The capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, was the greatest love of Emperor Babur
The capital of Kabul was once a modern city known for its liberal regime and libertarian spirit. Kabul was also a favorite meeting place of hippies and then the wars began which turned Kabul into fire and dust.
The civil war lasted for more than 2 decades and brought great destruction and suffering. However, today’s Kabul is fighting hard to restore the former spirit of the city. Kabul is the capital and capital of the province of the same name (one of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan). It is located on the banks of the Kabul River in a narrow valley at the foot of the great Hindu Kus (part of the Himalayas). An estimate from 2007 says that Kabul has about 4 million inhabitants, although this number varies constantly due to migration, frequent in this region and the return of residents / refugees from other regions / countries. The urban population is the Pashtuns, a people living in Afghanistan and Pakistan who make up the largest ethnic group, the Khazars (Shiite Muslims) and the Tajik people, who make up the total number of Afghans. There are over 20 ethnic groups in Afghanistan. They are made up of two religious groups by religion: Sunni Muslims about 80% and Shiites about 14%. The official languages are Pashto and Dari (Persian) from the group of Indo-European languages. English is also in widespread use throughout Afghanistan.
King Amanulah Khan made a significant contribution to the preservation of the state with the gift of politicians and negotiators. The modernization of the state begins with the king. Schools for boys and girls are opening. Women get the same rights as men and the wearing of the burqa is abolished. King Khan built a large royal palace on the outskirts of Kabul (Darulaman) of which only the walls exist today. The National Museum was once one of the largest museums in Asia in terms of number, wealth and value of exhibits. During the civil war, this museum was looted and destroyed. The museum was restored in 2004 thanks to the UNESCO organization and reopened. It contains a modest but interesting collection of Buddhist culture. At the entrance to the Museum is a replica of a statue of Buddha from Bamiyan that was blown up by the Taliban during the last war. A special part consists of very interesting figures from the province of Nuristan where the Kafirs once lived (a people who refused to accept Islam until the end of the 19th century).
The famous Kaiber Pass, which once followed the “Silk Road”
Kabul can be reached by plane or land from the direction of Peshawar , where it passes through the famous Kaiber Pass, which once followed the “Silk Road” – a trade route between Rome and China – two great and ancient civilizations. The passage was of strategic importance for the whole region due to its very favorable position. The Kieber Strait was used by the Persians, Greeks, Mongols, Afghans and British. Today it is a tourist attraction. Foreigners without prior notice and permission are not allowed to travel through these vast and dangerous mountains (once used by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Marco Pollo). The permit is waited for several weeks and it happens that the request never gets an answer. Kabul is at 1700 meters above sea level, so it has a slightly milder climate than the rest of the region. Winters have abundant snowfall. The most famous hotel in the city is the luxury 5-star hotel Serena near which (on the south side of the Kabul River) is the old town with narrow streets, bazaars and ancient shrines. In this part of the city, the architecture is centuries old.
Kabul is a city 3 and a half thousand years old
Kabul has existed for more than 3 and a half thousand years, although not much is known about the origin of the city. Kabul is first mentioned as “Ortospan” and the city is mentioned by the Greek philosopher Strabo (between 64 and 21 BC) and even then it was one of the most important trade centers in Central and South Asia.
At the beginning of the 1st century BC, Kabul was one of the two largest cities of the Kusan Empire. The city became the capital of a small kingdom (Buddhist dynasty Turki Shahi-descendants of the Kusan dynasty) in 565 BC and after the collapse of the Kusan Empire. Then the city walls were built, the remains of which still exist today. Islam came to more places in the 9th century BC. Kabul was then ruled by numerous dynasties. Kabul thus remembered the difficult times under the rule of Ghingis Khan who conquered this city in 1221.
Kabul’s greatest ascent of the 1504 experiences with King Babur
With the arrival of Emperor Babur in 1504, Kabul experienced its greatest rise. King Babur made the city the capital of the Mongol Empire. King Babur was unusually fond of Kabul. So in his own memoirs he writes about the city with great and undisguised admiration. King Babur also had great merits for the creation of the Indian Empire but he wanted to be buried in Kabul nonetheless. And the wish is fulfilled. His tomb is today located in Babur’s Garden on one of the hills above Kabul. The place is an unavoidable target for travelers visiting Kabul. It is also one of the few preserved local landmarks. The tomb is surrounded by a large park and swimming pool. There is a summer and wooden pavilion and a shady white Shah-Jan mosque from 1647 modeled on that Mahal. The top of the surrounding hills overlooks Kabul. After a series of is exhausting wars between the British and Afghanistan – In 1919, England recognized the independence of Afghanistan.
The famous novel “the Booksellers of Kabul”8by Asne Seierstad) is the world’s best seller and it’s about a bookstore in Kabul.
Travelers visiting Afghanistan for any reason were happy to buy lapis jewelry (a semi-precious stone of intense blue color found in the Afghan province of Badakshan), Afghan carpets, glass from the old city of Herat (southwestern Afghanistan), a modern Afghan robe “japani” popular with Afghanistan’s last president Hamid Karzai — before the Taliban came to power).
City traffic is messy and chaotic (as in most Asian countries). Traffic rules don’t seem to exist. Traffic lights often do not work due to frequent power outages. The city police are unable to restore order in the general traffic jam. During the civil war, city traffic was interrupted. After the end of the civil war, Kabul received city public transport (blue-and-white buses thanks to the help of the governments of Japan, India and Pakistan). City traffic stopped working after the Taliban came to power (August 2021). It should start working again, although today all changes are slow or not at all.
There are always a lot of people on the streets of Kabul (especially Judd Mayweed Avenue). Special attention is drawn to women dressed in sky blue burqas.
The current Taliban regime of 2021 has taken both Kabul and Afghanistan back hundreds of years even though proud and humble Afghans are fighting daily in their own ways to restore the city and state to their former beauty and splendor.