Azhar Uddin’s (Eco-Cultural Tourism)
Banjeer – A lost paradise!
Swat Valley, P A K I S T A N
Bunjeer Baba Top (Height 6520ft) is a medium altitude top on the Swat-Buner Border. According to some local version the name was given because of the Bunj Oak (Quercus Leucotrichopora) tree forest which is called “Bunj or Banj” in the local language. The top is famous for the tomb of Bunjeer Baba. Banjeer Baba is said to be the descendants of Mahmood e Ghaznavi (Great Conqueror). He was injured in a fight and lastly martyred on this top. Apart from Baba tomb, Banjeer is famous for lush green woods, clear stream, gigantic rocks, and mesmerizing landscapes.
Local Trekkers usually access Banjeer Top in April or March because they didn’t like harsh behaviour of weather in June/July or January/February. We planned a trek from the platform of Eco-cultural Tourism to explore the area on media as well as do some Eco-cultural activities like; plantation, garbage collection, zero-trace, no camp-fire etc. As we announced the event on Facebook, there was a good response from the Facebookian trekkers as usual. But as the days were passing, the response and interest of Fabian were losing.
On Saturday, March 23, 2019, at 7 am, we started our journey from Mingora to Barikot in the flying couch. We are six persons including (Shah Zeb Ahmad, Aizaz Khan, Inamullah, Manzoor Ahmad) and pick 4 trekkers from Lahore(Naeem Ahmad, Shakeel Khan, Rizwan Suliman, and Ihsan Ullah) and our friend Rehan Ullah from Barikot. The flying coach dropped us at Najigram and our Friend Tajdar Alam received us at Najigram and had arranged porters and vehicle there to reach us to Samsara on a mud road.
We started our trek from Samsara after a short meeting of introduction and instruction about the trek. Mr Rehan Ullah and Shah Zeb were sent with porters as an advance party to establish a campsite and cooked the lunch there. There were clouds in the sky and sometimes it starts drizzling. The trek was full of fun as; it was easy; there was greenery, moderate weather, an average time of trekking etc. We reached there at 2:00 pm and the advance party were busy in lunch preparation. As the weather was a bit cold, so Mr Azhar Uddin decided to cook vegetable-soup as well with chicken Karahi. We eat lunch at about 3:30 pm. After lunch, some of the members went to the streamside to see the tomb and enjoy photography at stream side. While some members were busy to cook Chicken Biryani for the Dinner. Mr Zarin Mama a local elder invite us to stay in his Bethak instead of Camps. As the weather was freezing, so we didn’t think for a while. We accommodate our whole team in the Bethak.
Next day, in the morning we take our Breakfast and were instructed to collect all the Garbage from the campsite and be ready for the plantation. We went there to Baba’s Tomb site and an apostle of Baba was cleaning the area of the Mazar. We plant some plants on the verge of the Mazar. Some of the Trekkers had the view to reaching to the top of Banjeer called Nallu Sar but others had a genuine problem due to which it was cancelled.
We started back towards the Kandak side at 10:15 am. Our Plan was to eat lunch at Balokaly stupa. But due to our slow trek in hot weather, it was not feasible for our guest’s trekkers to stay because they were leaving for Lahore. We came back to Barikot and see off the guests at Barikot up to the car. We reached back to Mingora at 3:00 pm.