This village has produced highly influential Buddhist figures of the tantric sect of Vajrayana Buddhism named Padmasambhava and Indrabuhuti.

Padmasambhava of Jahanabad Pakistan

Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) introduced his version of tantric Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century

Indrabhuti of Jahanabad Pakistan

Indrabhuti, being the disciple of Buddhist Saint Kambalapada, composed his famous treatise “Yajnasidhi” and is also famous for learning of the insight “prajna”.

I wish that the government of Pakistan would recognize this fact and seek a due share of history for Pakistan that India has misappropriated.

There are hundreds of stone carvings, images, writings, stupas, and Buddhist relics in the valleys around Jahanabad, which have survived because the difficult terrain prevents vandals from reaching there with their tools.

Most of the Buddhist infrastructure down south had already been destroyed by the white Huns by the 5th century.

Old graveyard, Jahanabad

Visit to Jahanabad Buddhist sites

I started my Buddhist site visit from the farthest spot from Islamabad, Jahanabad.

Time and distance from Islamabad to Jahanabad Buddha Swat

It takes 4 h to get to Jahanabad from Islamabad

The total distance from Islamabad to Jahanabad is 250 km.

jahanabad buddha swat
Swat Motorway

Travel route to Jahanabad Buddha Swat

Route to Jahanabad Buddha is Islamabad motorway to Karnal Sher Khan Interchange – Swat motorway – Get off at Mingora – drive to Malam Jabba and stop at Jahanabad close to Manglawar.

jahanabad buddha swat
meditation cave behind the Buddha Image

Archeological sites at Jahanabad Swat

The Jahanabad Buddha site has many lovely pieces of archeological treasures

  • The Jahanabad Buddha rock carving.

  • The meditation cave behind the Buddha Image
  • The meditation chambers carved into rocks
  • Ancient Buddhist texts carved into rocks
  • This likely sacrificial stone platform complete with drainage channels
  • Sacred ponds with water springs

Then, there are beautiful orchards full of Peach and Apricot in May, the kind you would never find in the market.

It takes 20 min of a light hike to reach the Jahanabad Buddha Figure and 15 min of a tricky climb to reach the meditation cave behind the great rock.

jahanabad buddha swat
Hiking towards Jahanabad Buddha

The best time to visit Jahanabad Buddha Swat

The best time to visit Jahanabad stupa is in spring February to March and winter from September to January because it gets scalding in the summer.

Try going there on weekdays and early in the morning to avoid traffic during the day in the town of Mingora

jahanabad buddha swat
On the way to Jahanabad Buddha

Where can I find freshwater to drink?

There is plenty of fresh spring water all around the site, so you don’t have to worry about getting a heat stroke. After all, it makes no sense to meditate if you don’t have water and beautiful landscapes to see every day.

Seeing the layout of the large medieval cave high up on the mountain and the patterns on the rocks, I can make out that there once was a waterfall that flowed right down the middle of the cave, to block its entrance.

View while hiking

Terrorists destroyed Jahanabad Buddha Swat

Foreign sponsored mercenaries called the TTP destroyed the face of this Buddha and the other one on another rock, which has both been restored but one is has been placed in the swat museum

I feel the relics should stay in their natural place so that people get a sense of what they are experiencing.

A unique feature of the second Jahanabad Buddha is that it is not in any traditional pose of Siddhartha Gautama.

Are there any security problems in Swat?

The people of Jahanabad have deep respect for Buddhist symbols, unlike what the world wants you to believe, but they do love money too.

Gambatuna means Stupa in pushtu Language

Archeological treasures of Swat

There is a legend of this excavator operator who was working on the Mingora- Malam Jabba road and he struck gold while working one night. The guy got off this excavator and retired back home to enjoy his bounty.

Now everyone in Swat wants to be an excavator operator or a metallic detector technician.

I wish the Pakistani leadership realizes there is a lot more to life than amassing power and exploiting their people and letting potential jackpot disciplines like archaeology flourish.

Buddhist sites in Swat

Other Buddhist archeological sites to visit in Swat include

  • Aba Sahib Chena Stupa
  • Tokar Dara Stupa Najigram
  • Singardara Stupa

jahanabad buddha swat

  • Amluk Dara Stupa
  • Bazira archeological remains Barikot
  • Gogdara Rock Carvings
  • Ghaligai Cave
jahanabad buddha swat
VIew while hiking

What does the Rock Inscription of Jehanabad say?

Jahanabad Rock inscription 1

“Not to commit any sin, to acquire merit, to purify one’s mind – that is the teaching of Buddha”

Jahanabad Rock inscription

Jahanabad Rock inscription 2

“(let him be one) who guards his speech, is well restrained in mind, and commits no evil with his body. Keeping these three roads of action clear, one may gain the path taught by the sages”

Jahanabad Rock inscription

Where can I find things to eat?

There is plenty to eat and drink all around Jahanabad, especially in the Manglawar Market

You can get plenty of hotels and Airbnb bookings online.

jahanabad buddha swat
Buddhist Ruins in Swat

The other attractions near Mingora are

  • Malam Jabba Ski resort that comes to life in the early spring of February
  • Fried wild Trout fish from Swat River.

Also, see,

Another view of Ancient cave


I wish countries like Nepal, Srilanka, Japan, Korea, and China (Tibet) would help fund Buddhist archeological studies and excavation projects in Pakistan so that the world knows about the real Buddhism and what the great Guru Gautama wanted to tell the world.

If you guys need me to help you get there, do inbox me.

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