Top Ten Afghani Attractions

Top Ten Afghani Attractions

       Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South and Central Asia. With a population of about 28 million, it has an area of 647,500 square km, making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast. The territory that now forms Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as 50,000 BC. The country sits at an important geostrategic location that connects the Middle East with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, which has been home to various peoples through the ages. The land has witnessed many military conquests since antiquity, notably by Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya and Genghis Khan. It has also served as a source from which local dynasties such as the Greco-Bactrians, Kushans, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughals and many others have established empires of their own. The political history of modern Afghanistan began in the 18th century with the rise of the Pashtuns, when the Hotaki dynasty rose to power in Kandahar in 1709 followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani’s rise to power in 1747. The capital of Afghanistan was shifted in 1776 from Kandahar to Kabul and part of the Afghan Empire was ceded to neighboring empires by 1893. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the “Great Game” between the British and Russian empires. On August 19, 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi, the nation regained control over its foreign policy from the British. Since the late 1970’s, Afghanistan has experienced a continuous state of war, including major occupations in the form of the 1979 Soviet war, a Pakistani military intervention in support of the Taliban in the late 1990’s and the October 2001 US-led military operations that overthrew the Taliban government.

  1. Kabul

    Kabul is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. According to the 2011 official estimates, the population of Kabul metropolitan area is 3.9 million people. It is an economic and cultural center, situated in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains along the Kabul River. The city is linked with Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif via a circular highway that stretches across the country. It is also the start of the main road to Jalalabad and further to Peshawar, Pakistan. Kabul’s main products include fresh and dried fruit, nuts, Afghan rugs, leather and sheep skin products, domestic clothes and furniture, and antique replicas, but the wars since 1978 have limited the economic productivity of the city. Kabul is over 3,500 years old; many empires have long fought over the city for its strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia. Between 1504 and 1526 AD, Kabul served as the original capital of Babur, builder of the Mughal Empire. It remained under the Delhi Sultanate until 1738, when Nader Shah and his Afsharid forces invaded the Mughal Empire. After the death of Nader Shah Afsharid in 1747, the city fell to Ahmad Shah Durrani, who quickly added it to his new Afghan Empire. In 1776, Timur Shah Durrani made it the capital of the modern state of Afghanistan. Since the Marxist revolution in 1978, the city has been a target of anti-Afghanistan forces such as the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, Quetta Shura, Hezbi Islami, al-Qaida and other groups, who are supported and guided by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy network.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabul,
  2. Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam

    The Minaret of Jam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in western Afghanistan. It is located in the Shahrak District, Ghor Province, by the Hari River. The 65 meter high minaret, surrounded by mountains that reach up to 2,400m, was built in the 1190’s, entirely of baked-bricks. It is famous for its intricate brick, stucco and glazed tile decoration, which consists of alternating bands of kufic and naskhi calligraphy, geometric patterns, and verses from the Qur’an.
    Links: Top Ten Minarets, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minaret_of_Jam,
  3. Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamyan Valley

    The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th century monumental statues of standing Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, situated 230 km (143 miles) northwest of Kabul. Built in 507 AD, the larger in 554 AD, the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art. The main bodies were hewn directly from the sandstone cliffs, but details were modeled in mud mixed with straw, coated with stucco. This coating, practically all of which was worn away long ago, was painted to enhance the expressions of the faces, hands and folds of the robes; the larger one was painted carmine red and the smaller one was painted multiple colors. The lower parts of the statues’ arms were constructed from the same mud-straw mix while supported on wooden armatures. It is believed that the upper parts of their faces were made from great wooden masks or casts. The rows of holes that can be seen in photographs were spaces that held wooden pegs which served to stabilize the outer stucco. They were intentionally dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were “idols.” Japan and Switzerland, among others, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.
    Links: Sculptures, Top Ten Buddha Statues, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamiyan,
  4. Herāt

    Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the 3rd largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 (2006). It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. The city is linked with Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif via highway 1 or the ring road that stretches across the country. It is also linked to the city of Mashad in Iran through the Islam Qala border town or border checkpoint. Situated in a fertile area, Herāt dates back to the Avestan times and was traditionally known for its wine. The city has a number of historic sites, including the Citadel of Alexander and the Mosallah Complex. During the Middle Ages Herāt became one of the important cities of Khorasan, as it was known as the pearl of Khorasan. It was made independent in 1717 from the Safavid dynasty by the Afghans until 1736 when the Hotaki dynasty was defeated by the Afsharids, which finally became part of the Durrani Empire in 1747. It saw some actions during the 19th century Anglo-Afghan wars. Much of the city has been spared from destruction that occurred in other cities of Afghanistan during the 1978-present wars. Herāt lies on the ancient trade routes of the Middle East, Central and South Asia. The roads from Herāt to Iran, Turkmenistan, and other parts of Afghanistan are still strategically important. The city has an airport which is planned to be turned into an international airport.
    Links: Top 100 Wines, Top Ten Wine Regions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herat,
  5. Tillya Tepe

    Tillya tepe, Tillia tepe or Tillā tapa, literally “Golden Hill” or “Golden Mound,” is an archaeological site in northern Afghanistan near Sheberghan, surveyed in 1979 by a Soviet-Afghan mission of archaeologists led by Victor Sarianidi, a year before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The hoard is a collection of about 20,000 gold ornaments that were found in six graves (five women and one man) with extremely rich jewelry, dated to around the 1st century BC. Altogether several thousand pieces of fine jewelry were recovered, usually made of gold, turquoise and/or lapis-lazuli. The ornaments include coins, necklaces set with gems, belts, medallions and crowns. A new museum in Kabul is being planned where the Bactrian gold will eventually be kept. The heavily fortified town of Yemshi-tepe, just five km to the northeast of modern Sheberghan on the road to Akcha, is only half a km from the now-famous necropolis of Tillia-tepe.
    Links: Top Ten Necropolises, Top 100 Gold Artifacts, Top Ten Crowns, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tillya_Tepe,
  6. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan,