Kalam, a sub valley of Swat, is considered a heaven on earth. It is located 99 kilometres (62 miles) from Mingora, a city in Swat. The journey takes around 3 hours. It is in the upper valley of Swat where Suvastu (Swat) river flows alongside it.
This green and serene valley is surrounded by lofty hills and dense forests. Its mesmerising beauty draws tourists’ attention widely. Magnificent lakes, grassy meadows, and captivating waterfalls make it a must-see destination. It is the birthplace of Suvastu River as well as the confluence of its two major tributaries, the Gabral and the Ushu rivers.
The elevation of Kalam is about 2,001 metres (6,565 feet) above sea level. It is a lovely place which provides access to the small but fertile plateau of the Swat river, an ideal area for farming. The snowy peaks like Falak Sair Mountain (5,918 metres/19,416 feet) and an unnamed peak 6,096 metres (20,000 feet) above sea level, can be seen from the Matiltan valley.
History of Kalam Valley:
Swat Valley has a history dating back around 2000 years. It was originally known as Udyana but the name was later changed to Suvastu. Until the 11th century, the valley was a very peaceful place. The valley was first conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni as a result of a power struggle. The Yusufzais took over Swat Valley after the ritual of acquiring the lands was completed.
Swat valley was ruled by Akhunds in the 19th century, who followed Muslim law. The agricultural economy of Swat Valley flourished at this time and it became one of the most important trading areas.
Places to Visit Kalam:
Ushu is about 21 kilometres (13 miles) from Kalam and it takes about 60 to 80 minutes to drive. The road from Kalam to Ushu is the same as the road from Matiltan. This is a 7.5 kilometre (4.5 mile) drive from Matiltan along the beautiful Ushu River on Mahodand Lake road.
The total distance from Kalam to Ushu is approximately 42 kilometres (26 miles), which is a slightly more difficult hiking trail that takes 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Only professional trekkers with appropriate hiking equipment would normally take this route. However, everyone else can easily travel this distance by car while enjoying the beautiful suburbs of Kalam.
This is the Kalam valley’s main marketplace and commercial centre. Despite its small size, Kalam Bazar has a number of hotels, restaurants, cafes, medical stores, and general stores. This Bazar is like a downtown for Kalam residents.
Matiltan is approximately 13km (8 miles) from Kalam and takes less than 50 minutes to drive. Alternative journey to Matiltan is via Ushu road along the Swat River through a fantastic hiking trail. This hiking trail leads from Kalam to Matiltan for 13 kilometres (8 miles), passing through Plain Forest Kalam, Kalam Forest Playground, and other breathtaking scenery. This journey takes about 3 hours.
Plan a trekking trip from Kalam to Matiltan and enjoy the destination in Matiltan. It is a perfect day out in Kalam.
This place is known for its vast glaciers, dense forests and sky-high mountain peaks. Falak Sair, the highest peak of the Swat valley, can also be seen from there.
Madyan is a popular hill station in Swat, located about 55 kilometres (34 miles) from Mingora. It is known for its trout fish. Agriculture and tourism-related business such as handicraft shops, restaurants and hotels are the main sources of income. Madyan Valley is popular throughout the district for its ideal weather conditions. Tourists are drawn to the transparent and colourless water that flows in a stream that begins in Bashigram Valley and ultimately meets Swat River.
Utror, also spelled Atror, is a valley in Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lush green pastures and cascading waterfalls. The valley covers approximately 47,400 hectares. Utror is 16 kilometres from Kalam Valley and 116 kilometres from Saidu Sharif.
Gabral is another fascinating Kalam valley hill station. It is about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Kalam. It is famous for its brown trout (fish), lush green forests, musical springs, highest snow-capped peaks and beautiful lakes.
Prominent Lakes in Kalam:
There are numerous lakes in Kalam, mainly alpine glacial lakes. The most popular of which are Mahodand lake, Izmis lake and Kandol lake because of their scenic beauty.
Mahodand Lake (Lake of Fish) is the largest and most fascinating lake of Swat valley. It is located in the Ushu valley, approximately 40 kilometres away from Kalam. A four-wheeler vehicle is required to access the lake. It’s a good fishing spot, best for boating and camping as well. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks, lush green meadows and dense forests.
The Kandol is a captivating lake of the Swat valley, located 19 kilometres from Kalam in the North-Western part of Utror. It lies in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountain range and is accessible through Ladu valley, by four to six hour trekking.
Izmis lake is located in the South-West of Utror valley at a high altitude above the treeline. Izmis means “caves” in Kohistani language. The lake is surrounded by several natural caves, so the people have named the lake after these caves.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Kalam has a humid subtropical climate (CFA), with a mild warm climate. Kalam has an annual precipitation of 639 mm and an average temperature of 13.4 °C (56.1 °F) (25.16 inch). The driest month is November, with an average of 15 mm (0.59 inch), and the wettest month is April, with an average of 93 mm (3.66 inch).
July is the hottest month of the year, with an average temperature of 24.1 °C (75.4 °F). January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees °F).
Kalam, Pakistan experiences snowfall from January to April, as well as November and December. November is usually the first month when it snows.
The N-95 route (also known as Kalam Road) from Mingora in Swat is the most direct route to Kalam. The N-95 road along the bank of Swat river passes through Manglor, Charbagh, Khwazakhela, Madyan and Bahrain before arriving in Kalam Valley.
There is an alternate route to Kalam via Kanju road.
The Bahrain-Kalam Road is open to all vehicles including Bikes, but tourists are frequently warned about potential issues, most notably traffic jams, that they may encounter on the bumpy stretch.
In Kalam Valley, there is no PTCL service. While the mobile network’s Internet service is so poor that it cannot even open a web page.
Another excellent thing to do in Kalam is to attend the Kalam Festival, also known as the Swat Summer Festival. This festival is an annual celebration of cultural and recreational events held in July or August.
The grand Kalam festival attracts locals as well as tourists from Pakistan and abroad during the summer holidays to enjoy the cold weather.
Kalam Summer Festival is a weeklong activity that comprises paragliding, local handicraft display, jeep rally, cycling, canoeing, cultural shows, folk music, dances and Swati food stalls etc.
Accommodation in Kalam:
Kalam offers a variety of accommodation facilities 365 days a year. There are over 300 hotels in Kalam and the valley remains full of tourists throughout the year. There are hotels, motels, lodges, inns, B&B, etc. in Kalam valley. The best and recommended way to secure your accommodation in peak season is to book reservations prior to your tour to Kalam Valley.
For the hotel address, contact numbers and other relevant information in the tour to Kalam, you can avail services of the www.pakistanbikers.com.
Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan