The most celebrated monk from Thailand, Arayawangso, said that Buddhist sites in Swat are an essential part of Buddhist history in Pakistan and must be visited by followers of the religion from all around the world.
Together with his 20 disciples and other Thai people, he was touring the Buddhist sites. The delegation’s first day included stops at the Swat Museum, Saidu Sharif Stupa, and the monk’s place of worship, Butkara Buddhist Monastery.
It was Monk Arayawangso’s first visit to Swat. He was pleased to gain a better understanding of Uddiyana, the ancient name of Swat, and its diverse history.
“I am content to have seen the Buddhist sites and hundreds of artefacts in the Swat Museum. It is my hope that Buddhists from all over the world will one day visit Swat to see the ancient monasteries and other remarkable sites,” he said.
Dr Nitinant Wisaweisuan, a member of the delegation from Puey Ungphakorn School of Development Studies, Thammasat University, stated that she was impressed with the scenic beauty of Swat and its diverse cultural heritage and history, which included Buddhism.
The director of archaeology and museums, Dr Abdul Samad, who accompanied the group, said that the monk and his 20 disciples were visiting Pakistan for a three-month Rain Retreat Programme usually known as the intense learning period when monks dwell in one place during the rainy season for a three-month monastic retreat determined by the lunar calendar.
“During his visit, he will be doing meditation and research in Taxila, Swat, Takht Bahi and Peshawar valley,” he said.