MINGORA: The Saidu Sharif monastery echoed with prayers after nine years on Monday as Bhutanese monks worshiped there.
At least 13 top monks of Bhutan visited Buddhist holy places in Swat valley.
The visitors visited Buddhist archaeological sites and worshiped in ancient monasteries of Butkara and Saidu Sharif.
They expressed excitement at seeing the oldest Buddhist shrines and offered prayers and circumambulated around the Saidu Sharif stupa.
The monks said they were much impressed to see the oldest monasteries and stupas in very good condition.
“We are really excited to come here. Swat is a sacred place for us. Here we feel peace and tranquility amongst natural beauty,” said Tsewang Penjor, the head monk of the oldest monastery in Bhutan.
He praised the government for preserving the centuries-old Buddhist places of worship.
The head monk said Bhutan and Pakistan had similar spiritual heritage.
“The precious cultural heritage is a jewel for us. We are thankful to the Pakistani government for preserving it in a good manner,” he said.
Other monks said the traces of typical Buddhism practiced in Bhutan were located in Swat.
They said great Buddhist monk Padmasambhava was born here before he went to Bhutan in the eighth century spreading Buddhism.
“Swat valley is the fountain spring of Vajrayana Buddhism and as Guru Padmasambhava is the son of this soil, who is the most respected Guru in Bhutan, we are privileged to visit here,” said Rinchen Choezang, a monk.
Archaeologists in Swat termed the visit of monks very important for the promotion of cultural and religious tourism in Swat.
“This is really happy news for the archaeology of Swat that Buddhists have begun visiting here. The monks worshiped under the open sky in Saidu Sharif monastery after nine years. This will send out a message of peace to the world and encourage those wanting to come here,” said Faizur Rehman, the curator of Swat Museum and chief of the Swat archaeology department.
Buddhist archaeological sites were closed for worship in 2007 when militants challenged the writ of the government in Swat.