Swat (Urdu: سوات) has been inhabited for over two thousand years and was known in ancient times as Udyana. The first inhabitants were settled in well-planned towns. The independent monarchs of this region came under Achaemenid influence, before reverting back to local control in the 4th century BC. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great fought his way to Udegram and Barikot. In Greek accounts these towns have been identified as Ora and Bazira. By 305 BC, the region became a part of the Mauryan Empire. Around the 2nd century BC, the area was occupied by Buddhists, the Indo-Greeks, and the Kushans who were attracted by the peace and serenity of the land. Swat is thought to be the probable birthplace of Vajrayana Buddhism. There are many archaeological sites in the district, and Buddhist relics are common, testimony to their skills as sculptors and architects.
The Swat museum has the, the footprints of the Buddha which were found in the Swat valley and, now can be seen in the Swat museum. When the Buddha passed away, His relics (or ashes) were distributed to seven kings who built stupas over them for veneration..
The Harmarajika stupa (Taxila) and Butkarha (Swat) stupa at Jamal Garha were among the earliest stupas of Gandhara. These had been erected on the orders of king Ashoka and contained the real relics of the Buddha.
The Gandhara schools is probably credited with the first representation of the Buddha in human form, the portrayal of Buddha in his human shape, rather than shown as a symbol.
As Buddhist art developed and spread outside Pakistan, the styles developed here were imitated. For example, in China the Gandhara style was imitated in images made of bronze, with a gradual change in the features of these images. Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is celebrated throughout the world as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. Swat acquired fame as a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. Buddhist tradition holds that the Buddha himself came to Swat during his last reincarnation as the Guatama Buddha and preached to the people here.
It is said that the Swat was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. There are now more than 400 Buddhist sites covering and area of 160 Km in Swat valley only. Among the important Buddhist excavation in swat an important one is Butkarha-I, containing the original relics of the Buddha.