SITES IN AFGHANISTAN
1: Uzbekistan & Afghanistan
Tour 2: Afghanistan an
exclusive 15 days
capital of war torn Afghanistan is one of the oldest cities
in Central Asia. Kabul is situated on the Kabul River and
is one of the highest capital cities (1800 m - above sea level)
in the world. The history of Kabul dates back to the legendary
times of epic Ramayana when Kubha is mentioned as the founder
of the city. Lying at the crossroads Kabul was always victim
of invasions and civil strife. During the reign of Kushanas
the city must have been a place of importance since it led
the way to their winter capital of Peshawar. In the vicinity
of Kabul was the famous Begram, which had attained its prominence
of being an important center of the eastern Hellenic Art.
Kabul rose to importance when Mughal Emperor Babur made his
capital and since then it inter-acted with various ruling
dynasties. The recent history of Kabul is painful being subjected
to incessant civil war and lately under the wrathful rule
Nation’s chief economic and cultural center, it has long been
of strategic importance because of its proximity to the Khyber
Pass. This city grew as an industrial center after 1940 and
the main products of this city were textiles, processed food,
chemicals and wood products, Tajiks are the predominant population
group of Kabul and Pashtuns are an important minority. Kabul
University, which is now partially opened, was founded in
1932 and during 70’s and 80’s it was the best known in the
region for higher education.
was occupied by Soviet troops in 1979 and later it went through
the toughest and most disastrous civil war of its history
from 1992 to 1996. Taliban later ruled the city from 1996
to 2001 before the Northern Alliance took over the city as
Taliban withdrew from Kabul after the American intervention
in Oct 2001. Currently, Kabul is the capital of Transitional
Government being led by Mr. Hamed Karzai.
city of Kabul, which used to be a tourist attraction, has
lost its charm during the last 24 years of its history. Infrastructures
such as roads and traffic system, telephone and electricity
system, water sanitation, renovation of buildings is in shambles
and the need for reconstruction is very much needed to bring
back the city to a better place for living. The major places
of interest in Kabul are as follows:
KABUL BALA HISAR:
Bala-Hisar means a citadel or fortress within a walled town
on top of a ridge or hill. Bala-Hissar as town’s main defensive
complex has served as residence of Afghan rulers. Most of
Afghan historic cities have a Bala-Hissar. The famous emperors
like Babor Shah and Timor Lang are said to have resided in
it. This 06th century old fortress has witnessed
most of the exciting events of the century’s history until
1880 when it was destroyed during the second Anglo Afghan
war. Nadir Shah started the process of reconstruction and
since 1939 it served as military college until it was left
in ruin by the bombardments & skirmishes.
The Kabul Museum, which used to have one of the finest collections
of antiquities in Asia, has had nearly three-quarters of its
finest collections looted. It is still possible to see the
remaining artifacts - those without any significant monetary
value. Museum hours are erratic.
GARDENS OF BABUR:
pleasant Gardens of Babur were once a cool retreat near the
city walls. Moghul Emperor Babur laid out these gardens in
16th century and later Amir Abdul Rehman made few
additions and later Emperor Shah Jehan built a mosque. Babur
died in Agra in 1530 but he loved these gardens so much that
he wished before his death to be buried in these gardens.
His Afghan wife, Bibi Mobarka, who built his tomb in these
gardens, fulfilled his wish. Recently these gardens were in
ruin but now AKDN (Aga Khan Development Network) has taken
the responsibility of its re-construction to return back to
its past glory.
Amir Abdul Rahman (1880-1901) built this citadel to operate
the Bala Hisar places. Within the Arg, there was Salam khana
(hall of salutation) and the Dilkosha Palace (Heart Delight
palace). Later it was used for presidential offices until
it was left in ruin due to heavy bombardments.
tomb of Timur Shah, son of Ahmad Shah Durrani, who moved the
capital from Kandahar to Kabul, was built in 1817. A charming
landmark of the city is the mausoleum of Amir Abdul Rahman,
one of the Afghanistan’s most rulers. It stands in Zarnegar
Park, in the center of the city as a fine example of 19th
century architecture remaining in Kabul. The imposing white-marbled,
blue-domed mausoleum of Nadir Shah stands on the hill known
as Tapa Marajan overlooking Kabul.
many colorful bazaars were the places to attract a large number
of visitors for shopping and sightseeing. Among the most famous,
which exists in today’s Kabul as well are Chicken Street,
Shor Bazaar and Bazaar-e-Charchata.
Afghanistan is an intensely Muslim country and for centuries
the Muslim rulers have ruled it, therefore, the rich Islamic
heritage can be seen in architecture of many interesting mosques.
The most famous ones in the center of the city are:
Kheshti, Masjid-e-Shahe Du Shamshira, Masjid-e-Sherpur (Blue
Mosque), Masjid-e-Id Gah, Masjid-e-Syed Majnun Shah &
Masjid-e-Wazir Akbar Khan.
was one of the largest cultural and Islamic centers in the
Central Asia in 14th through 16th centuries.
Herat is the third large city in Afghanistan with 150,000
population in 1992. It is located in the western part of Afghanistan
bordered with Iran and custom port of Islam Quala connect
the 02 countries; Afghanistan & Iran. Herat is the center
of the same name of Herat Province.
was once a small, provincial, relatively green, laze-about
place that everyone seemed to like, an easygoing oasis after
a lot of hassle and dry desert. In the 15th century,
Herat was the Timurid center of art, poetry, miniature painting
& music, blending Persian, Central Asian and Afghan cultures
to create one of Central Asia’s cultural highlights.
the first half of 15th century to the beginning
of 16th century, Herat intensively grew by territorial
size and population. Particularly, by the time of Ali Shir
Nawahee, this city developed not only as capital, i.e., largest
center of handicraft productions and trade, but also as outstanding
artistic and cultural center of Central Asia. Similar to the
city of Herat had not been neither in all Middle East region,
nor in Central Asia.
economy of Herat is based on agriculture, the planting of
cotton, rice, and wheat. Home industries produce rugs, carpets,
silk materials, fur jackets and products of camel hair. Herati
rugs have a worldwide value. The economic and agricultural
activities in Herat have concentrated in the valleys of Hari
Rod River. Herat historically has a great historic and tourist
value. The traditional buildings and mosques, which form the
dominant architectural accent of city, have played a significant
role to attract mass of population and tourists to this historic
city, which is 645 km west of Kabul.
The places of interest in Herat are as follows:
Friday Mosque or Masjet-e-Jam is Herat number one attraction
and among the finest Islamic buildings in the world, certainly
the finest in Afghanistan. “Masjet-e-Jam” is the largest building
in this region and is known for its beautiful tile and mosaic
decoration. Ghorid Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din originally laid out
the form in which it stands today on the site of an earlier
10th century mosque in year 1200. The mosque is an exciting
example of the artistic sophistication of the Ghorid. The
various artworks in this mosque also provide the visitors
an opportunity to compare the Ghorid and Timurid tiles work.
The restoration work on this mosque started in 1943 as an
effort to return it back to its past glory. Besides the artwork,
other attractions in this mosque are the huge bronze cauldron,
which used as a receptacle for Sherbet (a sweet drink) but
now a day it is used for collection of donations, the unadorned
tomb of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din, and a tall pillar in the garden
that was erected to commemorates Afghanistan’s fallen soldiers.
THE CITADEL (Qala-i-Ikhtiyar-ud-din)
Built in its present form by Malik Fakhruddin in 1305
A.D., this citadel has a long & stormy history as conquerors
like Genghis Khan and Tamerlane fought beneath its walls.
This fort, originally built by Alexander the Great, suffered
repeated attacks over the history but still dominated the
landscape of Heart. Held by the Ghaznavids, the Seljuks, the
Ghorids, the Mongols, the Timurids, the Safavids and others,
the citadel is a reminder of the time of Kings, conquerors
and great pageantry.
On a short walk from the city center are the remains of old
madrassa built by the Queen Gaur Shad in 1417. The wife of
Timurid ruler Shah Rukh, Gaur Shad was the daughter-in-law
of Timur and a remarkable woman in her own right who kept
the empire intact for many years. The Mousallah Complex has
been described as the most beautiful example in color in architecture
ever devised by man to the glory of his God and himself. Gaur
Shad’s mausoleum still stands near the madrassa. There were
12 minarets in this complex but six of them were demolished
by British troops in 1885 whereas earthquakes subsequently
downed rest of the three in 1931 & 1951. The mausoleum
of Gaur Shad still stands near the madrassa. This is a beautiful
tomb with tile work and typical ribbed dome as of Tamerlane
TOMB OF THE POET JAMI:
other attraction in Herat is the tomb of famous 15th
century Persian poet, Nur-ud-din Abdurrakhman Jami, who died
in 1492. Jami was the greatest of the 15th century’s
poets, a titan during a period characterized by supreme literary
brilliance. His simple tomb sheltered by a spreading pistachio
tree, lies in the garden of a mosque.
shrine complex of Gazar Gah (1425) is about 5 km east of Heart.
Here Shah Rukh built many buildings, which were lavishly decorated
with brilliant tile work. The main attraction is the tomb
of Khawaja Abdullah Ansar, a famous Sufi mystic & poet
who dies in 11th century. Crouching in front of
the shrine’s main portal, its nose resting lightly on its
paws, there is a white marble statue of an animal, variously
thought to be a lion or a dog. Next to him is the tomb of
Amir Dost Mohammad, one of the former kings of Afghanistan.
The other main attractions in Gazar Gah are Main iwan (main
court), a fifteen-foot marble pillar depicting the artwork
of Timurid period. A remarkable sarcophagus called Haft Qalam
(seven pens) fashioned of black marble, Khana Zarnegar (Pavilion
adorned with gold) and Hauze Zamzam (Sacred water pond) are
the other attractions.
bazaars are full of fascination and colour. As in most large
towns in Afghanistan, the four main bazaars of the old city
come together at a central square called the Chahrsuq or Four
Bazaars. This is the hub of the old city and in addition to
the shops lining the streets there are several covered bazaars
in the vicinity. Another monument of architectural interest
situated within this bazaar is a large covered reservoir of
1634, which was used to distribute water in the city during
the Safavid’s period.
is some 177 km from Herat city. It is a scant but as you approach
it across a plateau, you can see the 02 famous gumbad or domes
of Chisht. The town with its meandering bazaar street sits
in the ravine between these plateaus. Winding down & up,
you will find an avenue of pine trees leading directly to
02 ruined buildings now standing in the middle of an extensive
graveyard. Experts argue as to the purpose of these buildings.
Some speak of them as mausoleums. Others see them as parts
of a grand complex of buildings, a madrassa, perhaps with
its mosque. The mutilated molded terracotta brick decoration
can only speak softly their former magnificence. Stylistically,
the decoration of these buildings falls into the category
of Ghorid arch in the Masjet-e-Jami and the minaret of Jam,
both of which bear the name of Ghiyas-ud-din Ghori (1157-1202).
is a province in Central Afghanistan with an area of about
6700 sq.m and a population of about 280,00 in 1992. A town
of the same name is the administrative center of this province.
Bamiyan is counted one of the poorest regions of Afghanistan
because of its geographic location and its isolation from
village of Bamiyan with its archeological remains is the most
conspicuous site of Afghanistan. The village lies about 2500m
above sea level and some 240 km west of Kabul. The exquisite
beauty of this valley is embraced by the snow-capped Range
of Koh-e-Baba Mountains in the south and in the north by the
steep cliffs in which images of Buddhas were carved. The pastel
colors of its surroundings give visitors an impression of
the magnificence and serenity of nature.
area of Bamiyan developed under Kanishka the Great to become
a major commercial and religious center and smaller statue
of Buddha (38 m high) was built during his reign. Two centuries
later the colossal Buddha statue (55 m high) was curved. Thousands
of ornamented caves, inhabited by yellow robed monks, extended
into Folladi Pilgrims from the entire Buddhist world poured
into Bamiyan to admire its spectacular and sacred sites.
town was rules in 07th century by princess but
was subject to the Western Turks. The rulers first accepted
Islam in the 08th century. Bamiyan fell to Muslim
conquerors when the Saffavid ruler captured Bamiyan in 871.
