SWAT - White Palace Marghazar Swat is of historical importance that is visited by a large number of tourists from around the world.

The locals and tourists not only visit Marghazar for its lush exquisite green landscape, calm environment and pleasant weather but most of them visit to witness the state-of-the-art royal building of the White Palace. Many tourists called it Swat’s Taj Mahal . The White Palace has a unique and interesting historical background.

This elegant building was constructed in 1935 with the name of Swati Taj Mahal . It was built by the first Wali (King) of Swat Miangul Abdul Wadood as a royal summer residence. The King brought marble quarry from Jaipur Agra in India, the same quality quarry which was used in Taj Mahal 's. finishing work. A beautiful palace of white stones was constructed in 1941 which was firstly named Swati Taj Mahal , then changed to Moti Mahal and finally the building has rechristened Safaid Mahal (White Palace). White Palace is a spacious three-storey building. King Miangul Abdul Wadood used to move his government work here during the summer season along with an army of his advisers, ministers and personal staff officers. On the first storey there was king’s separate suite room along with one meeting hall, one dining room and one lounge while on the second floor couple of rooms were allocated for advisers, ministers and cabinet members while third floor was used by king’s family members.

According to Azizur Rehman, daily visitor of White Palace, king first planned to construct the Palace in a suburban village, which is very close to Marghazar but it was mountainous area with no proper transportation at that time so he decided to construct it at Marghazar. The most interesting and unique was Jaipur marble in White Palace construction, which was also used in the construction of famous Taj Mahal , Aziz stated. “I reserved single room for myself at third floor which I visit daily, stay for couple of hours there to relax. I am a fan of White Palace Marghazar. People must visit this historical place,” he said. Making entrance to White Palace, a lush-green lawn offers a welcoming sight. “I sit and watch Elum High Mountain from here. These are all the factors which give me pleasure and relax my mood,” Aziz added.

According to a local Amirzada, King Wadood was deeply involved in the layout plan and construction of the place as he personally supervised everything inside the building.

He said “This was the palace where Queen Elizabeth II stayed during her visit to Swat Valley back in 1961.” Currently, it serves as a luxury hotel and is popular among visitors. The tourists from all over the country visit to enjoy the beautiful scenic view and cool weather.

The White Palace’s beauty and charm is fading day by day after King Wadood died in 1971. “The palace was once a well-known place for foreign visitors but now we cannot offer stay to any high-profile figure due to non-caring, improper maintenance of its grandeur,” Amirzada added. Despite remarkable history and its grandeur, one would really feel dejected to witness the sorry state of affairs of the palace. The pipelines are broken, stagnant water accumulated inside washroom, electricity wires are hanging on the walls and few marble chairs and tables also lie broken and scattered.

Hassan Chattan, a journalist hailing from Swat, while talking to The Nation said “White Palace has its own historical significance but unfortunately it is in a dilapidated condition due to the negligence by the government and members of the royal family. In spite of preserving our culture heritage the royal family gave it on lease to a local contractor who is earning handsome income from the visitors but without maintaining it in an organised manner.” He regretted this and called upon the government and royal family members to take appropriate and urgent action for persevering this historical building which is symbol of cultural heritage of Swat.

When contacted Miangul Shehryar Amirzeb, grandson of Miangul Jahanzeb the last ruler of Swat, said “Reason behind giving White Palace on lease was that I am alone and couldn’t look after the historic building in true spirit. I was expecting the contractor will look after the building by maintaining its significance and beauty.”

According to Executive Director of the Suvastu Art and Culture Association, Usman Ulasyar, “Empire of different civilization like Ashoka and many others has spent periods in Swat and still many historic symbols of art were present in good shape but due to indifferent attitude and apathy of the various government institutions we are losing the grandeur of historical buildings, which still have great value.”

“White Palace is our culture heritage, if we look at the architecture of the building it speaks about peace, education and tourism itself. Actually these are the tourism spots which can attract many,” he maintained.