Located at Marghazar 7,000 feet above sea level
MINGORA: The White Palace at Marghazar built in 1940 by the first Wali of Swat, Miangul Abdul Wadood (Badshah Sahib), is a major tourist attraction in Swat.
The small town of Marghazar is situated about 13 kilometres away from Saidu Sharif.Marghazar was declared as the summer capital of the princely Swat state. Located at 7,000 feet above sea level on Marghazar hill, the palace built with white marble was later converted into a tourist resort. It is presently a hotel popular with tourists.
Surrounded by lush green meadows and springs, the palace is set in a beautiful place. Its historical building gives it grandeur.The architect used white Indian marble in the building, which has increased its beauty. “The white marble was brought from the Indian state of Rajasthan,” said Miangul Shahryar Amirzeb, the grandson of Miangul Abdul Wadood. He pointed out that the same marble has been used in Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
“The building was also used as the High Court by the former Swat ruler Miangul Abdul Wadood,” he added.Comprising three portions, one above the other, the palace has a drawing room, dining hall, meeting room and a residential room for the ruler.
To run the state’s affairs, the Wali used to have his ministers and advisors along with him and they stayed in the second portion of the building. “The third portion was specifically built for the families of the ministers and notables,” Shahryar Amirzeb explained.
Famous architect and historian Shaukat Sharar said: “It was indeed a summer palace and the marble used in its construction was brought from the Indian state of Bhopal. The artisans were from Bhopal and Attock,” he added.
According to Shaukat Sharar, one portion of the building was specifically allotted to the Wali of Swat, the second to VIPs and the last portion to notables and foreigners.Prof Fazal Rabbi, a senior academician at the Government Jehanzeb College Swat, said there was a walking track in the forest just behind the palace where the former ruler and his ministers used to go on walk.
He said they also used to discuss official matters during their walk.According to Prof Fazal Rabbi, there was a mosque built at the corner of the palace where the Wali of Swat along with his ministers used to offer congregational prayer. He said the White Palace has preserved the local culture since long as various programmes including local music and Tikka barbecue parties were organised there to entertain the visitors and keep Swat’s traditions alive.
After the death of the first ruler of Swat Miangul Abdul Wadood in 1971, the palace was closed down. However, it was later opened for visitors.Like Kalam, Malam Jabba, Miandam and other scenic valleys in Swat, the White Palace is also a magnet for tourists and is easily accessible as it is close to the twin cities of Mingora and Saidu Sharif.
“I have been visiting White Palace almost every year since 1980,” said 65-year old Akhtar Ali from Lahore. He added that the government should take steps to preserve and maintain the glorious building of the palace.
President of the Swastu Art and Culture Association (SACA) Usman Ulasyar told The News that the greenery and the gorgeous landscape persuaded the ruler of Swat in 1935 to build the summer resort at Marghazar. He said the White Palace reflected the Victorian style of construction.The building continues to reflect in its past glory. It has preserved the Royal Suite, the Wali of Swat’s bedroom where Queen Elizabeth stayed for three days.