Mahodand Lake is a freshwater lake in the northern part of Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The lake is located at an elevation of 2,362 metres (7,746 ft). It is about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) long and 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) wide.
The lake and surroundings are protected within the 2,500 square kilometres (970 sq mi) Mahodand Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The site is noted for hosting a wide variety of native wildlife, including northern red-legged falcon, Indian crested porcupine, Himalayan black bear and the extremely rare snow leopard. It is also a catchment area for migrating Siberian birds such as the demoiselle crane and common crane.
Mahodand Lake Resort is a rustic four star resort built on the banks of Mahodand Lake in 2007. During summer season (April 1 to November 15) the resort operates adventure sports facilities, while during winter it hosts numerous ice activities including ice skating, ice hockey, speed skating and curling.
The Mahodand Lake is located in the upper reaches of River swat at about 7500 feet above sea level. There are three main ways to reach the lake through following ways:
• Swat-Kalam road (35 km)
• Kalam-Mawrshi-Jaloo-Bazeegala Road (18 km)
• Kalam To Manglori road. Mahodand Lake is located some 12 miles from Kalam town in NWFP, Pakistan. It is a popular tourist destination in Swat valley of Pakistan. The lake’s water stretches about 4 kilometers from east to west and about 4 kilometers from north to south. The lake receives snowfall in winter which makes it an ideal destination for a summer escape.
Mahodand Lake is surrounded by the Hindu Kush mountain range, which adds to its beauty.
The total area of the lake is 5,000 hectares(12000 acres). It was formed about 250-300 years ago as a result of an earthquake which blocked the Swat river and created a natural dam. It is fed by springs and small brooks coming from glaciers at higher altitudes. The lake freezes during winter but does not completely thaw until May and remains cool till September. Since Mahodand Lake lies in one of the hottest places on earth, it is one of the favorite tourist spots.
Mahodand Lake has a cool climate with fruit trees and various species of birds. Snow-capped mountains surround it which look magnificent especially in the morning sunlight. Swat Valley’s beauty lies in its green fields, waterfalls and forests all around Mahodand. All of these natural wonders of Swat come together to create an amazing place.
Mahodand Lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and lush green forests, which makes it one of the most popular tourist spots in Pakistan. The lake has a water surface of about 3300 acres and is surrounded by snow-covered peaks, which presents a perfect view. The lake lies in the northwest of Swat district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and is about 8 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide.
Mahodand Lake Resort is one of the major tourist destinations of Swat Valley and offers a great opportunity to enjoy adventure activities such as camping, boating and trekking as well as other activities such as fishing, angling and bird watching. The resort is divided into four parts: the beach, the mountain peak, the valley and the forest section.
Camping at Mahodand Lake Resort is quite popular among visitors interested in a rustic style of spending their vacations. Keeping this in mind, the resort has set up isolated sites for camping on the beach side. The mountain peak offers fantastic views of the lake. Visitors can also camp near the stream that flows down from a ridge on one side of the lake, to have a more adventurous experience.
Mahodand Lake is surrounded by green pastures which are ideal for exploring on foot. Trekking enthusiasts can walk through the fields to enjoy a close look at the surrounding hills and lush green vegetation. The resort offers its visitors with horse riding facilities in order to make their trekking experience more enjoyable.
The valley section of Mahodand Lake lies on the eastern side where boating activities are held. Two wooden boats are provided by the resort for use by visitors. The resort also arranges fishing tours on request.
The best time to visit Mahodand Lake Resort is between July and November, when the weather is pleasant and dry. Visitors can enjoy a great experience throughout this period without having to deal with the intensive heat of June and May or extreme cold of December and January. December to March are the winter months in Pakistan because of which the lake remains frozen during these times. It is, however, ideal for ice fishing activities.
Some nearby attractions include:
The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has taken many steps for tourism development and promotion in Swat valley where Mahodand Lake is located. A number of projects have been initiated by the Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP), such as:
The Government has also established 3 tourist information centers in Swat such as:
Other than this, a large number of waterfalls and parks are being developed to attract more domestic and international tourists.
The provincial government is planning to establish a world-class mountaineering institute in the area for promotion of tourism sector and mountaineering activities besides setting up a five-star hotel near Mahodand Lake. It has also granted Rs 10 million for renovation and restoration of the historic royal fort at Malam Jabba, to turn it into a world class ski resort.
The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is taking efforts to promote eco-tourism, adventure tourism and religious tourism by establishing the following projects:
Hotel accommodations in Swat Valley are limited because of which most visitors choose to stay in one of the numerous hotels of Saidu Sharif. However, the TCKP has built a rest house near Mahodand Lake Resort to accommodate visitors on their way to this destination.
There are no shopping markets available at Mahodand Lake but people can buy snacks and soft drinks from small eateries or kiosks located along the road leading to the lake. A few shops have also been set up on the premises of the resort to sell souvenirs and craft items to visitors.
Mahodand Lake was one of the many lakes formed by a glacial lake outburst flood from a breach in a glacial moraine dammed lake created by an avalanche from a slippage of wet unconsolidated debris from the steep slopes of a mountain. The natural dam which caused this lake is situated at an elevation of about 4,200 feet (1,300 m) above the level of Mahodand Lake. Glacial moraine dams are formed by till or rock fragments embedded in glacier ice, carried and then deposited by the glacier. More than 600 glacial lakes in the environs of Swat have been mapped from aerial photographs. However, there are no glacial moraine dams with a height greater than 300 feet (100 m) in this region.
The water of Mahodand Lake is not potable because it contains harmful substances which can cause stomach diseases and fever. Visitors are advised to carry their own water bottles.
Swat has experienced many natural disasters, the worst being the landslide at Saidu Sharif which caused extensive damage to life and property in 2008. The northern side of Malam Jabba Hill is highly unstable due to landslides. A recent massive landslide with a volume of about 2 million cubic metres fell on the eastern flank of the hill in 2012, which has greatly increased instability in this area.
Under its “Partnerships for Risk Reduction Project”, UNDP Pakistan with collaboration of Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), established an early warning system to provide timely alerts about natural disasters like floods, landslides and avalanches. The system established in Swat Valley has already demonstrated its success in saving lives when it successfully alerted people in five Union Councils of the valley during the 2014 floods.
During winter season, this place is generally free from snowfall; however, landslides are likely to occur due to significant decrease in temperatures. Moreover, the mountains are covered with snow during this season.
Mahodand Lake can be accessed by two-wheel drive vehicles which have to pass over a network of metalled roads leading to the lake. Two routes are available for reaching Swat from Islamabad, one via Muzaffarabad and the other via Kohat. It takes about 11–12 hours to reach Swat from Peshawar, driving on the federally maintained Karakoram Highway (KKH) which runs through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. One can also take a shorter and safer route via Mastuj and Chitral. From Chitral, the road leads southwards to Dir and then Swat.