After changing hands several times, Bamiyan was destroyed
and its inhabitants exterminated in 1221 by the Genghis Khan.
Since that time it has never regained its former glory. In
1840 Bamiyan was the scene of fighting in the First Anglo-Afghan
War. A significant number of tourists from all around the
world were visiting this site before the Civil War in Afghanistan.
Besides the Buddha caves there are various other sites as
well in this area including Shahr-e-Gholghola and Shahr-e-Zohak.
BOT-E-BAMIYAN (Buddhas Statue):
02 famous Buddha statues (36 m & 53 m high) dating from
03rd & 5th century were located
in Bamiyan province. These statues were hewn into solid rock
and overlaid with stucco, and although they have suffered
from the ravages of time and destruction by man, some of the
stucco works and wall paintings are still preserved. The walls
of the 90m high cliffs are honeycombed with caves that used
to serve as living quarters of Buddhist monks. The sculptures
and paintings are “an eclectic hybrid mixing Indian, Central
and classical European styles and ideas. The caves were of
various forms and the interiors of many bear traces of fine
fresco painting that links them with contemporary caves in
statues were first mentioned in 5th century A.D.
when these statues were visited by Chinese traveler Hsuan-Tsang
in 630 A.D. At that time Bamiyan was a center of commerce
and the Buddhist religion. When Hsuan-Tsang saw these statues,
they were decorated with gold and fine jewels. The 02 Buddha
figures, together with numerous ancient man-made caves in
the cliffs north of town, made Bamiyan a major Afghan archaeological
site. Taliban officials destroyed these statues in 2001. Clerics
interpreted Islamic law to mean that such artifacts were disrespectful
to Allah, though the world (including the governments of Iran
and Saudi Arabia) begged them to reconsider. Now little remains
of these shrines are left. The modern town of Bamiyan lies
below the caves.
BANDE AMIR LAKES:
is the unspoiled natural beauty of Afghanistan that forms
the visitor’s first and most enduing impression of the country.
But of the entire natural wonders of Afghanistan, the lakes
of Bande Amir are perhaps the most outstanding. Situated in
the mountainous Hazarajat at an altitude of approx 300m, 75
km from Bamiyan, these majestic blue lakes are of legendary
series of five clear blue lakes is formed by the flow of water
over a succession of natural dams, running from higher to
the next one below. According to local tradition, the dams
were the creation of Hazrat Ali (Caliph Ali), and the word
“Amir” (King or Commander) refers to the Caliph, not to any
Afghan ruler. Bande Amir is also the name of a river which
rises in the Bande Amir lakes and runs through Yakowlang valley
in a southwest direction until it turns northeast, at that
point it is known as the Balkab, finally it turns north and
dissipates in the Turkestan plains.
SHAHR-E-GHOLGOLA (Town of noise):
cave town of Shahr-e-Gholgola is located in central part of
Afghanistan. These are the ruins of a once prosperous city
of 05th to 07th A.D., which was demolished
by Genghis Khan during his invasion in Bamiyan Valley in 1221
A.D. The name is derived from Persian and means the “city
of noise”. Others refer to it as “Silent city” or “Screaming
city”. The Mongols themselves have called this city “Mao Balegh”,
meaning the “Cursed city”. Infact when Genghis Khan brought
the defenders of this town to their knees where upon he entered
the citadel to fulfill a vow to kill everybody including man,
woman, child, bird and animal in the valley. The scream that
accompanied the final massacre gave the citadel the name by
which it is known today.
