1 • The Site
The site of Saidu Shafif I lies in the Swat Valley, in the north of Pakistan, and more precisely in the Khyber‑Pakhtunkhwa province (previously known as the North‑West Frontier Province, NWFP), at the foot of the Hindukush. Saidu Sharif I, henceforth abbreviated as ‘Saidu’, is a Buddhist sanctuary situated at the bottom of a steep valley which bifurcates before the homonymous river, not far from its point of confluence with the Swat River. The area lies to the south‑east of an ancient built‑up area, the great capital, whose remains extend under the urban fabric of the modern town of Mingora, known in the early Chinese sources as Mengjieli. In the neighbourhood of Mengjieli stands the great sanctuary known to both Chinese and Tibetan pilgrims, which according to Giuseppe Tucci (1958) is Butkara I.