MINGORA, Aug 3: Dilapidated condition of Marghazar road and lack of other facilities have been the main hurdles for tourists to visit the historic Sufaid Mahal (White Palace), an eye-catching picnic spot, here.
Located just 15 kilometres from Mingora city, this summer resort of late Mian Gul Abdul Wadood, former ruler of once a princely state of Swat, luckily remained safe when militants demolished Malam Jabba Ski Resort and other picnic spots.
Abdul Wadood had built this palace in 1941 and used it as his summer resort. It was opened for general public in 1984.
Suleman Khan, a manager of the palace, told Dawn that during summer season from June to September over 6,000 people visited the palace.
He said that most of the visitors belonged to different districts of Punjab, Karachi and Peshawar, Mardan and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Mr Khan said that the road to Marghazar was narrow and in a bad shape due to which a large
number of visitors had been avoiding to travel to the spot. He said that if the government repaired the road and provided internet and mobile phone services to the area the number of visitors would surely go up.
He said that the number of visitors fell during Ramazan. “We have been arranging Iftar dinner for over 60 persons daily during the last two years, but this Ramazan the number of visitors here at the palace has dropped to 40 persons daily,” he said. Marghazar valley is located at the height of 7,000 feet from sea level and its green trees and surrounding mountains made it a narrow hamlet and an attractive picnic resort.
Easa Khan, a resident of Kala Kallay in Kabal tehsil said that he visited the White Palace, Marghazar, for the first time and found the spot to be very attractive.
“I wish to visit it again and again as it is a place of natural beauty,” he remarked.
However, he said that the bad condition of road was the main
hurdle to visitors to come to Marghazar.
The ex-king of princely state Abdul Wadood, commonly known as Badshah Sahib, chose the valley for his summer resort in 1935 and started construction of the palace, which was completed in 1941.
Badshash Sahib made the palace an attractive and historical spot by using the same marble in all its rooms, which was used in Taj Mahal in India. Mr Khan said that the marble was imported from Jaipur, India.
Besides, the mirrors used in different rooms of the palace were imported from Belgium, while the artisan W’as called from Turkey not only for its designing, but also for construction of the palace.
Aamir Sohail, a resident of Mingora, said that he had visited the palace so many times and always wished to stay there as long as possible.
He said that the government should pay attention to the Marghazar valley and provide basic facilities to the area so as to promote tourism.
Shafiullah, a resident of Marghazar, said that their area should be provided basic facilities so that people could improve their livelihood conditions.