SHAHR-E-ZOHAK (Red Town):
is another cave town located just near to Shahr-e-Gholgola.
This city is built on a steep spur just 15 km east of Bamiyan.
These ruins are situated a top 350 ft cliffs of red colour
overlooking the Valley of Tagao, Bamiyan. Due to these red
colour cliffs, this city is known as “Red Town”. The ruins
of this town represent the Buddhism era of 05th
to 07th century A.D. This mass of impressive ruins
was once the principal fortress protecting the entrance of
the city of Bamiyan during the reign of the Shansabani King
in 12-13th centuries A.D. Genghis Khan destroyed
this town in 1221 A.D. as revenge to his wounded grandson.
town of Balkh, which is the same name of the province, has
a very glorious past. It is located in northern Afghanistan
close to Mazar-i-Sharif. It is claimed to be one of the world’s
oldest cities and the legendary birthplace of the prophet
Zoroaster. Alexander the Great reputedly founded a Greek colony
here. The city later attained great wealth and importance
as Bactria, capital of the independent kingdom of Bactria.
In the early centuries A.D., Balkh, a prominent center of
Buddhism, was renowned for its Buddhist monasteries and stupas.
Arabs came in the 08th century and made it an important
center and especially it became important in the world of
Islam as the original home of the Barmakids. Under the Abbasids
caliphate its fame as a center of learning earned Balkh the
title “mother of cities”. By the 09th century,
during the rule of the Samanid Dynasty, about 40 Friday mosques
stood within the city.
is also known as the home of Rabia Balkhi, the first woman
poet of Islam period and of Mauwlana Jalal-ud-din Balkhi (Rumi),
perhaps the most distinguished Sufi poet. His Masnawi is considered
as the greatest poem ever written in Persian language. Balkh’s
glorious history closed in 1220 A.D. when the mounted men
of Genghis Khan rode through and left in utterly devastated.
The city, nevertheless, lying on an important trade route
recovered under the enlightened rule of Shah Rukh and his
Queen Gawhar Shad of Heart
1850, Balkh became part of the unified kingdom of Afghanistan.
The old city is now mostly in ruins; the new city, some distance
away, is an agricultural and commercial center, inhabited
chiefly by Uzbeks. Excavations have uncovered objects of the
early Muslim period.
Mazar-i-Sharif means “The Noble Grave” is one of the most
prestigious and religious cities in Afghanistan that is located
in northern part of the country. Based on the historical facts
and local suggestions; the tomb of Hazrat Ali (Caliph Ali),
cousin and son-in-law of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is located
in this city. Each year thousands of people come to this city
to attend the New Year celebration of Nowroz and visit the
grandiose Mosque of Roza Mubarik.
main ethnic group of population of Mazar-i-Sharif is Uzbeks
who form around 9% of Afghan population. It is the capital
town of Balkh province and a major trading center famous for
Karakul, a great variety of traditional Turkmen carpets and
high quality, long staple cotton.
ROZA MUBARIK (Shrine of Hazrat Ali):
The magnificent shrine of Hazrat Ali is the main attraction
in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which also derive its name
from the same shrine. The 04th Caliph of Islam,
Hazart Ali was assassinated in 661 A.D. and buried at Kufa
near Baghdad. Local tradition, however, relates that his flowers,
fearing enemies may take revenge on the body, placed his remains
on a white she-camel that wandered until she fell exhausted.
On this spot the body was buried. All knowledge of the final
resting place was lost until its existence was revealed and
the great Seljuk Sultan Sanjar ordered a shrine built here
in 1136 A.D. Genghis Khan destroyed this building and again
the grave lay unmarked until a second revelation during the
reign of Timurid Sultan Hussain Baiqara. He ordered an elaborate
shrine constructed in 1481 A.D. None of the 15th
century decoration remains but modern restoration has returned
the building to its original beauty. This shrine is one of
the famous Islamic architecture styles. Tow cupolas were constructed
over the tomb by Sultan Ali Mirza of Timurids dynasty of Herat
in early 15th century.
Mubarik is visited by countless pilgrims throughout the year
and particularly on Nawroz (21 March) when the great Janda
(religious banner) is raised to announce the beginning of
spring and the coming of the New Year, which is the most elaborately
celebrated festival in Afghanistan.
NO-GONBAD MOSQUE (Mosque of Nine Cupolas):
mosque is located 12 km south of small town of Balkh and was
built in 09th century. The mosque is not large
being only 10 sq.m. Nine cupolas originally covered it but
the domes have fallen and the floor is now buried under more
than a meter of rubble. This mosque is also known as Khoja
Piada. Some researchers suggested that this mosque witnessed
of transition to the new step of development of local constructed
art, which neither had known in the West, nor in the East
before. Based on the latest archaeological excavation, the
ruins of this complex date back to 08th & 09th
TOP-I-RUSTAM & TAKHT-I-RUSTAM:
mounds standing by the south shoulder of the paved road to
Balkh are the remains of the monastery and stupa described
by Hsuan-Tsang. A 61m high stupa sat a top the eastern mound,
today called Top-i-Rustam. The western mound is known as Takht-i-Rustam
and was covered by a convent housing several sacred relics
of the Buddha. They have long been abandoned forever by the
time. Now a days villager takes bricks from these mounds for
their own buildings. There are more than hundred Buddhist
monasteries in Balkh town.
the birthplace and first capital of modern Afghanistan, founded
by Ahmed Shah Durrani in 1747, is today the second largest
city of Afghanistan located on the Asian Highway halfway between
Kabul & Heart. The area is rich in ancient history. Here
Alexander the Great founded Alexandria of Arachosia and the
region was repeatedly fought over by the Saffavids and Moghuls.
It was independent minded Afghan of Kandahar, first under
the leadership of Mir Wais and then of Ahmad Shah Durrani,
who hastened the decline of both empires and annexed much
of their territories to the young Afghan Kingdom in 18th
city of Kandahar is also the capital of Kandahar province
and has population of about 250,000. Kandahar is a market
for sheep, wool, cotton, food grains, fresh & dried fruit,
and tobacco. It has an international airport and is linked
by road with Kabul, Herat
and the Central Asian republics. Woolen cloth, felt, and silk
are manufactured. The surrounding irrigated region produces
fine fruits, especially grapes, and the city has plant for
canning, drying and packing fruits. Modern Kandahar adjoins
the old city. Together with Peshawar, Kandahar is the principal
city of the Pashtun people. Now a days Kandahar does not see
a lot of tourists.
MAUSOLEUM OF AHMED SHAH DURRANI:
Shah Durrani, the founder of Sadozy Dynasty has ruled Afghanistan
from 1747 to 1772 A.D. In October 1747, an assembly of Pashtun
chiefs elected him King of Afghanistan. The Pashtun tribesmen
rallied to his banner, and Ahmed Shah led them on nine campaigns
into Indian in search of booty and territorial conquest. He
added Kashmir, Sindh and Western Punjab to his domains and
founded an empire that extended from Eastern Persia to Northern
India and from Amu Darya to the Indian Ocean. Ahmad Shah appointed
his son Timur as his successor and died of a natural death
in April 1772. His mausoleum is known to be an important historical
monument in Kandahar and an example pf artwork.
DA SHAHIDANU CHOWK (Martyrs Square):
monument to pious Martys (Shahidan: those who died in battle)
stands in the center of Kandahar’s main square called Da Shahidanu
Chowk. Flags and small cannon encircle this monument built
between 1946 & 1948.
DA KHERQA SHARIF ZIARAT:
The shrine of the cloak of the Holy Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH) adjoins Ahmed Shah Durrani’s Mausoleum. This
is one of the holiest shrines in Afghanistan. Ahmed Shah received
the Prophet’s Cloak from Murad Beg, Amir of Bukhara, in 1768,
as a part of treaty settling the northern boundaries. The
building housing this relic is architecturally unpretentious
but its sparkling tile decoration commands attention. The
door of this shrine is inlaid with Lapis Lazuli, Shah Maqsudi
travertine, and chased silver inlaid with gold was installed
in 1974. It is not possible to view the relic.
The Arg or citadel is said to have been built during the early
years of 19th century by Prince Kamra, son of Shah
Mahmood (1800-1803; 1809-1818) while his father was governor
at Kandahar. The offices of the Governor are still located
here but only a small portion of the original layout remains.
CHAR SUQ (Four Bazaars):
Ahmed Shah laid out the city of Kandahar with amazing
regularity. The four principal bazaars meet in the center
of the city at the Char Suq, a square once covered with a
lofty dome where public proclamations were made. It is still
the hub of the city.
SHRINE OF HAZRAT JI BABA:
to the north of city, there is a charming shrine dedicated
to a celebrated saint who lived in Kandahar more than 300
years ago. His grave is 23 ft long to signify his greatness
but solely covered by rock chips. The graves of Kandahari
rulers of 19th century lie near the saint’s tomb.
CHIHLZINA (Forty Steps):
is about 04 km away from Kandahar on Herat road. The Chihlzina
is a rock-cut chamber high above the plain at the end of rugged
chain of mountains forming the western defense of Kandahar’s
old city. The construction of this chamber was started in
1522 on the order of Moghul Emperor Babur and completed in
1531 A.D. Inside the chamber is the history of domain of Emperors.
Forty Steps, about, lead to the chamber, which is guarded
by 02-chained lions, defaced and inscribed with an account
of Moghuls conquest.
MAUSOLEUM OF MIR WAIS BABA:
is situated some 10 km from Kandahar city. Mir Wais Hotak
was the Ghilzai chief who declared Kandahar’s independence
from the Persia in 1709. His mausoleum was built during the
reign of Nadir Shah (1929-33). Before this new mausoleum,
his tomb had no covering. This building is modeled after the
mausoleums of Ahmed Shah Durrani, though it is smaller and
has no interior decoration.
shrine of Baba Wali, the spiritual confident of Shah Rukh
Mirza of Herat (1405-1447), is situated about 08 km in north
of Kandahar. The charming shrine of Baba Wali is situated
on the hillside with its terraces shaded by pomegranate groves
besides the Arghandab River. A famous landmark in Kandahar
known as Fil Koh or Elephant Mountain can also be noted on
returning to Kandahar by the way of Baba Wali Pass.
lies beside the Ghazni River on a high plateau at an elevation
of 2,225 meter. Afghanistan’s only remaining walled town,
it is dominated by a 45 meter high citadel built in the 13th
century. Around the nearby village of Rowzeh-e-Sultan, on
the old road to Kabul, are the ruins of ancient Ghazna, including
43-meter towers and tomb of Mahmood of Ghazna (971-1030),
the most powerful Sultan of Ghaznavid Dynasty.
city of Ghazni is also the capital of Ghazni province with
a population of about 35,900 on the Lora Road. It is a 07th
century town but it got importance under the rule of Ghaznavid
when Mahmood of Ghazna made it the capital of first Muslim
Dynasty in Afghanistan. Later Ghorids ruled it before it was
captured by Genghis Khan in 1221 A.D. In 14th century
A.D. it went to Tamerlane and finally to Mughal Emperor Babur.
In 1747, under Ahmed Shah Durrani, Ghazni became part of the
new Afghan Kingdom.
modern town of Ghazni is just a pale shadow if its former
glory. Today it is known mainly for its fine bazaars featuring
goods from Afghanistan and neighboring countries. The walled,
old city of Ghazni with its numerous bazaars contains the
ruins of ancient
Ghazni is now a chief commercial and industrial center of
Afghanistan, dealing in livestock, furs, silk, and agricultural
products. The famed Afghan sheepskin coats are also made in
of the most imposing fortresses to be seen in Afghanistan,
destroyed during First Anglo Afghan War, rebuilt, however,
but never to its previous splendeour. The old city of Ghazni,
once clustered closely around the foot of citadel but the
new town leaves it on the fringes looking forgotten and somewhat
forlorn. In addition most of the interior is in ruin today.
It is still used as a military garrison, however, and is,
therefore, not open to public.
PALACE OF SULTAN MASOOD:
palace was completed in 112 A.D. and it used to be the court
of Masud III who was born in Ghazni in 1061. He ruled from
1099 to 1114 A.D. This palace is a vast complex including
a throne room, government offices, soldiers’ quarters, a mosque
with its minarets and pockets of gardens in addition to the
The 02 remaining minarets built by Sultan Masud III (1099-1114)
and Bahram Shah (1118-1152) now only a fraction of their original
height, served as models for the spectacular tower of Jam,
which is in turn inspired the Qutab Minaret at Delhi. The
intricate decoration is in raised brick without colour and
includes epigraphic friezes in square Kufic and Noshki script,
in addition to panels of floral and geometric designs. Mounds
of ruins at the foot of both minarets indicate that they were
a part of 02 large buildings. Evidence from these mounds supports
the theory that these buildings were mosques.
MAUSOLEUM OF SULTAN MAHMOOD:
tomb sits in the center of a garden suburb known during the
heyday of Ghazni’s prominence as Bahg-i-Firuzi, the Victory
Garden. This garden was a favourite retreat of great Sultan
Mahmood and he personally selected it for his final resting
place. The tombstone is exquisitely carved of Afghan marble
and there one can also note water gushing forth from the mouth
of marble lions and rams carved for the same purpose so many
MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART:
excellent small museum opened in 1966, is in the restored
Mausoleum of Sultan Abdul Razaq, a superb example of 16th
century Timurid architecture. This museum has a great collection
of objects from Ghaznavid period such as ceramic tiles, glass
and bronzes. One especially interesting motif found in Ghaznavid
art and well represented by museum’s collection is the profuse
use of human and animal formation, which is foreign to Islamic
art in general. The influence of Sasanian Iran & Central
Asia is here beautifully presented.
TAPA SARDAR STUPA:
Tapa Sardar, the prince’s mound acquired its name when Amir
Habibullah chose it for a camp side. During his time the top
of the hill was leveled, destroying all but the 1st
& 2nd sections of an ancient Buddhist stupa.
Exploratory excavation carried on at Tapa Sardar from 1959
to 1962 identified a stupa complex.
central focus of the complex is a towering central stupa 22
meters square making it the largest yet found in Afghanistan.
Interestingly, the archaeologists have determined that the
enlarged lower portions of the Main Stupa are more recent
than the upper sections indicating that this religious complex
enjoyed an intensely active life over a long period. The last
artistic flourish occurred in fact as late as the 07th
& 08th centuries A.D. at a time when Buddhism
had largely disappeared from other parts of the Afghan area.
The findings at Tapa Sardar confirm definite connections between
the late decorative styles of Afghanistan with the art of
(Town of Bost)
town of Lashkargah is located in southwest part of Afghanistan.
It is the capital of Helmand Province with about 2600 population
in 1992 and also the site of an ancient town built by Sultan
Mahmood Ghaznawi in the 10th century.
is located on the Helmand River, a few kilometers. The Ghourids
dynasty built this town in 1150 A.D. but it was badly destroyed
by Genghis Khan in 1220 A.D. Because of its strategic location,
Afghan rulers constructed a number of forts on the site, which
was in ancient time known as Bost.
visitor to the area at the turn of the century observed the
fortified plateau “covered thickly with the remains of towers,
forts, and palatial buildings, which exhibit traces of on
this site of a large and important city, fortified with unusual
skill and military are with considerable taste and culture”.
the remains of the great palace of Masoud still give the visitor
an idea of the splendour of the court of what was then the
greatest Empire of the East. The most remarkable monument
is the magnificently decorated arch, which has a span of 80
feet and is known as Darwaza-e-Bost (Door of Bost).
This town was also called Lashkari Bazaar by the local population
as well as Kala-e-Bost (Fort of Bost).